Who is God's messenger in these last days?
The "Iglesia Ni Cristo" claims that Felix Y. Manalo is God's prophesied messenger in these last days. They identify him as the "bird of prey" in Isaiah 46:11 because he's from the east, but let's look at the Biblical qualifications for God's messengers.
When we read the Bible we discover that God's messenger in these last days is not Felix Y. Manalo, but Jesus Christ.
Hebrews teaches that Jesus is God's messenger in these last days.
Hebrews 1:1-2 (ESV) Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
It is clear from the first two verses of Hebrews that God speaks through his
Son, Jesus Christ, in these last days. Notice the contrasts in this
verse between the Old Testament era and these last days:
1. Previously, God spoke in many ways, but in these last days he has a single messenger.
2. Previously, God spoke through mere prophets, but in these last days he speaks directly through the greatest messenger, his Son.
If God spoke in many ways before, this verse is demonstrating that the fullness of God's revelation, his single speaker in these last days, is Jesus Christ. He is much greater than the prophets...he was appointed heir of all things and the world was created through him.
The apostles were eye-witnesses of Christ and taught his message.
Of course that does not mean there were not messengers of a sort after Christ. There are ministers and missionaries who deliver God's word, but that is not the same as one who preaches Christ's word perfectly without any error. There were also the twelve apostles and the apostle Paul who preached God's word without error. However, they were only able to do so because they had a special authority that came with receiving this revelation from Jesus. They were only carrying along his message.
2 Peter 1:16-19 (ESV) - 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,
The requirement for being an apostle (a sent one from God), is that they must have been eyewitnesses of Christ at his resurrection. When Judas was replaced by Matthias, this requirement was enforced:
Acts 1:21 (ESV) - So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us - one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection."
The reason the apostles needed to know Jesus was so they could remember the things he had taught them.
John 14:26 (ESV) - But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
We have already seen that Jesus is God's final messenger. However, Felix Y. Manalo doesn't even have the qualification to be God's secondary messenger, an apostle, because he did not personally know Jesus.
Paul was an eye-witness of Christ and taught his message.
Just as the other apostles, Paul witnessed Jesus Christ and preached his message. Paul had the authority to preach without error because he was simply relaying the message of God's last messenger, Jesus. The gospel he preached, he received directly from Christ.
Galatians 1:11 (ESV) - For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
Once again, we see that Jesus is God's ultimate messenger, and those secondary messengers who had apostolic authority knew him. Felix Y. Manalo did not personally know Jesus.
The INC is mistaken in calling Felix Y. Manalo God's messenger in these last days because the Bible clearly says that Jesus God's last messenger. Any apostle is a secondary messenger who has known Jesus Christ and delivers revelation from him.
When Felix Y. Manalo called himself "God's messenger in these last days", he took upon a title that is reserved for Christ alone. No one who loves Christ should elevate himself to Christ's position as the word of God, the final revelation of God to man.