Friday, September 27, 2013

From Art Azurdia:

"All of [the communication of the gospel message], however will amount to nothing apart from the sovereign manifestation of the necessary means.  If the aim of Christian preaching is more than intellectual enlightenment and moral reformation, but is, instead, the thorough-going trans-formation of people dead in trespasses and sins, then the Christian preachers must rest their dependence solely upon the Spirit of the living God because such a transformation requires a power of an altogether supernatural kind. Stated simply, the power of the Holy Spirit is the sine qua non of gospel preaching, the one thing without which nothing else matters."

Friday, September 20, 2013

"Our culture is permeated with the idea that there is no war between man and God. We hear, 'God hates the sin but loves the sinner.' We hear that God loves everybody unconditionally, but that is the biggest lie of our day, because he does not.  At the last judgment God will not send sins to hell; he will send sinners to hell. Even though sinners enjoy the blessings of God's providential love, his filial love is not their desert.

The Scriptures are graphic in describing God's attitude toward impenitent, carnally minded people. God abhors them. Nobody talks that way anymore—except for God in his Word. To set our minds on the things of this world is death. God is the supreme obstacle to people's finding happiness in their desires of the flesh.  God is always standing in the way. The life of the flesh is lived not in neutrality but in opposition to God, which is Paul's point. To be carnally minded is to be at enmity with God."

—R.C. Sproul, Romans, p.253 (commenting on Romans 8:5-7).

Praise God that 'what the Law [law-keeping] could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, GOD did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh (Rom 8:3).

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Christian's Sin Transferred to Christ; His Righteousness Transferred to Us.  

Martin Luther spoke concerning this...

Luther goes to say, “Unites the soul with Christ as a spouse with her husband. Everything which Christ has becomes the property of the believing soul, everything which the soul has becomes the property of Christ. Christ possesses all blessing and eternal life. They are thenceforth the property of the soul. The soul has all its iniquities and sins, they become thereafter the property of Christ. It is then that a blessed exchange commences Christ who is both God and man, Christ who has never sinned and His holiness is perfect, Christ the almighty and eternal, taking to Himself by His nuptial ring of faith, all the sins of the believers. Those sins are lost and abolished in Him for no sins dwell before His infinite righteousness and thus by faith the believer’s soul is delivered from sins, clothed with eternal righteousness, the righteousness of her bridegroom Christ.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Holy Men Meditate.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

What does it mean to meditate on the Word of God? Spurgeon said that ‘holy men are thoughtful men; they do not suffer God’s wonders to pass before their eyes and melt into forgetfulness, but they meditate deeply upon them.’  How can we learn from this and excel at the God-given grace and important discipline of biblical meditation?

Below I’ve penned some thoughts on what it means to meditate. Truly, holy men meditate.

1. To Meditate Requires Aloneness with God.
The morass of distractions plagues Christians today. Satan can use devices which are not sinful in and of themselves and distract the child of God from spending alone time with God. To have eternal access to the Omnipotent, to have open-arms from the heavenly Father willing to receive His dear children, to have eager affections from the Lord of Hosts to meet with His children should resolutely compel all of His children to meet with Him each day. But meeting with God requires being alone; it requires being quiet; it requires the deliberate exclusion of distractions and distracting devices. And this is hard for us. To be quiet, alone, distraction-less, is hard — yet it is essential. Biblical meditation means that the man of God meets with His God and he does not wish to allow that anything would interrupt or intrude his time of meeting with God.

2. To Meditate Requires Digesting the Scriptures.
Jeremiah was given the scroll and God told him to eat it (Jer 15:16). Ezekiel also ate God’s scroll and digested it (Ezek 2:8-3:3). Jesus’ true food was to do the will of God and accomplish His work (John 4:34). Man lives on every word that comes out of the mouth of God (Matt 4:4). The Apostle John received the scroll and was told to eat God’s Words (Rev 10:9-10). All of these emphasize the importance of internalizing, digesting, receiving, eating the Word of God. To feast on the Word in the mornings, in the evenings, and during corporate worship is most essential. Yet eating food requires the digestion of food. And the biblical art of meditation is the digestion of God’s Word. Every Christian needs this. Eating without digesting does not provide nourishment. Eating with proper digestion is crucial. The man of God should digest the Word, he should think on the Word, he should return to the Word repeatedly, he should fill Himself with the Word incessantly. 

3. To Meditate Requires Contemplation of Thought.
To be a Christian is to know Christ. To know Christ is to ponder Him, to love Him, to desire more of Him, to increase in passion for Him and His glory. God told Joshua, the man of God, to meditate on His truth day and night (Josh 1.8). The idea of meditate includes that of constant musing and continuous pondering to oneself. Men of God passionately and zealously desire to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple (Ps 27:4). To understand God’s ways includes meditating on His wonders. Thinking and understanding go together and are required in biblical meditation. Meditation is not a freeing of the mind or an emptying of the mind. It is to fill one’s mind with God’s truth and to contemplate that truth so as to know it better, to love it deeper, and to obey it more.

4. To Meditate Requires Responding in Prayer.
A man of God quiets himself with the Word of God, digests the Word of God, considers and contemplates the wondrous beauty and truthfulness of that Word and then he responds to the Word of God by speaking to the God of the Word. Prayer is a necessary ingredient to meditation. A man of God grows in his knowledge of and love for God by responding to who God is by taking hold of God in prayer and earnestly seeking His face. Yet this cannot be contained in a few minutes. This kind of taking hold of God does not happen without deliberate prayerful intentions. Especially with the busy calendars with which we are familiar, holy men of God must carefully, consciously, and resolutely protect his time of meeting with God so that he can respond to what he has read in the Word, so that he can confess where he has failed to live up to God’s demands, so that he can seize the grace of God received in the gospel of Christ’s love, and so that he can, by the Spirit’s enabling power and grace, endeavor to follow, serve, and obey Him even more faithfully. 

Download the pdf article here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Submitting to Church Leadership
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Hebrews 13:17 —  Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account.

In the following essay, I hope to show how God’s people can submit to God’s leaders in a God-honoring way.

1. Submit Obediently.
An important command given to Christ’s Church is the command to submit obediently to the flock (1 Thess 5:12). This means that submission begins in the heart and it manifests itself in obedience to what the leadership decides on a given issue. To submit to the leadership is to obey the leadership with a heartfelt, eager, positive spirit. God’s people should follow their leadership and submit obediently to their godly and wise counsel.

2. Submit Joyfully.
Since submission begins in the heart and manifests itself in outer conduct, the people of God should submit to their leadership with joy (Col 3:23; Heb 13:17). Steadfast joy in Christ’s church should permeate every aspect of the ministry. Joy should come because of the sovereignty of God. Joy should come because Jesus Christ is the Head of His Church and He is the One who holds all things together and works all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph 1:22). Christ’s people should submit joyfully because joyful obedience is always better than a sour attitude.

3. Submit Confidently.
Since God rules the universe, God’s people can have unshakable confidence (Ps 47:1-4). Since the Lord Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of the Father and who is the only Head over His Body — the Church — His people must submit with confidence knowing that nothing can spiral out of control since Christ holds all things in His control. Nothing can spiral out of control since it is the Lord of the Church who rules and reigns over every event in history — including His church, and its servant leaders.

4. Submit Honestly.
Submission is an attitude of the heart (1 Pet 3:4-5; Eph 6:6). To submit to the leaders that God has appointed thus means that a Christian should serve His church without deceit, manipulation, flattery, or adverse motives (Ps 5:9). To be honest is to act like God since God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). God shows Himself to be truthful at all times and to all people because He is a true, faithful, and reliable God. He cannot deceive, break a promise, or be at fault. So, to submit to the leaders of Christ’s church with this kind of attitude would require one to honestly and humbly follow those whom God has appointed in a way that exemplifies Christ.

5. Submit Edifyingly.
To edify in the New Testament means to build up, to strengthen, to fortify (1 Cor 14:12). Every believer should have as his continual mindset to fortify and establish other believers in the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess 3:12-13). To edify other believers, especially within the same local fellowship, requires that a number of vices be eliminated entirely. To submit edifyingly to leadership means that believers must never slander their leaders to other believers — especially within the same flock (Prov 10:18). To slander a pastor, an elder, a deacon, or anyone else who oversees a particular ministry of the church is to squash all opportunities of edification and to enhance all opportunities for division and disunity (Ps 15:1-3). Believers must not talk bad out or speak against those servant leaders that God has raised up and appointed as shepherds over His church (Prov 19:1; Prov 22:11).

6. Submit Knowledgeably.
The Bible calls all Christians to know their leaders (1 Thess 5:12). Many English translations speak of ‘appreciating’ those who diligently labor among the flock. The word here speaks of knowledge. The flock must know their leaders. They must pray for them (1 Thess 5:25). They must bear them up and assist them in any way possible. Saints can follow their leaders and submit to them by knowing who they are, the goals for the near future, the struggles that can be prayed for, and how they can best encourage all the elders who serve Christ and His flock together.

7. Submit Prayerfully.
Perhaps the greatest way that a believer can serve Christ’s church and submit to his leadership is to pray fervently for them by name, for their wives by name, for their children by name, for the spread of the gospel by name, for their purity and theological fidelity, and for their encouragement in the midst of hardships and discouragements (2 Thess 3:1; Rom 15:30; Heb 13:18). To pray for church-shepherds is to do one of the most neglected ministries of the church today. Sadly, many see elders as a prominence position or a position of prestige rather than as a position of lowly, servant, humble leadership (Matt 20:28; Mark 10:45). There is nothing self-admiring about being a church leader. A church leader worth anything knows that he is wholly undeserving of such a monumental privilege and that he must daily submit to and surrender to the mighty power of God’s Spirit working in him, through him, and in spite of him. A praying Christian for servant leaders is one of the mightiest weapons in a local church. Furthermore, to pray for church leadership is to submit to them. It’s hard to slander for whom you pray (Eph 4:31-32).

8. Submit Optimistically.
To submit to under-shepherds who desire to follow Christ, love Christ, treasure Christ, and worship Christ in their own hearts, lives, and families can also include a spirit of optimism and a positive outlook in situations and various decisions (Heb 13:7). To find the negative features in decisions, the missing element in church-functions, and to find the ‘better way’ to ‘do’ ministry is to throw cold water on the fire of servant leadership. Leaders need Christ’s people to help them in their goals, ambitions, and guiding and directing the church. Thus, to submit to church leaders in an optimistic way can include each believer looking for ways to serve and help the overseers in achieving the ministry goals — both short term and long term (Eph 4:11-16). This can include prayer, action, giving, discipleship, change, and even sacrifice.

In today’s evangelical and ecclesiastical landscape, I surmise that talking about Christ’s people submitting to church leadership is the white elephant and the oft-neglected topic in a typical Sunday-sermon series. Nevertheless, the Word of God commands it and churches today demonstrate that many do not understand what biblical submission to God’s leaders entails. To submit is an attitude of the heart which is itself an outflow of one’s attitude toward Jesus Christ Himself — the Lord over His church. May the Lord’s people submit with joy, gladness, expectancy, zeal, knowledge, confidence, and prayerfulness to the undershepherds designated by God Himself, to serve the body of Christ, appointed by the Spirit Himself.

Download the pdf article here.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Here are a number of articles that I've written in leading up to my sermon this week at Christ Fellowship Bible Church on revival.

Psalm 85:6-7  — Will You not Yourself revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your lovingkindness, O LORD, And grant us Your salvation.

1. Why Do We Not Pray for Revival?

2. Why Should We Pray for Revival?  Some Motivations.

3. Praying for Revival Through the Triune God and His Sovereign Work

4. Praying for Revival in the Church

5. Praying for Revival in the World

Isaiah 64:1-4 —  Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, That the mountains might quake at Your presence--   As fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil-- To make Your name known to Your adversaries, That the nations may tremble at Your presence!   When You did awesome things which we did not expect, You came down, the mountains quaked at Your presence.  For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, Nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.
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