Bethel Baptist Church ~ El Sobrante, CA

What You Don’t Know, Let Go

by admin ~ October 11th, 2019

If you don’t know, then let it go. Scripture is plain. It is not intended to be mysterious. There are mysteries, but what scripture says is not a mystery, which is why Paul said, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). A child knows the holy scriptures, which are the Old Testament, and include Leviticus. He can know. Scripture was gives to us to know and to keep, so it must be understood. When you go to judge, be sure of what you are judging. Don’t assume. The point for judging anyway is to help, not condemn. It’s not to “catch” someone having done something wrong. If there is something wrong, and you know it, can attach scripture to it, then the point is to help the person, like Galatians says, restore and bear burdens. When that occurs, usually the approach is entreaty, and required with an older person. If a person won’t listen, then he might become an unruly person, and he must be warned. Warning sometimes must occur, but even that is so that someone won’t be hurt or worse, destroyed, by whatever it is. He may not react in the right way and the situation could change. Furthermore, remove the beam from the eye, like Jesus required in Matthew 7. This is why Paul in Galatians writes, “he that is a spiritual,” as a prerequisite. What is the point if there is nothing wrong? It’s not good. This is where Paul’s teaching on forbearance, forgiveness, not wrath or malice.

Casting Care

by admin ~ October 4th, 2019

In 1 Peter 5:7, Peter says, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” “Care” is a word that means “thing of concern.” The idea is concern that a good thing would occur and a bad thing would be avoided. Sometimes a bad thing has already occurred and we’re looking for a solution or a bad thing looks like it surely will happen or at least get worse. If someone is “care free,” it means he has nothing to be concerned about, as nothing looks like it is going to be bad. Or “care free” might just mean that someone has learned to trust God, that all things work together for God that love God. It’s difficult to live that way. Usually people have cares: their spouse, their children, their health, their finances, their parents, their job. The verb is found in 1 Corinthians 9:9 in the question, “Doth God take care for oxen?” The answer is yes, of course. But the point is a lesser to greater one. If God takes care for oxen, the lesser, then He would take care for you, the greater. A related word to the Greek word in 1 Peter 5:7, “care,” is one in 2 Corinthians 11:28, “Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” Sometimes we might use the word, stress. The concern could take on a psychological or physiological strain, wearing one out. As many have said, the mind is a powerful thing. What we think can affect the body. So what do we do? We must remember God. We must remember His work. We think of His promises. This is what David did in the Psalms.

Prerequisite to Bearing Burdens

by admin ~ September 21st, 2019

Galatians 6:1 speaks of restoring someone and then bearing the burden, the assumption that the one restored needs help to get moving forward in the right way, carried along by the restorer. You can’t really carry someone else’s burden unless you can walk right yourself. Another implication is that someone who can bear someone else’s burden can carry his own. Everyone should have the goal of living the Christian life himself, that is, being saved from sin, redeemed, converted, and then living an obedient life. That requires discipline itself. However, the Christian life also requires reproducing yourself, adding others to the kingdom or building up the church with new people. This requires first evangelism and then training someone until he’s strong enough to live on his own his own Christian life. The two are related as Galatians 6 intimates. No burden bearing will occur until someone can walk himself. The previous chapter in Galatians says, walk in the Spirit not in the flesh, and that is doing it yourself first. Bearing burdens is helping someone else along. Both are commanded. Is there anything related to not being able to obey the second, restore and bear, to the first, walk in the Spirit? Sure. People don’t get beyond themselves to the extent that they never help someone else get there. They might talk about it, but it never happens. They have no one they can say, that’s a person that I have helped get there. To start, it’s got to be a goal, because you understand it as a goal.

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.