INC 101 – The Basic Foundations of the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ)
When God started the work of salvation in these last days, it was through a man who thirsted for the truth; the pure words of God. He yearned for a church that would uphold the gospel of God exactly as it is written in the Bible. This man, the messenger of God in these last days, is Brother Felix Y. Manalo. Through him, the Church of Christ was established in the Philippines on July 27, 1914, at the outbreak of the First World War, in accordance to the prophecies of God.
When Ka Felix Manalo was laid to rest, it is with the same principle that Brother Eraño G. Manalo led the Church of Christ as the executive minister. Although many projects and endeavors were completed during his time, from the construction of the Central Office, to the building of houses of worship, and even to the expanding the Church to the other parts of the world, Brother Erdy made sure that he followed precisely the commandments of God written in the Bible. He saw to it that his fellow ministers, most especially those who are in the Church Council, lived in accordance to the will of God.
Unfortunately, some ministers today do not uphold the same values and principles in their Ministry. They followed their own hearts’ desires for their own benefit, and therefore, have forgotten to consider the commandments of God. Some of these commandments that have been forsaken are the laws concerning the love for the brotherhood, the giving of offerings, and the strict instruction of God for those who have part in the Ministry.
Nowadays, news about brethren being expelled without due are commonplace in different locales and districts. Some were expelled through a single visit at the minister’s office, over a phone call, and even through a text message. Even worse, the Church of Christ faces allegations concerning brethren being abducted, beaten, and held against their will, all initiated by the Church Council. Where is the love and compassion for the members of the Church of Christ now? Our Almighty God is the one that taught us that in order to prove our love to Him, we should love our brothers and sisters (I John 4:21 NIV), yet here we are, being oppressed and threatened by the very ministers whom we have entrusted our spiritual lives to. Where is the mercy and kindness that Our Lord Jesus Christ taught about, that if one of his one hundred sheep goes astray, He will leave the ninety-nine and look for the one that is missing?
Yet here are the brethren, being expelled left and right merely for asking questions about the Church Administration. Where are the ministers that are like Ka Erdy who would try their very best to counsel and advise the brethren falling out of their faith, doing the very best they can to bring them back into the fold, and only using expulsion as a last resort form of discipline?Another commandment of God that was upheld by His true ministers is the giving of offering. It is written in the Bible that we “must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure” (II Cor. 9:7 NLT). And so, Ka Erdy made sure that we give our offerings in a way that is not burdensome, so that all of us may be able to obey this commandment. For example, he managed the financial assets of the Church so carefully that projects were taken on based on whether funds were available.
There were no extra special offerings during the construction of the Central Temple or the New Era University. He made sure that each property being bought, and each house of worship being built and renovated will be funded solely by whatever the brethren gave freely during the midweek and weekend worship services. Even the monetary aid we provide to those in need came from our bi-weekly offerings.Today, the Church Council uses various tactics to subtly circumvent the laws of God concerning giving offerings freely.
They asked for special offerings for the construction of the Philippine Arena, in fear that lack of funds would have delayed its finish past the Centennial Celebration. Many houses of worship were put in the backburner, as the Church Council prioritized asking for monetary offerings for the Opening Centennial Celebration, the Closing Centennial Celebration (C3), and the funding of various outreach programs. There were even cases where Church officers and ministers were forced to make purchases for the Philippine Arena events, coffee table books published by the Iglesia ni Cristo, and other Church memorabilia that have turned the Church into a business, rather than a home of services and offerings to God.Another example, one of the strict instructions of our Lord Jesus Christ to the apostles, or His fellow ministers was to “take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt” (Luke 9:3 NIV).
In other words, ministers are instructed not to own too many material possessions and wealth. It is in the same token that God did not give the Levites a share of the Promised Land “for the priesthood of the Lord is their inheritance” (Josh. 18:7 NKJV). It is with the same standard Brother Erdy implemented on the ministerial students and his fellow ministers to live a modest and humble life. The financial support given to ministers and evangelical workers are enough only to supply one’s basic necessities, and the Church provides housing and vehicles only to those who truly require it for their clerical functions.Unfortunately, some ministers have fallen to a lifestyle that is not what our Lord Jesus has instructed.
The ministers of the Church Council are the first to set a bad example, going against this teaching of God. The members of the Church Council are found owning high-end vehicles and luxurious homes throughout Philippines. Some of them were also found owning businesses, serving as franchise owners to various Philippine-based fast food restaurants. The Council members are also known for their extravagant travels at the expense of the Church. They spend days and days at five-star hotels, reserve first-class seating during their flights, and eat at high-end, expensive restaurants. These are three of the many subtle examples of the Church slowly deviating from the doctrines of our Almighty God. But as God has promised, this Church will no longer be turned away. The Church of Christ in these last days will remain until the end… as long as there are ministers who are willing to stand up for what is right; as long as there are brethren who are willing to fight for the truth; as long as we defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people (Jude 1:3 NLT).