Bethel Baptist Church ~ El Sobrante, CA

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.

Doing What He Said

by admin ~ September 2nd, 2018

“He didn’t do what I said.” There are various degrees of problem with someone not doing what someone said. The biggest problem is if this is God saying this. Disobedience to what God said is as serious as any of the degrees of problem. I think it isn’t taken as seriously as other ones, but it is the worst of all. It means you are disobeying scripture. Next, it’s a child, and “I” is a parent, mother or father. We would first want to assume that a parent is telling his child something that is scriptural. If he didn’t do an unscriptural command or request, this is different. If it is a child still at home, this is serious. If it is one outside of the home, it is still serious, but not quite as serious. Are your children doing what you tell them? At home, it must occur. Outside of the home, it should be expected, but it won’t have the same repercussions as if he were still in the home, but it is still serious. If this is an employer speaking about his employee, this is serious, again as long as it is a scriptural. When the boss says to do something, the employee should do it. I would understand, however, if what the boss said could be cataclysmic for the company, because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Sometimes decisions are made in the hierarchy of authority, that are best for the whole company, but not best for a particular authority. Let’s say this is a wife, making this statement. Does a husband have to do what his wife says? No. He can do it, but he isn’t required to do it. He’s not under her authority. He might still do it, because this is a loving thing to do.

Free Speech and Christianity in the U. S.

by admin ~ August 24th, 2018

The first amendment of the Constitution of the United States, which is also the first of what is called, “the Bill of Rights,” limits the power of the government by guaranteeing individuals, several freedoms, including the freedom of speech. The Supreme Court of United States has interpreted this right in several rulings, giving precedent to its meaning. For instance, in our country we can’t yell “fire” in a crowded building. Defamation, libel and slander, are not protected by that right. It’s similar to Christian liberty in that way, because liberty doesn’t give us freedom to sin among several other actions. We seem to be losing the freedom of speech. Overall, we have the freedom, but more and more speech is being categorized as “hate speech,” some of which overlaps with actual biblical speech, preaching against certain sins. You could be prosecuted for hate speech, because it is said to be actually injurious to people. If I tried to “convert” a “homosexual,” that could be interpreted as causing personal harm, as if I had assualted him. If I tweeted opposition to the homosexual actions as sin, that could be said to be hate speech that is deserving of censor. A social network company, which would allow for all sorts of offensive kind of speech and behavior, might censor Christian speech that it deems “hate speech.” Christian speech, even said in a loving way, would be prohibited. I think we have lost these rights. What does this mean? We are not required to to social network. We can offer the gospel still to homosexuals, but it is limiting biblical speech.

Witnesses

by admin ~ August 18th, 2018

I went to a website to see rules for witnesses, since we are witnesses. Not all of them apply to witnessing for the Lord, such as “answer the question,” because we’re not answering questions as witnesses for Christ. First, tell the truth. We can tell the truth and we should. We need to know the truth, but tell it, which leads to the second rule. Do not guess. If you do not know something or cannot recall a fact, “I do not recall” is the correct answer. Third, be only as specific as your memory allows. Be certain it is clear to everyone that you are paraphrasing, when you are paraphrasing. Be certain it is clear to everyone that you are quoting, when you are quoting. Four, if you are interrupted, let the person who interrupted you finish the interruption. Firmly but courteously state that you have not finished your answer to the previous question. Then, finish your answer to the previous question. Five, never express anger. Overall, take your solemn oath to testify to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth seriously. Six, think before you speak. Wait five full seconds before you begin. It also gives you time to think about your answer. Seven, if there is an objection, listen to it very carefully. You only know what you have seen or heard. Eight, do not testify about what you think or feel, unless you are specifically asked “what you thought” or “how you felt.” These are all rules. There were more, but these are some of what are expected for a witness in a court of all. If we are going to witness, we have similar responsibilities.

Living Like a Son

by admin ~ August 11th, 2018

God loves us. He wants us. We do not have to work to earn His favor. We could not, but we also need not. All the work is done by God Himself by sending His Son. And nothing can separate us from His love, because we are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. What I’m describing is the difference most seen between Christianity, true Christianity, and false religion, even of the false Christianity variety. It is not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to His mercy He has saved us. It is by grace we are saved through faith and not of ourselves. His grace is greater than all our sin. We love Him because He first loved us. “God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:12). “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him” (1 John 2:5). God’s love is perfected by means of our obedience. We love Him by keeping His commandments, which can be reduced to two, love God and love our neighbor, the two tables of the law. You love God by keeping what He said. You love your neighbor by keeping what He said as it relates to the neighbor. You do these, as Paul said in Galatians, not as a slave but as a son – “thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” There is a difference between serving God as a slave and serving Him as a son. We are servants of Jesus Christ, but we live for Him as children of God, as His heirs. We receive the nature of children by means of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of adoption into His family.

Meaning to Our Existence

by admin ~ August 4th, 2018

Before he died, Alexander Solzhenitsyn warned, “The West is on the verge of collapse created by its own hands. Between good and evil, there is an irreconcilable contradiction. One cannot build one’s own national life without regard for this distinction. We, the oppressed people of Russia, watch with anguish the tragic enfeeblement of Europe. We offer you the experience of our own suffering. We would like you to accept it without having to pay the monstrous price of death and slavery that we have paid.” What Solzhenitsyn warned was what Neitzche predicted with his so-called “death of God” a century before: “What I relate is the history of the next two centuries. I describe what is coming, what can no longer come differently: the advent of nihilism. . . . For some time now, our whole European culture has been moving as toward a catastrophe, with a tortured tension that is growing from decade to decade: restlessly, violently, headlong, like a river that wants to reach the end, that no longer reflects, that is afraid to reflect.” For the Marxists, the state was god and for the Nazis, everything was blood and soil. However, without God there is no meaning to our existence. Francis Schaeffer wrote, “Our society now functions with no fixed ethics,” and “a small group of people decide arbitrarily what, from their viewpoint, is for the good of society at that precise moment and they make it law.” The world of the 21st century with increasing alienation from God easily could surpass the twentieth century in tyranny, ungodliness, and violence.

Continuationism and Cessationism

by admin ~ July 28th, 2018

Perhaps you’ve heard me use the terminology, continuationism and cessationism. In a brief manner, I want to help you understand. This is theological terminology that applies to other terms, “sign gifts.” The New Testament lists gifts of the Holy Spirit in two categories that relate to their purpose, one being gifts of edification and the other being gifts of authentication, confirmation, or accreditation. Those for confirmation, the latter category, are called sign gifts. They are signs that something or someone is of God, so they would signify that someone was an apostle, that a prophecy had been fulfilled, that what someone was saying was from God, or that God has changed the era and the institution through which He was working. When you look at scripture, the sign gifts are amazing or wondrous on a level that mark them as of God, so divine or supernatural. They would also say that God actually is in operation on earth, in events, or in history. A continuationist says these sign gifts are still occurring. A cessationist says they have ceased in the first century, that God isn’t giving those gifts to anyone at this time, because He has no purpose to do so. If someone still had a sign gift today, how would you know? It would have to fit everything that you see in scripture about sign gifts. You would judge the sign gifts by scripture. Nothing occurring today comes even close to fulfilling a sign gift. Those saying they have them are either deceived or lying themselves. We don’t have them today, because we don’t need them.