For he is a chosen vessel
Brother Felmar Serreno: When a CEO is looking for someone to promote, the individual is usually determined based on their credentials and exceptional qualities. This is also true in sports, academics, and other fields. There is always some kind of standard by which people measure others. But how do you determine if someone is a genuine messenger of God? Is there a standard for that? Does it even matter? Hi, and welcome to the podcast version of God’s Message Magazine. Our episode today is: “For he is a chosen vessel.”
Brother Felmar: Man’s daily undertakings involve choosing and deciding. His need for choosing wisely is so evident that, in the modern era, he has formulated a rubric based on vast fields of knowledge to avoid making wrong decisions. Big corporations are thorough in choosing employees. As they say in corporate management, ‘employees are assets of the company’; thus, profiling every applicant is a must, to be certain that he fits the job. Such is the reason man is baffled upon hearing news that is non-normative to his matrix. One of these is the belief of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) about Brother Felix Y. Manalo as God’s messenger in these last days. People ask, how can a man from a developing country with no degree be fit for such a high calling?
Brother Felmar Serreno: The Lord God stated,
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…
[Isaiah 55:8 New International Version]
Man might set scholarly standards or put greater value in societal stature but God clarifies that His standards are different from man’s. In fact, in prophecy, the messenger he chose is likened to a worm, meaning people would reproach and despise him (Isaiah 41:14; Psalm 22:6). This is the reason Church Of Christ members are not surprised if others question the divine authority given by God to Brother Felix Manalo. What then is the basis of God in choosing those whom He sends? The Lord looks at the heart:
So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, ‘Surely the LORD’s anointed is before Him.’ But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance but the LORD looks at the heart.’ … Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.
[I Samuel 16:6-7, 13 New King James Version]
Brother Felmar Serreno: When God commanded Samuel to choose a king for Israel, He stressed not to look on the physical qualities or stature that is often seen as important by man. He clarified that His standard is beyond what man can perceive: He can see through one’s heart or intention. Others might say that they do not question these standards, but how can they be sure that Brother Felix Manalo is the one commissioned by God to be His messenger?
Elected by the Most High
Brother Felmar Serreno: Why do members of the Church Of Christ recognize Brother Felix Manalo as God’s messenger? They firmly believe that he is the fulfillment of the chosen servant in the following prophecy:
Who has performed and done it, Calling the generations from the beginning? ‘I, the LORD, am the first; And with the last I am He. … You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its farthest regions, And said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away.
[Isaiah 41:4,9 New King James Version]
Brother Felmar Serreno: One cannot merely claim that he is a messenger of God because such calling and election should be based on God’s prophecy written in the Bible. Why are we sure that Brother Felix Manalo is the fulfillment of the prophecy we quoted? It is because the prophesied messenger would be “from the ends of the earth.” Our Lord Jesus Christ clarified that the time “ends of the earth” would be marked by a war that would involve nations (Matthew 24:6-8). The fulfillment of this prophecy is World War I which broke out on July 27, 1914. On the same date, the Church Of Christ was registered with the government in the Philippines.
Is the place of origin of the prophesied messenger also mentioned in the Bible? Indeed, God stated,
From the far east will I bring your offspring, and from the far west I will gather you
[Isaiah 43:5 Moffatt Translation]
Brother Felmar Serreno: Which country is the fulfillment of this prophecy? The Philippines, where the Church Of Christ in these last days emerged. Is the Philippines in the Far East? Arthur Boak, et al. state that, “The Philippines were Spain’s share of the first colonizing movement in the Far East.” (World History, Vol. 2, p. 445). For these reasons, members of the Church Of Christ are united in faith that Brother Felix Manalo is the messenger sent by God in these last days. His authority is not from any man but from God Himself.
A God-given task
Brother Felmar Serreno: The Lord Jesus explained the important task of a messenger when He sent Apostle Paul to the Gentiles saying,
… Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel
[Acts 9:15 New King James Version]
Brother Felmar Serreno: Such is the importance of God’s messenger that Christ declared that those who receive the messenger whom He sent also receive Him and the Father (John 13:20). Apostle Paul, having been sent by God, is a chosen vessel. Thus, one must realize the nobility and sacredness of a messenger’s duty, for he is the bearer of God’s name and for such reason, the doctrine that he will teach is not his, but the wisdom of God (John 7:16). Now, is this true even in God’s commissioning in these last days? How would Brother Felix Manalo victoriously carry out the work entrusted to him by God according to prophecy? Our Lord God made it clear in His promise for His chosen servant:
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand
[Isaiah 41:10 New King James Version]
Brother Felmar Serreno: The righteousness that God promised His Messenger in these last days is the gospel or His words written in the Bible (Romans 1:16-17). This is why when Brother Felix Manalo was still alive, he was quoted to have always reminded people not to believe in his words but to have faith in God’s words written in the Bible. Learning from the messenger, members of the Church Of Christ faithfully follow all the commandments of God written in the Bible that he taught, for such is God’s will for all His people.
Our divine responsibility
Brother Felmar Serreno: Aside from following the pristine gospel preached by the messenger, God’s strict instruction to those who hear the preaching of the messenger is: do not oppose them:
All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all.
[Isaiah 41:11-12 New International Version]
Brother Felmar Serreno: Those who go against God’s elect are in a perilous path. They will perish and be no more. No one wants to suffer this misfortune. So, people should desire the blessings brought about by God’s commissioning of His messenger. One can benefit from God’s commissioning in these last days by being united with those who are sent to preach the gospel. When Brother Felix Manalo passed away, God entrusted this divine task to the Administration placed inside the Church (Colossians 1:25; I John 1:3). The obligation of the Church to the Administration placed by God is to love and appreciate them:
Brothers and sisters, we ask you to show your appreciation for those leaders who work among you and instruct you. We ask you to love them and think very highly of them because of the work they are doing. Live in peace with each other.
[I Thessalonians 5:12-13 God’s Word]
Brother Felmar Serreno: To love the leaders placed by God inside the Church is not a new thing. He expects His people to think highly of them and appreciate the works that they are doing. This is why the love and respect of true Church Of Christ members for their leaders has never changed since the time of Brother Felix Y. Manalo, to the administration of Brother Eraño G. Manalo, and up to the present leadership of Brother Eduardo V. Manalo. It is the Lord our God who expects His servants to be solidly united with those whom He chose to be vessels of His words.
For more articles like these, get your copy of God’s Message Magazine from a member of the Church Of Christ. You can listen and subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, and the INC Media mobile app. Thank you for listening. I’m Brother Felmar Serreno. God bless.