Not for Ladies - Just for Men
Back to Bethel
by Pastor Mike Files
Mike Files is the pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Arkansas, and president of Bethel Baptist College.
“And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south. And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land. ... And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.” (Genesis 12:4-13:4)
Bethel here represents the place of blessings, the place of God’s presence. Egypt represents sin and the world. A Christian that goes down into the world or Egypt is going down into sin. Abraham didn’t fit in Egypt. God didn’t call him to go to Egypt. God called him to be separated from Egypt, separated from the world.
God has called His people, His church, not to mingle with Egypt, or the world, or sin. We are to be separated. We should not fit into the world. Just as Bethel was a place of blessing, Egypt was a place of cursing. When a child of God enters and participates in the world’s activity, he has stepped outside of God’s blessing and made himself vulnerable to the curse of sin.
Many wonderful events took place at Bethel, but if you’ll recall, Jeroboam chose to build an idol there. That apostasy led God to destroy Bethel. God never hesitates to cast aside that which no longer is true to Him.
The Bible says, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20) This is the Great Commission. This is what every church should be involved in. The church is commanded to take the Gospel message to all nations. If we fail to be committed to the task, the purpose, the mission that He has given the local church, can we sit back and expect His blessings and His power and His presence in our churches? The answer to that is absolutely not. As a matter of fact, we might as well expect the cursings and the chastening of God when we decide to go down into Egypt, mingle with the world, and not be doing that which God has called us to do.
The Bible says, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) The Lord Jesus Christ, before He died, made sure that He gave direct, clear, marching orders to His church that He had established. His last words to His church were, “I want you to be busy about the mission. I want you to be busy about the purpose. I want you to be busy about propagating the Gospel to this lost and dying world.” Jesus died for sinners. Sinners are all over the world. God says that we’re to be busy witnessing all over the United States, all over Arkansas, all over Jacksonville, all over Mexico, all over Africa, all over Europe, all over the world. That’s His last words to the church.
Let’s see if they took this command seriously. “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” (Acts 5:42) Daily they were busy carrying out the commission that God had given them. They took seriously the words of Jesus Christ. They stayed focused on that which God had commanded them to do.
The Bible says, “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” (Acts 8:4) They were busy about carrying the Word of God to those that needed to be saved. Where do people go when they die if they’re not saved? They go to Hell, don’t they? That’s Bible. It’s very important that we make sure to carry on the commandment that God gave to the early church and that is to preach to the world the Lord Jesus Christ, the Gospel of their salvation. The early church was on the ball. They were busy about carrying out God’s purpose.
I will make reference to the seven churches of Asia. These were local New Testament, visible churches mentioned in the book of Revelation. We find that the early church in Acts was on the ball, but the church of Laodicea was not He’s telling them to wake up, to hustle, to get things straightened out. “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Revelation 3:14-19)
Here’s a church where the folks claim that they are born again Christians, just like we do. Here’s a church that possibly had a building much like ours. Here’s a church that met on the first day of the week to bring their Bible, to worship the Lord. Here’s a church that claimed to be doing the same thing we’re doing, yet God says, “You better repent. You’re no longer hot. You’re just lukewarm, and you’re making me sick at my stomach.” If that church could get cold and indifferent toward God, and God say, “I’m going to chasten you and rebuke you,” then we need to keep our eyes open because we, too, can grow cold and indifferent and not fulfill the purpose of God in our church.
You and I need to make sure that we keep that home fire burning for the Lord Jesus Christ. We better beware. I’m glad that we’re able to support missionaries all over the world, but I’m here to tell you that there are churches all across America that aren’t able to take on any other missionaries and haven’t been able to take on any new missionaries for quite some time because their missions giving is not growing, but just going down and down. I’m tired of hearing about churches that can’t take on a missionary, that are not sending the missions’ check out regularly to the missionaries that they committed to support because churches are not fulfilling the Great Commission.
My coach used to say when I was in football, “Hustle, hustle, get on the ball, Files. Get out there. Hustle. Get on that ball.” Be zealous for you are doing. God is trying to say to the churches that we need to just get on the ball and put a little hustle in our Christian service. There are far too many Laodicean church members today. You ought to take a good long look just to see where you’re at today. “I can’t do it, Preacher.” Yes, you can. We’re to be busy and on the ball about fulfilling God’s purpose for His church, not only winning the lost here, but reaching those around the world by planting churches.
Here’s a little church health test that came from Brother Hyles. Just some ways to check the health of a church. A healthy New Testament church is a place where preaching is prominent. The Holy Bible is proclaimed as the God-inspired and inerrant Word in such a way that people can apply it to their lives. May God’s church always keep preaching a priority. In a healthy church, the members are committed. They strive to live obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
You’ve heard this tale before. Satan called a world wide convention. In his opening address to his evil angels he said, “We can’t keep the Christians from going to church. We can’t keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. We can’t even keep them from forming an intimate abiding relationship experience in Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken. So let them go to church. Let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time so they can’t gain that experience in Jesus Christ. This is what I want you to do, demons. Distract them from getting hold of their Saviour and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day.”
“How shall we do this?” shouted the angels.
“Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life. Invent innumerable schemes to occupy their minds,” he answered. “Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow, borrow, borrow. Persuade the wives to go to work for long hours and husbands to work six or seven days a week, 10-14 hours a day so they can afford their lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their family fragments, soon their home will offer no haven from the pressures of work.”
“Over stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still small voice. Entice them to play the radio or CD player whenever they drive. To keep the TV, the VCR, the CD’s, their PC’s going constantly in their homes. See to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-Christian music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ. Fill the coffee table with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, sweepstakes, mail order catalogs, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering free products and services, and false hopes.”
“Even in their recreation let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted, disquieted, and unprepared for the coming week. Don’t let them go out in nature and reflect on God’s wonders. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts, and movies instead. When they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotions. Let them be involved in visitation instead of soulwinning, but crowd their lives with so many good causes that they have no time to seek power from Christ. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause.” It was quite a convention in the end. The evil angels went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get busy, busy, busy, and rush here and rush there. Has the devil been successful at his scheme? You be the judge. How about this definition of busy? Have you considered the acrostic BUSY -- Being Under Satan’s Yoke. Are you busy?
The members of a healthy church are committed to God. Members are committed to knowing Him, following Him, seeking Him. They strive to live obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leadership.
Isn’t it funny how a ten dollar bill looks so big when you take it to church, but so small when you take it to the grocery market? Funny how long our hour of serving God looks and how short 60 minutes seem when we spend it playing golf, fishing, or playing games.
Funny how a long a couple of hours spent at church can be, but how short they are when watching a movie. You folks that go out of here griping about the preaching being too long and you sit in front of a stinking TV for hours and hours are hypocritical. I never hear you calling ABC and complaining to them. It’s funny to me how men and women that can’t sit in church for a couple hours because of their back can sit in a boat all day long fishing. That one wasn’t in here. I’ll give it to you free of charge. Ain’t it funny to me that people can do what they want to do if they want to do it bad enough, if they’re committed?
Funny how we get thrilled when a football game goes into overtime, but we complain when a sermon is longer than the ‘regular time.’ Who in the world put a regular time on preaching? What would you have done if you had been sitting there when Paul was preaching till midnight and the guy fell asleep and fell out the window? One thing about it, he was committed, all the way to the ground.
Funny how laborious it is to read a chapter in the Bible, and how easy it is to read two or three hundred pages of the best selling novel. Funny how easily we believe what newspapers say, but question and doubt what the Bible says. Funny how people scramble to get a front seat at any sports game, but scramble to get the back seat at the church service. Funny how we cannot fit a revival meeting into our schedule with our yearly planner, but we can schedule for other events at a moment’s notice. Funny how we need two or three weeks to fit a church event into our schedule, but can adjust it for a social event at the last minute. Funny how much difficulty some have learning the simple Gospel message well enough to tell others, but how simple it is for the same people to understand and explain gossip they’ve heard about someone. Funny how we can’t think of anything to say when we pray, and don’t have any difficulty thinking of things to talk about to a friend. I thought the Lord was our Friend.
Funny how we are so quick to take directions from a total stranger when we are lost, but are hesitant to take God’s direction to be found. Funny how people are so consumed with what others think about them, rather than what God thinks about them. Funny how so many church goers sing “Standing on the Promises,” but all they do is sit on the premises. Funny how people think that they can get more accomplished in a lifetime without God than in an hour with Him. Funny how everyone wants to go to Heaven provided they don’t have to believe, think, say, or do anything.
I thank God Bible Baptist Church has committed people, but I want to ask a question. Is everyone committed? A healthy church has members that are committed. A healthy church has serious soulwinning going on, regular scheduled soulwinning efforts, bearing fruit as believers, reaching others for Christ. I’m glad we have a soulwinning church, but let me ask you a question. Are you a bystander? Are you going to rub off on somebody else? Are you going to influence them to be busy about this business of soulwinning? Or are you going to influence others to be bystanders and spectators? What kind of church would this be if every one of it’s members was exactly like you?
Inspiring worship goes on. The services cause those present to worship God and glorify Him with heart and mind, getting people to think about the Lord and leave with their mind on God. I don’t want to ever get us to the point where we’re like that Laodicean church that we just make God sick, thinking we’re something, but we become nothing.
May God help us be a healthy church. May there be a definite direction. Does the pastor communicate to the congregation the compelling vision of the future in the sense of God’s leading in order to accept the risk of growth. I thought about that and evaluated myself in leading this church. I thought about what we’re doing. I thought about starting new bus routes like we have. There is a financial risk in that. We didn’t have the money to start new routes. We didn’t have the workers. We just stepped out and said, “God, we’re going to do this. You provide the workers, and the money to buy these buses.” God has allowed us to do that. I’m glad that we’re able to step out by faith and accomplish that, to reach our Jerusalem.
I’m glad that we can make promises to missionaries and send them around the world, believing that God’s people are going to do what’s right. Look at the monies that we’ve committed every month to send out of here to the foreign field and mission endeavors here in this country. What in the world would happen to those missionaries if God’s churches all of a sudden just stopped being committed to that task? Where would those families be without us? We’re just staying busy and believing that God is going to continue blessing us financially and that we’re going to be able to reach out that helping hand to those foreign fields as God sees fit.
I’m glad I can say about Bible Baptist Church that it’s a place of prayer. We just got out of a 24 hour prayer meeting last weekend, praying for this camp meeting, and we have men’s prayer meeting. There is a commitment to that. Every Saturday night at six o’clock for years and years. May God help you men get plugged into that and get committed to praying. May God’s house be a house of prayer, a house of God’s blessings. I’m glad folks still use the altars.
I talked to someone recently that had been visiting other churches in the area. They said they hadn’t been to a single church where anybody walked down the aisle and prayed at the altar. I think that is a shame. The house of God should be a house of prayer. When God’s people are reluctant to kneel in the house of God to pray and talk to their God, something is wrong. I’ll tell you what’s wrong. They are becoming like that Laodicean church. Are you falling into that trap? Are you becoming one of those Laodicean Christians that make God sick?
We’re a fundamental, Bible believing church. We believe some things with conviction. To the church of Ephesus He wrote this, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:” (Revelation 2:2) This church was commended by the Lord Jesus Christ because they took the Word of God and they judged what they saw according to the Book. Jesus said that the Book stands the test of truth, and anyone not lined up with truth is a liar. He said that this church did right by judging others.
Aren’t we taught by the liberals that we’re not to be judging, and if we’re judging others we can’t be right with God? Yet Jesus commended this church at Ephesus for judging. You say, “What’s the difference?” There is one thing of judging someone else’s motive, and you not know their motive. There is another thing to judge whether or not what they’re doing is truth or a lie. He says that these are claiming to be apostles, preachers of the Gospel, but yet they’re not and you proved them to be liars, deceivers.
Look at verse 14. He speaks to the church at Pergamos. “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.” He’s rebuking them for not having sound doctrine, not being fundamentally sound. God says that He hates false doctrine. Verse 16 says, “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” I believe as you should believe that the Bible is the Word of God. I’m going to go so far to say I’m just so narrow minded to believe that the Authorized King James Version is without one single discrepancy. I’m a King James Bible believing believer.
Here’s the opinion of a fool. “My review of the Holy Bible,” this man writes. “The Bible is the most subtle, damaging, and erroneous, most widely harmful, and probably the most destructive piece of literature ever published in undermining human well being and happiness. Today most individuals reject the more obviously vicious Hell-fire and brimstone aspects of the Bible and old-time religion.” By the way, today most individuals do reject that. “Still even the most commonly rejected blatantly malevolent aspects of the Bible and religions continue to do their damage by infusing subconscious guilt to those trying to live by Judeo-Christian ethics.”
He continues: “The Bible orchestrates out of context facts, generalities to deliver falsehoods as valid facts of appealing allusions. It’s authors use the technique or method of projecting from a valid base these out of context facts and generalities to reach pragmatic conclusions to fit the authors’ wanted or desired ends regardless of objective reality. The Holy Bible uses a type of God concept communication that is destructive to everyone’s inner subjective values and undermines man’s intellect and induces guilt. Biblical ideas can be and are mystical, dishonest, malevolent, destructive and for centuries have provided a philosophical admonition to diminish happiness, drain prosperity, and cheat productive people on a grand scale. The Holy Bible was written by various egalitarians and mystics and demagogues. It offers no values and it is anti life and anti man. It is the most destructive Book ever published by western man, a monument to and the paradigm to human self sacrifice and altruism and antithesis of human love, life, happiness, and pleasure.”
This is obviously someone who considers himself a very educated man, obviously brainwashed in some of the higher learning universities of our day. He is an educated fool. I didn’t even know what love and happiness was until I got a Bible, nor did you. It’s time for churches to get on the ball regardless of the imbeciles like this guy that are going around and casting doubt upon God’s Word. May God’s people always stay on the ball when it comes to the Word of God at Bible Baptist Church. How in the world are we going to know that this guy is a liar, an apostate, if we don’t have the Word of God? That’s why the Lord Jesus Christ Himself was rebuking this church. They weren’t judging and taking a stand based upon the Word of God. We’ve got the Bible. I just don’t believe anybody that casts doubt on God’s Word to your children is of the Lord.
A girl was in the Awana program at another church, and the family started coming to our church and her class was memorizing verses. She had already memorized some of these same verses in her Awana program. She came to her daddy upset. “Dad, they taught me wrong. The way they taught me to memorize wasn’t even how our Bible says it.” Do you know what the problem was? The Awana program was using the NIV. You say, “Are you against Awana?” I’m against anything that teaches our children to doubt God’s Word. They had a good program, but they started implementing something other than the Bible and casting doubt in the minds of those kids and causing confusion. That little girl was confused because somebody had planted some seed in her mind. Who do you reckon that was? Where does it stop?
I took the basketball team up to Kansas City. They were playing for the championship. We stopped to go to church on Wednesday night. I got in the phone book and looked for an independent Baptist church. We went to church. There was a man with a beard, no tie, just casual clothing standing up front. He started leading the singing. They had some guys come up to take up the offering. One teenage boy came up there and had one of those wrestling shirts on promoting wrestling mania, hair long. Here’s guys representing the Lord taking an offering that just looked rough. In the pews they had NIV Bibles. After the little sermonette, he dismissed, didn’t have an invitation. He didn’t know if we were saved or lost. He had no idea who we were. He didn’t even give us the Gospel or tell us how to be saved, didn’t have an altar call. Nobody moved toward the altar. Nobody prayed.
I said, “Guys, we don’t belong here. Something is not right.” They dismissed. We got up and started out the door. I thought maybe the preacher would come back and introduce himself and shake my hand. He didn’t. One of our boys went up there to see that preacher and give him a tract. He asked him why he was using the NIV instead of the King James Bible. We left. This church used to be a great church. What’s going on there today is heart-breaking.
It’s amazing to me that so many people who used to stand exactly where we do on the King James Bible and now they’re on the left side promoting these stinking liberal bible perversions. Pretty soon they start kicking out missionaries that stand for the old time way. I don’t understand that. Brother Luke Shelby, our missionary to Kenya, Africa, was out on deputation. He calls a pastor who I thought was my friend. On Luke’s brochure that he sent out to churches, says, “We believe that the King James Bible is the Bible for English speaking people.” That’s all it said.
So he calls Luke after getting that material and canceled the meeting. Luke asked him why? He said, “Because we don’t believe what you said about the King James Bible being the only Bible for English speaking people.”
I go to a meeting and see him. I’m going to be honest with you. There was some spiritual indignation in my heart. I said, “When we get through eating, I need to speak with you.” After we ate I went and got him and stepped outside. I said, “Here’s what I was told. I know how things can get misconstrued and things are said that are not really said that way, but here’s what I was told by one of my missionaries. I want to ask you if you said that.”
So I laid it out and he said, “I sure did.”
I said, “You’re telling me that you canceled a missionary, not going to help them go to the field and win souls, because he believes in the old-fashioned way and stands for the King James Bible?”
He said, “Well, I’ve got people in my church that use all kind of different Bibles, and I don’t want anybody coming in there and getting them confused.” I just shook my head, turned and walked off. I’m not talking about a southern Baptist church or Charismatics. I’m talking about churches that claim to be independent Baptist churches that used to stand for something, but now they’re in the category of those in Revelation that are not doctrinally sound any longer, and anything goes.
I personally believe that we need to get back to some fundamental truth, and stand for ‘thus saith the Lord.’ I believe the blood is necessary for salvation. I believe repentance comes before faith in Jesus Christ. I believe in the local, visible New Testament church. I believe in the premillennial return of Jesus Christ. I believe the Holy Ghost was given for boldness to witness, not speaking in some jibber jabber. I believe that baptism is not necessary for salvation, but I believe a person that gets saved wants to get baptized and obey God. I believe communion is not the literal blood and literal flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ, yet we do that to show forth His death, burial, and resurrection until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that people should be faithful to their church, tithe to their church, be involved in missions of the church. I believe that people that are members of an independent, fundamental, Bible believing church ought to be baptized in a Bible believing church. I believe the King James Bible is the Word of God.
I recently had a young man go off to a certain Bible college. I begged him, “Please, don’t go there.” He left the church that he was in training for the ministry to preach the Gospel and chose to go off to some school where I know first hand, professors are teaching them that this Bible is not the Word of God. I think preaching should be a priority.
I was invited to a missionary Baptist church out in the country, a home coming. People came out of the wood work. I didn’t know that many people lived so far out in those sticks. I sat there and they had a singing, and they had more singing. They had somebody else get up and sing, and somebody else sing. Not a single person got up and preached the Word of God to those lost sinners. There are folks there that I know were lost. I said to one of those men, “Let me get up and preach. Somebody needs to tell these people how to go to Heaven.” Preaching ought to be prominent in a church -- not just singing. These churches that are getting together and having their little praise services. Anybody can believe anything to be members of it. They can look like they want to, smell like they want to, believe what they want to, and get in and be part of that church. That is not of God. That’s not right.
I believe the public schools are Satan’s training ground for humanism. Public schools are brainwashing our children into being little humanists. It’s not because there are no Christian teachers there, but it’s because those Christians who are school teachers and administrators, have their hands tied by our government. If they break open the Bible or tell somebody about Jesus Christ, they’ll be hauled off to jail and lose their job. I’m not mad at God for burning all the queers in Sodom. That’s what He did. You read it in the Bible. Their wickedness caused God to kill every one of them with fire and brimstone from Heaven, and I’m not mad at God for it. I don’t disagree with God when He says it’s an abomination for a man to look like a woman and a woman to look like a man. I don’t disagree with Him about that. I believe adultery is wrong. I believe abstinence before marriage is what God wants. I believe drinking alcohol is a sin. I believe abortion is murder. I believe lying is wrong. I believe killing is wrong. I believe idols are wrong. I believe gossips should have holes drilled with a drill bit right through their tongue every time they spread gossip. I believe that everybody should love Jesus like they’re supposed to. They ought to keep their first love.
Our church’s brochure says, “It’s time for a new beginning.” At 26 years old this old boy standing in front of you, a country boy from Arkansas, did not believe a single thing that I just got through sharing with you, well, maybe the murder part. If you’re sitting here and you’re disagreeing with something I said, I disagreed with the people that said it to me way back then, too. Before I got saved I didn’t believe any of that stuff, even the abortion issue. I took the other side. It’s sickening. It’s a shame, but I was a product of the public school. I was the product of a Bible-less mind, but when I got saved all that started changing. Let me say to you that I was lost when I did not believe this. Where does that leave you?
I’m just saying some churches need to get on the ball. Get back to Bethel. We get criticized. Brother George goes out here knocking doors all day on Saturday. Daniel, a new Christian, has been going with him some. They had a man saved yesterday that was baptized this morning. He had four or five different groups of visitors. Where do you think he got them? Sitting at home watching TV like he used to do? No, that’s not where he got them. Just coming to men’s prayer meeting and saying, “Lord, give me some visitors tomorrow?” No, that isn’t where he got them.
Do you know where he got them? He got them out in the highways and hedges trying to compel them to come in. That’s just the way they did it in the Bible. I don’t know where he got that from, but he just believes the Bible. Would to God, God’s true church would wake up. Get on the ball. Go back to Bethel where God’s blessings are by getting busy, fulfilling God’s purpose, fulfilling God’s mission. Come back to Bethel.