Bethel Baptist Church ~ El Sobrante, CA

Love Thinketh No Evil

by admin ~ January 18th, 2020

In 1 Corinthians 13:5, Paul describes love with this one description among fourteen others, “[Love] thinketh no evil.” That statement in the King James Version doesn’t mean, don’t have evil thoughts. As some of you know, it translates the Greek word, logizomai, which as a transliteration into the English, means, “log.” Love will not log in the mind of that person an evil that has been done or said to him. Love logs not. Just as a thought experiment, let’s add some words. Love logs not, unless not enough remorse is shown. Love logs not, except when it is useful to log, such as when it can be used to manipulate the other person. A lot of corollary practical teaching goes along with “logging not.” To log not, someone cannot hold grudges, cannot let the sun go down upon his wrath, must be forbearing, can turn the other cheek, must reconcile, and must be forgiving. When I think someone has offended me, I’ve got to decide to give up on the offense, to let it go. It’s a release. I commit myself to different treatment of that person, to give the message that it’s behind, whatever it is that I think someone has done to me. Saved people can do that. Saved people are required to do that. God does that. He’s the example. Jesus is the model. Love is of God. God works toward “logging not.” Love is fruit of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables “logging not.” When the believer goes ahead and “logs,” the Holy Spirit reproves of that. It is an unfruitful work of darkness that should be reproved.

As Far As They Can Go

by admin ~ January 11th, 2020

One description I have given to making disciples in and through the church is “taking people where they are at and then bringing them as far as they can go.” Everyone is at a certain point, and it might not be good where certain people are at. No one is exactly where he wants to be, because he won’t be there until glorification. Because everyone of us is, as Paul wrote it in Philippians 3:12, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect,” then we have room for progress and growth in the Christian life. Whatever practical position you find yourself, you can go further and be better. God has other things for you to do. You haven’t arrived. There can be a tendency in the Christian life to reach a kind of plateau or complacency. If we have reached this point, then God may do some things in your life for you to get out of that condition. It’s not good for you. Sometimes the worst time for growth is the greatest time in your life, when things are going about as well as they should. You need to learn, you need to change, and you need to do more, but you have settled into something that is with no sight of learning, changing, and doing more. If you are not saved, you need to be saved. Maybe you’re even not saved, and you aren’t listening – you need to start listening. If you are a new Christian, you have a lot of growth to do. If you are somewhere in the middle or even in a very advanced position of Christian growth, you still have a long, long ways to go. Are we ready for this? Do we want this?

Love Is Not a Feeling

by admin ~ January 3rd, 2020

Love is not a feeling. This relates to one of the most consequential matters, a right understanding of love. Love will produce feelings and the right ones. However, of itself, it isn’t a feeling. Feelings that are called love are actually lust. Love is very good, and lust is bad. Scripture teaches abstaining from lust. We sin when we are drawn away of our lusts. Love is fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). The Holy Spirit, God Himself, produces actual love in a person. That limits what it could be, because only believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and a lot of unbelievers have feelings that they think are and also call love. “Love is of God” (1 John 4:7). Only those who dwell in God dwell in love (1 John 4:16). You reject what scripture says about love at your own peril. In 1 Corinthians 16:22, Paul writes, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” The last two words together mean, “when the Lord comes, under the curse of God.” Love is a decision, a commitment, that brings with it a particular practice. Jesus said, and something like it several times, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). The Apostle John writes later, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments” (1 John 5:2). We don’t love other people by sinning. We don’t love them by accepting or tolerating their sinning. We cannot love someone else, when we are not obeying God. “Love rejoiceth in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6).

Celebrating Christmas

by admin ~ December 28th, 2019

The celebration of Christmas doesn’t need to be preserved, because it isn’t required by scripture. We’ve got to believe in Christ and we’ve got to believe in His birth and celebrate His incarnation, but we don’t have to celebrate the holiday. The holiday can much more easily be crafted into something humanistic and worldly, conformable to lust, and it is, as anyone who reads this knows. This bleeds over into a profanity of Jesus Himself through the commercialization and sentimentality. How much separation is required to preserve the necessary one, Jesus Himself and the worship of Him, from the unnecessary one, the season or holiday? I’m writing to say that it should be considered. Something positive can be done to start. Put positive effort into filling your life up with Jesus Christ in all the ways that can be done, pushing out the negative or at least distraction. Whenever the biblical can take the forefront, choose for that to occur. Read scripture, pray, talk about Jesus to others, and leave out some of the vain pursuits. They might “make you happy,” but they are not the fuel for joy, the deep seated satisfaction that comes from God Himself. Being in church on Sunday and mid-week is one of them. Meditate on how your next year could result in greater work for God and personal Christian growth. With freer time, someone could do something for the Lord as an act of worship, giving to Him. The wise men brought gifts to Jesus. They treated Him like royalty, bowing to Him as Lord.

When Someone Likes Christmas

by admin ~ December 21st, 2019

There is a tradition for Christians to celebrate Christmas. It’s not a difficult thing to do, because almost everyone likes Christmas. The world even likes Christmas. It’s like an ink blot of a rorschach test, where you can turn Christmas into almost anything that you want. Almost no one will be surprised to find out you like Christmas and do things for it. Talking about Christmas is not the same thing as talking about Jesus in the way a Christian should. It could be, but very often it isn’t. Young people still will often say, they just love Christmas. They love the decorations, the music, the opening of the gifts. Do they love Jesus Himself? I would say in many cases, not so much. They don’t evangelize a single soul. They don’t exegete the real Christmas story to anyone, exalting in the salvation aspects of the story. So I’m asking and challenging, do you really care about Christ as Christmas? Does Christ mean something to you? What would Jesus have you do in honor of His birth? These are the common or normal acts of obedience that Jesus would want from you. These are the gifts to bring to Him. A believer in Jesus Christ would obey scripture: forgiveness, acts of love to others, hospitality, compassion, evangelism, praise, and prayer. Perhaps you could practice reconciliation with someone because Jesus was born to reconcile us to God. The elevation of love for and obedience to Christ is to put the Christ of Christmas in His proper perspective. What does Christmas mean if it doesn’t mean this?

The Liberty for Christmas

by admin ~ December 14th, 2019

The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 14:5-6, “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.” These two verses relate to something Paul said previously in the chapter in verse 1: “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” Certain issues are doubtful. Scripture doesn’t say they are wrong and doesn’t say they are right. Scripture is silent. Perhaps scriptural principles apply, but it is doubtful. Nothing is plain enough to make a clear application. Romans 14:5-6 talk about the celebration of days being one of these issues of doubtful disputation. Christmas is a celebration of days, esteeming a particular day above another. The purpose is to celebrate Christ’s birth, when we don’t know what the day is that Jesus was born. The bigger principle according to scripture is not having division in the church over something that is a non-scriptural issue. It’s permissible to celebrate Christ’s birth. We don’t know what the day is, but it’s even a good thing to celebrate it. Jesus’ birth is a definite teaching of scripture. It is something to be thankful for and to praise God for. Mary herself does this in Luke 1:46-55 in scripture. We would be following a scriptural example. It’s not just that, but the doctrine of the incarnation of God, that fulfills prophecy and brings salvation to mankind.

Elements and Circumstances of Worship

by admin ~ December 7th, 2019

The history of worship according to the New Testament in the church involves elements of worship and circumstances of worship. These two relate to what has been called the Regulative Principle of Worship, which in the Westminster Confession of Faith reads: “The light of nature shows that there is a God, who has lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and does good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.” The elements of worship are the “what” of worship – the parts that are fixed according to Scripture. The New Testament shows the elements that are permitted and commanded by Scripture. The circumstances are the “how” of worship, the best way to worship God within the structure provided by the elements. They are not directly prescribed in scripture, so there is freedom within them according to circumstances. Like every other area of life, this freedom must be exercised cautiously and in a way consistent with scripture. Elements of worship are such as prayer, singing, offering, as we have listed in our bulletin. A circumstance is a choice between passing the plate or a box.

Good, but Less than the Gospel

by admin ~ November 23rd, 2019

When I explain the gospel, and as I teach it to our church, I start with ‘we’re all sinners, none of are good, we deserve a penalty, so we deserve Hell.’ That’s very unpopular, not the most unpopular but perhaps second or third most of what I say. After I’m done with that, I say, “Christ died for us.” I ask, “Do you believe Christ died for you?” Almost everyone believes in that already. I ask, but people immediately say, yes, no argument almost ever. Am I done then? Is that all necessary? Some treat the gospel like it ends there, “Christ died for us, died for you.” It’s necessary. They need to know that and believe it. Even if they say they believe it, it doesn’t mean they do, because they might still believe salvation also comes by means of good works, and it doesn’t. At one of his “Sunday services” that are making the news, covered by the media, Kanye West, who professes to have just been saved, says that salvation is as simple as “Christ died for us.” He says that there is too much made of the Roman Catholics and what they do, of the Mormons and their extra books, when it’s just as simple as Christ died for us. Is that true? Many, many think that. It’s not enough to believe Christ died for us. He died for us, and that needs to be believed, but it isn’t even the main thing. As John said, believe that Jesus is the Christ. The Christ is more at the center of the message, which “Savior” is a subset. He isn’t the Christ, if He isn’t the Savior, but it also means He is God, the Second Person in the Trinity, and Lord.

Sanctify

by admin ~ November 16th, 2019

The first time “sanctify” occurs in scripture is in Genesis 2:3, which says, “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” It is also the first time the Hebrew word that translates “sanctified” occurs. You can read that God sanctifies the seventh day. This means God sets it apart. He makes a unique day, unlike other days. It isn’t a common day, because God sanctified it. Just because God sets it apart, it is set apart, very much like when He created light. He says, let there be light, and there is light. In the beginning, God set apart this special day. He wanted it to be separate. How does a day separate? It is treated separately, which is a physical treatment, what is done with it. It is separate in imagination, thought about differently, in a serious way. It is used different, unique activities, some that would be ordinarily done then not to be done. All of it is about God. You’ve got six days, which can be used for deeds and reasons that are more common. You can work and you can enjoy. Time needs to be designated for remembering, meditating, adoring, praising, exalting God, the things of God. God deserves the entire week. He deserves everything. But He has given us things. He says, set apart some of it as the point that it does all belong to Me. And then the rest of scripture goes on to talk about the doctrine of sanctification. God our Creator and our Savior wants this practice of setting apart. Let’s do that.

Sin of Sodom

by admin ~ November 2nd, 2019

If someone asked you what was the reason for God destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, most people would say, “Homosexuality,” where the term Sodomy came from. Ezekiel 16:49 explains, “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” The iniquity of Sodom was “pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness.” One could even trace that to the problem of Lot, who pitched his tent toward Sodom, and it destroyed his family. Homosexuality isn’t in the explanation God gives. Perhaps Ezekiel provides the root, idleness, to the fruit, homosexuality. I want to talk about idleness. I don’t think it’s just laying around and not doing anything, a kind of couch potato. It could be that. However, idleness can be a lack of involvement in Christian work, where a single, couple, or whole family moves from one vacation or recreation type of activity to the next, but doesn’t have time to do work for the Lord. Opportunity to serve God in the church comes up, and it’s a no. Opportunity for recreation or fun and it’s a “yes.” The work for the Lord seems like a “stress,” to be avoided, but never the fun time, hours spent doing that. This is the idleness that can produce the desire for worldly things that turns people away from the Lord. God uses those already participating and He will use those more if they remain available to be used, even though they’re already busy.