Bethel Baptist Church ~ El Sobrante, CA

The Cross

by admin ~ April 20th, 2019

People wear crosses. They are a piece of decoration in the way of earrings and necklaces and pins. Sometimes they are featured on letterhead and logos. A cross was a mode of execution, an extreme, painful invention of the Romans. They meant both to torture and kill someone using this means. Why would anyone want to wear something that was used for killing? We know. Jesus died on the cross. People wear the cross, not to celebrate a Roman way of killing people. They wear the cross because of its place in the plan of salvation or the gospel. The English word “cross” occurs 28 times in the King James Version. Paul called the gospel, “the preaching of the cross” (1 Corinthians 1:18). In Galatians 6:14, Paul wrote, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Jesus did everything that needed to be done for salvation at the cross. Man deserves a penalty. The penalty is death. Jesus died for us on the cross. I sometimes use it as a conversation piece. People wear and see crosses. What do you think they mean? A lot of people died by Roman crucifixion, but the cross is talking about one of them. Jesus. Let’s talk about that.

The Faith of God’s Chosen People

by admin ~ April 12th, 2019

Why are so many Jewish people, who we agree from scripture are God’s chosen people, so very often secular, atheist, socialist, or leftists? Furthermore, Jewish people are very often the most antagonistic toward those who love them the most in the United States and probably the world, evangelical Christians, who take the Bible literally. There is a lot of history behind this, and I see two primary reasons, not in this order. First, Jews are and have been a persecuted minority with a desire to emancipate themselves from the hatred of society. If everyone is treated as equal, then they would be treated as equal. Fairness to everyone would be fairness to them, even if it requires redistribution of wealth, taking from them to give it to others. This is combined with a messianic tradition promising an ideal future that translates into utopian society. So, that’s one. Second, the state churches of Roman Catholicism and then Protestant Germany were virulently antisemitic because of their eschatology, seeing the state church as a replacement for Israel as the fulfillment of God’s kingdom. Jews have reacted to both of those, the first one to them as a positive and the second as a negative. Both are seriously wrong. The answer still, of course, is the gospel.

God’s Law

by admin ~ April 6th, 2019

There is an absolute basis for truth, law, morals, and right and wrong and that is the law of the eternally sovereign God. God laid down His absolute, eternal, abiding law and made it known to humanity. And as God’s own Son, Jesus declared unequivocally that He did not come to teach or practice anything contrary to that law even in the slightest way, but to uphold it entirely. He said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matthew 5:17). Jesus had a high regard for the law at the same time as teaching completely contrary to the traditions. His teachings did not lower scriptural standards but upheld them in every way. He not only elevated God’s standard to the height it belonged, but also lived at that humanly impossible level. Jesus Christ came to accomplish every aspect and every dimension of the divinely authored Word. We know how hard it is for us to maintain holy attitudes and behaviors, so we can marvel at the Lord Jesus Christ, who endured every temptation to maintain His perfect purity on earth. As important as any consequence of what Jesus said in Matthew 5:17 is that such supernatural righteousness has been imputed to us through justification.

Church: Assembly

by admin ~ March 23rd, 2019

The Greek ekklesia, translated “church,” is used 118 times in the New Testament. It was a word already in usage in the Greek language  before the New Testament, and it meant, “assembly.” A church is an “assembly.” Another term given to the church, that is a metaphor, by the Apostle Paul is “body.” “Body” and “assembly” are synonyms. Very often in government an assembly is a body and a body is an assembly, used interchangeably. The church is the “body of Christ.” The body is one, and by that, it doesn’t mean there is only one body, but that each body is unified like a human body, all the parts working together. It’s not a body if it is not one, which is part of what “body” itself means. For the body to function as one, all the parts need to be working together. The parts are “members,” and this where the concept of church membership comes from. The goal of the body is to manifest Christ, Who is the Head of the Body. No one person can do that alone. He must function as a complement to all the members. The key is obedience, which is to function in obedience to the Word of God within the church. The church accomplishes the will of God in the world in this age in which we live. You are a part of it in the church.

Male Leadership

by admin ~ March 16th, 2019

We need men. Things aren’t looking good out there – government, church, and family. Male leadership is the design of God, not a social construct. Social constructionism is “the idea that social institutions and knowledge are created by actors within the system, rather than having any inherent truth on their own.” The church is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (2 Tim 3:15) and the “Word is truth” (John 17:17), which teaches patriarchy. The many problems are not because men are in charge. In general, men don’t take charge today. Corrupt male leadership and a lack of male leadership is the problem. The former is not a reason to desert the latter. Very often, they are afraid to lead. They don’t want to be judged. If we are in such desperate condition with male leadership that we need female leadership, then we are in the worst shape. Throughout the Old Testament, there was no woman with an ongoing prophetic ministry, a priest, and no queen ever ruled Israel. No woman wrote an Old Testament (or New Testament) book. Isaiah 3:12 indicates that God allowed women to rule as part of His judgment on the sinning nation. If men do bad, that doesn’t mean women will do better. We’ve got to solve male leadership.

Attacks on the Authority of Scripture

by admin ~ March 9th, 2019

One of the common attacks on Christianity by unbelievers of various stripes is a refrain with a couple of different related ideas. One, the Bible was only written by men. Two, we don’t know what was originally written – it’s been corrupted. Both of these intend to remove the authority of the Word of God. You don’t need to do what it says, because then it is not divine and it is uncertain. I have never heard proof for either error. People just say them, likely heard others say them. The Bible was written by men, because God’s Word came by inspiration, the means God used for revealing His Word. God can use whatever He wants, how He wants. The same people often say that mutations, time, and chance made everything on earth – no problem there for them. God said He would preserve scripture and He did preserve it. Over 5,800 complete or fragmented New Testament Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin, and 9,300 in other ancient languages like Syriac, Slavic, Gothic, Ethiopic, Coptic, and Armenian of the New Testament are preserved, nine times more than any ancient book. They agree. They have been found in many, many places, and in those different locations, and they are the same. We have the Bible as given to us by God through men.

Faith

by admin ~ March 2nd, 2019

The two words, “by faith,” or three, “by the faith,” are found 40 times in the Bible.  “Through faith” or “through the faith” are found another 17 times.  Sometimes the same truth is expressed with the verb form, “believe,” “believed,” “believest,” “believeth,” and “believing.”  Those are found over 300 times.  11 times, we read, “thy faith,” one example being, “thy faith hath made thee whole” (Matthew 9:22). 9 times are parts of sentences with the words, “faith is.”  In none of these above categories is 1 John 5:4, where John writes, “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”  In Acts 5:14, saved people, Christians, are called the term, “believers.”  What fulfills someone in this life and brings eternal life, the blessings of God now and through all eternity, are received, accessed, experienced, or acquired by faith.  Faith is God’s threshold through we receive what God wants for us.  It isn’t discovery, learning, research, development, or progress.  God has revealed enough to everyone so that they might know, and now they need to believe.  Faith is what pleases Him.  This is just how God has designed it.  He hasn’t made it a different way than faith.  By faith comes His grace, and His grace is sufficient for everything.

Valentine

by admin ~ February 23rd, 2019

This week having been Valentine’s brings the thought of “love,” because that seems to be the operative word for that day. It’s actually the Feast of St. Valentine, honoring a Roman Catholic “saint,” named Valentinus. The story is that he was imprisoned for performing weddings of Christian soldiers forbidden to marry by pagan Rome and then before he was executed, legend says that he healed his jailer’s blind daughter, Julia, to which he had signed a note then to her, “Your Valentine.” The Feast of St. Valentine was then declared by Pope Gelasius I to be celebrated on February 14. That day of the year became associated with romance when Geoffrey Chaucer, the English poet, wrote in 1382: “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate” – written to honor the wedding of King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia. Chaucer’s poem evinces an already established tradition. None of this Valentine stuff is love. I don’t want to completely discredit it. It has its place, but without biblical love, it is mere sentimentalism. Feelings matter, but through the toughness, tragedy, and struggle of life, sacrificial giving of what’s best for the other person is love. And it’s fruit of the Holy Spirit. Love is of God.

God’s Creation Shows His Power

by admin ~ February 16th, 2019

A revivalistic song of my youth, that we wouldn’t use here now, had words that still cross my mind. I’m right now thinking of one line from the song. “Creation shows the power of God, His glory all around.” There it is. The song was titled, “It Took a Miracle.” It wasn’t good theology, but the one line has my attention right now again. Creation does show the power of God, which is why attack continues on the Genesis account of creation, which gives glory to God for everything that we see, all the immensity and wonders of it. Other views cover up the power of God and turn it into something that occurred in a merely naturalistic manner or just an accident. The steadfast defiance against the biblical record and even science itself for creation is part of the plan of Satan, who is not as powerful as God. Satan couldn’t create anything, but he still tries to take the glory away from God in everything. The second line is, His glory all around. Glory is the manifestation of God. God’s glory is seen through His creation. Creation testifies of God. Everyone sees the nature of God in creation so that everyone is without excuse. This is how they know God, know Him enough that they could receive that knowledge, and God would in turn give them more.

Tough Love

by admin ~ February 9th, 2019

I’m sure you’ve heard terminology like “tough love,” that isn’t in the Bible, but it gives an impression. You love someone, so you do something that is tough, because it will help him, even if it hurts. Tough love may not be given credit as love, even though it is love. Love is what it is and sometimes requires toughness. There actually are not varieties of love though. Some might call “tough” and “love” a tension, even though there isn’t really any tension between the two. The Lord’s Table brings the blessings of com-munion, a necessity for the church. It gets there through tough activities, which include examination, confession, and reconciliation. As our church comes to the Lord’s Table, the toughness is found in quiet contemplation, to think about what’s been wrong. We’ve got to be honest with our relationships. Are we holding grudges? Are we not forgiving? Communion requires communion. This is the requirement behind the blessing of unity – blessed are they who dwell together in unity. It’s not ignoring whatever the problem is because we just don’t want to deal with it, because that hurts. Jesus died so we could be reconciled to God. He suffered the greatest. No one suffered more for unity. He brought the tough to love.