“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)
To understand the biblical importance of ruling elders in the church, it is pertinent for us to recognise the necessity, nature and duties of ruling elders.
In the apostolic times, when the Gospel spread through Judaea, Samaria, Asia Minor and in other regions, churches were formed. Their proper spiritual and administrative care became a great concern to the apostles. Paul then wrote to Titus regarding what should be done for the proper management of the church – “that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee” (Titus 1:5).
The apostolic instruction is that the appointment of elders as church officers who oversee her affairs and ministries is vital to an orderly, well-managed church. The ordaining of elders is an imperative. It is on no account to be omitted. Paul’s counsel was that Titus would go through city by city (wherever there was a church) and ordain a body of elders in each congregation (cf. 1 Timothy 3, where Paul also mentioned the appointment of deacons, who are to be assistants to the elders). The elders, then, are to rule and organise the church.
The basic biblical pattern for the proper organisation of a local church is that elders (plural in number) ought to be ordained from within the congregation, in accordance with the biblical requirements of abilities and standards of behaviour. This is corroborated by Acts 14:23 – “And when they (Paul and Barnabas) had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”
Elders ought to be men of sound moral and spiritual character. Their qualifications are plainly laid down in the Word of God, as attested to by Titus 1:6-9 – “(being) blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”
A similar requirement of irreproachable conduct is also given in 1 Timothy 3:2- 7. “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
The passages quoted above lay special emphasis upon high morals and sound spiritual abilities and character. So, every man who is considered for the office of eldership ought to be blameless in life and steadfast in the faith. He should be a man of wisdom and discretion. Neither wealth nor social position can qualify a man to be a ruler in God’s house. Holiness must characterise his pursuit of life so that he may be an example to the flock. Devotion to God – piety – should characterise every ruling elder. He must be a godly, spirituallyminded man. His piety is an indication of the measure of his strength. All his duties require godliness, without which all his skills and capabilities are of little use in the governing of the church. If he is truly godly, then he will truly influence the church for the glory of God. It is the elders’ godly influence that is instrumental in directing the proper conduct of the church.
Though piety is indispensable, it is not the only qualification. Not every church member who is devout is qualified to be an elder of the church. A candidate to the office of eldership must also be a man of intelligence, practical wisdom, experience and no mean administrative capacity. The best and wisest godly men in the congregation should be selected. From time to time, the Board of Elders will have to deal with matters of utmost gravity and grapple with perplexing problems. In such situations, the ablest of minds and the most knowledgeable of men are to be found among the rulers of the church. It goes without saying that men who lack excellent mental capacity would not be able to handle such duties. Thus, we should thank God for capable men whom God gives to us in the church leadership. In the same vein, we must also pray for more competent men for the eldership.
The apostle Paul also insisted that an elder should be “apt to teach”. This is not necessarily a reference to public and official instruction, for ruling elders are not those who are called to labour in the Word as teaching elders (cf. 1 Timothy 5:17). What this means is that there must, however, be present in them the ability to communicate and defend sound doctrines of the Bible. Elders must take every opportunity available to them to increase in the knowledge of God’s Word. They should be diligent and faithful students of God’s Word so that they may teach in the Bible class, and guide worshippers and inquirers in the wisdom of God’s Word.
Elders who are “apt to teach” ought to have the competence and purposefulness to teach true doctrine and to refute false doctrine. Hence Paul’s instruction to the Ephesian elders: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For … grievous wolves (shall) enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also … shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:28-30). This role of the elders is of vast importance in preventing the church from departing from the truth of God’s Word and in defending the church against errors of all kinds that will creep in through false teachers!
By the grace of God, in the upcoming Bible Witness Retreat (September 11-13), about 50 participants will be studying the prayers recorded in the Book of Acts under the theme, “Church: A People in Prayer”. In the previous retreat held in March 2019, we studied the prayers found in the earlier chapters of the Book of Acts.
It is indeed a special blessing to contemplate on the legacy of prayer recorded in the Scriptures. The Book of Acts mentions prayer to God about 50 times, thus making it as the book with the second-most reference to prayer in the New Testament book– the first being the Gospel of Luke. Of the 28 chapters of this book, 20 of them have references to prayer. When we study those instances of prayer in their specific contexts, many spiritual truths can be gleaned that will benefit our Christian life. Not only principles of prayer, but also many essential spiritual truths that will impact our personal and church life will be touched upon when we pursue the expository study of those prayers.
Since we are exhorted to be prayerful in everything (Philippians 4:6), the study of biblical prayers will provide lessons that would permeate every aspect of our life and ministry. It will provide us with biblical perspectives on various facets of godliness. Hence, we can expect our study of the prayers in Acts of the Apostles to provide biblical counsels that span beyond the spiritual exercise of prayer.
Prayer is communing with and communicating to God. It involves acts of worship – praise, thanksgiving, confession about God’s attributes and works – repentance, oath, vows, consecration, supplication, intercession, inquiring of God’s will, His guidance, His help, His blessing, etc. The attitudes expressed in prayers found in the Bible teach us about faith, submission and obedience to God’s Word, dependence on His promises, love for God and His church, commitment to His work, preoccupation with God’s glory, etc. That’s not all. The answers to the prayers recorded in the Bible teach us about God’s sovereignty, providence, wisdom, power, faithfulness, guidance, sufficiency, etc.
Acts records private prayers, as well as public prayers. All of the prayers recorded in Acts are vital to the fulfilling of the book’s major theme that believers may be witnesses in the power of the Spirit “unto the uttermost part of the earth” (1:8). Prayer, as a vital factor, can be seen in the following instances: (i) as believers waited to receive the power (chap. 1); (ii) when the Jerusalem church was constituted and began its activities (2:42); (iii) in the performance of the apostolic ministry (9:40); (iv) in precipitating the release of the imprisoned apostles (4:24-30; 12:5, 16:25); (v) at the time of Stephen’s death (7:59-60) (vi); in sending missionaries (13:3); (vii) in establishing churches (14:23); (viii) at the time of bidding farewell (20:36; 21:5); etc.
These and other aspects of prayer in Acts will provide us with an exhilarating and edifying time of meditating on His Word. Let us gather together with great expectation of His blessing upon the retreat. We covet the prayers of the church for the blessing of the upcoming Bible Witness retreat.
I thank God for His salvation grace upon me and my family. I accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour in 1986. My youngest daughter, Stephanie, was the first to believe in Jesus in 1984. Through her testimony and sharing of the Gospel, all my other three children and I came to believe in Jesus. My husband, who initially was anti-Christian, also became receptive to the Gospel. Before he passed away at aged 56, he accepted Christ and was baptized in the hospital. Though widowed at aged 50, the Lord has been my constant strength and comfort. I was illiterate but the desire to know more about God and His Word motivated me to learn to read the Bible. Soon, I was able to read the Bible (and even write some simple words) – giving me much joy to know Christ more, and understanding / comfort during times of painful trials.
I was baptized in Calvary Pandan BP Church in Dec 1988, worshipping there for about 20 years. In 2006, I left Calvary Pandan BP Church because my eldest son-in-law asked me to reach out to his Teochew-speaking mother, Mrs Ng, with the Gospel and to accompany her to Singapore Life Church’s Teochew worship service. Praise God she eventually accepted Christ and was baptized. I continued to serve with Mrs Ng in Singapore Life Church and in their Teochew choir. I transferred my membership to this church on 1 June 2008.
It has always been my desire to share the Gospel with all my unbelieving relatives and friends, though they have repeatedly declined my invitation to attend Gospel rallies. Thank God for such a providential opportunity granted on my 80th birthday (in 2016) to hold a birthday thanksgiving celebration cum Gospel meeting, where Pastor Koshy preached the Gospel with Chinese translation. I invited many of them to attend. May the Gospel seed sown reap the fruit of salvation in due season.
Within a week of my 80th birthday, I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. God filled my heart with peace despite this news, as I am ready to go home and enjoy heaven’s bliss with the Lord. “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). I know God is in control and will carry me through this trial at such an old age. Stephanie provided caregiving for me during this difficult time and I moved in to live with her. I thank God for seeing me through 12 sessions of chemotherapy and all the tumours in my lungs and liver have vanished on the post-chemotherapy scan. (My cancer is not totally cured, but under control with ongoing monthly antibody treatment.) During this period, I received much encouragement and love from many brethren in Gethsemane BPC. Thank God for their prayers, love and warm fellowship.
When I sustained a fractured spinal disc due to a fall in May 2019, I was thankful that God spared me from paralysis. Though the MRI showed a possible spread of cancer to my spinal bone, further tests proved negative, and the Lord continues to bless me with good health reviews month after month. Despite the chemotherapy side effects of permanent numbness in my toes and fingers, I have learnt to trust and rely on God’s grace and strength day by day. Truly, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). I thank God for sustaining me and giving me much joy and peace despite this bodily affliction.
During my recent hospitalization, I was once again touched and encouraged by the love, care, prayers and visits of many Gethsemanean brethren. After the Lord has seen me through this recent trial, I thank Him for giving me the conviction to transfer my membership from Singapore Life Church to Gethsemane BP Church. Thank God for leading me to worship in Gethsemane BP Church as I see the love of Christ exhibited in so many brethren, and also how God’s Word has been faithfully preached by Pastor Koshy and the preachers. I am also encouraged and blest to be found in a mission-minded church, with which I share the same passion for lost souls. May the Lord continue to sanctify me for His glory, and help me to be an effective witness for Him and serve Him in Gethsemane BP Church until He calls me home. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
About 20 years ago, I was called to salvation in the nick of time, before I plunged deeper into the occultic practice of the New Age movement of Reiki. Though a non-Christian then, I was very well aware of the presence of religious cultic groups and was careful not to get myself involved in such. At that time, Reiki had promoted a type of channelling of positive energy in oneself to heal oneself and even others. I was told it’s not religion-based. So, I was sold to this idea as I was then having an issue with a hand injury that hinders my daily duties of cooking, cleaning and caring for 3 young children as a housewife and mother. I thought foolishly that learning this skill would help our family save a lot of money for medical expenses. Over 2 weekends, I attended the Reiki course. On the 1st Sunday when I was away on course, God sent His servant to preach to my husband who was at home looking after the children. The 2nd Sunday, my husband and children went to church for the first time, without me, as I was still on course. The 3rd Sunday, I joined my family in church. However, I continued with my Reiki practice as I didn’t know it’s a dark art. To cut the long story short, by God’s grace and mercy, I became a believer after going to church with my family for some time. The Holy Spirit illumined me and helped me to realise that Reiki is evil. I can’t praise the LORD enough for His salvation of my soul!
From my early 20s, I had rejected the Taoist religion of my mum and grandma because my grandma had failed to answer the many questions I posed her whenever she practised her belief. My questions were either brushed off as she had no answers for them or I was told not to ask too much. Being fiercely loyal to my Chinese roots, I had never sought Christianity whic9999h to me was an ‘angmoh’ religion. I was exposed to Christianity in a mission junior college, but becoming a Christian is like betraying my Chinese roots. To satisfy my spiritual needs, I turned to Buddhism, which many Chinese also practised. Practising and studying Buddhism for a short while at the basic level were enough for me to realise that it has no answers to my many questions about life and the spiritual realm. Buddhism doesn’t recognise the existence of a Creator God. Yet, deep in me, I know there’s a ‘Supreme Being’ up in heaven. I want to know who He is, and how to worship Him. In my workplace, I came to know of Christian and Catholic colleagues who are insistent that theirs is the real faith. I wasn’t spiritually discerning enough to know the truth. Besides, I was cautious, sceptical and wary not to jump into the wrong religion or wrong church without some sort of assurance. Somehow, at this point of my life, I was no longer averse to Christianity. In fact, I desired to go to church with my family. But which church? I believed God had already prepared the hearts of my husband and I. By God’s providence, when my husband said they were going to church on the 2nd Sunday while I was on the Reiki course, I was very happy actually. I knew at that moment God was directing my family and I to Him. He had sought me and prepared this stubborn and foolish heart of mine to receive Him without any doubt.
I came to Gethsemane BPC as I found out that this is a vibrant, God-honouring church, with many ministries for God’s children to serve and grow in faith. I like that in GBPC, biblically sound doctrines are preached, taught diligently and practised; and leaders are prepared to administer church discipline without fear of man, but with fear of God. Many churches nowadays have fallen short of one, or even both, of these conditions, including my former church. This is the reason for my transfer of membership.
I was born in a Roman Catholic family. My parents would bring me to church every Sunday and observe all the Catholic traditions, like praying the rosary, lighting candles and bowing down to the images while reciting prayers. I was led to believe that traditions and my own efforts to do good works were my ticket to enter heaven, and my only goal was to attend the mass for my sins to be forgiven.
When I was 20 years old, one of my closest friends (who is a Christian) invited me to a youth gathering in her church. That was the first time I heard of the Gospel. At that moment, I realised that I really didn’t know Jesus. I was so full of myself, being self-righteous and very prideful. Even though I claimed to know God, I rarely read the Bible and had very little knowledge of Him.
After graduating from University, I worked in a private school for one year before deciding to come to Singapore to look for a job. By the mercy of God, I was given an opportunity to work as a child-care teacher. While here, I was invited to a church where most of the people I knew were attending. When I first came to that church, I witnessed how people were hyped up by the expressive worship, wherein people dance, scream, cry and “speak in tongues” as they normally call it. They passionately “declared” healing and blessings upon the people. Soon I also was part of their practices. Instead of turning to the Word of God and seeking the truth about all these things, I blindly followed them. I listened to what I wanted to hear and what was appealing to me personally. That resulted in me making terrible mistakes and falsely assuming I knew God better. I really thank the Lord that by His mercy and faithfulness, I was delivered from this bondage.
Indeed, we have a merciful and faithful God who never forsakes us. Thank God for using someone to lead me to read a passage in the Bible pertaining to the things that had blinded me for years. As I spent several hours reading and praying, I cried as I realised how the Lord has treated me with undeserved grace. I thank God each day for illumining me by the Holy Spirit, for opening my eyes and causing me to see the truth in the Scriptures.
Praise the Lord for bringing us to Gethsemane BP Church in September 2018. I thank God for the faithful preaching of God’s Word (which is the supreme and final authority of our faith and life) by Pastor Koshy and other preachers. The constant reminder about repentance towards God, salvation by grace through faith in Christ, and obedience to God as His people, moved us to decide to worship here in Gethsemane. We are fully aware that it was the gracious Hand of the Lord which led and brought us to this church. God is sovereign, He knows how things will turn out before they happen. Therefore, I rejoice and praise the Lord, who is my Deliverer and Redeemer, who bore my sins in His body and paid the price for my redemption. I thank the Lord for the gift of faith to believe in Christ and trust in His plan for me. And it is my sincerest prayer that I will grow closer to God, serve Him with clean hands and a pure heart, and rely on the Holy Spirit to live a life that glorifies God.
I had been attending a Pentecostal/ Charismatic church for a couple of years before God amazingly brought a group of us to Gethsemane B-P Church. In the meantime, through online videos (such as YouTube), some of my fellow Filipino brethren (from that same church) and I, through listening to the sermons of John MacArthur and R. C. Sproul, became aware of the teachings of John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, etc. Our hearts were opened up to the truths of God’s Word. After several months of listening to the expository teachings of the reformed, fundamentalist pastors, we became aware of the wrong teachings and practices of our previous church. Praise be to God for giving us the opportunity to see His truth.
By God’s providence, in August 2018, I engaged in a serious conversation about the Bible with Bro Melvin Mendoza, with whom I regularly had lunch in a coffee shop. Bro. Melvin shared with me about the church he was currently attending, i.e. Gethsemane BPC. I googled, and viewed some of the sermons of Pastor Koshy and Rev. Reggor. About 2 weeks later, on 2nd September 2018, I came to attend Gethsemane, with some of my Filipino friends. Since then, we are able to learn more of the truths of the Bible. We are thankful for the sound doctrines expounded by Pastor Koshy. We are also thankful for the guidance we have received from Pr Jeremiah Sim (who teaches us in KBS), as well as Bro. Norefel Resuma (who oversees the Filipino Fellowship). We are greatly encouraged through GBI classes, the English worship services and other fellowship groups of Gethsemane. Day by day, having learnt more and more of the Word, we are led to live according to His will and acceptably in His sight.
Thank God for the warm welcome we have received in Gethsemane BPC. May more lives be transformed through God’s blessing of the church members’ outreach and evangelism. Praise God for bringing us out of the errors of Roman Catholicism, Pentecostalism and Charismaticism, to attend this church. We are very grateful that we know more of our God and His Word, that we may follow and obey Him. All glory be to our God!
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:3-6).
I am Gao Jing. For more than a decade, I have been a Buddhist. I constantly felt remorseful about my sins. I also felt that I could not find my direction, whenever I needed help or support. I was in Singapore alone, and singlehandedly brought up my children here.
By some unexpected coincidence, I was brought to Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church. It was through one of my customers that I came to the church. I felt at home here since then. Subsequently through the preaching of God’s Word, I am convicted that I am a sinner under the curse of sin, and the only way to be forgiven of my sins is to receive Jesus to be my Saviour. I believe only Jesus can forgive my sins and save me. I began to learn to pray and to read the Scriptures. Every time I met with a problem which made me perplexed, the Lord Jesus has always led me forward step by step through prayer and God’s Word. I have felt the true existence of the Lord Jesus, and have experienced the power of preaching and the mutual sharing by the brothers and sisters in the church. Therefore, I am now at ease and very joyous in the Lord!
I was brought up as a Catholic and went to church every Sunday together with my family. Yet, all I knew about Jesus was no more than many unbelievers. I didn’t know what it meant to have a saving relationship with Jesus, although I prayed to Him and continued to attend my local Catholic church.
There came a period in my life when I felt a deep yearning for life’s meaning. But I wasn’t sure what it was. Though I had a great job, active social life and my family around me, I didn’t feel contented. On the outside, life seemed good. But on the inside, it was like a gaping hole, which I yearn to be filled. God awakened me to realise that a life of joy and peace was not through abundance of worldly things. From that moment, I wanted to know more about what God is like. I was curious as I had plenty of questions about God and life. I tried to look for answers in the Catholic church but I couldn’t find them.
Life went on, despite those feelings inside me. When I later moved to Singapore to work, my friends invited me to their church. When they subsequently left their previous church, I too left together with them. I knew they were leaving because of the errors within the church. Thank God for moving all of us in His own peculiar way to bring us to Gethsemane. I thank God for inspiring me with His precious Word through the preaching of Pastor Koshy and the rest of the preachers. By attending several of the fellowship groups in Gethsemane and being surrounded with believers, I am blessed with opportunities to learn and grow in faith.
When I first came to Gethsemane B-P Church, I had only a little knowledge of God. After learning more of the Bible truths, I have been able to discover answers to many things that had troubled me earlier in life. It is only through the love of God that calls me to prayer, worship and fellowship, that I have been able to let go of all the lies that I had held onto for so long. Praise God that He helped me to step out into the light and believe in the truth. I now experience peace within me. In the past, I found it a real struggle to move forward; today I have found the confidence to bear my struggles because of the Lord who is with me.
Now I know God has a plan for my future. As part of the body of Christ, I believe God has given each one of us a part to play within the family of the church. I pray He will show me the path that He wants me to go – and that, I believe, is the secret to finding true contentment in my life.
I was baptised in a Roman Catholic church. During my childhood days, my family and I regularly attended the early mass at 6:00 a.m. in Manaoag, Pangasinan. At an early age, I was led to memorise the different “mysteries” in the rosary by my mother, who conducted prayers in our house everyday. This practice went on until my mother became a Christian during my college days. She also brought me to her church service. Then I was baptised in a Charismatic church. I followed the teaching and practices of the church. Slowly, I learned how to read the Bible and pray.
When I came to Singapore to work as a preschool teacher, I met a group of Filipinos who were also working here. They invited me to attend their church. As a Christian, I was longing to attend Sunday services, so I followed them to Hope Church, where I attended their “life groups”. As time passes, I knew that what is being practised in the church is totally different from what is in the Scriptures. For instance, the Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 2:11-13, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.” But why is the pastor of our church a woman? I started to question the leaders, pointing to those verses.
Another thing that troubled me was a certain phenomenon they called “Holy Spirit Encounter”, wherein they will just worship God with the songs composed by many ungodly singers from groups like Hillsong, Bethel, etc. Many of these events were conducted by the woman pastor and woman leaders in the church. During those worship services, I was distracted by people who were shouting, crying and engaging in the so-called ‘speaking of tongues’.
When God convicted me through His Word concerning their errors, I started to look for a Bible-believing church. I first went to Zion Presbyterian Church in Bishan. Sometime later, some brethren in Gethsemane BP Church invited me to attend Gethsemane’s worship service at SingPost Centre. By the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus, I was glad to hear God’s Word preached, with understanding and clarity based on the context of the Scriptural passages that are preached. I was happy that the sermons were not attempts to stir up the emotions of the hearers. I thank God and also would like to thank the GBPC family for teaching and correcting me with God’s Word.
I came from a Christian family and was baptised as an infant in 1990, during the Christmas Service at Galilee BP Church. Though I reaffirmed my faith on 22 December 1996, I only came to know the Lord Jesus Christ in the year 2000 during a Christmas musical entitled “Emmanuel Has Come”, where I was playing the role of one of the soldiers torturing Jesus Christ. During the rehearsal, the act of torturing Jesus Christ was hurtful and unbearable, knowing that He is the true and living God whom we should love, honour and obey. So whenever I partake of the Holy Communion, I will always remember how He was crucified on the cross for our sins.
Brother Herbert used to bring me to FCM (NTU/NIE) to listen to God’s Word taught by Rev. Wee Eng Moh on Wednesday nights at NTU. He also invited me to join him every Sunday for worship service at True Life BP Church. After much persuasion, I decided to join him once a month (every 3rd Sunday) as I needed to serve as usher back in Galilee (Youth Worship Service). After a while, Bro. Herbert advised me to consider leaving Galilee and transfer my membership to True Life BPC because our church pastor, Rev. Heng, believes that the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible has mistakes, and that is against the Word Of God. That time, I just ignored it as I was serving faithfully and dutifully as an usher in Galilee Youth Service.
Subsequently, I attended the Combined Youth Conference at Calvary Pandan BP Church on the theme, “Tongue-Tied: Don’t Be Caught Speechless When Your Faith Is Under Fire”. The message was about the different Christian denominations from “charismatic” to the “third wave” – about how they originated and how to refute them from the Word of God. Something struck me while listening: “Can we Bible-Presbyterians believe in demon-casting?” This question did bother me quite a bit, for I remembered that someone in our church told me that Rev. Heng used to participate in demon-casting. Is this practice exhorted by Scripture as part of the church ministry? I only know that if we are born again, we will not be possessed by demons. After talking to one of the FEBC students about demon-casting and whether I should leave Galilee because the pastor believes that the King James Bible has mistakes, things became clear in my mind. I do not want to worship in a church that has no full confidence in the Bible, nor want my kids (when I have a family later on) to grow up believing the Bible has mistakes. That’s why I wanted to transfer my membership to True Life BPC, and to entrust the rest to God.
On one Sunday that I went back to Galilee for Youth Worship Service, I told a church brother that I am transferring my membership to True Life BPC. He was surprised and asked me the reason, to which I replied, “Because our pastor, Rev. Heng, believes that the KJV of the Bible has mistakes.” He told me not to believe unless there is a proof. I agreed, so I went to find Bro. Herbert to ask him if he has any proof of our pastor believing that KJV has mistakes. He searched through the internet and came across Life BPC’s website on the VPP issue. He printed a copy for me to read. I found out that our church pastor was one of the signatories against VPP. After much prayer and consideration, I transferred my membership to True Life BPC during the Easter Service.
In January 2018, in the midst of my stressful work load, my friend Beng Wee from FCM encouraged me to join the Bible Witness retreat in March 2018. After praying, I booked my leave and went for my first Bible Witness retreat in Johor Bahru. I felt so welcomed when I boarded the coach from Big Box to JB. I never had this kind of feeling before in my life as a Christian. On that day, I told myself this is the church I want to grow with. Since then, I have been attending every Bible Witness retreat and have learnt a lot of lessons from the preaching of God’s Word.
On 3 June 2018, I attended my first worship service in Gethsemane BPC. As I attended regularly, I learnt a lot of biblical lessons from Pastor Koshy and the preachers. I also joined the Young Adults’ Fellowship. Thank God for the privilege to transfer my church membership to Gethsemane BPC. I am looking forward to that day when I can serve God in this church.
Dear Rev. Prabhudas Koshy,
I had managed to get the complete address of Mr Tan SQ as his phone was always engaged when I called. He was one of my former Sunday School pupils on St. John’s Island during the period between 1962 to 1964. He is now a grandfather of two grandsons. Every Lord’s Day, his wife brings the two grandsons to church with her while SQ prefers to stay at home. I hope by reading the Bible Witness, he will be convicted and follow his wife to church.
Praise God for The Gethsemane Care Ministry (TGCM). On Wednesday, 10th July 2019, Brothers Gary and Cayson kindly came to help me move some heavy furniture. Before leaving, Gary presented me with an invitation card to attend the 14th Anniversary Thanksgiving of TGCM. Congratulations, and I wish you God’s blessings for the success of this ministry. Enclosed is a POSB cheque, as a love gift for this happy event.
Before I continue, I apologise wholeheartedly for another error found in Mdm Q S Lee’s address. She moved house recently and gave me her block number wrongly, which I only found out later while talking with her on the phone.
All thanks be to God for the discovery and correction of all the errors before the Bible Witness magazines are posted out. Though a long and tedious struggle for me to send the Bible Witness, I view it a joy as the articles provide enlightenment, encouragement and edification of God’s Word to my friends here in Singapore and a dear relative in Penang. I consider sending the Bible Witness magazines to them as the best gifts, for they offer insights of eternal life to the readers. I greatly appreciate if you can send the magazines w.e.f. Jan-Feb 2019 issue (i.e. Volume 19 Issue 1).
Enclosed in my letter dated 10th July 2019, were five names and addresses to receive the Bible Witness magazines. However, I have now written out a new copy (without errors) for the Bible Witness team to refer to when mailing out the magazines. Please convey my greetings and thanks to Mr Lok Kwok Wah for the circulation of Bible Witness.
May the Lord continue to bless the Bible Witness Media Ministry and Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church abundantly!
Mrs Lim K. H.
(We continue to publish the testimonies of brethren who will be joining the church. May their testimonies bring joy to our hearts and praise to the Lord.)
I still remember the weekly chapel sessions that I attended when I was in Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Primary School. Even though I was still a Buddhist then, I could not help but be drawn by the messages / songs, and even marvelled at the brightly-lit interior of the chapel within the school compound. It was a sharp contrast to the dim, eye-stinging and smoky temple my father took me to back in Jakarta.
It was only years later when my father got to know Christ, that he encouraged all of us to go to church. He had experienced a great sense of peace which he was not able to have from the idols which he had worshipped for over 3 decades. I was not into the idea as I felt that I was a betrayer – wouldn’t that make me a disloyal and disobedient person if I turned my back on these gods? There are many of them; what if I was punished for my “misconduct”? On hindsight, it was undeniably by God’s grace that I went to church.
The first church we went to was a branch of Zion Presbyterian Church. We prayed to the Lord and repented of our sins, placing our faith in the Lord Jesus. We were baptised in the mother church in late 2009. Subsequently, I worshipped in Zion for about 4 years, even after my family members respectively went to different churches. I eventually ended up in Orchard Road Presbyterian Church, as I felt a greater sense of belonging there. I stayed for about 5 years, made many friends and was able to grow spiritually somewhat. As time passed, I felt rather stagnated – and lukewarm in my faith.
To satisfy the thirst to learn more about God and His Word, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and explore other options. It was time for a “new chapter” for me. I searched in Google for “Presbyterian church in the east”. As I scrolled, the word ‘Gethsemane’ caught my eyes, and I clicked on the link. I began to listen to the Live Webcast every Sunday, but I yearned for more: communion and interaction with fellow believers. By faith, I went ahead to attend the service and have continued to do so until today.
In retrospect, I am truly thankful that God’s providence had brought me to GBPC, where I am constantly edified, rebuked in gentleness, and enlightened by His Word through the preaching and also through the fellowship with everyone in the church.
Since birth, I’ve always been a follower of Roman Catholicism, blinded by the superstitions / rituals and the belief that only the priest has the right to read the Bible. However, every now and then I attended my aunt’s Christian church (which is charismatic) for the sake of sweets and games. Back then, I did not really know what is the reason for going to church.
In 2014, when one of my colleagues asked me to join them to attend his (charismatic) church, I started to consider Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. I then trusted Him and continually sought to learn God’s Word.
“All is going well,” I thought to myself, until I came across Reformed Theology or Calvinism (which I believe was the work of the Holy Spirit). Then I wondered why this truth was not taught or preached in that church. More questions arose which no one in that church answered. A question that my friends and I raised up to the leaders of the church became a big issue – “Why is our pastor a woman?” And their answer was: “Why not?” We pointed out from the Scriptures why it should not be the case, but to no avail. They quoted Romans 8:1 to justify their appointment of women-pastors, though that passage was clearly not referring to the questions we raised about church leadership. They began to call us sexist and such. It was hurtful to see friends denying and hating us. I am always reminded of what Jesus said in John 15:18-19, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”
Lastly, I thank God that we came to know about Gethsemane BP Church through a member of the church. In his conversation with one of my housemates (a fellow believer who was just as distressed as me about our previous church’s charismatic doctrines and practices), he said, “I don’t believe in the modern tongues-speaking”. We then decided to visit the church. Upon attending the church for the past one year, we were convinced that our coming was the work of the Holy Spirit. All glory and praise be to God!
I praise God for the privilege to write a short testimony on how I came to know our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I came from a Roman Catholic background. In September 2014, I came to Singapore to look for a job and my brother invited me to join him to attend church (which is a charismatic church). In December that year, I received Jesus Christ and was baptised the following year. For 3 years, I was blinded by the carnal and sensual system of that movement. Thank God for helping me realise that their doctrines and teachings are unbiblical, for they promote a prosperity gospel. I praise God for His grace and mercy in opening my spiritual eyes through reading and hearing sermons of reformed pastors.
In end August 2018, I left that church with nowhere to go for worship the next Lord’s Day. Until my brother Rowell shared of someone worshipping in a reformed church. We searched the internet and came across Gethsemane’s website, where we listened to the sermon uploaded on 26th August 2018.
On 2nd September 2018, we came to Gethsemane to join the Filipino Fellowship. Rev. Reggor Galarpe was preaching that day. Our time of fellowship with him was rather short (as they were heading to India for the Bible Witness retreat). During this period, I feared that we were unable to find a biblical church that is preaching the truth. I was also worried that I might find myself comparing different churches, ending up criticising their weakness and using these as excuses to look for a better church. Thank the Lord for keeping and leading us to Gethsemane BP Church, that we may see wondrous things out of God’s law.
Since then, we regularly worship the Lord in Gethsemane. We not only found a church but also a pastor who, by the grace of God, is bold enough to challenge the congregation to follow him as he follows Christ. Truly, the Lord is with him and the elders whom God has called and appointed to lead and watch over His church. God uses His chosen servants, like pastors and elders, to bless, feed and guide His flock. Surely, we are under God’s mighty hand, for our leaders are led by the Spirit of God.
Praise God for His mighty works upon His people. May the ministry of our church flourish and prosper to the glory of His name.
From young, I had been brought up in a BP church. I thank God for my mother bringing me constantly to church – firstly, to Maranatha BPC while a toddler; and later, to Moriah BPC in my primary school days. Being a playful and rebellious child, I treated the church premises as a playground instead of a holy sanctuary for worship. Instead of going to Sunday School, I would often play in the church premises. I had little regard for the things of God, being young and foolish. Truly, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).
As I grew older, with no knowledge of God in my life, I gradually reduced attendance in church during my early teenage years. By the time I was 16 years of age, I had completely drifted away and was lost to the world and its carnal ways. I got into trouble regularly and was a cause of exasperation and frustration to my parents. However, the Lord did not forsake me, but instead opened the way for me to study in Perth despite my mediocre results.
My first “encounter” with BPCWA in March 2017 came about as a result of my intention to purchase a second-hand textbook from another student. Praise the Lord for a brother who approached me and explained the Gospel to me. He then invited me for a “welcome dinner” at BPCWA, which I gratefully accepted. Afterwards, different people would come and talk to me about salvation, heaven and hell, but I only listened with a pinch of salt.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-5). During the sunrise service on the 16th April 2017, Rev. Joseph Poon preached about Christ’s suffering on the cross and the amount of pain, suffering and humiliation Christ suffered. I started feeling uncomfortable as my conscience was pricked by all that Christ had done for me. That day when I went home, I asked Jesus Christ to be my Lord and my Saviour, and to deliver me from eternal judgment. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
May I constantly depend on God in my life, and continually grow more in grace and in the knowledge of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Peter 3:18a).
I was born into a non-Christian home and attended Anglo-Chinese School (ACS), a Methodist school, for 12 years – from primary school to junior college. Although my education in ACS exposed me to Christian teachings through chapel services and Religious Emphasis Week events, I gave minimal thought to my salvation.
During my upper secondary school years, I was introduced to New Creation Church (NCC) through my relatives. It was during this period that I started developing a deeper interest in reading the Scriptures. Subsequently, I pursued tertiary education overseas; some time during this period (in my early-20s) I was born again, receiving the Gospel and salvation. That marked the start of a tumultuous journey, because as I studied the Scriptures, I could not reconcile with many of NCC’s practices vis-à-vis the Bible. When I returned to Singapore upon completion of my tertiary education, I embarked on a “mission” to seek the truth of the Scriptures. Though still attending NCC at that point of time, I did not feel peace in my heart when I listened to the sermons and when I observed the church’s practices. Thus, I began to question the veracity of NCC’s teachings.
By the grace of God, I was introduced to FEBC and I enrolled in FEBC’s online modules from early 2018. As I studied God’s Word through FEBC, it confirmed what I had long suspected in my heart: that “tongues-speaking”, “signs-and-wonders”, “faith-healing” and charismatic worship are contrary to God’s Word. Therefore I initiated my departure from NCC, and I thank God that I successfully cut ties with NCC since last year.
Through FEBC, I heard Pastor Koshy’s teachings; I decided to worship in Gethsemane BP Church because I firmly believe that GBPC’s teachings align with God’s Word. I look forward to being baptised and becoming a member of GBPC. Henceforth, I also identify myself as a Bible-Presbyterian. “Truth is always with the minority” – these are the words of Rev. Dr Timothy Tow in The Story of My Bible-Presbyterian Faith (page 38). I concur with this statement. The basis of our faith must always be the Scriptures, and nothing else.
May God help me to maintain my testimony, set me apart from worldliness in all my ways. May God guide me always in my pilgrimage until He calls me home.
I first came to know of the Lord Jesus in Primary 6 when my cousin, who was worshipping at Calvary Tengah BPC then, invited me to their YF camp. However, I only came to accept Christ as my Saviour in Secondary 2 when I was experiencing some difficult times in school and at home. Church had become a haven for me as it was where I felt comfort and joy. I said the sinners’ prayer after I realised that I needed the Lord as my Comforter and Saviour. That was the year I also stopped hanging out with the people in school who had been influencing me to sin.
The church later suffered a split when I was in Secondary 3, and I followed my friend to Gethsemane BPC, which is near my house. After a while, I realised that I was growing spiritually much more in Gethsemane than when I was in Tengah. The key factors are my increase in Scriptural understanding and talking about spiritual things with like-minded Christians. I liked Pastor Koshy’s way of preaching which enables me to better understand his sermons. Moreover, the warm fellowship of church members in Gethsemane also makes me at home.
Thank God for leading me to Gethsemane, where I can grow spiritually through Pastor’s preaching and encouragement from God’s people.
I’m from Lucban province of Quezon, Philippines. I grew up in a Roman Catholic family, a typical Roman Catholic boy who went to church only for special occasions like birthday, or Christmas, or when I had something to pray.
In May 2018, I came to Singapore to work and a good friend of mine invited me to his church. At their fellowship meeting in June, I heard for the first time about Jesus Christ, of what He did to save us from our sins. Two days later, at my first Sunday Service in that church, I repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. I continued joining my friend in that church – until one day, our group raised a few concerns. One of these was on tongues-speaking, which the church leaders were unable to provide a good and acceptable answer. This led us to leave and look for a Bible-believing church that can teach us the Truth.
When I first came to Gethsemane BP Church, I felt awkward because it is very different from my previous church, in terms of worship, prayer and teachings. But as I stayed on, I felt a sense of peace / assurance when listening to the faithful preaching of God’s Word by Pastor Koshy and the preachers. Even though most of the preaching provoked and rebuked me, it is okay because I know that God’s Word will help me pursue His kingdom. Now I am so blessed to be in GBPC, because I know this is God’s will for me.
I was raised by my Roman Catholic parents. As a child residing in Manila, we attended mass every Friday in Quiapo Church, which is well-known for the “Black Nazarene”. Our family moved to Pangasinan (when I was 8 years old), where we spent our Sundays in Our Lady of Manaoag Church, known for its massive number of devotees. I was exposed to the doctrines and sacraments of the Catholic church until I graduated from the University at the end of 2015.
All these, however, did not make me any holier. I was a person who shows excessive pride. I was full of my own self, a smoker, a heavy drinker, a gambler and a constant trouble to my family and others.
In May 2016, I came to know about Hope Church in Singapore, and visited the church with my girlfriend. I attended the Life group. During this period, I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Saviour. As I started to read and study the Scriptures, I started to discern the charismatic errors within the church, being led by the Holy Spirit. I was among a group of Filipinos there who trusting in His mercy and grace decided to leave the church. By God’s providential leading, we found GBPC and heard the pastor’s sermons in Youtube, subsequently attending my first GBPC’s worship service on 2nd September, 2018.
I praise God for protecting and preserving me and my fellow brethren, and leading us to GBPC, a church with a leadership that have the marks of Jesus Christ and preach the Scriptures faithfully.
I came to know about the Lord Jesus when my daughter Yan Ling fell sick last August. At that time, my wife and I were lost and helpless. We sought for advice and help from my former army friend, Brother Ricky Yang, and his wife, Sister Stella. We hoped for divine help even though we had not believed in Jesus.
Through Ricky and Stella, we came to know about Gethsemane BP Church. We started to attend Sunday service since last August, and got to know Pastor Koshy and Preacher Daniel Lim. All of them had given us the support and help during our tough time through visitations, prayers and God’s Word. So, we decided to worship in Gethsemane.
After we came to believe in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, our lives have become more peaceful and joyful. Praise and glory to the Lord!
Before becoming a Christian, I was very lost and had a very negative outlook on life. When I faced difficulties and challenges, I would spend a lot of my time and efforts to try to resolve the challenges, but it all proved futile.
In July 2018, my family faced a crisis. We were so helpless and full of despair. So we asked our family friends, Brother Ricky and his wife Stella for advice and help. Through their strong support, encouragement, patience, love and care, we felt God’s love and grace. Then my husband and I started to follow them to Gethsemane BP Church in August 2018.
On 26th September 2018, Pastor Koshy and his wife Carolyn, Preacher Daniel Lim, Brother Ricky and Sister Stella visited our home in Sengkang. We prayed, confessed our sins and received the Lord Jesus as our Saviour.
Events in the past 12 months have caused me to rely more and more on God through prayer. I have not doubted that God is always with us, and my faith has brought me peace and joy. Baptism means a fresh start to me. It’s an important step to a faith-filled life in Jesus Christ. Praise and glory be to the Lord!
(In the coming weeks, we will be publishing the testimonies of bethren who will be joining the church. May their testimonies bring joy to our hearts and praise to the Lord.)
Although I was born to Christian parents, church life and reading of the Bible were not present in my earlier years. My parents were not regular churchgoers, and whilst they did tell me about Jesus since I was a child, I was surrounded by most of my extended family, who were non-believers.
When I was in primary school, I went around telling my friends that I was a Christian. However, being in the minority, I would shy away once my friends started talking about how similar other religions were. I thank God that there was one Christian classmate of mine who invited me to the Vacation Bible School (VBS) at Maranatha BP Church when I was 9 years old. My dad brought me to the VBS, and that was the first time that I was truly amongst Christian brethren and in a proper church setting. About a year later, my parents met with a serious car accident. They saw the accident as a wake-up call from the Lord, and the Lord moved them to want to attend church regularly again. Due to my VBS connection with Maranatha BP Church, my dad got to know some brethren there, and so decided to visit the church, and we began worshipping there regularly as a family.
In the initial years, church to me was more of a routine, and honestly, I was there more for the social aspect. I did attend the various Bible classes, and it enabled me to grow in my knowledge of the Word. My parents also started regular family worship at home. When I was 15, I started serving in the YF committee, whereby God moulded me and enabled me to enter into a deeper relationship with Him. I did my quiet time regularly and grew in my faith. The Holy Spirit instils in my heart a passion for His Word and a desire to please Him in my life. This translated to me becoming more disciplined in my studies and my spiritual walk.
Since then, I thank God that He has kept me close to Him and enabled me to serve Him in many ways, and God used these opportunities to serve Him to develop and hone my spiritual gifts. Over the years, God gave me the wisdom and strength to serve in various ministries and eventually to become a deacon in the church. He has also provided me with a godly wife, Yu Wei, who constantly encourages me and serves along with me; now we are parents of two children, Christian and Christie-Ann.
We thank God for bringing us to Gethsemane BP Church in August 2018. Though we came over initially due to certain leadership issues that troubled our previous church, we thank God for moving in His own way to bring us to Gethsemane. Over the last year, we benefited exceedingly from the faithful preaching of God’s Word by Pastor Koshy and the various preachers. The highest emphasis on the Word of God reminds us why we have been called Bible-Presbyterians in the first place. We have grown in our knowledge of the Word. Our 2 young children also benefitted spiritually from the junior worship, VBS and Church Camp. We are also blessed by the hand of fellowship extended to us by both the Church Session and brethren, which helped us settle in quickly.
One thing that stood out at Gethsemane is God’s blessing of godly leaders whom He has put in place to take oversight of the church – leaders who not only uphold the truth of God’s Word but live it out through their conduct. It is my prayer that God will continue to preserve the leaders of the church from the attacks of the evil one, and that they will continue to be faithful to the Lord and His Word.
I look forward to joining the Gethsemane BP Church as a family, and it is my prayer that we will also be actively serving the Lord together as a family, till the Lord returns. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24). Soli Deo Gloria!
I had attended Calvary Pandan BP Church regularly with my family since I was 5 years old. We were introduced to this church when my elder brother joined Calvary Pandan kindergarten. I was gradually exposed to the doctrines of the church through the various ministries like Junior Worship, Teenz & Youth Fellowship. My parents would consistently encourage me to participate in the other activities like camps, DVBS, Sunset Gospel Hour and Fundamental Christian Ministry. Unlike many people, I did not have a specific or eventful turning point when I accepted Christ. I like to think that my faith was built up over time through the hearing of God’s Word from the pulpit, during church activities and personal devotions. I am certain that God has regenerated my heart, as evidenced by my desire and the necessity to read His Word / pray daily.
When I was in Primary 4, my mother introduced a rule: that to have breakfast, I had to do my quiet time and read the “Read, Pray, Grow” devotional booklet. Initially, I would do it merely to satisfy my hungry stomach, and as time passed, it became a daily routine. But thank God, now I have a desire to have my life led by God’s Word, even His will, and not by my willful desires. I have learned that it can be achieved only through having close communion with God by reading His Word, as well as by praying for sanctification and spiritual direction in my life. Since God is perfect in His being and His attributes, I believe that His Word is also perfect. Otherwise, it will rock the very fundamentals of my Christian beliefs and trust in God!
The year when I got married, I transferred my membership to my husband’s church. But now, due to the differing stand of the church, we decided to transfer to Gethsemane BP Church. The primary reasons for our choice are Gethsemane’s belief in the Westminster Confession of Faith and adherence to the Presbytery structure. Furthermore, we have witnessed a strong emphasis on the Bible all across the various ministries, even in the children programmes (which is important to us as we have two young growing kids). We also like the preaching of God’s Word, which addresses not just doctrines but also practical examples which we can relate to. After listening to Pastor’s preaching, we know how to apply God’s Word to our personal life. There is also time allocated for the explanation of memory verses and even singing of Bible verses, that we may hide God’s Word in our hearts.
I sincerely pray that we can grow with the church, serve in the church and glorify God in our lives.
In the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, there is a constant reference to music. Some books in the Bible, in part or in their entirety, are songs or poems (e.g. the Book of Psalms). In God’s plan, music is the accompanying counterpart to the Word of God. Therefore, in our churches, we must regard scriptural music highly.
The Bible makes clear reference to music as a blessed means of praise given by the Almighty to His creation. When God unveiled His glory to Job, He told him that “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). Here, the phrase “sons of God” is a reference to the angelic host of God. This verse bears a clear testimony that billions of stars and all the angels of God joined in songs to praise the Almighty in the days of creation. In the Scriptures, we read again and again God calling His creation to sing His glories – “Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel” (Isaiah 44:23).
Man also joined the angels, the stars and other creatures to praise the Lord with his own invention of musical instruments. Genesis 4:21 tells us that Jubal is “the father of all such as handle the harp and organ”. Man has been enjoying this marvellous gift of God since the very beginning. Job 35:10 testifies that the Giver of the gift of music is none other than God Himself – “God my maker, who giveth songs in the night.” The psalmist says in Psalm 40:3 that “he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.”
Music is to glorify God – Why did God give the gift of music to His creation? The first and foremost purpose is to glorify God. Therefore, the subject and aim of our song must be God and His glory. “Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding” (Psalm 47:6-7; cf. Psalms 68:32; 92:1; 135:3).
Moses said, “The LORD is my… song” (Exodus 15:2). Likewise, Isaiah said that “the LORD JEHOVAH is… my song” (Isaiah 12:2). The prophet Habakkuk declared, “I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments” (Habakkuk 3:18-19).
Music is also to teach and edify believers – All that bring glory to God will also bring edification to His people. That’s why Scripture exhorts us to sing in the midst of His congregation. “Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints” (Psalm 149:1). Scripture tells us how the Israelites worshipped while they were rebuilding the temple of the Lord – “they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD” (Ezra 3:11).
The LORD said to Moses, “Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel” (Deuteronomy 31:19). Colossians 3:16 reminds believers, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Music is a God-appointed means of instruction in doctrines and Christian values.
Music is to affirm people in the goodness and righteousness of God – “They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness” (Psalm 145:7). Music enhances the memory of the church in rehearsing what God has done. It has been an integral and powerful tool which God gives to His church for the proclamation of His wondrous deeds to the young and old.
Music comforts the suffering believers – Spiritual songs and melodies have always been a means of comfort. When Paul and Silas were beaten and thrust into the inner prison with their feet fastened in the stocks, they received comfort and peace through songs and prayers. “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them” (Acts 16:25).
As much as music is a gift of God, it can also be a tool of the devil – The purpose of music is the praise of God. But it has been perverted throughout human history. The Bible records for us the far-reaching impact of godly and ungodly music. While godly music blesses man with the presence of God, ungodly music leads man to worship other gods and even himself!
2 Chronicles 5:13-14 tells us how God blessed the Israelites with His presence as they praised the Lord with songs: “It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.”
On the other hand, Daniel 3:7 tells us how perverted music can compel people to turn away from the living and true God – “Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.”
Thus, the church must show extreme scriptural discipline in its practice of music. We should not fall prey to the world in using its type of music. Music that is used to provoke satanic worship and sensual activities should not be brought to the church. Let us be reminded that though the world might be free to use music without discipline, the church is not.
Music can also give false spiritual assurance, which will finally usher in God’s condemnation. God spoke through Amos against the offering of music that lacks true devotion and understanding: “Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols” (Amos 5:23). “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion,… that chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David” (Amos 6:1, 5). The Israelites in Amos’ time thought that their music was accepted by God because it was much like that of David. In their case, nothing was further from the truth. The prophet Isaiah also pronounced God’s condemnation on Israel’s misguided music – “the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands” (Isaiah 5:12). For sure, music, though sung among God’s people, if it is not offered with true devotion and purity of thought, will be rejected and condemned by God.
We must sing and minister to one another through music, as it is God’s gift to His people for His glory and their edification. But it requires vigilance as the Scriptures have warned us. If not, it will become a “sugar-coated poison pill”. So with vigilance, we must delight and rejoice in the use of music as God has intended it.
I praise the Lord for the visit of Pastor & Mrs Koshy, and their ministry in Pangasinan. Truly, it gave us encouragement and strength to continue to press forward with the work. The brethren were also very happy to see and hear the preaching of God’s Word by Pastor Koshy during the 5th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service.
We praise the Lord for enabling the children to render their monthly presentation in song to the Lord. They sang 3 songs, and it was joyful to see that they are improving. Thank God also for enabling Bro Mario to share his testimony. We are looking forward to hearing the testimony of Brother Roger from Pugaro in the coming week. May the Lord continue to work and purify the lives of the brethren of the mission church.
Pastor Koshy encouraged me to start the GBI-Online in Pangasinan. In view of this, I started to introduce the idea to other Baptist churches around this area. I introduced GBI to the lady principal of the kindergarten where Jesher is now attending. Her response was very positive and I encouraged her to listen to the lectures. I gave her temporary access to my GBI account so that she could “try out” the lessons. I also introduced GBI to a Baptist pastor, who has been receiving our Bible Witness magazine and RPG. Last Lord’s day, I also encouraged our brethren to equip themselves through the GBI classes. (I am currently doing up an invitation / advertisement to post in the churches as publicity for the online programmes.) God willing, we will start with two courses: “Systematic Theology I (Theism)” and “Theology of Prayer”. Pray for us as I take advice from Preacher Samson on how to run the GBI.
(Pastor Koshy’s comments: From 27th June to 1 July, my wife and I visited our Gospel mission station in Dagupan City, from where Pr Donald dela Cruz and his family (wife Sei Jin and son Jesher) reach out to several villages and towns in the Pangasinan region. Together with the missionary’s family, we visited the homes of believers and participated in the Bible Studies conducted by Pr Donald in their respective homes. During the 5th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service on 31st June, there were about 60 worshippers in attendance, among whom five believers yielded their lives to the Lord in baptism.)
1) Children of Pangasinan Mission Church singing praises to the Lord; 2) Bro. Mario giving his testimony; 3) Brethren who attended the 5th Thanksgiving Anniversary; 4) Pastor Koshy preaching during the 5th Thanksgiving Anniversary
Dear Eld. Mah,
Greetings in our Lord’s most blessed Name! I trust that you have rested well and have fully recovered from the recent mission trip here.
Once again, I want to express my thanks to you and the whole mission team for all your labours here in our midst. Your ministering to our people here is most appreciated – from the nightly home visitations (that were accompanied with singspiration and meditations from Psalms 32, 33 and 34), the Bible Seminar, the Gospel Rally, to the Anniversary Thanksgiving Service, and certainly not forgetting your ministry towards our children. Incidentally, our daughters Naomi and Esther (up until now) kept sharing with us their joyful experience in all their children’s classes (held concurrently during meetings), and also of the many goodies they have received. I believed their joy was shared by the rest of the children, especially those who were here during the Anniversary Service. Praise God!
Of course, the lessons learned from the Bible Seminar have really pricked the hearts of many – my earnest prayer is that everyone would rise up out of his spiritual slumber. The spiritual feeding and admonitions have been relentless, culminating in the message during the Thanksgiving Service. I must thank you for choosing the theme, “He Hideth Me” (cf. Psalm 27:5), and asking Pastor Koshy to preach from the same text.
Truly, we have been greatly blessed by the Lord through the ministry of the mission team. Praise and glory be to His Name! Kindly convey my thanks to everyone in the mission team. Thank you and God bless!
The journey to Visakhapatnam (Vizag), Andhra Pradesh, India with Pastor Koshy to visit Pr Sujith began with the application of an e-visa. Filling in the e-visa took me a few attempts, as I did not understand some of the questions asked, and did not have certain required information available. Nonetheless, with God’s help, I managed to complete the application and submitted it 8 days before the scheduled date of departure. Praise the Lord, the approval of my e-visa came (most appropriately!) while we were at our weekly church prayer meeting. As I thank God for the e-visa, I also prayed for smooth immigration clearance upon arrival in India, and sought God’s blessings for our ministries there.
Pastor was there for the main purpose of conducting a 2-day Pastors’ Conference – with the theme “Preaching the Word” – while my task was to exhort the brethren with a short devotion at the beginning of the conference each day. There were altogether 2 devotions and 8 theme messages.
Pastor and I left Singapore on a Tuesday afternoon, scheduled to arrive in India at 2125h (local time). But due to delays in both our flights from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and from KL to Vizag, we landed some 3 hours behind schedule. Thankfully, we cleared immigration smoothly, and proceeded to the moneychanger to convert the dollars we had brought to Indian rupees. While changing currencies, we caught a glimpse of Pr Sujith waiting outside. Though tired after a long day of travelling, we felt invigorated upon the sight of our dear missionary!
Finally, we walked out of the airport and were warmly received by Pr Sujith, and Pastors Nischal and James. They brought us to a “food-court” beside the bus terminal for some dosai and tea. They then sent us to the hotel and Pr Sujith helped us with the check-in. Truly, we thank God for journey mercies and safety, as well as a good night’s rest to refresh our tired bodies!
Pr Sujith came over to the hotel, and brought us to his office, where the conference was held. According to the register, we had 78 attendees (not including our GBI students and church members who had come to help out in the conference). As most of them speak Telugu, Pastor Samuel (a friend of our GBI students) interpreted the messages and devotions.
I preached from Acts 3:12-13, highlighting 2 things that Peter did. He turned the focus of the crowd on John and himself to God, and witnessed to the crowd the great truth that God had sent Jesus, who is the Christ!
Pastor spoke on the theme “Preaching the Word.” He started with 1 Timothy 4:6 and defined what makes a pastor a good minister of God. He stressed that a pastor without proper nourishment from God’s Word will not be able to feed the flock of God. Furthermore, he emphasised the importance of biblical doctrines to the attendees, as many of these pastors do not have proper theological training.
After the conference, we went back to the hotel to rest before dinner. We met at the office with Pr Sujith and Pastor Nischal, where we talked about the Gospel work in India for an hour or so, over a snack of “shawarma” (something like kebab) before heading out for dinner.
On the 2nd day, we had 70 registered attendees for the conference. I continued with Acts 3:14-20, sharing 3 observations from this passage, urging the hearers to follow Peter’s example. Firstly, Peter confronted the crowd with their sins. Secondly, Peter “comforted” the crowd regarding them doing so out of ignorance. Thirdly, Peter counseled the crowd to repent from their sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.
Pastor spoke from 2 Timothy 4:5, and reiterated to the pastors of their God-given duty to preach the Word. He lamented that many pastors today have allowed the worship services of their churches to include many unbiblical activities, and thus have toned down the preaching of the Word of God. He encouraged the pastors (many of whom were Baptists and Pentecostals who were rooted in many unbiblical doctrines influenced by the Charismatic movement) to study God’s Word in depth, and assured them that they would never lack any truth to preach to their congregations!
Not surprisingly, some of them openly disagreed with the points taught by Pastor Koshy. This led to an unofficial question-and-answer session. Those pastors who disagreed quoted 2 Samuel 6:14 to sanction dancing during the worship service in the church. Pastor took the opportunity to correct their misconception / misinterpretation of the Scriptures. He explained to them the context in which David danced, and pointed out that it was done out in the open – not in the tabernacle of God – and hence it was not part of the public worship of God’s people. May we pray for these pastors, that they will understand the verity of God’s Word that had been taught, and be convicted in their hearts regarding the paramount importance of preaching God’s Word to the people, rather than focusing on unbiblical dances and songs!
In the evening, we had the company of Elder Ravi (from the Free Presbyterian Church) for dinner. He brought us to an air-conditioned food-court by the sea, where we had a wonderful time of fellowship with him and Pr Sujith.
With the help of Pr Sujith and Bro. Samuel Rakesh (a staff of Gethsemane Media), Pastor and I checked out of the hotel. All 4 of us squeezed into an auto-rickshaw, and went to the office.
The GBI students, Pastor Devakumar, Pastor James, Pastor David and Bro. Murali, were waiting for us. As most of them were Baptists, they had some questions for Pastor Koshy regarding water baptism. We had a lively time of discussion and studying relevant passages, such as Romans 6:3-6, Colossians 2:12, Acts 8:35-39, etc. Pastor took time to explain to the students that these passages do not prove the mode of baptism as immersion. Furthermore, he taught them that the word “baptise” does not mean immersion all the time. It has to be understood in the context in which it was written.
Thereafter, Pastor James invited us to his church and home for lunch, where we were treated to a delicious meal of coconut rice with assam fish, fried chicken and bananas. That last afternoon in Vizag, Pastor spent some time discussing matters pertaining to the ministry with Pr Sujith. In the evening, we went searching for a laptop for Pr Sujith, and managed to get him a Hewlett Packard before heading to the airport.
Pastors Nischal and James, together with Pr Sujith, sent us off at the airport. After parting ways, Pastor and I cleared immigration without much trouble. We boarded the plane on time, and our flight was on schedule. We landed in Singapore safely on the 6th of July. Soli Deo Gloria!
In the last week’s article, we have learned that being born again or regenerated is entirely a divine work. You can do nothing to be born again. Jesus did not ask Nicodemus to do certain things to be born again. He simply declared, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). Jesus did not command Nicodemus, “Born yourself again.” It is only when the Holy Spirit awakens (quickens or makes alive) our spiritually dead souls through the Word of God that we can perceive the spiritual blessings of the salvation in Christ. Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to the kingdom of God. It is not the fruit of human efforts to reform or improve themselves.
Now, let me ask you whether you know that you are truly born again? For many people, to be born again is to utter a sinner’s prayer, or to make a decision in a Gospel meeting, or to make a profession of faith in Christ. However, these actions do not necessarily indicate that one is truly born again. Many who have taken such steps woefully live with no evidence of being born again! Many churchgoers of our time are merely nominal Christians who show no biblical signs of being born again.
The Bible teaches us what happens if one is born again. Below are some of the spiritual proofs given in the Bible. J.C. Ryle’s article, “Are you born-again?” provides six biblical evidence of being born again – printed below for your benefit.
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin (i.e. continue to sin)” (1 John 3:9). “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not” (1 John 5:18). A person who has been born again, or regenerated, does not habitually commit sin. He no longer sins with his heart and will and whole inclination. There was probably a time when he did not think about whether his actions were sinful or not, and he did not always feel grieved after doing evil. There was no quarrel between him and sin; they were friends. But the true Christian – hates sin, flees from it, fights against it, considers it his greatest plague, resents the burden of its presence, mourns when he falls under its influence, and longs to be completely delivered from it. Sin no longer pleases him, nor is it even a matter of indifference to him; it has become a horrible thing which he hates. However, he cannot eliminate its presence within him.
If he said that he had no sin, he would be lying (1 John 1:8). But he can say that he hates sin – and that the great desire of his soul is not to commit sin at all. He cannot prevent bad thoughts from entering his mind, or shortcomings, omissions, and defects from appealing in both his words and his actions. He knows that “in many things we offend all” (James 3:2). But he can truly say, in the sight of God, that these things cause him grief and sorrow, and that his whole nature does not consent to them. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?
“Whoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1 John 5:1). A man who is born again, or regenerated, believes that Jesus Christ is the only Savior who can pardon his soul – that He is the divine Person appointed by God the Father for this very purpose – and besides Him, there is no Savior at all. In himself, he sees nothing but unworthiness. But he has full confidence in Christ, and trusting in Him, he believes that his sins are all forgiven. He believes that, because he has accepted Christ’s finished work and death on the cross, he is considered righteous in God’s sight, and he may look forward to death and judgment without alarm.
He may have fears and doubts. He may sometimes tell you that he feels as if he had no faith at all. But ask him if he is willing to trust in anything instead of Christ – and see what he will say. Ask him if he will rest his hope of eternal life on his own goodness – his own works, his prayers, his minister, or his church – and listen to his reply. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?
“Everyone that doeth righteousness is born of him” (1 John 2:29b). The man who is born again, or regenerated, is a holy man. He endeavors to live according to God’s will – to do the things that please God – and to avoid the things that God hates. He wishes to continually look to Christ as his example, as well as his Savior – and to prove himself to be Christ’s friend, by doing whatever He commands. He knows he is not perfect. He is painfully aware of his indwelling corruption. He finds an evil principle within himself, which is constantly warring against grace and trying to draw him away from God. But he does not consent to it, though he cannot prevent its presence.
Though he may sometimes feel so low that he questions whether or not he is a Christian at all, he will be able to say with John Newton, “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in the eternal world. But still – I am not what I once used to be! By the grace of God I am what I am.” What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?
“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14). A man who is born again has a special love for all true disciples of Christ. Like his Father in heaven, he loves all men with a great general love; but he has a special love for those who share his faith in Christ. Like his Lord and Savior, he loves the worst of sinners and could weep over them; but he has a peculiar love for those who are believers. He is never so much at home, as when he is in their company.
He feels they are all members of the same family. They are his fellow soldiers, fighting against the same enemy. They are his fellow travellers, journeying along the same road. He understands them, and they understand him. They may be very different from himself in many ways – in rank, station and wealth. But that does not matter. They are his Father’s sons and daughters – and he cannot help loving them. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world” (1 John 5:4). A man who is born again, does not use the world’s opinion as his standard of right and wrong. He does not mind going against the world’s ways, ideas and customs. What men think or say no longer concerns him. He overcomes the love of the world. He finds no pleasure in things which seem to bring happiness to most people. To him, they seem foolish and unworthy of an immortal being!
He loves God’s praise more than man’s praise. He fears offending God more than offending man. It is unimportant to him whether he is blamed or praised; his first aim is to please God. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?
“He who is begotten of God keeps himself’ (1 John 5:18b). A man who is born again is careful of his own soul. He tries not only to avoid sin – but also to avoid everything which may lead to it. He is careful about the company he keeps. He knows that “bad company corrupts good morals” and that evil is more contagious than good, just as disease is more infectious than health. He is careful about the use of his time; his chief desire is to spend it profitably.
He desires to live like a soldier in an enemy country – to wear his armour continually and to be prepared against temptation. He is diligent to be a watchful, humble, prayerful man. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?
These are the six great marks of a born again Christian. There is a vast difference in the depth and distinctiveness of these marks in different people. In some, they are faint and hardly noticeable. In others, they are bold, plain and unmistakable, so anyone may read them. Some of these marks are more visible than others in each individual. Seldom are all equally evident in any one person. But still, after every allowance, here we find boldly painted – six marks of being born of God.
How should we react to these things? We can logically come to only one conclusion – only those who are born again have these six characteristics, and those who do not have these marks are not born again. This seems to be the conclusion to which the apostle intended us to come. Do you have these characteristics? Are you born again?
Do you know what it is to be born again? Much confusion remains on this vital subject. It is important that we understand what it is to be born again.
Various biblical and theological words have been synonymously used with the word “born again” (John 3:3). Knowing those equivalent terms would help to gain clarity on the word “born again”. They are regeneration (cf. Titus 3:5), spiritual quickening [spiritual resurrection/being spiritually made alive (cf. Ephesians 2:1, 5; Colossians 2:13)], new birth, etc.
According to the Scriptures, every soul is spiritually dead – “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). There are two major aspects to the spiritual deadness of mankind. Firstly, every child, no matter how physically healthy, is born as spiritually dead. This is because the fall (disobedience) of the first man, Adam, brought the whole human race under sin. “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” (Romans 5:12). Adam was the representative head of mankind; and when he sinned, “death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”. This is why David said, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). Every descendant of Adam is therefore spiritually ‘stillborn’, and eventually, his physical death will follow.
Furthermore, Scripture tells us that every man under the influence of the fallen (sinful) nature, Satan and the sinful world, live in disobedience to God. While explaining the spiritual deadness in Ephesians, the apostle Paul wrote, “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Ephesians 2:2-3).
So, every man, in his natural state, is not just spiritually sick, but spiritually dead! Man is “alienated from the life of God” (Ephesians 4:18; cf. Colossians 1:21). Spiritually dead persons cannot enter into God’s kingdom, unless they are spiritually made alive (or regenerated or born again) by God’s Spirit. Those who are dead in sins are estranged from God and godliness. That’s why Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Without being born again, one cannot enter God’s kingdom; he remains outside God.
Regeneration is not a sinful man’s personal efforts to make spiritual improvement or progress. The Scriptures insist: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). It is not by one’s own effort to be righteous that one is born again, but by the work of the Holy Spirit. If it were a natural, human work, it would not require the intervention of God the Holy Spirit.
This is the reason for Jesus’ words to Nicodemus – “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5-6). Here, Jesus completely rules out any notion of human or physical (“flesh”) involvement in the regeneration of a soul.
But some would ask, “What about Jesus’ mentioning of being born of water? Doesn’t it mean that water baptism is necessary for regeneration or new birth?” Here, Jesus was certainly not talking about water baptism. If baptism were essential for regeneration, Jesus would have baptised those who had come to Him, but “Jesus himself baptised not” (John 4:2). Jesus was using a familiar Old Testament symbolic usage of water and Spirit for spiritual renewal and cleansing (cf. Numbers 19:17-19; Isa. 4:4; 32:15; 44:3; 55:1; Joel 2:28-29; Zechariah 13:1). Jesus’ words in John 3:5 was evocative of the Old Testament teaching concerning regeneration in passages such as Ezekiel 36:25-27, where water and Spirit are mentioned together to represent God’s work of regeneration.
Ezekiel 36:25-27 – “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”
Jesus expected Nicodemus to know the Old Testament teaching on being born again, so He asked him, “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?” (John 3:10). Nicodemus’ ignorance concerning regeneration in the Old Testament was so apparent when he asked Jesus in bewilderment, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (John 3:4).
Even today, many, like Nicodemus, miss the point of Jesus’ words, “ye must be born again”. Spiritual birth is not something that one produces or attains by human effort or action, but what he is subjected to by the sovereign work of God through His Spirit and the Word (cf. Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:23). Just as our birth had nothing to do with our effort, in the spiritual realm, regeneration or being born again is not a work of ours.
But when the Holy Spirit regenerates sinners, they are liberated from their bondage to sin and made alive from their spiritual deadness. Consequently, they become alive towards the spiritual realities that God has prepared in Christ Jesus. As the Spirit of God quickens or makes alive their spiritually dead soul, they become capable of repentance of their sins and putting their faith in Jesus Christ for the salvation of their souls.
So, regeneration (or new birth) is the gracious sovereign action of the Holy Spirit through His Word that changes the inner man. Regeneration extends to the whole nature of man, transforming his sinful disposition, illuminating his mind, freeing his will enslaved by sin, and renewing his nature.
The Reformed theologian, B. B. Warfield defines regeneration as “a radical and complete transformation wrought in the soul (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23) by God the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5; Ephesians 4:24), by virtue of which we become ‘new men’ (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10), no longer conformed to this world (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9), but in knowledge and holiness of the truth created after the image of God (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10; Romans 12:2)” (Biblical and Theological Studies, p. 351).
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
Prayer is a ministry in which the bond of Christian fellowship is strengthened as mutual needs and burdens are presented before the Lord. Incessant prayers for one another are taught in the Scriptures (Hebrews 13:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:25) with regard to physical (James 5:16) as well as spiritual (Colossians 1:9) blessings. As such, it is expected of every Christian to pray one for another. An Old Testament prophet even declared that it is a sin to cease praying for the people of God (1 Samuel 12:23).
Jesus prayed for His disciples and all believers (John 17:9, 20). Thus, the habit of intercession was highly regarded and zealously practised by His apostles and prophets of old, for it was the very trait that made them more like the Lord. Scripture is, in fact, replete with many exhortations on prayer. It is without doubt a solemn duty for Christians to pray for one another.
While it is important for Christians to intercede one for another continually, there are situations in which prayer is more urgently needed. Surprisingly, there are also situations when we do not pray for a person. This teaching can be found in 1 John 5:16-17.
In verse 16, John presents a situation when earnest prayer is required from the brethren. “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death” (v. 16a).
When we see a brother living in sin, and being afflicted with and suffering its consequences, we must pray for him that he will repent lest he be destroyed. Prayer should be the believer’s first response on behalf of the errant brother instead of reacting in disgust towards him.
Sins of Christians may result in sickness. The apostle Paul mentioned in his first epistle to the Corinthians that some of them were sick and even dead because they partook of the Lord’s Supper while sinning without repentance (1 Corinthians 11:28-30). Weakness, sickness and death were the three forms of chastisement with which the Corinthian church was visited. Even today, these can be the experiences of sinning Christians.
So the sick brother must examine himself as to whether there is any sin in him, for some sickness may not necessarily mean the presence of sin in his life but only a trial or test of faith. Nevertheless, if sin indeed is present, immediate confession is required. When there is an offended party, he must seek reconciliation. This then is where prayer comes in for the repentance, forgiveness and healing of the offender. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).
Church leaders should also be called upon to intercede for that ailing brother, praying not only for his healing, but more so for his spiritual restoration (James 5:14-15). If we pray in such scenarios and if the brother, who has sinned and is afflicted, is willing to repent, God will deliver him. Because of his repentance, his sins will not work out to his death. Thus John says, “… he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death.”
Astounding as it may be, Christians should also be aware that there is an occasion where it will not be prudent to pray for the healing of others. John wrote, “There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it” (v. 16b). A sin unto death can be any particular sin in one’s life. It can be as simple as lying, gruesome as murder, or complex as teaching false doctrines. What makes that particular sin deadly is the attitude in taking it lightly and refusing to repent from it. This presents us with a case of an unreasonable and unrepentant individual in the church. Thus, there is no point in praying for this person. His cries unto God and even those that might be uttered on his behalf will most certainly be in vain (cf. Jeremiah 14:10-12).
God, in His grace, does not always immediately punish us for our sins. However, there comes a point when God will no longer allow the unrepentant person to continue in his sin (Acts 5:1-10 and 1 Corinthians 11:28-32). At the final stage of divine discipline, God will put an end to his life. It is His prerogative, as the Sovereign Judge, to decide when to remove the person by death.
John mentions some wicked characters found in the early church in the second chapter of this epistle. They are referred to by the phrase “he that hateth his brother” (1 John 2:11). A hateful, unforgiving and implacable spirit towards others describes such a one. Another group of evildoers are named “antichrists” who “went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (vv. 18-19), and “a liar … that denieth that Jesus is the Christ …” (v. 22). They are not of us, in the sense that they twist and deny the fundamental truths about Christ and His words. They lie through their teeth in denying the Person, work and words of the Lord Jesus Christ.
There are sins that may or may not result in physical death, but engaging in sin without repentance does indicate one’s spiritual death (cf. 1 John 3:9; Matthew 7:18). A person may continue to live; yet spiritually he is dead already. Let it be a warning to us that every sin is deadly and no sin should be cherished in our lives. “All unrighteousness is sin” (v. 17). And though “there is a sin not unto death”, we should not take the presence of sin lightly in our lives. Frequent and ceaseless intrusions of sin can be a mark of one’s spiritual deadness!
It must be reiterated that it is not for us to judge that whenever someone falls sick or even dies, it happened because of that person’s sin. Christians must therefore be very careful in deliberating matters like these. Such problems in the church must be approached with much humility, love and truthfulness.