Question Sessions in Mission Work

A significant tool in teaching the truths of the Reformed faith, and thus a significant part of mission work, is to provide opportunity for questions to be asked and answered. We regularly use this tool after lectures, classes, Bible studies, and so forth. We also do it, at times, after Sunday worship services are finished. On other occasions, we devote the whole of a Bible study to answering questions.

These question sessions have been beneficial, under the Lord’s blessing, for myself personally, especially because many of the questions arise from the different backgrounds of the saints here. This forces one to consider ideas and perspectives never faced before, which contributes to spiritual growth. At the same time, the opportunity to ask questions is helpful for the saints, enabling them to express their thoughts and to raise matters that were not directly addressed in the lectures. This contributes, by God’s grace, to spiritual growth in the truth and in its application to the church and to their daily lives.

Another significant benefit of the question periods is that they are a means by which we and those among whom we labor come to a better knowledge and understanding of each other. As we hear the questions, we learn where the saints are currently in their understanding of the truth, are enlightened concerning their struggles with some truths, and are given an insight into their lives and backgrounds. All of this is most helpful in guiding us to teach the truth in such a way that it can be understood, and in being patient in doing so. On the flip side, as the saints hear our answers, they come to know and appreciate the truth more, see more clearly its biblical basis and its applications, and thus also come to know us and the PRCA denomination better.

From time to time, we have included these questions in our monthly missionary reports to Doon PRC (the calling church) and the Foreign Mission Committee. The members of Doon Council and the FMC have expressed appreciation for this birds-eye view into the mission work. We trust you will also find the questions enlightening for the same reason.

Since a major aspect of our work is instruction in Reformed truth, a good majority of the questions are doctrinal in nature. Usually there is little hesitation to ask questions, which makes for a very lively Q&A period—many hands up at the same time, questions fired in the middle of a lecture, good discussions on various aspects of the truth, and so on. Sometimes we can have up to thirty questions in a session. It is heartwarming to see their excitement. Apart from the challenge of answering the questions, one cannot help but be excited with them.

Doctrinal Questions

  • If the whole Bible is the Word of God, what about the words of the devil and wicked men recorded in it?
  • What doctrine of Scripture do those who hold to Federal Vision have?
  • Since God created all creatures, is God responsible for what the created beings do?
  • If God created all things perfect, including Adam and the devil, where did sin come from?
  • If man does not have a free will to choose, then how do we explain the choice of Adam to sin?
  • How do we explain the fact that God is sovereign over sin but not responsible for it?
  • Looking at Isaiah 45:7, can we say there’s a difference between God being the author of sin and God being the creator of sin?
  • Is it possible for an over-emphasis on God’s sovereignty to lead to fatalism?
  • If God’s foreknowledge is causal, does that include the deeds of Satan, Judas Iscariot, etc.?
  • Since God does not share His communicable attributes with the ungodly, how do we explain the good they do?
  • Is it true that there are some things God cannot do, and the reason is God’s eternal counsel?
  • Is it correct to say that God died for us on the cross?
  • Do the reprobate go to hell because of their sin, or because of the decree of reprobation?
  • Matthew 24:14 mentions that many are called but few are chosen. Why are reprobates called by God?
  • How does reprobation serve God’s glory?
  • Since sheep never change into goats, doesn’t that mean that all the children of those who are sheep are also sheep, and all the children of those who are goats are also goats?
  • If we believe God has eternally elected, what is the purpose of doing evangelism work?
  • Does the preaching of a false gospel count in the worldwide preaching of the gospel?
  • After salvation is applied to an individual, does he remain in his depraved condition?
  • Do Exodus 32 and Revelation 22, which mention being blotted out of the book of life, imply that it’s possible for someone to lose his election and salvation?
  • Is it wrong to preach about hell? Is the doctrine of hell part of the gospel?
  • Is it proper to distinguish between passive holiness (justification) and active holiness (sanctification)?
  • If the law still has a purpose and place in our lives, what about texts (Romans 6:14, Galatians 3:25) that teach we are not under the law, but under grace?
  • If you hold to the supralapsarian view, how can it be said that the people of God deserve to go to hell? Wouldn’t that only be true if God elected His people out of a fallen human race (cf. infralapsarian view)?
  • Abraham Kuyper wrote the book, Particular Grace. How could he also adopt and teach common grace?
  • Is it correct to say that someone who holds to free will is an enemy of grace and thus also an enemy of God?
  • What is the difference between soul and spirit? Is the Reformed view trichotomy, or dichotomy?
  • The premillennialists divide history up into seven main dispensations. How do the Reformed divide up history?
  • Does Romans 11:25 (which mentions that “blindness in part is happened to Israel’) imply a major conversion of the Jews in the future, as the premillennialists teach?
  • How does the final judgment before the throne of God (Revelation 20) fit in with the truth of election?

A significant part of our mission work is instruction in Reformed church government. The background for many of the saints here is Independentism. For some, it has been the hierarchical form of church government. Because of this, many aspects of Reformed church government are strikingly new and can at first seem unnecessary or confusing. However, the saints manifest a good interest also in this aspect of the truth. We are grateful for the way in which many of the churches have put these things into practice. It is rewarding to them and to us to observe the peace and good order biblical church government brings to the church.

Church Government Questions

  • Can an ordained minister serve more than one congregation at the same time?
  • Is it correct for ministers to apply for positions in vacant churches?
  • What factors should a minister consider in order to determine the answer to a call?
  • Is street preaching (in markets, on buses, etc.) a good way to do evangelism work?
  • Do Reformed churches practice tithing?
  • Why is a seminary training necessary if some men are gifted to preach without it?
  • What is the role of women in the church if they are not able to teach?
  • Why must there be three special offices in a church in order for it to be a church?
  • Is a pastor called to his office for life? If so, can he ever retire?
  • Is it possible for a local church to establish and start its own seminary?
  • Since preaching should contain only the Word of God, may ministers use illustrations in sermons?
  • Should only men be deacons? If so, what about Dorcas?
  • Can a man be nominated for two offices in the church at the same time, with the congregation determining by vote which one he will occupy?
  • Shouldn’t an elder have some formal education if he is to be “apt to teach”?
  • Since elders do the discipline work in the church, who disciplines erring elders?
  • Should baptism be done by immersion, or pouring, or sprinkling?
  • What determines how many elders and/or deacons there are in a congregation?
  • Since the offices of pastor and elder overlap, is it necessary to have separate offices?
  • How can elders determine if a pastor’s sermons are correct if the elders haven’t received a seminary training?
  • Should the deacons also help poor people who are not members of the church? If so, how?
  • If the deacons are to care for the poor, what if a deacon himself is poor? Who cares for him?
  • If there is a split in a church, is it correct (in light of separation of church and state) to have the courts of the land decide who is the legitimate owner of the property?
  • May or should churches have a “sergeant at arms” at their ecclesiastical assemblies?
  • Once a church joins a denomination, does the denomination become the owner of the church property?
  • Can it be said that the majority vote of an ecclesiastical assembly is the “voice of God”?

As we all know, the truth of God is not only for our heads, but also for our hearts and lives. What stands out, in that regard, is the doctrine of God’s sovereignty—a truth that, when clearly understood and embraced, is a constant source of comfort to every believer. The road of growth in the truth includes, therefore, many personal questions about its application. For God’s people, learning the truth is not simply an intellectual exercise. We thank the Lord for this, too.

Personal Questions

  • Is knowledge of election a personal thing, so that while you can know it about yourself, you cannot know it about other people?
  • How can I know my sins were forgiven some 2,000 year ago? How can I be sure I am elect?
  • How can the truth of total depravity be gospel, for it seems only to discourage us?
  • When I sometimes have doubts (unbelief ), does that mean God’s power has failed to make me believe?
  • Solomon was the wisest man, but he became foolish later in his life. Can that happen to us?
  • Would you say that believing the truth is a miracle?
  • How can and should we pray, in light of the fact that God has eternally decreed all things?
  • How do we attain comfort when we are overwhelmed with troubles? How do we comfort others when they are overwhelmed?
  • In light of the communion of saints, what kind of relationship may we have with family members who are unbelievers?
  • Do the people of God need suffering every day, so that we will be purified every day?
  • If suffering is a blessing for the elect, then is it correct to say that suffering is a curse for the wicked?
  • If the suffering I experience is a consequence of sin, then is that suffering still a blessing?
  • Will we experience sorrow in heaven when we realize that some of our family members, whom we thought were believers, are not there?

We hope these questions (even without the answers) will give you a glimpse into the character of our denomination’s mission work in the Philippines as well as into the lives of your fellow believers here. And may that in turn be of help in your prayers for this work and for the Lord’s blessing upon it.