Dr. Antonio G. Papa is currently a Trustee of the New Era University and the second head deacon at the Local Congregation of Indang, Ecclesiastical District of Cavite South. He is a retired university professor at the College of Economics, Management and Development Studies, Cavite State University (CvSU) in Indang, Cavite. In 2018, he served as a scientist 1 and consultant at Marinduque State College in Boac, Marinduque. He is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education degree at the Don Severino Agricultural College now CvSU in 1978, and both Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Extension Education at the University of the Philippines at Los Baños, College, Laguna in 1986 and 1991, respectively.

By: Antonio G. Papa, Ph.D.

EVERY New Year, an individual usually commits himself for life renewal through making a new year’s resolution. And as much as possible, this resolution is religiously being followed by the individual. The mere purpose is to improve his own life throughout the year.

But, what is this concept called life? Is it important to understand the concept? What about man’s connection to the Almighty God?

Life is the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death. It is the existence of an individual human being (Oxford languages).

Life is the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body; period from birth to death; a way or manner of living; a spiritual existence transcending death.

Accordingly, “Life is the most difficult exam.” Why? Many people fail because they try to copy others, not realizing that everyone has a different question paper.

Implied here is that in life, everyone must set his own target or goal in life and set the strategies to work on to consequently attain such target or goal leading to success.

At this juncture, I got encountered in the Facebook messages I received about “Balance Sheet of Life.” I got interested to share this to our valued readers.

There are 20 aspects of life to guard on. These are:

-The most destructive habit is worry

-The greatest joy is giving

-The most satisfying work is helping others

-The ugliest personality trait is selfishness

-The greatest ‘shot in the arm’ is encouragement

-The greatest problem to overcome is fear

-The most effective sleeping pill is peace of mind

-The most crippling failure disease is excuses

-The most powerful force in life is love

-The most dangerous act is a gossip

-The world’s most incredible computer is the brain

-The worst thing to be without is hope

-The deadliest weapon is the tongue

-The two most power-filled words are “I can”

-The greatest asset is faith

-The most worthless emotion is self-pity

-The most beautiful attire is smile

-The most prized possession is integrity

-The most powerful channel of communication is prayer

-And, the most contagious spirit is enthusiasm

While all of the above aspects of life are very important, it is our most needed lesson in life to learn is how to attain an everlasting life. An everlasting life that will be rewarded to those who are faithful servant of the Almighty God and His Son – Lord Jesus Christ after Christ’s Second Advent.

All individuals have fear of death, meaning that mankind wants to maintain life for whatever means. How do men overcome the fear of death?

It is the Lord God that has mandated for men to die for the first death in this life on earth, and the second death will be experienced after Judgment Day for those who did not heed to the pronouncement of Lord Jesus Christ.

How can men surpass the second death as mandated by God?

The answer could be gleaned in an article titled “Living a life worthy of the calling to which we have been called”, authored by Brother Jensen DG. Mañebog, Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) Minister of the Gospel, published in the Pasugo: God’s Message in its March 2019 issue.

Accordingly, the topic was based on the worship service lesson taught by the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, in the Local Congregation of Deparo, Ecclesiastical District of Metro Manila North on December 22, 2018.

We are quoting herewith the transcript of said article.

Iglesia Ni Cristo Executive Minister Brother Eduardo V. Manalo

“If a person is called to a particular vocation but fails to truly respond to it, then not only does he undermine the calling to which he is called, but he also fails and disappoints the one who calls him.

“It may be tempting to ignore God’s call, especially if it seems challenging or out of one’s comfort zone. This can boil down to unwillingness to trust the Lord with one’s life. It may be enticing to pick the undemanding path, but if one makes this choice, he can end up missing out on so much of the promises and great plans that God has for him.

Those called by the Lord

“The Apostle Paul mentions of people who have been called by the Lord God (Eph. 4:1 Amplified Bible, 2015). These are the people rescued and delivered from the power of darkness and brought by God into the kingdom of His Son Jesus Christ, in Whom they have redemption and the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:12-14 Expanded Bible). The Bible makes it clear that they are inside that which was purchased by Christ’s blood which is none other than the Church Of Christ (Acts 20:28 Lamsa Translation).

“The apostle thus appeals to the members of the Church Of Christ ‘to live a life worthy of the calling’ to which they have been called, that is, ‘to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behavior.’ This is the kind of life that ‘expresses gratitude to God’ for their salvation (Eph. 4:1 AMP, 2015). Thus, it is responding correctly to the calling to which true believers have been called.

A life exhibiting godly character

“The Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, likewise exhorts us, members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) today, to possess and always display gentle and noble attitude. If we are to be brave, we ought to be courageous in doing what is morally right; that is, the ‘right’ that is not based on people’s subjective and relative standards but on God’s words written in the Bible. As God’s people, we are counseled to be honest, to possess strong moral principles, and to uphold a sense of moral uprightness.

“Apostle Peter pertinently instructs us Christians: ‘…Do your best to live in a way that shows you really are God’s called and chosen people. If you do all this, you will never fall’ (2 Pet. 1:10 Easy-to-Read Version). Living a life worthy of the calling to which we have been called not only manifests that we are indeed God’s elect but also molds us to be resolute in the faith.

“As fruits of God’s work of salvation who received His pristine teachings, we should ‘stop doing bad things that do not make God happy’ and ‘stop wanting strongly the things that belong to this world’ (Titus 2:12 Easy English Bible). Wherever we may be, we must ‘rule ourselves properly’ and ‘do the things that make Him (God) happy… while we live in this world… while we wait for Jesus to return’ (Titus 2:12 EEB).

“For this reason, we have to put to death these things: ‘… the evil longings of your earthly body (with its sensual, self-centered instincts), immorality, impurity, sinful; passion, evil desire, and greed…’ (Col. 3:4-5 Amplified Bible). If a person engages in these matters, in effect he is engaged with ‘(a kind of) idolatry,’ as these replace one’s devotion to God (Col. 3:5 AMP). God’s chosen people should, therefore, shun all forms of earthly desires – immoralities, wickedness, dissipation, and vices such as drug addiction.”

The meaning of life has been discussed in this column last week. Likewise, the 20 aspects of life that are very important to mankind as contained in the Balance Sheet of Life have been indicated.

Accordingly, the 26 letters of the English alphabet are so intelligently arranged for they show the way of life. Always Be Cool. Don’t have Ego with Friends and Family. Give up Hurting Individuals. Just Keep Loving Mankind. Never Omit Prayers. Quietly Remember God. Speak Truth. Use Valid Words. Xpress Your Zeal.

Said arrangement of the alphabet is a useful guidepost for peaceful living of mankind.

Moreover, last week, the way to achieve eternal life has been portrayed using Biblical precepts through an article titled “Living a life worthy of the calling to which we have been called”, authored by Brother Jensen DG. Mañebog, Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) Minister of the Gospel, published in the Pasugo: God’s Message in its March 2019 issue.

The topic discussed in the article was based on the worship service lesson taught by the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, in the Local Congregation of Deparo, Ecclesiastical District of Metro Manila North on December 22, 2018.

The narratives of said article is continuously quoted herein.

God’s expectation

“Instead of indulging in sinful deeds, God’s servants from the ‘ends of the earth’ are expected by the Lord to devote themselves to praising Him (Isa. 42:10 Douay-Rheims, 1899). Hence, as members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo that emerged in these last days from the Philippines (a country that comprises more than 7,000 islands), we ought to ‘give glory to the Lord’ and ‘declare his praise in the islands’ (Isa. 42:12 Douay-Rheims, 1899).

“One of the ways to give glory to God is to ‘praise the Lord’ and ‘worship at the Temple’ (Ps. 99:5 International Children’s Bible). We should not be remiss, therefore, in attending the congregational worship services wherever we may be and whatever condition we may be in. Even when beset by hardships and troubles, we ought to be dauntless in serving the Lord, worshiping Him, and fulfilling our divine duties.

“To His servants from the ‘east’ and the ‘ends of the earth’ (Isa. 435-6 God’s Word), that is, to us members of the Church Of Christ in these last days, the Lord further states: ‘… I chose you so that you would help people believe me. I chose you so that you would understand that ‘I Am He’––I am the true God. There was no God before me, and there will be no God after me’ (Isa.43:10 ETRV).

“Thus, we should enthusiastically help in missionary activities, through which more people may know that the Father is the only true God––not the many gods of other faiths, nor the so-called Trinity. Valiant we must be in propagating God’s genuine doctrines, for our divine election will be incomplete without us fulfilling this noble duty. God’s promises

“For us faithful Church members, we joined the Iglesia Ni Cristo neither because our loved ones or friends are here nor simply because we like the camaraderie among brethren, but because we heeded God’s call. And to us, it is clear that responding top God’s call does entail living a life worthy of the calling by obeying all His will.

“Faithfully abiding by God’s will is not without reward. The Father promises, ‘… Obey me, and I will be your God and you shall be my people; only do as I say, and all shall be well (Jer. 7:23 Living Bible).

“Bountiful are the benefits of having God in our life. With Him on our side, there are blessings even in hardship. In times of suffering, God’s mercy manifest as we will never endure an affliction through which no good will come.

“If God is with us, the Evil One shall not prevail against us. We may encounter difficulties and troubles but they will not harden our heart, never make us blaspheme God, nor rebel against His Church and its

Administration. Instead, they will produce in us humility, endurance, and stronger faith, thereby all the more turning us toward the Lord.

“God is the fortress and shield of His obedient people against danger. If we obey Him, we shall not lack anything that He sees to be good for us. Most importantly, the Father will grant unto us the great inheritance. When we are struggling financially as the world economy dwindles, it is always great to think of the blissful eternal life which is but a short time away. We ought to keep in mind that it is the Lord’s good pleasure to bestow upon us, members of the Church Of Christ, the heavenly Kingdom.

Making it until the end

“One of the challenges for us perhaps is the importance for the day to come to see the Lord’s plan comes to fulfillment. Bear in mind thought that our Father blesses those who wait for His promise to come to pass. If we have faith that He has the perfect will for us and that His ways are always better than ours, then we will be willing to wait.

“To make it until the very end, especially in upholding our divine election, we must pray to the Lord for help: ‘In times of trouble, may the LORD answer (our) cry. May the name of the God of Jacob keep (us) safe from all harm. May he send (us) help from his sanctuary and strengthen (us)…’ (Ps. 20:1-2 New Living Translation).

“Endeavoring to assist today’s Church members to live a good life while keeping the true faith, the Executive Minister, in the same vein, always prays for us, thus: ‘May he grants your heart’s desire and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God. May the LORD answer all your prayers’ (Ps. 20:4-5 NLT).

“No doubt, we, Church Of Christ members, are the elect of God. But this blessing is coupled with the noble duty to truthfully respond to His call. By living a life worthy before His holy sight, not only do we honor the calling to which we were called but also glorify Him Who called us.”

So, the dutiful calling of life among men with the Almighty God has been revealed. Let us be one of those who are living the life that God wants! And be saved come Judgment Day.

If you want to know more about the things that you ought to do to be saved come Judgment Day – the Second Advent of Lord Jesus Christ, please call telephone numbers +632 981-4311 / 981-1111 / 719-78000 or address your queries at E-mail: pasugo@iglesianicristo.org.ph.