Tag Archive: ask pastor time


It’s been interesting how often this topic has come up over the past year or so. It first surfaced as we were preparing for youth thematic month last year, and going through the questions our youths were interested in. Besides other religions and life & death, animal salvation came in a strong 3rd in frequency. So it is not surprising that one would pose this question through our semi-regular segment, Ask Pastor Time, that just started this year.

Animals and pets have been a big part of my life. From my early formative days, I remember my family having an array of pets ranging from fish and terrapins, to parakeets, hamsters and rabbits. But it was only until I was halfway through primary school, when my tuition teacher’s dog had a litter of puppies, that I got my first dog, a cross-breed silky terrier, and my first taste of owning and taking care of an animal firsthand. Sadly, my parents made the decision of giving it away to SPCA when we moved around end of primary school. A few year later, eventually, my younger brother somehow managed to pester my mum to get a pure, toy-breed Maltese newborn puppy (from Australia), and we had “her” for 11 years, until she passed (mainly of old age, & jaundice) just 6 months before my wedding (and I was moving out again).

The Bible is not explicit on the topic of animal salvation. Animals feature greatly in the creation accounts, in fact, they are created before God gives Adam a helpmate, the first woman, Eve. Here we have the Adamic covenant, to rule or have dominion over all creation (flora and fauna). In some camps, this is known as dominion theology. In the early years of Israel’s birth as a nation, God establishes the temple sacrificial system, where animals are sacrificed in place of humans in atonement for their sins. Scattered throughout the Bible, there have been interesting and memorable mentions or God using animals in His grand masterplan of salvation history. The pairs of animals that were saved along with Noah and his family during the flood, the dove that bore the olive leaf after Noah sends it out after the flood, the ram that God provides in place of Isaac asked to be sacrificed by his father Abraham, the first Passover where the blood of sacrificed lambs saved the firstborns of Israel, Balaam’s donkey that rebukes him, the donkey that Jesus rode on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, etc.

Whilst we might not be certain whether animals go to heaven after death, it seems that they have a special place in God’s heart, and feature significantly throughout Bible times. Hope as much we can, ultimately we have to trust and rest in God’s sovereign and perfect plan, and know that whether we will see our favourite pets one day again lie in the hands of our almighty God, who created each of them by His will and word, for His glory and purposes alone.

Related links:
http://www.perspectivedigest.org/article/225/archives/22-2/the-salvation-of-animals
https://jamespedlar.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/john-wesley-on-animal-salvation/
http://www.academia.edu/6106098/C.S._Lewis_and_Animal_Salvation
http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/questions/do-animals-go-heaven

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Heaven stories | Ask Pastor Time

Some people say they have died, seen heaven or even God himself for a few seconds or minutes and come back to life after. Can we believe such statements?

As a young boy, I lost my grandfather whom I was very close to, and only until recently, never was sure that he became a Christian and whether he was in heaven or not (praise God, my aunty recently confirmed that he did accept Christ before his passing, and that at the hospital, after he passed, I (aged 4) pointed out the window and said that I saw him going up to heaven). As a young man, I was also fascinated by a Robin Williams movie, “What Dreams May Come,” which was about someone dying and going to heaven (of course, from a non-Christian and very imaginative, almost-Buddhist like concept of nirvana, enlightenment).

Recently, there was a movie based on a book “Heaven is for Real,” about a pastor’s three-year-old son who, after a near-death experience (NDE), started to share accounts of visiting heaven and meeting God. The book has crossed sales of more than a few million. However, several Christians have been critical of its contents and claims. One scholar, Hank Hanegraaff, has written an excellent piece on this. Here’s a summary.

  1. NDEs are predictably contextualized by the backgrounds and belief systems of those who experience them.
  2. The subjective recollections of NDErs are wildly divergent and mutually contradictory.
  3. There is a substantive difference between clinical death and biological death.
  4. There is a clear and present danger in turning to NDErs rather than the Bible respecting those things that allegedly will happen in the future.
  5. While Christ does not tell us the time of His second appearing, some NDErs are more than happy to!
  6. Among the biblical writers who “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1.21), not one dared say that like their Lord they could speak authoritatively about heaven from firsthand knowledge.
  7. In Acts 14, Luke chronicles the near-death experience of Paul. While it may have been useful to concoct a miraculous resurrection from the dead in the narrative, Luke does no such thing.
  8. Some NDErs are greatly biased by the subjective specter of hyperliteralism.
  9. Psychological factors, including fantasy proneness, may play a part in some NDEs.
  10. Finally, there is the very real issue of apostolic authority. In point of fact, with the death of the apostles, there can be no new revelations.

Read the full article here.

In summary, there are things that God has revealed about heaven in the Bible, and there are things not revealed. Ultimately, we have to trust and rely on God’s unchanging and unfailing word, that is sufficient for life and salvation. The other issue is about predicting or claiming to know when Christ will return again.

In Matt. 24.36-51, Jesus Himself says

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man … Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come … So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Who then is the faithful and wise servant … It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.

Jesus reminds us not to be overfixated on knowing about the afterlife, future or speculate about His 2nd coming. Rather, we are to remain watchful, ready and faithful. May God grant us the strength and wisdom to live lives worthy of Him and His gospel whilst we are here on earth. For those who have lost loved ones, may God’s grace be sufficient, and His comfort surround us, with the hope and confidence of one day being reunited with God in heaven.

#askpastortime

Holy oil blessings | Ask Pastor Time

Recently, there were pictures and a video of a local megachurch pastor praying over bottles of oil and blessing them, with the purpose of distributing, selling them to his church members. This is not the first time this occurred; a quick search shows a similar video in November last year.

One of my church youth committee members asked, “Legit’ or not?” Is this real, and is the oil really blessed, anointed with power from God?

This reminds me of one of the issues that Martin Luther had against the RC church prior to the Protestant Reformation. Bottles of holy water believed to be blessed by the Pope were being sold to commoners in villages, as a result of an abuse of the local clergy/church and no access to God’s word and biblical truths/teachings.

Acts 8.9-24 records an incident regarding Simon the sorcerer who practiced magic arts and was called “the Great Power of God”. After he believed and was baptized, he observed the apostles laying hands and blessing others with the Holy Spirit, and offered money to have the same authority.

But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! … Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.
Acts 8:20‭, ‬22 NASB

http://bible.com/100/act.8.20-22.NASB

Peter reminded that we cannot obtain God’s power through material gain, and that we all need the forgiveness of our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ, as the basis of salvation.

Since Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, God has left us with 2 spiritual resources, namely the Holy Spirit and the Bible, God’s word. We can have direct access to God through repentance and faith, and as the early Reformers affirmed, there should only be 5 solas (from Latin, sola, lit. “alone”):

  • Sola scriptura (by Scripture alone)
  • Sola fide (by faith alone)
  • Sola gratia (by grace alone)
  • Solus Christus (Christ alone)
  • Soli Deo gratia (glory to God alone)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_solae

Praise God for His Word and Spirit, and that we do not need and should not pursue anything less than God Himself. Physical, human objects have no power in and of themselves, and we should be wise and discerning not to be tempted or stumbled to focus on such “idols” or superstitions, that might end up replacing God as the center of our lives.

#askpastortime

Tracking, reading through what’s been said critically about BatB on both camps, especially on a popular pro-family FB page, I think we need to be objective and balanced in our approach towards such issues, and depictions in films and media. This page went to the extreme of labelling BatB as a homosexual-themed movie, and called for boycotts. It obviously got slammed for not being consistent against other issues portrayed such as bestiality and magic, as well as hobby horsing and exaggerating over what was literally only a 3-second implicit scene of the character in question.

As much as I am saddened by BatB’s director’s open admission of creating this sub-plot and describing it as “a nice, exclusive gay moment” in a Disney movie, this is unlikely the first time, and definitely not going to be the last time.

Although I disagree with NCCS’ decision to issue a statement about this movie (there are endless others that deserve more attention, focus), I agree somewhat with part of what they advised, that we should be aware of possible influences, exercise discretion in guiding our children, and stay rooted in God’s word in developing a biblical worldview.
#askpastortime

Reviews and critiques:

https://answersingenesis.org/reviews/movies/should-christians-watch-disneys-beauty-and-beast/

http://www.gospelcenteredmom.com/2017/03/beauty-and-beast-why-christians-can.html?m=1

http://www.pluggedin.com/movie-reviews/beauty-and-the-beast-2017

https://sarahcinnamon.com/2017/03/21/an-unlikely-view-a-different-review/

http://www.blogpastor.net/2017/03/beauty-and-the-beast-reading-bribery/

Ask Pastor Time

As requested, suggested by my church youth leaders, we are starting a short segment called “Ask Pastor Time” every fortnight to address current issues. A question will be put forth and I will attempt to provide a succinct biblical response and how we as Christians should deal with it. Feel free to comment and post questions.
#askpastortime

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