Pastoral Exhortation

Visit to our Mission Churches

Written by Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy Sunday, 30 April 2017

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Though a detailed report would be submitted to the church by the mission team upon their return, I thought it would be good to write to you a few things that God has enabled us to do thus far. As I write this very brief report, the mission team is already into its second day of ministry here in Bogo. Yesterday (i.e. on Thursday), the team members were divided into different groups to engage in street evangelism and home visitations. Today, while some are conducting a one-day Gospel programme for the children, others are engaging in street evangelism and home visitations.

Before the arrival of the mission team, Preacher Dennis and family have visited Davao City and ministered the Word to his contacts. Over the last weekend, he preached to about 50 people who had gathered on the excellencies of Christ from Hebrews 1:1-4. We thank God that Pr Dennis was able to conduct a three-day preaching visit to Davao. Let us pray that the Lord will be pleased to bless this effort with lasting results to all eternity.

By God’s grace, my wife and I were enabled to visit Bohol island. Our main ministry was to our mission church in Tagbilaran City. Preacher Edsel Locot has been ministering in this place for about 11 years. We are very grateful that the Lord has kept His servant (Pr Edsel) strong and determined in the work of the Gospel, though the church has often been shaken by the departure of many who had earlier joined the church. The world exerts tremendous pressure through temptations and trials upon those who come to the church. Certain vices – gambling, drugs, fornication and adultery - are very rampant among the people of this island, and they are often the cause/s of the falling away of many.

I have gone to the city’s prison to visit a man who has been arrested for drugs and is repentant. He has been regularly visited and ministered to by Pr Edsel. This man had been a member of the church, but was lured into drugs again. Even though the preacher had repeatedly warned him, he denied his sins and secretly pursued them. It was a very high-risk “thrill” that he was pursuing, especially as the Philippines’ president, Rodrigo Duterte, has declared war against the drug-dealers and abusers! This man was dancing with death. He could have been easily shot dead by the anti-drug officers. He barely escaped being shot, and was arrested and placed in jail. The condition of the prison is extremely miserable. Pr Edsel was able to obtain a special permit for me to visit the prison with him. We exhorted the man to bear fruit of repentance while he is in the prison, by living out a life of good Christian testimony. I was glad to know that he is committed to live a renewed life as a Christian.

The small congregation of our church in Bohol has about 20 worshippers (including children). Most of them are economically poor. However, they rejoice in the Lord and His Word. I preached to them last Lord’s Day, as well as on Monday and Tuesday nights, based on 1 Peter 4. One young lady of the church also brought her colleague, who was a Catholic, to hear God’s Word. She came for two nights and testified of her interest to know more of Christ and the Bible. She expressed her desire to come back and attend the church activities. Let us pray that the Lord will soon open her heart to receive the Lord Jesus as her Saviour.

On Wednesday, Carolyn and I left Bohol (by ferry) for Cebu, where we were received by Rev Reggor Galarpe and family. We attended the Cebu congregation’s Bible Study and prayer meeting that night. I preached during this meeting from Deuteronomy 33:29 on the topic, “Happy art the people of God”. The meeting was attended by 40 over church members. We praise God for the opportunities to fellowship with many of the leaders and members of the Cebu congregation. Their steadfastness and zeal in the Lord are truly commendable – truly, let us praise the Lord for their continued walk with the Lord!

 

Our Debt of Love

 

“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8).

As Paul begins to exhort the brethren concerning the debt of love that Christians owe one another, he said, “Owe no man any thing”. So can we borrow money? The Bible allows lending and borrowing in times of real need (Deuteronomy 15:7-8; Psalm 37:26; Exodus 22:25). But it discourages us from being in debt, for a man’s debt would make him subservient to the lender (cf. Deuteronomy 15:6; 28:12, 44; Proverbs 22:7). The Bible also warns against taking responsibility for the debts of others (cf. Proverbs 6:1-5; 22:26-27). It is a sin to borrow and not repay (cf. Psalm 37:21). God does not want us to be under obligation to any because of unsettled debts.

Nevertheless, we must deem loving one another as our permanent debt and duty to others. This is not the first time Paul talked about love in his epistle to the Romans. In Romans 12:9-10, he described love as thus – “Let love be without dissimulation... Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love”. So, we must recognise our debt of love.

We are spiritually obliged to love everyone as our verse says, “love one another”. Love must be extended, without discrimination, to all and sundry in the church and everywhere. Love is a debt which can never be settled. Even though we have been daily showing kindness to others, yet our debt of love can never be fully paid as long as there is an opportunity to do good.

How much do we owe others? As much as we love ourselves (cf. Romans 13:9b; Matthew 19:19; 7:12; Ephesians 5:28-29), and as much as God has loved us (cf. John 13:34-35; 15:12-13). Remember how God loved us when we were His enemies (cf. Romans 5:8)? That is how we ought to love others.

Paul also told us the reason for the debt of love – “for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law”. Some think that the law and love are contrary to one another. Actually, they are in harmony with each other. Only by loving others can one be fully obedient to God’s moral laws. Galatians 5:14 says, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” James identifies loving others as the royal law – “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well” (James 2:8). Love helps us to fulfil God’s law. True love helps us to uphold the righteous laws of God.