Is it permissible to boast about the church?
Many members of the organization known as the "Iglesia Ni Cristo" often boast about their church ("proud of the INC") or their membership in the church ("proud to be INC"). Is it permissible to make such boasts? Does the Bible teach us what we should boast about?
Paul taught that we should only boast in the Lord.
Paul writing to the Corinthians was writing to a church that had a serious problem with people boasting about things that were not supposed to be the center of their lives. In fact, in both of his letters to the Corinthian church he writes that they should boast in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:31 (ESV) - 31 so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."
2 Corinthians 10:17 (ESV) - 17 "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."
He said something similar to the Galatians:
Galatians 6:14 (ESV) - 14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Why is it that when INC members praise their church, they rarely mention God, but the church alone?
Paul rebuked those who boasted in their salvation.
In an effort to clear up some serious confusion about the gospel, Paul makes it exceedingly clear when he tells the Ephesians that they cannot boast about their salvation because it is a gift of God. Paul makes it clear that even salvation itself isn't something a man can boast about.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) - 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
When INC members boast about their church membership, they are boasting in what they think is their salvation. They are boasting in their work of joining the Iglesia Ni Cristo. This is entirely contrary to what Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches.
Any boast should be rooted in the grace of God and the work of Christ.
Sometimes our boasts may concern different things, but all such boasts must be rooted in God's grace.
1 Corinthians 1:12 (ESV) - 12 For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.
When INC members boast in the church or in their membership, they often do so without reference to the grace of God by which any man or organization can achieve anything. This is contrary to what 1 Corinthians 1 teaches. It is as though their faith is in getting their names on some man made membership roll and not in the work of Christ.
This common practice in the INC of boasting in the church and boasting in church membership reveals a total lack of understanding that we must rely entirely on the grace of God and not on our own ability or works. Let us be humble and hear what Scripture teaches and boast only in Jesus Christ.
Psalm 34:2 (ESV) - 2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.