San Diego Covenant Reform Chapel, Chula Vista

Many pamphlets sat on the table just inside the door of the Chula Vista Police Officers Association Building: On the Faith of the Gospel, The Sovereignty of God, Objections to God's Sovereignty Answered, The Foreknowledge of God, The Wrath of God, Accepting Christ ... Teaching and prayer were the twin themes of the service. The opening hymn, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" (accompanied by a synthesizer set to organ mode) ended every other line with the exhortation, "Take it to the Lord in prayer!" And Elder Alfred White began the service by asking after "'The Memory Verse,' found in Ephesians, chapter six, verse 17. Did anybody memorize that verse?" He called on three congregants, and they all repeated, "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." A quiz followed: "The title of the sermon, 'O Sister, Where Art Thou?' does not necessarily mean that she is lost, but asks the place of Christian women in the ____." "Church," murmured a few voices from the congregation. And then the motto to live by: "Let godliness be your lifestyle." White led a deep moment of silent prayer, then gave the pulpit to Pastor Gil Baloy.

Baloy read from Isaiah -- "Lift up thy voice like a trumpet and show my people their transgressions" -- and led the congregation in singing the Gloria Patri before uttering a lengthy prayer of thanks and confession: "We are thankful for your saving grace, manifested in our having been justified by your grace through faith in your Son Jesus Christ, by the forgiveness of our sins, and for His righteousness being imputed to us who have none whatsoever, that we might be adopted into the family of God, and made children and joint heirs of God with Christ." (Prayer and teaching together.)

More teaching, as the responsive readings included a psalm -- "Evildoers shall be cut off, but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth" -- and a lesson from the Heidelberg Catechism on Providence, defined as "the almighty, everywhere present power of God whereby...all things come not by chance, but by His fatherly hand." The profit of knowing about this Providence is "that we may be made patient in adversity, thankful in prosperity, and for what is future, have good confidence...since all creatures are so in His hand that without His will they cannot so much as move." And more prayer, detailed petitions for healing and strength, followed by thanksgiving for fellowship and consolation.

We sang Psalm 150 ("Praise ye the Lord!"), and Baloy read from Paul's letter to Timothy (a hot-button text): "I will not suffer a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence" -- which he met head-on. "It's given as a commandment." And "lest we think" that this was just "Paul in his day...the apostle gives two reasons." The first reason: "'For Adam was first born.' God had an order in terms of who He made first.... Woman was made for man, derived from man, and subject to man." He cited 1 Corinthians: "'The head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God.' There's the Divine Bureaucracy, if you will.... This is how it is, and you can either take it or leave it, but there are consequences, of course, for either decision.... Submission is not an easy thing...all of us must submit, and it's when we don't have the willingness to do so that there are problems in the church."

In the closing prayer, Elder White asked, "Lord, enable us to apply this to our lives, and Lord, enable us to remember that we are all under authority.... Lord, enable us to submit to those who are in authority. By nature, we don't want to do this.... And we do thank you for the women in the church, Lord, and we do pray that you would bless them, Lord, and enable them to have that wonderful energy, Lord, that only you can give...."

What happens when we die?

"There are two classes of people," said Baloy, "the sheep and the goats, or the wheat and the tares. Those would be believers in Jesus or not. If you're not a believer, you will be in hell. You will be in God's eternal condemnation, because of sin -- because God is a holy God. If you are a Christian, because you trust in Christ and you're covered by His righteousness and blood, then you will be saved -- and you are saved, actually. You can know before the time -- even as Paul spoke about how there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit."

San Diego Covenant Reform Chapel

49 Third Avenue, Chula Vista

Denomination: Reformed Church in the United States

Address: Chula Vista Police Officers Association Building, 49 Third Avenue, Chula Vista, 619-460-1321

Founded locally: 2003

Senior pastor: Gil Baloy, an associate pastor for Covenant Reformed Church in Sacramento

Congregation size: 30

Staff size: 3

Sunday school enrollment: 15

Annual budget: about $84,000

Weekly giving: about $1750

Singles program: yes

Dress: semiformal

Diversity: diverse -- African American, Asian American, Pacfic Islander, Caucasian

Sunday worship: 11 a.m.

Length of reviewed service: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Website: http://www.covenantrcus.org

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