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Frequently Asked Questions - All FAQs

FAQs - All FAQs
A preacher’s duty is to declare the Word of God without apology. Admittedly this will cause people to be offended, but then the Word of God itself will be offensive to people of other religions. e.g. Christ saying "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me." (John 14:6) will offend people who believe that there are other ways to God.

By its very nature, Christianity is an exclusive religion. We cannot hide this truth from outsiders. If we were to keep silent about this at the beginning, in the hope that later on they would come to see the good points in Christianity and accept it, we would be telling a lie, since the biblical motive is to ultimately get them to deny all other religions.

Tell your friend that the preacher is only declaring what God Himself has said in the Bible. Then encourage him or her to read the Bible for himself or herself to see if this is really so. Your friend may not like this, but if God works in his or her heart, the truth will set him or her free from all previously held false assumptions.

If you are already a member of another B-P Church you do not have to go through our catechism class to transfer membership to Life B-P Church. All you need to do is to write to the pastor of the B-P Church you are from, that you wish to transfer your membership over to Life B-P Church. He will then write to us about it, and we will reply to him to let him know that we have received you into our membership. You will then be sent a form to fill with your particulars for our church records.

No, if a born again Christian dies and is cremated, his salvation is not affected at all. Many courageous saints in time past were burnt at the stake for refusing to deny Christ. They are still saved and will receive new glorified bodies at the resurrection (1 Thess 4:16,17, 1 Cor 15:52-53)

The members of Life B-P Church are encouraged to bury their dead. Although there is no explicit statement from the Bible that categorically declares that we must not cremate or that we must bury only, like some other doctrines, such as the Trinity and Infant Baptism, inferences from the Bible are sufficient to conclude that Christians should be buried after they die.

Some biblical arguments in favour of burial are:
1. All the saints of God in both the Old and New Testaments were buried.
2. God buried Moses Himself (Deut 35: 5,6)
3. Even criminals were allowed to be buried in the Bible (cf. Deut 21:22,23).
4. The Bible teaches that those who commit certain sexual sins are not to die only but shall be burnt with fire (cf. Lev 20:14; 21:9).

Admittedly, these arguments are not conclusive, but is our body not a temple of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 6:19)? And after we die did God not promise us a body incorruptible (cf.1 Cor 15:52) at the Second Coming of Christ? As long as the option to bury is still made available in land-scarce Singapore, we, the Bible-Presbyterians in Singapore, are constrained for the above reasons, to bury our dead who have died in Christ.

Baptism is not an option for believers, but a commandment to be obeyed (Matthew 28:19,20). Infant baptism is included in this commandment. It is part of the family covenantal influence which involves the commitment of the parents in bringing up their child in the saving grace of the Lord.

a. The Biblical Basis of Infant Baptism:

The Covenant of Grace that God made with Christ is the means of salvation both in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. Saints in both the Old and the New Testament times were saved by grace through faith in Christ. In the Old Testament, the sign of the covenant was circumcision. This was required not only of believing adults, but also of male infants, born to believing parents, when they are eight days old. In the New Testament, the sign of the same covenant has been changed to baptism. And again, this is required of believing adults as well as infants (male and female now) born to believing parents.

The relationship between circumcision and baptism is clearly seen in Colossians 2:11,12 - "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." In a real sense therefore, water baptism can be called the "Christian circumcision" just as the Lord’s Day (Sunday) can be called the "Christian Sabbath."

The reason both for infant circumcision and for infant baptism is that the scope of influence and blessing of the Covenant of Grace includes the family of the believer. When God chose Abraham, He did so in order that Abraham may instruct his family in the way of the Lord: "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him." (Gen 18:19) This passage indicates that God had plans for Abraham’s family, and not just for Abraham alone.

In the New Testament, the Covenant of Grace still has reference to the believer’s family and not to the believer alone. In his sermon at Pentecost, the apostle Peter said, "For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." (Acts 2:39). The apostle Paul also stated this principle in 1 Corinthians 7:14 - "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy." (This verse, by the way, justifies the baptism of infants even if only one parent is a believer.)

The sign of the covenant (whether circumcision or baptism) is therefore to be applied to the children of believers, in recognition of this principle. The scriptures confirm that the early church applied baptism to the children of believers, in the household baptisms that are recorded. The word which is translated "household" normally included children and servants.

- The family of Lydia: "And when she was baptised, and her household, ..." (Acts 16:15)

- The family of the Philippian jailor: "and was baptised, he and all his, straightway." (Acts 16:33)

- The family of Stephanas: "And I baptised also the household of Stephanas:" (1 Corinthians 1:16)

It must be emphasised however, that infant baptism, does not save the infant. This goes against the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church (baptismal regeneration). Whether a child who dies in infancy has been baptised or not, does not decide his salvation. A child that is elected unto salvation will be saved whether or not he or she is baptised (And this applies even to those that die before birth, since they cannot be baptised in the womb.).

b. The Meaning of Infant Baptism

Like infant baptism, adult baptism also does not save (e.g. Simon the sorcerer, Acts 8:13, 23). The adult believer is baptised in obedience to the Lord’s command, because he has already trusted in Christ to save him. His baptism is an outward sign of an inward grace, to publicly confess his faith in Christ.

The adult believer baptises his child also in obedience to the Lord’s command, but the child’s baptism may not be an outward sign of an inward grace, since it is yet uncertain whether the child will indeed receive Christ later on. The adult believer baptises his children to publicly confess his or her resolve to bring them up in the fear and nurture of the Lord.

Like infant baptism, the infant circumcision of the Israelites did not save them. Many of them who were circumcised as infants proved themselves later on to be unregenerate, e.g. Jehoiakim and Judas Iscariot. Those who were saved were those who were circumcised in heart (Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4).

Infant baptism must be followed up with efforts by the parents to bring their children to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, so that when the children reach the age of understanding (usually about 12 years of age) they will affirm their faith before the Lord and the congregation. He must understand the doctrine of grace, being carefully taught in the catechism class on the Shorter Catechism and profess his faith in Christ publicly.

c. The Benefits of Infant Baptism:

Some allege that infant baptism deprives the child of the opportunity to be edified by being able to decide, for himself or herself, to be baptised in adulthood. One pastor recently said publicly, "My mother let me down by having me baptised as an infant."

Though this reasoning may seem to edify the individual, it overlooks one important fact: that baptism (whether adult or infant) is to be done primarily in obedience to God’s commandment, and not for personal edification.

There are others who feel that infant baptism is evil because it will cause the child to grow up becoming spiritually complacent, thinking that he or she is already right with God, and has no need of faith and repentance. Some who were baptised as infants have become wayward.

But this would only be true if no proper instruction is given by the parents to their baptised children. It is the duty of Christian parents to keep their children from becoming complacent, and to urge them to give true evidence of saving faith and repentance. The fact that there are negative examples does not negate nor nullify the biblical injunction and practice of infant baptism. Since Simon the sorcerer was baptised and was found to be a sinner still should we also discard adult baptism? God forbid.

Infant baptism can be a great blessing to Christian parents. It is a wonderful thing for parents to bring their children before God. By doing so they are reminded that children are indeed God’s gifts to them and that they are entrusted with the important responsibility of nurturing them with prayer, with the Word of God and with their own example.

The willingness of parents to have their children baptised also expresses and strengthens their love for their children. Good parents will always desire the best for their children. In the days of Christ, many brought their infants to Jesus to be blessed by Him and He gladly received them: "Then were there brought unto Him little children, that He should put His hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto Me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And He laid His hands on them, and departed thence." (Matthew 19:13-15)

Many a Christian has testified that the knowledge that his parents had him baptised in infancy has constituted a strong factor in his individual faith and his continued faithfulness in his Christian profession.

So great are the benefits of infant baptism to Christian parents, that even those who do not believe in it (e.g. Baptist churches, that practise believers’ baptism only) practise the dedication of infants, which has essentially the same significance as infant baptism.

No member of the church should get married to a non-Christian, because such marriage is prohibited in 2 Corinthians 6:14 – “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”

Life B-P Church will not agree to the use of the Lord’s sanctuary for an unequally-yoked marriage ceremony. The Constitution of our church stipulates the following under "Main Practices of the Church":

7.9 WEDDINGS: The solemnisation of marriages between born‑again believers. The groom must be a baptised believer and the bride either a baptised believer or a catechumen (2 Cor 6: 14; Eph 5:21‑33).

As a Christian and covenant head of the household, the father should not condone disobedience to God’s commandments, even if the one disobeying the Lord is his own spouse, son or daughter. Jesus said, "He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." (Matthew 10:37).

If he were to make an exception and participate by giving his daughter’s hand in marriage to an unbeliever, he would become a partaker in her sin (cf. 1 Timothy 5:22; 2 John 11). He would also be implicitly informing the rest of his children that they can also become unequally yoked with his blessings. If it is suggested that such compromise may eventually help to bring the unbelieving partner to Christ, the answer to this is that this act of compromise itself would become a stumbling block to that person’s salvation, for it speaks much louder than any later pleas to turn to the Lord without compromise.

The rest of the family members who are believers should support the father’s decision not to participate in a wedding of disobedience. If this is made known early enough, perhaps the erring son or daughter may be able to see the seriousness of the matter and turn back to obeying God.

Obedience to Christ is not easy when close family ties are involved. But one needs to have the courage to take a stand and not to give anyone the place that only God deserves.

However, such measures should be tempered with Christian love as well. While the unequally yoked union is disapproved of, this disapproval should not lead to disowning the child. Love can be shown by a willingness to be physically present at the wedding without any participation (provided of course, it is only the secular ceremony at the Registry of Marriages and not a service in a heathen place of worship) maintain family ties, assist in setting up a new home, and welcoming the couple on visits back to the parents home. It may be that through such Christian love, the disobedient child may one day repent, and the non-Christian spouse may be led to the Lord. The disobedient child may need the family’s loving support when he or she begins to experience the consequences of his or her disobedience.

We appreciate what you have written concerning the new order where the announcements and welcome remarks to visitors are made at the end of the service instead of in the middle of the service.
 
We would like to assure you that this change in the order or worship was made only after much deliberation and discussion by the Church Session, and with careful attention to the response from our church members. Besides your feedback, we have also received feedback from many other Lifers. Interestingly, the majority prefer the new order, and they made suggestions to fine tune it. For example, some felt that there should be a time for worshippers to meditate on the message just after the 3-fold Amen. This was implemented and now we have a short postlude played by the organist just before the announcements are made.
 
We feel that moving the announcements to the time after the end of the worship service is better for the following reasons:
 
1. The entire worship service should be focused on God. The welcome and announcements are important, but not as important as the worship of God. Hence, the rightful place for the welcome and announcements is after the completion of worship.
 
2. The flow of the worship is disrupted when the welcome and announcements are placed in the middle of the service. The service begins with the opening hymn, opening prayer, responsive reading and another hymn. All this prepares the hearts of worshippers to come into God’s presence to present their prayers and offerings to Him and to hear His Word with minds that are ‘tuned in’ to God. But then, here come the welcome and announcements, causing many to ‘tune out’ as they listen to the announcements and focus on the visitors. Placing the welcome and announcements at the end of the service smoothens the flow of the worship service.
 
3. The Westminster Confession of Faith (which is the doctrinal statement of our church) mentions nothing of announcements as being part of the worship service:


WCF 21:3 - "Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship, is by God required of all men; and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son, by the help of His Spirit, according to His will, with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance; and, if vocal, in a known tongue.


WCF 21:5 - "The reading of Scriptures with godly fear; the sound preaching, and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence; singing of Psalms with grace in the heart; as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ; are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God: besides religious oaths, vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner."

(Taken from Chapter 21, "Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day")
 
4. Many Bible-Presbyterian Churches have the announcements after the worship service (e.g. Calvary B-P Church and New Life B-P Church). This is also practised by many other Reformed and conservative Churches.
 
The concern that worshippers may want to get ready to leave before the announcements only applies if the announcements delay the end of the whole service past the expected time. We have made some adjustments so that the announcements will now end at 12:15 pm (for the 10:45 am service), which is the same time that the whole service used to end before the order of worship was changed. Hence no one would feel that they are being held back longer than usual by the announcements.
 
To make visitors feel welcomed to the service, it would be better for this to be done before the service begins, as the visitors arrive, and the deacons and elders greet them personally at the entrance of the church and usher them to their seats. Moreover, since we began having the public welcoming of visitors after the end of our service and giving them a special ‘visitors’ package’, we have noticed that our members have begun to take more initiative to introduce themselves to them and fellowship with them after that. In fact, some visitors recently commented that they felt warmly welcomed by the church. 
 
We believe that the benefits of making this change make it worth implementing, and that with time, as worshippers in our services get used to it, the Lord will use it to enhance their worship experience and draw them closer to Him.

The Lord's Supper is meant to be taken in a reverent manner as it brings us into close communion with Christ. In New Testament times there were some in the church of Corinth who took it in a very disrespectful manner:

1 Corinthians 11:20-22 - When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.

Here we can see that some were treating the Lord's Supper like another meal to fill their stomachs or to indulge their appetites. Some of them even started to eat and drink the elements before the Lord's Supper began! (vv. 33,34)

This irreverent partaking of the Lord's Supper was quite obvious in the church and needed to be corrected quickly, before others would begin to do the same thing. Thus God Himself caused those who had persisted in this irreverent behaviour to fall sick and some even died: 1 Corinthians 11:30 - For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

But this was only meant to be a disciplinary measure by God, to correct a wrong behaviour. Thus, it does not mean that those who fell sick and died were not saved. The "condemnation" or "damnation" (v.29) is therefore to be understood only as chastisement (v.32) and not eternal condemnation in hell.

Today, the Lord may not use such measures on those who partake of the Lord's Supper in a wrong manner, because the example of the Corinthians who were severely chastened (now permanently recorded in 1 Corinthians 11) should already be sufficient to warn all Christians to treat the Lord's Supper reverently.

However, Christians today who do not partake in the Lord's Supper in a right manner will be denied of the spiritual blessings that come from taking it in a proper manner. They will probably remain spiritually dry and gain no spiritual benefit from it. The Holy Spirit may also convict them that they have sinned by treating the bread and the cup irreverently.

The Word of God says about marriage:

"Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Matthew 19:6)

Christians who get married are to understand that they are entering into an institution that was ordained by God, and not by man. Hence it is proper for them to have their wedding in church. There are at least five good reasons for having one's wedding solemnised in the form of a church worship service:

1. The couple should offer thanks to God for bringing them to meet each other and to get to know each other. It is God who providentially provides Christians with their life-partners (Proverbs 19:14 - "House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.").

2. The couple should seek for God's blessing upon their marriage. (Psalm 127:1 - "Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.")

3. When Christians take their wedding vows, God is called upon to be the principal witness. (Numbers 30:2 - "If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.")

4. Every Christian wedding held in church serves as a reminder to all those who are present, that marriage is instituted by God as a permanent union between one man and one woman only. It is like a visualised Bible lesson that teaches truths that are being forsaken by the world today.

5. Having a church wedding provides an opportunity for the Christian couple to invite their unsaved friends and loved ones to church, who would normally decline invitations to come for any church worship service. When they come, they have a chance to see what a church service is like (with the singing of hymns, prayer and preaching). This makes it easier for them to come a second time.

In order to partake of the Lord's Supper reverently we can do the following:

1. Preparation of Heart

Since the benefit of partaking the Lord's Supper is a spiritual benefit, we must prepare ourselves spiritually for it. This involves the preparation of your heart. As JC Ryle said, "To enjoy a spiritual feast we must have a spiritual heart, and taste and appetite. To suppose that Christ's ordinances can do good to an unspiritual man, is as foolish as to put bread and wine in the mouth of a dead person. The careless, the ignorant and the wilfully wicked, so long as they continue in that state, are utterly unfit to be communicants¡­.A worthy communicant is one who possesses three simple marks and qualifications - repentance, faith and charity (Love). Does a man truly repent of sin and hate it? Does a man put his trust in Jesus Christ as his only hope of salvation? Does a man live in charity towards others? He that can truly say to each of these questions, "I do," he is a man that is Scripturally qualified for the Lord's Supper." (Practical Religion, pp.148,149) When you partake of the Lord's Supper you can use these three questions to examine yourself.

2. Understand the Meaning of the Lord's Supper

Nothing will be gained from partaking the Lord's Supper if it is done without understanding. For this reason, the minister who conducts the Lord's Supper reads a relevant portion of Scripture, and reminds communicants about the significance of the Lord's Supper in his remarks and prayer before the Lord's Supper, and leads the congregation in singing a hymn. According to JC Ryle, taking the Lord's Supper with understanding can provide communicants with "clearer views of Christ and His atonement, clearer views of all the offices which Christ fills as our Mediator and Advocate, clearer views of the complete redemption Christ has obtained for us by His death on the cross, clearer views of our full and perfect acceptance in Christ before God, fresh reasons for deep repentance for sin, fresh reasons for lively faith."

3. Let Your Soul Respond

When your heart and mind are able to apprehend these things, the next step is to let your soul respond to them. There are at least four responses of the soul in the Lord's Supper:

a. Contrition: The sight of the emblems of Christ's body and blood reminds us how sinful our sin must be, if nothing less that the death of God's own Son could make satisfaction for it, or redeem us from its guilt. It should deepen our repentance.

b. Comfort: The sight of the bread broken and the cup reminds us how full, perfect and complete our salvation is. We are reminded of the enormous price that was paid for our redemption, and that "there is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)

c. Consecration: The bread and the cup remind us what a great debt of gratitude we owe to our Lord, and how thoroughly we are bound to live for Him who died for our sins. Romans 12:1.

d. Commitment: Every time a believer partakes of the Lord's Supper he is reminded to his commitment to lead a consistent life. It should have a restraining effect upon him against yielding to sin and to the world.

With these three steps in place - preparation of heart for the Lord's Supper, understanding of the meaning of the Lord's Supper and the Responses of the soul during the Lord's Supper, the true Christian will find the Lord's Supper to be a great source of blessing to him, and will look forward to every occasion when the Lord's Supper is served and he can partake of it.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25