Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The King & His Kingdom Is Yet to Come to Earth!
Exegetical and Theological Support for Premillennialism
Dr. Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church (St. Louis, Missouri)
[This was originally published at True Declination Ministries website in 2015.]

    As the public ministry of Jesus drew near to the climactic passion week, Jesus told his hearers a parable because Jesus was near Jerusalem (for the Triumphal Entry) and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately (Luke 19:11). Jesus spoke and exhorted His followers to live busy, God-honoring lives till the nobleman returns since they presumed the kingdom of God was to immediately burst in right then and there. On the night before the crucifixion of Christ, Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, “Are You the King of the Jews?” to which Jesus responded by affirming: “It is as you say” (Matt 27:11). Jesus affirmed repeatedly that He came as Messiah and as the King to deliver His people. He validated His claims by means of undeniable miracles proving that He had come from God and with God’s power. So the question is not, “Is Jesus a King?” or “Is Jesus sovereign?” To these important questions, the Scriptures loudly and repeatedly affirm with certainty!

The question is, however, does Jesus function as the ruling and reigning King over the Kingdom as the Scriptures in both testaments teach? The purpose of this essay is to present a robust, exegetical and theological answer to that question. Indeed, Christians must study prophecy and should come to a proper understanding of the Scriptures so as to not neglect the Word and such a comforting genre of study as this. Interpreters should heartily affirm the clear teaching of the Word of God concerning the kingdom of God which shall come.

Download and read the rest of the essay HERE.

More on premillennialism can be found here

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

This is an encouragement to the saints (1 Thess 1.2-3)
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

1Thessalonians 1:3 — constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father.

When Paul speaks of the τοῦ ἔργου τῆς πίστεως of the Thessalonian church, he recalls the work that is produced by their faith. Their faith sprouts forth godly works. Note how the work is singular. There are, of course, many manifold works that believers produce for the glory of Christ. But in the body of Christ, they are unified, working together, and here noted as being singular. He notes their work produced by faith. O that every church would be marked by and characterized by its work that springs forth from its faith in Jesus Christ. That means that true faith in Christ is never alone; it always produces works. Though no one is saved by his works, true faith is never without works. All true faith will generate works, produce good works, and seek to live a life of good works NOT in order to attain salvation but in gratitude for the salvation already received by faith alone in Christ. O may churches excel still more in the Thessalonians model of having this kind of work that stems from faith!

The Thessalonian church also is recognized for its τοῦ κόπου τῆς ἀγάπης. Amazingly, Paul marks out this church’s work, labor, toil, even trouble because of their great love. The labor of this church springs forth out of its great love! The love of this church is not only for Christ but it’s also for one another. And, of course, this love that marks the church in Thessalonika did not generate with themselves but it was initiated first and ultimately by God Himself in the sovereign grace He bestowed upon His elect in saving them. Then, those who have received this saving love in Christ, respond with a great love for Christ and a contagious love for one another in the local assembly. This great love brings forth toil, work, labor and a diligence in serving one another. This kind of hard work, this unrelenting service, and this inconvenient (at times) commitment to one another all grows out of a diligent and impassioned love for Christ and for His Church. The gospel of God’s grace, revealed in Christ, granted by mercy is the great foundation of this great working love in the local church of Thessalonika.

Finally, the Apostle Paul commends the church for its τῆς ὑπομονῆς τῆς ἐλπίδος. The believers are grounded in a solid, unshakeable hope that produces their steadfastness. Their endurance, their perseverance, their steadfastness is not grounded on their own human efforts or consistency, but rather it is based upon the hope that believers have in the Lord Jesus Christ (τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ). Amidst much hardship, many sorrows, severe persecution, and harsh afflictions brought on by gospel-opponents, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ refuses to flinch and retreat. Rather, believers are marked by godly hope which springs forth joyfully and unfailingly in perseverance. Note that the church is corporately commended for this steadfastness. One cannot be steadfast apart from the local assembly. One will not persevere through trials and great oppression left to himself, in isolation, as a lone ranger. Rather, it is the community of faith, the assembly of the redeemed that stimulates one another to keep enduring because of the great hope that is laid before us in Christ Jesus, our Lord and King. O that churches would remember this and that true hope in Christ (hope in heaven, hope in Christ’s return, hope in evil’s defeat, hope in the coming Kingdom) would catapult the church to great steadfastness as believers endure together, grow together, meet together, encourage one another, and remain steadfast shoulder to shoulder. 
In Mark's account of the choosing of the 12 (Mark 3:13-19), Jesus goes up on the mountain and then selects men whom He Himself wanted to serve with Him. Drawing from the text, here are four application points to consider devotionally.

The men who were designated to be Apostles were ordinary men. Varied backgrounds comprises the men whom Christ used in His service. A tax collector, a zealot, some fishermen, other Galileans were those ordinary ones whom Christ used in His ministry. Our Lord did not go to Jerusalem to find the elitist, the scholars, the rabbis and Sanhedrenists, What an encouragement that Christ employed ordinary men, with ordinary talents, with ordinary abilities, with common issues that we can all relate to. What made these ordinary men extraordinary was not gifting and abilities. Rather, it was the call of God on their life and the empowering that came upon them to do the awesome work God had predetermined for them. Ordinary men, like you and me, can do great works for Christ as we serve Him with humble obedience, joyful reverence, and diligent persistence.

Mark’s gospel record tells us that Jesus went up to the mountain and He summoned those whom He himself wanted, and they came to Him. We also know from Luke’s account that Jesus spent all night in prayer prior to making this decision. He carefully thought about whom He would select to be engrafted into His mighty service. What a glorious Savior who initiated the selection of certain men to be His ambassadors in ministry. They did not seek Christ out. Nor did they catch His eye because of their academic achievements or political viewpoints or radical risk-taking endeavors. Rather, He prayed and came to these ones and He initiated the contact and He employed them into HIs service of gospel proclamation. All those whom Christ selected were those whom “He Himself wanted.” What joy to think that He selects men into service that He himself wants to be employed in his gospel-work.

These disciples had one glorious characteristic: they were with Christ. They spent time with Christ. They watched Christ. They observed Him. They lived life with Christ. He empowered them to preach and He gave them authority to cast out demons. Their ministry was a supernatural one. That is, theirs was a ministry that they could not achieve in their own strength and by their own intelligence. But Christ empowered them to do the task that He gave to them. What they could not do on their own, they were now enabled to do by the sovereign grace and ineffable power of God that enabled them to do the spiritual work of this important ministry.

A three-fold ministry sums up the ministry of these men. First, they are to be WITH CHRIST. Second, they are TO PREACH. And Third, they are TO CAST OUT DEMONS. Note that the first element of gospel work includes that nonnegotiable duty of every minister to be with Christ. Without close communion with Christ, the ministry will be cold, heartless, lifeless, and powerless. The minister must be with Christ, fellowshipping and communing with Him, close to Him and able to say with the Psalmist: “The nearness of God is my good!” Second, Christ sent them to preach. Yes, they must prioritize the verbal proclamation of this good news of salvation found in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene. Preaching encapsulates the minister’s primary work, the most taxing work, the most exacting work, the most supernatural work, and the most urgent work. May the Lord help His ministers to be faithful in studying the Word and preaching the Word faithfully, accurately and compellingly. Third, they were to minister to the needs of men by casting out demons and delivering them from the power of darkness. They had the ability to cast out demons because Christ Himself endowed them with this authority. Note that they were with Christ, then they were preaching the gospel to men’s hearts and minds, and they cared for men’s bodies and physical well being to cast out demons and guard them from the Evil One. May God’s ministers be faithful in Christ’s service as we commune with Christ, preach His Word, and minister to men’s needs.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A while back, we posted a number of articles to help Christians in understand why family worship proves to be so valuable and how to equip believers to implement this in the home.

Here are the articles:

1. Family worship & evangelism
2. Family worship & prayer
3. Family worship & Scripture
4. Family worship & theology
5. Family worship & application
6. Family worship & praise
7. Family worship & catechism
8. Family worship & regeneration
9. Family worship & leadership (complementarianism)
10. Family worship & marriage
11. Family worship & the glory of God

Here is our catechism that we've put together with our commentary & Scripture proofs (still in process).

For a simple overview of family worship, click here. Also, here are some benefits to family worship and some of the purposes of family worship.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Process of Becoming a Leader of Christ Fellowship Bible Church
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church (St Louis, MO)

The church belongs to Jesus Christ! He resides as the sovereign Head over His Body, the church and He has spoken clearly and sufficiently in His Word, the Bible. What He says has total authority over all that happens in His Church. The Scriptures very clearly present qualifications for the leadership offices of elder and deacon. But the practical question remains: how does one become a leader? What is the process by which a man becomes a leader in the church of Jesus Christ?

At CFBC, we have summarized this practical process in a few practical headings.

First, Selecting men.
Leaders prove themselves to be leaders long before they’re appointed to leadership positions. That means that these men will evidently demonstrate themselves to be doing the work of service long before they are publicly affirmed with a leadership title. They’re not in it for the title, the prestige, the position, or the authority. They want to serve and they do the work with or without the recognition or official leadership title. So the leadership of CFBC selects men who already are showing themselves to be doing the work of ministry. For a deacon, it is one who shows a life of integrity, one who is consistent in his speech and commitments, one who is willing to serve, aid the shepherds, and help do the work of ministry to free up the shepherds to maintain prayer and the study and teaching of the Word as their foremost calling. For an elder, here is one who already is living out the qualifications (of personal life, home life, marital life) as well as a man who shows himself to be shepherding folks in the Word (teaching biblical truth with clarity and accuracy) as well as defending against false and harmful doctrine. So the selection of men consists in the recognizing of those men who already are doing the work in the local church. We seek them out, the leadership meets with them and asks if they have a desire for leadership in the local assembly.

Second, Examining men.
Then after the selection of men comes the process of examination. The Apostle Paul talks about leaders being tested and examined. This can be both formal and informal. Informally, it refers of course to the examination of the man’s life by observation and by careful scrutiny. It also, however, includes the necessary examination formally. This refers to a written examination (for both elders and deacons). We also, at CFBC, choose to examine the man in an oral interview where we ask specific questions about the prospect’s spiritual life (sexual purity, Bible reading, prayer time, marriage, family worship, financial condition, repentance, evangelism, etc.).  For an elder and deacon, we would interview the wife privately (without the husband there), and children (if applicable). For an elder, we would also go to his workplace and interview at least two co-workers to gather their impressions on the prospective leader. The oral and written examinations will help the existing leadership team in testing the candidate for a ministry position. This is a crucial element of the process of becoming a leader. This stage in the process is not to be rushed; nor is it to be overlooked. A man must be examined first before becoming an official leader in the church.

Third, Approving men
After a man has demonstrated a godly life, faithfulness in service in the local church, and after he has been examined, the CFBC leadership will bring the man before the church congregation in a corporate worship service and present him as a viable candidate for leadership. The leadership then calls on the church as a whole to give input to the leadership team about the candidate over a set period of time (say, a month or so). This includes the flock and their impressions, perceptions, concerns, or affirmations in the leadership process. After this set period of time, the leaders may approve the man by mentioning to him the weightiness and responsibility of leadership in Christ’s church.

Fourth, Recognizing men
Then after a man is approved by the leadership, he is recognized publicly in a public worship service and appointed to the leadership position (of elder or deacon). This is a public recognition and the existing church leaders will pray for the new leader and commit him, his family, and the ministry to the Lord for His glory and for the health and protection of the church. No church makes a leader. No church raises up leaders. The Spirit of God does this. We view our job to disciple, pray for, train, and encourage men to serve in many ways. As they serve, the Spirit of God makes it clear over time who is already doing the work of service. And the more these faithful servants do the work, it becomes overwhelmingly clear both to them, to the leadership, and to to the congregation as a whole, whom the Lord is raising up to be a leadership (either a deacon or an elder).

More on leadership can be found at Pastor Geoff's website.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Matthew 3:12 — “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

From this text, the Word of God speaks of the reality of eternal punishment. We can study it under a few headings:

1. WHO - Jesus Christ: “HE”
John the Baptist is around the Jordan River baptizing many people who are coming to him from the nearby areas and when the religious leaders arrived, he warned them to flee from the wrath to come (Matt 3:7). He warned these Pharisees and Sadducees that he baptizes with water for repentance, but Christ Himself is coming who is mightier and He baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matt 3:11). Jesus Christ has a winnowing fork in His hand and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor and He will gather His wheat (=believers) into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff (=unbelievers) with unquenchable fire. This tells us that judgment will be decisively and justly administered by Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus would later declare that the Father has given all judgment to the Son (John 5:22) and it is Christ Himself who sits on a Great, White Throne at the end of the age and He will cast all nonbelievers into the Lake of Fire (Rev 20:11-15). Make no mistake, it is Jesus Christ the Sovereign Lord, who judges nonbelievers.

In the message in the open air to the very religious masses, John declared that Jesus will gather His wheat into His barn and He will burn up the chaff (Matt 3:12). There is an element of certainty here. No doubt exists. No uncertainty or potentiality is in the text. Christ Himself will cast all the chaff away. For all nonbelievers, no matter how rebellious, indifferent, oppressive, or religious they have been, Christ Jesus will most surely cast all unrepentant sinners and Christ-rejecting rebels to hell.

3. VIOLENCE - “burn up”
Sometimes John the Baptist is called a “hell, fire and brimstone preacher.” To be fair, he’s a faithful prophet who delivers what God has for the hearers. In the public, John courageously and unflinchingly declares that Jesus will burn up the chaff. He will burn them up. The language Matthew uses is that Jesus will consume them up, burn them entirely, utterly destroy them violently. Later, in Jesus’ public teaching before many crowds, he will say: “Gather the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up” (Matt 13:30). All unrepentant sinners who do not come to Christ alone for salvation will be burned up. It also must be mentioned that Christ Himself will burn up the chaff. Christ actively and righteously exacts perfect judgment in the burning of all sinners who die apart from Him.

4. RECIPIENTS - the chaff
The faithful preaching of the forerunner to the Messiah also includes the description of those who will be judged. He calls them “chaff.” Chaff speaks of that which is worthless, nothing, unhelpful, light, useless. John says that the Lord Christ will burn up all nonbelievers -- and he calls them chaff. The Bible likens the wicked to chaff (Ps 1:4) who blow away in a wind. It is the Angel of the LORD who drives the chaff away (Ps 35:5). God, in His almighty and unstoppable power, makes all the wicked like chaff which are driven away (Ps 83:13). So here, John graphically and honestly speaks of nonbelievers as “chaff” -- that which is useless and unprofitable.

5. ETERNALITY / SEVERITY - with unquenchable fire
Far different than a common mantra of everyone going to heaven, or no one going to hell, John the Baptist taught that all the chaff would be burned up with “unquenchable fire.” All nonbelievers will go to the place of eternal fire (Matt 18:8). At the end of the age, Christ will judge those and say: “Depart from me...into the eternal fire” (Matt 25:41). False teachers will make their eternal home in the “eternal fire” (Jude 7). Not only does John speak of fire, but the fire is unquenchable. That signifies the enduring nature, the endlessness, the never-ending everlastingness of this fiery judgment of God that will crush all nonbelievers. It’s unquenchable, it never goes out, it never fades, it never loses its power, it never goes out, it never rests. Sinners who do not repent of sin will go into hell, into the unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43).

With the reality of eternal punishment clearly set forth in Scripture, note the hope for those who turn to Christ Jesus by faith alone. John the Baptist says that Christ Himself will “gather His wheat into the barn.” This picture provides such a personal, protective, caring love of the Savior who gathers His people, whom He has purchased with His own blood, into the barn. Think of the usefulness, the benefit, the blessing of wheat. Think of a barn and the protection it offers from bad weather, from invaders, and from harm. Christ is the only refuge and the only hope for sinners. No other way to escape eternal punishment exists. Turn to Christ and live! Repent and believe the gospel! Come to Christ and find life!
The Pastor Is the Primary Worship Leader.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Lots of titles swirl in church-circles today. Minister of music. Worship director. Worship pastor. And on they go. Often these titles that relate to a ‘worship leader’ point to the person who plans, leads, and organizes the music part of the service.

As important as those faithful folks who serve in the area of music are, and those who give leadership in the music in the church gathering, we do well to remember that the primary worship leader in the assembly of God’s people is the pastor.

If worship could be simply defined as a response to the revelation of who God is and what God has done, then the pastor is the one who has the primary duty of revealing God to the people through Scripture and preaching Christ week by week. It is he who sets the glory and majesty of God before the people through the reading, preaching and application of the Word of God. Of course, this understands worship to not be synonymous with music; music can be an expression of worship and it can be a vehicle by which the saint can adore and praise God. But the “worship time” does not equal the “music time” in the church gathering.

So how does the pastor function as the primary worship leader in the church gathering?

The pastor has the wonderful privilege of calling the saints to prepare themselves to meet with God. As Moses called Israel to purify themselves for in three days, God would descend to meet with them (Exodus 19), so the pastor leads in guiding the congregation to prepare well ahead of time to meet with the Lord. Again, worship is fundamentally a heart-filled response to who God is and how God has revealed Himself. Through the faithful preaching of God’s Word week by week, and the diligent leading the flock to the throne of grace in prayer, and the modeling of heart-preparation for corporate worship, this is one important way in which the pastor leads believers in worship.

Worship is serious. Just read Revelation 4 and 5 and one will quickly find the absence of joking and trivialities and worldliness. In fact, the innumerable multitudes in heaven (both angels and saints) are often prostrate before the sovereign Lamb worshiping Him, adoring Him, and offering expressions of praise, honor, and worship. The pastor functions as the primary worship leader as he teaches the Word of God so that there is a sobriety in the presence of God. It’s as the pastor-hymnwriter of old once penned it: “how sweet and aweful [=awesome] is the place with Christ within the doors.” As the saints gather to worship God in corporate worship, it should resemble the corporate worship of heaven (as seen in Revelation 4, 5, 7, 15). There should be a great sobriety, understanding that Almighty God, in full, unclouded glory is beheld, present, and fully deserving of our focus, delight, and worship.

Perhaps the greatest way the pastor functions as the worship leader is by setting God before His very own people through the regular, consistent, solid expounding of Holy Scripture. In preaching the Word faithfully, God shows Himself to His people through the mouthpiece of the preacher. In heralding the Bible, the greatness of God will shine forth brilliantly and unmistakably. The minister will declare the sinfulness of sin, the glory of God, the sufficiency of Christ, the propitiation of Christ, the certainty of judgment, and the call to repent and believe the gospel. As the Word of God goes forth in power, aided by the Holy Spirit, God exalts Himself, honors His Son, builds His church, edifies His people, and compels them to worship privately, publicly, and evangelistically. Thus, the pastor who tirelessly obeys God’s call to “preach the Word” is the real, ultimate worship leader in showing who God is to the congregation thus allowing them, by God’s grace, to respond in praise, worship, humility, repentance, and adoration.

The pastor has the responsibility of maintaining a Godward focus in the worship gathering. The music is to exalt Christ. The Scripture reading is to be serious, focused, and clear. The prayers in the gathering should reflect those of Scripture (in all their various forms). The preaching should be expository, Christ-exalting, gospel-declaring, and Spirit-empowered. From start to end, the worship service should maintain a focus centered on the majesty of God, the glory of Christ, and the enabling grace of the Spirit. It is the pastor who ultimately carries the service along and he is the one who is to see to it that God -- not man -- remains the focus of the entire gathering. God must be central; not man. God must be exalted; not man. God must be thought highly of; not man. God’s Word must be preached; not man’s. It is the pastor who can plan, lead, maintain, and see to it that the corporate worship gathering centers on God from beginning to end through everything that is done.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Pillars of Promises for the Child of God
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church  (St Louis, MO)

In times of deep dark despair, don’t listen to yourself & your doubts; rather, speak biblical truth &  anchor your trust in God’s promises!

What are some *GO TO* Promises that you can cling to?
1. Rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven (Luke 10.20)
2. Don’t be troubled; Christ prepares a place for you & will come to receive you to be with Him (John 14.1-3)
3. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; do not let your heart be troubled; nor let it be fearful (John 14.27)
4. Whoever will call on the name of the Lord WILL be saved (Rom 10.13)
5. Having been justified by faith, we HAVE peace with God thru our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 5.1)
6. HOPE does NOT disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts thru the Holy Spirit (Rom 5.5)
7. As a believer in Jesus Christ, you are justified and saved from God’s wrath thru Christ (Rom 5.9)
8. If God is for us, who can be against us (Rom 8.31)
9. Who can condemn you? Christ died, yes he was raised, is at the right hand of God, and intercedes for us! (Rom 8.34)
10. Neither death, life, angels, principalities, things present or things to come, nor power….will separate us from the love of God (Rom 8.38-39)
11. What you’ve learned and received and heard in Scripture, practice these things and GOD of peace will be with you (Phil 4.9)
12. God has forgiven me ALL my transgressions having canceled out the certificate of debt & has taken it out of the way NAILING it to the cross (Col 2.13-15)
13. All believers have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls (1 Pet 2.25)
14. We have an inheritance in heaven thru Christ which is imperishable, undefiled, and will NOT fade away, reserved in heaven for us, protected by the power of God (1 Pet 1.3-5)
15. After you’ve suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (1 Pet 5.10)
16. I write to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake (1 John 2.12)
17. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one (1 John 2.13)
18. God is able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in the present elf His glory blameless and with great joy (Jude 24)
19. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death (Rev 2.11)
20. Whoever overcomes will be a pillar in the temple, will not go out anymore, will have the name of God, the name of the city of God, and the new name of Christ forevermore (Rev 3.12)
21. NO temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it (1 Cor 10.13)
22. the LORD will protect you from ALL evil; he will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever (Ps 121:7-8)
23. God has not dealt with us according to our sins…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us (Ps 103.10-12)
24. For YOU, LORD, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to ALL who call upon you (Ps 86.5)
25. The LORD GOD is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly (Ps 84.11)
26. Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; ... they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary (Isa 40.31)
27. The Lord gives eternal life to His people and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of my hand (John 10.28)
28. God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose … He conformed us to the image of His Son (Rom 8.28-29)
29. In your presence is fullness of joy; in your right hand there are pleasures forever (Ps 16.11)
30. You are good and you do good; teach me your statutes (Ps 119.68)
31. Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases (Ps 115.3)
32. the LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1.21)
33. The LORD hears the prayer of the righteous (Prov 15.29)
34. In heaven, there will no longer be any curse and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bondservants will serve him; they WILL see his face, and HIS name will be on their foreheads (Rev 22.3-4).
35. As many as received him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born … of God (John 1.12-13)
36. Ours is the God of all comfort who comforts us in ALL our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction (2 Cor 1.3-4)
37. My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness (2 Cor 12.9)
38. The LORD is slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression (Num 14.18)
39. We don’t know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us … and He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Rom 8.26-27)
40. Therefore, there is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8.1)
41. Whoever believes in (Christ) will not be disappointed (1 Pet 2.6)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

How To Pray For Your Pastor
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Pray for him ...
1. To have an insatiable hunger for God’s Word.
2. To feed regularly & be filled joyfully from communing with God in His Word.
3. To love his wife selflessly, sacrificially, and with a tender, servant’s heart.
4. To disciple his children in the words and works of the Lord.
5. To lead his family in regular times of family worship at home.
6. To tell, show, and prove to his wife and children that the family is his primary ministry.
7. To model what a man of God is to be like even within the confines of his home — above reproach with his eyes, his words, his attitudes, and
his private life.
8. To study diligently for every single sermon.
9. To pray fervently as a man who is inseparable from his best friend.
10. To intercede for every single family (especially the husbands and fathers) in the church.
11. To train up Godly men who can help share the responsibilities and burdens of ministry.
12. To disciple other men who can disciple their own wives, children, and other men in the church.
13. To flee ferociously from all sexual temptations.
14. To repent daily from pride and self-autonomy.
15. To humbly confess to others when he sins against them.
16. To be shepherded by others who ask him the “hard” questions about his personal life, family life, walk with God, and thoughts.
17. To shun all forms of materialism and the love of money.
18. To be used by God mightily in the preaching of the Word, in the discipling and raising of men, and in evangelism.
19. To provide visionary leadership for the local church that is biblical and gospel-centered.
20. To meditate daily on the beautiful glory of the gospel of grace.
21. To remind himself daily that he is in need of the gospel just as much as those to those to whom he preaches.
22. To be protected from Satan’s sly schemes and deceptive devices that he will regularly cast into your pastor’s path.
23. To enjoy the work of the ministry.
24. To not lose heart from all of the emotional, spiritual, and ministerial battles.
25. To counsel others biblically from the Word of God.
26. To live such an exemplary life at home so that his wife and children can sit under his preaching with integrity rather than seeing him as a
hypocritical liar.
27. To befriend his wife more than any other woman and more than any other man on the earth.
28. To have wisdom and guidance as to where to focus his efforts in the ministry.
29. To manage his time well so that he focuses on the priorities rather than on the peripherals.
30. To evangelize with regularity, zeal, persuasion, and urgency.
31. To retain a tender compassion for the lost who are dead in their sins & yet a fervent passion to see them saved.
32. To take hold of God in prayer in the morning, in the afternoons, and in the night so that he may commune with His God even when no
one else sees or notices his fellowship with his God.
33. To kill every known sin in his life; to allow no sin to linger; to uproot every sin from its inceptive root.
34. To reject every form of pastoral pride that could arise in his own heart such as longing for a bigger church, mass converts, new building,
speaking engagements.
35. To live minimally so that he does not fall into the temptation of loving money, relying on money, or seeking more money for happiness.
36. To rejoice often in the One who is infinitely worthy of our joy, namely, God Himself and His great goodness.
37. To partner, pray with, encourage, and serve missionaries who are laboring for Christ and His gospel around the globe.

More articles can be found at Pastor Geoff's page.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Blessed Gift & Duty of Godly Fathers
Geoffrey R. Kirkland

Godly fathers are gifts from the Lord. I thank the Lord for my father, a man of God, who early on for me modeled holiness, church involvement, integrity of character both inside and outside the home, and hard work. My father has taught me -- and still is teaching me -- much about faithfulness, endurance, perseverance, sobermindedness, and trust in the Lord. Godly fathers are blessed gifts to families and these fathers also have an unspeakably important duty from the Lord. I’ll just list four duties of godly fathers.

Fathers must lead. They must lead in the home. They must lead as men who do not forcefully or authoritatively demand submission or things to be done their way. Rather, they lead as stewards; that is, as men who have been given a grace-gift and a divine-calling from God to lead by serving the people in their home (and, in every sphere of life they’re in). In fact, the best way to lead is by following. That is, lead others by following Christ. The fervency with which a man of God follows His Savior sets a worthy example for others to emulate. Godly men must lead. He follows the example of other men of God in Scripture, in his church and strives to practically serve, tangibly provide, spiritually shepherd, and consistently love his family.

It’s humbling to repent. And yet when the Spirit of God reveals our sin and we understand where we’ve sinned, where we’ve failed, where we’ve been selfish, and where we’ve spoken rashly or impulsively, it’s crucial for men of God to repent in the home. In fact, a great way to lead in the home is by repenting in the home. Even if another person is also at fault, godly men can take the initiative in repenting first. Perhaps there’s conflict or a great disagreement in the home, the penitent man will come humbly and repent where needed by specifically asking for forgiveness and seeking to reconcile. When he sins, however public or private, he seeks to keep short accounts with the Lord and with those in his life.

In a society with so many options for distractions, entertainments, and time-wasters, the mature Christian man will prioritize those things that God calls him to invest in. For instance, he will keep watch over and diligently guard his soul. This will manifest itself in frequent bible reading and prayer times. He will also faithfully love and shepherd his wife as his foremost priority in this life as he knows they have a permanent union that is to emulate the relationship of Christ and actively involvement in his local church. He will care for, instruct, and spend time with the children that God has entrusted to him. The focused man on biblical priorities will not neglect his family at home for work, or friends, or sports, or entertainments. None of these are bad, but this mature man keeps these activities in their rightful place. He prioritizes family worship, his local church, intercessory prayer, and caring for his wife’s needs and his children’s souls.

Godly men prioritize prayer and commit themselves to prayer. This godly father will pray fervently, privately, publicly, daily, and expectantly. He knows the Lord will hear the prayers of the godly man and so this drives him to great prayers. Indeed, the godly father knows God is omnipotent and that his prayers reach the ear of the enthroned almighty King. He prays for his own heart and purity. He prays for his wife and for his children (and, grandchildren). He prays for those he interacts with (at his employment, sports, hobbies). He longs for his neighbors to come to Christ. When a great day is closing, he leads his family in prayers of thanksgiving and worship. When trials strike and pains penetrate, he gathers with the family to trust in the Lord by calling upon His name for strength, endurance, and joy in the midst of the trial. Joy floods his heart at the mercy seat where he communes with God for his family.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

A recent wave of writings and audios has come with a force from folks who claim to be both at the same time homosexuals and Christians. Or, to use their vernacular, "Gay-Christians." They claim to be celibate gay-Christians, in that they don't act out on their sinful desires. Writings also come from those who may be tolerant of such perspectives.

Can this really be the case? Can one really be a 'Gay-Christian'?  We have worked hard to compile a series of podcasts on this topic to equip believers with the Truth of God's authoritative Word.

[We quickly realize that homosexuality, SSA, and the like is not the only or the ultimate or the unforgivable sin. The Word of God places the sin of homosexuality alongside of many other sins that condemn sinners. We are all guilty. This isn't a matter of pointing fingers at *those* people caught up in this. Rather, the point is to speak Truth to believers and to equip them with God's Word so that they can respond biblically, accurately, and compellingly to those who make such professions regarding this particular issue.]


1. The utter impossibility of being a 'gay-Christian'  |  PODCAST
In this, Pastor Geoff provides 7 reasons why this is utterly impossible. Again, it's absolutely impossible to be a 'Gay-Christian'.  Here's why...

It Blasphemes the Character of God.
It Contradicts the Clarity of Scripture.
It Ignores the Severity of Hell.
It Disregards the Glory of Regeneration
It Belittles the Power of Grace
It Shames the Name of Christ
It Destroys the Witness to the Lost

2. Why homosexuals and 'gay-Christians' are deceived and need a Savior  |  PODCAST

From 1 Timothy 1, Pastor Geoff shows why such people who engage in sin (including these or any other ongoing pattern of sinful behavior) need a Savior:

B/c of Their Depravity
B/c of Their Sin
B/c of Their Rebellion
B/c of Their Patterns (of sin)
B/c of Their Unholiness
B/c of Their Choice
B/c of Their Impenitence

3. Pastors and professors who condone [legitimize] LGBT+ are deceived  PODCAST
In this podcast, Pastor Geoff  shows that pastors and academic professors who condone the LGBT+ movement are deceived.

We must stand courageously and speak biblically as we stand upon the sufficient, clear, and authoritative Word of God (=the Bible):

Men in the pulpits must teach TRUTH to God’s people.
Professors in the instructions must teach SCRIPTURE to Believers.
Christians in the pews must understand the NATURE of sin.
Christians in the pews must believe the POWER of regeneration.
Christians in the pews must warn with urgency of homosexuality (SSA)
Christians in the pews must speak with courage in these times.
Christians in the pews must expect the hatred of the world.

4. Why we must preach the truth regarding the eternal danger of homosexuality and those who profess to be 'gay-Christians'  |  PODCAST
Here is why we must preach what God says regarding those who engage in ongoing sin. We must preach the eternal danger of the sins that men refuse to repent of -- including the sins of homosexuality, same-sex attraction, and those who profess to be 'gay-Christians':

We must preach the truth for the following reasons...


5.  Elders and pastors are disqualified from pastoral ministry if they affirm homosexuality and being a so-called 'Gay-Christian'  |  PODCAST
This podcast looks at Titus 1.8 — elders are qualified if they are “loving what is good”

What is good?  GOD is the highest good
What is good? TRUTH is the revelation of good
What is good? CHRIST is the quintessential good
What is good? the LOVE OF CHRIST and the GOSPEL OF CHRIST is good

6. What would God say to a 'gay-Christian'?  PODCAST

What Would God Say to a Person Who Thinks He’s a “Gay-Christian” — One Who Can Profess the Name of Christ and Continue Living as a Celibate Homosexual?  From God's Word, we can find at least 5 exhortations God would give to one who professes to be a Gay-Christian (that we can glean from God's Word):

STOP DECEIVING (yourself & the world w/ your double life)

7.  Biblical clarity on the 'Gay-Christian' profession from 1 Corinthians 6  |  PODCAST
Pastor Geoff works through 1 Corinthians 6 and provides a 3-point outline to this very important text that clearly and specifically addresses the topic of homosexuality and, so called, gay-Christians.

The Sobering Plea to Not Be Deceived By Charlatans  (9a)
The Sinful Patterns That Keep You Out Of Heaven  (9-10)
The Sure Promises of Christ’s Blood & the Power of the Spirit’s Regeneration  (11)

Many more articles and podcasts can be found at Pastor Geoff's page.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Preparing to actively “minister” in Sunday worship
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

This is a letter written to the members of CFBC to encourage them and seek to help them think broadly and widely about "ministering" to one another when the saints gather together on Sundays. Perhaps there may be elements of this that others may be able to incorporate in their particular contexts and local churches.

1. Get rest — Get plenty of sleep on Saturday night (even though we don’t worship early on Sunday mornings) and remember that the whole day belongs to the Lord and we would do well to devote this day to the worship of God individually, with our families, and corporately with CFBC. This corporate worship is one of the greatest gift Christ gives to us. Let’s be rested and alert to both give to Him and to one another and to receive from Him every time we gather together.

2. Read the text — Take the weekly preparation email (sent out on Fridays) and read the text that will be preached. In fact, read it a few times through over the following few days till Sunday and pray through it. Read the corporate Scripture reading text and other Scriptures that may be helpful in preparing to hear from God.

3. Pray with breadth — Our Lord calls us to open our mouths wide that He may fill it. We are called to pray big prayers, enlarged prayers, God-sized prayers. What if God were to hear and answer every single one of our prayers that we bring before Him? What would change? How many people would be converted? Would revival break in? Would our young people be drawn to Christ, on fire for Him, and longing to be trained for ministry? Pray for as many aspects of the corporate worship service and the Sunday activities that you can think of (nursery, catechism, youth Bible study, songs, preaching, power of the Spirit, etc.)

4. Protect the day — I firmly believe that all Christians must diligently fight to attend corporate worship every Sunday. We find ourselves bombarded on all sides with distractions, entertainments, sports, travels, and parties that can take us away from the corporate gathering with our church family. Of course travels, sickness, and various things may come up. But this should be the exception and never the norm. May the Lord give us such a hunger for the steady, rich, full and satisfying diet of His Word and of sweet fellowship that missing a Sunday would be like missing a week of eating physical food. Let us prepare well, attend faithfully, and arrive early so we can be in our seat ahead of time and ready for the worship service to begin.

5. Initiate interactions — Let us carefully consider how we can stimulate one another (in our local assembly) to love and good deeds. How can you initiate interactions with one another? With those whom you don’t usually converse with? With the young people, teenagers, singles? Even with those who are very different than you? Let’s pray for one another and seek to initiate interactions with others. Consider asking such Christ-centered questions such as: “what did you read and glean from God’s Word this week?” Or “how did God show Himself to you through the preached Word today?” Or “Is there some specific way that I can intercede for you in prayer this upcoming week?” May the Lord encourage and edify His people as we proactively initiate interactions with one another — for the glory of Christ and for the good of our souls.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

16 Benefits of Expository Preaching
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

In what follows, I'll provide 16 benefits of expository preaching. 

Expository preaching...
  1. Allows God to speak through His written Word, by His chosen mouthpiece, to all who are present.
  2. Defines the primary way that Christ promises to build His Church -- through the regular, faithful, steady, theological, Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered expounding of Scripture.
  3. Feeds God’s people on the whole counsel of God.
  4. Is the primary means that the Spirit of God brings lost sinners to salvation through faith alone in Christ alone.
  5. Is the primary means through which the Spirit of God sanctifies, grows, convicts, and conforms the likeness of Christ in true believers.
  6. Upholds the absolute sufficiency, divine authority, unstoppable power, and glorious comforts found in Holy Scripture.
  7. Brings out the authorial meaning of the text that is singular, unchanging and expounded.
  8. Models for believers how to study God’s Word and how to derive at the meaning of the text and proper application of the meaning of that text for their lives today.
  9. Aids the congregation to know what will be preached on next week (if it’s sequential exposition through a Book of the Bible).
  10. Prevents a minister from saying his opinions, or reading into the text what’s not there (eisegesis), or entertaining people with stories.
  11. Grows the preacher himself as he studies the text of Scripture to be preached and benefits from the sanctifying work of God’s truth in his own soul and life.
  12. Goes forth with the power of the Holy Spirit with much prayer and faithful proclamation.
  13. Must be priority and central in the local church.
  14. Informs the minds of believers with theological truth so as to see how the text that is preached fits within the immediate and greater context of that chapter and book. It shows the flock that God’s Word is a unity and that systematic theology is to be derived out of Scripture as it is properly interpreted.
  15. Does not change with the cultural changes, preferences of men, laws of the land, or generational shifts. It is a timeless mandate from God.
  16. Allows the sermon to be preached in any culture in the world as the meaning of the text does not change from place to place (applications may differ but the meaning remains constant).
Pastor Geoff's sermons & articles are found at his webpage.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Twelve Features of Biblical Preaching
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

This brief write-up will expound upon 12 features of biblical preaching. These features need to be reviewed and recovered in our day so that God’s Word will go forth with mighty thunder, in the power of the Holy Spirit, so that God may save many for the glory of Jesus Christ.

1. EXPOSITION — To exposit the biblical text refers to the teacher bringing the authorial intent out of the text of Scripture. This is the meaning of the particular text. To exposit means to dive deep in bringing the true meaning out of the text and making it plain to the hearers.

2. PRECISION — Biblical preaching must be precise. There must be clear arguments, cogent lines of reasoning and biblical supports for what is stated. The Bible is very precise. God is very precise. The gospel is very precise. The truth that saves is very precise. So our preaching should be very precise and clear.

3. DECLARATION — To preach God’s Word includes the declaration of God’s Truth. To declare is different than sharing truth. Someone may share a cookie, but we declare what God has said. The minister of God has a word from God as received in Scripture and he declares it to the congregation that has assembled to hear from God. Preaching is the declaration of Truth.

4. INSTRUCTION — All biblical preaching must include instruction. To instruct is to inform the mind and engage the intellect. To preach God’s Word is to reveal the mind of Christ, the heart of God, and the wisdom of the Spirit. To preach powerfully demands clear instruction.

5. APPLICATION — Jesus is the master example of preaching with application. He summoned His hearers to action. He called them to repent and believe. He warned them of remaining in their sin. Consider the Book of Hebrews, which is a word of exhortation, which repeatedly calls the hearers to action. True preaching includes both imparting Truth and specific calls to action.

6. PASSION — To preach God’s Word is to let the Word of God speak through the man. When God speaks, heaven roars all the earth must listen! A faithful preacher internalizes God’s Word and says that it’s like a fire in His bones that He cannot keep in. He preaches with passion so all would hear, believe, be moved, and be caught up with the glory of the divine Truths expounded.

7. PERSUASION — The art of public speaking includes persuasion. Jesus persuaded. Paul sought to persuade in his preaching. To persuade is to present the realities of something in such a way so as to bring others with a contrary viewpoint to a different perspective. The gospel is preached with the intention of persuading the lost to turn from their sins and embrace Christ!

8. EVANGELIZATION — All biblical preaching must include the good news of Jesus Christ. A sermon without Christ is like a solar system without the sun. To preach the Bible without the good news of Christ is to give a car without the engine. It’s useless and void of any good thing. Let all who preach proclaim Christ and Him crucified in every sermon. Not every text is about Jesus Christ but every text can lead to Jesus Christ. Preachers must evangelize in every sermon.

9. INVITATION — To give an invitation does not mean a call to ‘raise a hand,’ or ‘walk an aisle.’ Rather, to invite refers to the preacher heralding God’s Word, proclaiming the salvation found only in Christ, and then summoning lost sinners to forsake all else and embrace Christ by faith alone. To invite is to compel, to woo, to summon, to beg, to seek, to entreat, and to welcome.

10. COMPASSION — Faithful preachers emulate Christ as men of compassion. To preach is to pity the lost and present the only remedy for their sin-sick souls. To preach the Word is the greatest way to show compassion upon lost sinners and converted saints. Preaching presents Christ in His fullness to all who have gathered so they may gaze upon Him for rest, rescue, and refuge.

11. CLARIFICATION — Preaching the Word of God must include clarification. To preach well is to ensure that the words that have been spoken derive from Scripture and that the stated facts fit within the larger theological framework of systematic theology. Thus, faithful preaching includes the clarifying of what is said through repetition and supporting the truths stated with other Scriptures in the entirety of God’s Word.

12. EXHORTATION — To preach is quintessentially to exhort. It is a call to action. To preach is to summon to change. A man who has the Word of God presents the meaning of the text in such a way that he then exhorts the hearers to take action in light of what was declared. Enter through the narrow gate! Unless you repent you’ll perish! Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts! Praise Him for His excellent deeds! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

On biblical preaching: here are more articles & podcasts from Pastor Geoff's website.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Pastor’s Responsibility To Train Men
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

When I read the Pastoral Epistles, my heart reflects on the duty that God gives to shepherds to care for, train up, and multiply men of God. Truly this is God’s work ultimately. To this I wholeheartedly affirm. Nevertheless, God has entrusted all shepherds with the glorious and preeminent duty of developing leaders, instructing them in truth, and equipping them to serve Christ and His church.

Here are some ways that I seek to fulfill this responsibility to train men in the local church.

1.    PRAY for MEN
It’s an impossible task. I can’t bring men to the church, make them stay, or make leaders out of men. It’s an entirely impossible task that far exceeds my abilities. But I pray. I pray often and I pray hard for God to bring godly men. For me, I designate Tuesdays specifically in my morning times of meeting with God in prayer to earnestly call upon Him for men of God to rise up within our church and for God to also bring to us men of God with an earnest, humble, devoted, and sincere passion to serve the people of God and the gospel of grace.  I believe that leadership development begins with desperate prayer. I call upon God who alone can do this work!

2.    TEACH the MEN
Paul called upon pastor Timothy to take what he had learned from the aged Apostle and “instruct faithful men” and to pass on the truths to them. The duty falls to the pastor-shepherds to primarily teach the men in the local church. Books, articles, seminaries, professors, conferences are such blessings and can — and should! — be employed but these ought not to eliminate the responsibility of a local shepherd who can weekly teach men who serve in same body of Christ. For me, I disciple a few men throughout the week and then on Friday mornings, I meet with the men of my local church for an hour and a half of focused, shepherding, intentional study of God’s Word and application to our lives.

3.    INVEST in MEN
Teaching is one thing. Investing in the lives of the men is related, but it goes beyond the mere instructing of the mind. Paul said that he not only imparted the gospel to the Thessalonians (truly, he did this!), but he also imparted his very own life as well. He invested in the men. His heart was knit to theirs. His affections were longing for their holiness. His purposes were tethered to the sanctifying work of the Spirit, through His Word, in their lives, for the glory of Christ!  He invested in believers so they would grow in grace and love Christ more. I endeavor to invest in the men that God has brought to serve with me in the local church. Whether it’s a few men, more than that, rather than being discouraged about the men who don’t show up, what a privilege to invest in the men (however many or few there may be) who do show up to be taught. I invest in those who want to be taught, who desire to be trained, who hunger for righteousness, and who reciprocate in leadership development.

4.    MEET with MEN
I meet with the men weekly as a gathering on Friday mornings. In this time, I spend about thirty minutes sharing my heart on practical shepherding related matters. This could include everything from marital matters, sexual purity, working hard on the job, family worship, why we pick the songs we sing at church, our mission statement, qualifications for elders, why we preach the way we do, how to prepare for and respond to the Word of God preached, and many other topics. Then after this brief heart-to-heart discussion, we dig into God’s Word for a straight hour and study it together. We exposit the Word and then we apply the Word. When I meet with men during the week — even for a lunch! — I bring my Bible (not on my phone, but my physical, hard-copy, paper Bible!) and I open it and read a portion of Scripture and share a word of encouragement or a brief exhortation to the brother I’m with. I want them to know that at any time, at any place, with whomever they may be, they can also take God’s Word, read it, be strengthened by it, and depend upon it for blessing and growth.

Leading men and developing leaders includes encouragement. We can’t only drive men and call them to action only. I believe we must encourage those who serve. For me, I enjoy sending specific text messages and writing specific post-card letters of encouragement to those who faithfully serve. Jonathan encouraged David in the Lord. It is a gift of God’s grace that He gives us one another in the family of God so that we can encourage the men as we see them leading at home: leading their wives, praying with their families, leading in family worship, teaching the children catechism, reaching out to other men for discipleship, how they teach and impart God’s truth. We need to be encouragers who find what God is doing in their lives and verbalize this to them so that God will be praised, they will be encouraged, and they’ll be challenged to excel still more.

Leadership is not about doing all the work alone. A good leader delegates. Godly leaders find men of God, men who are capable of leading, men who have shown servant’s hearts and humble mindsets, and provide opportunities for service for them. Leaders delegate responsibilities to others. In the local church, leadership is a shared ministry. Never was God’s intention for one man to lead everyone. Through Moses’ father in law, Moses appointed leaders over the nation to help him lead in the oversight of cases and disputes that came up. So Godly leaders today find gifted, able, holy, and growing men and find ways to delegate responsibilities and give tasks to men to serve, to teach, to disciple, to instruct, to lead, and to oversee certain opportunities.

7.    MULTIPLY Godly MEN
This is God’s work. But God uses faithful shepherds who take biblical truth and invest it into others to grow and develop other men of God. My heart is to see many men grow and multiply themselves. I want to see leadership multiplication. I long to see every man in the local church a growing man who multiplies himself and reduplicates himself as a humble servant of Christ and a diligent servant of His church. I want to lead by example in this, by God’s grace. May God multiply Godly men in and among His local churches as His shepherds seek to multiply themselves and see men develop into men of integrity, men of holiness, men who lead, men who are above reproach, and men who initiate opportunities to reach out to other men and disciple them in the Word and ways of God.

Monday, April 16, 2018

When the Pastor Speaks at a Graveside Service
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

It’s a time of loss and a time when the cruel effects of sin stand visibly before our eyes, when you stand in a graveyard with the casket there ready to be lowered into the ground, what does a minister of the gospel say? With immediate family, a host of extended family members, and others who have have gathered for the occasion, how can a pastor shepherd with gentle care, proclaim biblical truth, and be unwavering in gospel-courage at such an emotional place? Here is one approach that I took recently when I spoke at a graveside ceremony. I took as my text the opening few verses of Psalm 90 on the character of God and then later on in the psalm when Moses calls us to number our days to present to God a heart of wisdom.  In this brief 5-minute message outside, at the graveside, next to the casket carrying the body of the deceased, I presented some lessons for us.

I exhorted everyone present to take this occasion to look in various directions.

1. Look BACKWARD —
On such an occasion as standing in a graveyard with many family members, it’s imperative to get quickly and clearly to the cross-event. I took it as an opportunity to call all who were present to consider looking backward at another death, one that happened long ago, in Jerusalem. Not just to another man, but to the Divine Son of God. I chose to begin here as it provided me a way to get immediately to the hope of the gospel found in Jesus Christ alone.

2. Look DOWNWARD — Secondly, I called everyone standing outside to look downward. That is, I asked them to gaze to the ground, the dust, the dirt, the clods of clay. Look down and see the large hole in the ground that has been dug. Look at the casket that will be lowered there momentarily. See the dust of the earth. I then reminded every single person that this will be you one day. One day your very own body will return to the dust of the earth just like the deceased body that lies here. We do well to remind people on this occasion of the brevity of life.

3. Look UPWARD — But right then, at that point, I transitioned quickly to something bigger and greater still to come in the future for true believers. (And I made that very clear that this is the hope for the Christian; the one who is in Christ.) That is, we look upward to the hope of Christ’s coming in the clouds (1 Thess 4:13-18) when Christ returns to catch up those who are His to meet Him in the clouds. The dead in Christ will rise first and meet the Lord in the air and then the others who remain on earth will instantaneously be snatched up to meet them in the clouds. Yes, this day is soon-coming! This is the sure and comforting hope for the Christian!

4. Look FORWARD — Moses calls his readers to number our days so that we may present to God a heart of wisdom. There’s a sense in which every person standing on that cross, at that gravesite needs to number his days and recognize the future, though known to God, is unknown to us. I exhorted those present to be wise, to look forward and consider death and turn to Christ in saving faith so as to present to Him a heart of wisdom, fearing God, turning from sin, and walking in holiness.

5. Look INWARD — Finally, after these brief words, I summoned everyone to look internally (not in a self-introspective way, of course). I called everyone to truly examine their souls and ask themselves if they, in their own hearts, are really trusting Christ Jesus alone as the only One who can save them from coming judgment. Indeed, is this true of you? Are you trusting Christ?

All in all, it’s a very brief time and yet it should be one where the gospel is clearly presented, where the lost are confronted with the Truth of the gospel, and where believers are comforted with the hope found in Christ. This is one approach that I took recently in a graveyard service. May God use the Word of God as it goes out to save many and comfort those who are grieving in Christian hope.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Fullness of Joy: Honoring God & His Sufficient Word Rightly.
The Fullness of Joy in Being a Cessationist
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

It was not too long ago that someone posed the question to John Piper about whether or not continuationists have more and greater joy than cessationists. It’s an interesting question that was given to Piper and one that he answered publicly. I read it and found myself respectfully disagreeing with him on numerous points, even to such a point that I felt it necessary to respond with a brief write-up, primarily for my own thinking and for my church family. It should be noted that this is not a central, core, gospel tenet. There are sweet brothers in Christ who differ on these viewpoints. I do believe they are very important but I believe they are not crux, central gospel tenets. John Piper is a dear brother from whom I’ve benefited greatly, so I am not disagreeing about soteriological issues but, at this point, I’m disagreeing with an important hermeneutical issue.

Cessationists would affirm that the miraculous, sign gifts ceased when the Apostles died and the canon of Scripture was completed. Thus, there are no more gifts of prophecies, speaking in tongues, healings, and interpretation of tongues today.  Continuationists would affirm that all the spiritual gifts are still operative.

Do continuationists have more joy than cessationists? I will argue that Piper incorrectly answered the question when he affirmed that continuationists do have more joy than cessationists. I would argue that cessationists do in fact have great fullness of joy. I’ll argue this with a few brief headings.

1. God is FOR our joy; but He is not ABOUT our joy.
The Bible states repeatedly that true believers have joy and await an everlasting eternity of joy with God! Even a fruit of the Spirit is joy in the life of a believer. But let it be said: God is for our joy and He imparts wondrous joy to our hearts, but God is not about our joy. The existence of God is not existing for and revolving around our joy. God is about His joy. In so far as we are united to Christ through faith, we have His joy made full in ourselves. True believers rejoice because of who God is and how God has revealed Himself in His Word.

2. Deep Joy comes in rightly interpreting the Word.
Deep-seated, unrelenting, indomitable joy fortifies the heart of the Christian when we know we’ve read and understood His Word correctly. The Bible is the sufficient Word and the sign-gifts (such as tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecies, healings) have ceased when the Apostles died and the New Testament canon was complete. Thus, to know that we have the correct hermeneutic and the proper interpretation of a given text is what gives unspeakable joy to the Christian.

3. Satisfying Joy comes in adhering to the absolute sufficiency of the Word — no additional revelation, prophecies, or ecstatic languages are needed today.
When we come to God’s Word, we must bow the knee to the absolute authority and perfect sufficiency of Holy Scripture.  Whatever the Word says, that we believe and cling to.  The Bible is our only rule for conduct and godly living. It is the authority for it is the revealed, clear, inspired, inerrant, infallible, unchanging Word of God.  True joy comes in clinging to this sufficient Word, not in seeking after or hearing about a new revelation or vision that someone claims to have from God, or a prophetic word from a teacher in our day. True joy is found when we cling to the body of truth that has been once for all delivered to the saints. We must cling to and hold on to the truth.

4. Fullest Joy comes in Glorifying God Rightly.
Fullest joy does not come in spiritual gifts per se but in using them rightly for the glory of God. Again, if the end of our worship is joy in spiritual gifts then we’re missing the ultimate mark. The ultimate object and end of our worship must be to glorify God supremely through the spiritual gifts that He has given. Glorify God rightly demands that we honor His Word supremely as the sufficient, clear, authoritative revelation that He has given to us. Nothing more is needed. No further verification of the gospel is needed by way of miracles. God has given all that we need. As Peter put it: we have the prophetic word made more sure. May we honor God and His Word rightly so that God receives all the glory. The Spirit of God works in and through the written Word. Let us hold to this and cling to this as we glorify God rightly with God-given joy.

May the Lord impress upon our hearts the simple truth and joyous reality that God’s Word is the precious, true, sufficient revelation that He has given to us. No new revelation or prophecy or vision from God is necessary. None at all. God’s Word is the clear, authoritative, and inerrant truth. Let’s cling to God’s Word as He has revealed Himself in the written body of revelation and rejoice exceedingly in His Word knowing that this is the infallible, eternal, unchanging Word that He has given to us for our good, for HIs glory, and for our joy as we serve Him!

An audio on "cessationism: the ceasing and fulfillment of the miraculous, sign gifts" can be found here when it was preached during the CFBC foundations class.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: the Guarantee, the Glory & the Assurance.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

It is of first importance, the Apostle Paul said. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead proves to be the bedrock doctrine of the Christian faith. One cannot read the Book of Acts without noting the constant theme of the Apostle’s proclamation, namely,  the resurrection of the crucified One and salvation that comes only through His Name.

This article provides some gleanings on the importance on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Resurrection is the GUARANTEE of our life.
When Jesus Christ rose up from the dead, He guaranteed that all His people will in fact live eternally through Him. In Christ’s resurrection, all His people live. His bodily resurrection certifies His peoples’ future resurrection. Christ’s resurrection in glory assures His peoples’ resurrection in glory. The new body of Christ provides the template for the new bodies that God’s people will receive in glory. The resurrection of Christ guarantees our life -- only in Him

The Resurrection is the SATISFACTION of Christ’s atonement.
Infinite wrath came down upon the divine Son of God when He bore the curse of the Father’s wrath at Calvary. He became sin for His people and propitiated the Father’s righteous anger against sin. Thus, when the Father raised His Son from the dead, it proved that the Father was truly satisfied with the Son’s propitiatory work. Wrath has been appeased. Salvation has been won. The reality of the resurrection shows the sureness of the Father’s satisfaction of His Beloved Son’s atoning work for His elect.

The Resurrection is the TRIUMPH over all death.
Satan is the father of lies and the god of this age. He is the prince of darkness and the one who holds the power of death. Indeed, when Christ was raised from the dead, it presents the triumph of Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory and the Prince of Life, over all powers of death and darkness. Indeed, Christ defeated the Evil One at Calvary. Fulfilling prophetic words even from Genesis 3, Christ bruised Satan himself on the head and gave him the fatal blow when he defeated death and conquered all evil when He displayed His power in the resurrection.

The Resurrection is the FULFILLMENT of biblical prophecy.
One thousand years before the Lord Jesus came into the world in human flesh, King David prophesied that the Lord would faithfully preserve and watch over His special one and not allow His chosen one to see decay. Even Isaiah the prophet made clear that the suffering Servant who would die as a substitutionary sacrifice for His people will prolong his days through the resurrection. Thus, that Jesus rose from the dead fulfills the glorious and sure Word of Jehovah who prophesied centuries ahead of time that Messiah would rise triumphantly from the dead!

The Resurrection is the SEAL of future glorification.
What will our future bodies be like in glory? How sure can we be that we will inherit eternal life? The resurrection of the Lord Christ provides the seal and certifying mark that we will be with Christ and that we will be made like Christ in His glorified form. His resurrection provides the confident certainty that we will be resurrected in a body that resembles His glorified body.

The Resurrection is the HEART of true hope.
All who have received the new birth by the sovereign grace of God alone are those who have hope -- a sure hope that comes through the substitutionary death and the resurrection life of Jesus Christ. It is a living and interceding Savior who reigns in heaven as He sits at the Father’s right hand that instills hope to the child of God.

The Resurrection is the UNIQUENESS of biblical Christianity.
One may scan the history books and travel the world today and count the innumerable religions and ways of life that will bring one great happiness and peace. But every founder and religious figure in the religion has one thing in common -- they’re all dead and they’ve all decayed. They’ve passed and they’re gone. But Jesus Christ is alive. This is the exclusive and distinguishing mark of biblical Christianity. Life can only be found in the living God. Victory over death can only be granted through One who Himself proved He triumphed over this great monster. Christ alone has done it and this is the unique, essential, foundational, and proclaimed message of Christianity.

The Resurrection is the COMFORT for our eschatology.
When loved ones die, the Apostle Paul exhorts believers to not grieve as the pagans do who have no hope. Rather, true believers have an indomitable comfort that springs from the resurrection life and soon-coming return of our Risen and living Lord, Jesus Christ.  Believers know that Jesus intercedes right now, at this very moment, in heaven for His own sheep and that He will return again to catch His people up in the clouds to be with Him forever. And believers ought to comfort one another with these words. It is the death of Christ and the resurrection of Christ that guarantees this future, eschatological hope which plants great comfort deep into the hearts of believers -- even when undergoing great suffering in life.
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