Pastoral Letter 02 Apr 2023
My dear readers,
Answering Remaining Questions from Calvary Pandan Church Camp 2022 (9)
Question 1: God forgives repented sins. Does God still punish repented sins? Psalm 103:12: “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Hebrews 8:12: “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” Jesus paid it all. Colossians 2:14: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.”
Answer 1: There is a distinction between forgiveness and consequence of sins. When a sinner truly accepts Christ as Lord and Saviour, he is forgiven by God based upon what Christ did at Calvary’s cross. However, the consequences of the person’s sins remain in his life after he has been forgiven. For example, he was a thief and sentenced to three years in prison, and while in prison he accepted Christ. He will still remain in prison. If he is released from prison because he accepted Christ then every prisoner will “accept” Christ to get out of prison, i.e. no more consequences for his sin, rather than because of the sins he had committed against God.
After a person becomes a believer, the consequences for sins committed remain even though he will not lose his salvation in Christ. Romans 8:37-39: “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” When the Lord Jesus Christ baptizes a sinner with the Holy Spirit and transforms him into a child of God, that family relationship remains for eternity. It can never be severed even at death, for Christ has conquered death on behalf of God’s children. Forgiveness brings about restoration of fellowship with God for believers. Psalm 66:18: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”
However, the consequences for sins committed remain. The consequences that follow depend on the nature of sins committed and by whom. For example, if an elder commits the sin of adultery he has to repent before the congregation and not just to his family and his fellow leaders in the Session. 1 Timothy 5:19-20: “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” He will be de-positioned from his office as an elder because of the serious nature of his sin. He will have to go for counselling to restore his relationship with his family, especially his wife.
Question 2: My friend who is from a Charismatic church has shared with me that she believes that the Holy Communion that they take has healing power. Their leaders told the members not to see a doctor when they are sick but to keep taking the holy elements for healing. How can I share with her that that is an erroneous teaching based on Holy Scriptures?
Answer 2: As you know many Charismatic churches preach the health-and-wealth gospel which is to believe in Jesus Christ who died for your sins so that you can be healthy and wealthy on earth! This is another gospel that does not save. Therefore, to help your Charismatic friend you need to begin from salvation. Ask your Charismatic friend to share with you her salvation in Christ. From there you will realize that she is not born again. Help her find salvation in Christ first and then help her with the understanding of the doctrine of the Holy Communion. For without salvation, the person is spiritually blind and dead in her sin. As she has no spiritual life, she cannot understand spiritual things. She needs to be born again to understand all the doctrines of the Bible. The first doctrine to begin her journey of spiritual understanding is the gospel of Christ that must be believed based upon the Holy Scriptures. The gospel must include sin, the death and resurrection of Christ, no addition of health and wealth. 1 Corinthians 15:1-8: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.”
After she is born again, then show her from the Bible that the elements of the Lord’s Supper (cf. 1 Cor 11:23-32) are for spiritual blessings and not physical. The Bible is a spiritual book, not a carnal book about the physical body. Jesus Christ came to save us from sin and not to heal us from sickness, which God can do by His omnipotent power. But after an unbeliever is healed, he has to die again, and be cast into hell. Thank God Christ came to live, suffer and die for our sins so that we may be delivered from the bondage of sin. With this deliverance from the bondage of sin God has also removed the penalty of sin which is death and hell. In the new life in Christ, we now experience the power over the dominion of sin that plagued us before salvation. We now have peace in our hearts because we have been fully pardoned, and the guilt of sin has also been removed for ever. It is foolish and blasphemous to desecrate the Holy Communion and take it for mere physical health. It is a great insult to the finished work of Christ!
Question 3: Since there are different types of condemnation (i.e. greater condemnation), can we then infer that there will be different types of punishments in hell?
Answer 3: Whether there will be different types of punishment in hell we do not know clearly because the Bible does not say. There are no different levels in hell or the Lake of Fire. God does reveal in Revelation 19 that the Antichrist and the False Prophet will be cast alive into the Lake of Fire in their mortal bodies. Revelation 19:20: “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” This implies that their suffering may be worse than the sinners who will be raised from hell and then cast into the Lake of Fire.
What “resurrected bodies” these sinners will have the Bible does not describe. Revelation 20:11-14: “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the
That there is a greater condemnation is clear. James 3:1: “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” The question is: Where will this greater condemnation take place? Will it be in hell or on earth? We know from the Bible that on earth certain individuals who have been given more will be judged by God based upon the more they have received from Him. Those who lead others astray, especially by teaching God’s Word erroneously, will receive a greater judgment because not only do they hurt themselves by living wrongly due to their wrong understanding of God’s Word, they teach others to live wrongly as well. The greater judgment could come in the form of faster judgment like Moses who was given so much more than the ordinary Israelites who sinned many times before they were finally prevented from entering the Promised Land. He served the LORD faithfully for more than 39 years and sinned only once, as recorded for us in the Bible, and he was not allowed to enter the Promised Land. The greater condemnation seems to be experienced on earth rather than after death.
Yours faithfully in the Saviour’s Service,
Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew