The worship of God is the reason why the entire universe was created out of nothing. The worship of God is why the true Church of Jesus Christ exists. Worship is the reason why the Church must proclaim, uphold and defend the truth of the Gospel of sovereign particular grace. Worship is the goal of all evangelism and missions. Worship is the everlasting preoccupation of the redeemed in heavenly glory. It is also with regard to worship that the Church of the Old and New Testament provoked the Lord Jehovah’s terrible displeasure with all her idolatries, will-worship and irreverence. The measure of the cup of iniquity of fallen mankind prior to the return of Christ in judgment will be filled by the world’s ultimate worship of the antichrist. It is upon this conviction that the pastors of the BTRCs sense the pressing necessity to once and for all coordinate and consolidate their distinctive worship orders, though they are, from the beginning, governed by Biblical principles and comprised by the very worship elements commanded by the Word of God. It was clear among our pastors that the elements: congregational prayer, congregational psalm singing, the salutation and votum, the blessing, Scripture reading, preaching, the hearing of the preaching, the offertory and the benediction are all essential and must be implemented in the public worship of the Church. Ptr. Ron Santos who facilitated the conference vouched for the beauty of Reformed liturgical worship despised as ‘traditional’ and ‘dry’ by modern so-called Evangelicals, Pentecostal-Charismatics and apostate Reformed churches with their man-centered worship. The conference also addressed practical aspects like the standard attire for ministers when leading worship and the question whether the suspension from partaking of the Lord’s Supper should itself be construed as a method of Christian discipline. To the latter, the body returned a negative and maintained instead that the suspension from the Lord’s Supper is a means to guard it from those unworthy to partake. It is the prayer of these ‘laborers’ of God (who met on Labor’s Day) that what has been established in this simple yet meaningful symposium will tend towards the renewed appreciation of the beauty of Reformed worship by the BTRCs. Not only a mere appreciation, but also the realization that the beauty of Reformed worship is a reflection of the perfect beauty of the Sovereign God they worship.
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1) A foretaste of the eternal and the heavenly communion of all the redeemed—that is the picture impressed upon the hearts of the saints of the BTRCs in their recent interchurch fellowship held last April 6 in Lipa City, Batangas. BTRC Batangas hosted this general gathering to complete the first cycle wherein each of the four BTRC churches takes its turn to be host church beginning in year 2007. This fellowship’s theme is “God’s Only Gospel, My Only Comfort”. It must be evident by now that in all such gatherings by the BTRCs the Gospel—God’s only Gospel; the Gospel of sovereign particular irresistible grace—is their sole emphasis. It is the fundamental ground of their unity as a denomination. Yet in each scheduled gathering that beautiful Gospel is applied to various circumstances and standpoints. This time this Gospel is emphasized in relation to the believer’s ‘comfort’ in ‘body and soul’ and in ‘life and death.’ For this reason each of the three speeches was an exposition and application of the Scripture-derived Heidelberg Catechism (Lord’s Day 1) loved by Reformed believers since the sixteenth century. Pastor Romel Espera of BTRC Batasan spoke on the comfort of the believer found only in Christ as he expounded the question part and first portion of the answer of the Catechism. Pastor June Subior of BTRC Batangas passionately addressed his hearers laying emphasis on a comfort grounded on the accomplished work of Christ. The series of three speeches were concluded by Pastor Jhyson Vino of BTRC Lucban with the fitting message of a comfort assured and secured by Christ Himself. The afternoon was spent on the usual but meaningful group sessions and on the reporting and short discussion concerning the official decisions of Classis 2012 of the BTRC. The gathering was relatively short but refreshing. One can count on it that everyone truly blessed in this reunion of Gospel believers will eagerly look forward to the next interchurch fellowship. “ …for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore” (Psalm 133:3).
Nearly four years have elapsed since the Bastion of Truth Reformed Churches in the Philippines first convened as a Classis to discuss and deliberate on significant ecclesiastical matters. It may be said that what has been established in that broader assembly has set forth BTRC distinctives, not for its own sake, but for its faithful witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Philippines. It is in this same spirit that BTRC Classis 2012 was convened in Antipolo City last March 17. During the period that intervened between the two assemblies certain practical matters concerning the BTRC Church Order arose as subjects of inquiry and discussion. Among them are: (1) regulations on wedding ceremonies (2) guidelines for implementing the cleansing of our church registries, and (3) BTRC’s position on the validity of Roman Catholic and Arminian baptisms. Ptr. Ron Santos, Ptr. Christian Alayon and Ptr. Alex Aquino presented before delegates the said matters respectively for discussion and deliberation. It was remarkable that all delegates unanimously voted in favor of the presented policies in conducting wedding ceremonies resulting in the revision of Article 70 of the Church Order, the suggested guidelines for implementing cleansing of church registry and the rejection of the validity of Roman Catholic and Arminian baptisms. Details of the decisions are available on the ‘Classis’ page of this website (Click on ‘Classis’ tab). It is our prayer that the Sovereign LORD be given the glory due Him and His Church be edified in this humble exercise.
November 29, 2010 marked another “first” in the history of the Bastion of Truth Reformed Churches in the Philippines as pastors, elders, deacons and observers from BTRC Antipolo, Batasan Hills, Lipa and Lucban convene for their First Office Bearers’ Conference held at BTRC of Batasan Hills, Quezon City. The conference aims to formally instruct ourconsistories as to the responsibilities of each office bearer called by the Lord Jesus Christ to serve in His Church. The program which commenced at nine in the morning proceeded with the singing of the Tagalog Psalter, reading of Holy Scripture, prayers, a declaration of a couple of pertinent Articles from the Belgic Confession of Faith and is highlighted by a devotional speech and three major speeches from our pastors.
Pastor Jhyson Vino of BTRC Lucban echoed an insightful and edifying word from the apostle Paul’s own admonition to the elders of the church of Ephesus in the first century: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).
Pastor Christian Joy Alayon of BTRC Batasan Hills expounded the first major topic, namely, “The Principle in Serving as Office Bearer” by laying emphasis on the truth that Christ is “the” Office Bearer of the Church appointed by God and each office bearer is called and carries out his function in accordance with the three aspects of Christ’s office as Great Prophet, Great King and Great High Priest of His Church.
Pastor Alex Aquino of BTRC Antipolo laid out the “Duties of Office Bearers” being the second major topic of the conference. He described the duties and responsibilities of every minister of the Word, ruling elder and deacon in every church. This he did coupling with a few remarks on how the 16th century Protestant Reformation particularly with John Calvin was instrumental in the restoration of these truly Biblical offices in the church. He also laid out the qualifications required for such a spiritual and sensitive calling in the church without failing to underscore the honor, privilege and reward for the faithful discharge of such calling to serve Christ’s beloved Church.
The afternoon's program was highlighted by quite an interesting and challenging speech from Pastor Ronald Santos of BTRC Batasan laying stress on “Practical Wisdom in Overseeing God’s Church.” This speech, being the last among the three, seeks to put into concrete actions the principles and guidelines established in the two preceding topics. It takes account of the Church Consistory’s goal to maintain an orderly worship through organized and united effort among its members. Furthermore, Pastor Santos laid out guidelines in the consistory’s planning and implementation backed by a little Physics lecture about the “Second Law of Thermodymics: The Law of Entropy” simply demonstrating that just as things left to themselves will deteriorate or disintegrate so without planning and implementation there will be chaos. Significant considerations were also mentioned such as determining the correct priorities, warning against “pragmatism” (which is quite a useful friend to Arminians), the Bible with “common-sense” as being indispensable to making decisions and the correct attitude towards official decisions by the consistory.
The latter parts of each of the morning and afternoon sessions were allotted for questions, discussions and suggestions. A notable proposal is the convening of a Classis sometime in the near future (the Lord willing) to establish the denomination’s official position on the validity of Roman Catholic baptism, dismembering a person from the church registry and decisions on the bounds of a minister’s social involvements.The conference concluded at three in the afternoon and was followed by snacks and fellowship. The BTRCs are truly grateful to God that by this humble exercise His church will be cared for, upheld and defended in the midst of a society and a false religion that dares call itself evangelical and Christian and yet is offended by the Gospel.
"Never Ashamed of the Gospel", BTRCP Holds 3rd Inter-church Fellowship in Antipolo
2010’s tropical summer had been most meaningful to the saints of the Bastion of Truth Reformed Churches in the Philippines as they meet once again for their third interchurch fellowship last April 1. BTRC Antipolo was tasked to host this much anticipated fellowship of four local Reformed churches, providing the venue and facilitating the distribution of meals and refreshments. The venue was a clubhouse of a village (we call “subdivision”) situated in Antipolo City where people are able to have a hill view of the cities of Metro Manila.
The theme for this fellowship event is “Never Ashamed of the Gospel” based on the passage from 2 Timothy 1:8-12 reminiscent of the apostle Paul’s dire imprisonment and imminent martyrdom for the sake of the Gospel; the Gospel for which he beseeched his son in the faith, Timothy, not to be ashamed of; the very Gospel upheld and defended by the Bastion of Truth Reformed Churches; the Gospel of sovereign particular grace.
Three speeches highlighted this monumental gathering. The keynote message was delivered by Pastor Romel V. Espera of BTRC Batasan Hills driving home to the hearts of his hearers that the Gospel for which they must suffer is the very Gospel that will bring them to eternal glory. He reminds them of the nature of the Gospel according to 2 Timothy 1:9 and 10: that the Gospel saves not potentially but effectually; that it is wholly the work of God and none of man; that it is of the eternal counsel of God and not a contingency measure for salvation; and that it is the Gospel manifested through Christ’s appearing alone and never through any other way. Pastor Jhyson A. Vino of BTRC Lucban, delivering the second speech based on 2 Timothy 1:8-12, led his hearers in the confidence that it is not a disgrace but rather a privilege both to testify and suffer for the sake of the Gospel. Pastor June F. Subior of BTRC Lipa concluded the speeches with a high note as he expounded 2 Timothy 1:12 imparting to his audience true hope as they are assured that they will never be brought to shame and regret notwithstanding their present sufferings for the Gospel's sake since this Gospel assures a genuine knowledge of Christ and an assurance of God's keeping until the day of Final Judgment.
As suggested in the feedbacks on the previous interchurch fellowship last December 2008, the afternoon group Bible activity was reincluded in the program. The entire assembly was divided into men’s, women’s, young professionals’ college students’, teens’ and kids’ groups. It proved to be very profitable as believers of each local church and guests intermingled to discuss prepared questions centered on the 2 Timothy passage and its message under the guidance of assigned facilitators. Reporters were then appointed after the discussions to present before the whole assembly each group's conclusions.
The sovereign Lord was pleased to lead into this gathering of Reformed believers guests from Cavite, Lucban, Lipa, Batangas City, the upper and lower Antipolo areas, Pasay City and Gapan, Nueva Ecija and provided occasion to witness to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord willing, the fourth BTRC interchurch fellowship will be held in Lipa City (Batangas) in the summer of 2012 and to be hosted by BTRC Lipa.
It has truly been a blessing from the Lord as Reformed believers unite once again not only by the token of their physical presence but above all by reaffirming their common God-given faith established once again by the power of the only and true Gospel of God’s grace. God conferred to them this incomparable and fully satisfying blessing through the preached Word of God alone to which no parlor game, pragmatism or entertainment activity can equal or substitute. To God alone be all the glory!
The Element of Eternity
BTRC pastors continue to meet every Monday for mutual edification and to address matters of concern involving the local churches. A significant part of the meetings has been devoted to an ongoing training of pastors for the improvement of their preaching ministry. Pastor Ronald Santos continues to lead the sessions not only by imparting his competent knowledge of Scripture but also by inspiring and encouraging his fellow ministers. He never fails to share any article and material he finds from books on preaching and religious periodicals that may be of benefit to the development of the BTRC pulpit ministry. Of notable concern which he pointed out in recent months is the ministers’ inadequate emphasis on the “element of eternity” in their sermon applications.
So-called modern evangelical preaching―fueled from within by the false gospel of Arminianism/free-willism and pressured from without by the multitude’s itch for entertainment and so-called “practical” messages―generally makes superficial appeals addressing the mere temporal and earthly needs of its audience. Consider how such preaching abuses and corrupts the concept of “blessing” (especially in prosperity gospel and Charismatic circles) and takes it to ultimately mean material success and temporal prosperity. Its audience is to be pitied for being motivated by a base experience of entertainment at the least and by a false hope at the most. In either case the experience is bound not to last. Yet even the Reformed preacher is susceptible to make poor applications too through his own carelessness. The Reformed believer tends to be content in a reassuring appeal that God is in control over all his present afflictions. Such appeal does honor the sovereignty of God and may indeed contribute to the comfort of the believer, yet is short of faithfully acknowledging the glory of God in realizing His sovereign eternal counsel by fulfilling His everlasting covenant with His elect in bringing them to eternal life.
Holy Scripture underscores and therefore warrants this emphasis in preaching. This is apparent in the apostle Paul’s words to the saints in Rome: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). The author of Hebrews echoing the world view of the Old Testament saints reminded his readers, “By faith he [i.e. Abraham, to whose supposed example of prosperity Charismatics and proponents of the prosperity gospel appeal to justify their storing for themselves treasures on earth] sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God…But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:9, 10, 16). The apostle Peter spoke as much, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). And what incomparable words of comfort came from the very lips of our Lord Jesus when He told His disciples, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation [not prosperity]: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33), and, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3). Every serious believer should constantly be reminded that Christ’s precious blood was not spilled on the cross for men's business and livelihood, nor their earthly mansions, nor their vacation or shopping sprees. He died and resurrected that He might bring every one of His elect to God’s New Jerusalem—the New Heavens and New Earth where perfect righteousness dwells.
Being therefore made conscious by God of this Biblical emphasis BTRC preachers take on the challenge to develop their ministry gifts and hone their skills for this vital element in their preaching. For the praise of God’s glory and for the true comfort of His elect Church they shall rest upon His grace in their weekly preaching ministries as they strive to be deliberate and resolute to give due emphasis to that element of eternity.
BTRCs Affected by Typhoon "Ondoy"
Typhoon “Ondoy” hits Metro Manila and the Rizal, Laguna and Bulacan provinces with heavy rains causing the overflow of major rivers, one of which is the Marikina River, claiming several human lives and destroying properties. The weather bureau estimated that the six-hour duration of persistent heavy rains in Quezon City beginning 8 AM on Saturday, September 26, was equivalent to one month amount of rainfall in the city. Experts explain that the three typhoons that hit the country just within the month of September prior to “Ondoy” left the soil very saturated causing the flood waters to recede very slowly.
BTRC Batasan cancelled worship services on Sunday (September 27) as some members were severely affected by the catastrophe. Flood waters rose up to the houses' roof level in those villages located near the Batasan-San Mateo Bridge which was extraordinarily overwhelmed by torrents. BTRC Antipolo, having members stranded at work and in school, postponed observance of the Lord’s Supper and held a short service devoted to prayer for the brethren affected by the calamity and to a brief but timely encouragement from God’s Word. BTRC brethren from the provinces showed willingness to help by travelling to the city to offer assistance especially in removing the silt left by the enormous flood waters and in putting the houses back into order.
God be praised for His mercy in preserving the lives of brothers and sisters in BTRC who were directly affected by the flood. There were no reports of casualties involving the BTRC brethren. The Bastion of Truth Reformed Churches perceived this calamity through the spectacles of God’s written Word. They saw the mighty hand of God (not “Mother Nature” as idolaters and unbelievers claim) in this entire phenomenon. They saw His wrath being revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. God-given faith prompted them to praise God (mixed with fear and trembling) and His “wrath” since it is just and holy! They acknowledged the absolute power of the Lord Jesus over nature for all authority is given Him both in heaven and on earth. They heard His Words, “I am coming soon” and so they sensed the nearness of their redemption.
BTRCP Holds Second Interchurch Fellowship
Amid the lingering global economic crisis the Lord graciously provided the means for the resource-limited Bastion of Truth Reformed Churches in the Philippines to meet for their second interchurch fellowship on December 26, 2008. The nearly postponed but much anticipated gathering was held in the La Mesa Eco Park, an oasis of natural scenery preserved within the busy metropolitan environs of Quezon City. The long holiday break declared by the government and enjoyed by most for carnal reasons was opportunity for the BTRC saints to see brethren from other local churches, enjoy fellowship with them and hear God’s encouraging Word delivered by the speakers. The BTRC of Batasan Hills hosted this year’s interchurch fellowship event, taking care of the venue and serving delightful meals and snacks from the contributions of local churches.
The theme for this fellowship event is “Separation unto the Gospel” reflecting BTRC’s steadfast commitment to the one and only saving truth of the Gospel applied to the manner they deal with teachings, practical situations and people who clash against the standard of this Gospel. The speakers expounded upon both the positive and negative viewpoint of the theme, that is, our being separated “unto” or being consecrated towards the truth of the Gospel as well as our separation “from” false gospels and other errors and evils. Pastor Christian Joy B. Alayon of BTRC Batasan spoke from the letter of 2 John verses 9 to 11 expounding the aspect of the theme, “Separation from False Gospels and Teachers”. Pastor Regino Capinig of BTRC Lipa City delivered God’s Word from the gospel of John 17:17 expounding the positive aspect of the theme, “Separation unto the Truth [of the Gospel]."
It may be worth mentioning that a part of the program was a united confession and an affirmation by the churches of Article 29 of the Belgic or Netherlands Confession which is among the BTRC’s official doctrinal standards. Article 29’s title is “Of the marks of the true Church, and wherein she differs from the false Church.” It was an edifying exercise since whereas the BTRCs are disdainfully dubbed “separatist” churches they are in fact churches separated unto the Gospel and separated from false churches however influential, popular and numerous those churches may be.
The two encouraging speeches were followed by a short question-and answer session where most of the questions centered on the struggles and stance of the brothers and sisters against the prevailing practices attached to the observance of Christmas (Remember that this fellowship event was held the day just after Christmas Day). The BTRCs do not observe Christmas so members feel the pressure of compromise in families and homes, schools and work places.
The formal part of the program was held only during the morning. It was pre-arranged that the afternoon be a free time for the attendees and their families to meander through the pleasant and relaxing sites of the park.
Feedbacks reveal that there were those who expected a group Bible discussion as was done during the first interchurch fellowship held in Lucban. This is a very positive attitude in our people which was admittedly overlooked and should be taken into account in anticipation of the next interchurch fellowship which will be held, the Lord willing, on summer of 2010 in Antipolo City and to be hosted by BTRC Antipolo.
It has been a brief but blessed gathering as the Sovereign God of Grace gathered once again His people who are in need of much encouragement and comfort, first from His Word and Spirit and then through the spiritual fellowship and unity of every saint made stronger through the visible presence of a fellow Gospel believer and defender.
2008 Classis of the Bastion of Truth Reformed Churches
On Monday, June 9, the lone classis of the Bastion of Truth Reformed Churches in the Philippines convened for the first time in the capacity of a Synod. Synod concluded its short but significant work in one whole day under the able leadership of the president, Ptr. Ronald R. Santos of BTRC Lucban. The synod secretary was Ptr. Alex M. Aquino of BTRC Antipolo.
Besides the voting delegates from each local church several interested members also attended the whole-day event. Observers from His Name Is Jesus Ministries, a reforming former Arminian Pentecostal church led by Ptr. Leovino Trinidad, also attended the synod. Two messages from God’s Word were delivered as the synod's program ensued. The morning message was delivered by Ptr. Alex Aquino laboring upon Acts chapter 15 to enlighten the assembly how the Lord Jesus Christ actively works in the BTRC in the face of many challenges. The beginning of the afternoon session was highlighted by another message from God’s Word delivered by Ptr. Ronald Santos on 2 Thessalonians 2:9-14 as he challenged his hearers to thank God not as any ordinary professing person can (particularly an Arminian who delights in thanking his god about things carnal and earthly). He pointed out that as no one else is able to, God’s elect ought to thank his heavenly Father for not appointing him unto terrible wrath but eternally and unconditionally appointed him unto salvation.
Official business included the ratification of currently existing regulations pertaining to articles in the provisional BTRC Church Order, revisions and the final adoption of the entire Church Order itself. Items listed for synod’s approval pertaining to the Church Order and other major matters were:
Concerning Article 15 the Ministers of the Word who are occasionally invited to preach to other BTRC and non-BTRC churches shall not only secure the consent of their consistory but shall with them plan to arrange with other ministers from other BTRC churches who are blessed with more than one preacher to fill in the invited minister’s vacant pulpit to ensure that no congregation shall be deprived of live preaching every Lord’s day.
Regarding Article 44 synod approves to sustain the system implemented by lone classis of the BTRC at the beginning of this year where at least one able minister visits the churches for their edification.
Synod adopts decision in connection with Article 19 to appoint Committee on Ministerial/Theological Training whose function is to supervise centralized and localized ministerial training for future BTRC ministers in the current absence of a theological seminary.
Synod deliberates to retain Articles 21, 47, 48 and 50 whose provisions are not applicable to BTRC at present but were part of the Church Order of the Synod of Dordrecht. They are enclosed in parentheses.
Synod approves revision on Article 67 of the provisional Church Order where the BTRC will not be obligated to observe Christmas, Lent, etc., or preach on the themes of the birth, death, resurrection, etc. of Christ concurrent to their traditional dates but will be at liberty to preach these themes anytime of the year.
Synod adopts revision of Article 69 of the provisional Church Order that originally allowed for the approval of hymns other than the 150 Psalms of David and the Biblical hymns. The revision therefore prescribes only these for the formal worship of the BTRC and shall not approve of the use of traditional or contemporary hymns therein.
Synod officially adopts the confessional forms, namely, the ecumenical creeds: The Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed, Chalcedonian Creed and The Three Forms of Unity: Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dordt which until this time served as provisional symbols and confessions of the BTRC. These are adopted by synod in their English translation as well as in their Tagalog translation except the Tagalog Canons of Dordt about which a proposal was brought by the president to work on a Tagalog translation of the Canons based on the suggested corrections made by Prof. Homer C. Hoeksema in his commentary “The Voice of Our Fathers.” Motion was approved by synod.
Synod officially adopts the “BTRC Gospel Standard Declaration” that defines the true Gospel as originally and always taught by the Reformed Confessions. This is not a new or separate confession but rather serves to distinguish the BTRC from apostate Reformed Churches who still hold to the Three Forms of Unity by mere force of tradition and contradict the same by their heresies.
Synod also adopts the English and Tagalog liturgical forms such as the Forms for the Administration of Baptism (Adult and Infant), The Lord’s Supper (The Long Version and the Abbreviated Version), Ordination (Ministers of the Word, Elders, Deacons, Missionaries), Formula of Subscription, Public Confession of Faith, and Marriage.
Synod adopts the King James Version as the BTRC’s official English version of the Bible and the “Ang Biblia” and the “Ang Bagong Ang Biblia” as their official Tagalog translation of the Bible.
Synod officially adopts the latest compilation of the BTRC Tagalog Psalter comprising 32 Psalms and 5 Doxologies.
Synod appointed committee on youth affairs seeking to reach the particular needs of the Reformed Youth of the BTRC. Ptr. Allan Faurillo was commissioned to spearhead the task of finding and developing ways to instruct and challenge the BTRC youth.
The final matter presented before synod is the question whether the baptism administered by the Roman Catholic Church is valid? Synod resolving to find solid Biblical answers realizes that the question is rather difficult as Reformed tradition accepts it as valid while Reformed churches who rejected such baptism were in the minority not to mention the severe difficulty they underwent during past discussions. Synod president conferred with the delegates whether the question shall be dropped or should further in-depth study continue. Delegates consented that further in-depth study should continue. A committee was appointed for this task.
Responsibilities are still too heavy for a fledgling Reformed denomination as the BTRC, not to mention that it has to fight fierce battles in evil times. In the convening of this synod the BTRCs do not style themselves as history makers nor experts in parliamentary procedure but in each deliberation and every official adoption they do their utmost to confess their Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. May the Lord of the Church bless her and equip her for the challenges of the future especially as her Redeemer's return is fast drawing nigh. Soli Deo Gloria!!!
BTRCP Holds First Interchurch Fellowship
BTRCP held its first interchurch fellowship since its organization as a Reformed denomination in April 2004. The long awaited event was convened last April 6, 2007 in Lucban, Quezon Province and participated by local BTRCs from Antipolo, Batasan and Lipa with Lucban as host church.
The gathering's chief goal is to encourage and strengthen the brethren in the only and true Gospel of God’s grace. This is achieved as each BTRC church and individual member realizes that he does not stand alone in his firm conviction in the true Gospel.
More than the delight in seeing brethren dwelling together in unity is the Lord’s presence gracing the occasion through the exposition of His Word. The program was highlighted by three messages from our pastors. The messages were geared to establish in everyone's conviction that there is only one Gospel of salvation; that it is the precious heritage of the Church of the past and therefore must be unitedly guarded, confessed and defended by the faithful modern day Church. Hence, the theme of the occasion:“One Gospel, One Heritage, One Stand.”
Pastor Ronnie Santos of BTRC Lucban delivered the keynote message from Galatians 1:6-12 warning the brethren against deception by false gospels and false preachers. He labored upon his theme in his emphasis that God has revealed only one Gospel. He expanded this antithetically by exposing the fallacy that there are different “versions” or degrees of “purity” of the Gospel. He further pointed out that the one and only Gospel that saves is a Gospel of God’s pure sovereign grace. He qualified his premise by indicating that although the message of this Gospel is unequivocal and absolute, it may be presented in more than one way, whereas the Doctrines of the Gospel of God's Grace represented by the acronym TULIP is the most systematic and clearest presentation.
The second message was delivered by Pastor Alex Aquino of BTRC Antipolo challenging the audience to guard a precious heritage—the “faith once-for-all-delivered” (the Gospel) to the saints (the Church). He established this challenge upon the charge given by the epistle of Jude in verses 3 and 4 urging believers to contend for the faith (of the Gospel) once-for-all-delivered—a faith that did not and will not change, but is being subtly perverted and corrupted by God’s enemies. Moreover, the charge to guard and contend for our Gospel heritage is laid upon us by the true historical Church being its true and rightful heir. And as heir to the true Church of the past it is our mission to confess, live out, and defend that faith to the end.
Following the second message was a synchronized group Bible study involving all attendees discussing Romans 10:1-4. With the aid of assigned leaders and a set of guide questions group members would be able to determine for themselves the necessity of the knowledge of God’s righteousness to salvation, on the one hand, and the fatal danger, on the other hand, of the ignorance of God’s righteousness that inevitably leads the sinner to establish his “own” (not God’s in Christ’s) righteousness. He may be sincere yet blind and ignorant; zealous yet lacking in knowledge. Paul judges that such person is NOT SAVED as inferred by the desire in his prayer that they might be saved.
Pastor Regine Capinig of BTRC Lipa delivered the third message. He exhorted the brethren to unite and stand as one in the defense of the Gospel in spite of the distance that separates each local church. He presented three reasons from various passages of Scripture for his plea for unity. One reason is the real presence of enemies of the Gospel. Another is the reality of our own weaknesses. And last being the reward awaiting those who have suffered with others for the Gospel’s sake.
In the closing stages of the program was a portion devoted for questions and suggestions. Brothers expressed heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the efforts rendered by members of the host church which for the most part contributed to the feasibility of the undertaking. Now that everyone was given the experience of the joy and blessedness of knowing and being with brethren from other local BTRCs many suggested and approved of the idea of holding another fellowship as early as December. It is too early, of course, to ascertain the possibility of another gathering.
The Lord in His grace gave us opportunity in this monumental gathering to behold His marvelous work beyond the walls of our local churches; how He preserves His precious Gospel in the faith and lives of His redeemed children in other localities, and hence willingly accept the challenge to unite as one in the proclamation and defense of His glorious Gospel. Glory be to God alone.
BTRC Pastors Conduct Preaching Clinic
BTRC pastors met regularly since April  for a preaching clinic. The denomination took such measures for several reasons. One being that if they will truly be Reformed Churches, the BTRCs must assign to preaching its central place in the life of the Church, since the 16th Century Reformation was a return to the primacy of preaching. The Roman Catholic church undermined Biblical preaching through its pompous and elaborate liturgy and its undue emphasis on the sacraments. If there was preaching at all it lacked Biblical content and was merely embellished with sensational fables, traditions and speculations intended to amuse the uneducated. Today the Pentecostal, Charismatic and Contemporary Worship movements are guilty of the same offense committed by the apostate Roman church in their disregard of true Biblical preaching. The preaching (if there is at all) in the worship services of most of these churches are squeezed into short inspirational (entertaining) messages. The long praise and worship (entertainment) service, ‘special’ numbers (as if the preaching of the Word is not), testimonies, drama presentations, pageantries, pantomime, puppet shows, dance, film showing (the list is endless) take dominance which reveals the modern audience’s itch for the novel and spectacular. One need not be surprised if it has become a popular notion that an unregenerate may even be “saved” through and in the middle of a song service or a drama presentation.
In connection to this the preaching clinic was deemed necessary because the BTRC maintain that God in Christ calls, saves and gathers His chosen people through the preaching of the Word alone. Although private Bible study is profitable and personal witnessing important they only lead a person to salvation in connection to the preaching of the Word.
Thirdly, it is the firm conviction of the BTRC that the ordained preacher speaks not only “about” Jesus Christ but through the preacher Jesus Christ “Himself” speaks. His audience not merely hears about Christ but actually hears “Him” (Romans 10:14, 15). This is serious reason for every BTRC pastor that he may not only exult in the honor and privilege of being Christ’s mouthpiece but that he must tremble in fear of the seriousness of his calling. For God will not hold guiltless a pastor who corrupts and perverts the Word of God through his laziness, carelessness and ignorance.
Fourthly, Satan has been from the beginning training experts and doctors of deceit who fascinate the Church in all ages with their false gospel. BTRC preachers argue that if false prophets hone their skills in propagating fatal, damnable errors and labor hard to substitute entertainment, amusement and pragmatism for preaching in the church, faithful preachers of the Gospel must strive harder to improve skills and grow in effectiveness. For they must fight not with carnal weapons but with weapons having divine power to pull down strongholds and demolish arguments that set themselves against the knowledge of God.
Fifthly, since it is the firm belief of the BTRCs that they are entrusted with the true Gospel of salvation—to confess, publish and defend, it is regretful and disappointing that this Gospel should die in their hands in their lack of clarity, skill and organization.
Lastly, the preaching clinic is a sort of a refresher course connected with the program for training in the ministry cited in the BTRC Church Order (Article 19). The program serves to compensate for the current absence of an instituted seminary for the denomination.
The sessions were led by Pastor Ron Santos who within a decade was able to compile a standard material for faithful Christ-centered preaching. Each session ensues as each pastor preaches from an assigned passage of Scripture after at least two weeks of preparation. Afterwards, he will be queried on how he has done exegesis and how he came up with the structure and organization of the sermon. He is asked to determine the FCF or the “Fallen-Condition-Focus.” The FCF is a need in the audience caused by man’s fallen state that can be met only by the grace of God through Christ in His redemptive work on the cross. This is to ensure that the sermon is God-centered; not man-centered, legalistic and moralistic. He will be asked how he gave the sermon a “Reformed” emphasis and how he came up with a Christ-centered emphasis. The litmus test for this would be to ask, “Will the Arminian agree with your message?” Something will be quite wrong with the preaching if he will agree!
The other pastors would give their comments and suggestions on sermon content and delivery. In addition, the assigned preacher would be asked to prepare a sermon outline from a passage given on-the-spot. After an hour he must describe how he came up with the structure and Central Proposition of the Text (C.P.T.), determine target audience, its need, desired response and the sermon’s purpose. Then he will lay out the Central Proposition of the Sermon (C.P.S.) and its structure.
The first cycle of the clinic was devoted on constructing sermons from the epistles. The second cycle focused on Gospel narratives.
This undertaking reflects the BTRCs’ outlook that the success of a faithful church is not measured by its size, popularity or financial prosperity but by its faithfulness to its call—the glory of God in the preaching of His Gospel—the Gospel of pure and sovereign grace. To achieve this our churches must produce dedicated and hard-working preachers—not managers, not entertainers, not psychologists—“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).