How a Baptist became a member of the
Iglesia Ni Cristo

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  Inspiring Convert Story-06

"Why I became an Iglesia ni Cristo member"

By Edwin Pobre
Locale of Long Island City, New York, U.S.A.

I THANK GOD for sparing my life several times in the past to give me the opportunity to find the way to salvation. I also thank God for utilizing Brother Efren Navoa, who invited me to a Bible Exposition in July 1996, and his wife, Sister Lita, who patiently guided me until my baptism.

I was a former Baptist and have always believed that the Bible is the word of God. As a Baptist, I was made to believe that salvation came by faith alone and not by works; that all one needs to do to be saved is to accept Jesus as his personal savior. I remained strong in this belief until my father-in-law told me that one cannot be saved without works. According to the Bible, he said, faith without works is dead. He tried to convince me through their own published interpretations of the Bible. However, it occurred to me that their interpretation was self-serving.

Nevertheless, doubt started to creep into my mind and I began to question how one can be saved by a dead faith. I talked to a lot of Protestants from different sects about their opinion on this matter, but I quickly realized that they were in the same boat as I was. They all believed that faith alone can save man. Having the approval of my peers, I remained in my belief that I have been saved because I have accepted Jesus as my personal savior. I believed that no matter what I did, good or bad, I was entitled to eternal life. Today, I shudder at the thought of what might have been had I not known the Iglesia Ni Cristo before I passed away.

I met Brother Efren Navoa in 1993 but we never had the chance to sit down and talk about anything else but business. I had a stroke the following year, crippling my right leg and arm. As I recovered, I accepted an offer to get involved in a marketing organization, where, by coincidence, Brother Navoa was also involved in. One day I saw his Iglesia Ni Cristo ring. I was intrigued and was prompted to ask him about his beliefs.

Brother Navoa discussed with me his beliefs, telling me that only the Iglesia Ni Cristo will be saved. He went on to tell me that the Father is the only true God and that Jesus is a man, not God. He told me that the Iglesia Ni Cristo is the same Church that Christ established in Jerusalem and that Brother Felix Manalo is the messenger sent by God to fulfill the Biblical prophecies referring to the reemergence of the Church of Christ.

My pride was bruised. I was hurt because everything he said ran counter to my beliefs. But I had always believed that when there are two opposing beliefs, it is possible that one is true and the other is false, or that both may be false. But I was certain that it was impossible for both to be right.

I wasn't the type of person who debates over religious beliefs, but since my own and my children's salvation were at stake, I was compelled to search for the truth and determine which belief is right.

To me, the Bible is the ultimate arbiter of religious disputes among professed Christians, so in order to search for the truth, I read the Bible for the first time in 27 years. I consulted the Bible to find out if what Brother Efren told me were true. But as I started searching, I quickly realized that studying by myself was impossible. I needed someone to tell me what to look for and where to find it. Eventually, I got tired and forgot about it until four months later when Brother Efren invited me to another Bible Exposition.

When Brother Efren handed me the invitation in July 1996, I was actually very eager to go although I tried not to show my eagerness. I expected the Bible Exposition to be just like all the others I have gone to. I even suspected that the Iglesia Ni Cristo had its own version of the Bible to support its belief.

The exposition turned out to be very different from what I had expected. The format was unlike anything I’ve seen before. The minister simply asked questions that I’m sure everyone was dying to ask, then he simply answered the questions by reading the Bible He did not tell stories or jokes nor used flattering speech as evangelists and pastors do. What amazed me was how the minister connected seemingly unrelated verses like a jigsaw puzzle to present the whole picture of salvation. He was using several versions of the Bible, none of which was their own.

Many questions entered my mind. I wanted to know about God's righteousness regarding sin, about his will regarding salvation. Once and for all, I wanted to settle the issue of whether faith alone can indeed save man.

Quoting directly from the Bible, the minister read the invitation of Jesus to enter the door of the sheep and related it to what the Apostle James said about faith and works. It made sense to me that if one has true faith in Jesus, entering the flock must be the first act or work to prove that faith. He went on to explain the relevance of the Church and the righteousness of God regarding sin. He pointed out that Jesus is the Savior of the Church and that it was for the Church of Christ that Jesus died.

I learned that while every man must pay for his own sins, Christ paid for the sins of His body, the Church. I understood that in order for Christ to pay for a man's sins. that man must first be one with Christ in His body, the Church.

While I believed everything that I heard to be true, the question that bothered me most was why I needed to become an Iglesia Ni Cristo member. As far as Baptists were concerned, everybody belongs to the 'Universal Body' of Christ and all religious groups are mere denominations of this universal body. Somehow I still held on to my reservations regarding membership in the Church of Christ.

I spent the following week talking with my Protestant friends. They gave me a heavy dose of Greek and Hebrew Biblical translations to prove that the Church is irrelevant to salvation. I found this extremely hard to digest. I looked forward to another Bible exposition.

Then I met the real Jesus in the next Bible exposition. The Jesus that I have been made to believe was a God. But for the first time in that Bible exposition, I heard Jesus praying to His Father, and referring to His Father as the only true God. I also heard Jesus talk about Himself as a man with flesh and bones and not the one true God. I was certain that this is the same Jesus who is called God by Catholics and Protestants, and the same Jesus who was the son of Mary and the same Jesus who died on the cross.

The following day, I spent three hours with the resident minister, Brother Tom Guingab, Jr. to ask questions about the universal Church of Christ which I believed I already belonged to. I also asked him about the different verses which Protestants believe indicate that Jesus is God. Patiently, Brother Tom pointed out that the original Church established by Christ was misled by false preachers. Citing Bible prophecies and historical accounts, he patiently traced the history of the Church up to its reemergence in the Philippines through God's last messenger Brother Felix Y. Manalo. His delivery and explanation of the various verses quoted by those who teach that Jesus is God made sense to me. For the first time, I learned that the doctrine of the Trinity which Protestant pastors explain as a mystery is actually a doctrine made up by the Council of Nicea in 385 AD by the Roman Catholic Church, which Protestants themselves believe is the apostate Church.

After the meeting, I spent nights going over the verses I had written down. I attended various Protestant Bible study groups and asked them what they thought about the doctrines I have just heard from the Iglesia Ni Cristo. I talked to pastors to find out how they would handle the issues. I got a variety of reactions, most of them irrational. Some even tried to prove Jesus wrong when He said that the Father, and not Him, is the only true God.

I wondered how one could profess belief and faith in Jesus yet tries very hard to prove Him wrong. To my simple mind, if the Father alone is the true God, as Jesus Himself said, then common sense dictates that Jesus cannot be God.

I attended another Bible exposition, but this time, I had already come to the conclusion that the Iglesia Ni Cristo’s doctrines were more scriptural and rational than my former belief. I decided to know more about Iglesia Ni Cristo’s doctrines, signed up for their Bible studies to receive the basic doctrines. There was no pressure in this decision. I thought that if I'm not convinced by the end of the studies, I could simply back out. I thought that I didn't have anything to lose by listening. I thought that I had more to lose if I didn't listen because these doctrines might turn out to be right after all.

I requested Brother Tom to conduct the Bible study at my home so I could get my wife and children to listen as well. For several weeks, Brother Tom came to our house after his regular Bible studies at the chapel. He could have been resting in bed during those times, but I'm extremely grateful that he was patient enough to come. I am grateful for the brothers and sisters who welcomed me into the fold like a long lost brother. They are too numerous to be mentioned here by name, but thanks to God, their labors were not in vain. My wife and I received the Holy Baptism at the same time. One of my four children is currently undergoing the probation process.

I pray that one day, my other children will also humble themselves enough to let go of what others have taught them, listen to what the Iglesia Ni Cristo preaches and use their God-given intelligence to rationally distinguish the right doctrines from the false ones.

I became an Iglesia Ni Cristo because its teachings are more scriptural than the doctrines I used to believe in. I am now convinced that the Iglesia Ni Cristo is the true Church of Christ for which Jesus shed His blood. I invite everyone who truly desires to be saved to join our Bible studies and make sure that they're on the true way to salvation.


Published in God’s Message Magazine, September, 1997, pp. 16-17
Note: Some words and phrases are bolded for emphasis.

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