Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Instruction & Parenting
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Parents all understand Paul’s command to “bring the children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6.4). But sometimes we grow weary in teaching the same old truths on many occasions again and again. Solomon could relate. He said “Hear my son your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching” (Prov 1:8). All through the Book of Proverbs, we receive many examples of Solomon pleading with his son to hear, listen to, heed, pay attention to, and receive His instruction. For instance, “my son, do not forget my teaching but let your heart keep my commandments” (Prov 3:1). This is a vital and unending part of parenting. As the children grow, we as parents must be deliberate in our teaching and instructing of their hearts. This not only takes place in the discipline room when they’re very small (with simple points of instruction) but as the child gets older, the physical spanking will decrease and the verbal instruction and biblical reasoning with the child will increase. When the child is so young that he cannot articulate or reason with you as the parent, discipline with the rod is the primary means of discipline when he has sinned. But as the child grows, verbal instruction, reasoning from the Scriptures, and helping the child see the desires that rule his heart that cause him to then choose to act, speak, or respond a certain way will then take priority in shepherding them toward Christ.

So how do we teach and instruct? It’s something that we can’t not do. We can’t ignore this clear command. We’re called to impress God’s truths deeply on the hearts of our kids (Deut 6.4-9). Come my children listen to me and I will teach you the fear of the Lord (Ps 34.11). So what does this teaching and instruction look like?  I want to provide 7 brief descriptions of our parental instruction to our children.

1. Our instruction must be biblical. I suppose that’s obvious for us as Christian parents but this point cannot be overemphasized. With the incessant pull of media, videos, movies, music, shows, and with the unraveling of the “family” in our culture, we can’t just coast in casual teaching of our children. We must daily show our kids (from the youngest of ages!) what the Bible says, where it says it in the Bible, why it says what it says, and how we must live in response to God’s Truth. Let it be said: we don’t want our instruction to be child-centered or man-centered, but God-centered and biblically-founded. We must be the primary soul-carers (pastors!) of our kids.

2. Our instruction must be formal. By this I refer to regular times where we gather as a family to teach our kids about God and His truth in family worship. As Joshua said: “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord” (Josh 24.15), so every parent must resolve to formally instruct the children in the home, in the Word, with intentionality, as a priority, each day. Going to church 50 times a year (1x a week) is good, but teaching 360+ times a year in the home is unparalleled!

3. Our instruction must be informal. Not only are there planned times of teaching but there is also the “as you are going” mentality of parental instruction. What if you see an ambulance driving by? What if you see a beautiful sunset that God has painted across the sky? What if you see a beautiful rainbow with all the colors magnificently displayed? What if you see two men fighting on the street corner? What if you see something immodest on a billboard? How do you respond in these unplanned opportunities, but to take it as a providential gift from God as a teaching moment! As you look around, you could constantly give thanks and praise to God for everything and use this as an opportunity to informally, and yet powerfully, teach your kids.

4. Our instruction must be incarnated (lived out). We could teach that we must pray always. We could teach that we must rejoice in Jesus Christ. We could tell our kids to give thanks in all circumstances. We could tell our kids to repent, ask for forgiveness, grant repentance, and walk humbly. But do we model this with our lives? Part of parenting is modeling and showing how God’s Word changes our lives. Our kids are watching! So much of living is more caught than taught. So teach with your mouth but also show with your life!

5. Our instruction must be courageous (even when the world doesn’t want it). Of course, the world is at enmity with Christ and it is darkness as God is in the Light. Of course biblical teaching is at odds with worldly thinking. Yet our teaching must be founded on the Word, grounded in truth, courageous in our application and resolute in our obedience. We tell our kids: God’s glory is the ultimate goal and we live for Him, we rejoice in Him, we suffer for Him, we’ll die for Him! It’s always better to die for the truth than to live for a lie. Teach from the Bible and also include the importance of courage and convictions. Don’t just hope for the kids to have some truths, pray for the truths to grab hold of your children! That’s living with courage!

6. Our instruction must be joy-filled (God’s path is always best). Solomon told his son, Rehoboam, “do not forget my teaching but let your heart keep my commandments … it will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones (Prov 3.1, 8). Indeed, how “blessed is the man who finds wisdom” (Prov 3.13). Our teaching must include not only the laws of God and the duty to obey but also the joys of obedience and the pleasantness of following Christ even in the midst of sufferings, hardships, uncertainties, and pain. Let us remind our kids the best and most joyful and most satisfying path is always God’s path as clearly laid out in Scripture. We pursue whatever we think will bring us the greatest happiness and pleasure, so let us constantly impress upon our children that obeying God brings great joy -- because it does!

7. Our instruction, as it comes from Scripture, is sufficient (found in Scripture). Remember the doctrine of bibliology, the Bible is absolutely sufficient for all things related to life and godliness (2 Pet 1.3-4). That means that what God has clearly revealed and said in His written revelation (the Bible) is all we need for guidance and help through life -- any situation in life. We don’t need to supplement the Bible with secular scientific hypotheses, or modern-day psychological formulas or self-help ideologies. God’s Word is enough and sufficient for our instructing our kids and for helping them as they grow and mature through the early ages through the teenage years till they move out and live on their own.

We can’t overemphasize the importance of teaching our children … to put their confidence in God and not forget the works of God but to keep His commandments (Ps 78.5-7). May God help us to teach and instruct our children well, from Scripture, with joy, with intentionality, for His glory.

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

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Every godly parent loves his child and ultimately wants what’s best for him and for his eternal well-being. Parents long for their children to trust in Christ alone for salvation! God’s Word provides the only sufficient, eternal, authoritative, divine guidelines for parenting our children. That is to say, other resources can prove to be helpful and inspiring but God’s Word is authoritative, God-breathed, and wholly sufficient for all matters pertaining to life and godliness, including parenting. So, what does Scripture have to say about discipline and spanking?

The Apostle Paul says that parents must “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6.4). God also says in the Old Testament that “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;  The rod of discipline will remove it far from him” (Prov 22.15). Furthermore, God most clearly commands us as parents “do not hold back discipline from the child,  Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from Sheol” (Prov 23.13-14). God says that “the rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother” (Prov 29.15). Then God instructs parents: “Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will delight your soul” (Prov 29.17). Why all this? Because our children need to be guided to understand that sinful decisions that their heart makes have consequences. Remember, the heart of the nonbeliever rages against the Lord (Prov 19.3). And so parents live by faith when we discipline our children because God says that the rod of discipline will remove that folly far from him (as the parent provides gentle, loving, biblical reproof as well seeking to get at the heart).

So your child has sinned. Your precious little one has disobeyed God, defied you, transgressed God’s Word, and you’ve now taken your child into the discipline room. Then what? What do you do? What do you say? How do you discipline & point to Christ? How can you be firm with truth & tender with compassion?

This is a brief template that seeks to provide practical wisdom in assisting parents in the discipline and instruction of small children.

1. Gather the facts. —  Ask questions of the child (as much as you’re able with the younger ones) such as: "what happened?" or “tell me what’s going on.” This way you seek to understand the situation (even if you saw it) and you’re allowing them to speak and give their account of the event.

2. Reach the heart. — Then, whatever happened to them, you ask "how did you respond?” or “how did that make you feel?”  “what did you choose to do in that moment when it happened?” Then you can ask: “Why?” All of these questions intentionally target the heart. We want to reach the heart.

3. Expose the sin. — At this point, regardless of what’s happened, it’s vital to specify the sin. Perhaps the child manifested a heart of selfishness, a desire for control, an outburst of anger, not considering others as more important than themselves, etc. The goal is to clearly expose the sin.

4. Prove it biblically. — Ideally, we as Christian parents should have an open a Bible and show the child where in the Scriptures they have sinned against God. This is crucial so the child knows he didn’t ultimately sin against mom or dad but first and foremost against God. This is where godly parents need to constantly study the Word and hide it in our hearts so that we can bring biblical truth to the child’s heart regularly & specifically.

5. Give the discipline. — The sin has been committed. The facts have been gathered. The heart has been exposed (as much as possible). The sin has been clearly stated and biblically proven. The child is guilty and has disobeyed God. Now the parent must use the rod. The goal is to bring enough pain for the child to see the error in what he’s done but, of course, the discipline is not to bring harm or bruising to the child. Using the rod must be done in a private location and it must be firm. Whether it’s one swat or two or three on the rear-end (an area that’s not exposed and easily covered up), the parent must choose to obey God and use the rod when the child has sinned. Parents must choose to obey God rather than follow culture on spanking. Culture calls it “harming/abusing the child.” God calls it: “saving your child’s soul from death!” Choose to follow God! Use the rod.

6. Express tender love. — Immediately when the discipline has occurred and the child is saddened by the pain, hold the child, hug the child, affectionately place the child on your lap, and verbally tell them: "I love you!” This tender love and physical and verbal reassurance is important.

7. Give the gospel. — Now is the glorious opportunity to say: “do you know why I did this? You've sinned. And our God is holy. You're a sinner, just like daddy (or, mommy)…” The Law has exposed the sin. The child has received a discipline for the offense. Now bring the balm of the gospel and the hope of Christ. The glorious benefit of this consists in parents having many opportunities (even daily, at times!) to present the gospel to their children who have sinned. Yes, our God hates sin and sees our sinful hearts! But God sent His Son to take the “eternal discipline” that we deserve. Compel your children to trust in Jesus! Sinners are saved by faith — childlike faith — in Jesus as Lord & Savior! Show them Christ’s glory, worth, work, and hope! Never underestimate the power of a faithful father who disciplines when he’s home and able and a faithful mother who disciplines in the home and how many gospel occasions this presents with the child. O may God use Christian homes to save children at young ages for His glory and renown.

8. Pray with them. — When all has been done and said, don’t forget to pray for them and with them. Still keeping the child on your lap and embracing him in your arms, pray for God to save them. Then, move on tenderly, lovingly, caringly, affectionately, and prayerfully.

For young children in the home that must learn that there are painful consequences to sinful choices, God’s prescribed method of discipline is employing the rod. We as parents must never use the rod out of anger, frustration, or in a manner of lashing out at the children for a foolish choice they made. Rather, parents must all learn from God who disciplines those whom he loves and he scourges every son that he receives (Heb 12.5-6). Indeed, godly parents discipline for a short time as seems best and long for the time when it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Heb 12.11). Out of love, parental love, God-like love, as you love your children, discipline them and declare the gospel to them. Or, as Paul puts it: bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6.4).

More resources found at the parenting link.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The ULTIMATE MODEL of Parenting.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Sometimes parents may ponder to themselves: “can anyone else relate to me in this situation?” Or, “has anyone else ever gone through this?” Parenting can seem lonely. When children disobey, when young children act defiantly, when teenager revolt, parents may think that they’ve done it all wrong and that no one could relate to the despair that has risen in their soul. But I want to encourage every parent with a simple reality from Scripture. The ultimate parent is God. Remember what God said in Isaiah 1:2 - “Listen, O heavens and hear, O earth; for the Lord speaks, ‘Sons I have reared and brought up, but they have revolted against me.’” Indeed, later Isaiah says: “Israel has abandoned the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away from Him” (Isa 1:4). Have you, dear parents, ever felt like this? Be encouraged: God can relate to you in every situation in life -- even the discouraging, lonely, and confusing parenting moments that enter into your life.

God is the PERFECT model. Of course, God is perfect...He is God! And He calls Israel, “My Son” (Hosea 11:1 and Isa 1:2). Let us remember that our God takes on the title of “Father” (Eph 3:14-15) and loves for His children to call Him “Abba” Father (Gal 4:6). God is the perfect model of a parent. He is the Father. He has children. And He had sons, and as Isaiah tells us, they were wayward and rebellious. Let us look to God as our model and observe how He parents.

God is a SYMPATHIZING parent. As involved as God is in the lives of His creatures, we see that He is a God of emotion and that He is a God who cares. And God refers to Israel as “sons that he has reared and brought up” (Isa 1:2). But these sons have revolted against Him. Indeed, they have acted corruptly, abandoned Him, and utterly despised God. Could you imagine? Maybe you’ve been there, or maybe you’re going through it. Sons rising up and revolting against their parents and abandoning and utterly despising them! So God can relate. So God was one who was grieved by this. So much so that God invited them to come back to him, to return to him, and to be forgiven (Isa 1:18). O how God wanted to reconcile with them! He was grieved and hurt by their sin.

God has WAYWARD children. Israel was greatly rebellious. Indeed, they were full of evil deeds (Isa 1:16). They offered heartless sacrifices and were prone to just going through the religious motions of offering sacrifices (Isa 1:11). They trampled God’s courts (Isa 1:12) and prayed with uplifted hands as though God ignored their sin but would hear their petitions (Isa 1:15). So bad had Israel become that she didn’t even know how to blush over sin anymore. O yes, God can relate to you if you have children that have strayed. But wait, Did God do something wrong? Of course not! How faithful and tender and patient He was! Yet He had wayward children.

God UNCONDITIONALLY LOVES  His own. Never, ever, does God abandon His people, Israel. God tells them that the fixed order of the moon and stars and sun would have to pass away before God would give up Israel as His people (Jer 31.35-37). Of course God is faithful to His promises and HIs covenants! Consider the elect of God! While we were His enemies, Christ died for us (Rom 5.8). He loves us unconditionally. He remains faithful -- even when we are faithless (2 Tim 2.13). How does God treat His elect children (=believers) when we sin against Him? He is faithful to love, diligent to discipline, constant in compassion, long-suffering in patience, and ready to forgive. O what a most merciful and gloriously gracious God we worship and serve! How faithful He is with us -- even when we sin in those moments of stubbornness and being wayward. May we learn from our Father and love our children in the same way.

God LAVISHES LOVE and PROMISE-FILLED HOPE to His children. As the perfect model, God shows us that we can constantly communicate and remind the children of wonderful promises that come to all of His children -- He will still love us (Rom 8.35-39) and He will never leave or forsake us (Heb 13.5). How does God treat you as His child? He lavishes constant love upon you as you study Him, know Him, and seek to plumb the depths of His unfathomable love (Eph 3:14-19). He is always available to communicate with you through His Word and provide hope -- faithful, sure hope -- to you as His child through faith alone (2 Cor 1:20). May we learn from God, our perfect model, as we seek to be faithful in parenting our children as God Himself loves His own.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Goals of Parenting
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Without goals, it’s only a matter of time before one wanders without a sense of direction and purpose. Without clear, decisive, straightforward goals, no ultimate mark will be hit and ultimately one will be meandering aimlessly, without direction, and at a loss as to the reason why he does what he does. We must remember our goals. And not only must we remember our goals, but we must ensure that we have the right ones. When talking to Christian parents, a common goal for the children is that they become Christians. As important at this is and as noble as this is, this is not the ultimate goal of parenting. For if conversion is the goal, and if a child does not come to Christ, then the parent has failed in parenting. And that’s not the biblical understanding of Christian living -- or parenting. In this write-up, I want to delineate a few goals of parenting and, in so doing, I also want to underscore the priority of the first item that is listed below.

The first and preeminent goal of parenting must be faithfulness. It is required of God’s stewards that one be found ‘trustworthy’ (1 Cor 4.1-2). Children of God receive a warm and glorious welcome into the kingdom when they hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt 25.21, 23). God demands faithfulness of His people -- the kind of faithfulness that emulates His own faithfulness. Success, according to the Bible, is not results or numbers. Success in the Bible is gauged by faithfulness. How faithful is the parent to pray for the children? How faithful is the parent to selflessly love the children and daily point them to their eternal refuge in Christ? How faithful is the parent to get at the heart in the discipline room and during the occasions of instruction and discipleship? How faithful is the parent to lead in family worship and bring Christ and His gospel to bear in the hearts of the children? How faithful is the parent to repent of sin, ask for forgiveness, and model Christlikeness to the children? Parents must remember that the ultimate and chief goal of parenting is faithfulness. Be faithful to what God has called you to do and leave the results to God.
Secondly, the goal of parenting includes evangelization. Of course, every Christian parent longs for his children to come to know Christ in a saving way. Every parent longs for, prays for, and strives for this. And rightly so! But faithfulness to God does not guarantee the conversion of the child. But in being faithful to God and in being obedient to His Word, a Christian parent will evangelize the children daily. Indeed, he will utilize opportunities to formally teach about God (family worship, devotions, etc.) and informally teach about God (on a road trip, a funeral, watching a sunset, seeing an amazing creature, etc.). Parents must relentlessly, patiently, prayerfully, tenderly, and urgently evangelize the children by pointing out their sinful hearts, the character of God, the penalty for sin, the punishment of hell, the love and life of Christ, the substitution that procured salvation, the need for repentance and faith, and the hope of eternal life for all who believe. Parents must lovingly invite the children to come to this God in Christ and to love Him, serve Him, obey Him, and trust in Him!

Third, parenting must have the goal of preparation. This includes preparation for judgment day. There is a day soon coming when everyone will stand before Jesus Christ, the Judge of heaven and earth. And our job as parents is to prepare, by God’s enabling grace and power, our children to stand before the Almighty and just judgment of God! Furthermore, we want to devote ourselves to prepare them for life.  We want them to know what integrity is and what it looks like. We want them to be hard workers. We must teach and instruct them to be busy, workers with their hands, devoted to God, truthful in all things, and living with an eye toward eternity. Additionally, we parent to teach our children to prepare for marriage. We parent our boys to be men who lead, who are humble servants, selfless in their daily sacrifice, and genuinely loving as Christ loves. We teach our girls to be gentle, helpers, submissive, and to joyfully embrace the calling to follow and complete a man that God may bring into their lives. Finally, we want to  prepare our children for when they themselves are parents. But ultimately, of course, our primary focus is on their preparation to meet God -- which most certainly will come.

Next, the goals of parenting must entail a multi-generational influence. We don’t parent only for now. We parent for the future. We must remember the long-term perspective of parenting. Let’s not have a narrow, myopic focus of parenting but remember that our children will one day be parents and they will be parenting their children, and then their children will have children that they will parent, and so forth. We must remember that we want to teach the generations to come -- yes, even the generations yet to be born -- to trust in the Lord and place their hope in God (see Psalm 78:1-8).

Finally, the goal of parenting includes demonstration. That refers to the demonstration of the gospel visibly and relationally. The way that God as Father treats us as His children has a very direct correlation to how we as parents must treat our children. And in so far as we faithfully understand how God treats us, we want to faithfully emulate His conduct with our children so as to rightly show selfless love and humble sacrifice in the gospel. How do we demonstrate God’s selfless, sacrificial, humble love toward our children when they sin?  How do we lavish forgiveness upon them that emulates God’s enormous forgiveness of us?  How do we communicate clearly, often, tenderly, and with comforting promises like God does to us in the pages of Scripture? How do we unilaterally initiate occasions to love our children even when they do not love in return?  This is how God has loved us in Christ? Let us seek to remember the ultimate goal of being faithful to God and to His Word as we strive, working by His power, to follow Him, obey His Word, and see God’s Spirit regenerate our children by His sovereign grace.

More can be found at Pastor Geoff's site here.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The POWER of parenting
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Every parent could honestly say that often the cry of our hearts is “Help, Lord!” Indeed, we as parents desperately need God’s strength for the daunting — and humanly impossible — task of shepherding precious souls to Christ. No greater calling exists for a Christian with children than to honor God by bringing up the children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Frequently it is the case that parents have run low of energy, feel burnt out of doing yet another discipline, and they wonder if this particular ‘season of life’ will ever come to an end. Where do we as parents turn in moments of hardship and weakness? Where do we go when we need strength and grace?

God tells us that “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor 10.9). So in this text, God tells believers that in times of weakness God’s power is made perfect. The weaker we are as parents, the stronger God’s power works in and through us.

Elsewhere, the Apostle Paul provided the philosophy of ministry as he stated that his duty was to proclaim Christ (the unfathomable glories of this Savior!) by admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom so that he may present every man complete in Christ (Col 1.28). Yet, he goes on to state that he labors (that is, exerting tremendous energy and diligent effort), striving according to God’s power which mightily works within him (Col 1.29). In a sense, this is every parent’s philosophy of ministry as we seek to be ‘undershepherds’ in our homes caring for the little sheep that God provides under our care for a certain period of years. How do we proclaim Christ? How do we admonish and instruct and teach and labor and fulfill these lofty (and, again, humanly impossible!) goals? Not with mere human effort but according to God’s almighty power which so powerfully works within us.

Our God can do the impossible. Furthermore, God is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or even think, according to the power that works within us (Eph 3.20). That text means that our God is able, powerful and working in such a way that He can do more than we could pray for and more than we could ever imagine because He mightily is working in us. Paul lives to know Christ and he also wants to know the power of His resurrection (Phil 3.10). And we should learn to pray like this so that we would know what is the surpassing greatness of God’s power toward us who believe (Eph 1.19).

These verses repeatedly underscore the most wondrous reality that in our overwhelming weakness and inability, God remains overwhelmingly strong and able to do what we could never do. Our God is strong, mighty, sovereign, providential, and saving. He works through weak earthen vessels (2 Cor 4.7). Do you feel weak? Do you feel inadequate? Do you feel defeated and in despair? Do not lose heart! God still has the victory and is strong in your weakness! He supplies the daily strength that we need for parenting. The greatest prayer and the most humbling cry that we as parents can repeatedly utter is: “Help, Lord! I can’t do this! I desperately need you!” God will work and act — for His glory working in and through you. Trust Him. Receive His power! The same Jehovah who sat as King at the flood is the same One who gives strength to His people (Ps 29.10-11). Rely on Him. Rest in Him. Request to Him. Receive His power!

More from the eBook on "parenting" can be found at Pastor Geoff's website.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The highest calling that God has placed upon mankind is when God takes a regenerated man, empowers Him with the Word of God and Spirit-endowed courage, and calls, commissions, and consecrates him to impart God’s truth to people. Preaching changes lives! God uses preaching as the ordinary means by which He quickens dead souls to new life. The Spirit uses the man of God as he delivers the Word of God in proclaiming the saving gospel of Jesus Christ so that all of God’s elect will hear, repent, and trust in Christ.

To preach is to faithfully and powerfully deliver God's message to God's people and to show them how God's truth should change the way they live. This writing briefly summarizes biblical preaching.

 In a word, ‘what is it that God demands that all His ministers do?’

All preaching must derive out of the Bible. Any message that does not come from the Bible cannot be a sermon. A true sermon is one that is sourced in the Bible, comes out of the Bible, is guided by the Bible, works through the larger theme of the Bible and glorifies the God of the Bible. Every minister must preach biblically. He must preach with one book always in hand and with a finger pointing to the text. He must have as his authority the Word of God. He must preach biblical sermons, not ethical sermonettes. He must preach powerful truths that arise from the Bible, not relevant talks that tickle the ears of the unconverted.

One of the most important elements of preaching revolves around the prayerfulness of the preacher. The man of God must bathe himself, his message, his heart, his affections, and his congregation in prayer. He must beg for the Spirit’s empowering as he opens his mouth to herald. He must spend a considerable amount of time meeting with God in prayer before he meets with people to preach. He must spend much time on his knees to be qualified to deliver the message to God’s sheep. Many charlatans have to pray before they preach; true ministers of God long to pray before they preach. Many ear-tickling ministers might pray before they speak; God’s men must meet with God before they proclaim the Word. Prayer must permeate the preacher’s life, sermon preparation, spiritual walk, and family life.

In preaching, the man of God speaks as God’s mouthpiece. The herald takes the message of the Sovereign and imparts it to His subjects. As a faithful ambassador, the preacher (khrux/kerux) takes the message and faithfully delivers it to the appointed recipients without alteration, without apology, and with courage. Speaking for the heavenly King requires that the man of God revere the thrice-holy God supremely. A preacher who has little reverence for God should never step behind a pulpit. The thought of standing with God’s Word in hand and speaking for God should overwhelm the minister every time he considers such a terrifying thought! Yet, God has ordained it and He has called for it. So every preacher should be awe-struck, reverential and serious as he preaches God’s Word.

God’s men who open their mouths to speak God’s Words must ensure they speak the meaning of the text. The exegetical skills needed include knowledge of the original languages, literary devices, and a proper understanding of how the structure of individual paragraphs fit into the whole chapter and book. The man should spend much time in the original languages poring over the words, conjunctions, prepositions, verbals so as to understand the meaning of the text by what the original author intended by what he wrote to the original hearers. The minister must bring the meaning out of the Scripture. This requires time, labor, rigorous effort, many notes, plenty of time, and an abundance of prayer.

When a man preaches expositionally it means that he preaches a message that comes out of the Word of God. Just as it is a biblical sermon, it follows the normal pattern of preaching consecutively through entire books of the Bible. God gave whole Bibles to make whole people. So preachers should preach entire books of the Bible. This ensures that the herald will preach the full counsel of God while omitting nothing. He must preach on every doctrine, every truth, every theme of the gospel, every blessing, and every curse. He must take the Word of God and preach it whenever he plants himself behind the pulpit. To preach expositionally ensures that the man has prepared his sermon from the Bible, and that he has already done his work in the original languages and come to the authorial meaning of the text. Every true minister preaches expositionally.

Preaching is never boring. What a contradictory statement to surmise that God’s message to people could ever bore people! God’s truth engages the heart and it instructs the mind and it woos the affections. The man of God who preaches must herald a sermon that engages the audience. Every good preacher of God has done this. Indeed, Jesus Himself engaged people as He preached. He related the text to the people. He brought them into the sermon. He captivated them and seized their attention as He taught. Preachers today must do the same. With the Bible in hand, proclaimers should endeavor to seize the attention of the hearers, keep their attention throughout the entirety of the sermon, and drive their will to a decision at the end of the sermon as to how they must respond to God’s message that they have just heard. Preachers must engage with the hearers. Preaching is not a lecture or a discourse. It’s a heart-engaging, mind-engaging, will-seizing activity that God has ordained.

If a man stands to speak God’s Word and preaches without passion, he ought to retire and never step foot into a pulpit ever again. If the man of God does not passionately believe his text he ought never to think that his hearers will be persuaded to believe the text he sets before them. If the minister does not have a heart set aflame with God’s truth, then the hearers will not be set on fire by the message. But if the preacher is on fire with God’s truth, standing with the authority of God who is Himself the consuming fire, then his hearers will be set on fire by the embers that proceed out of the truths imparted. Preaching is a man set on fire by God’s glory and a man who earnestly desires that all men would know his God, and his text, and his gospel, and his Savior! May it never be that a man can speak of these truths heartlessly and impassionately. The preacher should soak himself with the gasoline of the Word in the study all week and then as he lights the fire as he preaches in the pulpit, people will come and be changed as they see him burn.

How will people hear without a preacher? People will perish everlastingly under the just wrath of God Almighty and the painful torments of His anger if they die in unbelief. Every preacher must preach with an eye toward the glorious splendor of heaven and with an eye toward the horrifying flames of hell. He must come to preach after he has heard the choral praises of heaven and after he has heard the horrifying shrieks of the damned. He must remember that he preaches for eternity. Every sermon is a battle for the souls of his hearers. The preacher must desire to convert the wayward, to convict the obstinate, and to confront the impenitent. He must evangelize them in every sermon and call them to repentance. Every sermon may not be an evangelistic, gospel message, but every sermon — regardless of the text from which he preaches — must include a clear gospel presentation. Preacher, win souls! He who wins souls is wise! Don’t be a foolish preacher and refuse to present the gospel. Be a soul-winner and preach for conversions.

9. Preach URGENTLY
Eternity hangs in the balances every time the man heralds divine truth. Every person listening has an eternal soul and will live on forever. Those who believe in Christ and receive Him as the Son of God will be saved and all who reject Jesus Christ call God a liar and will suffer God’s judgment forevermore. Preachers stand up with a zeal to win souls for Christ! He stands as a surgeon urgently pleading with his patient to receive the balm that can heal the illness. The preacher functions as a fireman who lifts his voice and urgently calls for people in the burning home to exit immediately! He heralds with the same urgency as a lifeguard who calls out to those drowning in the deep waters. The preacher of the gospel must preach as a dying man to dying man as if he really believed that someone present may die before hearing a gospel message again. Men of God must believe they have received God’s truth that must immediately be preached, it must decisively be received, it must wholly be followed, and it must unreservedly be embraced!

Preaching is persuasion. To preach is the divine mandate to take God’s Word and impart it to sinners while endeavoring to persuade sinners to see the gravity of their sin and their dire need of a Savior. While fully depending upon the sovereign working of the Spirit of God taking the Word and penetrating it deep into the souls of the hearers, the preacher still crafts the message in such a way that he wants to affect the will. He wants the will to be won and wooed to Christ. He says with the Apostle Paul that he persuades men to believe. He wants to preach such a glorious Christ and a magnificent gospel that sinners must instantly flee to this Christ! He wants to herald such an irresistible gospel and a horrible hell that the unrepentant turn from their sins to Christ at once! Preaching depends totally on the sovereign working of God for any and all effectiveness but the minister understands that his responsibility consists of preaching in such a way so that sinners see the weight of their sin, the crushing blow of God’s coming fury, and the sufficient atonement that Christ accomplished at Calvary, and the necessity to repent, believe, count the cost, and follow Christ.

11. Preach BOLDLY
It does not matter who sits in the audience when the man of God holds the Word of God, he preaches what God says in the Bible without shrinking back from hard texts and appropriate applications. The man of God unashamedly preaches the full purpose of God. He boldly calls sinners to repent or they will go to hell. He confidently affirms that the biblical Jesus will crush and conquer all of His enemies — not just all blasphemers but those who simply walk by Jesus indifferently or apathetically. He calls the rich and the poor to repentance. He calls all men to come to Christ and trust in Him. He could stand before the King, the President, the Emperor, or the most powerful human council that could assemble and he will herald the unadulterated gospel with power, clarity, passion, and fervor. All preachers must preach with lion-like boldness. Indeed, the righteous are as bold as a lion!

The Apostle tells his protege to preach with all authority. That means that God’s preachers must command and demand a response! The source of this authority rests not from the preacher himself. He has no authority whatsoever — regardless of his position. The authority entirely comes from God Almighty and His message that He has entrusted to His slaves to preach. The men of God who take the gospel of God must preach the Word with all authority. They must call and command. They must instruct and apply. They must allow no one to disregard or despise or refute the message. Preachers cannot shy away from the ministerial calling to herald with a commanding presence. Again, this authority exists not in himself but solely in the God of the gospel and in the gospel of God! Just as an ambassador of old had authority because he delivered the King’s edict, so the man of God has commanding authority because he delivers the Sovereign King’s edicts. When Jesus preached, the peoples remarked that he taught with authority. May heralds of God learn from the Son of God to teach with authority and command sinners to repent!

The minister should lead the entire flock of God as the worship leader. If he worships, the sheep will follow. If his soul is caught up to the heaven of heavens in heartfelt praise, then the people will do likewise. As he prepares, he must worship. As he preaches, he must worship. After he’s through, he must worship. As he depends on the Spirit to take the Word and implant it deeply into the people’s hearts, he must worship. The minister must worship God with joy out of the pulpit and in the pulpit. He is the worship leader. To worship is to respond to God’s revelation of who He is and what He has done. If anyone ever has unending reasons to worship God, the minister of the gospel certainly does. He has studied all week. He has been alone with God. He has cried out to God for his own heart, for the souls of his people, for the benefit of the sermon, and for the unction of the Spirit. He has met with God and God has met with him. He has truly communed with God. His God knows him and he knows his God. Let every minister of the gospel preach the Word as an act of worship, fully reliant on God’s power to make the Word effective. Let every herald preach as a man enamored with the stunning beauty of Christ, the awesome privilege of preaching His Word, and the atoning gospel that he has both experienced and that he has been commissioned to herald as God’s ambassador. Man of God, worship!

More articles on preaching can be found here.  Audio podcasts on preaching can be found here.

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Short, Biblical Overview of Future Events
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

A hermeneutical & presuppositional note
When studying Bible prophecy, one must remember that God progressively revealed Himself in Scripture over the course of time. This is codified in the Scriptures -- both in the Old and New Testaments. When God made eternal covenants with the ethnic nation of Israel in the Old Testament, these covenants must still remain in tact with the people that God originally made the covenant with because of God’s faithful and trustworthy character. When we interpret prophecy, then, we must begin the study with the Old Testament and then move to the New Testament rather than reading the Old Testament through the lens of the fuller revelation of the New Testament. This means that Israel always refers to ethnic Israel (both in the OT and NT, in every instance). The Old Testament prophets revealed much about the future kingdom where there would be great blessing, prosperity and protection for Israel -- and the nations! -- even though some of the chronological specifics don’t come till later (e.g., New Testament revelation). Thus, to interpret Bible prophecy correctly, we must start with the Old Testament and build the foundation there so as to understand the authorial intent (=meaning) of these texts and then move to the New Testament for greater light, more details, and to fill in many of the gaps regarding the end-times schema. The approach of Bible prophecy that this simple overview takes is the futuristic approach. This will be spelled out simply in what follows.

#1) The “Catching Up” of Church-Age Saints to Meet Christ in the Air
The Word of God clearly reveals that the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, will return again (1 Thess 5:9-10). This is foundational to biblical eschatology. The NT presents two distinct aspects of this “second coming” of Christ in the eschatological schema. There is a coming when Christ comes to the clouds to catch up (=seize suddenly and irresistibly) His saints, that is, those who are “in Christ” (=NT church-age believers who are alive) to meet Christ and those who have died in Christ in the air (1 Thess 4:16-17). There will be a most glorious union between believers and Christ Jesus in the clouds and thus they shall be together (1 Thess 4:17). This coming of Christ will be sudden, immediate coming that is likened to a blink of an eye (1 Cor 15:51-58). It will be a glorious coming of Christ for His church to rescue them, as promised, from the coming time of testing that will come upon the entire inhabited earth to test those who dwell on the earth (Rev 3:10; 1 Thess 1:9-10). This is a coming that could happen at any moment (=it is imminent) and thus church-age saints must always live with expectancy looking for the any-moment return of Christ!

#2) The 7-Year “Tribulation” Period to Judge the World & Prepare Israel for the Kingdom
The Bible reveals that what begins the final “week” -- the 7-year period of great testing -- is the making of a firm “covenant” between AntiChrist and Israel (Dan 9:27). This is what begins the period of great testing on the earth that will come upon the world. It is a time of Jacob’s distress (Jer 30:7). It is called the “Day of the LORD” that will come from the Almighty to punish the world for its evil (Isa 13:6-11). The purpose of this 7-year period is two-fold: first, it is for God to bring distress upon all those who dwell on the earth because they have sinned against the Lord (Zeph 1:14-17) and, second, to protect the Jewish people, save the Jewish people, and prepare them for the coming kingdom (Ezek 36:22-32; Dan 11:35-39; Rom 11:25-27). The NT brings clarity in showing that this time of “tribulation” will be tremendously severe, worldwide, and so supernatural that all men will know that God is bringing judgments (Rev 6-16 -- the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments).

#3) The Second-Coming of Jesus Christ in Power & Great Glory
At the conclusion of the seven-year tribulation, as Jesus puts it, “immediately after the tribulation of those days”, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light and the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky and he will come on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory (Matt 24:29-30). Revelation 19 tells more of this magnificent coming as it states that Christ will come all the way to earth to bring judgment upon the nations (Rev 19:15). He will descend to the Mount of Olives (Zech 14:1-5) and He will come with His angelic host and with the redeemed of heaven and He will execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way (Jude 15). He will gather them to the “valley of decision” where he will sit to judge the nations and he will roar from zion and tread the wine press of His wrath (Joel 3:12-16; Rev 19:11-21; 2 Thess 1:5-10). Whereas the Lord only descended to the clouds in the catching up of the NT saints that occurred seven years earlier, now He descends all the way to earth in a much slower, more visible, unmistakable coming -- akin to lightning (Matt 24:27).

#4) The 1,000 Year Earthly Millennial Kingdom
After Jesus has returned to earth and after he has judged the nations, he welcomes true believers who have come to faith in the Tribulation period to come and inherit the kingdom that has been prepared for them (Matt 25:34). The OT speaks of this time of restoration (immediately following a time of cataclysmic and divine judgment) where Israel (the ethnic, Jewish nation) will be gathered from the nations (Isa 11:11-16) and Israel as a nation will enjoy the full benefits of the New Covenant that God made with the house of Israel and Judah (Jer 31:31) as they will fear God and obey Him (Jer 32:39-42). God promised that a “Branch” will execute justice and righteousness on the entire earth (Jer 33:14-18) and Israel will dwell securely among the nations (Ezek 37:24-28). The NT specifies the specifics of the duration of this kingdom -- it will last for 1,000 years (Rev 20:1-7). The saints of God will reign with Christ for a thousand years (Rev 20:6). It will be a time of blessed joy, worldwide blessing, political justice, and Christ-centered kingship (Ps 2, 72, 110; Jer 23:1-6; 33:1-26) that will bring to fruition the confluence of all of the wonderful, irreversible, divine covenants that God made with Abraham (the land of Israel), with David (a glorious King who would rule), and with Israel in the New Covenant (regeneration and forgiveness to God’s people).

#5) The Great White Throne Judgment Upon All the Unsaved of Human History
After the 1,000 year earthly Kingdom, Satan who has been bound for the entire 1,000 year kingdom period (Rev 20:1-3, 7) will be released and will gather together his minions for one last final revolt against Christ and he will immediately be seized and thrown into the everlasting lake of fire and brimstone (Rev 20:10). Christ will sit on His glorious throne to judge the world (John 5:22). He will sit on a Great, White Throne (Rev 20:11). Scores and multitudes of nations will be sovereignly brought before this sovereign Christ and He will judge them according to their deeds -- which are written in His books (Rev 20:12). If anyone’s name is not found written in the Book of Life, they will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 20:11-15). This is the second death (Rev 20:15). The Word of God seems to indicate that this great white throne judgment is only a judgment for the unsaved of all of human history as there is no indication of the righteous being at this judgment. It is a sovereign judgment sentencing all nonbelievers who have ever lived into the everlasting torments of divine wrath in the lake of fire and brimstone where they will suffer the fury of God’s just judgment forever and ever (Rev 14:11; Matt 25:46).

#6) The Eternal State:  The Lake of Fire & the New Heavens/the New Earth
The hope of believers is to “forever be with the Lord” (1 Thess 4:16-17) and to see the face of Christ and behold His righteousness forevermore (Ps 11:7; 17:15). Every true believer longs for the day to be in the real, bodily presence of Jesus Christ the Lamb of God where there are pleasures forevermore and fullness of joy (Ps 16:11). O for the dwelling of God to be among men, and for God to dwell among them forever and ever is the sure foundation of the believer’s hope (Rev 21:3-4)! Believers will see the face of God and His name will be on their foreheads (Rev 22:4-5). Indeed, these blessed and hope-filled words are “faithful and true” (Rev 22:6). But all the unsaved -- the lost -- that is, those who are cowards, unbelievers, abominable, murders, sexually immoral, sorcerers, and idolaters and all lairs will find their place in the eternal lake of fire, which is the unending second death (Rev 21:7-8). May we as believers live for eternity (1 John 3:3) and urgently plead with sinners to repent of sin and believer in Christ alone for salvation and for deliverance from divine, everlasting wrath (Acts 17:30-31). Jesus said: “I am coming quickly” (Rev 22:12). Let us say with John, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20) and with the saints: “Maranatha” (1 Cor 16:22).

Some podcasts on eschatology & on futuristic premillennialism can be found here.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Yea but, I’ve Asked Jesus Into My Heart.
This continues the "...Yea But" eBook series where I take common objections that many raise regarding the Bible and I seek to answer them biblically. 

The New Testament no where exhorts people to look to a past decision to confirm a present condition. The Word of God has no commands to pray a certain prayer in order to be saved. Nowhere does Jesus lead a person in a prayer so they may be saved. Nowhere does the Bible command people to “ask Jesus into your heart.” As common as it is today, it’s totally devoid of biblical support.

In fact, asking Jesus into one’s heart, or as it’s commonly termed: “the sinner’s prayer” has done more to promote easily believism, a sort of ‘Carnal (unChristian) Christianity’, and thus has deceived countless souls into thinking that they’re actually saved because of something that they did when in fact they still are lost, dead in sin, and headed for hell. Praying a prayer can satisfy many in thinking that it’s a sort of “fire insurance” to get them out of hell but this self-assurance has no biblical support.

We must understand what the Bible teaches regarding salvation.

  1. Salvation is wholly and entirely “from the Lord” from beginning to end (1 Cor 1:30; Rom 11:36). God is the initiator, the accomplisher, the sustainer, and the guarantor of true salvation.
  2. The gospel call is to: “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). Repeatedly, Christ went preaching repentance (Luke 5:32) and He called all His followers to preach repentance (Luke 24:47). The prophets preached repentance (Ezek 14:6; 18:30) as did the Apostles (Acts 17:30).
  3. The prophets, the Apostles, and Christ Himself did not model the idea of leading people in a sinner’s prayer to get saved.
  4. God does not need a sinner to “invite Christ into his heart.” Rather, God sovereignly invades a dead sinner’s heart by His sovereign power, undeserved love, and unstoppable compassion.
  5. Before the sinner responds to the gospel (in repentance and faith), God the Spirit first quickens the spiritually dead soul so that it is a heart alive to God, thirsting for God, seeing the depravity of sin, and it is thus able to respond to the gospel call in repentance and faith. But the first and primary work of salvation is when God regenerates the sinner’s soul which then enables that person to see Christ as glorious and trust in Him alone as Savior and Lord.
  6. The New Testament does not call Christians to look to a person’s past decision or event to certify the genuineness of one’s salvation. Rather, it calls for examination of the life that is now being lived and to assess the fruit of one’s conduct. Truly regenerated people will be bearing the fruits of the Spirit. Those who love the world and live like the world as a way of life show they have never been changed and, regardless of what they profess with their lips, they are devoid of eternal life and are workers of lawlessness (Matthew 7:21-23).
  7. Many may make the profession that they “asked Jesus into their heart” or “they made a decision to surrender to Jesus” and it can subtly be the case that some may trust in their decision to follow Christ more than they trust in the righteousness and propitiation of Christ Himself. In other words, some rely more on their wise choice for Christ rather than in the crosswork of Christ. Why are they saved? They would answer: “because I asked Jesus into my heart.” Thus, they are subtly boasting in self and in their decision rather than in Christ alone.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

In the last few weeks, we at Christ Fellowship Bible Church have been actively working at putting together podcasts where we deal with one of the most common realities of our day — "Depression".

THE GOAL: to persevere through the reality of life's pains with true, lasting, biblical HOPE.

This is an 8-part audio podcast series that works through the 8 most common types of depression.

We define the type of depression, provide the symptoms that the medical community provides, and then we give counsel from God's sufficient Word for Christians so as to persevere through the real struggles of life with Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered, God-glorifying HOPE.

1. Major clinical depression  |  link
2. Persistent depressive disorder  |  link
3. Bipolar disorder  |  link
4. Seasonal depression  |  link
5. Psychotic depression  |  link
6. Postpartum depression  |  link
7. Situational depression  |  link
8. A-typical depression  |  link

The link to the entire series can be found HERE.

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

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Pray for Your Church Leaders!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Unspeakable weight rests on the shoulders of every under-shepherd who has the gloriously heavy duty of caring for the souls of God’s blood-bought sheep. It is a duty and a call where the watchman cannot clock out or say he’s uninvolved. It is a tireless work. It is a wonderful work. It is a busy work. It is a consuming work! And every minister of the gospel, called by God to such a high and holy calling, would not ultimately want to do anything else.

How can we pray for our church leaders? How can we hold up their arms as they engage in relentless ministry?

1. To Pursue Christ Supremely.   (The pursuit of his life.)
Make it your aim to consistently pray for your pastor-elders to “take up their cross and follow Christ” daily (Luke 9:23). As Jesus put it, he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me (Matt 10:38). Pray for your leaders to follow after Christ, that is, to pursue Christ, that is to prioritize the person of Christ more than just doctrine about Christ. Ask God to give them a burning love and a supreme passion for Christ’s honor and renown -- not their own earthly recognition and fame. Pray for your leaders to pursue Christ and so find themselves awed by the unspeakable love that Christ has shown to their souls that they would preach as men lit on fire! Pray that they would pursue Christ supremely whether people watch or not, whether people notice or not, whether people applaud them or not, whether they become popular or not, whether they become conference speakers or not. Pray that they’d say I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord (Phil 3.8).

2. To Proclaim Christ Boldly.      (The proclamation of his lips.)
And as you pray for your leaders to pursue Christ, present your requests to God that this passionate pursuit of Christ would result in passionate proclamation of Christ. Yes, pray for your ministers to study hard and preach hard! Pray for them to pursue Jesus Christ and to preach Jesus Christ! But keep persistent in prayer for your shepherds! Proclaiming Christ boldly is urgently needed in this hour! A famine in the land exists! A famine in our country, in our culture, in our cities, in many ‘evangelical’ churches! As unpopular, or as unwanted, or as undesirable as it may be to the masses, pray for your shepherds to preach the Word -- in season and out of season! Pray that they’d reprove, rebuke, exhort and do all this with great patience. Indeed, times will come -- and are here! -- when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths (2 Tim 4:2-4). Pray for your leaders to be unflinching, unashamed, unapologetic, unabashed in proclaiming the excellencies of this Christ! Pray for this to happen when the church is gathered for equipping. And also pray that your leaders would model this for the flock when the church scatters to proclaim the gospel and call sinners to flee from the wrath to come and follow after Christ wholeheartedly! Pray for men of God to arise and persevere in bold preaching!

3. To Study Christ Hungrily.       (The passion of his soul.)
Jesus had twelve men that He chose to learn from Him, to preach with Him, to perform miracles, and to be with Him (Mark 3:14). It was known of the early Apostles that they had been “with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Pray to God that your ministers would so study Christ that it would be their all-consuming passion. As someone who hasn’t eaten in a day would find his stomach growling for food, may the souls of our shepherds hungrily long for Christ and the Word! Like the Apostle John, pray for your leaders to study Christ, for John spoke of His time with Christ: we have heard Him, have seen Him with our eyes, have looked at Him, and have touched Him with our hands -- this Word of Life (1 John 1:1). John went on to say: “We have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life … which was manifested to us” (1 John 1:2). And all this so that our joy may be made complete (1 John 1:4). O pray for your leaders to so happily hunger for, so fervently follow after, so joyfully linger with Christ Jesus, the Lord. Pray that the ministries and duties and meetings and responsibilities would not cloud out or distract him from the primary work of prayer and the ministry of the Word. Pray that your leaders would not lose their first love (Rev 2:4).

4. To Serve Christ Pastorally.      (The imitation of his Master.)
There is an amazingly high calling that God gives to every under-shepherd to “watch over the souls” of those God has placed under their watch-care (Heb 13:17). Like a watchman, the minister of the gospel must always be looking out, alert, and on guard. He cannot become drowsy in the ministry or invaders will come when he’s not expecting. He must be vigilant to guard from Satan’s schemes. The duty of your pastor-shepherds is soul-care. Moreover, the writer to the Hebrews exhorts us: “let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Heb 13:17b). Pray for them to serve Christ as they serve Christ’s flock vigilantly. Pray that they would tirelessly guard from false teaching, from worldly psychologies, entertainment strategies, and seeker-friendly methodologies and give themselves to what is most helpful for the souls of God’s people. Pray for God’s daily strength for them to do this. Intercede on their behalf that they would indeed watch over every soul that God has placed under their care to serve and to shepherd. And pray for them to do this service with joy, as to Christ, as they imitate Christ Jesus.

5. To Meet Christ Prayerfully.      (The unburdening of his soul.)
Pray for your leaders to pray. Ask God to meet with them in sweet times of communion. There’s much in the life of a minister to distract him and deter him and busy him so that he doesn’t have “time” even to pour out his soul to God. But pray that God would guard him from such evils! Pray for your shepherds to unburden his soul constantly to God, his Abba Father! Like Hannah in 1 Samuel 1, who was “oppressed in spirit,” she “poured out her soul before the Lord” (1 Sam 1:15), ask God for your leaders to pour out their souls and meet Christ prayerfully in the times where they (often!) may feel oppressed in spirit! Her prayer (in 1 Sam 2) focused on the gloriously mighty and immutably comforting character of Jehovah! O let it be that we would pray for our leaders to meet Christ in prayer and rest in Christ’s unchangeableness and that this would so fortify them in hope, comfort them in distress, and gladden them in truth. Never underestimate the power of intercessory prayer! Let us pray for our pastors to pray in their praying and so receive refreshment and answers as they prayerfully labor for Christ, for conversions, and for saints!

More articles at Pastor Geoff's website.

Monday, July 10, 2017

...Yea But, I Can Lose My Salvation.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Can it be that a true believer can lose his salvation? Could one whom God regenerates find himself in an unregenerate state thereafter? Could a saved person become unsaved? Is it possible? There are some who may affirm that God begins a good work and God will perfect that good work, but at the same time, they may claim that some may “fall from grace” or they may “fall away and it’s impossible for them to be renewed to repentance again.” Or, does God save someone once and for all with an eternal salvation? Many may answer: “Yea, ... but…” Let’s examine a few reasons why the Bible makes overwhelmingly clear that every true Christian will persevere until the end and he will most emphatically and certainly make it to heaven.

No believer could ever lose his salvation for the following reasons:
  1. If keeping your salvation depended on you, you would most certainly lose it. Our sin nature and propensity to sin is just that real. And if you could lose it, you would.
  2. If keeping your salvation depended on you, then you would have the power to undo what Christ did at the Cross. Christ died for His people (Mark 10:45). For Christ to die for you and for you to lose your salvation would necessitate that you can override what Christ did.
  3. If you could lose your salvation, then the Father lied to the Son. For the Father gave to the Son a particular number for eternal life (John 17:2, 9). All that God gave to the Son will be saved.
  4. If you could lose your salvation, then Jesus’ death on the cross was a good attempt but it didn’t actually save anyone. You couldn’t speak of Christ’s death as saving anyone. It merely made salvation possible and provided a potential atonement. But Christ said: “it is finished!” (John 19:30)
  5. If you could lose your salvation, then God the Holy Spirit is a liar and cannot really keep you or give you an eternal inheritance. The Holy Spirit is given to believers and dwells in our hearts as a “pledge” (2 Cor 1:22). If someone can lose his salvation then the Spirit is weak, He is a liar, and the written Word in the Bible is untrue. But the Spirit keeps us till glory (Eph 1:13-14).
  6. If you could lose your salvation, then God is weak and man would be horrifyingly plagued without lack of assurance through life. A most marvelous assurance that God gives to every believer is the objective promise that all who believe in the name of the Son of God know that they have eternal life (1 John 5:13). To claim that one could lose his salvation means that God can attempt to save but isn’t powerful enough to certify salvation. Consequently, every person would tragically be horrified in wondering if he’s saved or not each day. But praise God that all who are called and beloved in God the Father are kept for Jesus Christ (Jude 1:1).
  7. If you could lose your salvation, then the golden chain of God’s work in salvation can be disrupted and thwarted by man’s sinfulness and waywardness. Thus, a weak God and impotent God is presented in this false gospel. The glory of God’s gospel is the divine, initiating, perfect, unbreakable work of foreknowledge, predestination, effectual calling, justification and then glorification (Rom 8:28-30)! Not one link in this golden chain could ever break (Rom 8:31-39).
For these seven reasons, let every child of God rejoice in the words of Christ that none of His sheep will ever perish and that no one will snatch them out of His hand (John 10:28-29)!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Resolutions of a Pastor Shepherding Christ’s Church.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

With the bustling duties of constant ministerial work, I must frequently remind and reorient my focus time and time again on the essential priorities of God’s calling upon my life as an undershepherd of Christ’s church. So then, as a pastor of a local church, I’m committed to the following resolutions as a minister of the gospel.

1. RESOLVED: to prioritize personal holiness. A priority that I am committed to is the self-discipline for personal godliness. My joy and steadfast satisfaction comes from focusing on Christ and on the pursuit of His pleasure. Pleasing Him and my personal holiness must be the constant priority in my life. I must master the Word of God and know the God of the Word intimately. I must walk in the truth, not stray into error and glory in my Redeemer. By God’s grace, I’m resolved, that I will prioritize my own personal holiness.

2. RESOLVED: to feed God's flock through the regular preaching of the Word. God’s sheep must be fed God’s truth from the Scriptures. My duty as a shepherd is to feed the flock, to tend the lambs, to minister God’s Word to them through the teaching and preaching of His Word. If all else is neglected, I cannot ignore the regular study of the Word and the heralding of His saving and sanctifying Truth. Resolved: I will preach the Word of God.

3. RESOLVED: to intercede for God's people in fervent, believing prayer. A great blessing of pastoral ministry is praying for the flock of God that He has graciously called me to serve. I must persist in praying for their spiritual welfare, their daily growth, their protection from the Devil, and for their evangelistic pursuits. Perhaps nothing is as difficult as joyful, specific, constant intercession. But I’m resolved to pray for the flock of God.

4. RESOLVED: to develop, to the best of my ability, godly, male leadership. Godly leaders reproduce themselves and strive to the utmost to disciple and raise up godly, male, qualified, servant leaders. As I grow in grace, I want to develop and invest in other men in the church. Resolved, I’m committed to praying for, investing in, serving with, and rejoicing in leadership development. May God appoint many servant leaders!

5. RESOLVED: to go after and pursue the lost in fervent calls to repentance & faith. To be a fool for Christ’s sake is the highest privilege in the universe. The Word of the Cross is foolishness to the perishing, but it’s God’s power for salvation. To go after the lost, to pursue them, to summon them to repentance and faith, and to proclaim the unspeakable glories of Christ, the unsurpassed offer of this gospel, and the unrivaled mercy available to sinners through the propitiatory work of Christ is a happy and holy duty and blessing of pastoral ministry. Resolved, to be a gospel-preaching minister and a evangelistically minded preacher to equip believers and evangelize the lost.

6. RESOLVED: to model a godly home life & a Christ-exalting marriage. Living in a world drowning in confusion and rebellion, God has given such clarity in His Word for a happy, holy, and Christ-exalting marriage. I must prioritize my marriage above all else as my primary ministry. My pastoring of my wife (and of my family) is my first and foremost duty as it is this which qualifies me to serve as an overseer in the local church. So I’m resolved, by God’s sufficient and empowering grace, to nurture and cherish my wife, to wash her in the Word, to pray with and for her, and to serve her, and to prepare her for glory by striving to love her as Christ has loved and given Himself for her. 

May God, by His sufficient and incessant grace, enable and equip me with everything needed to walk in His ways and to pursue Him diligently for the glory of His name, for the welfare of His flock that He’s called me to shepherd, and for the joy of my soul.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Maintaining a Biblical Anthropology in Biblical Evangelism.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Our glorious Lord clearly calls all of His followers to go and proclaim repentance (Luke 24:47) and to speak of the wonderful deeds of the Lord (Psalm 96:3). Preachers of the gospel, fathers and mothers, Christians who share the gospel with co-workers, neighbors, friends, and family members all have a passion, to see souls saved from God’s wrath and Christ magnified in sovereign grace. And as Christians, we understand that God saves (Titus 3:5) by the regenerating work of the Spirit (John 3:3, 8) as the faithful gospel is proclaimed (Rom 10:9-15) and the sinner repents of sin and believes in the gospel (Mark 1:15). This gospel that we preach is summed up in the wonderful truth that Christ Jesus came to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15) by being the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10). But how does all of this affect us when we evangelize? In other words, how does our doctrine drive our evangelism? How does our biblical fidelity to truth guide us in our presentation of the truth to lost souls?

Many Christians who share their faith zealously and faithfully will often hear professing Christians say things like this: “you’re doing it all wrong!” or, “you’re driving them away!” or, “you need to befriend people first before they’ll listen to you & open up!” or “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar” or, “what kind of results will your speaking of judgment and hell produce?”

I believe there are three key doctrines that need to be underscored to Christians time and again as we live for the glory of Christ and spend ourselves for the souls of others. First, we must understand the biblical doctrine of man (anthropology). Second, we must grasp the doctrine of salvation (soteriology). And finally, we must understand the importance of biblical evangelism. I’ll look at each of these in turn.

1. Man Is Dead.
God declares that those who are “in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8:8). This is so because all sinners are dead in transgressions and the uncircumcision of the flesh until God makes a man alive in Christ (Col 2:13). Paul elsewhere writes that all unbelievers were “dead in your trespasses and sins in which you formerly walked...we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Eph 2:1-3). Jesus tells us that every who commits sin is a “slave of sin” (John 8:34). Man is in darkness and is accustomed to doing evil (Jer 13:23). That is to say, every person born in this world, a child of Adam, is spiritually “dead” in relation to God. There’s no life, no reconciliation, no union, no salvation until God gives life. Lazarus was dead and decaying in the grave until Christ sovereignly called him forth (John 11). The young man in Nain was dead laying on a coffin until Christ came and sovereignly called him to rise up and live (Luke 7:14). So it is with every person in the world that we talk with about the gospel of Christ. Every person is dead in sin. They may be a churchgoer who is dead in sin. They may go to their Catholic church and be dead in sin. They may be an adherent to Mormonism who remains dead in sin. Whoever the person is and wherever they may be found, if someone is born from above and is not a follower of Christ, then that person is dead, cold, lifeless and unable to come to God (John 6:44).

This theological reality will radically revolutionize contemporary evangelism. Rather than thinking that the “method” can contribute to someone’s salvation, we must remember that Christ calls His people to go and make disciples of all nations and to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins and call men to be reconciled to God! Those who are dead in sin can’t be driven further away. They’re already dead! Fervent open air preaching, loving admonitions and warnings of eternal condemnation at a Starbucks table with a friend, and patient gospel presentations to unbelieving children cannot make a nonbeliever more distant than he already is from God. True Christians must understand the utter impossibility of any sinner coming to God on his own initiative. Indeed, no Christian can do anything to make a dead sinner more receptive to the gospel. After all, the dead sinner is … dead.

2. God Alone Saves.
Here is the great confidence that we as believers have in evangelism. God saves! Salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9). It is by God’s doing that you are in Christ Jesus (1 Cor 1:30). God saves the lost and the rebels (1 Tim 1:12-16). It is God who is rich in mercy because of His sovereign love who makes sinners alive in Christ (Eph 2:5). It is God who makes dead sinners alive and forgives us of all our transgressions (Col 2:13). In an absolute, unrepeatable, supernatural miracle, God is the One who shines in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Cor 4:6). So great is this act of salvation and of regeneration that the Apostle Paul compares it with the spoken, sovereign work of God creating light from darkness by His very breath (2 Cor 4:6). God saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).

These truths are gloriously comforting for the Christian who goes out to the lost and preaches the gospel to them and summons them to repentance and faith in Christ. No sinner can ever hear and respond to the gospel call unless God alone sovereignly, gloriously, irresistibly and mercifully saves them and grants them life. This motivates evangelism! This puts zeal and fervency in our soul-winning. We go fishing for men trusting that God uses His Word to save His people for His glory through His ambassadors who bring the gospel to perishing souls. Do we know who the elect are? Do we know who will repent and believe? Of course not! But we go with confidence in God, in obedience to His command, and out of love for His glory and praiseworthiness and beg sinners to be reconciled to God through faith alone in Christ alone! That means that no “relationship-forming” can contribute to saving people. Friendships with people are not necessary for God to save men. Building bridges is not essential for soul-winning. Christ said go and tell! Plead and persuade! Call all men to repent and believe in the gospel! Let us go confidently and courageously.

3. We Proclaim Christ.
The content of our gospel proclamation must be Christ and Him crucified. We don’t tell people about God’s wonderful plan for their life and ask them to accept it. We don’t just tell men they’re sinners. We proclaim the incarnation of Christ, the deity of Christ, the splendor of Christ, the righteousness of Christ, the atonement of Christ, the propitiation of Christ, the free offer of the gospel of Christ, the willingness of Christ, the invitation of Christ, the summons to follow Christ, and the wondrous benefits of knowing Christ and rejoicing in Him! Far from a method, our message is the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for all, the testimony given at a proper time (1 Tim 2:5-6). So when we preach from the pulpits in churches, we proclaim Christ (Col 1:28). When we preach on the streets to the masses passing by, we call and compel men to come to Christ’s feast (Luke 14:23) and beg men to be “reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). When we speak to our children, we speak of the great Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). When we speak with our neighbors, we boast in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Gal 6:14) -- even though it’s absolute folly to the world (1 Cor 1:18). Our mission is clear. Our message is simple. Our duty is set. Our passion is urgent. Our burden is great. Our God is worthy. Our Christ is willing. Our Spirit is the Life-giver. Our time is short. So we go and proclaim Christ and speak as God’s ambassadors that God is commanding all men everywhere to repent because He has fixed a day when He will judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:30-31).

In conclusion, when you share the gospel with someone -- friend, child, neighbor, coworker, stranger or family member -- remember that the unbeliever is dead in sin till God, by His Spirit, quickens them to new life through the going forth of His Word (James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23). Then, once God has sovereignly given life to that deadened, cold, spiritually lifeless soul, that sinner will repent and believe in the gospel! So let us go forth with confidence, with zeal, with passion, with urgency! Let us know that the lost are blinded, dead, in darkness, and unable to please God regardless of how loving or earnest or marvelous our evangelistic efforts may be. And let that give us a foremost passion to pray for and plead with God for the salvation of the lost. Let us call on our God who is mighty to save. And as we pray, we go! As we trust Christ, we proclaim Christ! As we believe His Word, we declare His Word to the lost and we believe that our sovereign God uses faithful messengers to declare His gospel so that He -- and He alone -- awakens dead and enslaved sinners to new life by His resurrecting power and marvelous grace. And let us go forth with joy, with gladness, with earnestness, and with persuasiveness!

Psalm 98:2-9—
The LORD has made known His salvation;
He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered His lovingkindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel;
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth;
Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises.
Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre,
With the lyre and the sound of melody.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
Shout joyfully before the King, the LORD.
Let the sea roar and all it contains,
The world and those who dwell in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
Let the mountains sing together for joy
Before the LORD, for He is coming to judge the earth;
He will judge the world with righteousness
And the peoples with equity.
... Yea But, Christ Died For Everyone.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

[I'm doing an ongoing blog-series on "...yea but" where I'll answer common objections biblically. This first part answers the common statement that Jesus died for the whole world.]

Many hold to the belief that Jesus died for everyone and that when He shed His blood at Calvary, His blood covers all the sins of all people everywhere. Thus, Christ died for every single person.

If this were true, that Christ died for every person without exception, then Christ’s death did not actually save anyone but it merely made salvation possible for everyone. It also would require that the Father’s plan would be at odds with the Son’s cross-work and the Spirit’s regenerating work. It would also mean that sinners who are wholly dead, defiled, and unable to come to God spiritually would have to initiate the first step of coming to Christ. Still more, if Christ’s death actually saved people, and if Christ died for all, then it would only mean that Christ’s death procures the salvation for all humanity and thus no one would go to hell. There are problems with all of these statements and none of which finds biblical support.

A few assertions of what the Bible does teach regarding Christ’s death on the cross:
  1. Jesus died for ALL men without distinction, that is, all kinds of people. In other words, Jesus died for both Jew and Gentile. He died for those from different races, cultures, nations and languages. He died for all kinds of people; He didn’t die for every person without exception.
  2. Jesus died and His cross-work was limited -- not in scope but in extent. His work was not limited in the effect that it accomplished but it was limited in the extent to which it reaches. It perfectly saves those for whom God elected. It does not make salvation possible for every single person in the world.
  3. Jesus died and actually “finished” the work of atonement by bearing the Father’s wrath in full, for His people.
  4. Jesus died for those whom the Father had given Him from eternity past.
  5. Jesus intercedes and pleads His righteousness and work on behalf of His people before the Father’s throne. He does not pray for the whole world, but only for His people. He did not die for, nor does He intercede for everyone; rather, He died for His elect and intercedes only for them.
  6. Jesus’ death perfectly accomplished the glorious, God-magnifying plan of the Trinity — the Father predestines, the Son purchases, and the Spirit regenerates. Any other kind of atonement makes the Persons of the Godhead at odds with each other.
  7. Jesus died and fully received and satisfied everlasting wrath as the divine Substitute, the Passover Lamb, the propitiatory sacrifice, for His people. This is the good news of the cross.

Yea but, doesn’t the Bible say that Jesus died for “the whole world” (1 John 2.2)? Yes, it does, and in context of John’s writings, the world may refer to both Jewish and non-Jewish -- all kinds of people in the world. Yea but, doesn’t 2 Peter 2.1 imply that Jesus bought the “false prophets”? This text, rightly interpreted, means that the heresy of these false teachers is the denying that Christ bought the believers (“them”). Yea but, doesn’t 2 Cor 5.14 say that one died for “all”? The next verse (5:15) clarifies that He died for those whom He will change, conform to His image, that is, those who surrender to Christ. The intent defines the extent. Christ did not come to die for humanity but He came to die for those whom the Father had given Him. All whom the Father predestined, the Son purchased. And all whom the Son purchased, the Spirit Himself regenerates.

Part 2 is forthcoming: "...yea but the bible doesn't address my mental disorder."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Advice from a Pastor on Talking to Your Pastor After He Preaches
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

We find it very easy in our culture to meet and greet folks with simple introductory lines: “What’s up?” or “How’s it going?” or “How are you doing today?” I would like to humbly and yet honestly suggest to you a pastoral word of counsel.  When the corporate worship service has concluded and your pastor has finished preaching, rather than seeing him and saying: "So how are you doing?" or "How's it going?" or “What’s going on?” I’d like to proffer some reasons why this is not helpful communication to your minister right then and there and then offer three practical suggestions to consider.

After he preaches, every faithful minister is emotionally drained and physically exhausted and mentally wiped. A pastor may feel like he has just birthed something that has resided with grown in him all week. He’s tired. He has just spoken for the Lord. He has just spoken the utterances of God. If a well-intentioned Christian approaches their pastor and says: “What’s up pastor, how are you?” a faithful minister would be tempted to say (even though he may not verbalize it): “I’m utterly exhausted. I’ve just spoken the Word of God for the last hour. My mind is tired. My energy is gone. I wonder if I said what I needed to say the way it needed to be said. I’m both encouraged by the power of the Word and discouraged at my inadequacy of handling God’ sacred Word. So, I’m worn out!”

So, as a pastor, let me speak for pastors and provide 3 helpful and humble suggestions for believers when addressing him right after he preaches.

1) Speak specifically of one thing the pastor guided you to see about God and His gospel from the word.
As those who are called to be hearers and doers of God’s Word and as those who desire God’s Word to sink deeply into our ears, let’s engage in gospel-focused, sermon-applying conversations right after the preached Word. How did your shepherd guide you into the pastures of God’s truth? What did you see today, this day in this sermon, about God, His gospel, Christ’s glory, salvation’s intricacies, or your duties to walk in God’s Word? Surely there was something that the Spirit used in the Word that just went forth to exhort your will, encourage your heart, edify your soul, and enflame your affections. So instead of trivial, mindless talk, consider speaking specifically of how God taught you!

2) Thoughtfully share a way that you have applied God's Word from a past sermon that has been preached.
Pastors can often find themselves discouraged wondering how the preached Word is affecting the congregation. How do they hear the Word? Are they practicing it? Are they obeying God’s truths? Are they loving Christ more? Consider sharing a specific point from a past sermon, or a particular area of growth and development in your Christian life, or a story of how God used a specific sermon at a specific time in your life to minister particularly to your soul. Those can encourage your pastor in ways that it’s hard to express with words. The greatest way to encourage your pastor is to live out the Word of God as he preaches it, and as he shows you Christ, and illumines the text weekly to you.

3) Simply pray right then and there for the Word as it just went forth. Pray for fruit, humble hearts, and Spirit-wrought work.
So there you are, you’re walking out of the worship center and you see your pastor and you shake his hand. Instead of saying: “Hey, how’s it going?” consider something a bit different. Shake his hand, genuinely thank him for preaching God’s Word to you that day, thank him for his love for you by guiding you into God’s eternal truth, and then ask him if you can pray for him and for the Word as it just went forth to do the supernatural work in the hearts and lives of the hearers. Yes! You pray for your minister, right there, right then, with him. It can be brief. It can be short. But let it be full of love, genuineness and desperation that God would watch over His Word to perform it for His glory!
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