Bethel Baptist Church ~ El Sobrante, CA

Rules Versus Relationship?

by admin ~ December 8th, 2018

Rules Versus Relationship. When people say these three words, as if the two, rules and relationship, contrast with one another, we should understand that they don’t. You can’t have a relationship without rules. Rules are a basis for a relationship as seen in the model for relationship, the relationship between the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. It isn’t just rules. It is relationship, it is true. It’s about the relationship, but it isn’t in contradiction to rules. By the way, it’s never been about rules for me or our church. Contrasting the thought should be vexing, that a life is just about keeping rules. No proof exists that we have ever thought that and we have preached against it. Just because we stress a rule or defend a rule, doesn’t mean that we think that the rules are merely about keeping rules. The relationship between the Father and the Son, the model relationship, is one in which the Son kept all the rules. He pleased the Father. Not keeping the rules would break the relationship. You won’t have a relationship if you murder the person or steal from the person. These are two obvious examples. Actual love relates to concrete terms, which would for us include repentance and forgiveness. Operating within rules concedes there is meaning in life and greater than ourselves. It harms or breaks a relationship to offend someone, which is to break a rule. An offense of God is breaking a rule of God. A rule, the noun, is about rule, the verb. God rules over us and that is our relationship to Him, and He does that through rules. We please Him by keeping them.

Faith Of Our Fathers

by admin ~ November 30th, 2018

When considering what to write here this week, “faith of our fathers” came to mind, so I decided to look into the song. I think my interest related to a patriarchal society and the attack on fatherhood by liberals or postmoderns, calling the patriarchal society only a social construct, that is, an environmental development, not instituted by God. However, what I learned about the hymn was that it was a Roman Catholic one written in 1849 by Frederick William Faber in memory of Roman Catholic martyrs from the period of Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth of England. Faber wrote an Irish version with seven stanzas and England with four. The Irish continued to sing their version at their hurling matches all the way until the 1960s. The tune to which it has been sung is different in the UK than it is in the United States. The one in the U.S. is called “St. Catherine.” Protestant churches have adapted the song for their hymnals with the third verse removing Roman Catholic references to Mary. It is also a very common song sung in Seventh Day Adventism. If one judges the hymn itself, not knowing the history behind it, the words and tune are good. They are acceptable. The original message was the persecution of Roman Catholicism by another state church, the Anglican church. It is understandable why Henry was so angry with Roman Catholicism. It was a rare moment in history where Roman Catholics suffered the same fate that they had subjected true believers for large portions of their own history.

Thanksgiving

by admin ~ November 20th, 2018

Hebrew, the language of Israel and the Old Testament, has no distinct verbiage of “thanks” or “gratitude.” The verb that is translated, “thank,” is yadah, which is also translated, “praise.” The first use was in Genesis 29:35 by Leah, “I will yadah Yahweh,” when she bore her son, Judah. Yadah is first translated “thanks” in 2 Samuel 22:50. Occurring earlier is the English word “thanksgiving,” first in Leviticus 7:12, which is a word that denotes a sacrifice of thanks or praise, that is, a thank offering. This word, translated thanksgiving, is more in the nature of what today we think as thanks. Before there was a day called “thanksgiving,” the word existed in the English Bible. The Old Testament concept, which one would assume is consistent with the New Testament idea, because God is the same God, is that thanks is an offering, a giving. Someone offers God thanks. Thanks is an offering. I think it is like the following. God has done everything necessary for life and goodness for men. Every good thing comes from God. God then does many specific things at a particular point in time, which give an occasion for specific thanks. An offering is given to God that confesses or acknowledges that God did the good thing, gave the good thing, so that He gets the credit for the provision. It is purposeful, distinct, a pause in time, a stepping back, and a denial of self. God takes the forefront in the intellect, emotion, and will of the person or group.

Nationalism

by admin ~ November 17th, 2018

Today is November 11, 2018, which happens to be the 100th anniversary of the completion of World War 1, also known as the Great War. Guns sounded at 11 on 11/11 to end it. This summer my wife and daughters and I were touched to visit the United States Cemetery in Normandy, France and walk among the tombstones of those who died there in the invasion of Europe. That was a different war, but it was a moving experience to be where that second event occurred not long after the first one. In Europe this week, commemorating and memorializing, President Macron of France said, “Nationalism is rising across Europe, the nationalism that demands the closing of frontiers, which preaches rejection of the other. It is playing on fears, everywhere. Europe is increasingly fractured.” He is using the anniversary for political purposes. I ask, what does Macron expect? Even if France itself doesn’t represent a scriptural way of life. Scripture shows stable and cohesive national identities are the will of God. This is one means God has used to preserve the truth and His way of living in this world. There is no unifying factor in the whole world and there never will be until the Antichrist takes it by force, and then more preferably, Jesus rules over the entire world according to His will. Our soldiers fought for our nation and for principles that Americans had in common, which were worth dying for. We can be thankful for them and those men and what privileges we still hold dear, that allow us to meet in freedom to worship God today as a church.

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.