Bethel Baptist Church ~ El Sobrante, CA

Seeing the Bad in the World, and Avoiding It

by admin ~ September 14th, 2019

Chip Gaines, a reality television personality on HGTV and professing Christian very recently tweeted the following: “I’m convinced that seeing the bad in the world and in people isn’t difficult or wise or insightful–it’s lazy. Finding the good in every scenario typically takes a lot more work. But the rewards of peace and joy and hope are so worth the effort.” I saw someone pin this tweet on his twitter feed. Gaines later tweeted: “If you’re going to work.. WORK. If you’re going to rest.. REST. But quit pretending to do both.” Apparently Gaines has seen people not working or pretending and saw that as bad. Was it lazy? First, it’s good to see the best in people and say it. Encourage them. Say positive things. Give thanks for one another. However, it’s not lazy to see bad in the world and in people. This is scriptural. God expects us to judge everything and hold on to what is good. There is a lot of bad in the world and especially young people need to be taught to see it, to avoid it. Like in Proverbs 4:14-15, “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.” Also consider Proverbs 22:3, “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.” So many are lacking so much in discernment that they need to obey verses such as these. It does take work to see and understand the bad in the world and avoid it..

Cause to Sin, No

by admin ~ September 6th, 2019

As a thought experiment, think about being offended over someone’s unscriptural behavior. In my years of pastoring, I’ve noticed individuals offended over violations of scripture in others. They talk about those bad things. They are concerned. Stick with the experiment. If you are offended with unscriptural practice, what do you think would characterize you? Of course, scriptural living. The problem with unscriptural living is that it isn’t scriptural, which doesn’t please God. People who don’t like unscriptural deeds would increase in scriptural deeds. And yet very often that’s not what I’ve seen with offense. The offense doesn’t connect to more scriptural practice. It means now people will practice less scriptural. Since someone else has done something wrong, now other people can do it too. No. Unscriptural behavior doesn’t justify other unscriptural behavior. Concern over unscriptural behavior of course would not result in more unscriptural behavior, but in less. What is the reality of more unscriptural behavior following stated concern over unscriptural behavior? Someone isn’t really concerned about unscriptural behavior. It isn’t concern and perhaps just faux concern. I’m asking for a thought experiment, so that you can think about yourself. This is always going to happen around you. You’re going to see regular disobedience to God’s Word around you. Be concerned for the disobedient people and let it be a lesson to live more consistent Christian living yourself.

Being Faithful, Continuing to Do What God Says

by admin ~ August 31st, 2019

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” He said he and we are stewards. We’ve been given something, and we must be faithful with it. What we’ve been given is very valuable. It is eternal. It saves. Being faithful means believing what God says and then just keep doing what He says. We don’t divert from the truth. Our degree of faithfulness depends on the strength of that belief. There will be many distractions and challenges against being faithful. We don’t live in a world that is friendly to the faith and Jesus said that at the very beginning of this age, that the world would hate us. There would be no need to teach on faithfulness if there were not extreme opposition of many different forms: false teaching, the allurements of the world, our own flesh, people opposing what we do in many different forms, discontent or unmet expectations, hardship, difficulties, pain, bad examples, a vast majority of the world’s population believing and doing something different, and even almost all of professing Christianity drifting from its moorings. Faithfulness does not mean, never stumbling, which is why there are so many instructions in the nature of bearing one another’s burdens, restoring one another in the Spirit of meekness, strengthening the weak, supporting the feebleminded, being patient with all men, and even giving space to repent. There are many good examples, including Peter when he denied the Lord and gave up completely—he still became the leader of the early church.

Life Isn’t Easy

by admin ~ August 24th, 2019

If someone were to ask me something that I’ve learned through my life and ministry, I know that right now I would say that it is very difficult, so don’t be fooled into thinking this is going to be easy. Every time I use the word, “easy,” I think of the Lord Jesus saying His burden is easy. I believe that. But life is not. Job said in Job 5:7, “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” That isn’t an excuse just to give up, but it is a warning for all of us. None of us would say that we’ve been through as hard a life as Job, but he’s an example that it will be hard, and many other saints in scripture went through very difficult times. With that in mind, then we are living in days of apostasy, where it is turning more evil very quickly. If someone polled by the leading cultural indicators, they would find the same thing, a steep drop on the indicators of morality and righteousness. It’s not impossible, because all things are possible with God. He’s also set not temptation before us that with the temptation has not also given us a way of escape. However, there are a lot of challenges today, not as an excuse, but to warn again of vigilance. Like God said to Cain, that sin is crouching at the door. And what Jesus said to Peter, that Satan desires to sift you as wheat. It is especially hard to lead. There are less and less qualified leaders, because of the difficulties. And then doing it is hard, even and maybe especially for a father and a husband. Hence, many verses about standing, being strong, and watching and praying.

Binary

by admin ~ August 17th, 2019

Because of computer science, people often use the word “binary” in many different contexts in a helpful way. When used, binary means “one of two choices.” If someone does not choose one, then he chooses the other. Sometimes life presents itself in that way. Not every situation in life, however, is binary. Someone can live a good Christian life in general and be a good Christian while struggling with a particular problem in his life, as long as he is struggling. “Struggling” means “trying to accomplish against difficulty or hardship” in this instance. Someone doesn’t give up on the entire Christian life because of one struggle. Others don’t judge him to fail at the Christian life because of one struggle. One struggle doesn’t ruin everything else. Every Christian struggles. Struggling characterizes a successful Christian life. Just capitulating to the sin is not struggling. Someone might not handle correction very well, but he wants to listen to correction and change. He’s struggling with that. A bad reaction to correction isn’t supportive or respectful of authority, but it doesn’t mean that someone doesn’t support or respect authority as long as the struggle is there to support or respect authority even when it might not occur. The Christian life is binary when someone just gives up or gives in and stops struggling. He isn’t a Christian. He either is enduring and struggling forward or he is not. That is binary. When someone corrects you, that doesn’t mean he judges you to be lost or a failure. That isn’t binary.

Persecution in the United States and Prayer

by admin ~ August 10th, 2019

Last week here, I wrote about persecution in the United States. We’ve been blessed here in this country to have the freedom of religion. We can do most of everything the Lord wants us to do without the government stopping us. I didn’t say, without persecution, because we are persecuted by this world and very often by religious people. The workplace isn’t friendly to biblical Christianity, especially in California. Reports are made of certain companies that won’t allow for expressions of biblical truth. There is a hostility there, but also in the education institutions, not welcoming the teaching of the truth. More than anything, there is the threat of something worse to come. We as believers want to continue to live the Christian life with strength. What I’m addressing is why Paul taught Timothy to pray what he did in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, “1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” Believers aren’t praying for kings and those in authority, so that they will have easy lives within a sphere of a population that thinks and behaves just like them. They want to be left alone to practice like they believe. There is room for prayer on this. If we value living the Christian life like the Bible teaches, then we want to do it without the interference of those in authority that might be disposed to hinder or stop us.

Persecution of Christianity in America

by admin ~ August 3rd, 2019

In our country within the Western world, devotees of immorality persecute the church, advocates of homosexuality persecute the church, and those who promote godless freedom to sin hate biblical Christianity. They hate scripture itself. They hate those who hold to God’s Word. This persecution comes from individuals, it comes from groups, and it comes from governments. Our own government has engaged in persecuting Christians who do not acknowledge certain immoral behaviors. That persecution will continue. It is new to us in America. We’ve prided ourselves on our religious freedom, our openness, and our willingness to accept any religion. We’ve felt that America was established on a biblical morality, but biblical truth has become very unpopular. Unbelievers now have defined morality in their own terms, and anything that speaks against that is to be rejected, which means the Bible. The satanic kingdom is exercising freedoms in America and in the West that it once didn’t have the opportunity. I can’t predict the future. Time will reveal how far this anti-biblical persecution will go, what they will do to the church, what they will do to believers, and what the price will be that we will pay. But it is to be expected.

The Knowledge of God Obscured

by admin ~ July 20th, 2019

In John 4:22, the Lord Jesus said to a Samaritan woman at a well, speaking of the Samaritans, “Ye worship ye know not what.” They did not know who God was, so they did not know whom they were worshiping. If we do not know who God is, then we will not know how to worship Him either. As Jesus spoke to that woman, His intention was that she would know God, so as to worship Him in spirit and in truth. God wants us to know Him, which is why He communicated Himself to us through general and special revelation. As seen in these Samaritans, the threat of wrong thinking about God exists. The general revelation of God, which is general in it audience, that is, everybody gets it, includes the law of God written in men’s hearts (cf. Rom 2:15). Man is made in the image of God (Gen 1:26), so every person in part starts with a default true understanding of the one and only God. It is not a sufficient enough comprehension of God to save a man, but it is adequate to render him without excuse for not being saved (Rom 1:18-20). Because of the curse of sin, that knowledge of God will become obscured and distorted without sustenance from the Word of God, His special revelation.

The Future of Our Country

by admin ~ July 12th, 2019

We celebrated July 4th, Independence Day, this last week. Following along with that theme this Sunday after it, I want to draw your attention to another tension that exists related to the future of our country. On one hand, we see a steep decline in the way of fast arriving destruction. Maybe it will or it won’t occur, but it doesn’t look good. According to biblical prophecy, when the world is close to the end, it will have become worse and worse. We can bewail the ending of the country because of evil control over academia, the media, Hollywood, newspapers, and also the push toward socialism, abortion, loss of freedom, same sex marriage, and the popularity of all this. We would be right. On the other hand, a second pole if you will, we think of deliverance, the preaching of the gospel, transformation, and positive change. I’m writing here to say that we cannot have the former be our theme, but rather the latter. We might be pessimistic about the future of the country, but we don’t have to act that way in our own life. The nation will for sure not make it, if the people who have the solution just give up. We can’t and shouldn’t do that. It’s not right. It’s not what Jesus did. People can be rescued and that’s our life, bringing people with us, for God’s glory.

Christian Founding of the Nation

by admin ~ July 6th, 2019

This week is Independence Day on Thursday and this last week, Monday, my wife and I went to Plymouth, Massachusetts to visit “Plimouth Plantation,” the second successful English colony in America. Most of the founders of this colony today we know as the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims strongly believed that the Church of England, and the Catholic Church, had strayed beyond Christ’s teachings, and established religious rituals, and church hierarchies, that went against the teachings of the Bible. Many of the Pilgrims were members of a Puritan sect known as the Separatists. They believed that membership in the Church of England violated the biblical precepts for true Christians, and they had to break away and form independent congregations that adhered more strictly to divine requirements. The first American history book was written by the governor of the Plymouth colony, William Bradford, covering the years 1620 to 1657. In his history, Bradford drew deep parallels between everyday life and the events of the Bible. The Pilgrims were not Baptists. They practiced infant sprinkling. However, America had religious foundings that centered upon the Bible. I remind you of this as we look forward to July 4th.