Pastoral Letter 10 Nov 2019

My dear readers,

Questions Posed at CPBPC’s Annual Church Camp (10-15 June 2019) – Part 20 (Final)

Question: If two people who are thalassemia minor have children, their children are at 1⁄4 risk of having a condition where they will be dependent on transfusions their whole life. Is it then right for two people who have thalassemia minor to marry? How about having children? Would it be right for them to marry and not plan to have children, given that one of the purposes of marriage is procreation? On the other hand, would it be right for them to plan to have children, given that it is a known big risk, and the disease will have a big impact on their children and on society?

Reply: The right and wrong for every believer is based upon the Word of God and not what fields of arts or science say (man says 1⁄4 risk). The most basic biblical guideline for marriage is that both parties are to be baptized believers. To have or not to have children under such circumstances, the Christian couple is to seek the LORD’s will in the matter. The ability to have a child, and whether the child is healthy, are in the LORD’s hands. The decision made by the Christian couple must not be because of medical science that is based upon the percentage of the doctor’s prognosis. If, after prayer, the Christian couple decides to have a child because they believe it is God’s will, then there is nothing wrong with trying to have a child. If the Christian couple after prayer decide not to have a child because they believe it is God’s will for them not to have a child, it is also fine.

There are many couples who have tried to have children but have not been able to do so because it is God's will for them not to have one. The sovereignty of God in every believer’s life is a most comforting doctrine especially in times of trials and adversities.

Question: Please define/explain Omnipotence, Power and Sovereignty of God. Please cite an example for each term.

Reply: Omnipotence means all powerful. It is an attribute that applies to God, Christ and the Holy Spirit and not to any created being. All things that require power to do God has the power to do them. How much does it require God to raise someone from the dead? God has the power to do it. Matthew 28:18-20:

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Because God is omnipotent He is also sovereign. Sovereign means all-controlling. Nothing can be done without God’s permission. Even the anger or wrath of sinful man is controlled by God. God can turn it to His praise and glory. All will turn out exactly according to God's will. Psalm 76:10: Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.” Everything in this universe is created by God the Creator and therefore He controls all things animate and inanimate.

Question: In disciplining children, is there any limit? Is it not a sin to hit our children on the head when we are disciplining them?

Reply: There is always a limit in the disciplining of our children whereby the discipline must not be turned into abuse. The word “discipline” means to chastise toward restoration to good behaviour. The judge who sits in the courtroom does not do the actual discipline, but as a judge he must mete out justice that is equitable and fair. The same judge who goes home may be a father whose child when naughty will be disciplined by him with the purpose of removing a sinful behaviour and turning him toward a righteous behaviour. It is wrong to hit our children on the head when disciplining.

Question: What does the “beauty of the LORD” mean?

Reply: Psalm 27:4-6: One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.” [Emphasis added]

Literally the word “beauty” means “delightful, pleasant or agreeable.” This was a psalm written by King David at a time when the Solomonic Temple was not built yet. The beauty that David referred to was not an earthly one but heavenly. He was referring to heaven which he knew was his eternal home. As the LORD God is Spirit and has no visible image, “the beauty of the LORD” here refers to the agreeableness of being in His presence; David would be in perfect holiness and without sin. He would stand in the very presence of God almighty whose entire demeanour and presence will be one of great delight and pleasant agreeableness. There will be no barrier or any slightest form of inhibition that might stand between David and his God because of the finished work of Christ on the cross of Calvary.

This longing of David to behold “the beauty of the LORD” ought to be the longing of all believers who love the LORD with all their heart, soul, strength and mind. This is a glimpse of believers standing before the LORD in heaven one day. David captured this understanding and expressed this eternal joy of all believers most appropriately to help us who serve and witness on earth to not lose sight of why we live and suffer for Christ. It will be worth it all when we behold “the beauty of the LORD” one day. May that blessed day be soon!

Question: John 1:14: “And the Word was made flesh … (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Help us to understand the word “full” in this verse.

Reply: John 1:11-14: He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

The “Word” here refers to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The disciples like the Apostle John beheld (i.e. looked closely at) Jesus when He was on earth and knew that He was God incarnate. They saw clearly that Jesus was “full” of grace and truth.

The word “full” means “covered over”. The Apostle John testified that what he witnessed (when he walked with Christ) was the Son of God who became man and in Him was the fullness or completeness of God's grace and truth. John Gill explained this truth well when he wrote: “he dwelt among men, and appeared to have a fulness of each of these: for this clause is not to be joined with the glory of the only begotten, as if this was a branch of that; but regards him as incarnate, and in his office, as Mediator; who, as such, was full of “grace”; the Spirit, and the gifts of the Spirit; of all the blessings of grace, of justifying, pardoning, adopting, sanctifying, and persevering grace; of all the promises of grace; of all light, life, strength, comfort, peace, and joy: and also of truth, of all Gospel truths; and as he had the truth, the sum, and substance of all the types and prophecies concerning him in him; and as he fulfilled all his own engagements, and his Father's promises; and as possessed of sincerity towards men, and faithfulness and integrity to God.”

Question: My son prays with his eyes open and is aware of what is happening around him. When I asked him whether he prayed, he said “yes”. How?

Reply: I do not know how old your son is but if he is a young lad and his eyes were open during prayer, it does not mean he was not praying. The closing of eyes is for better focus but not necessarily the key to potency in prayer. The potency in prayer is that of a righteous man.

James 5:16: Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Parents ought not to make an issue of whether the eyes are open or closed when praying with the child. Teach him the importance of prayer rather than the external posture of prayer. As he grows older, he will understand better. More importantly, pray for the LORD to save him from his sin.

There are times when eyes are closed during prayer as well as open. For example, when communing with God alone as we walk in the evening or early morning, the eyes have to be open for obvious reasons. When praying with others in a group during church prayer meeting, the eyes are usually closed for proper concentration as one listens to the prayer of others.

Yours faithfully in the Saviour’s Service,

Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew
Advisory Pastor

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