Every year we admit a certain number of people into church membership through baptism, reaffirmation of faith and transfers. This is usually done on Easter Sunday. However, before we admit them into church membership, applicants have to undergo a catechism class that lasts for 12 weeks. The classes will take them through the fundamentals of the faith and the doctrines of the Bible-Presbyterian Church. On the day of baptism, reaffirmation of faith (for those who are covenant children born into Christian homes and baptised as infants), or transfer of church membership, the catechumens should be able to affirm meaningfully the questions of faith posed to them. Church membership is a serious matter and should not be made easy.
Dr J Gresham Machen had rightly observed and advised, “One of the very greatest evils of present day religious life, it seems to me, is the reception into the Church of persons who merely repeat a form of words such as ‘I accept Christ as my personal Saviour,’ without giving the slightest evidence to show that they know what such words mean. As a consequence of this practice, hosts of persons are being received into the Church on the basis, as has been well said, of nothing more than a vague admiration for the moral character of Jesus, or else on the basis of a vague purpose of engaging in humanitarian work. One such person within the Church does more harm to the cause of Christ, I for my part believe, than ten such persons outside; and the whole practice ought to be radically changed. The truth is that the ecclesiastical currency in our day has been sadly debased; Church membership, as well as Church office, no longer means what it ought to mean. In view of such a situation, we ought, I think, to have reality at least; instead of comforting ourselves with columns of church statistics, we ought to face the facts; we ought to recall this paper currency and get back to a standard of gold.
“To that end, it should, I think, be made much harder than it now is to enter the Church: the confession of faith that is required should be a credible confession; and if it becomes evident upon examination that a candidate has no notion of what he is doing, he should be advised to enter upon a course of instruction before he becomes a member of the Church. Such a course of instruction, moreover, should be conducted not by comparatively untrained laymen, but ordinarily by the ministers; the excellent institution of the catechetical class should be generally revived.” (What is Faith? 156–7)
The catechism classes are important classes for those who wish to be communicant members of the church. It is my duty as pastor to conduct these classes which I have done from the start. This year, since we have two morning services instead of one, and I have to take both services, I have asked Elder Tai Mern Yee to teach the catechumens, and he is well prepared having completed all four courses on Systematic Theology at the Far Eastern Bible College (FEBC), and other courses as well. The Chinese class is ably taught by the Rev Zhu Jianwei.
The church must not let up in the teaching ministry which is vital for the spiritual growth of her members. Catechumens should continue to study God’s Word in Sunday School, fellowship groups, FEBC classes etc so that they can mature in their faith and not remain babes in Christ (cf 1 Cor 3:1–2, Heb 5:12–14). JK
FILIPINO BIBLE FELLOWSHIP
Rev Dr Jose Lagapa
The FilBF’s motto is “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33). In 2020, the theme was for a wider evangelistic outreach in other parts of the Philippines and the goal was to step into the island of Luzon, the largest island of the archipelago based on the Acts 1:8 principle. The FilBF committee consists of Rev Jose Lagapa, Elder Douglas Ho, Bro Deccarlo Igot and Bro Jude Thaddeus Gabales.
Highlights and Activities
1. A joint-fellowship meeting with True Life BPC Ladies Fellowship was held on January 5, 2020 with Pastor Jeffrey Khoo speaking on the theme, “The Women in the Church” taken from Titus 2:3–5.
2. Gospel Meetings on 5th Sundays were conducted on March 29, May 31, August 30 and November 29, 2020.
3. Online worship services from March 29 to November 29, 2020 were posted on YouTube.
4. Two members were baptized on April 5, 2020 by Pastor namely: Ma Luisa Igot and Reema Cabintoy.
5. The 4th Anniversary Thanksgiving was held on July 26, 2020 with Pastor speaking on “Shine Forth for Jesus” taken from Matthew 5:14–16. Dr Jose Lagapa was ordained as a minister of the gospel during the service.
6. The Vacation Bible School in the Philippines was supposed to be conducted in April and May 2020, but it had to be postponed due to the pandemic.
7. In lieu of Sunday school, recorded audio teachings from the Book of Psalms dubbed “Nuggets of Wisdom” (NOW) were sent twice a week via WhatsApp to FilBF members.
8. Translation and printing of literature: “Salvation Q&A” in Tagalog was printed for evangelism. Also printed was the January–March 2021 Cebuano RPG.
9. The radio ministry (DXMU-FM) of Central Mindanao University, Musuan, Bukidnon, broadcast “Ang Pulong Sa Dios” (The Word of God) every Lord’s Day from 2 to 3 pm starting from November 29, 2020. The “Theology for Every Christian” by Tow and Khoo is broadcast in the Cebuano language with testimonies of FilBF members and hymns from the True Life BPC Choir.
10. Love gifts in cash were given to needy members in June during the height of the pandemic lockdowns in the Philippines, and to the relatives of members affected by the flood due to the typhoon in December.
11. Phase 2 of the “Circuit Breaker” saw the opportunity to have Sunday lunch fellowships with 5 members/guests joining us in the online services. We had lunch together from September 6 to November 29, 2020 in the Upper Room.
12. The Young People’s Bible Conference 2020 in the Philippines was held online on December 12 and participated by 337 young people in 15 different host churches. The theme was “Be Not Deceived” taken from 1 Corinthians 6:9–11.
13. Exploration for the Lord’s direction in the approach to Vacation Bible School (VBS) in the Philippines led to a one-day training and recording of teaching materials for children on December 22, 2020 for Filipino FEBC students by Dr Judy Lee from Berean BPC.
14. FilBF resumed the physical meetings at Godhill on December 6, 2020.
15. Missions stations activities:
The pandemic seemed to have hampered the aim of the FilBF to reach out to other parts of the Philippines. However, the online worship services, the “Nuggets of Wisdom”, the translated literature and the radio ministry have been blessed by the Lord to be His means of reaching out to many Filipinos not only in Singapore and the Philippines but also to those who are in other countries where many of our countrymen are working. We thank the Lord that it was not our own plan or desires that caused the FilBF’s aim to be achieved but His ways and means. To God be the glory!
Due to the current situation of many restrictions in going back to the Philippines for missions work, the aim of the FilBF for 2021 is to establish a stronger grounding of members in the Word of God and in evangelism.
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