Sunday, November 19, 2017

Last Day in Cebu

Today started in Cebu and is ending in Manila. Jonathan Carino picked me up at the hotel and we proceeded to the church building. There was a good number present for the services, but I do not think there were any visitors. I did find out that one of those baptized yesterday was actually a young man that had been attending the services of the congregation meeting in central Cebu City. I preached on “Good Conduct and Its Result” from 1st Peter 2 and 3.

As noted in my report last Sunday, it is always good to be with these brethren. The young man that led the singing is one that I remember first meeting as a boy when I first met with this group of saints back in 2002. They show good growth and maturity.

There was a young lady present for both Lord’s Day meetings and she also sat in on the classes for Ephesians and Colossians through the week. It turned out that she had been introduced to the plan of salvation through some institutional brethren in another country. They wanted her to attend the Sunset School of Preaching in Lubbock, Texas. Though I did not know it, she was learning more about the Bible through the week and members of this congregation in Cebu were talking to her about the errors of institutionalism. She was very thankful for the opportunity to study the Scripture in depth and told us that there was no such concentration on study of the Scripture in the institutional church she had experienced. I am glad these brethren are helping her to grow in the truth.

The hotel where I have stayed for years in Cebu is changing its affiliation, so I will probably need to shop for another on my next visit. The main reason I chose this hotel (a Marriott affiliate) was their strict security procedures. From all appearances, they are changing the security to be less stringent and changing the style to cater to Asian visitors rather than the Western visitors. Over the past couple of days, I have been saying my goodbyes to the hotel staff that have been so helpful to me through the years.

As I close this entry, I am back in Manila preparing to fly home tomorrow. Please accept my thanks to all who have helped make this trip possible. Without your generosity, these efforts would not be possible. I believe there is much good taking place in the Philippines as we work together with our Filipino brethren who have shown such faith and zeal for the gospel. As you have worked together with us in prayers, I trust God has been glorified. I am honored to be a part of this great work!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Gospel Meeting at Carcar

In an earlier update, it was noted that two of the families (those of Cherlito Laug and Leotino Banal) from the church meeting in central Cebu City had started a new work in Carcar. (Cherlito’s brother Arnold also helped start the work as he returned from working the last 10 years in Singapore.) I wrongly reported that Carcar was in the Cebu City area. Actually, the city of Carcar is about an hour and a half drive south of Cebu City. We left a little before 8am and were able to get started with the lessons by 9:30am.

There were about 80 or more in attendance today. Over 40 were visitors who were not members of the Lord’s body. It was the first time most of them had ever heard the gospel message. This congregation had its beginning only two months ago, but they have already baptized 7 from the community. They wanted to have a Gospel Meeting as soon as possible to invite the community, so I was the first American preacher to come along and I readily agree to help in the effort. Jonathan Carino and the members from the central Cebu City congregation had not even seen the building previously. It was made in native style of bamboo and thatched roof from materials that came from their own land and they provided the labor. It was very functional.

Since most of the visitors did not speak English, it was decided that we should fully translate the lessons. This was a slow process of me speaking one sentence and Jonathan Carino translating it. While he was translating, I thought of how I wanted to phrase the next sentence to be clear and concise. Though it is a cumbersome exercise, it has the advantage of making one be as simple and to the point as possible.

The first two lessons were presented before lunch. The first was “Why Are There Some Many Differences in Religious Practices Today?” It was a very basic lesson beginning from 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 showing the implications of inspiration as it is declared in God’s word. The basic point is that God said exactly what He meant to say, even choosing the words used, so we can know and understand all that He wants us to do from the gospel message revealed. The second lesson was “By What Authority” from Matthew 21:23-25 and the parallel account in Mark 11:27-30. The leaders wanted to know by what authority Jesus has acted and the text of Matthew 21 showed that He was clearly acting from the authority that came from heaven. But Jesus demanded from the leaders an answer as to the origin of John’s baptism, which they had rejected (Lk. 7:30). Jesus gave only two options for the practice of John’s baptism: it was either from heaven or from men. After asking, Mark’s account says that Jesus demanded, “Answer Me.” We then saw that Jesus would call upon us to answer for the origin of our religious practices as well. We noted several religious practices found in the denominational world which clearly do not have heaven’s authority behind them, but are examples of religious practices invented by men. Our plea was for those in such practices to cease such and base their teaching and practice on the gospel of Christ – the means by which God communicates divine authority today.

After the lunch break, we had another lesson on “The Blood of Christ and the Salvation of the Sinner.” It was a basic lesson on the fact that Jesus provided the ultimate sacrifice which can forgive all who will be cleansed by His blood. We then proceeded to show that we are forgiven when we contact that blood and it is applied to take away our sins. The question is, “When do we contact that blood of Christ?” The Scripture shows clearly that the point when we contact the blood is when we are baptized into Christ for the remission of our sins (Rom. 6:3-11). Following the lesson, we had a short question-answer period as well. At the close of the service, two decided to obey the gospel and be baptized into Christ!

By about 4pm, we were on the road again going back towards Cebu City. It took over 2 hours to make it back with traffic being much heavier than it was this morning. Since it was hot and so humid that the air felt like it was dripping water, I was totally wet with sweat and exhausted. I intend to eat something for supper (as I had no lunch) and then hit the bed quickly tonight in order to rest for one last effort during this trip – preaching on the Lord’s Day here in Cebu before flying to Manila tomorrow afternoon. God bless!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Cebu Classes End

The classes on Ephesians and Colossians ended today. We were able to cover from Colossians 3:12 through the end of the book and also Paul’s letter to Philemon. The classes were well received and the subject matter should be helpful to the students in their work, teaching and life. Those parts of the books that dealt with the contrast between the true teaching of the gospel and Calvinism seemed to be of special need to many of these men since they predominately came out of denominations heavily influenced by Calvinism. The Lord willing, I hope to continue these kind of classes in the future with other books as the focus of the week. Besides the books studied this week, we have covered 1st and 2nd Timothy, Titus, Hebrews, Romans, the epistles of Peter, the epistles of John, “Premillennialism” and “Fellowship.”

In today’s studies, we focused on the latter section of Colossians and Philemon, presenting an opportunity to discuss the Bible teaching on proper attitudes and actions in the household of God as well as other realms. Among the things given some attention were the following:

·      The meaning of “tender mercies,” “kindness,” “meekness,” “longsuffering” and “bearing with one another” as well as how such attitudes are put into practice.
·      The need for forgiving one another and the mindset that helps such in our lives was discussed at some length.
·      We discussed the briefer dealing with the family relations found in Colossians as compared with Ephesians and how they are complimentary in that they were always intended to be viewed together as two books written at the same time examining tandem themes to present a full picture of Christ and the church.
·      We also noted the Servant-Master responsibilities as they are more fully developed in Colossians and Philemon.
·      The closing exhortations and greeting of Colossians were given some examination as well.
·      As a side point in the book of Philemon, we noted that the false teach by some saying the New Testament does not require restitution of wrong done is clearly refuted by Paul’s point that there was a duty for Onesimus to be restored to Philemon even though it is obvious he was converted after running away as Philemon’s slave. We noted the parallel to those arguing one may remain in an unlawful marriage relationship after being baptized into Christ.

It was great to be with so many dear brethren that were a part of these classes. Working so closely with Jonathan Carino, Lordy Salunga, Jack Jaco and several others for so many years has produced a relationship more like immediate family than just friends. I consider them among my closest of family, co-workers, and dear friends. They have all sacrificed greatly for the cause of Christ and are great examples to me in their lives of faith.
Again seeing brother Ramon Carino, now 93 years old, was a special and unexpected treat! The years and the loss of his dear wife have taken their toll, but brother Ramon always longs to be in the studies of God’s word as much as possible. What an example he is!

Thank you again for your support and prayers that have made this effort possible. It is a great privilege for me to have this opportunity and I know it would not be possible without the help from all of you. Please know that I am very grateful for the assistance in every way and your sacrifice has helped our brethren to come to a fuller understanding of God’s truth.

The Lord willing, tomorrow will be focused on an evangelistic effort with the new work in Carcar, here in the Cebu City area. Please keep that effort in your prayers as well. God bless!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Classes Start on Colossians

Our change in travel and class time continues to benefit. It took less than 30 minutes for our travel this morning, so we were able to start even earlier. That helped us to get ahead of schedule by the end of our morning session and be set for finishing our material by lunch tomorrow. Several of the students must leave on Friday afternoon to get back to their homes and be ready to preach on the Lord’s Day.

We began covering the book of Colossians this morning, laying out the theme of the preeminence of Christ and His place as head of His body, the church. As we examined the doctrinal section of Colossians, we dealt with several points:

·      How our hope of heaven is tied to “the word of the truth of the gospel.”
·      God’s plan for the growth of Christians – (a) be filled with the knowledge of His will, (b) walk worthy of the Lord, (c) fully please Him, (d) be fruitful in every good work and (e) increase in the knowledge of God. That increase of knowledge brings about the repeating of that process resulting in an ever-increasing growth.
·      The two different spheres or realms of rule into which men place themselves (“the power of darkness” and “the kingdom of the Son of His love”) and the effects of each.
·      The preeminence of Christ in the natural world and in His new creation – the church.
·      The glory, treasure and blessings available through the gospel to those who are “in Christ.”
·      How the philosophy, empty deceit and traditions of man make spoil of those who yield themselves to such and are robbed of the rich blessings found only in Christ.
·      An examination of whether baptism is rightly termed a “work of man” or “the working of God.”
·      We also looked at the particulars known about the errors addressed by Paul in this epistle and their conflict with the gospel of Christ.

During the afternoon session, we got started with the “application” portion of Colossians in chapters 3 and 4. We began by showing the incompatibility of being raised with Christ to a new life, yet retaining an earthly mindset. We considered the particular sins mentioned that must be “put to death” if we are to please Christ. We will start in the morning, the Lord willing, with Colossians 3:12.

I am very impressed with this group of students. They all show excellent attention to the studies throughout the day. In past classes, we have had the occasional one or two that seemed to go in and out multiple times a day, more than seemed necessary. (When I see that behavior, I do not invite them back to attend another class.) There are none that have done such during this week. They have all worked diligently and have shown great interest in growing in their understanding of Scripture. I look forward to working with all of them in coming studies, the Lord willing.