Tuesday, December 22, 2015

At Christ Fellowship Bible Church, we just concluded a series called: "A Godly Home" where we looked at God's Word on various issues related to home/family life so as to understand God's perspective and to glean God's wisdom on the family.


A GODLY HOME teaching series at Christ Fellowship:

1. Introduction to the series: "A Godly Home"  |  audio
Geoff Kirkland
 
2. The meaning of marriage (Genesis 2)  |  audio
Geoff Kirkland

3. The husband's duties to his wife (Ephesians 5:25-33)  |  audio
Geoff Kirkland

4. The wife's duties to her husband (Ephesians 5:22-24)  |  audio
Geoff Kirkland

5. Godly communication in the marriage (Selected Scriptures)  |  audio
Geoff Kirkland

6. The intoxicating delight of sexual intimacy in marriage (Selected Scriptures)  |  audio
Geoff Kirkland

7. Forgiveness in a godly marriage (Matthew 18:21-35)  |  audio
Randy Kirkland

8. The goals of Christian parenting, part 1  (Selected Scriptures)  |  audio
Geoff Kirkland
 
9. The biblical method for parenting: bring your children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4)  |  audio
Geoff Kirkland

10. Family worship  (Selected Scriptures)  |  audio
Jason Woelm
 
11. Your singleness & undistracted devotion to Christ (Luke 2:36-38)  |  audio
Geoff Kirkland
 
Download the full PDF notes from all the sessions  |  pdf


Thursday, December 10, 2015

WHY I PREACH THE WORD
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

1. obedience.
I preach the Word because God commands me to do so. In obedience to my Savior, I herald His truth from His Word to listening ears. Why must I preach the Word? Because God calls His prophets to take His words and speak them to His people (Jer 23:28). God has given us His Word and all men everywhere must hear His truth. Christ tells me to “preach the Word” and to be ready “in season and out of season” (2 Tim 4:1-5). I preach because God commands me to do it. I preach to be obedient to my Master.

2. trust.
I preach the Word because I trust it will accomplish supernatural results. The preaching act is the most powerful force that the universe has ever known. Faithful preaching is the word of the living God going forth through His mouthpiece to hearers. Nothing in all existence carries as much power and authority than does the heralding of God’s truth from His Book. So, I preach because I trust it will accomplish great things. I trust that God will work through the preaching event. I believe God that He will use His word to pierce, convict, convert, and change souls. I trust God and therefore I preach.

3. power.
I preach the Word because I want spiritual power to permeate the place of worship. If a gathered group of people have anything in the world and everything in the world but the preaching of the Word of God (which must be attended with much, fervent prayer) then it is a man-centered, man-empowered show that will accomplish temporary, earthly results that will benefit souls whatsoever. I preach the Word because God speaks through His Word. Therefore, almighty power from God the Creator thunders forth as I, His herald and messenger, open my mouth with His words and faithfully impart His truth from the written text. The Word goes forth in demonstration of the Spirit and of power! So, then, I gladly preach!

4. conversions.
I preach the Word because I want conversions! I preach to convert! I preach to change souls. I preach to snatch hellbound souls from the flames and persuade them to abandon their sin, their wickedness and their selfishness and to pursue Christ, His glory, and His love! Of course, I cannot do any of these things. Only God can! The Father draws! The Son gives life to all whom He wills, and the Spirit quickens dead souls to new life. But I preach God’s Word from His Book for His glory so that His elect may be drawn to the matchless Savior by grace! If I gave up preaching, then I would forfeit God’s primary method for the converting of souls. God gladly uses the heralding of His Word in the saving of sinners. Thus, I preach to convert!

5. transformation.
I preach the Word because I earnestly desire that God’s people be transformed more into the likeness of Jesus Christ. I passionately want Christians to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. I long for saints to practice their position; that is, to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. I preach to transform. God has given me the ultimate privilege of proclaiming the glories of Him who calls vile sinners out of darkness and into His marvelous light so that those who embrace Christ as Savior and Lord will love Him more dearly, serve Him more fully, honor Him more heartfully, seek Him more earnestly, enjoy Him more satisfyingly, and proclaim Him more urgently! I preach the Word because preaching is the means by which God sanctifies His people. God’s sheep hear His voice and follow Him. I preach so God’s people are transformed into the likeness of Christ from glory to glory. I preach to change! I preach so believers may be made like Christ.

6. called.
I preach the Word because I’ve been called by God to preach. Nothing in all the world could even compare with the unspeakable privilege and undaunted burden of heralding the unfathomable Christ in this world. No amount of money could ever compel me to quit preaching. No job offer, physical abuse, or violent threats could ever cause me to cease heralding Christ because He has called me to preach. And since God has called me to preach, I’ll preach till he tells me to stop preaching. And this He will not do since He tells me to preach to all creation till all have heard and to speak and keep speaking and to speak in season and out. So then, God has called me and I have been seized and caught and gripped and compelled to obey my Savior to preach Him. Like Paul, God has not called me for any ministry but to preach the Word not in cleverness of speech so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. I heartily, happily and wholly give myself to the relentless study of Scripture, to the incessant proclamation of the gospel, to the urgent pleading with souls, and to the prayerful dependence upon God’s Spirit in and through the preaching-event. So, I preach because I must. I’m a called man!

7. foundation.
I preach the Word because the foundation for all of life, godliness, thinking, and conduct must come from the Word of God. Thus, believers cannot be sanctified without the Word of God. The lost cannot find Christ apart from the hearing of the gospel. The foundation of everything is the gospel of grace and the glory of Christ and the crosswork of this Redeemer. As the hymnwriter accurately penned it: “How firm a foundation ye saints of the Lord is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!” Indeed, I preach the Word because the Scriptures constitute the foundation of my life -- and of every believer’s life. One cannot overcome the world, the flesh, the devil, yes, even one’s own sinful and fleshly desires without the sure foundation of God’s Word. So I preach to provide a solid foundation for God’s people so that they will think rightly about life, live intently for God, and focus triumphantly on heaven! The foundation for all of godliness is God’s precious and sure promises. And these, He has given in Holy Scripture! Thus, the burden rests on me to preach the Word for this is the Rock!

8. passion.
I preach the Word because God has burned in my soul a passion to know Him, to understand His Word, and to impart the saving and transforming gospel of Jesus Christ. I have an indomitable passion to study the Word and an insatiable hunger to know God and plunge into the bankless oceans of Scripture. This drives me to passionate preparation, passionate prayer, and passionate preaching. O that God would grant me to preach with even greater passion! May it never be that men of God rise with God’s Word in hand and preach without passion. If the Word of God and the God of the Word has not grabbed the heart and soul of the herald why would the hearers want to receive and embrace this message? I must preach the Word because I believe that Christ was a preacher with passion! John the Baptist was a man full of passion. Whitefield preached passionately as tears streamed down his face as he heralded in the open fields. Jeremiah wept as he preached passionately God’s truth to faithless Judah. With a passion for His glory and a hunger to convey the importance of the moment, I preach with passion!

9. instruction.
I preach the Word of God for the instruction of God’s people not only in theological truths but also in the method by which God’s people should read, study, and interpret the Bible. That is to say, the way that I study, prepare, bring truths together, and preach the text of Scripture is a form of instruction to the hearers so that they will emulate how to rightly divine the Word of truth. So then, the Word instructs the mind with divine things as it faithfully goes forth but it also instructs the mind in how God’s people can read, study, observe, interpret, and apply God’s Word rightly so as to understand the authorial intent of the text and the proper application to one’s life today. I preach the Word to instruct.

10. eternity.
I preach the Word of God because I believe in heaven and hell. I know that all those to whom I preach will live on eternally in the blessed joys of heaven or in the just torments of hellfire. Eternity hangs in the balances as I herald. Sermons make men holier in their walk with Christ or hardened in their stubborn unbelief. God has revealed His eternal truth in an eternal Book about His eternal Son who made a sufficient atonement once for all time. This message captivates me and it consumes me. And I pray that as I ascend to the pulpit to herald I would always preach for eternity knowing that it may be my last sermon I ever preach and it very well may be the last sermon that some may ever hear. It may be the only chance that some have to hear the gospel and to hear the call to repent and trust in Christ for eternal life! So I preach for souls to be snatched from the eternal pangs of death and to be won, by God’s grace, to the eternal life in God’s Son. I preach knowing that the message that I declare, in so far as it faithfully comes from the text of Scripture, can powerfully convert lifeless souls! With that, I gladly preach not just for a temporary result, or to bring in more numbers, or to generate more money. No! I preach to win souls who will gather round heaven’s throne and worship the Lamb who was slain for sinners!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Make the Most of Your Winter Break
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Many students will return home from college after finals week and will have a few weeks off of school. Some students may go to previous employments to work for the break. Others will not work for the few weeks that they’re home and will choose, rather, to relax and spend time with family and friends. It is my goal in this brief essay to strongly plead with you, precious young men and women, to not squander these days but rather to use them wisely and make the most of your winter break. 

I want to provide for you six loving exhortations for your serious consideration.

1. Read your Bible.
Either you will proactively resolve to read your Bible or you will not determine to do so with the result that it probably will get left on the shelf without finding the place of priority in your schedule. Young people, remember that nothing in all of the world so profits your soul and satisfies your heart than the precious words of the living God as revealed in Holy Scripture. If there is one thing to diligently invest your time in this break, do not let it be video games, movies, sleeping in, laziness, or immorality. Rather, resolve now to devote yourself to the reading of your Bible and persevere in this happy duty. Read the Bible and let God speak to your heart through His truth. It will change you. It will comfort you. It will reprove you. It will bless you. It will guide you. It will strengthen you. Spend your winter break reading your Bible! Plan now to read a handful of chapters each day. Even do this in both the Old and the New Testaments. It’s worth it. You can make the time. Prioritize it. Love it. Invest in it. Believe it. Hope in it. Plan for it.

2. Discipline your body.
Control and master your body. It belongs to God anyway. And He has given it to you to use for His glory. So make sure that you discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness over this winter break. Don’t let one day pass without buffeting your body and making it your slave. Don’t be mastered by it; you must endeavor to master it! Serve Christ with your body. Rise early and awaken the dawn with prayer and Scripture reading. Live every hour to God’s glory. It’s all a gift from Him and should be used for His purposes and for His service! Bodily discipline has little profit but godliness is profitable for all things because it holds promise not only for this temporal life but also for the eternal one to come! So, precious young people: discipline your body! Master it! Use it for Christ’s glory! Let all that you do with your body, everywhere your body goes, and all that the eyes of your body look at, and all that the hands of your body touch, let it all be disciplined for the glory of Christ, by the power of the Spirit, and for the fame of God’s Name! Resolve to live with discipline this winter break!

3. Pray with earnestness.
Whatever you do, pray! Young people nothing that you can do would so benefit your soul, shake the world, and impact the kingdom of God more than you praying to the Lord of heaven and earth with earnestness, with persistence, with belief, and with expectancy. Down to your knees. Get out of bed early! Stay up late with your BIble open instead of the TV before you. Call upon your beloved Bridegroom. As He speaks to you through His written word, respond to Him with verbal cries! Worship Him! Praise Him! Adore Him! Ponder His attributes! Confess your sin! Repent of your daily sins! Thank Him for your family! Thank Him for daily provisions! Ask Him for more strength, energy, grace, joy, and power! Pray much this winter break!

4. Speak of Jesus.
Don’t let others look down on your youth but set an example for them in speech. Speak much and speak often and speak delightfully of your Savior. Lay forth all the ways your Savior has blessed you! Proclaim the wondrous works of the Lord on your behalf! Speak of Jesus to your family, to your siblings, to your coworkers, to folks at the gym, to people in the mall, and to strangers walking down the street. Your Savior was unashamed to speak of you, to live for you, to die for you, and to bear God’s holy wrath for you, so you speak much of His great love for you and of His great atonement on your behalf! The gospel spreads as God’s people proclaim it. So precious student: proclaim Him who delivered you from hell and drew you to Himself. Warm your heart with His tender affection for you and then persuasively, passionately and earnestly speak of your wonderful Savior to others! He who wins souls is wise!

5. Serve your church.
God’s plan revolves around the local church. God has a people that He has chosen who are to do His work for His glory in His way. You would do well to involve yourself in God’s plan for this is the centerpoint of God’s program. God’s glory is manifested through the church. So, during your Christmas break, young person, serve your church. Call your pastors and seek to meet with them (yes, even offer to pay for their cup of coffee) and ask how you can specifically pray for them, for the ministry, for their families, and for their own hearts. Get specific, take notes, and ask them how you can serve during your break at home from school. What needs to be done? Who needs to be discipled? What ministry needs encouragement? What missionaries or families or young mothers or divorcees or single parents need a hand-written letter and a dessert dropped off to them with a smile, an encouraging remark, and a prayer for God’s strength? Serve by attending. Serve by arriving early. Serve by preparing for corporate worship. Serve by praying much for the preacher, for the congregation, for the Spirit’s anointing on the minister, and for Christ-glorifying fellowship. Ask an older member of the flock to meet with you and share wisdom with you from Scripture. Yes, dear shy college student: you take the initiative and you pursue an older person to mentor you -- even if it’s for a few weeks.

6. Love the brethren.
As one who has turned from sin and is trusting in Christ alone for eternal life, you are part of the body of Christ and are called by God to serve one another through love. Dear young student, consider for a moment how God loved you. He loved your first, he came to you and initiated love, he loved you even when you didn’t deserve it, want it, merit it, and welcome it. He loved you when you were His enemy. He loved you when you didn’t respond with kindness. He loved you sacrificially by sending His own Son, the Lord Jesus, to be your substitute and wrath-bearing offering. So love others with that same kind of love that you have received from Christ! He loved you and gave Himself for you. This winter break, make it your ambition to love others in the flock and give of yourself for them. Maybe start small. Pick a couple of people on Sunday and initiate contact with them. Shake their hand. Get to know them. Ask them questions. Then, contact them during the week and encourage them. Ask how you can pray for them. Perhaps see how you can come together and serve another person or family in the flock. Love each other, serve each other, sacrifice for each other (time, money, convenience, etc.). Be an intentional and a loving Christfollower this winter break. Serve with great love for Christ! Love His people with the same degree that you have received. Find a person sitting alone on Sunday and invite them to sit with you. Find a younger person and intentionally reach out to them and encourage them. Find an elderly person and ask how you can pray for them for the upcoming week. Love the same way that Christ loved you and you will bless others, be filled with blessing yourself, and glorify Christ as you love the brethren. Maximize your winter break! This won’t just magically or automatically happen. But with some intentionality and with some planning and determination, you can glorify Christ and serve His church for the weeks that you’re home for Christmas break. The glory of Christ is worth it! The good of the church is worth it! The witness to the lost is worth it! The gospel of grace is worth it! And for the joy of your own soul, make the most of your winter break by thinking through these issues and not letting these precious God-given weeks slip through your hands.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Benefits of Handing Out Gospel Tracts.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The Word of God reminds believers to always be ready to give a defense for the faith (1 Pet 3:15). Christians long for the unsaved to hear the gospel and to be converted. The gospel of God’s saving grace revealed in Christ goes forth in a myriad of ways. But one such way in which believers can proclaim the gospel and evangelize the lost is through the distribution of gospel tracts. A gospel tract is a printed piece of literature that presents the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ and calls the sinner to repent of sin, trust in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life, and to follow Him.

In this short write-up, I endeavor to present some reasons why Christians should hand out gospel tracts. That is to say, there are many benefits in the handing out of gospel tracts. I will list fifteen of them.

1. A good gospel tract faithfully proclaims the biblical gospel.
 A good gospel tract is a piece of literature that faithfully presents the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. It will present man and his sin condition and urgent need for divine grace to rescue him from eternal punishment. It will show forth the person and work of Jesus Christ, His substitutionary work on the cross, and His bodily resurrection from the dead. It will call the sinner to repent of sin, trust in Christ alone, forsake all self-righteousness and follow Christ alone for salvation! Thus, a faithful gospel tract presents the gospel in print and imparts the gospel to people to take with them wherever they go.

2. A gospel tract can go places that you can't go. In the absolute sovereignty of God and in the glorious providence of God, gospel tracts end up in places that we just can’t go. Sometimes they end up in bathrooms, on an employee’s desk, even in a trash can in an office, or in a box of goods that someone purchases and finds when they get home and open that box. Gospel tracts are small and they travel where we often can’t. We can’t travel with people and go from person to person, but tracts can, and they often do. And God sovereignly uses this for His glory.

3. A gospel tract can clearly present the gospel in a cogent way. A well-written gospel tract is a concise and cogent presentation of the gospel that people can read. Sometimes we may forget a Bible verse or not quite remember the exact quotation of a text but a gospel tract never gets nervous and forgets what to say. It has one message and one purpose: to present the gospel in a clear, compelling, cogent and concise manner. And this, a good gospel tract always does!

4. A gospel tract doesn't take much effort to pass out. Going on missions trips around the world can take a tremendous deal of effort in preparation and traveling (and rightly so!). Gospel tracts don’t take much effort to pass out. They are small, simple, easy to distribute and anyone can hand it out. A small child can hand out a gospel tract and a bedridden person in a hospital can distribute it.  Almost anyone can hand out a gospel tract!

5. A gospel tract is often politely received by people (or, politely rejected). There is not anything too offensive about handing someone a piece of paper and often people will accept it. But if not, typically they will kindly refuse. Even still, it’s a diligent, faithful, and wise way to get the biblical gospel into people’s hands.

6. A gospel tract can find its way into people's homes when we can't. Someone may receive a gospel tract and put it in their purse or their pocket. Then, when they arrive home that night or perhaps the next morning they may find it and read it. We can’t proclaim the gospel in all the homes of the people that we see, but we can give out gospel literature that people can receive and perhaps they’ll find it and read it when they get home.

7. A gospel tract doesn't argue; it merely states the Truth & calls the reader to repent & believe. 
Quite simply, gospel tracts don’t share truth. They proclaim truth! They don’t argue. They announce the gospel! If people object to the gospel, the tract doesn’t argue, get rattled, veer off course or engage in silly arguments. Rather, the tract sticks to its message and continues to give gospel truth and to urge sinners to repent!

8. A gospel tract can be handed to anyone, at any place, at any time, with a smile. Anyone can distribute gospel tracts. The youngest of children to the eldest of adults and nearly everyone in between can take a piece of paper and hand it out to others. One can hand it out in a grocery store, to a cashier, to a stranger, to a passer-by, to someone sitting on a bench, to a law-enforcement officer, to someone in need, to a co-worker, to someone walking in a park, or an endless myriad of other possibilities. And, Christians can have a smile of warmth and a smile of brotherly-love in handing out the greatest message ever given to man to sinners in need of grace!

9. A gospel tract can allow the reader to refer to it again for Bible references and follow up. A good gospel tract has Scripture references and proves what it says with the Bible. Someone, then, can look up Scriptures that are printed on the gospel tract. And furthermore, ideally, a gospel tract would list a church or a ministry where a person could attend or contact for follow-up. It is simply stated so that follow-up can be had.

10. A gospel tract can be used by God to convert the lost and encourage the redeemed. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. The power is in the message. This message on a piece of paper can be used by God to convert a dead sinner’s soul or, perhaps, God may use the tract to encourage believers in the faith. Perhaps it may stimulate other Christians to get some tracts so that they themselves may proclaim the gospel!

11. A gospel tract sticks to the point and never gets sidetracked with silly arguments. The gospel tract that a Christian hands out does not get deterred by foolish arguments and endless speculations. It always sticks to the point because its message does not change. It presents the gospel and it keeps presenting that same gospel.

12. A gospel tract might be read by a person too arrogant to talk but too curious to let the literature pass him by. Perhaps someone with friends may be unwilling, or too arrogant/self-righteous, to talk with a Christian about eternal matters. But they may receive a piece of paper which they may read later on their own time. Perhaps someone next to them may be curious to see what a friend received that they’ll stick out their hand to receive the piece of paper so they don’t feel left out. Those who observe Christians handing out literature may be unwilling to talk (in public) but they may be too curious simply to feel ‘left out’. And so, they may receive one.

13. A gospel tract may be providentially used by God at the right time to sow gospel seeds in someone's soul. The harvest is plentiful, Jesus said. He also asserted that the laborers are few. Believers sow gospel seeds and some plant seeds, some water those seeds, and some see the sinner converted by God’s grace. But it always is God who produces the growth. But God uses His Word at the right time to sow gospel seeds in people’s hearts.

14. A gospel tract is a loving way to present the gospel to sinners in need of salvation from God's judgment. There really is nothing all that confrontational about handing out a pamphlet to another person. No one forces it upon another. It’s a simple, loving, compassionate, brotherly, and kind thing to do. It can be very warm and affectionate especially when the Christian may give a short statement when handing the tract to another: “Here, my friend, did you receive this yet? It changed my whole life! And I want you to have it!”

15. A gospel tract is an easy way to proclaim the gospel with a smile of brotherly love toward your neighbor. The gospel can be proclaimed with urgency, with passion, with fidelity and with earnestness and yet with a gentle, compassionate smile of brotherly-love. A friend can hand a gospel tract to a co-worker with a smile and express his loving care for his friend. A neighbor can hand out a gospel tract to someone living next door and verbalize his appreciation of him. And endless other possibilities may exist. So then, by handing out a tract a Christian engages in the proclamation of the gospel in a simple, easy, fervent, faithful, and loving manner.


“When preaching and private talk are not available, you need to have a tract ready. . . Get good striking tracts, or none at all. But a touching gospel tract may be the seed of eternal life. Therefore, do not go out without your tracts.”
    — Charles Spurgeon

“The very first service which my youthful heart rendered to Christ was the placing of tracts in envelopes, and then sealing them up, that I might send them… I used to write texts on little scraps of paper, and drop them anywhere, that some poor creatures might pick them up, and receive them as messages of mercy to their souls.”
    — Charles Spurgeon

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Reminders for Christian Parents.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Parenting is just hard. It’s tiring. It’s busy. It’s laborious. It’s unending. It’s continuous. It’s demanding. But with all these realities, we as parents must remember that parenting is supremely rewarding! We won’t see the acorn sprout into a towering oak tree overnight but with earnest prayer, diligent labor, Christ-exalting zeal and loving discipleship, we trust God that He will do a mighty and supernatural work in the souls and lives of the children that He has entrusted to us.

So in this brief essay, I want to present five simple reminders to Christian parents.

1. Be a faithful Christian. (Piety)
Perhaps the simplest and most foundational reminder that I could proffer to Christian parents is simply to be a faithful Christian. Live what you speak. Practice what you preach. Emulate your Bridegroom. Love like He loved you. Forgive just as He forgave you. Pray as a child of God who loves intimacy with your God. Be faithful! In living a faithful Christian life — not perfect, but striving to be faithful! — your children will see this ongoing, continuous way of life in you. In a word: don’t undo by your conduct what you teach your children in your instruction. Conduct yourself with integrity and live as a faithful Christian!

2. Pray with fervent earnestness. (Prayer)
The preeminent weapon that every Christian parent possesses is prayer. Earnest, fervent, daily, constant prayer. No Christian parent should ever minimize the power of prayer nor should a Christian parent ever dismiss prayer as something less important. Prayer moves mountains. Prayer moves God. Prayer changes things. Prayer protects and powerfully effects great results! So dads and moms with your instruction, pray! Before you instruct, pray! After you instruct, pray! As you disciple, pray! Pray with an earnest spirit, a persistent tongue, and a believing heart! Pray with fervency and ask God to save and sanctify and to convert and change the souls that God has entrusted to you for the short years they live under your care. Don’t lose heart! Pray!

3. Impress Scripture on their minds and hearts. (Priority)
Moses spoke to the covenant people and told them to diligently teach God’s words to their children not just at formal teaching times but all throughout the day. Whether one sits in the house, or walks by the way, or lies down, or rises up, parents must impress biblical truths on the children’s hearts and minds. In fact, even Timothy learned the sacred writings from his mother Eunice as young as the infancy days (2 Tim 3:15). Children are never too young to learn nor are they too old to have Scripture impressed upon their hearts and minds. Parents, in all your doings for and with your children, always remember to bring God’s truth to bear in conversations, in hardships, in discouragements, in uncertainties, and in triumphs! This requires you to know your Bible so you can then impart that truth to your children! So then, travail in your own study of Scripture so you can teach your kids the panoply of truths from the Scripture.

4. Urge them to consider eternity.  (Perspective)
Life is too short to focus solely on the here and now. Eternity is so long that it behooves us to speak much and speak often of heaven and hell with our children. Urge them to consider their souls. Speak diligently about the glory of heaven and the torments of hell. Instruct your children diligently concerning the sinfulness of their hearts and the punishment that they deserve. Show them regularly the holiness of God and the blessed gospel of God’s love in sending His Son to die for sinners by bearing their curse and punishment. Plead with your children to not live for this world and lose their souls eternally. Urge them lovingly, winsomely, tenderly, and persuasively to consider the world to come and where they will live eternally. Show them Christ! Give them the gospel! Urge them to repent of sin and trust in Christ! Urge them to lose their lives now so as to gain them eternally! O parent, what a blessed privilege you have! Don’t forfeit this joyous work and labor of love!

5. Remember growth takes time.  (Patience)
As parents we want immediate results. Why? Because in this fast-paced world, we get everything else, so it seems, immediately and without much delay. But the souls of our children are like well-watered gardens that grow a healthy crop over time. The hearts of our children must be like a field that produces a vast harvest with much tending, care, work, labor, and effort. We pray that as we continue to till the hearts of our children that God would send the rain of the Spirit and produce a plenteous and bountiful harvest! May God use our diligent labors as parents as we pray for and with our children every day, and may He bless our efforts at leading our households in family worship consistently, and may He attend our conversations with our children as we individually speak to them concerning eternal matters with regularity and call them to turn from the things of this world, to flee from sin, to follow Christ, and trust in His righteousness alone to save from coming wrath. A seed in the ground takes time to grow into a large plant and so it is with our children’s hearts. Don’t grow weary in doing good. Growth takes time. Be diligent! Be constant! Be fervent! Be sober-minded! Be encouraged! Trust in God and labor for the souls of your children!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Necessity of Serious-Mindedness in Corporate Worship
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The wisest man who ever lived in ancient Israel spoke wisdom when he counseled believers to guard their steps as they go to the house of God and to draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools (Eccl 5:1). A little later, Solomon uttered another word of wisdom in the context of one’s attitude toward God in corporate worship: Fear God! (Eccl 5:7). Having an attitude of seriousness seems to be a concept that has long-since deceased in our entertainment-driven, fast-paced, consumeristic-mentality society that has even crept into the church. To be serious-minded does not mean to be sour nor does it mean to be angry or depressed. It does not mean that one must enter with a frown on his face or a chip on his shoulder. To be serious-minded means that one is overwhelmed with the sense of divine things that are taking place and with a very real sense of God’s almighty presence that exists when the people of God gather. To be serious minded means that one properly understands the gravity and weightiness of the corporate worship gathering as believers meet with the King of the universe and with the Author of salvation. This is not just another trivial meeting with a human friend. This is an encounter with the true, living, eternal God of the ages!

But the question remains: why should believers be serious-minded in corporate worship? In this brief write-up, I will provide five answers to that important question.

1. The Reverence Due to God.
The people of God should come to the house of God in worship with a serious mindset because of the reverence due to God. The prophet Jeremiah pronounced: “Who would not fear you, O King of the nations? Indeed, it is your due...But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation” (Jer 10:7, 10). When coming into the very presence of this Almighty God, believers should come soberly, seriously, and reverently as is proper to conduct oneself in the presence of the King of the nations before Whom the earth quakes! Revere and fear Him!

2. The Honor We Give to Scripture.
Another reason why believers must come into God’s presence with a serious mindset rather than a trivial and worldly mindset is because of the supreme honor that we owe to Holy Scripture. When the Bible is opened and read, God Almighty thunders His voice. In fact, the Scriptures declare that the voice of the Lord is upon the waters and the God of glory thunders. The voice of the Lord is powerful, the voice of the Lord is majestic and it breaks the cedars. Yes, the voice of the Lord hews out flames of fire, it shakes the wilderness, and it makes the deer to calve. Yes, everything in His temples shouts: “Glory” (Ps 29:3-9). God’s people come to worship with a serious-minded demeanor because we joyously sit beneath the authoritative Word of the Living God as God speaks through His Scripture as it is read, prayed over, preached, and applied.

3. The Lowly Position of God's People.
God, by His powerful hand, made heaven as His throne and the earth as His footstool and as the sovereign Creator of all things He looks to the one who is humble, contrite of spirit, and who trembles at His Word (Isa 66:2). The proper position of the people of God in worship is not self-exaltation and self-centered (anthropocentric) worship; rather, it is to sit lowly, humbly, reverently, and willingly at the feet of God. When Christians gather to worship together there must be a sense of lowliness and awe amongst God’s people that would evidence itself in Christ-centered conversations, God-centered speech, Word-centered encouragements, and sermon-based conversations that afterwards. To be lowly is to be Christlike. To come to worship humbly and soberly is to be like Christ, a man full of humility (Phil 2:5-11).

4. The Eternal Importance of the Event.
Many people sit in pews to hear the Word of God expounded each week and prove themselves to be hearers of the Word but not doers of the Word. In so doing, they have deluded themselves and deceived themselves by their sitting in church in thinking that they are Christians because of their sacrificial services that they’re presented to God. But the Scripture says that believers must humbly receive the Word implanted which is able to save souls (James 1:21). Furthermore, believers must be hearers and doers of the Word (James 1:22). As God speaks through His servant-mouthpiece as he faithfully expounds the text, it will either encourage a man in his walk in salvation or it will aggravate and increase his condemnation. The ultimate importance of hearing God speak to His people through the proclamation of the Word is reason enough for people to come to worship with a sober-minded mentality rather than a trivial, worldly attitude.

5. The Joyous Sobriety of Heeding the Word.
In one of the most famous sermons ever delivered by a preacher, in His sermon on the mountain, Jesus concluded the discourse with a story of two builders: one is wise and one is foolish. The one who hears the words and acts on them is like the man who built a house, dug deep, laid the foundation on the rock and then when the flood came it could not shake the house because it had been well built (Luke 6:47-48). On the contrary, there was a person who hears the word but does not act accordingly (in obedience), he is a man who builds his house on the ground without any foundation, and the torrent burst against the house and immediately it collapsed and the ruin of that house was tremendous (Luke 6:49). The difference between these two builders: one listened and obeyed and the other listened and did not obey. In fact, just prior to this story, Jesus said: “why do you call me Lord Lord and do not do what I say” (Luke 6:46). Thus, the joyous event of hearing the Word is a reason to come to worship with a serious-minded demeanor but also the unspeakable importance of heeding that Word preached is a reason to sit seriously and be engaged and fight to be undistracted in the hearing of the Word. For truly the Lord gave this utterance: Blessed are those who read, and those who hear and those who heed the things written in the prophetic Scriptures (Rev 1:3).


CONCLUSION:
May God use His Word and the glory of Christ to prepare us as His people for worship so that we would have lofty thoughts of our God, majestic worship for Christ our Savior, and a supreme love and affection for the Spirit who regenerated us by sovereign grace and power! Let us approach Him with reverence and with awe! Let us love Him dearly and worship Him gladly!

Monday, November 23, 2015

EVANGELISM IN THE LIFE OF THE CHRISTIAN.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The most happy Christian is an evangelistic one. The believer in Christ refuses to go to heaven alone. So he makes it his glad thought and incessant mindset to be a soul-winner. Every Christian, without exception, must see it as his blessed task to be a disciple of Christ and be a disciple-maker for Him! So, what exactly does evangelism look like in the life of the Christian? It will never look exactly the same because God has placed people in different settings in life where they can share the gospel but a few principles can guide one to a proper understanding of evangelism. The gospel message never changes but there are many different ways that believers can — and should! — take the gospel to the lost.

1. The JOY
Evangelism should spring from a joyful heart. The source of Christian joy comes from the believer’s union with Christ and the unchanging reality that one’s name is recorded in heaven, in the Lamb’s Book of Life. This unshakeable reality gives joy to the Christian’s soul and catapults him to a life of proclaiming the great deeds of the LORD!

2. The CONFIDENCE
Because God is absolutely sovereign over all things including the salvation of souls, Christians can evangelize with joyous confidence. Knowing that God has elected some to salvation is a glorious and freeing comfort when proclaiming the gospel to the spiritually dead and calling them to repent and believe in the gospel. Confidence comes from God and His regenerating power; not from us and our evangelistic methods. So, Christian, proclaim Christ! Speak of Him confidently! Speak of Him urgently and passionately!

3. The MESSAGE
All true born-again Christians can and should evangelize. Sharing Christ with the lost is not reserved for the missionaries only, or for the pastors, or for the full-time traveling evangelists. Rather, proclaiming the gospel is a blessed privilege that God has happily given to every one of His followers. If one is a Christian, then he knows enough to evangelize. The gospel is the simple message of God’s grace revealed in Christ who saves sinners by dying in their place and rising from the dead triumphantly. Every Christian who is truly a Christian understands the gospel message. Growth in knowledge is important and necessary, but evangelism does not require the knowledge of all the facts before one begins to evangelize. The simple gospel must be proclaimed and pressed upon the souls of sinners. Every true Christian can be proclaim the message that he himself has believed for the salvation of his own soul.

4. The BURDEN
Every sinner who dies without repenting of his sin and trusting in Christ alone will forevermore suffer in the Lake of Fire. Every true Christian loves God and loves his neighbor and does not want others to agonize under God’s wrath in hell. Thus, believers have a burden; a burden for the souls of others! Whether young, old, rich, poor, and whatever the cultural and religious background, Christians long for souls to be won to Christ! A love for one’s neighbor and the desire for their soul to be saved from wrath should prompt Christians, with a God-given and Christlike burden, to proclaim the gospel to anyone and everyone so as to snatch them from the fires of divine judgment to come.

5. The READINESS
Believers must live with a constant readiness to proclaim the gospel. Christians benefit greatly by rehearsing the gospel to their own souls every day to remind themselves of God’s great grace, Christ’s great sacrifice, and the Spirit’s glorious power. And in speaking this truth to one’s own soul, Christians stand prepared and ready to give the gospel to those that God brings across his path. A believer must not merely wait for people to ask about the Christian message, though this is a blessing when it happens, but Christians must be ready and eager to initiate conversations with family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and strangers and lovingly strive to present the character of God, the pervasiveness of sin, the condemnation that awaits sinners, and the gracious work of Christ at Calvary, and the need to repent and believe the gospel. Be ready! Be prepared! Be eager! Be hungry to win souls for Christ! Pray for these opportunities!

6. The METHODS
The gospel never changes. The message always remains the same. The truths of the good news never are altered. But the way in which that message reaches the lost takes a variety of forms. Evangelism refers to the speaking and presentation of the good news of salvation. This is not merely done by living a good life and people seeing Jesus in us. Nonbelievers cannot see Christ in Christians. This message must be told. It can occur through the handing out of gospel literature (tracts, pamphlets), the writing of letters with gospel truth to friends, neighbors, coworkers. The message comes to sinners when fathers and mothers instruct their children in the Word of God and impress the gospel truth to the hearts of young sinners. It happens through the sitting at a coffee shop and proclaiming the gospel to strangers. It can occur through the public proclamation of the gospel outdoors. The gospel goes forth as folks hold gospel signs that proclaim the gospel in a public venue. The gospel goes forth from the pulpit as faithful men expound God’s Word faithfully in a local church. The good news can be told in the writing of blogs, letters, articles, handouts, tracts, and distributing those to others. It happens through verbal conversations that Christians have with others and urging the hearer to repent of sin, trust in Christ, and follow Him. The message does not change but there are many ways in which that gospel message can reach the lost.

7. The DUTY
Christ commissioned all of His followers to go into all the world and make disciples. Every Christian is enlisted in the service of soul-winning. The blessed duty and joyous delight of every Christ-follower is to obediently, confidently, courageously, and patiently proclaim Christ and His crosswork to any and every sinner and urge them to die to self, take up their cross, and follow Christ. This is not reserved merely for the seminary graduates, or the pastors, or the professors. This is not a duty given only to missionaries or evangelists or the super-committed Christians. The duty to speak of Christ and His gospel rests upon every single Christian for this is what Christ uses to snatch sinners from the fire and bring them to heaven. How will people hear without someone giving the gospel to them? So, Christian, joyously and dutifully proclaim Him!

8. The LABOR
Toward the end of Christ’s ministry, He sent out 70 laborers and told them that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Therefore, believers are to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest. Amazingly, they were the answer to their own prayer! Christ commissioned and sent them out into His harvest as laborers. Every Christian is engaged in the labor of soul-winning. No greater blessing exists in all the world than for Christians to labor for souls! Nothing is as worthwhile and nothing is as eternally profitable than fishing for men’s souls by speaking of God’s holy character, and man’s vile sinfulness, and Christ’s sufficient redemption, and the Spirit’s sovereign grace! The labor is to speak much and speak often and speak tirelessly of Christ!

9. The URGENCY
Countless millions right now, at this moment, as you read this, scream in torment in the fires of hell because they did not believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thousands and thousands die every day. Hell swallows up religious people, churchgoers, intellectually astute, arrogant self-righteous, and those caught up in false religion. O the urgency is great! And every Christian knows the fear of the Lord, the terror of the Lord, the holiness of the Lord, the righteousness of the Lord, and the wrath that is soon-kindled. Let believers emulate the Apostle Paul who persuaded sinners to be reconciled to God. He attempted to press home gospel truths upon the hearts, minds, consciences, and souls of sinners! He endeavored to win souls for the cause of Christ! Let us urgently speak of Him! Let us plead with sinners to see their helplessness before God, their condemnation that awaits them if they persist in unbelief, and the available redemption found in Christ alone, and the necessary response to repent of sin and trust in Christ and follow Him! If sinners be damned, let them at least leap over us into hellfire as we urgently plead with them to embrace Christ! Time is short! Life is soon-passing! Eternity is near! Hell and heaven are real! Dear Christian, urgently, faithfully, compassionately, tenderly, and earnestly plead with sinners to turn to God from idols to serve the Lord Jesus Christ who rescues from coming wrath!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Biblical Parenting —
 Foundational Essentials for Faithful Dads and Moms
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

My son, keep my words, And treasure my commandments within you. Keep my commandments and live, And my teaching as the apple of your eye.     —Proverbs 7:1–2

No one can overstate how important parenting is. God entrusts the important duty and joyous privilege of caring for His precious creatures by pointing them constantly, passionately, urgently, and Christocentrically to the gospel of grace. But how could one summarize biblical parenting? What are some foundational essentials for faithful dads and moms? This essay will provide a few.

1. INSTRUCT your children.
Teachers disseminate information to their pupils. Parents must, in like manner, pass on God’s truth to their children. The parents have the primary duty and responsibility in all of life’s ambitions and endeavors to take biblical truth and teach the next generation to fear the Lord. If parents do everything else and yet fail in this area, they have utterly failed as parents. God commands parents to teach the next generation (Ps 78:1-8) and teach them the fear of the Lord (Prov 1:7) and train up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4).

2. INTERCEDE for your children.
A parent can do nothing more powerful and beneficial for the children than to pray regularly for their conversion. To intercede means that a parent brings the child before God’s almighty throne pleading for God’s grace to touch their souls, for God’s mercy to regenerate them, for God’s power to control them, and for God’s beauty to satisfy them. Parents must pray that Christ would savingly touch their children. Parents must pray that the children must pursue Christ as their supreme and highest ambition in life — above all else. Parents, if you neglect anything, neglect not the duty of praying and interceding for your children.

3. IMPLORE your children.
To implore is to beg and exhort. God commands all men everywhere to repent. On behalf of God, parents must use His Word and implore each of their children to repent and be reconciled to God. Parents must instill this in their children from the earliest days and implore them to trust in Christ and turn from their sin to be saved. Parents must implore each child to think rightly about God, to turn solidly from sin, to trust unreservedly to Christ, and to follow passionately the risen Christ. Parents must implore individually, at family worship, and in both planned and unplanned settings.

4. IMITATE for your children.
To imitate Christ is one of the most powerful tools that a parent has. As children see their parents pursue Christ and the knowledge of Him, and as they see the parents imitate Christ, walk as He walked, love what He loved, hate what He hated, obey just as He obeyed, pray as He prayed, children will be indelibly impacted by this. Parents must repent when they’ve sinned. They must ask for forgiveness whenever needed. They must imitate Christ before they can pass it on. Parents can never pass on to the children what they do not possess themselves — a Christlike and holy life.

5. INFORM your children.
No greater need could ever be taught to the children than the coming reality of heaven and hell. Parents must inform their children of the wrath to come and and the blessedness of heaven. Parents must urgently and passionately plead with their children to see God’s fury at sin and to fly to Christ quickly and unhesitatingly for refuge from the coming storm and then, and only then, will they find God’s mercy abundantly poured out and richly available to cover their sin and Christ as a propitiatory sacrifice. Parents have a duty to inform the children that life is short and eternity is long. Parents must declare to their children that as long as heaven endures, so will hell endure. As powerful and as overwhelming as God’s love and grace is in heaven, so powerful and overwhelming will his hatred and punishment be in hell. As glorious will it be to be in the immediate presence of God’s glory in the eternal beauty of heaven, so horrible will it be to be in the immediate presence of God’s wrath in the eternal torments of the Lake of Fire. Parents, if you love your children, tell them regularly to think often of eternity and their destiny.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Dear Daughters: Know This Husband.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

God has mercifully entrusted to me four daughters. They are precious and they are blessed gifts from God. My ultimate passion for them is to know Christ and to serve Him with all their might. I pray that they would not just know about God but that they would truly know God Himself and fall in love with Him more and more each day for He is the supreme joy and the fountain of infinite delights. This essay provides a father’s longing. Daughters: know Jesus Christ, the ultimate Bridegroom.

1. A loving bridegroom.
The Lord Jesus Christ is a loving bridegroom. He displays the true meaning of love. Far more than sappy emotions and flittering feelings, the love of Christ compelled him to self-giving action on behalf of His bride. He initiated. He sacrificed. He gave Himself. He unconditionally served His bride for her benefit. His is the ultimate, supreme love. Daughters: know this Jesus!

2. A sacrificing bridegroom.
A real comprehension of love is known by what Christ did at Calvary and it prompts all believers to intentionally sacrifice for others because this is how Christ demonstrated love. Jesus sacrificed for His elect. He sought His bride. He went after her. He had a singular mission: to obey His father and to redeem His Bride. He modeled a tireless life of selfless sacrifice!

3. A courageous bridegroom.
The Lord Jesus as the perfect bridegroom never cowered away in fear or trembled in the face of opposition from unbelievers. He courageously lived as a real man with an indomitable fear of God and a confident trust in Scripture. He knew that God sent Him and that God would protect Him. He lived courageously and confidently as He sought His bride, won His bride, and provided atonement for His bride.

4. A sober-minded bridegroom.
Christ lived a sober-minded life. He was absolutely resolved and determined to follow His God and obey God’s Word regardless of the cost and regardless of human response. He was a man who exuded appropriate seriousness, soundness of speech and piety of heart. He was humble, gentle, caring, compassionate, and firm. He did not trifle with the things of this world. The things of the ungodly never captivated the Savior. In all things, he lived sober-mindedly.

5. A gentle bridegroom.
Preeminently, the Lord Jesus, this blessed bridegroom, lived a gentle life. He had a lowly and gentle heart. He was meek, selfless, sacrificial, and divinely powerful. He had all strength to move mountains; for indeed, He created them! And yet He lived with such tenderness that He welcomed even the weakest of children and the most despicable of societal outcasts. He had strength but He always wielded that strength in a controlled way — always.

6. A holy bridegroom.
This bridegroom was wholly committed to the truthfulness of Scripture. He hid it in his heart. By the way he talked and through the way He rebuked wayward sinners and even His closest friends, He poured forth Scriptural truth from his lips. He prized the glory of God. He loved communing with the Father in prayer. He depended always and ever on the empowering of the Spirit of God. He cried out for strength, he endured through hardships, and he clung to the blessed promises of Scripture. Of all men, this bridegroom was a holy, devout, righteous, pure and godly man.

Precious daughters: I entreat you to know this bridegroom. Let this bridegroom captivate you with His love, ravish you with His tenderness, woo your heart with His promises, and instruct you in what to look for in a husband by how He lived His life. To prepare for marriage, strive with all your hearts to know this bridegroom. Worship Him! Love Him! Frequently serve Him! Let Him bathe you with His kisses and let Him sing over you with His covenant-love. If you do anything: strive — and never cease! — to know this blessed and glorious bridegroom!
This is one article in a forth-coming eBook on "Homosexuality: Providing Answers from the Sufficient Word to Many Common Issues"
 
Homosexuality & Persecution.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Let no one ever think that Jesus promised His followers comfort, ease, prosperity, and receptiveness from the world. He did, nonetheless, provide many promises to His people. But He promised that suffering would come, that they would receive hostility from the world, and that just as they treated Christ, so the world would also treat His followers. No believer who is light should expect warmth, acceptance, tolerance, and receptivity from those who are darkness.

1. The Intolerance of Tolerance.
Perhaps no wave of coming persecution in the western world is as widespread and sweeping as the one coming from the homosexual community. Those who live and herald their tolerance of all people, all backgrounds, all races, and all religions just cannot handle one group of people: bible-believing, resolute, devoted Christians committed to proclamation of the Word and the glory of God! Thus, those who champion their tolerance of everyone suddenly become intolerant of Christians. Their ideology drastically, publicly, undeniably breaks down by their own actions.

2. Defining Tolerance.
One might define tolerance as: “the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.” Or, Mirriam-Webster defines tolerance as the “willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own.” Of course, multitudes of people, groups, institutions, charities and political agendas champion the necessary ingredient of ‘tolerance’. But they cannot tolerate true Christ-followers.

3. The Unambiguous Promise from Jesus Christ.
Let all Christians hear and heed the promises from the lips of Christ. He promised that in this world you will have tribulation (John 16:33) and that the Church has tribulation and poverty (Rev 2:9). Indeed, the world hates Christ’s followers (John 15:18-19). The Apostle John writes that believers must not be surprised if the world hates us (1 John 3:13). Paul affirmed that all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12). These clear, undeniable statements unequivocally affirm that hardship, suffering, and rejection is the divinely given lot for all of His followers.

4. The Growth of the Church in Hostile Times.
All the while, Christians must not fear. Indeed, Christians must rejoice when mistreated and reviled for the name of Christ. When those in the world revile, slander, blaspheme, and mock Christians, surprise must not overtake us! Rather, we must pray for those who persecute us, turn the other cheek, love them intentionality, call them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ alone, and seek to live godly as pilgrims in this present world while journeying to our heavenly Zion. For the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church. God purifies His church through affliction and He strengthens their faith through opposition. Let believers not cower away in fear but stand strong with Christlike courage, Spirit-given power, and God-exalting joy. This will glorify God!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Duties of the Minister of the Gospel
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

As a minster of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I do well to remember simple and essential truths from Scripture regarding my duties. I know myself and my tendency to veer off course, to pursue hobby-horses, and to do what’s comfortable and to neglect what’s difficult. But to remember God’s glorious, gracious, wise and clear precepts for me to follow as a pastor benefits me and the flock that God has called me to shepherd. Furthermore, it glorifies God for me to remember my God-given duties and my blessed responsibilities as a minister of the gospel. In this essay, I’ll list 5 of them.

1. Pursue God Supremely. (Pursuit)
The Apostle Paul exemplifies a shepherd-like heart with a supreme pursuit in his ministry. He noted that his preeminent desire is to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings (Phil 3:10). Thus, a pastor’s primary pursuit must not be to build the church, to preach good sermons, to be well-liked, or to be famous and desired. His ultimate ambition must lie solely in the glorious and blessed pursuit of God — and Him alone. Nothing else satisfies. Nothing else is as deep, as worthwhile, as exuberant, as heart-stirring, and as profitable as the pursuit of God! So, as a minister of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, my heart, my affections, and my time must be geared toward the supreme passion for God!

2. Study Scripture Faithfully. (Preaching)
Perhaps the ultimate responsibility of a shepherd is the faithful feeding of the sheep (2 Tim 4:2). He is to provide the food, guide the sheep to the food, and ensure that it is good, healthy food that will enhance their growth. Similarly, a minister of the gospel must sit himself in the chair as he prayerfully, daily, hungrily, and eagerly studies Scripture for his own heart and then so he can feed God’s flock through the preaching and teaching of Holy Scripture. This demands that I spend a bulk of my time alone, in a room, in the spirit of prayer, with my Bible open, searching, studying, praying over, convicted by, entreating God for illumination, filled with divine happinesses in my study of Scripture. I must study well to preach well to feed God’s precious sheep faithfully.

3. Shepherd Saints Patiently. (Pastoring)
One of the twelve disciples who lived life with Christ and journeyed with him in his public ministry was Peter who later exhorted the elders to “shepherd the flock of God among them” (1 Pet 5:1-2). To pastor well requires time, sacrifice, diligence, intentionality, love, care, and honest concern. To refuse to visit the sick, mourn with the hurting, and care for all of God’s flock is to neglect a vital and commanded part of pastoral ministry. No man can minister the Word effectively from the pulpit who is disattached from the flock of God personally. I must know them so as to minister the Word well to them. I must visit them, teach them house to house, meet with them, counsel their hearts, and point them to the Chief Shepherd!

4. Disciple Men Intentionally. (Passing on)
I am replaceable. No minister of the gospel is irreplaceable. We all pass on but the gospel does not pass away. Faithful ministers of the gospel must take God’s Word and disseminate it to God’s people so that faithful men are entrusted with the Word to teach other faithful men. The baton must be passed on. No man should labor alone. I must prioritize the discipling, the instruction, and theological truths to other men who can lead well in their own homes (with their wives and children) and then lead well in the local flock. Leadership is a shared ministry, never a one-man show. To glorify God, I must prayerfully, intentionally, and expectantly pour myself into other faithful men to see God grow them and use them for His glory!

5. Seek God Prayerfully. (Praying)
Can a man be alone? Can he be alone with integrity? Can he be on his knees frequently and for long periods of time? Does he believe in prayer? Does he believe that his fervent prayers actually move God and change things? If not, he has much to learn about the glory of God and the power of prayer. Let a minister seek God prayerfully for his own heart, for his purity, for his study, for his family, for his effectiveness, for the Spirit’s unction and empowering, and for the Lord Jesus Christ to exude forth in his life, conversations, messages, and counseling. Let every faithful minister remember Isaiah’s words to “give God no rest” and to learn from Hannah who “poured out her soul before the LORD”. Let us happily do likewise!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

APPROACHING THE HEAVENLY ZION
Lessons from the Psalms of Ascent [Psalms 120-134]
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The collection of 15 Songs of Ascent comprise a hymnal within the hymnal [Psalms 120-134]. This set of poems aided the Jewish pilgrims as they journeyed from their homes to Zion to worship the Lord, with His people, in the Temple for the three pilgrimage feasts (cf. Deut 16:16). For the New Testament people of God, we do not embark on a pilgrimage from our homeland to the Temple to worship God. But we do, however, live as strangers and aliens in this world as we journey from this world to the heavenly Zion. As the Israelites of old meditated on Scripture, sung biblical truths, and anticipated the assembling with the redeemed, so believers today can learn how to approach the heavenly Zion as we trek through life. In this essay, I will provide six reminders as to how we must approach the heavenly zion.

1. Remembrance.
The Songs of Ascent served to remind the pilgrims of the greatness of God and of the necessity of trusting Him in and through hard seasons of life. Remembering God carries the Christian through life. Without simple reminders we as God’s people often forget essential truths. As the pilgrims of old remembered God, so must we as we journey on.

2. Anticipation.
One theme that pervades the Songs of Ascent is the pilgrim’s longing for Zion. O how those who journey through valleys and through the wildernesses anticipate with longing the Temple precincts to worship God with His people. How much more must God’s people today anticipate the future reunion with all God’s people in the heavenly Zion.

3. Endurance.
One hallmark that characterizes every child of God is none other than endurance. All who live godly lives suffer persecution and, yet, they endure and persevere and continue on the journey without giving up. Pilgrims of old endured hardship, hostility, enemies, and struggles and yet endured till they reached Jerusalem. God’s people today must endure through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of God.

4. Homesickness.
The worshipers of Israel who trekked many long days felt the homesickness for Zion. O the longing for, and the passion to reach, and the anticipation of residing in the Temple. This world, with all of its struggles and with all of the enemies within it, is not a believer’s home. God’s presence is. Let the church long for the ultimate dwelling of God!

5. Community.
The worshipers who would meditate on the Songs of Ascent would leave their homelands and their unbelieving friends and families to journey to Zion to be with those who love Shalom and to be with the God of Shalom. Let all believers today crave the community of the redeemed. Let not a day pass without praying for the local church and for longing to fellowship with them. Christians must involve themselves in community regularly, faithfully, and happily.

6. Gladness.
Nothing so gladdens the heart of God’s elect than to be with God, with His people, corporately worshiping Him! The travelers who left home and headed for Jerusalem had hearts full of gladness and joy as they longed to worship God with the community. Let believers travel with gladness and joy as they praise God anticipating the heavenly Zion!


More essays & pdfs can be found here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

“The Pilgrimage Songs: Journey On & Sing On…”
The Songs of Ascent for the New Testament Christian [Psalms 120-134]
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Psalms 120-134 all have the same superscription (title): “A song of Ascents” [‏שִׁ֗יר הַֽמַּ֫עֲל֥וֹת; shir ha’maalot]. Scholars have presented various viewpoints as to how ancient Israelites incorporated these psalms as they journeyed to the Zion to worship the Lord. But it seems that the best understanding is that this collection of 15 hymns comprised the devotional hymnbook for Israelites as they would journey to Zion for the three annual pilgrimage feasts (Passover, Tabernacles, and Pentecost). And as they began far away (at home) and traversed upward to Zion they would reflect on divine truth, meditate on these hymns, anticipate the community of worshipers, and long for true Shalom [peace]. But how can New Testament believers today interpret and apply these precious psalms? There is no temple for us. There is no pilgrimage we must take. How can the believer today read and understand these precious, eternal, God-given poems?

As we journey on, as New Testament Christians, how can we benefit from the Songs of Ascent? I  will provide four simple headings to aid in our understanding of these hymns.

1. Singing [Acclaim]
The psalms of ascent are really the songs of ascents. They are to be sung by the Jewish people as they ascend up to Jerusalem to worship. In fact, Isaiah 30:29 clarifies this when the prophet says: “You will have songs as in the night when you keep the festival, and gladness of heart as when one marches to the sound of the flute, to go to the mountain of the LORD, to the Rock of Israel.” So as the pilgrims would obediently journey to the Temple three times a year they would do so with gladness of heart and with songs on their lips. Believers today must also journey with gladness in our hearts and with songs on our lips. Also, Paul instructs believers to encourage one another with songs.

2. Reflecting [Apprehend]
A theme that occurs so often in the Scriptures is that of remembering, reflecting, and apprehending divine truth. How often does God tell his people to “remember”! All though the Torah, through the Psalms and the Prophets, and then into the New Testament, the Lord Jesus institutes two ordinances (baptism and communion) so as to remember Him and His work of redemption on behalf of His people. As the Israelites of old would travel from their homes to Zion, they would meditate upon and remember God’s truth. Without simple reminders, we forget essential truths.

3. Anticipating [Anticipate]
How the hearts of the godly long to be in God’s presence! God’s people crave the community of believers! The psalmist reflects one who lived amongst the wicked and earnestly desired to be where God dwelt, where God’s people gathered, and where worship would occur communally! Believers, today, must also live with anticipation just as the Jews of old who traveled and anticipated more and more the closer they came to Zion. Anticipation grew as they drew near to the Lord’s Temple in Jerusalem. So also, our anticipation should grow daily for the heavenly Zion!

4. Gathering [Assemble]
An intimate bond exists between the people of God. There is an unbreakable, eternal, Christ-centered, and happy bond between worshipers who love God, love Christ, love Scripture, and love each other. The pilgrims of old who journeyed to Jerusalem meditated on the need for this commonality amongst the people of God. They longed to gather together. So it is today with us. We gather together regularly, corporately, willingly, and happily for fellowship.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

PREACH AS IF YOU WOULD DIE & GO TO HEAVEN WHEN YOU'RE FINISHED.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

If it were revealed to you that you were about to preach the last sermon you would ever give, how would you preach and what would you do different?

1) Preach Christ & Him crucified. Every preacher must have a central thrust and focus and centerpoint in every sermon. He must herald the Lord Jesus Christ and His redemptive work. Not every sermon is a gospel, evangelistic sermon but every message must proclaim Him.

2) Preach with the Spirit's power. The minister must beg earnestly for the Spirit of God to come upon him and anoint him with power and unction. The Spirit makes the words he utters effective. Let every man of God preach every sermon with the Spirit’s empowerment.

3) Preach God's Word faithfully. Preaching takes the Word of God and proclaims its eternal message to the hearers that have gathered so that they know what God has said and that they know how they must respond. To preach faithfully is to be God’s mouthpiece.

4) Preach to save souls. A man ought to never ascend to the pulpit and preach if he thinks that no one may be saved that day. What little faith that poor preacher possesses! He must preach to snatch souls from the eternal fire! He should preach to win people to Christ!

5) Preach to as to feed hungry sheep. Christ’s shepherd loves Christ’s blood-bought sheep. Nothing is so urgently needed among sheep than being fed. They could be coddled, encouraged, and stroked but without food, they will die. Preach Christ to feed hungry souls!

6) Preach with utmost passion. A dull and boring preacher of the gospel is a contradiction in terms. No man can sit having his heart and mind soaked with divine truth and then preach God’s Word without passion. Let a man have fire in his bones as he preaches with the tongs of the divine altar that have consecrated his lips. Indeed, may the Spirit thunder through Him as he preaches passionately to persuade. He heralds for a verdict!

7) Preach to all people present. Many different kinds of people gather to hear the preached Word. There are the truly converted souls who crave to behold Christ in a deeper way and to know in knowledge of Him. There are the outright unbelievers who have no desire to reconcile to God. Indeed, many churchgoers sit under the word who think they stand right with God but who bear no fruits in keeping with repentance. Additionally, there are the procrastinators who think they can persist in sin and then forsake it later on in their lives. Preach to all who gather.

8) Preach as to never preach again. If a man knew he would never preach again, how must this man announce His Master’s message? He must give his all, his energy, his life, his sweat, his prayers, his passion! Nothing less.

9) Preach truth that's gripped your heart. Everyone knows when a man preaches without conviction. A minister won’t compel a congregation to believe truth that has not gripped the innermost parts of his own heart.

10) Preach for the glory of God. Irregardless of how many people may assemble together, a man of God always preaches ultimately to an audience of One. God is there. And God will listen to how the minister takes His own very Word and heralds it and applies it. May preachers preach for the utter magnification of God almighty!

These points should characterize every sermon that the minister preaches. So, man of God, preach as if you would die and go to heaven when you're finished because, soon enough, you will preach your last sermon.

Monday, October 12, 2015

WHAT IS WORSHIP IN HEAVEN LIKE?
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Enhancing worship on earth would greatly increase if believers understood what worship in heaven is like. So, in this brief write-up, let us examine how the Scriptures describe heaven. Let us seek to model heaven’s worship on earth.

1. God-focused.
The worship in heaven focuses on one central, dominant, and inexhaustible subject -- the person of God. The triune God is the focus of heaven and thus is the focus of all worship. If the worship in heaven is saturated with the person, work, glory and personhood of the triune God, then how much more should believers’ worship here be like that.

2. Christ-exalting.
The Lamb of God, seated on His throne, receives praise, worship, adoration, honor, glory, and blessing from the vast multitude of worshipers in heaven. The Lord of glory, the risen and exalted Christ, receives worship as He sits on his sovereign throne. Heaven is Christ-exalting and it is full of delightful joy and worshipful praise to His great name.

3. Corporately loud.
Many multitudes gather corporately to worship the Lord around His throne in glory. God did not design worship to merely be an individual endeavor only. Corporate worship characterizes heaven. Heaven is a world of corporate love as believers love Christ, love each other in pointing each other to Christ, and sing loudly His praises to His renown.

4. Cross-saturated.
Heaven’s worship focuses on the cross of Christ! The Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God, who made His people white through the blood of His cross is the apex of worship! The righteousness of Christ, the atonement of the Lamb, and the perfection of redemption comprises the singing, the conversations, the minds, and the thoughts of heaven’s inhabitants.

5. Always enduring.
Worship does not grow old in heaven. After ten million ages have past, heaven’s praises shall not diminish in the slightest. Worship will always endure in heaven. No songs will grow old. The story of redemption will not fade away. The worship always endures and always saturates and always gladdens those who dwell in this eternal dwelling.

6. Loud singing.
If many multitudes of people reside in the new heavens and the new earth and if the elect from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation stand together to exalt the God-Man forevermore, one can only imagine how deafeningly loud this singing must be! Worship in the Old Testament included many instruments, cymbals, vocalists, and choirs. O to imagine how loud, beautiful, breathtaking, and sweet the singing in perfect glory must be!

7. Sinless service.
Worship is not synonymous with singing. Though singing can be an element of worship, worship is much bigger than the singing of songs. Worship is the response of a worshiper to the revelation of God. Worship in heaven includes living life for God’s glory. It will include service to the living God and performing His bidding in the massive expanse of the new earth. Imagine a life of absolutely sinless service to the living God with an always-perfect-attitude and a relentless-pursuit of God’s glory in every act! Let heaven’s worshipful service guide Christians now to serve him in this manner.

8. Entirely pure.
Nothing unclean will enter the new heavens and the new earth. No impurities, no lust, no selfishness, no coveting, no materialism, no sinful temptations, and no deceptions will exist there. Heaven’s worship will wholly be clean, pure, undefiled, and genuine. All the motives to worship God will stem from hearts always and ever filled with divine love and supreme consolations. No wandering minds, heartless songs, or man-fearing dispositions will reside in this place!

9. Eternally happy.
No sadness will ever fill a believer’s heart in heaven. No sickness, no mourning, no pain, no tears will ever be found in glory. The heaven of God is a happy place. The heaven that believers enjoy is a world of ecstatic and exuberant and enthralled happiness in God’s personhood and salvation. No reason will ever be found in heaven for a person to be sad or mournful. No depression, no fears, no anxiety, no worries, and no anger. All is happy because all who live in heaven will be caught up in supreme and everlasting happiness in the triune God and in His love for the Godhead.

10. All-encompassing.
Worship defines all that happens in heaven. From traveling the endless expanse of the new heavens and the new earth, to conversing with God’s elect from all the ages past, to performing God’s bidding and doing His service, to gathering with the redeemed to sing His praises, to musing on the bankless ocean of blessings and graces of the gospel of Christ’s redemption. All that believers do in heaven will be worship. Heaven is a world of perfect worship, joy, peace, blessing, fullness, energy, life and delight. Let believers here endeavor to worship God now in this way.
Here are some very helpful resources to inform your thinking on biblical ("nouthetic") counseling.



INTRODUCTORY ARTICLES
Is There Any Difference Between Biblical Counseling & Christian Psychology? by John MacArthur and Wayne Mack.
This is a very helpful, brief, and compelling overview showing the vast differences between biblical/nouthetic counseling and the so-called Christian psychology methods.

What Distinguishes Biblical Counseling from Other Methods? by David Powlison
In this blog entry, Powlison shows how biblical counseling is fundamentally different than other methods because the view of God, man, sin, hope, and change are all vastly different.

The Mandate for Biblical Counseling by Paul Tautges
There are helpful resources here, quotes, definitions, and he draws the link (rightly so!) between discipleship and biblical counseling.

What Is Biblical Counseling Anyway? by Ed Welch
A very compelling treatment on the importance of defining what biblical (nouthetic) counseling really is.

We Are All Called to Counsel
In this blog, Jeremy Lelak argues that every Christian is called to counsel one another.

What Is Biblical Counseling?
A simple, biblical & compelling definition of what biblical counseling is.

What Is Biblical Counseling? by Jay Adams
Another simple explanation and one-page treatment defining the process of biblical change.


PERIODICAL/JOURNAL ARTICLES
What are Some Affirmations & Denials of Biblical Counseling by David Powlison

Critiquing Modern "Integrationists" by David Powlison (Journal of Biblical Counseling)

Idols of the Heart and Vanity Fair by David Powlison

The Sufficiency of Scripture to Diagnose and Cure Souls by David Powlison

What Is Biblical Counseling Anyway? by Ed Welch

How Does Scripture Change You? by David Powlison


LENGTHIER AND SCHOLARLY TREATMENTS
Counseling the Depressed Person: The Puritan Alternative to Secular Psychology by David Herding (MA thesis) - excellent!

A Christian Directory - A Body of Practical Divinity and Cases of Conscience (Christian Ethics) by Richard Baxter
This is a very lengthy Puritan treatment of the sufficiency of Scripture and of Christ to cure the souls of any malady. This is biblical counseling at its finest & Baxter addresses many issues & directly applies Scripture to each. The entire book is FREE on google books.

Puritan Resources for Biblical Counseling by Tim Keller
This is a very lengthy article where Keller shows how biblical counseling — that is, addressing any and every issue with the sufficient and comprehensive Word of God — is nothing new but the Puritans practiced this type of "healing of the soul." Very helpful resource here!

BOOKS:
INTRODUCTION TO THE TOPIC
  • Introduction to Biblical Counseling, by John MacArthur, Wayne Mack, The Master’s Seminary Faculty.  
  • Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands, By Paul Tripp 
  • Competent to Counsel, by Jay Adams   
  • The Christian Counselor’s Manual, by Jay Adams  
  • A Theology of Christian Counseling, by Jay Adams  
  • The Biblical Counseling Movement After Adams, by Heath Lambert
  • Scripture and Counseling, by Bob Kelleman & Jeff Forrey, eds.
  • Christ Centered Biblical Counseling, by James MacDonald, Bob Kelleman & Steve Viars, eds.
  • The Biblical Counseling Movement, by David Powlison
  • Gospel-Centered Counseling, by Bob Kelleman
  • How to Counsel from Scripture, Martin & Deidre Bobgan  
  • The Christian Counselor’s Medical Desk Reference, By Robert Smith, M.D.
EQUIPPING COUNSELORS IN THE LOCAL CHURCH
  • Equipping Counselors for your Church, by Robert Kelleman
  • Power Encounters, David Powlison  
  • Seeing With New Eyes, by David Powlison
  • Christian Psychology's War on God's Word, By Jim Owen 
  • Counseling the Hard Cases, by Stuart Scott, ed. 
  • Biblical Counseling and the Church, by Bob Kelleman & Kevin Carson, eds. 
  • Counseling and the Church, by Deepak Reju
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BIBLICAL COUNSELING & PSYCHOLOGY (AND INTEGRATIONISM)
  • Why Christians Can’t Trust Psychology, by Ed Bulkley   
 ANGER
  • Anger and Stress Management God's Way, by Wayne Mack
  • Anger, Anxiety and Fear, by Stuart Scott
  • The Heart of Anger, by Lou Priolo
  • Living with an Angry Spouse, by Ed Welch 
  • Uprooting Anger, by Robert Jones
HUSBAND
  • The Exemplary Husband, by Stuart Scott
  • The Complete Husband, by Lou Priolo
  • Solving Marriage Problems God's Way, by Jay Adams
  • Strengthening Your Marriage, by Wayne Mack
  • Preparing for Marriage God's Way, by Wayne Mack
WIFE
  • Feminine Appeal, by Caroline Mahaney
  • The Excellent Wife, by Martha Peace
  • The Case of the Hopeless Marriage, by Jay Adams
FIGHTING SIN
  • Mortification of Sin, by John Owen
  • How to Overcome Evil, by Jay Adams
  • The Peacemaker, by Ken Sande
  • Sin and Temptation, by John Owen 
  • How People Change, by Paul Tripp and Tim Lane
FORGIVENESS
  • Bitterness: The Root that Pollutes, by Lou Priolo
  • The Freedom and Power of Forgiveness, by John MacArthur
HOW TO RESPOND TO SUFFERING
  • God's Healing for Life's Lessons by Bob Kelleman
  • A Shelter in the Time of Storm by Paul Tripp
  • When God's Children Suffer, by Horatius Bonar
HOMOSEXUALITY AND RELATED ISSUES
  • Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry
  • God and the Gay-Christian? by Albert Mohler
  • Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield
  • Homosexuality, by Ed Welch
SPEECH, GOSSIP
  • Resisting Gossip, by Paul Mitchell
  • Practicing Affirmation, by Sam Crabtree
  • If You Bite and Devour One Another, by Alexander Strauch
SEXUAL ABUSE
  • Sexual Abuse, by Bob Kelleman 
  • Is It My Fault? by Justin & Lindsey Holcomb
FIGHTING PORNOGRAPHY
  • Finally Free, by Heath Lambert
  • Sex is not the Problem, Lust Is, by Joshua Harris
  • Sexual Detox, by Tim Challies
DEPRESSION
  • If I'm a Christian, Why am I Depressed? by Bob Sommerville
  • The Biblical Counseling Movement After Adams, By Heath Lambert  
MEN COUNSELING MEN
  • Men Counseling Men, by John Street, ed.
WOMEN COUNSELING WOMEN 
  • Women Counseling Women, by Elyse Fitzpatrick & Carol Cornish, Eds.  
POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, by Jeremy Lelak
 PERIODICALS/JOURNALS:

WEBSITES

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