Pastoral Letter 28 Jan 2024

My dear readers,

Know Your Fruits?

Proverbs 12:12: “The wicked desireth the net of evil men: but the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit.”

Jesus warns every professing believer in Matthew 7:15-20, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

Talking and writing about the Christian faith do not make us Christians. Studying and arguing about Christianity, including its fine points of theology and earning doctoral degrees in theology, will not make us Christians. Attending church to worship and teach and preach God’s Word makes us look like Christians, yet these Christian activities will also not turn any sinner into a saint! However, all these “Christian” activities do lull many of us into thinking that we are, especially when we do them faithfully!

We are not believers if there is no transformation in our lives from within and that is seen without. The evidence is that we desire “the net of evil men.” The word “desire” means “to delight in.” But some may argue that they do not desire the net of evil men. The phrase indeed refers to men and women, including children, who set snares to ruin believers’ holy testimonies for Christ. The former will lie, cheat, murmur, sow seeds of discord, undermine the veracity of the Bible, attack Christ and His holy Word, etc. Their evil deeds reflect their evil nature. But the devil is more cunning than subtle. He does not limit himself to such apparent attacks when it comes to hurting the work and will of God in Christ. He knows no bounds. There is no place or a person’s mind and heart that he will not attack. Many of his evil agents are found in churches, Bible Colleges and seminaries.

They attend church regularly, serve in the church, study the Bible regularly, preach and teach the Bible, obtain theological degrees, attend prayer meetings, say prayers before they sleep every night, are baptized, take the Lord’s Supper, and many other Christian activities, including giving out tracts. These are good Christian activities done by one living the life of a Christian that many may see. But if he lusts in his heart, the lusts of the flesh and the eyes and the pride of life will prevent him from repentance as he stubbornly holds on to sin and error. Isn’t this façade of a Christian a life of hypocrisy? Is not the life of a hypocrite a very potent snare or net of evil men? Isn’t the hypocritical lifestyle a delight to the unrepentant? How many have been lured into the net of hypocrisy and fallen prey to his pernicious ways? There are too numerous to enumerate.

God calls these evil people and professing believers wicked! The former are enemies outside the church who try to undermine the holy witness of believers. The latter are enemies inside the church who set traps for the gullible, discouraging them from serving, and ultimately getting them to leave the church entirely. Sadly, these wicked ones have succeeded time and time again. Many who are not rooted in God’s Word lack the discernment to see through their façade, to rebuke them instead of following and sinning with them.

Are you bearing the works of the wicked whose desires are for many to fall into the net of evil men?

“But the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit.”

We need to say we are Christians because we are! But we need to bear the holy fruits of a Christian as evidence of salvation because salvation is God's work, not man's. Our confession means nothing if our lives do not bear the fruits of salvation. But it means everything to others and God if the holy fruits point many to the Saviour. Therefore, Proverbs 12:12 emphasises the root of the righteous. The root refers to the innermost being of the Christian, where salvation should begin. The salvific work of Christ will cleanse every believer, starting from the depths of the inner man. The sinner is made holy from within, enabling him to be holy without. He loves righteous deeds because he is righteous within. He loves godly activities because he is godly within. He loves holy people and fellowship because he is holy within.

How can a believer who is holy within not repent of his sins so that he can be holy again within and without? The Holy Spirit who dwells in him will compel him to repent. The believer will then do so willingly from the heart. The congruency of his righteous life stems from a righteousness within. The moment Christ baptizes him with the Holy Spirit, the righteousness of God that is based upon the law is imputed to him. Just as Abraham believed in God and was imputed with the righteousness of God, so true believers in Christ will be imputed with the same righteousness when they believe. Romans 4:20-25: “He [Abraham] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”

His life will bear much fruit. The fruit includes the fruit of the Holy Spirit and the good works that he will do, constrained by the love of God. Galatians 5:22-23 reveals the fruit of the Spirit as “. . . love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:24-25: “And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” All righteous ones will experience all of the “fruit” in their lives because it characterises their new nature in Christ. That is why “fruit” is in the singular and not plural! It is one fruit rather than many fruits.

Good works are righteous deeds done according to Holy Scriptures. For example, the believer will relate to God’s enemies with perfect hatred, not with a vengeful spirit, but out of love for them and God (cf. Ps 139:19-24). These enemies attack God’s Word, malign His holy Name, and prevent sinners from turning to Christ. To befriend them makes him a partaker of their evil and transgression. The believer will help the poor and encourage the weak. He will share the gospel even in the face of persecution. He will turn the other cheek when slapped. He will pray for those who despitefully use them. He will forgive all who sin against him just as God has forgiven him in Christ.

Are holy fruits seen in you?

Jesus warns every professing believer to take heed of their confession in Matthew 7:21-23: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Yours faithfully in the Saviour’s Service,
Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew
Advisory Pastor

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