Bethel Baptist Church ~ El Sobrante, CA

Word of Truth

by admin ~ November 11th, 2018

“Word of truth,” those three words, are found five times in the Bible, so they are a meaningful phrase. The tenor of the words as one sees the primary usage is one of spiritual warfare, using the Word of God to do so. The Bible is powerful in accomplishing supernatural work. It is warfare in that it is a spiritual battle that has more at stake than any physical battle ever, because it is eternal. The first usage is Old Testament, Psalm 119:43, and the rest New Testament, starting with 2 Corinthians 6:7, where the ministry of Paul is described and is said to be “By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” The other usages are identical. Ephesians 1:13, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed.” 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,, rightly dividing the word of truth.” James 1:18, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” Every New Testament usage is the same. The battle is for the soul. Satan, using the world system and the flesh, wants to bring down man, God’s creation, in combat against God, down to Hell with Him. He uses false doctrine in people’s minds, so the battle is there. This is also where it is won. The Word is scripture and the truth is what is used to win this in people’s minds. Our Word of Truth Conference is fulfilling this goal.

The Gift of Prophecy

by admin ~ November 3rd, 2018

I was asked this week about the gift of prophecy that we see in 1 Corinthians 13:8: “Prophecies, they shall fail.” And then in v. 9, “we prophesy in part.” This is a gift in 1 Corinthians 12 and is regulated in 1 Corinthians 14. Do people still prophesy? BDAG, the foremost lexicon, from looking at allits usages, says the Greek word in 1 Corinthians 13:8 is “act of interpreting divine will or purpose.” I’ve explained in a simple way it is either foretelling or forthtelling God’s revelation. We think of prophesy as predicting future events, and it is, but that’s not all it is. The word is understood that way in a popular way, but it isn’t a scriptural understanding of the word. People use it that way because the prophets did make predictions. That’s not all they did. Mainly they were forthtelling, not foretelling. A prophet gives God’s revelation. There is no new revelation today, but someone is still prophesying when he forthtells the Word of God, which is still revelation, even if it isn’t new. Prophets tell people what God said. The gift of prophecy is still for today, even though new revelation has ceased. Prophecy is a gift of edification. It isn’t anything miraculous. Sign gifts have ceased. The office of the prophet has ended, but prophesying still continues. The prophet would get his message directly from God. Today prophesying is the exposition of scripture. Someone declares what God says. As a gift of edification, it is telling what is God’s will. It must be divine. It isn’t speculative or an opinion. It is definitively what God wants someone to believe and practice.

Shrinking the Group

by admin ~ October 27th, 2018

As is the pattern throughout the Book of Judges, the Israelites again turned away from God after 40 years of peace brought by Deborah’s victory. God chose Gideon to free the people of Israel and to condemn their idolatry. Among other things, the Angel of the Lord came to Gideon to recruit him to defeat the Midianities. In Judges 7, Gideon sent out messengers to gather together men from the tribes of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, as well as his own tribe of Manasseh, and God informed him that the men he had gathered were too many. He didn’t want the Israelites to claim the victory as their own instead of acknowledging that God had saved them. God first instructed Gideon to send home those men who were afraid. 10,000 remained. God told Gideon they were still too many and instructed him to bring them to the water—they either laid down to lap like a dog or knelt down to drink putting their hands to their mouth. The number of those who knelt was 300. God would use them to defeat the Midianites. I’m using this as an example of God’s calling of His saints. Not everyone makes it through—only those who believe in Jesus Christ, which is a vast minority. You really do have to believe, which is not something akin to intellectual assent. It involves the will. Believing in Him means He has charge of you. You know what that looks like. Faith is commitment. That’s how it reads in the New Testament. God’s people are committed people. They follow Him and they want to do it. They love God with their heart, their soul, and their might.

Understanding the Will of God

by admin ~ October 20th, 2018

There are three concepts of the will of God that everyone needs to consider. The first is the sovereign will of God. God allows or causes everything, so everything that occurs is His sovereign will. He could have stopped it, so He had some purpose for allowing it to continue, or He caused it. This all relates to His ultimate plan, accomplishing that because He is sovereign. A second concept is the moral will of God, which is essentially what God wants from men as He communicated in His Word, the Bible. God wants men to know, understand, and obey scripture. That is His will, which is the moral will. Someone is out of the will of God, when he doesn’t submit to scripture, its principles or its precepts, in deed, word, attitude, or motive. This one is mainly what we talk about when we say, “the will of God.” In the model prayer, when we pray that God’s will would be done on earth like it is in heaven, we are talking about God’s moral will. When 2 Peter 3:9 says that God is not willing that anyone should perish, that is His moral will. The last concept is the individual will of God, which is what God desires for individuals. This is who you’re going to marry, where perhaps go to college, which job to get, where you’re going to live. This is the application of biblical principles and Christian liberty. God gives parameters in His Word for choices that we make. A good way to view this is, wisdom. We pray for wisdom, which is the right application of knowledge, making the best decisions for our individual lives. We might have liberty to do something, but we make a better choice than that.

A Protective Bubble

by admin ~ October 13th, 2018

Preparing for a Nazi invasion of England, families built bomb shelters to live through the attack. During the Cold War, people in the United States built underground bunkers to survive a nuclear bomb. True Christians, genuine believers, live in a protective bubble of God’s grace, accepted in the Beloved. With the flurry of all that is around us today, everything is safe in Jesus Christ. We have a shelter, we have our bunker. We have a secure position. No one can pluck us out of the hand of either the Father or the Son. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. We are kept by the power of God. With whatever happens around us, we have our way through to the other side. He has gone to prepare a place for us and He will come again and receive us unto Himself. In a practical way, none of our labor is in vain in the Lord. That doesn’t mean that we will see a lot of people saved through our effort or our preaching, but God’s purpose will be fulfilled with whatever happens. We also know that we will conform to the image of the Son of God. We know that when we see Him we will be like Him, but even before that He will be conformed by God into Jesus Christ until that work is consummated in our ultimate glorification. We may not see earthly success, but it is temporal anyway and will be forgotten. The key to joy is to live in the realm or reality of the protective bubble. We think about it, live like it is true, and we have joy. We have joy knowing that God has guaranteed our future.

Roles God Designed

by admin ~ October 6th, 2018

The roles of men and women are a very basic in scripture. God created male and female, He created them different, they have different designs, and He detailed for them distinct roles all over scripture. When men and women operate outside of God’s created order and design and distinctions, many things go awry. Problems manifest themselves everywhere, very serious ones, that result in death and destruction. When people do not fulfill those roles, they are disobeying God. Continuous disobedience of God, sin, is a manifestation of unbelief. I’m saying that this relates to this life and this world, but also to eternity. Not fulfilling God-given roles reveals a rebellious heart against God. That should not be devalued. It is vital. If God’s creation and these roles are not recognized and then followed, society breaks down. The biggest reason the roles are perverted is the curse of sin. The sinful nature results in conflict, primarily seen in the man abdicating his role and the woman wanting the man’s role. A woman under the curse of sin desires headship. She’s not designed for it. God doesn’t intend it, but she still wants it. It’s not natural to her, but she will still try to have it or get it. She’s not meant to lead men, but she still fights for it in a way that she can. Men then cooperate with it, sometimes as a means, they think, of getting favor with women. Men do not want to be disliked by women. They want a relationship with a woman. Very often today, men abdicate headship to take something from women they don’t think they can get without doing so.

Distraction

by admin ~ September 29th, 2018

I want us to consider the word “distraction.” Don’t be distracted as you do. You’ve perhaps heard the little phrase, “take your eye off the ball,” which is used in numerous sports that use a ball. Not much is at stake in a sport, if you take your eye off the ball, but it is about not being distracted. We found a little note, written by our daughter Julia for her friends, that had a list of important information, the first of which she numbered, stay focus. “Stay focus” relates to distraction. A large part of Satan’s plan is to use the world system for distraction. He keeps you distracted with temporal things, what are almost meaningless, turning them into more important things than eternal things. It is a kind of faithlessness, not believing what God says in His Word about what is important. Instead, we go according to our feelings or just whatever gets our attention. Not being distracted from the eternal must be a purposeful, determined disposition. That is a matter of faith. Do we believe God or not? Do we believe God’s Word of not? We’ve got to ask ourselves those questions. If we do believe God, then we choose not to be distracted. What are the distractions? Today there are more than ever, which explains why there is great apostasy in the world and growing in the United States. Churches are getting further and further from the point and purpose. Today it is television, social media, the internet, sports, recreation, and family. We could justify some of these, which make them more dangerous. Distraction could be idolatry, because the distraction becomes more important than God.

It’s Going to Be Hard

by admin ~ September 22nd, 2018

What good does it do to tell someone that something is going to be easy, when it’s going to be hard? I know before I came to California, I was given the impression it was going to be easy. I heard I would succeed and that people would be hungering for what I would give them. This was about the furthest from the truth. Some people are told something before they receive Christ to characterize what their life will be like after they receive Him. Churches then become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, attempting to make the Christian life easy for everyone. Rather than stand for the truth and preach the gospel, churches compromise or water down the truth, so that people won’t have to stand for the truth, as well as turn preaching into inviting someone to a fun event that they might want to attend. When unsaved folks get to church, the church makes it as comfortable as possible and turns almost every aspect of worship into something that will be fun. Rather than give someone the wrong impression that being a Christian is easy, tell him the truth. Tell him it will be hard, but Christianity is the truth, so that God will give him what he needs to make his way through. Someone who decides about Christianity isn’t deciding about something easy. He’s deciding about something hard. Some of the lie that is told is enough of a lie that someone isn’t even receiving the truth of Christianity, the message falling short of a saving gospel. The gospel is good news, but it is still the truth, truth that will sustain someone into the future as he endures hardship.

Unity in the Church

by admin ~ September 15th, 2018

Unity in the church has been perverted in definition to allow for tolerance of false doctrine and practice. Unity has become getting along, despite differences. This is not the unity in scripture. They had the same doctrine and practice and not just “major doctrines.” The standard was scripture, everything God said. With this new unity, the false one, the better person, the elevated person, is the person who tolerates the most error. He sees something wrong and he embraces it. Not disagreeing or agreeing to disagree is the highest value in the false new way. This is not biblical unity, but it is what men are left with, and it has become accepted in churches.

I understand that not everyone will agree on everything all the time. However, that is the standard, and anything less should be rejected. For certain, where the Bible doesn’t speak either explicitly or implicitly, there is liberty. Discord shouldn’t come from areas where someone has liberty. However, where God speaks, there needs to be same mind. The Bible itself is plain. It can be understood, even by children. Acceptance of anything less than the truth is not in accordance with God. He is the standard. Not only has He told us what He wants to believe and do, but He’s given us the grace and strength to do it. Let us rather help one another and bring each together according to the Word of God. This is the sanctification that Jesus prayed for in John 17. Jesus Himself was the perfect example by always submitting to the Father and then praying for us to be sanctified in the same way.

Tension in Scripture

by admin ~ September 8th, 2018

Sometimes I talk about tension in scripture. It isn’t tension to God, only for us. We don’t know everything like God does. It complements the idea of the paradox, an example being, when I am weak, then am I strong, or he that humbles himself shall be exalted but he that exalts himself shall be abased. The tension of which I’m thinking is represented by two theological words: quietism and pietism. I’m going to explain them rather than define them. Quietism is a dependence on God that rests in Him. You can’t save anyone, so you have to wait for their response. You can’t cause salvation to happen. Many spiritual accomplishments are like this. It is God who is doing the work. So why should we do anything? What we do is under the category of pietism. God is going to save who He is going to save, but we need to be a part of the process, that is, evangelism. We should be preaching the gospel. Another tension is between God’s transcendence and His condescension. This shows up in how we operate or function in a church service. We center on God, so we want to be sober and solemn, as scripture prescribes. At the same time, we want to show friendliness and kindness, show that we really do care. We try to relate with people some in a service, even though the main point of the time together is to honor God. The tenor of the service should be in line with His nature. At the same time, I will be lighthearted with the church in a way to relate. The relationship aspect is God’s condescension. His sacredness and separateness is His transcendence.