Bethel Baptist Church ~ El Sobrante, CA

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.


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.


by admin ~ October 26th, 2019

The word “know” and all its forms occur 1,500 or so times in the Bible. “Know” assumes reality. In the Sermon the Mount, Jesus in Matthew 6:3 says, “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.” Of all that someone can see in this verse is the rudimentary idea that the left hand could know what the right hand does. He is instructing the left hand not to know, because it can know. With the understanding of “know” is certainty. The Bible assumes we can or do know things. In the same sermon, Jesus said in Matthew 7:11, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Jesus says that even evil people know something. They know how to give good gifts to their children. A few verses later, Jesus says, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” So what is it? Can we know or can we not know? Jesus said, Ye shall know.” Bible believers should assume knowledge. Much of what the Bible says we can know, the world denies. Now even Christians deny knowledge. It is very much like a child who doesn’t do what he is supposed to do. He says, he doesn’t know, if he doesn’t want to be accountable for not doing what he should have done or what he was told to do. If no one can know, then no one is responsible; hence, everyone is free to do what he wants. A foundational truth of the Bible is that God created man to know. He can. Scripture says so.

Taking Strength from Doctrine of Scripture

by admin ~ October 19th, 2019

I take strength from certain doctrines of scripture about our church, which all relate to God. When Jesus said, “my church” in Matthew 16:18, He was saying, “His assembly” (church translates ekklesia, which means, “assembly”). At that point, there was just one in number. However, there is just one, His church, as opposed to anything else. It must be His church, that is, it must follow Jesus Christ, must have Him as its Head. He says, “the gate of hell shall not prevail against it.” As long as it is His church, the gates of he will not prevail against it.” If we are His church, then nothing can stop our church, except for what would contribute towards us not being His church. That brings me to other theological truths, that also relate to Matthew 16:18-19. When Jesus said that “upon this rock I will build my church,” the grammar speaks of Peter’s confession in the previous verses. He confesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and Jesus confirms that flesh and blood didn’t reveal that, but Heaven did. Peter was genuinely saved with a true Christian profession that was from above. A church that is built upon a true gospel won’t be moved off of its mooring, set adrift toward destruction. The people of that assembly have God Himself indwelling them, so they will characteristically do what is right, which John addresses all through his gospel and through his first epistle. Peter speaks of the truly saved person, adding to His faith. These traits bring me strength and comfort.

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..