Pastoral Letter 14 Jul 2019
My dear readers,
Questions Posed at CPBPC’s Annual Church Camp (10-15 June 2019) – Part 3
Question: If general revelation does not save, how can one who lives in the Amazon his entire life be saved? In general, how can one, having no chance to hear the Gospel, be saved?
Reply: Salvation is of the LORD. All mankind is born in sin because of the first Adam who was humanity’s representative Man. When he sinned, all humanity fell into sin with him. That is why all babies born of human parents are conceived and born in sin. There is no exception. The Bible says of humanity in Romans 5:12, 18-21: “ Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned … Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” This means that man is born in a state of condemnation. Man is not born neutral. It is not society that made him into a sinful and wicked person. Man is born with a sinful nature that made sin his master, and he a slave to sin.
General Revelation is sufficient to condemn so that all who are born in sin and die in sin will have Creation as the evidence to condemn him. Romans 1:18-21: “ For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”
Man has nothing to be proud of before God, His Creator. Everything about him originated from God including his life, talents and the whole earth that God placed him into to live by. Instead of being grateful and thankful, mankind has been hurling abuse against God and filled himself with pride and arrogance. Man is a great sinner before the thrice-holy God.
In God’s love He sent forth His only begotten Son to live a perfect life in accordance with all of God's law, and He allowed Himself to be led as a lamb to the slaughter uttering not a word of complaint, He was crucified and died. In order for any sinner to be saved from his sin he must believe in Jesus Christ to be saved. There is no exception. Everyone including all who live in the farthest corner of the world needs to know Christ before he can be saved from his sin.
This means that there is no salvation for anyone who has not been given the gospel of Christ. This is hard to accept from man’s perspective because man thinks that God is duty bound to let a sinner hear the gospel at least once in his lifetime before he can be sent to hell. That reasoning is only acceptable if God sent Christ to condemn and not to save. John 3:16-18 : “ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Mankind is in this state of sin and condemnation because of Adam, man’s first parent. Man has no one to blame but himself for the sinful state that is found in all humanity. In fact, the whole of creation is in this state of volcanic eruption, earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, cyclones, etc. because of man’s sin, not his present actions of carbon emission.
Salvation is of the LORD. God does not have to save anyone and He would still be just and righteous and holy as God. But, in His amazing and unfathomable unconditional love for totally depraved sinners who are completely evil and soaked in filth and sins, He loves this sin-sick world. He loves us so much that He sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to die for us. The Lamb of God took away the sins of the world. Now it is God’s will and Christ’s command that all of God's children bring the gospel of Christ to the rest of the world who have not heard of Christ.
Sinful man must humble himself before God. He who has been given the gospel must realize that his Creator the God of heaven and earth is now speaking to him about His love for him in Christ. Do not reject God's love and turn your back on Him. The fact that you have been given the gospel is a privilege that you must not despise by rejection. God has the sovereign right to show mercy on whom He wants to show mercy. Sinful man has to just submit and humble himself and recognize that God is love. He knows what He is doing to, and for, everyone. Romans 9:14-24: “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?”
Question: How do we encourage fellow Christians who feel our church is patronizing and exclusive? For example, newcomers may feel unwelcome into pre-established cliques.
Reply: Encourage them to draw closer to Christ. Help them to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ. Those who feel that the church is “patronizing and exclusive” have to change their feelings. The moment they grow in the LORD they become more accepting and learn to love and accept all people without conditions. They become more loving and less condemning. They learn to love unconditionally and sacrificially just as they have been loved by God in Christ.
These so-called pre-established cliques are natural in all relationships like birds of a feather flock together. In life there are always friends who are closer and other friends who are not so close. It is not possible to have everyone close, or not so close. This is the way of all relationships with friends including brothers and sisters in Christ. For example, we do not and cannot go on holidays with everyone in the church except with a few families. The complex nature of our make-up, likes and dislikes in terms of food and activities and places of visit are all different. Therefore, those who have common interests can go on holidays together and not return as enemies but become better friends and family in Christ. In time the newcomer will discover the ones who are more like him and become closer to him than others. It is not realistic to have everyone close to us. Christ had His 12 disciples and within the 12 disciples He had His inner three. In His case He had special plans for them. He needed to prepare them for greater service after His resurrection and ascension. He endowed them with spiritual gifts that will help them succeed as well as to spend time with them (Master/disciple relationship) to prepare them for the hardship that came with their service in the founding of the local church witness. More was expected of them as more was given to them. David had only one Jonathan in his life that we know of who helped David grow spiritually and fulfilled God's will in his life even when it costs Jonathan a kingdom.
All of us need close friends and realize that there will also be the not so close friends. These friends are also our brothers and sisters in Christ. Just because we do not call them close does not mean that we do not help and care especially in times of need. I know of quite a few who give liberally their substance and time to all alike, close and not so close friends, the moment they know of a need. In short, these pre-established cliques are artificial. It does not mean that they are patronizing and exclusive at all. If they are patronizing and exclusive then they would not bother to care and help all alike. We need to recognize the difference between our own personal need to have close friends and no so close friends and the command of Christ to love all alike especially in times of need.
Question: To what limit can a good Christian borrow from the bank to pay for his house, car and investments? Where is the line between greed and sound investing?
Reply: The limit is one’s own ability to repay what is borrowed. Never live beyond one’s means. Always aim to live debt-free in a world where borrowing has become a way of life that is encouraged by almost all peoples. The Bible teaches clearly in Proverbs 22:7 the
pitfall of borrowing: “ The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” The only debt we must owe is the debt of love. Romans 13:8 : “ Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”
The line between greed and sound investing is one’s heart. Making investments is not a sinful profession unlike some professions that are sinful in themselves which believers must avoid at all costs regardless of motive. Some of these sinful professions include serving alcoholic drinks at a bar or working in a casino dealing cards. Making investments and many similar professions can become wrong when the motive is sinful and wrong. If the motive for investment is greed or a lack of trust and faith in God then that investment is wrong. The Christian investor is trusting in mammon rather than God, his heavenly Father.
Check one’s heart regularly to ensure that it is the love of Christ that constrains, and not man or mammon.
Yours faithfully in the Saviour’s Service,
Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew