Sermon By Pastor Julius Aquino
The Lord’s Message October 18, 2015
Intro: There are many occasions that happen in each of our lives that we celebrate as an important event. We celebrate our birth anniversary, wedding anniversary and today we are celebrating the birth of the Church Jesus planted here in Reno, known as the Filipino International Christian Fellowship. After the succeeding Sundays, 9 years ago after we congregated to worship the Lord, the Lord chose the name given to the original members. This church is not limited to Filipinos but open to nationals of other nations. Today we have a mix of Filipinos Americans, Hispanics and Asian Indians from India and once in a while a young man from Crosspoint church who is Vietnamese worships with us.
But what is important is we do not lose sight who started this church and who is responsible to add and grow in maturity. I say this upfront that this church belongs to Christ Jesus alone when He gave birth and started some nine years ago today.
When God sent God, the second person of the Trinity down to earth to become like one of us humans and in submission to God as His Father, Jesus humbled Himself as the Son of God with a mission and purpose to accomplish. Since He was born of the Spirit and not by the union of Joseph and Mary, He was pure in heart from birth and lived a sinless life until He was crucified on that cruel cross after living for thirty three years. In the last three years of His life He gathered disciples to follow Him and save them from the penalty of their sins, we call that salvation and He would be their Lord. On one occasion speaking to His apostles of twelve, He asked Peter who He was, after teaching them and performing many miracles. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.” Matt. 16:15-18
So Jesus revealed for the first time that He is the builder of His church and all the spiritual forces of evil will not overcome it. Why, because Jesus Christ is God and after He paid the price of those He will save He is given all authority in heaven and on earth over everything. In other words He saves sinners from their sins and He will build His church from those He has saved. Why is He able? Because,
“Christ is Faithful to the Church He Saved”
“Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” Heb. 3:6
Boasting here is not a sin or wrong when one boasts not of himself but of Christ who has given him the sure hope of eternal life. We see three things from this. 1. Christ is faithful to those He has saved. 2. God the Father has given Him those He will save to build His church. 3. Those who are now members of His church (house) will hold on to the one who has saved them with the sure hope of eternal life and will be courageous.
In reality, a church when still young is immature and needs to grow and be built up. We know already who will build the church, Christ working through His servants. He gives them the spiritual gifts of evangelism, as pastors, teachers and those who do discipleship. This is God’s plan from birth and growth to maturity and service. Finally when God has accomplished His purposes through them He calls them to be with Him in heaven. And Jesus revealed this through Paul those Jesus saved individually, He gave them this promise. Again as revealed by Paul “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil. 1:3-6
What stood out from this church in Philippi is their partnership with the gospel meaning that they were also faithful to share and spread the gospel to the lost. Following the model of Paul in how God used him to spread the gospel and planted churches, in obedience to the command of Jesus before He went back to heaven. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Notice what Jesus told them to do, “you will be my witnesses,” meaning every disciple of His, has a story to tell about what Jesus has done in and through them. After Paul got saved and as he grew in knowing Christ, he wrote this to a young pastor who was pastoring a church Ephesus, as to how Paul got his commission. “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, and appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” 1 Tim. 1:12-14
Almost 34 years ago, I was also shown mercy and grace when God sent a missionary/church planter to tell me about Jesus the good news of salvation. At that time I had lived a very sinful life for 39 years. A few years back before this, I had the most fearful experience as I was doing my job as a pilot. I was only a step away to crashing a cargo plane that I was flying. I was afraid because I knew that if I died I would go straight to hell. I studied in a school in my hometown started by the Presbyterians and was taught the Bible. However, all I accumulated was head knowledge. After I got married to my dear wife I joined her religion as a Roman Catholic. I was not really serious of following their religious beliefs and practices. But after this near death experience I got so scared knowing in my heart that I deserved to go to hell because of the many sins I have committed against God even without knowing by heart the Ten Commandments. And yet even as I was faithful to follow the practices of this religion I still did not have the assurance that I would go to heaven when I die. I was still scared when I would encounter dangerous flying conditions. Three weeks earlier Gina was shared the gospel by the wife and she received eternal life. After prodding me just to listen I finally gave in after three weeks. Here are the facts the husband shared with me from the Bible which I heard and listened intently.
First he asked me if I was sure of going to heaven when I die, of course I had to be honest to myself and said no. The good news I immediately heard was God says in the Bible that we can know and be very sure. Then he asked me what my understanding was for a person to go to heaven and have this eternal life. So I gave my honest opinion from the religion I followed that if I do good works and follow as best I could the Ten Commandments I have a great chance of going to heaven if not to Purgatory. Then he pointed that going to heaven cannot be earned because it is by the grace of God given to undeserving sinners. This verse penetrated into my mind and sank deep in my heart which was contrary to what I have believed. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast.” Eph. 2:8-9
That was clear now to me that I was doing the opposite by trying to earn my salvation contrary to what God said is a gift. But the truth that amazed me is the amazing grace of God to save sinners like me who does not deserve one bit. And the fact is it is a gift and cannot be earned by my good works. But first I needed to hear the bad news because here’s what God says in His Word. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 6:23
God will pay me for all the sins even for only one I have committed. I will physically die and then punished in hell forever and no one is exempted because, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom. 3:23
Initially it was a consolation because I was not the only one guilty of sin and cannot save ourselves. As I continue to listen, there is a way of escaping God’s wrath and judgment. Someone had to pay for my sin having no sin of his own and that man was Jesus Christ, and then he quoted what Jesus said that God is love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
I thought I believed in Jesus but did not really know who Jesus was. I believed in Christmas and even this verse from my former school but I did not have eternal life. So even though I believed God loves me but I did not know that God is also just and must carry out His law. But this problem of God’s justice we are already guilty of . On one hand God loves me but on the other side of the scale God has to punish me for my sins to satisfy His being just. Thank God he provided the solution that only He can resolve. The good news was already prophesied from the OT “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isa. 53:5-6
And this prophecy was fulfilled in the New Testament as revealed to us by Paul, “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor. 15:2-4
Jesus paid the full price of my redemption to satisfy God’s justice. He affirmed this when just before He died, He shouted, “It is finished”. He accomplished what He came for to be the only Savior of sinners. But there was one condition after believing what Jesus did and to respond to this gospel Jesus requires repentance of all of my sins. Here’s what Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.” Mark 1:15
Repentance as he explained is not only being sorry to have sinned against a holy God but a change of mind in regards to sin and in what I have believed. Then he challenged me to respond by giving up all my sins to Jesus for Him to pay and receive Him into my heart and be my Lord. With that I was not yet ready to give up the sins I love and enjoy but I knew where I stood before God. So I said I will think it over. This was on a weekday then I received a schedule to fly my boss to over the weekend. When I stepped inside the airplane I could not shake off the thought that if something should happen and I die I will go straight to hell. When we arrived safely in Bacolod, and before going to sleep that night still with the fear and now, what if I don’t wake up in the morning I will certainly meet my judge. I knelt down and prayed, repented of all my sins and invited Jesus to come into my heart and be my Lord. After that I experienced the peace that I could not understand and all the guilt of my sins and heavy burden have been lifted and then I felt the love of God, His joy and peace that made me sleep soundly thereafter.
When I returned to Manila the following day, I immediately called the missionary and he was excited and wanted to meet with me right away and so we met at a restaurant before going home. He wanted to hear my commitment to Jesus as my Lord and asked me to pray the sinner’s prayer. Because God said in His Word, “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Rom. 10:9-10
Nineteen years ago, the Lord called us to the US to be on fulltime mission with Christ. Ever since I got save on Dec. 28, 1981, my life was never the same again. Jesus transformed me by the Holy Spirit who is now living in me, and the sins which I loved were replaced with new desires to follow Jesus and live a life with a purpose. I had the passion to tell the good news to anyone who was willing to listen, starting with my family and relatives. When we said goodbye to the church I was pastoring before leaving for the US, I made this commitment to my Lord what Paul said to the elders and families of the churches he planted. “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” Acts 20:22-24
I thank the Lord that I was not put in prison in Georgia and in Reno but have experienced hardships, difficulties, trials, insults and persecutions because of the gospel. I do not find my life worth anything to me then and even today for without Christ I am nothing. I was already hell bound if not for the grace of God to save me which I did not deserve. I was already worthless and my life today is not even mine because I have surrender it all to the One who bought me with a price, Jesus Christ who died to pay for all my sins and has given me eternal life. We are leaving again to answer His call and this time back to the Philippines in Tagaytay City, with a greater passion, relying fully on His grace to finish the race and to do the task the Lord Jesus is giving us for His glory, honor and praise.
If you are here today and do not have this eternal life and now that you have heard the way how to have eternal life, this may be your day, the Lord is calling you by His grace to save you. Come to Jesus and surrender your life to Him to save you. If you are convicted of your sin, surrender and receive Christ as your Lord, then pray with me where you are, and after that come forward to publicly confess that Jesus is now your Lord. Jesus is looking at your heart and if you open and invite Him, He will enter in. If there are other decisions you want to make to Christ, come