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Frequently Asked Questions - Practical Issues

FAQs - Practical Issues

All of these are forbidden because it is God’s prerogative alone to disclose the future or make known secrets of the spiritual realm. Those who seek supernatural knowledge about the future from any source but God are usurping this prerogative. We as Christians ought to have nothing to do with them – not even for amusement or out of curiosity – as they violate the first commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3)

In obedience to the second commandment, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth" we should not keep idols in the house, not even as decorative objects. They should not be stored away in some cupboard or sold to an antique dealer. They must be destroyed together with all the joss sticks, joss paper, and other paraphernalia (Deuteronomy 7:5). As long as the idols are not destroyed there is always a possibility that they will fall into hands that will worship them again.

Some Christians who are antique collectors or dealers should take note of this. If something has been made as an object of worship no matter how priceless or valuable it is, you are not to keep it in your shop or home. Not because it can have any power on you, but because it is an abomination to God (2 Corinthians 6:16,17).

Chinese funeral rites are very closely linked to ancestor worship, with bowing and offering incense to spirits. Bowing is only a sign of respect only if the person or thing one bows to can bow back. Anyone who sees a Christian participating in Chinese funeral rites will probably think that he is endorsing the religious element of the funeral.

No, he should not, because no matter what he thinks, those around him are likely to interpret it as an endorsement of offering food to idols. However, if he ate it unknowingly and was told later on about it, no harm is done, and he should really not feel guilty about it ( 1 Corinthians 10:25-33)

Some Chinese festivals are linked to idol or ancestor worship. It is not enough to say that a Christian is free to participate if he himself has no religious feeling in the matter. He may participate only when others see in his participation no endorsement of the religious element. However, many Chinese festivals, like Chinese New Year have become so secularized especially here in Singapore, that no one would see any endorsement of Chinese religion in our participation. But religious festivals like Vesak day and Ching Ming are clearly out for the Chinese Christian. And perhaps if you happen to visit to some remote province in China during a certain festival season and detect that it has a significant religious element, you should refrain from participating in it.

The problem with this view is that the Israelites were commanded to swear by the name of their God (Deut 6:13; 10:20) and it was considered praiseworthy (Ps 63:11). The apostle Paul often said "God is my witness" and at least took one oath (Rom 1:9, 1 Thess 2:5, 10). God Himself takes oaths and swears by His own name (Heb 6:13). In James 5:12, James was speaking not against oath-taking, but against oath-breaking. Many promises were made, but few were kept. This was a bad situation, and God’s people were not to follow this. People should be able to trust whatever we say. We should not have to constantly swear in God’s name to prove that what we are saying can be trusted (Matthew 5:37). But whenever we are required by the authorities to affirm the truth of what we say by swearing, we should willingly oblige.

Christ says (in Mat 12:36) that we must give account for every idle word that we speak. In Eph 5:4 Paul says that "jesting" should be left out of our speech. But the context shows that what he meant was dirty jokes or impure speech. Humor is good but we must be careful to maintain purity and wholesomeness. Humor should never be used to hurt another person, and Humor should never be irreverent to God. Our Lord Jesus Himself used some humor at times. e.g. He nicknamed James and John the "Sons of Thunder."

Some say ‘yes’ it’s alright, since God understands that I need to make a living. But if God can make an exception for me, can He not also make the same exception for everyone else who needs to make a living? The main issue here is: who comes first: God? or my job? Isn’t God the One who gives me the ability to work and provides a job for me? If so, can I not trust Him to provide another job for me, one which will enable me to honor Him on the Lord’s Day?

However, there are some jobs where the nature of the work itself demands some work on a Sunday, e.g. if you are a doctor, or policeman or soldier, or a bus driver. If all of these would refuse to work on Sundays, there would be chaos all around. So they come under works of necessity. They are exceptions. And I know of some very busy Christian doctors who are still very faithful in keeping the Lord’s Day whenever they can.

Even those who are under extreme work conditions can still keep the Lord’s day, even though in a limited way. In the early church a large proportion of the Christians were actually slaves, who had no day of rest. They met for worship at first in the evening, after work on Sunday. But soon a decree made this illegal. Then they met before dawn on Sunday, and many of them had to meet in secret in underground caves called catacombs. If those slaves had such zeal to keep the Lord’s day despite their employment restrictions, how much more should all of us be willing to keep the Lord’s day.

Those of us who run our own business where we are employers or proprietors should have no difficulty keeping the Lord’s Day. If we are afraid that our business will suffer if we do not open our shop on Sunday, then listen to what God says in Malachi 3:10 "Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

It is very easy to become legalistic about things like these, and once again each person has to come to his own conviction what he should do or not do on the Sabbath day, or else he will do them grudgingly or become unecessarily judgmental of others, like the Jews rabbis and Pharisees.

Paul said in Romans 14:5-6 -- "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it." and in v.13 we are warned: "Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way."

In dealing with these questions we must never lose sight of the purpose of these Sabbath day observances: they are supposed to free us from the daily work routine of life so that we will be able to spend quality time with the Lord and for the Lord.

Some may have no choice but to do things like washing and ironing on the Lord’s Day, particularly if they only have one or two sets of clothes to wear. E.g. in countries where people are poor, some have to wash clothes everyday or else they would have nothing to wear. But if we do not live within such difficult constraints, we should try our best to free ourselves from having to do washing and ironing on the Lord’s Day because our attention should be diverted away from mundane things of life toward God and our glorious heavenly hope.

Although obedience is called for, this does not mean we cannot persuade them to change their minds on non-moral issues. Loving persuasion can be a big help if parents are willing to listen. But as long as we are dependent on them for our livelihood, we still have to obey them, if they refuse to be persuaded. But once we have our own job and become responsible for our own lives, parents must allow us to assume full responsibility for choosing a marriage partner, vocation, or investment in life. When a person is married he leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife. Marriage indicates that the couple is now independent of their parents’ control, and though they should still respect the counsel of their parents, neither should they feel compelled to obey everything the parents dictate on non-moral issues. "Much grief and marriage failure come from the sinful interference of parents in their children’s married life and the sinful acceptance of that interference on the part of the married son or daughter" (McQuilkin).

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

November 19 & 26 - The End of the World

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 2 Peter 3:10