Pastoral Letter 31 Jul 2022
My dear readers,
Be Strong in the LORD
Ephesians 6:10-11: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
Are you strong in body? Physical strength is needed in everything we do in life from the moment we open our eyes to death. Going to the gym with weights and cardio training makes us stronger and fitter. But with age, physical strength wanes. Regardless of how fit, healthy and strong we are at the prime of life, we know that physical strength will soon pass. 1 Timothy 4:8: “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”
Are you strong in mind? Mental strength is another main determining factor in our overall well-being. Some have a very strong mind and will. When they set their mind to do something they usually succeed. Their dictum in life is: “When there is a will, there is a way!” Yet there is a great limitation to man’s will. The strength of mind ends with mental illness and ultimately death.
Are you strong emotionally? Emotional strength is as important as the physical and mental. This allows us to interact with people socially. Some, who are strong physically and mentally but weak emotionally, live lonely lives. They have no friends as they are easily hurt. Their ultra-sensitivities push everyone away because they are very inward looking and feel as if everyone is looking at them. They struggle to even have a normal conversation. No matter how strong we are emotionally, the many vicissitudes of life strain our emotions and very often we collapse in tears and sorrow when loved ones are taken or when betrayed by loved ones and friends. At best our emotional strength fluctuates like a yoyo with more downs than ups.
How can we be a strong Christian in all these areas?
Before we look at the Christian’s strength, we need to be aware of the dangers than can sap his strength. A Christian must not be strong in mammon. The god of this world has blinded the minds of many to believe that there is strength in mammon. The powers of economy, military, man-made governments and all forms of earthly authorities are deceptive. They have power only over this life and all that are in this world. They have no power in the spiritual realm. Christians must avoid leaning on these earthly powers to do God’s work. They cannot serve Christ using such powers that destroy services and turn holy witnesses to unholy ones.
There is a power that is the greatest of all powers, and its authority is over the heaven and earth including all things beyond this life. This power resides in one Man. He is Jesus Christ. 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.”
The strength of every believer is in Jesus Christ. This strength begins at salvation.
When we Christians are in Christ and Christ is in us (i.e. through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit), we are the strongest people on earth. With Christ, Christians are strong in body, mind, and emotions. But these strengths depend on the believers’ spiritual strength. All believers are born with spiritual strength upon salvation. Just as all strengths grow from infancy to maturity, spiritual strength grows in the same manner as well. The spiritual food that grows spiritual strength is the Word of God. The more the Word of God is in the believer, the stronger he becomes. He is stronger also because he prays more effectively. His love for God in Christ is anchored in God’s truth and not only in his feelings. He trusts God more because He knows Him better. This strengthens his mind, body and emotions. The promise of a stronger body is taught in Isaiah 40:31: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” The teaching on a stronger mind and heart is found in Philippians 4:6-7: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
There are many more Bible passages and testimonies of God’s strength in the believer’s life that gives him the power he needs to overcome the world. When he is strong in the LORD, he experiences the power, i.e. dominion, of God’s might in his own life and the lives of people around him. He consciously realizes that he stands and lives in the domain of God everywhere he goes and in whatever circumstances of life he faces. No matter how evil people are and how wicked a world he witnesses for Christ in, he understands that there is no power or authority over all of God's children except that which God has ordained. Romans 13:1: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” He guards his holy witness for Christ zealously with no compromises even in the face of death, for this is always the target of the devil. Attacking the believer and his holy witness is the means to this goal of maligning and shaming the name of Christ.
Therefore, even when a Christian suffers persecutions in life, he sees the hand of God rather than the hand of man. He sees God’s authority instead of man’s authority. His heart is protected against all sins and bitterness that result in sinful words and behaviour. By praying, he draws strength from the LORD to guard his lips and hands from sinning against God. He knows that the spiritual realm is where the real battles lie. He is fighting against the wiles of the devil. He needs God’s strength and power to win. God has made available to every believer this power and strength. All the temptations and challenges in life, from sicknesses to evil and wicked men to natural disasters including climate control, are all spiritual and not physical. These are the tools of the evil one to hurt and slow down the Christian from serving and witnessing for Christ. We must not forget that the devil’s main aim is to see believers fall into sin and bring shame to the holy Name of Christ. Everything else on earth is merely a tool to accomplish this evil goal.
Every Christian needs self-control in controlling his strength. The self-control of his whole being, once impossible to do, is now a common experience as his faith and trust in his Lord Jesus Christ and his heavenly Father is strengthened and deepened with every trial. These experiences are often in circumstances of persecution and suffering for Christ which includes the loss of jobs, homes, loved ones, freedom and even lives. But he will not flinch. He will endure to the end till he arrives home in glory. He knows that when he holds on to his faith to the end, he has victory in Christ before God and man. Apostle John was given a glimpse of believers who refused to bow to the Antichrist and who died for Christ praising the Lord in heaven in Revelation 15:2: “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.”
As Calvary Pandan B-P Church rejoices and thanks God for preserving her through forty-three years, all her members cannot be complacent because the battle rages on. As children of God, we cannot fail, unless we choose to fail by not leaning upon the Lord for strength, and thereby not experiencing His power. The devil will keep attacking and undermining every believer’s faith. Only in the strength of the Lord can all believers be victorious. May we all be united in this endeavour to be strong in the LORD for Christ’s glory by provoking one another unto love and good works till He returns! Amen.
Yours faithfully in the Saviour’s Service,
Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew