Pastoral Letter 26 Jan 2020
My dear readers,
Please Do Not Stray
Proverbs 15:10: “ Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.”
Straying from the path of righteousness is what parents and teachers of God’s Word fear the most for their children. This fear is definitely not unfounded in this sin-sick world that we live in! The reality is that the evil one who is the god of this world has blinded the minds of those who reject the gospel. The warning from God in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 speaks loudly and clearly to all who have ears to hear: “ But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” With the world having such a blindness of the mind, the frightful result is that the lives they live are filled with and controlled by the lusts of the flesh and eyes, and hardened by the pride of life.
The people of God live and witness in such an environment of spiritual darkness. The assault on their witness for Christ in holiness is unceasing. The moment the child of God “relaxes” his faith and ceases to walk in holiness, carnality immediately sets in like an infectious disease afflicting the entire life of holy witness and crippling it in no time. The fall might appear gradual outwardly but inwardly on the slippery slope of sin he has already reached near bottom. Symptoms like not attending services in church, frequent lateness to worship service leading to infrequent attendance in worship are all signs of the low ebb in their walk with the Lord and the serious spiritual sickness that breeds within the soul! Carnality has already captured the heart and mind of such a wayward soul and soon lame excuses are made like a scapegoat for leaving the fellowship of saints and Christ.
The Lord assures the ones who are truly born again in Christ that He will certainly chastise them to bring them back to His fold if they are wayward. Hebrews 12:5-8,“ And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.”
This is what Proverbs 15:10 also teaches.
I. Correction Follows First: Whenever a child of God strays from Him, the LORD will chastise him. “Straying from the Lord” is the same as “forsaketh the way” (Prov 15:10). The word “way” refers to “a well trodden road.” It is a road for caravans to travel on. It is public and visible to many people. Many would be stumbled by this person’s way of life. The Name of Christ would be blasphemed by his lifestyle and conversation. The LORD whose Name he bears cannot let that happen. He will chastise, i.e. discipline him to stop him from sinning and to drive him back to his Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ! This is the purpose of chastisement. It is not meant to destroy but to save, i.e. to save his witness for Christ. Chastisement will be painful. It is meant to be painful as the sinner has done wrong. He needs to be taught that there are consequences for sin and for wrongdoing, both for the sinner and for others whom he caused to sin. Discipline is enforced to stop such sinful behaviour. It is not only painful but the person might even see it as evil. The discipline might come in the form of a sickness or the loss of loved ones or job; or anything that he holds dear to his heart that needs to be taken from him because it causes him to stray. His response to chastisement is important.
II. Death Follows Last: If a child of God stops sinning, the chastisement stops. It is also important to note that sometimes the residual effect of that chastisement might remain even though the chastisement has stopped! For example, if the chastisement is the death of a loved one or the loss of a job, the dead will not be resurrected and the lost job will not be returned after repentance. What happens if the child of God resists and refuses to repent of his sin? This means he hates the reproof from the Lord. The Lord can use anyone (such as leaders in the church who are also called to discipline) or the teaching/preaching from God's Word to reprove the sinner. But if he resists and stubbornly walks the way of sin then death might follow! Death to a child of God must not be viewed in the same way as the death of a child of the devil (i.e. an unbeliever). The latter dies in sin and ends up in hell and is ultimately sent to the Lake of Fire which is the second death. Revelation 20:13-15, “ And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 21:8, “ But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
But the child of God dies in Christ. He will find himself in heaven. Therefore when the Lord takes the life of a child of God, it is out of love for him and in order for him to stop sinning against God and man since he refuses to repent of his sin. The life of a believer on earth is one of service after salvation. Nothing on earth that happens to him can change what Christ did for him on Calvary’s cross. This is God’s assurance to all who are truly born again. Romans 8:38-39,“ 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.”
Knowing this and having tasted the grace of God and the forgiveness of all
his sins because he has Jesus as his Saviour, the question is: why would
such a child of God be so ungrateful and deliberately hold on to sin when
he should repent of it immediately so that the Lord does not have to
chastise him? Serving and witnessing for the Lord is a privilege. God’s
children ought not to forfeit it by holding on to sin and rejecting
chastisement from his loving heavenly Father. As born again children of
God, let us be obedient and faithful in service till He calls us home.
Yours faithfully in the Saviour’s Service,
Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew