From the monthly archives:

January 2003

Visitation to Molave

by Original Author on January 10, 2003

Originally posted by Elder Gus Harter

Brother Salvador Palma, an excellent minister in Iligan City invited me to a Thanksgiving Meeting at his fellowship, Sunday, October 13. I accepted the invitation and scheduled a week of appointments in this area, meeting three times daily at different congregations. I arrived by plane on Thursday and was met by Elder Manolo who was gracious to transport me to each of my appointments.

Upon arrival we drove to the city of Molave to hastily arranged minister’s conference, which had requested me to speak on the sovereignty of God in salvation. Molave is a small village a few miles west of Ozamiz City. There were about 15 ministers present of different persuasions. We arrive in time to partake of barbecue chicken and rice. It was necessary for Manolo to translate for me. He did and excellent job. The pastor of church Rolly showed great interest and shared with the group that he was considering uniting with us. Among the ministers that showed the most interest was Carlito Ortiz. He is a strong Calvinist from a Pentecostal background. He serves a church of over 100 people and has several young ministers in his church. He was genuinely excited about finding a people so close to him doctrinally that he pleaded for me to be the speaker at his annual meeting in January. He said he would write me and follow up his request.

I did return to Molave for their annual meeting. Brother Manolo and the ministry of that area had done a good job of following up our work there. Brother Rolly after a meeting at his church on Saturday night, January 4, 2003 stated his desire to be baptized on Sunday with some of his congregation. On Sunday morning at 8:00 .am. I was with Brother Ortiz at his annual meeting. The building was full by 8:30 and I spoke twice before lunch and once afterwards. The services reflected their Pentecostal background with enthusiastic singing with often outburst of amen and praise the Lord. Since they had been taught the message of grace with regularity they responded to my preaching with strong endorsement. I emphasized the difference in gospel regeneration and sovereign spirit regeneration. They seemed to understand. Brother Ortiz asked me if they could adopt me as their missionary. He said I was the first white man he had found that truly understand grace. He asked about their churches uniting with the Primitive Baptist. I showed strong interest in him but shared that he needed to understand more about our people before we take that step. He gave me a warm endorsement as well as an invitation to return at any time.

After the service we proceeded to a public swimming pool for the baptism of Brother Rolly and some of his congregation. A clear stream of water flowed from the mountains into a roughly made public swimming pool. We paid P50.00 (one dollar per person) to use the swimming pool for their baptism. About fifteen were baptized including three ministers. The water was refreshingly cold and the many people using the pool reverently set on the side to view our gospel ordinance. We embraced each of the members afterwards and they parted.
Picture of my first visit at Molave


The Planting of Churches

by Original Author on January 9, 2003

Originally posted by Elder Gus Harter

Each area we start a new work is surrounded with different circumstances. They come to us from various backgrounds. A few have come from tribal groups, which were animist worshiping different natural objects. These churches were the result of Filipino minister who already had close ties with these native tribes. Most of our churches are pioneer churches begun with small home Bible studies. This is the way the church I serve began. You invite a few friends and family in for Bible study and the church grows from there. It is a slow and tedious method accompanied by an abundance of work. Most of our members were only nominal members of other denominations and some just pure pagans. Many have come from catholic backgrounds since 80% of the populations are members of some form of Catholicism. Many of Catholics are independent and do not have an allegiance to Rome. The various forms of Charismatic have been very successful in starting congregations through out the Philippines. Most of these groups have little organization and the members drift from place to place. Probably one forth of membership has come from these groups. They have a wonderful love for our Lord but they are looking for a deeper and firmer doctrinal basis for their faith. They have found this in a message of sovereign grace. There are also those who in their private study of scripture or under the influence of those who are of faith of the reformation have come to believe in sovereign Grace. These men are searching for fellowship and those of like precious faith. I will share some recent experiences in our evangelical attempts so you may have a better understanding as to how our Lord has opened doors in the planting of churches. The major emphasis of my work is finding and developing a sound zealous ministry. Our churches cannot rise above their ministry. As their pastor are so goes their congregation. It is this area that I need your prayer that I can exemplify wisdom and devotion in the training of good men.

Surigao City

My first contact in this city came from a young minister name Pamboitiz Besa. He contacted a member of Tidewater Primitive Baptist Church in Virginia Beach named Julie Snyder. She had given him my name and email address. He wrote, expressing and interest in our people. We exchanged emails in June of 2002. While working in Cagayan de Oro, I heard of second minister by the name of Antonio Decena from Surigao City. From two different reports I was told he was preaching our doctrine with boldness and served an independent congregation. I secured his address but upon arriving home, I had already received email correspondence from him. In searching the Internet Brother Decena had contacted Elder David Montgomery from San Antonio, Texas. Brother David gave him my email address. Brother Decena in October requested me to hold a seminar at a local restaurant and speak on Sovereign Grace. I set the time immediately following a tour of our churches in Cagayan de Oro. I took four of our minister from that area with me and proceeded to Surigao City. We arrived at home of Brother Decena and were warmly received. He had lost an arm in an accident working with heavy equipment but this did not hinder him from greeting us with a typical old Baptist bear hug.

We arrived at the restaurant at the time announced and 25 ministers came for the seminar. As requested I spoke for over an hour on salvation with extremely good attention. Some eight ministers remained after the sermon to ask more questions about Primitive Baptist. Many were requesting that I return for a three-day seminar covering a broader area of subjects. I agreed to return on December. We then all gather at our hotel. We awoke early and I was able to return home by plane that next day.

On Thursday, December 12 after much preparation of materials, I loaded my mini van and proceeded to the promised gathering in Surigao. I stopped in Tagum an hour north of Davao to pick up Elder Antonio Maglinte as a companion for safety and help. The visit with Antonio was both enjoyable and enlightening. We arrived in Surigao at 4:00 P.M. and after a little research we located Brother Decena’s home. He came with us back to our hotel to talk over our meeting for the next few days. The meeting covered Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They scheduled five presentations on Friday, five on Saturday and three church services on Sunday. They determined that the ministers were sufficiently schooled in English that they did not need an interpreter.

I arose early on Friday at 5:00 A.M. to prepare for the day. The seminar began at 9:00 A.M. After giving thought to the subject matter to be presented, I had my devotion studying Psalms 27 and 119. I found an abundance of strength, comfort and encouragement for the day. The first day, I covered the five doctrines of Grace. I used an outline I had developed years ago at Bethany Church in Atlanta. It has served me well and you will find it at the conclusion of this article. On Saturday I would begin the presentation by speaking on the five phases of salvation. Since much of this is a repeat of the first day, this presentation is given in one lesson. This outline is also included at the conclusion of this article.

Upon arriving at the church, which meets, on the first floor of Brother Decena’s residence, we were early and only four ministers had arrived. As is often the case we began almost an hour late because of the tardy arrival of most of the ministers. They call it Filipino time. About 14 ministers arrived for the services. I spoke about an hour and then broke for question and answer period. We had two sessions before lunch and two sessions after lunch. The discussion period was lively but not at all malicious. The most spirited and passionate debate was on the subject of particular redemption on First John 2:2 and a variety of scriptures regarding irresistible grace. Most everyone was satisfied with my exposition of the scriptures considered. The discussion periods were both profitable and encouraging. Concluded the meeting that evening with what seemingly was a very warm spiritual reception of the message of the grace of God.

While driving back to the hotel, Brother Maglinte, my driving companion, called his grandmother, for Surigao was originally his hometown. She was seriously ill and it had been 13 years since he had seen her. He asks if I would take him to her home. We found her residence about 9:30 P.M. and the reunion was worth the trip. They embrace and both were crying for joy. The scene was a joy for me to share. You will be able to see a picture with he and his grandmother, in Cebuano “Lola” at the conclusion of the article.

After arriving back at the hotel, I called my Cindy in Atlanta (my daughter married to Elder Marty Smith). She was diagnosed with a cist on her ovary the size of great fruit. The doctors told her that it must be removed but did not believe it was cancerous. I rejoice I have a mighty God whom is not hindered by distance or inability to help in time of trouble. We had prayer to both our encouragement. I am glad I can place my children in the hands of an all-powerful God. (Since that conversation she was operated on and everything is well.) I also called my friend Lassere Bradley Jr. to give him a word of encouragement. With his radio ministry he has meant much to our people. He has also meant so much to me personally. May our gracious Lord continue to spread his kind providence over his ministry.
On Saturday we had lost some of our ministry but still had 8 to 10 during the entire day. After breakfast I presented a lesson on the five phases of salvation. They were especially enlightened on the practical phase of salvation dealing with the subject of conversion. After lunch I spoke on the doctrine of the church and followed it with subject of scriptural baptism. For supper I carried everyone out to a popular fast food restaurant called Jolibees. We all enjoyed fried chicken cooked southern style. Rather than have a formal discourse Saturday night we had an open discussion for several hours.

On Sunday, we travel a few miles out of town to the congregation of Brother Nestor Dahilon who served an independent group called Christian Family Church. This good pastor had been teaching our doctrine for several months to his congregation. They graciously received me and the message of grace. A picture of this congregation is included in our photographs. Brother Nestor who is nicknamed Nick is of leadership material has already verbally committed to come to our people. There was a heavy rain that causes some flooding that eliminated us from having services that afternoon and night. On Monday, I arose early to come back to Davao.

While writing this article I received a telephone call from Brother Decena. He requested that we have a special service on Thursday, January 2 at Providence Church in Davao. He stated he and three other ministers desire to drive down to be with us and receive baptism. I rejoiced at his request and look forward to this pleasant task.

Your Servant in Christ,
Gus Harter

I told Brother Maglinte if he desires to write his thoughts about this trip, I would print it with my article. Her is his letter:

Dearly Beloved Brethren,

Greetings to all of you in the sweetest name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ whom graciously called us and saved us eternally by His grace according to the good pleasure of His will. Amen.

I don’t have any words to express the great joy for I was surprised when Elder Gus Harter called me and wants me to go with him in Surigao City for ministerial work. I’m so grateful to God allowing me to witness a group of preachers who were interested to learn more about the vital doctrine of salvation by grace and baptism that we firmly believed and practice. Many of these preachers were influence in the Calvinist view of gospel regeneration. But by God’s divine wisdom, they were satisfied with the answer of Elder Harter. I appreciate the leadership of Brother Antonio Decena who decided to be baptize soon together with the other preachers. It’s a wonderful progress.

Not only did I enjoyed the spiritual benefits, but also I was truly touched the by goodness of our God that gave me the good opportunity that I could visit again my beloved kin brethren specially my grandma that I’ve missed for 13 years. It was an unexpected moment, which filled with joy and gladness in my heart.

Thanks and gratitude to Elder Gus Harter and Sister Betty Jo Harter for helping so much for the good of our Filipino brethren and still working hard for the advancement of God’s kingdom. May the Lord bless the work in the Philippines continually is my prayer. Amen.

Your Small Servant,
Elder Antonio Maglinte

Brother Decena did arrive with four other ministers and were baptized. Also included was Brother Nestor (Nick) Dahilon.



I. THE ETERNAL PHASE: This phase of salvation comprises God’s will, purpose and plan of the saving of His people. It occurred in the council of eternity past by the sovereignty of a triune God. It is clearest seen in the doctrines of foreknowledge, election, and predestination.
A. FOREKNOWLEDGE: The act of God in foreknowing in love a certain people base on God’s will and sovereignty, not based on foreseen merit (Romans 8:29).
B. ELECTION: The act of God in the election of individuals in the eternal life based entirely on God’s sovereign choice and not influenced by any works on man’s part (Roman 9:11).
C. PREDESTINATION: The act of God in prefixing the destiny of His people to be made like Christ by the act of His sovereign will (Ephesians 1:4-5).

II. THE LEGAL PHASE OF SALVATION: This phase of salvation comprises God’s reconciliation and satisfaction of His Holiness in forgiving the sin of His people by the atoning blood of His son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It took place at the crucifixion of Christ about 33 AD. The legal phase of salvation is clearest seen in the doctrines of justification, redemption, substitution and propitiation.
A. JUSTIFICATION: The divine act of a Holy God who judicially declares a believing sinner to be righteous because Christ has borne the sinners sin on the cross (Romans 3:24-26).
B. REDEMPTION: (Particular Redemption or Limited Atonement) Christ died only for the elect and by his death of Christ redeemed all for whom He died (Matthew 1:21).
C. SUBSTITUTION: By the death of Christ, He took the place of His elect (II Corinthian 5:21).
D. PROPITIATION: By the death of Christ, He satisfied God’s wrath (Romans 4:25)
III. THE VITAL PHASE: This phase of salvation takes place in the life of a child when he is born of God (John 3:8, 5:25; Ephesians 2:1 and 10) or quickened by the Spirit. It is clearest seen in the doctrine of regeneration.

Regeneration is the act of God in giving life to the child of God by His effectual call of the Spirit. This is totally the act of God in quickening or creating new life into those dead in sin, causing them to be born of God.

IV. THE PRACTICAL PHASE: This is the progressive work in the child of God after regeneration in conforming his life practically to the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is based on God’s mercy but it is the only phase of salvation conditioned upon man’s obedience. This phase of salvation is best expressed in the doctrine of conversion and practical sanctification.

Conversion: The act of a child of God after being born of God in conforming his life, mind, conservation and walk to the teaching of the word of God (Acts 2:40; I Corinthian 9:22; Philippians 2:12).

V. FINAL PHASE: This is the act of God in the resurrection and glorification of the elect of God making them completely holy and kept in the presence of Christ forever. This phase of salvation is best expressed in the doctrine of glorification.

Glorification: The act of God at the end of time in the glorifying of His people – body, soul and spirit to be made like Christ. God’s children shall then be incorruptible, immortal and forever changed into the image of Christ (Romans 13:11; 8:30).


OTAL Depravity: is the total inability of man, not born of the spirit, to do anything acceptable or good in the sight of God (Romans 3:10-18; Romans 8:8-9)

A. Romans 3:12
B. Romans 5:12
C. Genesis 5:3
A. Conception; Ps 51:5(b)
B. In Womb; Ps 51:5(a)
C. Youth; Genesis 8:21
D. Adult; Romans 7:14
1. Rom 3:9-17
2. I John 1:10
1. Heart; Jer. 17:9
2. Mind; Rom. 8:6-8
3. Thoughts; Gen 6:5
4. Life; Eph. 2:1
5. Man at Best; Ps. 39:5
A. Cannot hear, not will not hear; John 8:47
B. Cannot understand, not will not understand;
I Corinthians 2:14
C. Cannot believe, not will not believe; John 10:26

NCONDITIONAL ELECTION; is the selection of individuals to eternal life based entirely on God’s sovereign choice, and not influenced by any works on man’s part, good or bad (Romans 9:11)

A. Election; Rom 9:11
B. Chosen; Eph. 1:4
C. Draw; John 6:44
D. Called; II Tim. 1:9
E. Predestined; Rom. 8:29
F. Church; Eph. 5:25
A. Total Depravity
B. Before Creation; Eph. 1:4
C. Romans 9:11-17
D. Romans 11:5-6
A. Romans 9:11-23
B. Total Depravity
Ephesians 1:4-5
A. ROMANS 8:29
B. Genesis 15:5
C. Revelation 5:9, 7:9
A. I Thessalonians 1:4
B. Galatians 5:22-23
C. Matthew 5:3-11

IMITED ATONEMENT: (Particular redemption) Christ died only for the elect and by his death redeemed all for whom He died (Matthew 1:21).

A. John 6:38-40
B. Isaiah 53:4-10
C. Matthew 1:21
D. John 17:2, 9
E. Hebrews 12:2
F. I Peter 3:18
A. I Peter 2:24
B. John 10:11, 28
C. Matthew 26:28
D. Hebrews 2:9-12
E. Romans 5:8-9
F. Romans 8:33-34
A. Substitution
1. Isaiah 53:4-10
2. II Corinthians 5:19,21
B. Satisfaction
1. Romans 3:24-25
2. Hebrews 9:26
A. Discriminating; Rom 9:11-17
B. Unchanging; James 1:17
C. Everlasting; Jeremiah 31:3

RRESISTIBLE GRACE: or effectual call is the calling whereby God brings the elect into a vital relationship with Himself by the quickening power of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 1:23-24; John 6:37; Peter 5:10; Ephesians 1:19-20; I Peter 3:18)

A. II Timothy 1:9-10
B. I Corinthians 1:18
A. Resurrection or Quickening
1. John 5:25
2. John 6:39
3. Ephesians 2:1
B. Creation
1. Ephesians 2:10
2. II Corinthians 5:17
C. Birth
1. John3:8
2. I Peter 1:23
A. JOHN 5:25; JOHN 6:63
B. JOHN 6:45
C. HEBREWS 8:10-12

RESERVATION OF THE SAINTS: All the elect of God shall be kept by God and shall be eternally saved, however, they may walk in darkness and disobedience, losing the joy of their salvation in their timely existence (John 10:27-29).

A. Romans 8:28-30
B. Isaiah 46:9-11
C. Jeremiah 32:40
D. John 6:37
A. John 17:2-11
B. John 11:42
A. Psalm 94:14
B. Romans 8:35-39
C. I Thessalonians 5:23-24
D. Philippians 1:6
E. John 10:27-29
Photos in Surigao City