Genesis 1:1

Ge 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Years ago I met Roger for an introductory Bible study. As I almost always do, the study started in Genesis 1:1. To my surprise, immediately after reading Genesis 1:1, Roger exclaimed, “Stop right there. Are you telling me that we are not talking about one of many God’s but of the God!!”

When I affirmed that was the case, Roger announced that he could not go further that day but need to think about the God who created all things for a few days.

Eventually, Roger continue the study and eventually placed His faith in Jesus Christ, the creator of the universe.

Although I was startled by Roger, his response is exactly why we begin in Genesis when introducing the Bible to not-yet-believers. We want to tell the story of the history of God and His creation, and, by doing so, provide an overview of the biblical worldview.

It is my belief that the Bible offers the only consistent reasonable understanding of why things are the way they are. Furthermore, since we are made in the image of God as rational beings who are made to think logically, we are able to comprehend the truthfulness of the Scripture. By presenting the biblical worldview, we offer our not-yet-Christian Bible study participants a consistent understanding of life, which then gives them the opportunity to exercise faith in Christ.

 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update

Walking Humbly with God: What Peaceful Joy

Judges 13: 1 Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, so that the Lord gave them into the hands of the Philistines forty years. 2 There was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had borne no children. 3 Then the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son. 4 Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. 5 “For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.

Judges 13: 6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, “A man of God came to me and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. And I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name. 7 But he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and now you shall not drink wine or strong drink nor eat any unclean thing, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’ ”

Judges 13: 8 Then Manoah entreated the Lord and said, “O Lord, please let the man of God whom You have sent come to us again that he may teach us what to do for the boy who is to be born.” 9 God listened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again to the woman as she was sitting in the field, but Manoah her husband was not with her. 10 So the woman ran quickly and told her husband, “Behold, the man who came the other day has appeared to me.” 11 Then Manoah arose and followed his wife, and when he came to the man he said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to the woman?” And he said, “I am.” 12 Manoah said, “Now when your words come to pass, what shall be the boy’s mode of life and his vocation?”

Judges 13: 13 So the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Let the woman pay attention to all that I said. 14 “She should not eat anything that comes from the vine nor drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing; let her observe all that I commanded.”

It is interesting to me that the total sum of God’s commands to Manoah’s wife was to raise her son without cutting his hair or allowing him to drink from the vine or strong drink nor allowing him to eat anything unclean. Really not very demanding. The obedience to this simple life style was all that God asked. The woman, who is not named, could live a simple life of obedience enjoying each day before the Lord.

Micah 6: 8 He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah, also seems to proclaim the same humble instruction. Just live a good life before the eyes of God. Nothing complicated, no expertise needed, just humbly and peacefully walk with God. It reminds that God walked in the garden of Eden in the cool of the day seeking fellowship with Adam and Eve.

Paul basically confirms the simplicity of Godly living.

Live Humbly before God:

Romans 12: 1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Understand what God expects of you:

Romans 12: 3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

Then do it:

Romans 12:4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

I am glad I don’t need to be a superstar to live the life God has for me. I just need to be faithful to His calling.

 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update

Forgiven?

Habibi, you and I have often talked about the love of God. This is an amazing attribute of God which helps us understand much about who God is. However, love is only one of many attributes (characteristics) of God. In order to more fully understand God, it is important to know all the Scripture says about who God is. If we focus on one characteristic of God and neglect another aspect of God, we will have an incomplete or unbalanced view of God. An inadequate understanding of God hinders our lives and hurts our ability to help others.

One way of balancing our understanding of the love of God with other characteristics of God is to think carefully about the cross. In the cross of Christ the love of God is clearly seen.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, so that anyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

It was the love of God that sent Jesus to die for us, and, yet, why did He need to die? If God is only love, there would be no need for Jesus to die. His love would simply be, and there would be no need for forgiveness because only love would exist. Actually, this seems like a strange kind of existence.

But, we know there is more to the story. God is love, but He is more than love. He is also holy, and righteous, and He is personal, which means He desires a relationship with His made-in-His-image creatures (mankind). God is also Truth, which implies that He cannot lie, and what He promises must happen. These are just a few of God’s attributes, but enough to help teach an important truth.

As I said above, in the cross of Christ, we see a perfectly balanced picture of who God is. He is holy, so the sins of the world (our sins) needed to be judged on the cross. God is love, so our sins could also be forgiven on the cross.

God explained to Adam and Eve, if they sinned against Him, they would die physically and spiritually. The day Eve and Adam eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil their bodies began to decay and their relationship with God was severed–they were banished from the garden and death came to all men. God, who is Truth, did what He said He would do. His righteousness and truthfulness demanded it. So God’s love offered Adam and Eve an eternal unbroken love relationship with Him, but His holiness, righteousness and truthfulness demanded Adam and Eve die. In the end, the love of God triumphs in the cross of Christ, where the just demands of God’s holiness and the yearning desire of His love are both fulfilled.

An important point is this. Our righteous, truthful God also explained to us how a person is forgiven their sin. The Bible both defines sin, and teaches the solution to the penalty for sin. God, who cannot lie, teaches us that a person must understand that they have sinned against God, and trust in God’s provision for their salvation. So God’s love, mercy, justice and holiness sent Jesus to the cross. Those same characteristics of God demand that each individual believe in Jesus, turning away from their life without God. God, who cannot lie, will not allow anyone to be with Him who has not trusted (believed) in Jesus as their Savior. As John 3:36 so clearly communicates,

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

John 3:36

 Notice, if a person refuses to believe in the Jesus, the wrath of God abides upon him.

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:12

It is the name of Jesus that must be believed in order for salvation to occur.

“For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.’
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”

Romans 10:11-15

Habibi, This is why missionaries live their lives sharing the good news of Christ death and resurrection–we know it is absolutely necessary for people to hear and believe before they die. All of us wish this were not so. All of us wish that all people in the end would simplify be forgiven, but God, who cannot lie, has told us the Truth. If people die with out Christ, they spend eternity without God. Our Savior died to prevent eternal separation from God. God has reached out to all of mankind offering His only Son to save us from our sin.

God has done His part. Now, it is time for you and me to do our part. It is our responsibility to share the good news of salvation. As a missionary once said, “The Good News is only Good News if it reaches the lost in time.”

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire

Revelation 20:11-15

Habibi, We must stand between people and the lake of fire.

Boston and Beyond

2019-08-14

The International Baptist Church an orthodox Christian association

When the IBC an OCA became a church, it was my idea that we would be called The Orthodox Baptist Church. However, since we are a Baptist church, more reasonable heads prevailed, but I was still able to retain the word orthodox in the subtitle:-) 

I like the word orthodox because, in my mind, it ties us into that part of the historical church which has always retained its orthodoxy (its correct understanding and presentation of Christianity). The word orthodox also communicates our desire to maintain the Faith once delivered–that we are serious about what we believe. 

The IBC is built upon that orthodox foundation, and that is why we are determined to minister to the whole community of Boston: rich and poor, sophisticated and simple-minded, up and outer, down and outer, both the ethnic, as well as the international diversity of Boston. 

Dream with us about what this would mean. What a testimony it would be to a world at war with itself, to observe an international church, where there is righteousness, peace and brotherly love built upon the Word of God and the saving power of the blood of Christ. How powerful that testimony would be as its witness expands to other lands by means of globalized cites. This is a dream which is worth becoming fellow laborers. Strive together with us in prayer. 

This last Sunday, after an exciting summer of ministry, the IBC an OCA, had the smallest attendance in a long time (just a handful of people). If one wasn’t paying attention, one would think we are far from the realization of our dream. But it isn’t true. We have made giant measurable steps in the right direction. If we stay focused on who we are, on what we believe, and on our God-given goal, (reaching the world in Boston in order to reach the world outside of Boston), we will be fine, victorious.

Please pray for each member of our church family and ministry team. Pray that we will have eyes of faith to see what God is doing. Please pray that we will continue to be consistent in our ministry vision and philosophy of ministry–that we will stay the course. Please pray, that we will be wisely diligent as we pursue joining our Savior in His work in the city. Pray that relationships will become Bible studies, and those in the Bible studies will become Christians. Pray that we have total victory. 


Prayer Calendar


Daily: Discipleship Studies 
Tuesday Mornings: Evangelistic Bible Study GoToMeeting.
Tuesday Evenings: Every other week, GoToMeeting Prayer for Boston and Beyond. 
Wednesdays: Deb and I meet with Pastor Toby and Susan Stevens for prayer and encouragement. 
Friday Nights: Evangelistic study in our home.
August 18: Sunday evening our ministry team will travel to Rochester, NH to minister in Community Baptist Church.
September 13: Mid-Autumn Chinese Festival celebrated by the IBC. We meet many new friends at these
October 18-23: Missionary Conference at Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary. 

Support Information


For more information concerning our monthly support needs, you can go to Bill and Deb’s Website for Supporters and click on the Financial Information tab.

The Authority of the Bible

Habibi, We have had many Bible studies. By studying the Bible together, we discover how to live life. This is part of my assignment to you, as you said, “To help me know how to live.” I take this task extremely seriously and as a great honor. God has given me the responsibility to help you live life well. In fact, Deb and I are making many fundamental changes in our lives in order to help you live yours. We do this because God and His love has directed us to do so.

I would have no hope of helping you or anyone else, if it were not for the Word of God. I really have very little to say of value that does not come from the Bible. So it is absolutely essential for both of us to recognize that the teaching of the Bible has authority over us. It is not a matter of my opinion or your opinion, but rather, What does God say about this?

Forty four years ago, I left a selfish life leading to death and doom, and became a Christian. Because I did so, instead of death and doom, I have life in abundance. Every day is filled with deep joy and meaning. My relationship with Deb, and our five children are not perfect, but they are extremely good and healthful to me. I am absolutely convinced that this has happened in my life because of my obedience to God and His Word–the Bible.

What I have, I hope to give to you. If I am able to do so, it will be because together we sit under the authority of the Word of God, not leaning on our own understanding, rather leaning on Jesus and His Word. So let’s study the authority of God’s Word over our lives.

Why I believe the Bible

The Bible Answers the Deep Questions of Life

My Habibi, I have thought long and hard about why I trust the Bible. I have looked back at my life and asked the question, Why do I believe in Christianity? and Why do I trust the Bible as God’s Word?

With me, it began as a boy, when looking up at the starry sky, asking the basic questions of life; What is life about?, Where did all things come from?, What is beyond the stars?, Who am I?, What is the meaning of all this? Although, I knew nothing of God, my prayer was God, if you are there help me find you. He did help me find Him.

It was in my third of college, when the searchings of my heart had reached I critical point, when God began to answer my questions. The answers began to come in the introductory material of a para-phrase version of the Bible–The Living Bible by Ken Taylor.

Basic questions were asked like, “Are you Lonely?” followed by the Scripture reference which showed one how not to be lonely. Habibi, honestly I did not understand the Scriptural answers given, but the idea intrigued me that, in the Bible, I had a book which would answer the deep questions of my life.

The first way in which the Bible proved reliable to me is that it revealed to me my greatest problem. The Bible informed me that I am a sinner in need of forgiveness. My basic problem was a lonely heart alienated from God. This information, I immediately recognized in my heart, to be true. Now after forty four years of serious daily study of the Bible, and walking with God through all those years, I can honestly say that the Bible does answer the deep questions of life. Those answers have satisfied my intellectual curiosity, emotional needs, and relational deficiencies. More importantly, I have learned how to have my sins forgiven, be reconciled to God, and live a productive, meaningful life.

God, through the Bible, has radically altered the trajectory of my life and actually given me life by answering the deep questions of life. In another lesson, we will look at those answers together, but for today I just wanted to explain why I trust the Bible and except it as the authority of my life.

The Bible Claims to Be God’s Word

Having come to trust the Bible, I found additional reasons to believe it as my authoritative guidebook for living–It claims to be God’s Word.

2 Timothy 3: 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

  1. In the context of 2 Timothy, “All Scripture” refers to the Bible.
  2. The Word “inspired” literally means, “God breathed.” the Bible claims to be the result of God’s creative breath. Just like the world came into existence by the creative activity of God so the Bible did as well.
  3. All Scripture is all that is needed to be quipped for all good things.

2 Peter 1: 16-21

In the context of this passage, Peter is exhorting Christians to continue to grow in the Truth of God’s Word. In 2 Peter 1:16-17, Peter explains why He has the authority to do so.

Peter’s Experience gives him Authority to Speak

2 Peter 1: 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

The Word of God is More Authoritative than Peter’s Experience

2 Peter 1: 19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update

1 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:19 are the classic proof texts to show that the Bible claims to be authoritative, but they are only two of hundreds of instances where the Bible itself claims to be the Word of God.

In fact, warnings are given not to add or take away from the Word of God

Revelation 22: 18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

There are many other facts which have helped me trust the Bible, as the authority over my life: 1. fulfilled prophecy, 2) archeological findings3) the cohesiveness of the Bible (66 books, 1,600 years, 39 authors, one cohesive story). All of these have helped me recognize that the Bible is the Word of God and the authority of my life, but most important for me is that God continues to answer my questions, and satisfy my life with His leading from the Bible.

What Should we do if we Disagree with the Bible?

Proverbs 3: 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.

Habibi

We cannot be loyal to friends, if we are not loyal to God and His Word. God’s Word tells us what it means to be loyal. Jesus is our Habibi first of all. He is working to save us in every way. If we love our friends, we will be loyal to Jesus. Jesus will tell us how to be loyal to one another.

 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update


One More Time: Who will Support the Missionary?

Khaled, In my devotions yesterday morning there were several more passages about missionary giving. They were so good, I could not resist doing one more devotional on the subject.

In chapter nine of 1 Corinthians, Paul explains his single hearted devotion for making Christ known. In this particular case, he did not take money deserved him, so that the gospel message would not be hindered. In the following verse Paul explains his right to receive wages and why he did not accept them in this situation.

1 Corinthians 9:1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2 If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

The Apostle Paul is insisting that the Christians at Corinth should listen to him.

1 Corinthians 9:3 My defense to those who examine me is this: 4 Do we not have a right to eat and drink? 5 Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?

There were some in the Corinthian church who were doubting Paul’s right to be paid for his work as an apostle.

Common Sense Proves Missionaries Should be Paid

1 Corinthians 9:6 Or do only Barnabas and I not have a right to refrain from working? 7 Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?

The Bible Commands that Missionaries be Paid

1 Corinthians 9:8 I am not speaking these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? 10 Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops.

Logic Concludes Missionaries Should be Paid

1 Corinthians 9:11 If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share the right over you, do we not more?

Somethings are more Important than Money

1 Corinthians 9:12b Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.

Paul is like me, he had some reasons why he did not want use the money from the church.

God’s servants are to live by their ministry

1 Corinthians 9:13 Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? 14 So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.

When to Refuse Wages for Ministry

1 Corinthians 9:15 But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one.

We must Preach the Gospel

1 Corinthians 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. 17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. 18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

Our Ultimate Motivation

1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.

 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update.

Habibi, If Paul did not accept money from the Corinthians, How did he live?

1 Corinthians 11:8 I robbed other churches by taking wages from them to serve you; 9 and when I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be stopped in the regions of Achaia.

 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update

The Shofar: Time to Worship the Lord

A Call to Worship

Matthew 28:1 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. 2 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3 And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6 He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. 7 Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”

 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update.

Since Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week, we attend church on the first day of the week.

Since Jesus died for us while we were still His enemy, it seems reasonable to worship our Lord by attending church on Sunday. Even if we are unhappy with church life, we ought to follow the example of Jesus, loving the church and giving ourselves for the church. Let us attend church to bless others, rather than expecting others to bless us. By doing so, we please our Savior.

Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead!”

#7 Why Missionaries Speak in Churches: Review/Application

1) Become Fellow Workers for The Truth

3John 8 Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.

2) Pay Wages, Double if Deserved

1Timothy 5:18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”

3) The Giver: Give alone if Necessary The One Given To: Seek the welfare of the one giving.

Philippians 4:15 You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone;

Philippians 4:17 Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.

4) Give the First Part of Your Income

Proverbs 3:9 Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce

5) Let Love for God, the Gospel, and for God’s Servants be your Guide.

John 21:17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.

6) Bring Your Desire to Completion

2 Corinthians 8:10-11 I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it. But now finish doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability.

 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update