We will be ministering again in Baguio, Philippines. There we will hold the annual First Love Pastors Conference and participate in hosting the local Christian radio station.  

Because so many Christians in the Philippines lack basic essential theological teaching, they are targets for prominent non-Christian cults and world religions. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (2020) almost 80% of professing Christians are Roman Catholic, followed by Islam with 6,981,710 persons (6.4%), and then, the anti-Trinitarian cult, Iglesia ni Cristo (‘Church of Christ’[1]), which has nearly 3 million members, which makes them the largest aboriginal so-called Protestant church in the country.


Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura)

The subject matter of this Conference will be on Scripture – the inspiration, sufficiency, authority, and Scripture as the sole authoritative infallible rule of faith for the church—the NT is the final and complete revelation to the church, thus, a closed canon.         

Scripture alone is an important and necessary topic for all Christians, esp. pastors. Again, the dominating religion in the Philippines is Catholicism, which teaches that “Scripture” is contained in both the written Word and so-called “Tradition” (i.e., the general consensus of early church Fathers on particular doctrines). The official Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches that God’s infallible Word, “Does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence” (CCC, paragraph 82).

Opposing Rome’s and her salvation by faith + works, the Protestant concept salvation is summarized in the five Solae (or Sola’s): solus Christus (through Christ alone), sola Gratia (by grace alone), sola Fide (through faith alone), sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone), and soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”). It is important to realize that the Reformers did not invent the five Solae. Rather, the concept of the five Solae was reactionary to Rome’s denial of all of them. Contra Rome’s rejection of sola Scriptura, the Reformers loudly proclaimed that the church’s sole infallible authoritative rule of faith for issues of faith and practices that involve doctrine was Scripture.


Main topics: the inspiration, sufficiency, authority, and canonicity of the NT.


Inspiration: The entire content of divine revelation (Scripture alone) is God breathed out. 2 Peter 2:20-21: 20 “Above all, you do well if you recognize this: No prophecy of scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination, 21 for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 2 Timothy 3:16: 16 All Scripture is God-breathed [theopneustos, from Theos, ‘God’ + pneuma, ‘breath’] and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be equipped, having been thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The phrase, All Scripture is God-breathed” seems to refer to, not a canonical list of books, but rather, the nature of Scripture—as inspired by God. 

Sufficiency. Because the content of both the OT and NT is “God breathed out,” it is sufficient in and of itself to thoroughly equip the one devoted to God “for every good work,” says Paul. Everything necessary for our salvation is contained in the biblical content. Hence, the Scripture is the only infallible standard upon which to test all things determining truth from falsity.   

Authority. Again, inspired Scripture is the sole authoritative infallible rule of faith for the church. In the Temptation narrative (Matt. 4:1-11), Jesus’ answers the devil from the authority of Scripture (Jesus cited five passages from the OT).[2]

Canonicity (viz., the NT canon). This will my primary area of address “Canon,” (Greek, kanōn, Latin, canon). Originally, meant “reed,” then, measuring rod or rule (cf. Gal. 6:16; Phil. 3:16 [TR]). Later it was used to mean standard or norm to denote the list of authoritative OT and NT books. Athanasius first used it to refer to the 27 books of the NT in Thirty-Ninth Festal Letter in A.D. 367. The main criterion of canonicity of the NT books for the early church was apostolicity. Namely, a book had to be written by a first century eye-witness apostle (Matthew, John, James, Peter, Jude, Paul) or by one who had apostolic authority—one who was closely associated and/or called by an eyewitness apostle (Mark, Luke, the author of Hebrews).   


In the first four centuries, there were many books being circulated, many of which were falsely ascribed by NT characters or apostles (e.g., “Gospel” – of Thomas, of Peter, of Barnabas, of Philip, of Mary, of Jude et al. and many of these forgeries were called “Acts” – of Paul, of Peter, of Pilate et al. Even more, some were called “Apocalypse” – of Paul, of James, and many more. Most of these were Gnostic in content.

Although others were edifying to be read in churches, they were not canonical (e.g., Didache, 1 Clement, The Shepherd of Hermas et al.). In regards to the NT (before official recognition of the 27 books), it was necessary for the Christian church to establish and distinguish the books that were “apostolic,” that is, canonical. This was especially needed for teaching in the church, proper evangelism and missionary purposes. Although there were additional criteria; again, the primary criterion of the NT canon was apostolicity. The canon is a list of authoritative books. Opposing Rome’s idea that canon is an “authoritative list of books”—, which implies an “ultimate authority” (as in the Roman Catholic Church) that created and oversaw the NT canon. 


Regarding the official recognition of the NT canon, subsequent to Athanasius’s Thirty-Ninth Festal Letter in A.D. 367, there were two regional Councils (or Synods) that affirmed (not invented) the 27 NT books as Canon: The Council of Hippo, A.D. 393 and The Third Council of Carthage A.D. 397. First, we must understand that these Councils never made a claim of infallible authority as Rome does. Rather, these Councils merely discovered and codified that which was already recognized by the people of God before them. Consider this, presently (extant), there are thousands of NT quotations contained in early church documents, such as Ecumenical Councils and their resulting Creeds, Confessions, church Fathers, etc. In fact, before the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325), there are about 36,000 NT quotations in the literature of the early church Fathers.


Canon within a Canon

However, long before Athanasius and the two regional Councils, we find an authoritative, yet partial, NT Canon within the NT. For example, in 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul refers to Luke’s Gospel as graphē (Scripture): “For Scripture says, ‘you shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing’ [Deut. 25:4] and ‘the laborer is worthy of his wages.’” Both citations are under the phrase, “Scripture says.” But the latter phrase is only found in Luke 10:7. Since Luke also wrote Acts, then, Acts would also be “Scripture.” In 2 Peter 3:15-16, Peter refers to Paul’s “letters” as “Scripture.” Moreover, in 2 Peter 3:2-3, it seems Peter was dependent on Jude (cf. 1:7; or the converse). So then, most of the NT was canonized, that is, established as “Scripture” by the NT authors in the first century.

Lastly, as the NT record shows, immediately after the NT letters were written, they were, collected (cf. Rev. 1:11); circulated (cf. Col. 4:16; 2 Pet. 3:15-16), and read-quoted in the original first century churches (cf. 1 Thess. 5:27: “I charge you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren”; cf. Rev. 1:3). The first century church enjoyed and recognized the apostolic teachings, contained in the letters, which were sufficient for the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, faith and practice.      


The Canon is Closed

 It is closed theologically. As said, every NT book was written by an apostle (or one with apostolic authority). Subsequent to the OT canon, it was these writings alone that were Theopneustos (“God breathed”- 2 Tim. 3:16; cf.  2 Pet. 1:19-21). The Apostolic Age ended with the death of the apostles (cf. Acts 1:22)—upon which the church was once for all time built (Eph. 2:20)—with Christ as the corner stone. Thus, God’s ‘last day’ revelation is complete (Heb. 1:2).

It is closed historically. There is no evidence that anyone possessed the special gift of apostolicity after the death of the apostles (cf. Acts 2:22; Heb. 2:3-4); nor is there any evidence that a letter that was authentically apostolic was not included or missing from the canon of the NT. The early church drew a sharp distinction between apostolic writings and the writings of others.

It is closed providentially. God’s providence secured that His infallible Word would be complete. God promised that His Word would endure forever. Since God orchestrates all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11), the NT canon is really a matter of God’s providence. That a historical selection process undertaken by fallible human beings and fallible institutions, originally established the canon – is no reason to reject the role of the providence of God in the formation of the canon.


Evangelize & Teach Pastors = Reach ALL People 

The ultimate goal of these annual pastor conferences, is to evangelize and teach the pastors. Evangelize, in the sense of increasing their biblical understanding of the gospel. For the same reason, Paul stated to the Roman Christians: “I am eager also to preach the gospel to you.” All pastors should be eager to preach the gospel to their people—ensuring the gospel presentation is accurate. When the pastors are theologically equipped on essential doctrines of the Christian faith, they will equip their people to boldly defend and positively affirm the Christian faith to the saved (Rom. 1:15) and the unsaved (Rom. 1:16), and in the Philippines, particularly to the groups that so aggressively attack it (viz., Rome and Iglesia ni Cristo).      


Christian Radio in the Philippines

 In between the conferences, we spend hours hosting Christian radio. Before we came several years ago, the station was merely playing country Christian music. Although music can be calming—the people need biblical teaching. On the radio shows, we provide teaching on essential issues, apologetics and biblical Q&A. In a country dominated by Roman Catholics and hard-hitting unitarian groups, the Christians here really need help.   

April 15-30th – Please pray for God’s mercy and favor in ministering to the pastors and the people in the Philippines at the conferences and hosting the radio shows – affirming the sola Scriptura- that salvation is through Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone—all to and for the glory of God alone.



For more information on theological, apologetic, and evangelistic subjects, visit our YouTube page, 

 We thank you graciously for your continual support both financially and prayerfully especially during this unprecedented time. Rest in His Sovereign Grace during this time and always!



[1] Not to be confused with the Stone-Campbell Movement, known as the Church of Christ, which emerged in America in the nineteenth century.   

[2][2] Matt. 4:4 (Deut. 8:3); 4:6 (Ps 91:11-12); 4:7 (Deut. 6:16); 4:10 (Deut. 6:13).