Question: According to Mark 13:32, “But of that day and that hour knoweth
no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the
Father.” Is Jesus God? And if He is God, why does He not know when He
would return?

The Bible teaches that Jesus is God. 1 Timothy 3:16 says, “And without
controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh,
justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in
the world, received up into glory.” Similarly, John 1:1, 14 says, “In the
beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the
glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

Since Jesus is God, He is omniscient, and knows all things past, present and
future (Acts 15:18; Ps. 147:4-5). There are times when Jesus manifested His
infinite knowledge (John 2:25; 16:30). Thus, it does seem strange that Jesus
should declare that He does not know the day and the hour He will return.

The answer to this lies in the fact that Jesus is the theanthropos – He is 100%
God and 100% man. When Jesus took on the nature of man, He retained all His
divine attributes. Nevertheless, as man, He can choose to restrict their use. When
Jesus says that He does not know the day and hour, He is speaking with respect
to His human nature, just like how the Scriptures testified that Jesus could grow
weary (Jn. 4:6) and suffer thirst and hunger (Jn. 19:28; Matt. 4:2).

When Jesus claimed that He did not know when He will return, He is adopting
the spirit of the servant, humbling Himself before the will of the Father. By
doing so, He sets the perfect example to us, that we too should humble ourselves
before our Heavenly Father, keeping ourselves spiritually alert, “Take ye heed,
watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.” (Mk. 13:33)

Question: Is there a difference between the use of “only begotten” as found in
John 3:16 and Hebrews 11:17?

The English expression “only begotten” is translated from the Greek term
monogenes. This term comes from two words, monos meaning “only” or
“unique” and gennao meaning “to generate”. Thus, the King James
Translation renders it as “only begotten”.

As Abraham has more than one son, Hebrews 11:17 is careful in
identifying Isaac as Abraham’s “only begotten” son from Sarah. This
identification is important because Isaac was the son to whom pertains the
covenant promises of God. The use of the term monogenes here thus emphasises
on the uniqueness of Isaac among all the other sons of Abraham.

On the other hand, the term monogenes in John 3:16 refers not only to how
Christ is uniquely begotten of the Father but also eternally begotten. The
Westminster Confession of Faith II.3 states, “In the unity of the Godhead there
be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the
Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten, nor
proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost
eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.” He is the only begotten Son
of God from eternal past.

This doctrine of the eternal generation of Christ is a crucial doctrine of the
Christian faith as Christ is “begotten” and not “made”. This doctrine was firmly
declared and expounded in the Athanasian and Nicene creeds of the 4th Century.
Sadly, many modern English translations such as the New International Version,
English Standard Version and the New Living Translation render monogenes as
“one and only”, thus destroying the doctrine of the eternal generation of Christ.
The doctrine of the eternal generation of Christ distinguishes our Saviour from
the rest of us. While God the Father has many sons, only Christ is the uniquely
and eternally begotten Son of God. The rest of the saints are adopted children in
God’s family.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew

Testimonies of Students from the course on
Theology of Worship

By the grace of God, I was able to stay in three different countries since the
beginning of the pandemic. I believe that this was God’s intervention as I had
experienced how God had made a way for me to safely go through the borders
during the lockdowns. As I was able to stay in Tanzania, Kenya, and Korea, I
was able to observe how God acts through the pandemic.
Many churches in Korea focus on the numbers. It is known that the biggest
church in the world is located in Korea. Church leaders are focused attracting
people to the church. When I had a chance to attend the summer camp organised
by the church before the pandemic 2018, I was shocked to see a DJ coming up to
the stage when the sermon was over. Since I had spent most of my teenage years
in Tanzania, it was very difficult for me to watch the people around me praising
God with club music. The week after that incident, my church invited one
CCM singer from the camp and allowed him to preach at the high school service.

After the sermon, the singer began to sing with his guitar and asked the students
to turn on the flashlight on their phones as they sing. That is the moment when I
realized that my church was worshipping to please ourselves, and not God.

However, when I visited Korea this year during the pandemic, I felt that God
was using the pandemic to teach the church what true worship is. Since the seats
in the church were limited, people came to church early. Due to the social
distancing measures, there was no chatting during the service. Ironically,
because the church was on a tight budget, there was no more singers.

The general atmosphere in church has changed during the pandemic. Only those
who truly have a desire to worship God came for the service. Hence, I could feel
the difference. I believe that God had used the virus to rebuke the churches in
Korea by making the numbers of the congregation to seem redundant and giving
an opportunity to the churches to repent of their false worship.

However, the situation in Tanzania was unique. The previous President of
Tanzania had announced that Tanzania was a COVID free nation in April 2020.
While attendance in churches around the world was affected by social distancing
and masking, churches in Tanzania were able to grow due to the lack of
measures. For example, the church where my father is pastoring, experienced
rapid growth during the pandemic this year. Although the Tanzanian
government announced that the country is COVID-free, the people were
suffering tremendously from the pandemic. My father, knowing that the reports
were fake, temporarily ceased the ministry. However, as the budget for the
ministry remained, my father was granted permission to provide daily supplies
to the villagers. Due to this, more people had come to church for the service due
to the ministry of mercy. Thus, I believe that even though the pandemic had
brought about many deaths, even this virus is part of God’s plan.

The experience in Kenya was also different from the two countries. This year, I
was in a high school in Kenya. While I was in school, a dorm meeting was
organised every Tuesday night to discuss school affairs as well to have a short
chapel time. However, due to the pandemic, all school activities were cancelled.
Thus, there was no dorm meeting on Tuesday nights. The whole Tuesday night
was devoted for chapel. And as my dorm members spent more time sharing and
listening to the Word of God, the whole dorm began to transform. The students
began to form a deeper relationship in Christ, and this relationship led students
to pray for one another. And as more came to pray, a prayer meeting was
convened every night, and the whole dorm became more devoted to holiness
compared to the year before the pandemic. Through this, the dorm learnt what it
means to be a living sacrifice unto the Lord.