Meet Kevin Kaub, HS + Minister

by Element Christian Church

In this long form bonus episode, Aaron and Michael interview Kevin, our new hire for High School and post graduation ministries. This get-to-know you episode is for you to hear Kevin’s journey getting here and his heart for ministry. 

Sacrament or Ordinance

by Aaron

At our last Weekender (the new name for our Gospel Class), I got a question that I didn’t fully understand. I kept calling communion and baptism “sacraments” for Element. A person asked me if I meant “sacrament” or “ordinance” when talking about those two things. My response was that it wasn’t a hill I was going to die on and you could call it whatever you wanted; I said this because I didn’t understand what the person was getting at. I went home that night and thought about it and at about 2 AM, the light went on in my brain and I was like, “OH, I know what they were asking now.”

I was not raised in a religious environment. I could probably count on one hand (probably even 2 fingers) the number of times my family went to “church” while growing up. Because of my upbringing, I do not attach deep meaning to certain words or phrases that many people who have been raised in a church setting do. One of those words happens to be “sacrament.”

The word sacrament comes from the word for mystery; mystery was a word that was used for something that was once unclear and now is clear because of God’s work in Christ. The mystery of Christ is that: Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again. They called this “revealed mystery” because it was what the Old Testament had been saying all along and we now see the reality in Jesus. Where did we get the word sacrament from if the word meant mystery? The answer to that comes from when the Latin language was taking over the world.

People didn’t know what mystery (mysterium) meant, so when translators wanted to make this word clearer, they borrowed a word from the Roman Army. A recruit for the Roman army became a soldier by undergoing a “sacramentum.” The sacramentum had two parts:

  • The soldier took an oath of office
  • The Army branded him behind the ear with the number of his legion

The “sacramentum” brought about new advantages like acquiring social and legal benefits. Ancient Latin theologians used the word sacramentum because they thought it was the best Latin equivalent because the church rite is spiritual and physical (we get new responsibilities and a new spiritual status before God).

Back to the Weekender question…Catholics are taught that a sacrament is, “An outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace.” Meaning it is a MEANS OF GRACE and can be tied to salvation. There are many outward signs of inward grace that are not sacraments in Catholicism (like the benediction at the end of a service), but in 1545-1563 the Council of Trent said true sacraments were a means of grace (and there were 7 of them): Baptism, Confirmation, Penance (Confession), Communion (Eucharist), Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders (setting people aside as clergy), and Marriage.

Now, do we believe that marriage or communion is a means of grace being bestowed upon as believers? Not at all. We believe they are GIFTS of grace, but they do not affect our salvation. This is why, in order to not confuse people, the protestant church started to use the word “ordinance.” Ordination to the clergy can’t be a sacrament, because not every Christian is called to the ordained ministry. Marriage can’t be a sacrament, because it is not something only Christians do (and Jesus didn’t require it). Anointing the sick with oil can’t be a sacrament, because what happens to healthy Christians? Any time we try to make something a “means” of grace, other than Christ’s propitiating work for us, we shrink the Gospel.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church they still call certain things “The Holy Mysteries” which shows that the words can be used interchangeably. Essentially I use the word sacrament because communion and baptism at Element are sacred, but they are not a means of grace. We believe they hold great significance to our church and communal life, but should never be a substitute for the Gospel.

That’s a long way to say, “that is why I use the word sacrament; it is sacred, but it is not the Gospel.” 

True God, False Faith

by Aaron

This is my second blog where I wanted to delve a bit deeper into something I talked about in an updated Gospel Class that we called The Weekender. The original point of our Gospel Class was to give people who were considering making Element their home a quick primer on basic theology and the reasons Element functions the way it does (from our mission to our vision in how we accomplish God’s call as a church). This year we decided to streamline the course by holding a Friday night/Saturday morning class. In streamlining the class, there were certain things that became condensed, and one of those was a section we call “Creation and Sin.” I wanted to write a couple of short blogs to round out some of what may have gotten lost in the class. Since this is the second of these blogs, I want to write about what we call “The Fall.”

In Christian theology “the fall” references humankind’s rebellion against God by trying to “live our own truth” and ceasing to trust Him. Now you may be thinking…what? I wasn’t there! However, Scripture’s portrayal of Adam and Eve represents how all of humanity would respond in that situation. We all buy into lies about our identity and about God. In that sense, even though we were not there shortly after creation, we are responsible for the effects of the fall and can witness our own brokenness today. God had essentially given us the entire world as a gift, calling us to steward and take care of His creation, and we (in no time at all) did our best to destroy it. God called us to trust Him for what was good and true, and we bought into a lie that God was not as good as He claimed to be—that we could be more than we were created to be. We distrusted God (as we still distrust Him every day) and we did the one thing He commanded us not to do. In so doing we fell from relationship with Him into sin. As those who fell, there was/is nothing we could do to restore relationship with a holy and eternal God, so God Himself came to us to bring us back to Himself.

God coming for us ultimately leads to the proclamation of good news. The first proclamation is in Genesis 3:16 right after we fell. In Genesis 3:16 Jesus promises that He (Himself) would be the one to pay for the penalty of our rebellion…this is the essence of the Gospel. Jesus takes our death upon Himself and gives us His life; He takes our sin and rebellion and gives us His righteousness with God. In the Weekender I kind of blazed through this on the way to the session about salvation, but I want to take a step back and talk about what happened in the fall because it still relates to our lives today.

In the creation narrative, we see that God is creator and there is a distinction between Him and the creation. As I wrote in the last blog, God is self-contained. He is A SE (from Latin…this is where we get the word Aseity). He is dependent upon nothing, while creation (and humans particularly) is dependent upon our creator epistemologically (knowledge) and metaphysically (reality). This is why when God says we are to trust Him for what is good, there is no good that can be understood apart from Him. When the fall takes place in Genesis 3, there is a de-creation, a reversal, of what God did in Genesis 1-2. The order God created unravels and we are still living in the dysfunction that remains.

How? In Genesis 3 the serpent becomes humanity’s guide for the “good,” as humans eat fruit that was forbidden to them. Under the serpent’s advice, we dismissed the authority of God. In creation, the order (in terms of authority) went God, man, woman (who was created equal), creatures. In the de-creation of the fall, the serpent lies to and tempts the woman, the woman gives some fruit to her husband (who then eats) and we see a reverse cycle of whose authority we trust to determine our lives: serpent, woman, man, God. John Calvin wrote about how we turn aside from God’s truth to falsehoods: “…the first man revolted from God’s authority, not because of Satan’s blandishments, but also because, contemptuous of the truth, he turned aside to falsehood. And surely, once we hold God’s word in contempt, we shake off all reverence for Him.” The fall happened because we ceased to revere God for who He is; I would say that the same thing still happens in our world today.

In the fall we tried to shrink God from who He is. D. A. Carson wrote, “The true God is holy; He is unique, and cannot, by His very nature, tolerate those who try to relativize Him. We are not gods; and by death we learn we are only human.” In the fall God warned us that if we sin, we will die; part of what death does is blow away our pretentions. The most striking difference in today’s world is not between those who have “faith” and those who have none; it is between those who have true faith and those who have false faith. Adam and Eve didn’t become atheists and refuse to believe in God (God came walking in the garden, calling out to them). Instead, they left the true faith for a false faith that was centered on themselves and not God. Adam and Eve still sincerely believed in the existence of God, but in false faith, sincerity is not the issue—the truth of who God is is the issue. Mike Ovey writes, “…the truth or falsehood of the faith turns not on whether the person who has faith is sincere or not, but on whether the belief that person holds is true to the reality of the person of whom he or she believes it.” False faith believes lies about God. In this case, Adam and Eve chose to believe God wasn’t enough for them.

False faith today, culturally speaking, believes lies about God that are rationally and ethically justified by our own standards. False faith will treat what God does as bad, when He is clearly shown to be good. It argues that the legitimate sovereignty that God has over His creation is not legitimate. False faith treats God’s loving warnings as bad commands—calling His goodness into question. When we have false faith, it obscures and distorts who God made us to be; it continues to degrade our relationship with God and pushes us farther into the fall.

There are questions that we must ask that come out of the ways we diminish God:

  • In what ways are we listening to authorities, other than God, in our life?
  • In what ways are we adhering to false faith, rather than looking for who God has revealed Himself to be?
  • In what ways are we continuing to live in the lie that began the fall in the first place?

We naturally, because we are born into sin, run from God and toward false faith. It is why salvation comes from God’s hand alone. The Gospel is the good news of God’s rescue of us from our own lies and falsehoods we have adhered to. If God had not been for us, we would have never known restored relationship with Him again. Eugene Peterson translated Psalm 124:6 as Oh, blessed be God! He didn’t go off and leave us…when the entire world went against us, because of our own choices, God comes for us.

Psalm 124:8 Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.  

Aseity, Unity, Simplicity, Trinity

by Aaron

A couple of weeks ago we led an updated Gospel Class that we called The Weekender. Our Gospel Class eventually grew from an original 7-week course to an 8-week course as we refined our vision over the years. The point of the Gospel Class was to give people who were considering making Element their home a quick primer on basic theology and why Element functions the way it does (from our mission to our vision in how we accomplish God’s call as a church). Since people tended to have “life” happen to them and couldn’t make all 8 weeks, this year we decided to try something new and streamline the course by doing a Friday night/Saturday morning class.

In streamlining the class, there were a couple topics that became condensed. One of those was who God is in His person and the other was the fall of humankind (into what we call sin). These two things have been running through my heart and head in the last couple of weeks, so I wanted to write a couple of short blogs to round out what may have been missed in the class. Let’s first talk about God (you know, because God is always first).

When we speak about God, we speak about God’s shared and unshared attributes. God’s shared attributes are the ones that He shares with His people. This includes Spirit (we have a spirit because God gave us life), Holiness (God gives us the gift of being set apart for His purposes), Love and Goodness (we love because He first loved us), Truth (we can know and live in the truth), Justice and Righteousness (we know true righteousness and just because they stem from God Himself), Mercy (God doesn’t give us what we deserve, He gives us grace and we are to show that same grace to others), and Beauty (God creates in beauty and allows His creatures to also create works of beauty).

God also has attributes that He does not share. These would be His Omnipresence (God is everywhere at all times), His Omniscience (He has complete and perfect knowledge of all things), His Omnipotence (He is all-powerful and able to do all that He wills unopposed), His Immutability (God does not change because He is perfect), His Eternality (God has no beginning or end and is not bound by time), His Sovereignty (God is supreme in rule and authority over all things), and His Aseity (God is sufficient in Himself and does not need anything from creation (including us) to complete Him.

All the above may be review and could lead you to ask the question, “Why this blog?” The answer is that there is another point I wanted to make regarding God and His attributes…all of this is only relatable to us when we understand that God is within a Trinity and His unity is correlative only to Himself. All the complexities of the attributes above stem from God’s person—which is unity in Trinity. I hope I am not confusing you.

While God Himself is unity in trinity, He made the world in diversity; sometimes that diversity causes us to misunderstand God’s Aseity. As created beings, we are dependent upon things outside of ourselves for life, but God Himself is not like us. Let’s take something as simple as love…if God were not a unity in Trinity, then what would be the object of God’s love? Us? The world? John Frame wrote, “…love in the fullest biblical sense by its very nature reaches out to another, not merely to the self.” That means if God was not a Trinity, He would then need someone or something else to love to be God. Frame writes, “On a Trinitarian basis…God’s love is both interpersonal and self-contained.” God’s love is a love among the Father, Son, and Spirit—it is not dependent upon anything else.

The reason the Trinity is so important a doctrine is that it guards God’s Aseity. Without God being a Triune God, He would be dependent upon the world. As Frame writes, “Trinity…guards the personality of God: He is not blank unity, which would be impersonal. Rather, He is a unity of persons.” Michelle, who I have proofread these blogs, responded with these words after reading the above paragraph, “And—if I’m understanding this correctly—He would HAVE to love us/creation, right? Which would not only compromise His omnipotence, but also detract from the goodness that…He actually chooses to love us of His own free will.” Correct, but it would compromise His Aseity as well.

This is a doctrine that theologians call God’s “Simplicity.” God is not made up of the attributes listed above because there is nothing in Him that is independent of His person…every good thing we know stems from who He is. If you take God’s goodness, for instance, that is not an external thing that God focuses on in order to be good. Goodness is not an attribute that God conforms Himself to; goodness comes from God Himself. If goodness came from outside of God, then goodness would essentially be another god (a second deity) that God would conform Himself to—He would cease to be God. Cornelius Van Til has been quoted as saying, “Denial of God’s unity of simplicity violates God’s unity of singularity.”

Hopefully you can see why I am sharing this in a blog. This whole discussion, while fascinating to me, could take us into the weeds if I were to do it in class. Suffice to say, a proper understanding of God’s simplicity, unity in Trinity, and Aseity tells us that there is not any “non-being” (attributes) that have/had any power over God. Logic, ethics, truth, mercy all come from His person and are just some reasons why we worship and ascribe worth to who He is. It is why we are a people who are lost and broken without the God who made us. We are dependent and He is sufficient in Himself yet chooses to love us; that is a great God!


Pumpkin Killing Invite

by Element Christian Church

October 30th, 1:30-4:00pm, at Orcutt Hill Picnic Grounds!

You are invited to come out for a fun afternoon with Element, as we kill some pumpkins! Everybody can pick and carve a free pumpkin, play games, and eat pumpkin pie (burgers and hot dogs also available), and watch pumpkins be shot out of a canon!

Click here to download invite & map to the Picnic Grounds.
Want a turn-by-turn video directions? Click here!

We do need help setting up and cleaning up or help running the games, so please let us know if you can! Signup here to help!


Recent Pumpkin Killing Recap Video:


Previous Pumpkin Killing Recap Video:


Pumpkin Killing 2018 Recap Video:


Pumpkin Killing 2016 Recap Video:


Pumpkin Killing 2015 Recap Video:


Upcoming Delta High School Holiday Store

by Element Christian Church

As the neighbor of Delta High School, we at Element Christian Church try to bless Delta as much as possible. The staff have asked us to host a Holiday Store for a week in December. Many of the students come from difficult circumstances and have very little means to buy Christmas gifts. In previous years, Delta has offered a free store where kids can go to “shop” for themselves and/or shop for a gift for someone else. We love this idea! The Delta staff has said that letting students get a Christmas gift for someone else, helps change their perspective on the Holidays! The school hasn't been able to provide the store in the past couple of years due to a lack of resources in collecting items and hosting, so Element is happy to provide a space for the store and to help collect items! 

A couple quick stories the Delta Staff has shared with: 

  • One year a girl who had been a part of a sex-trafficking ring locally in the past, ended up getting gifts for each of the girls who were still involved.
  • One boy's father was homeless, and the boy didn't have any money to get him anything but he was able to get him some new clothes, shoes and a blanket.
  • There was a boy who was able to get shoes for a friend in need who wasn't going to school. 

The Store will be held at Element Church December 7-10th, 2021 during school hours. We are looking for donations of NEW or very slightly USED items that are in clean and working order. Some items Delta has received in previous years that have been a success: 

High Priority:

  • Blankets, Towels & Toiletry Gift Sets
  • Great condition teen/young adult clothing
  • Like-new items for Christmas gifting (decor, jewelry, toys, etc.) 

Other Items:

  • Clothing and shoes for all ages of people: babies through adults in good condition, new socks
  • Formal clothing: dresses and suits for employment
  • Sports shoes: cleats, basketball shoes, etc. 
  • Hats, accessories
  • Christmas ornaments, decorations, cards
  • Any type of game, including board games
  • School supplies
  • Home goods: towels, kitchenware, cookware, etc.
  • Household essentials, blankets, candles
  • Baby gear, including strollers in nice condition, car seats for babies. 

We would appreciate any sort of donation you can make. All donations will receive a tax donation slip. We need all donations delivered/picked up by Sunday, December 4, 2022. If you wish to donate financially, you can do so here, and select "Delta Kids"

For questions and comments, or to contact us about donation delivery, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call 805-310-4229. Thank you very much!


Q&A: Watchman Nee

by Aaron

Question: I was hoping you could answer a quick question... Do you know anything about Watchman Nee? We are going to a new, very small church. The "what we believe” section looks good, but they are reading these Morning Revival books all together and the books give an almost cult vibe (95% seems biblical and 5% seems weird).

Answer: Sometimes when people ask about historical Christian figures, we tend to overlook the bad and only focus on what we perceive as the good. A.W. Tozer was a terrible husband who ignored his wife, yet his writings are quoted by the most devoted of husbands. David Livingston neglected his family and only met a couple of his children when they were older, yet he is still beloved by good fathers. Watchman Nee was a courageous man who taught the gospel as best he knew it…and yet his theology was not always the greatest.

This always becomes the problem when people fanatically follow any man other than Jesus Christ. Whatever “weeds” that idolized person got stuck in, those who follow too closely also get stuck in those weeds. Did Watchman Nee preach the Gospel? Yes, as he said in his book The Normal Christian Life, “Righteousness, the forgiveness of our sins, and peace with God are all ours by faith, and without faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ none can possess them.” There it is…we are forgiven and restored by the work of Jesus Christ alone, yet other writings of his (even in the same book!) confuse the issue.

The problems emerge the deeper you look, and I think this probably goes for any man or woman today. I am sure if I went through some of my old sermons, I would be thinking, “What did I even mean by that?” When you get deeper into Watchman Nee’s work, you find that his views of the Holy Spirit, sanctification, baptism, and sin have some serious errors. He believed church denominations were sinful, interpreted scripture as allegorical where he should not have, and seemed to teach perfection can be achieved in this life in what we do.

Some of the issues may be cultural. As a Chinese man, born and raised, there will always be some cultural distinctions that will look odd to us. If we were trying to put a label on Watch Nee, I think he would be described as a Christian seeking some form of mysticism (which again, could be cultural). He doesn’t come out and say that faith can cure sickness, but he gets very close to it in The Normal Christian Life. Many of the things he says should give us pause…consider the following: “One thing is certain, that any true experience of value in the sight of God must have been reached by way of a new discovery of the meaning of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus. That is a crucial test and a safe one.” What is a “new discovery” if the faith has been “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3)? How is it “safe” to go around thinking that only true experiences of value come finding something new, rather than delving deeper into what has been revealed? The person who edits my blog posts before we post them even questioned me on this saying that as they (personally) grow in Christ their greatest moments are when something comes that is “new.” I think the difference, based on Nee’s writings, is that his “new” borders on new revelation and not illumination of the Spirit.

In terms of baptism, he wrote, “What are the conditions to be fulfilled if we are to have forgiveness of sins? According to the Word they are two: repentance and baptism.” It seems sometimes his gospel message became clouded if baptism is also required for salvation (in his opinion). He then goes to explain, in a bizarre way, repentance and baptism: “Here then are two divinely appointed conditions of forgiveness—repentance, and faith publicly expressed. Have you repented? Have you testified publicly to your union with your Lord? …If you have fulfilled the conditions you are entitled to two gifts, not just one. You have already taken the one; why not just come and take the other now? Say to the Lord, ‘Lord, I have complied with the conditions for receiving remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost, but I have foolishly only taken the former. Now I have come back to take the gift of the Holy Ghost, and I praise Thee for it.” Again, he seems to understand salvation from the quote earlier, but here muddies it with pointing to our works and a mystical union with the Holy Spirit.

Personally, I think there are better people to read in terms of discipleship than Watchman Nee. If the church you are attending uses his book(s) as tool to grow together, but realizes Nee was only a flawed man, it could be fine. If, on the other hand, they have a fanatic zeal for Nee that deifies him and won’t critically look at his life, that becomes an issue.

Hope that helped.

What Happened to the 12 Tribes of Israel?

by Aaron

Currently, at Element, we are going through the minor prophets (the last 12 books of the Old Testament Scriptures). These 12 “Minor Prophets” are written during a (roughly) 500 year time frame that covers the fall of the northern 10 tribes of Israel (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, and Joseph, whose tribe was divided into the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh), the captivity of the 2 southern tribes of Israel (Judah and Benjamin), and their eventual return to rebuild their temple.

I gave a very brief summation of what happened when the Kingdom of Israel divided in 900BC last week. Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, comes to power and wants to tax and force labor upon all of the tribes, which causes the nation of Israel to split (10 northern tribes called “Israel” and 2 southern tribes called “Judah”). The question came up on Sunday as to what happened to those 10 northern tribes. We know the southern tribes returned to rebuild the temple and Jews were actually called “Jews” because of JUDAH, but what happened to those northern 10 tribes.

This question has been asked for a long while, some even call the northern 10 tribes the “Lost Tribes of Israel.” First, they are not lost as God knows where they are, the book of Revelation says they will give an account. What happened historically is that most of the people of the Northern Kingdom were killed in the Assyrian invasion or deported as slaves. The few that did escape remained in the land and intermarried with people from Cutha, Ava, Hamath, and Sepharvaim (peoples who had been sent by the Assyrian king to inhabit Samaria). This also led to a lot of animosity between Israel and Samaria where the Samaritans were considered “less than” Israelites and were outcasts for intermarrying.

There are some crazy stories (we would call them myths) of those northern 10 tribes. One says the Danube river was named for the tribe of Dan. There are those who teach what is known as British Israelism who say all Anglo-Saxons are actually Jews. There are people in India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Ethiopia who all claim Jewish ancestry of some sort. Mormons taught that Native Americans and Polynesians were from a lost tribe.

We don’t want to get into all the conspiracy theories, we want to look at the Bible. In looking at the bible we see that after the Babylonians conquered Assyria many northern tribes reunited with Judah (2 Chron 34:6-9). When the southern 2 tribes were deported to Babylon they most likely reunited with many of the northern tribes who were already in captivity. When Cyrus allowed the rebuilding of the temple, many from all 12 tribes would have returned under the banner of “Judah” or Jews.

Many Israelites never returned to Israel and stayed in foreign countries; they became known as the Diaspora. James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. John the baptizer, and his parents were from the tribe of Levi. The Apostle Paul was from the tribe of Benjamin. In Luke 2:36 you meet the prophetess Anna from the tribe of Asher.

The 12 tribes are out there, known to God, but the greater question is what is God doing with them? He fulfilled the law in Christ, He brought an end to temple sacrifice in Christ, and Jesus is now our great High Priest. The point of the Scriptures is not Israel or the 12 tribes, it is Jesus. I was talking to an Israeli believer last year and an American asked him what it would be like when Jesus returned and restored Israel’s borders (which is a very westernized Christian question to ask). My Israeli friend said, “when Jesus returns there will be no need for borders so there won’t be any.”

That’s a great perspective.

A Sad Epilogue

by Aaron

Last week we put out a blog explaining this word I used as a sermon title, but never explained: Nehushtan. Nehushtan means Bronze Serpent (the Great Brass); it is what the Israelites called the bronze serpent on the pole that Jesus references in John 3:14-15 that refers back to Numbers 21:8-9.

In the Old Testament book of Numbers, chapter 21, the Israelites begin to detest God’s daily provision over them in the form of food from heaven called Manna. As a result of their complaining God sends fiery serpents into Israel’s camp that bite the people, injecting them with venom, and they begin to die. The venom resembles our sin. The whole episode shows that what was happening in the Israelite’s bodies was what had already happened in their hearts. There are parallels to our own lives in that many times we only recognize what is killing us when we finally get sick.

What is killing us is our sin, but many times we do not even recognize our sin until our lives start to fall apart. This could be losing a job because we are not thankful for our job, only resentful. It could look like a relationship falling apart because we are too centered on ourselves and cease caring for others. It could be our walk with Jesus never seeming fulfilling because we are looking at our own fulfillment rather than worship of Christ. We tend not to notice the venom in our hearts until we get sick, just like the venom from the serpent.

When the Israelite’s recognize their sin, they ask Moses to intercede on their behalf to God. Numbers 21:8-9 And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.” God teaches His people that what is going on in their heart is reflected in their bodies by the venom running through their veins, but He will make a provision for them because He loves them. They did not believe God was all they needed until they realized He was all they ever truly had.

As I said last week, Jesus speaking the words of John 3:16 only makes sense in terms of the Bronze Serpent from Numbers 21. It really is a great story of God’s blessing and provision as it would ultimately be fulfilled in Jesus Himself. BUT…there is a sad epilogue. Rather than worshipping God for His provision, they started to worship the provision instead.

What I mean is that the Israelites started to worship and bow down to the bronze serpent, the one that was put on the pole by Moses.

Apparently, the Israelites kept it as a reminder of God’s provision, but then it morphed into something more. It morphed so much that in 2 Kings 18 it is another of one of the false images that Israel made offerings to and worshipped. In 2 Kings 18 a young man of 25 becomes King of Judah (the southern kingdom in Israel). He systematically went through the land and got rid of all the false places of worship, including the Nehushtan (2 Kings 18:4).

Today, we look back on the Israelites and their short-sightedness, but we still do exactly what they did, worship false things in place of God Almighty. Instead of trusting in God’s provision, many people today worship the symbol, like a cross (which was an instrument of death, just like the serpent). When God saves people there is an emotional outpouring of gratitude, but many continue to long and search for the next emotional outpouring rather than the God who saved them. I have been to Israel and have seen people worship, kiss, and cry over what they believe to be rock Jesus was laid upon in His tomb for those three days after the crucifixion. We so easily lose focus of the one who saved us for a mere symbol and that should not be.

I want to be positive and reassuring today, not simply pointing out our flaws. I want us to be encouraged to worship our God in Spirit and truth. May we be a people who trust in God’s provision and worship the One and Only True King. May we set aside our symbols and trust in the One who was lifted up, died, and rose again for us. 



by Aaron

If I asked you what the most well-known verse in the bible is, what would you say? Today, in our culture, it may be “judge not,…” but I would say the most well-known (if not cited in its entirety) is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (ESV). The sad part is that we have pulled that verse out of its surrounding context in such a way that we miss the deep theological background of it.

In our Bibles, the translators have broken up certain areas of scripture by sections, to help readers see what is taking place in the text. There are some places where this is VERY helpful, and some places where it is not helpful…at all.  And one of those places is in John 3:16.

Most modern translations break John 3:16 into a separate section, as if it is a new thought, but it is not!

In John 3, Jesus is having a discussion with Nicodemus about being born again in order to help Nicodemus understand that citizenship in the Kingdom of God (salvation) is not based upon our first birth, where our nationality lies, but a new birth, which we can’t bring about for ourselves.  He’s trying to show that no one gets to “heaven” on their pedigree or their merits. He says in John 3:13 “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man,” meaning “No one can make it on their own.”

Jesus then goes on to show who DOES “make” it: 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. THIS THEN moves to verse 16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” These verses show God’s provision in saving us, which is Jesus, lifted up on the Cross. The PROMISE is that we will not be condemned but saved as we look at the PROVISION (Jesus). We do not need to look at Jesus in the same way the Israelites had to look at the bronze serpent, but understanding this Bronze Serpent helps us to understand what it means to look to Jesus.

On Sunday, May 2, 2021 I spoke on these verses and called the message Nehushtan, but never once used the word. Someone texted and asked why I called the message Nehushtan, and I couldn’t believe I forgot to even say it. Simply enough, Nehushtan means Bronze Serpent (the Great Brass); it is what the Israelites called the bronze serpent on the pole, and what Jesus referenced in John 3. In Numbers 21. The Israelites were detesting God’s daily provision for them: the miraculous food from heaven called Manna. As a result of their complaining God sends fiery serpents into Israel’s camp. God is not over-reacting; He is trying to teach the people that what is going on in their heart is now reflected in their bodies by the venom running through their veins.

These serpents bite people and they begin to die. When they recognize their sin, they ask Moses to pray for them:  God’s answer and provision is in Numbers 21:8-9 And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.”

God uses this moment to teach them what their deeper condition is, the thing that is destroying them: the venom of sin. They have all been bitten by sin and as a result there is now a deep dissatisfaction with every aspect of their life. When they realize their condition, God provides a way for them to be saved, and it is simply by looking at this Nehushtan that Moses puts up on a pole…it is God’s provision. God is saying, “Here is a representation of your sin, and my remedy for it.  Whoever looks at MY provision will find deliverance from death, and healing from the venom”

In John 3, Jesus reminds us all that what God had Moses do with the serpent was a foreshadowing of what He would do to remove OUR venom of sin: He (Jesus) would be lifted up. Now, we must look to the Son who has been lifted up because there, on the cross, our own sin was placed and dealt with. We can’t be saved by our first birth or by any self-concocted remedies, any more than the Israelites could save themselves. But we can be saved, and our lives can be restored to relationship with our creator God because of Christ’s sacrifice in being lifted up. Nehushtan was/is a crazy story that shows what God does in order to save us all.

May we be a people who trust in God’s provision and may we never take Jesus for granted!