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the ethnic nation of Israel in the Old Testament, these covenants must still remain in tact with the people that God originally made the covenant with because of God’s faithful and trustworthy character.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.
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