Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, July 31, 2017

Preaching.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

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

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

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

We must understand what the Bible teaches regarding salvation.

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

Thursday, July 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

The link to the entire series can be found HERE.

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

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More articles at Pastor Geoff's website.

Monday, July 10, 2017

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 29, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

God Reigns.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The most comforting reality in all the world that gives solid consolations to my soul is this unshakeable truth that the Lord reigns. “The Lord reigns” (Psalm 93:1) is a repeated refrain that should comfort, gladden and uplift our hearts!

How does God reign? This brief writeup will explore 3 dimensions of God’s kingship.

1. God reigns over the past.
Go far back, as back as your human mind can possibly travel, and survey human history. Still more, go back even before God’s creative work in Genesis 1 and try to survey how the Triune God reigned sovereignly as the only, gloriously sufficient and everlastingly happy Being in and of Himself. But then consider history. God has ruled over every empire, king, nation, revival, calamity, rebellion, and conversion. Indeed, God has reigned over every moment of the past — including every moment of your past. Whatever God has wisely brought and allowed into your life in your upbringing, in family relationships (or, discord), in your sins, in your hurts and pains, and even in the many saddening memories of the past, plant your roots deep in this one solid reality: the sovereign God of the universe has reigned perfectly, wisely, immovably over it all. Let this reality console your anxieties and let it ease the floods of guilt and shame as you reflect on “your past.” Rather than dwelling on the sins of the past and remaining there in the swamps of guilt and shame, let Scripture direct you to the Sovereign over your past so you remain there in the ocean of His wisdom.

2. God reigns in the present.
Right now, in your life, at this very present moment, God is working most powerfully, wisely, and providentially for His renown and for His pleasure. He is always doing a thousand huge things in every small event in our lives. Right now, it’s raining somewhere in the world. Right now, insects make their God-given sounds in some rainforest. Right now, the massive sun shines brightly giving warmth to many millions of people. Right now, planet earth (and other planets) orbit around the sun at God’s specific direction. And in your life. Consider how God, right now, this day rules over all that happens. Your conversions. Your meetings (or cancellations). Your rush-hour traffic (that may be a bit extra-long). Your hearing of some good news of a friend’s achievements. Your opportunity to gather with God’s people to hear your pastor preach a text from God’s Word. Your family worship time. Your moment of evangelizing your children when they’ve sinned and are in need of reproof from the Word. Your urging a man you meet to repent and believe. Do not underestimate the glorious reign of God in the everyday, even the small and seemingly insignificant moments in your life. God is at work. This is providence whereby God perfectly works out His eternal decrees in everyday moments.

3. God reigns over the future.
Do you fear something that may (or, may not) happen? Is your soul anxious today because of news that you’ve heard? Do you wonder at your job security? Your children’s welfare? Your adult child’s salvation? Your baby’s health in these early stages of development in your womb? Your financial provision? Whether you’ll ever get married? Let us establish our hearts upon this bedrock truth that the one God who is wise and powerful over all is the God who reigns over the future -- indeed, over every single (individual) moment and event. From the movement of the largest star in our galaxy to each raindrop that falls from clouds, to every circumstance in your life to the unknown ‘possibilities’ of the future, plant your tentpegs deep in this marvelously comforting truth: the Lord reigns. Let your soul rest in Him!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Diagnosing & Mortifying the Sin of Complaining
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Philippians 2:14 — “Do all things without grumbling or disputing…”
James 5:9 — “Do not complain, brethren, against one another…”

THE CORRUPTION OF COMPLAINING
Everyone does it. It’s all around us. In fact, it’s so normalized and pervasive that we hardly even recognize when it actually occurs. The sin of complaining is one of those “respectable sins.” That is, it’s one that’s hardly spoken about, seldom preached against, and still less frequent, a sin with which Christians persistently wage violent war. Complaining is ugly. Complaining is one of the most commonest and frequent sins that’s almost as easy to find and common as the air we breathe.

Complaining isn’t, however, the real issue. Complaining is the outward manifestation of other heart-sins taking place in that moment. Let’s diagnose complaining. When we complain, we manifest three heart-sins that are all taking place together.

First, complaining manifests an attitude of “deservedness.” It’s like saying: “I’m not getting what I feel like I deserve!” Or, to state the opposite: “I am getting what I don’t think I deserve.” And in that moment of a complaint, we soar to the realms of deservedness, specifically, that we deserve something good or better than what we’re actually experiencing.

Second, complaining manifests an attitude of “disbelief.” In the moment of a complaint, the mumbler’s saying something like this: “God, I don’t think you’re doing what’s good, or what’s best, or what’s right, or what’s wisest at this moment.” It’s almost as if the complainer is craftily suggesting to the Omniscient God: “Lord, I feel as though you’ve made a mistake and that you should do things my way as that would have a better outcome.”

Third, complaining manifests -- or, leads to -- an attitude of “ingratitude.” Obviously, in the moment of a pity party or whining, a person isn’t thinking about the majesty and dominion of God nor of the overflowing waves of grace that has swept over him. Rather, in complaining-times, we don’t thank God because we, frankly, don’t think we’re getting what we deserve. And this self-centered, self-focused, self-exalted, self-idolatrous mindset never leads one to praise and thank God in that moment.

The corruption of complaining is that it is a very sly assault and it is a frontal attack on the goodness of God. Complaining is a sin where the sinful heart of man rises up against God and draws the weapon and aims it at the goodness of His Person and at the wisdom of His plan and at the sovereignty of His rule. O may God deliver us from this monster of complaining!


THE KILLING OF COMPLAINING
Can this monster be killed? Is it possible to slay the dragon? Like all sin, there’s no pill to take to ensure a once-for-all removal of this sin -- especially, the heart-rooted, subtle monster -- but the good news is that by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, with the sufficient and heart-transforming power of the Word of God, in the context of the local church, and with diligent effort, by God’s enabling grace, every true child of God can -- and must! -- constantly be vigilant to kill this monster of complaining.

We can think of complaining as being synonymous with grumbling, whining, making a fuss, criticizing, happily finding fault with something/someone, griping, moaning, objecting, and even protesting. The Word of God is not silent about this and provides much help to weed out the roots of this sin.

Jude 16 provides a very illustrative and well-rounded portrait of the complainer (who, in this context is a false teacher in the context of professing Christianity). Grumblers are those who “find fault, follow after their own lusts; and they speak arrogantly, flatter people all for the sake of gaining an advantage” (Jude 16).

We must dig far deeper than just pulling the visible leaves off the weed of complaining. We must dig deep, we must excavate far down, we must pull the underground, unseen roots out of this sin of complaining. But how?

THE CULTIVATING OF CONTENTMENT
Even in the Psalms when David finds himself in terribly hard and distressing seasons (where he pours out his soul to God in fervent, honest, desperate prayer) he finds himself resting, relying, re-focusing, even re-orienting one’s perspective on the immutable character of God amidst the uncontrollable and shakeable circumstances of life. Only this gives contentment to one’s soul.

If complaining is the manifestation of heart-mumblings and frustrations at what is happening to me at a certain point, then contentment may be defined as a heart-rooted and solid satisfaction in God that does not shift with external circumstances. Jeremiah Burroughs once said: “Christian happiness, or contentment, is the exact opposite of a complaining spirit.”

So in uprooting the monster-sin of complaining and cultivating contentment, what is to be done? How can we, enabled and empowered by God who so mightily and powerfully works within us, cultivate this blessed, satisfying, and necessary trait of contentment?

First, let us study God’s character. Nothing can so uproot discontentment and complaining than a deep, biblical, thorough, and heart-enthralling study of the majesty, awesomeness, infinite nature of the one, true and Living God.

Second, let us rely on God’s sovereignty. Whatever happens in life, or to state it more precisely, whatever God brings into your day-to-day life, actively choose to trust in God’s glorious kingship, His good dominion, and His wise sovereignty. He not only has a decreed and immutable plan but He also providentially, powerfully, and lovingly brings that plan to pass through every single instant and event that ever occurs. Rely on Him. Rest in His unfrustrated kingship.

Third, trust in God’s bigger plan. Always remember that what God brings into your life (or, what God keeps from you at a certain time) is one part of a much, much bigger plan that God is outworking for His glory and for the good of all of His saints. This helps keep our focus God-centered rather than me-centered.

Fourth, gladly receive pains and trials from God’s loving hand. Gladly? Pains? Trials? Loving? Those words go together? For every child of God who is in union with Christ, he can rejoice in remembering that no good thing does God withhold from those who walk uprightly (Ps 84.11). Whatever God brings into our lives -- even the unplanned and unpleasant experiences -- let us gladly receive them as personally given by God’s fatherly hand of love.

Fifth, make it a point to thank God specifically, daily, and worshipfully. In a simple and summarizing word, the way to keep killing the sin of complaining is to keep cultivating the daily habit of thanking God. Praise strangles grumbling. Gratitude starves disputings. Constant thankfulness to God is the best way to constantly mortify complaining. May God help us to specifically, daily, and worshipfully thank Him for all that He gives or withholds from us, for His glory.

Download the pdf article here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

June is sometimes pronounced to be 'PRIDE' month. Often, 4 reasons are given by those embrace this worldview.

I provide the 4 reasons that they give and then answer each of the 4 reasons biblically by helping evangelical Christians with an understandable, gospel-driven, loving, and courageous response to each of the reasons.

4 reasons why many promote LGBT/Pride...
1. history
2. community
3. identity
4. future (much work yet to be done re: discrimination)

*How must we respond? What can we say? I seek to provide biblical clarity and gospel-saturated responses to each of these 4 reasons that LGBT adherents give.

Listen to the podcast HERE.

More on homosexuality and sexual issues found at Pastor Geoff's site here.
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