Thursday, September 6, 2018

Ordinary Work Can Produce Extraordinary Results!

Encouragements to Preachers & Churches.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Ordinary preachers heralding ordinary sermons to ordinary congregations over many years will produce EXTRAORDINARY RESULTS by an EXTRAORDINARY GOD.

I want to break that down phrase by phrase.

Amazingly, God fills his pulpits with men — sinful men! Redeemed men purchased by Christ who have submitted to Him by faith alone and who have turned from sin and who stand desperately in need of divine grace when entering the pulpit, most astonishingly, God uses men to handle His Word. But that’s just the point. God uses ordinary men. God employs frail human beings into His work of ministry. Clay pots and weak vessels are called by God to do His work. There are many preachers who have left indelible marks on human history, to God be the glory! But far more are the untold numbers who have just plodded faithfully, unpopularly, and without recognition or applause. Mark it: God uses ordinary preachers not because of who they are but because of what they do — they faithfully speak God’s Word as faithful mouthpieces declaring what He has said in His all-sufficient and fully authoritative Word.

These ordinary preachers herald ordinary sermons. God’s Word is never ordinary. God’s Truth is never just ordinary. I understand that. But I mean that God’s plan is not for there to be smashing grand slams every week wowing the congregation and stunning the congregation with amazingly new and mind-blowing ideas and never-thought-of tidbits. No! God’s plan is for men of God to stand up week by week and simply read the text, explain the text, apply the text, and trust the Spirit of God to do great work through this faithful service. There are some sermons that God has used mightily by His grace at particular times. For instance, consider Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Consider his sermon to Cornelius and his household in Acts 10-11. Consider Paul’s sermon in Acts 16 while in the Philippian jail. Or perhaps consider Paul Washer’s sermon “The Shocking Youth Message.” God has used particular sermons in great, popular ways. And praise the Lord for His kindness and mercy in these ways. Remember that God’s plan is not for there to be smashingly new, out of this world messages that bring instant changes. His plan is often done through ordinary men preaching ordinarily *faithful* sermons over the long haul. May God be praised!

Many churches in our country have attendance under 100 people. That’s not good or bad, but just the way things are. God uses ordinary congregations comprised of ordinary Christians saved by the pure and spotless blood of Christ poured out for their deliverance. Consider faithful men who deliver faithful sermons to faithful — though small! — congregations. This is plodding and serving and ministering and persevering with faithfulness. The congregation may not make headlines for changing the world. It may not have accolades for having the largest missions-budget. But this congregation is fed the Word of Christ, nourished on the truth of God, empowered and convicted by the Spirit of God. People are changing. Lives are being transformed. Marriages are strengthened and gospel-demonstrating. Young people hear truth and are equipped for a lifetime of service to Christ in whatever employment they embark upon. The plan of God is for His people, His church, the blood-bought saints of God to be taught truth, edified in Scripture, enflamed with heart-impassioned love for Christ, and obedience to Him by the Spirit’s grace.

Like many things, change does not come overnight. Plant a small tree and you’ll see it doesn’t become a towering Oak overnight. Observe a newborn just arriving home from the hospital. In a few days, not much change may be noticeable. But in 10 years, change will undoubtedly be evident. God’s common plan for His church is not for mighty moments to rock the world but for the consistent, faithful, unashamed, courageous preaching of God’s Word to His people over the long haul. God calls His people to faithfulness not to mighty moments of prominence. He calls pastors to study the Word, to pray and prepare, to protect and guard the flock, and to herald day in and day out and “do the work of an evangelist” tirelessly and unswervingly. Without distraction, without being diverted and without shame, the man of God should stand up with God’s Word, preach God’s message, to Christ’s church, empowered by the Spirit — whether or not there is visible change, growth or results. But over many years, the people of God will grow deeper in knowledge of Christ, will soar higher in worship to God, and will keep in step intimately with the Spirit. Ministry is a mandate from God to endure for the long haul — for many years. Endure! Persevere! Keep at it! Don’t give up!

And when God uses ordinary preachers who herald ordinary sermons to ordinary congregations over the course of many years, we trust that our extraordinary and awesome God brings extraordinary results by His grace and for His glory. And the extraordinary results may not make news headlines or be inscribed in world annals. The culture may not even observe it at all. But this extraordinary results consist of this simple and awesome reality: the whole body of Christ will be fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, and it will bring the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love (Eph 4:16). In a word, the church will “grow up in all aspects into Him who is the Head, even Christ” (Eph 4:15). The extraordinary result that this extraordinary God produces is the conforming of His people into the image and likeness of His most worthy Son, Jesus Christ. This awesome work does not happen overnight. But as faithful men preach the Word faithfully to faithful congregations over an extended period of time, God does His internal, sovereign, supernatural, unexplainable work in marvelously preparing His people for glory and to behold His face where all will fall before the Lamb and cry out: “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever” (Rev 5:13)!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Continuing Journey of Teaching Kids to Sit Still
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church, St Louis, MO

  • Teaching them to sit still at MEALS.
  • Teaching them to sit still during FAMILY WORSHIP.
  • Teaching them to sit still & with us during bible study & PRAYER MEETING.
  • Teaching them to sit still during CARE GROUPS.

I LOVE MY CHILDREN. And kids will be kids. They move. They make noises. They get restless. They want to run and they certainly have lots of energy — at least mine do! This isn’t bad nor do I want to squash these desires and shame them into guilt trips when they are excited and desirous to run and play. But there’s a right time for play. And there’s a right time to sit still.

And this is where my family seeks to be intentional and proactive in teaching our kids to sit still. We are not a perfect family — far from it. We don’t parent perfectly. We certainly don’t have perfect kids — nor do they have perfect parents! But we want to be intentional and thoughtful about training our kids (5 kids ages 3 through 9) to sit still and to pay attention especially when the Word of God is read, taught, sung, and preached.

1. Teach them to sit still at MEALS.
We want to teach our children to sit still when we gather for meals. As a family we have breakfasts and dinners together. Almost never am I gone for a breakfast or a dinner from my family. Lunches are when I seek to have discipleships and meet with folks in the church family and connect with visitors. But almost never do I miss a dinner. At the meal times, we are working (still in process!) on teaching the children to sit still, sit on their rear, stay in their seat (and not get up), until they’re finished and everyone is excused and then, only after they’ve said “thank you” to their mother, may they be excused and get up. This is not to be mean. But it’s to be intentional to teach them about conversations, sitting and listening to others respectfully, and even teaching them to sit still and quietly when conversations around them are going on.

2. Teach them to sit still during FAMILY WORSHIP.
Each evening for our family, when we are finished with dinner, we gather on the couch for family worship. This is very intentional for a number of reasons. We want to be obedient to God in teaching our children the Word of God and instructing them in theology, in biblical truths, in biblical worldview, and in godly living. We want to show them the glory of Christ and proclaim the gospel to them daily. During this time, we have family worship “rules.” We tell them to sit on their rears. They cannot speak out but must raise their hand if they have something to say. They cannot touch their neighbor (sibling) with any part of their body. They must stay in their seat. Again, this is deliberate teaching on our part so that our kids learn day after day, little by little, the importance of sitting still, focusing, paying attention, and honoring our God as we read His Word, sing together, and pray as a family during our daily family worship times.

3. Teaching them to sit still and with us during the MID-WEEK BIBLE STUDY.
We have not perfected this, and we’re still working at it diligently and proactively. But our church has a mid-week Bible study and prayer meeting. We spend about 30-40 minutes studying the Word and the rest of the time we engage in corporate prayer. It is a bit of a shorter sermon than the Sunday one so this provides an excellent occasion to practice with all our kids the discipline of sitting still when God’s people have gathered. During this time, we bring our children with us and they sit at a table with my wife and they are to pay attention to the Word preached. Family worship that night usually consists of me teaching my kids what I will preach that night during the Bible study and prayer meeting so they can listen for certain key words and concepts. We also will sing a song or two that we’ll sing that night at the service. All this is to help them learn to listen, focus, and take in God’s Word. We are far from perfect in implementing this perfectly. Nor does it work out nicely every week (I wish!). But it’s a process and we seek to be faithful to God in teaching our kids to sit and hear His Word preached.

4. Teaching them to sit still AT CARE GROUPS.
Our church has home groups. We call them CARE groups. Our family attends a CARE group that is close to our home. I don’t lead it. I have no leadership part to play at all in the CARE group that we attend. So this provides a great occasion for me to sit with my wife and with our five children and seek to help shepherd, teach, and model for them the importance of gathering with God’s people and the importance of sitting in a respectful way when God speaks to us through His Word. We also pray ahead of time for the CARE group leader and the man who will teach the Word. We pray for the other families in our CARE group. All of this is to teach our children deliberately the importance of meeting with God’s people.

All of these are ways that our family has tried to intentionally teach our children to sit still in corporate worship. They aren’t perfect. Some weeks are great. Some weeks look like a circus and feel like one too! But we trust that as we seek to carefully guide our children, regularly and consistently set before them opportunities to hear the Word, meet with God’s people, and see the saints worship Christ, our kids will hear the gospel and come to a saving knowledge of Christ through repentance and faith.
The Bible Wasn’t Accepted Until The 4th Century A.D.
Not a few skeptics of biblical Christianity and those even in the academic world often maintain that the Christian Bible was not accepted -- or “codified” -- until the 4th century A.D., specifically at the Council of Nicea (325A.D.). Some may say that a bunch of men at a later church council finally approved these books. Others may suggest that we did not even have codified Scripture until the Catholic Church finally selected and authorized the Bible. Or, some propose that it was fallible men who selected some books -- and eliminated others -- and thus the Bible is a fallible book. What must Christians answer to such statements? How can we respond?

  1. God needs no man -- or court, council, magistrate or majority vote -- to validate and authenticate His authoritative Word. — A proper theology proper will remind us that almighty God who infinitely rules and who has revealed Himself gloriously does not need human creatures to affirm His already perfect and authoritative truth.
  2. Scripture is Scripture at the very moment the author penned the God-breathed revelation. — The Bible is not a progressively authoritatively work. At the instance in which it was written, right then it is God-breathed revelation without error and without subject to failure. 
  3. Books never become authoritative; rather, at the very time they are written they are fully authoritative and binding as divine revelation from God to man. — The Bible claims for itself authentic, divine revelation as Paul writes that all Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for men. It is the Scripture that is authoritatively God-breathed when the author pens it. 
  4. God’s people never “chose” or “selected” biblical books to be included in Scripture. Rather, the early believers affirmed those texts which were already divinely powerful & gloriously inspired. — Believers in the early church never came together and selected books of the Bible to be included in Scripture. God’s people have always read and recognized -- aided by the power of the Spirit and led by the illumination of the Spirit -- true revelation and rejected that which was false, erroneous, unclear, or that which contradicted other parts of biblical truth. 
  5. God the Holy Spirit illumines the Word upon the hearts of His people and confirms through the inner testimony -- the inner witness -- in the hearts of His people that the Word of God is genuinely authentic, binding, and divine. — This is called the inner witness of the Spirit. The Spirit of God gloriously and graciously illuminates, validates and confirms what is already true about biblical revelation. The Spirit presses home the truth to the hearts of His people by assuring believers as they read Scripture that it is in fact what it claims to be: wholly divine.
  6. The Bible does not need archaeology, science, or various hypotheses from manifold sources to make the Bible true or authentic. Rather, the Word of God is inherently true, unchanging, perfect, without error, and gloriously sufficient for life and for godliness. As time goes on, the true and accurate study of science, archaeology and other hypotheses, when rightly done, will always validate and affirm what the Scripture has already stated to be true (historically, geographically, scientifically). — Lots of speculation exists and hypotheses surmise today regarding the Bible and its trustworthiness (e.g., science, history). The Bible never needs to be proved or validated. But when science is rightly done, it’ll always support what God has said.
Christians [& Most Who Go to Church] Are Just Hypocrites, So I Just Don’t Go.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church, St Louis, MO

Many people who once went to church, or who grew up in church, now find themselves disenchanted with church and put off by local assemblies for many various reasons. But perhaps one reason that often comes out is this: “Christians are just hypocrites, so I just don’t want anything to do with ‘organized church.’”  I have heard statements like this many times from people who say: “I’ve been there and tried that, but it didn’t work for me.” What can you say?
We must affirm a few fundamental realities: Christians are sinners. Christians are forgiven. Christians are striving to follow Christ. Christians are repenters. Christians need the corporate worship of the saints. No Christian claims to be perfect but still strives to follow our Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. 
In responding to this common claim, a few statements are necessary.

  1. A Christian is a sinner. — Christians are not perfect people. Christians are forgiven and transformed and in process of changing, but none have reached a state of sinlessness. None.
  2. A Christian is aware of His desperate condition and his sin nature. — The more a Christian matures and grows, the more he sees the deep depravity and dark crevices of sin still remaining in his life. He hates his sins that he sees: his pride and selfishness and their fruits.
  3. A Christian is thankful for and humbled by grace.  — Far from being perfect or claiming to have “arrived,” a true believer glories in God’s undeserved favor lavished upon Him. He praises God for his mercy showered upon Him undeservedly and wondrously. He is humbled by God’s work of salvation knowing that he does not deserve it. Yet he thanks God for grace!
  4. A Christian has no hope apart from Christ.  — The simple profession that comes from a believer’s lips is that our hope and our righteousness is only found in Jesus Christ. Apart from Him, we have no hope but we are lost, doomed and headed for judgment. Christ rescues us!
  5. A Christian glories in the substitutionary and propitiatory work of Jesus Christ. — The very heart and soul of the gospel message is that Jesus, God incarnate, came to earth and died as the passover Lamb, the substitute, on the cross in the place of His people. On the cross, God cursed Him and justly punished Him for the sins of His people. So God is just in punishing sin and He is justifier in reckoning the perfect righteousness of Christ to those who trust in Him.
  6. A Christian repented and is still repenting. — A person must repent to be saved. But repentance continues throughout the entirety of one’s life. When we sin, we repent repeatedly.
  7. A Christian believed and is still believing. — As with repentance, so it is also with faith. We believed on Christ for salvation and we still trust Him daily as we walk and grow with Him.
  8. A Christian hates his sin and strives to mortify it. — When true Christians stumble into sin, far from ignoring it, believers hate it, seek to kill it, extract it, & replace it with godly habits. 
  9. A Christian perseveres with Christ and clings to Scripture. — Those who have hearts transformed by Christ demonstrate true faith by clinging to Christ and persevering in grace.
  10. A Christian hungers for the fellowship with God’s people. — Jesus saves His people to love Him, to walk with Him & to grow in grace with His people. True saints love Christ’s church.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

I’m Not Good Enough And I Keep Doubting My Salvation.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church, St Louis, MO

A great number of people wonder whether or not they’re really saved. Some have seasons of doubt and discouragement questioning whether or not they really know Christ. Some have even said: yea but I’m not good enough and I keep doubting my salvation. I just don’t know if I can keep myself saved. Some wonder: Have I committed the unforgivable sin? Have I blasphemed the Spirit? I just wonder if I’m bearing enough fruit. I don’t feel saved nor do I have a peace of heart.

 I want to respond to such statements with some words of hope and pointers to the truth.

  1. Eternal security is more about God than it is about you. — The security of a person who is headed for heaven is not about man’s performance but about God’s perseverance! It’s not about your obedience but about God’ faithfulness. Remember it’s about God & His glory.
  2. If salvation ever depended upon you to save yourself or to keep yourself saved, then you would most surely be forever lost.  — To be truthful, if your salvation really were dependent upon you and your good performance and your obedient standing, you’d surely and definitely lose your salvation. If you could lose it, you would. That’s how sinful we humans really are. 
  3. The perseverance of the saints is more about God’s persevering with the saints than it is about the saints persevering with God to be saved. — We talk about persevering to the end and the reality that a person who is once saved will always be saved. And that’s true. But it’s true because God is the powerful One who perseveres with and holds His people firm till glory. So we know, then, that none whom God walks with and guards their souls shall ever be lost. That is utterly impossible to happen. The perseverance doctrine begins with God’s greatness and His glory and His faithful perseverance with all of His elect. This guarantees our glory. 
  4. Gloriously and happily, no person will ever be good enough in his own merits to enter heaven, but through the merits of Jesus Christ, one is able to enter. — The more one looks inward and to his own performance, the more doubtful one will become about his salvation. The merits needed to enter heaven and the assurance given to be comforted with hope is not in our merits or performance but in Christ’s merits and in His righteousness. His work is sufficient and complete and worthy to save His people. 
  5. A Christian who doubts his salvation evidences a lack of trust in the promises of Scripture and in the protection of God. — Though it is possible for true Christians to doubt their salvation, and many do, let it be said that when a person doubts his salvation and genuinely calls it into question, it’s not so much a problem with himself as it is a lack of trust in the gracious and manifold promises of God laid forth in Scripture about His faithful keeping of His own forever. God provides dozens and dozens of Scriptures in both Testaments to provide hope and comfort to His people so that despair would not creep in and doubts would be expelled. When these temptations to doubt come, run to God’s promises and camp on them and anchor your heart to the trustworthiness of His unchanging, perfect, sufficient, and truthful Word. 
  6. In moments of despair and hardship, troubled saints must go to Scripture and rely fully and frequently on the promises of God. — Whether it is yourself or someone you know, you can take a troubled saint to the trustworthy promises and call them to praise and trust fully in God!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

...Yea But, My Friend Goes to Catholic Church And Really Does Believe In Jesus.

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Of course, Mary was baptized as an infant! She was confirmed. She has served in many various roles in her local parish. In fact, she attends mass daily. She even goes to the local pro-life events and devotes time, resources, and energy to biblical principles. The neighborhood knows her as the churchgoer and as the one who would bend over backwards to serve those in need and help in any way she’s able. She’s always gone to church. Never does she miss a Sunday.

In fact, she believes in Jesus. She believes she’s a Christian because she has faith. She listens to Christian radio. She goes to the Christian bookstore. She goes to the national day of prayer and serves the community well. She affirms the Trinity and the virgin birth. She believes Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead. She has a Bible and even reads it periodically. She affirms with the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC #452) that the child born of the Virgin Mary is called Jesus, ‘for he will save his people from their sins’ (Matt 1.21: ‘and there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12).  But do they believe in the biblical Jesus and in the sufficient and saving crosswork of Jesus Christ alone for salvation?

  1. According to Catholicism, Christ instituted the Mass when he said “This is my body” (Matt 26:26) and Romanism teaches that Jesus gave the apostles and hence his future priests the power to change bread and wine into his real body and blood. Thus, during the Mass, it’s a holy sacrifice (CCC #1055, 1365).
  2. Catholicism teaches that in the sacrifice of the Eucharist (=Mass), the work of our redemption is accomplished (CCC #1068). In fact, it re-presents the sacrifice of the cross (CCC #1366).
  3. Tragically, the Roman Church teaches that the sacrifice of the Mass is truly propitiatory -- that means that it removes the wrath of God (CCC #1367). To deny this is to be placed under a curse, what is called “anathema” (Council of Trent: Sacrifice of Mass: Canon 3). 
  4. The Bible, however, presents a completely different way of salvation than what the Roman Catholic Church teaches -- salvation not through works, the Mass, the Church, or baptism. 
  5. The Bible teaches that Jesus offered Himself for the sins of His people once for all (Heb 7:26-27) and he was offered once to bear the sins of many (Heb 9:28). He offered one sacrifice for sins for all time (Heb 10:10-12). Every Mass is an abomination as it is a re-sacrificing of Jesus Christ when, in fact, He really, fully, gloriously accomplished salvation once for all. 
  6. Every repetition of sacrifice that an alleged priest performs during the Eucharist ceremony is completely meaningless and of no value whatsoever. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices which can never take away sins (Heb 10:11). 
  7. Our glorious Savior bore the full wrath of God on the cross (Rom 3:25) and was crushed under the Father’s just judgment (Isa 53:10) and became the Curse for sinners (Gal 3:10-13). When He drank the cup of divine wrath and completed the work of redemption, he victoriously chanted: “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Roman Catholic theology does not allow for the work of salvation to be accomplished since purgatory exists to purge away sins (CCC #1030). 
  8. Catholicism teaches baptism is necessary for salvation (CCC #1257) & that baptism erases original sin (CCC #405). Christ says: believe & have life (John 3:15-16, 36). Salvation is a free gift (Eph 2:8-9) and cannot be complemented with works (Gal 2:21). Trust Christ alone!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Yea but, I’m Not That Bad [or, “I’m Good!”]
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Nearly everyone says it. How are you: “I’m good” or “I’m fine.” A Christian may inquire to someone: “Have you ever heard of the gospel of Jesus Christ?” One replies: “No, thanks I’m good.” It’s common and all around us. People believe themselves to be autonomous and self-sufficient and thus have no perceived need for the gospel. Christians who declare the biblical gospel will inevitably speak of the foul nature of men’s souls and the filthy rags of one’s deeds. This flies squarely in the face of human pride. The natural and unregenerate response chafes at such statements about the real plight and problem of mankind and will rather assume that men are good, capable of choosing right, able to please God and choose God and they will continue to assert that they’re not that bad and, quite honestly, that they view themselves to be pretty good people. A few responses must be in order.

  1. Man’s problem lies not with a lack of self-esteem, but rather with a sinfully inflated and a pridefully autonomous heart.  — The mantra of the day about humans lacking proper confidence in self could not be further from God’s declaration about man. The ultimate problem of men resides in the self-exalted position that he cares about.
  2. The definition of “good” comes not from comparing oneself with others or a cultural standard but rather by how one measures up to the infinitely perfect standard of God. — Often people say they are good because they compare themselves with cultural standards, their own standards, or other people they see and know. The ultimate standard from God does not use this scale, however. God measures all men by His own infinite holiness and perfection.
  3. No man has ever or could ever understand how incredibly bad he really is in the eyes of the thrice-holy God. — When the prophet Isaiah saw the exalted Lord high and lifted up, his response was to fall down and pronounce a “woe” (=curse) upon himself and pronounce himself ‘undone.’ To understand God rightly will inevitably lead to a proper view of self. 
  4. God’s declaration about humanity without exception is that all who have been born of Adam have been born with a sin nature and are thus “not good” and “not pleasing to God.” — Paul declares that all who have been born of natural birth are born ‘in Adam’ and are sinners because we sinned in Him (Rom 5:12). No man in this state can please God (Rom 8:7).
  5. Ultimately God does not inquire about man’s opinion of oneself and judge him by his own self-profession. Rather, God has set forth the standard in His holy Word and will measure all men by His holy and perfect Law. — Sinful man’s wish is that God may judge them by their own standard and make a compromise. But God has set forth His Law, reflecting His character and glory, for men to follow and no man can ever measure up. No man living is righteous in God’s sight. All the thoughts of men are only evil continually. All are stained with sin. 
  6. The glory of the gospel does not turn good people into better people. — It would be truncate the gospel to declare that the gospel makes good people into better people. But the biblical gospel wondrously affirms that dead sinners become saints, all by sovereign mercy and love.
  7. The Spirit’s work of regeneration is magnified as He gives true life to genuinely dead and unspeakably corrupt souls. — A proper understanding of anthropology and hamartiology extols the sovereign grace of God and drives a believer to boast only in Christ. Only God can take a rebellious and stone-cold soul and give it life so that it beats after and longs for Christ!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Yea but, You’re Pushing Someone Away From Jesus With Your Bold & Constant Evangelism.

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

You’ve seen it and heard people respond to the street preacher standing on the corner of a busy intersection with a Bible in his hand loudly heralding the faithful gospel of Jesus Christ and calling sinners to repent of sin and trust in Christ alone! People yell as they walk by. Some remain apathetic. Others mock, sneer, make faces and some even grow angrily hostile. Someone says: “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” You wonder: is this really working? Or, is this really effective? Some well-intended person may think: isn’t the preacher’s boldness and urgency and forthrightness just driving people away from Jesus? Just love and befriend them, right? How should we respond to such statements?

  1. Dead sinners can never be pushed further away from their already existing state of being enemies of God and under the wrath of God.  —  The fact that someone would think that an evangelist could push a sinner further away from Jesus assumes that the sinner isn’t in the worst possible situation. But the Bible would state otherwise. Anyone outside of Christ lives in darkness, is an enemy of God, and remains under God’s wrath. No one can be pushed further from Jesus Christ -- no one.
  2. No one can push someone away from Christ by being bold with gospel proclamation. — Bold evangelism does not push people away. What keeps people (who are already far away from Christ!) from coming to Christ is not a bold-hearted evangelist but their own inability to believe and their own unwillingness to humble themselves and come to Christ for salvation.
  3. The assumption behind such a claim is that man has control of or the ability to choose God. — Such statements assume that the rebellious sinner who is dead in his sin somehow is able to draw closer to God in his own strength. No one seeks after God (Rom 3:11). 
  4. This claim presupposes that the evangelist can do something by his method or technique or manners or presentation to win and woo people to Jesus Christ for salvation. — The power to save is not in a method or step-by-step process, but the power of God is the message of truth.
  5. To follow the example of Christ, believers must be compassionately urgent in evangelism. — Jesus came to earth & His mission -- his purpose! -- was to preach to the cities and call men to repent and turn to God to be saved! This is why He came (Luke 4:42-44)!
  6. No one is more urgent and passionate in evangelism than God Himself. — All through the Old Testament, God repeatedly calls Israel, Judah and sinners to return to Him for salvation (just start in Isaiah 1 and keep reading from there!).
  7. No evangelist can ever do something to make someone more receptive to the gospel. The fundamental issue remains the same: the heart is dead & only God can give life. — There’s no magic trick that makes people more ‘saveable’. Souls are dead till God sovereignly awakens and gives life -- all by grace through the proclamation of the Word & call of the Spirit!
  8. That which saves a soul is the almighty power of God that brings regeneration as the Word of God goes forth faithfully. — Evangelism is never (ever!) a failure when the truth of the gospel is faithfully presented. Conversion is God’s work. He saves. We must preach & trust Him to do the saving, heart-changing, converting work that only He can do. Speak truth & trust God!
Yea But, He Has His Own Choice To Come to God Or Not.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

This blog is part of a forthcoming eBook that answers "common objections" that people have to the biblical gospel.

Many may suggest that people can make their own choice as to whether or not they will come to God. Many quip that they have a ‘free-will.’ Often this argument comes from an ideology that man is predominantly good and that can has, in and of himself, the capacity, the drive, and the desire to choose what is good for Him spiritually in Christ. This way of thinking also presupposes that God will not -- and cannot -- override man’s will. The conclusion, then, is that God remains on the edge of His seat to see how man will decide and what man will decide and then God will respond -- or act -- accordingly. Man has become sovereign and God has become the passive responder in this ideological way of thinking. Does God really force salvation upon someone? Does God really drag someone who is kicking and screaming into the kingdom of God? Surely our God of love wouldn’t force the gospel upon someone who doesn’t want it right?

Acts 13:48 - “When the gentiles heard this they were glad and glorified the word of God. And as many as were for ordained to eternal life believed.”
John 6:37 - “All that the Father gives to me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out.”
John 6:65 - “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by my Father.”

A few points must be noted.

1. One’s choice is regulated by his nature.— A person certainly has the capacity to make choices. We do so innumerable times each day. But one’s choice is regulated by -- or, bound by -- his nature. If he is a child of God, he has the ability to choose what is good and godly. If he is unregenerate, his nature is at odds with God and thus he cannot choose good or please God.

2. Unregenerate sinners are not able to come to God. — No one can come to the Lord Jesus unless the Father draws that sinner. So bad is the unregenerate sin nature and so foul and so exhaustive and corrupt is the sinful nature we all inherit from Adam that we can not come to God in the least. No man loves God or longs for God or can choose God. None fear God.

3. Unregenerate sinners would never choose Christ. — The rebel who lives in the darkness hates the light and cannot come to the light. In fact, when Jesus, the Lord of glory incarnated Himself and came to earth and proclaimed the gospel, called sinners to repent, declared that He Himself was Messiah, and proved all His claims by miracles, what did unregenerate sinners do but crucify Him.

4. This argument leaves man sovereign over his destiny. God is lowered and man is elevated. But the Bible declares that the Lord reigns and chooses some to be His own. It’s God who chooses.

Whitefield surely stated correctly: “Man has no free-will to go to heaven, but only a free-will to go to hell!” But praise be to God who graciously gives sight to blind eyes and dead souls so as to see the glory of Christ, the need for grace, and the gift of eternal life. Bless God that salvation does not rest on your choice; but rather it rests on His sovereign choice. Salvation does not depend on the man who runs (or works, or chooses) but on God who has mercy (Rom 9:16).

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A Biblical Perspective of Sex.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The Word of God speaks frequently about the importance of sexual fidelity within marriage. And it does so in an unashamed and in a clear manner. God created marriage and He also created the intimacy that must be enjoyed between a husband and a wife within the covenant of marriage. But the question remains: how should believers view sex? What is a right understanding of sex? What does the Bible have to say about sex? To answer these questions, I want to briefly give a biblical perspective of sex below under seven headings.

Sex should be:
1.    Selfless
The Apostle Paul says: “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor 16:14). Surely in the context of Christian living this includes marital intimacy between a husband and a wife. Elsewhere, Paul commands believers to do ‘nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; indeed, do not merely look out for your own personal interests but also for the interests of others (Phil 2:3-4). This speaks of unity among God’s people and undoubtedly this principle can be applied to sexual relations as well. Jesus Himself said he did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Sexual intimacy, then, must be a selfless act where the person’s foremost passion is to selflessly die to self and serve the other person with gladness, joy, and enthusiasm. Just as in any other realm of Christian living, even sex is to be selfless, never selfish or self-serving.

2.    Holy
The marriage bed is holy. It is to be held in honor among all and the marriage bed is to be undefiled (Heb 13:4). Sex is to be holy in that it is distinct from the common and profane use of the world. Sex the way God designed it is holy because God is holy. Sex is to be unique among God’s people as it comes from the infinitely holy God. Sex is not to be worldly or common or profane or impure. Rather, it is to be gloriously distinct, unique and and wondrously Christian-like as a husband and a wife can worship Christ before and during and after coming together intimately. The entire occasion of sex should be a worshipful, a selfless, a Christ-honoring, a pure, and an enjoyable union that the couple enjoys in marriage. Why? Because it comes from God (Gen 2:24-25) and it is good (Gen 1:31).

3.    Exhilarating
Just read the ultimate Song of all songs. In the Song of Songs (as the Hebrew title has it), Solomon is utterly ravished with his lover and so is the bride toward her man. In the wisdom of Proverbs, we read that it is good for sexual relations and pleasures to be enjoyed, rejoiced in, sought, desired, and yearned for (Song of Solomon 4-7)! In fact, sexual pleasures, orgasms, and enjoyable experiences are biblical! We read that a wife’s breasts are to satisfy her husband at all times and indeed they are to be exhilarated always with each other’s love (Prov 5:19). God isn’t bashful in His words to us. The love that a man experiences in marriage is to be exhilarating, intoxicating, overwhelming, and enjoyable. That’s why the lovers are told in Song of Solomon 5:1 to “Drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers!” It is good and right and God-ordained for a husband to be exhilarated with his wife’s love and for a wife to be exhilarated with her husband’s love. Pursue this!

4.    Exclusive
Solomon wisely counsels his son to be exclusive in his sexual conduct toward and his heart-drawn affections toward his wife. No other lovers or intruders are allowed -- none! For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress and embrace the bosom of a foreigner (Prov 5:20). Indeed, remember this: the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord and He watches all his paths (Prov 5:21). The conjugal union between lovers must be exclusive between a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage. Zealously, earnestly protect this -- at all costs! The man and woman are to come together and be “one flesh” (Gen 2:24-25). This is the design of God that is good, noble and Scriptural. If you’ve sinned in the past, repent of it, forsake it, bring it to the Lord in humble confession and be reconciled to God and to your mate. Be exclusive. In a world of great immorality, secrecy, fornication and perverted fantasies and images and encounters, fight with all your might to be exclusive in heart, eyes and body to your mate!

5.    Protective
There’s a real sense in which lovemaking between a husband and a wife is a safeguard; that is, a protective measure. One of the ways that God calls His people to be pure and to keep away from immorality is to drink water from your own cistern (Prov 5:15) and to “let your fountain be blessed and rejoice in the wife of your youth” (Prov 5:18). Furthermore, those who long for sexual relations should seek to marry as a safeguard against immorality (1 Cor 7:8). Paul elsewhere says that the husband and wife must come together frequently and if they do abstain it is to only be for a shortened season for the purpose of prayer and then they must come together so that Satan does not tempt them (1 Cor 7:5). Husbands must protect their wives by seeking to romance them well, to enjoy them, to serve them, to satisfy them, to love them, to be tender with them and give them the time and affection they desire. Wives must realize that one of the ways they can serve their husbands and be used to protect their husbands is to serve, fulfill, enjoy, and please their husbands sexually and regularly. This is a God-given safeguard.

6.    Communicative
Like anything else in the marriage relationship, sex must be talked about. Both lovers must talk openly, honestly and regularly about what they like or don’t like. Are there ways in which the husband is doing something that the wife doesn’t enjoy or prefer or feel comfortable with? Or same with the wife to the husband? Both lovers must communicate openly and honestly without shame (Gen 2:25) and with full honesty (Eph 4:25-26). The husband should not feel ashamed to verbally admire his wife’s body specifically by even mentioning body parts with great passion and pleasure and enjoyment (see Song of Songs 4:1-10; 7:1-9). Rather than giving into assumptions or false expectations, seek to honestly and frequently speak about these matters humbly, selflessly, honestly, and enjoyably. Communication isn’t something that takes place once in a while; it is to frequently take place in marriage. When there is conflict (in whatever place in marriage, even in sex), there was a breakdown of communication somewhere. Seek to communicate openly regarding intimacy so you can better know your spouse’s desires, wants, longings, needs, and pleasures.

7.        Frequent
Biblically, sex should not be infrequent between a husband and wife. The Bible assumes that lovemaking will be regular, frequent, enjoyable and pleasurable. Proverbs 5:19 says that the wife’s breasts are to satisfy the husband at all times and that he is to be exhilarated always with her love. Paul elsewhere says that the husband must fulfill his duty to his wife and likewise the wife to her husband (1 Cor 7:3). Lovers must not deprive one another except by mutual agreement for a brief time (for the purpose of prayer) and then they’re to quickly and happily come back together in lovemaking so they’re not tempted (1 Cor 7:5). What God created is good and it is to be enjoyed without shame (Gen 2:24-25). Sometimes couples go months without making love or weeks without coming together intimately. Such should not be the case. A husband and wife should frequently come together with a selfless attitude of worshipful joy, thankful to God, pursuing the spouse’s pleasure, and fully engaged exclusively with one another.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The King & His Kingdom Is Yet to Come to Earth!
Exegetical and Theological Support for Premillennialism
Dr. Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church (St. Louis, Missouri)
[This was originally published at True Declination Ministries website in 2015.]

    As the public ministry of Jesus drew near to the climactic passion week, Jesus told his hearers a parable because Jesus was near Jerusalem (for the Triumphal Entry) and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately (Luke 19:11). Jesus spoke and exhorted His followers to live busy, God-honoring lives till the nobleman returns since they presumed the kingdom of God was to immediately burst in right then and there. On the night before the crucifixion of Christ, Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, “Are You the King of the Jews?” to which Jesus responded by affirming: “It is as you say” (Matt 27:11). Jesus affirmed repeatedly that He came as Messiah and as the King to deliver His people. He validated His claims by means of undeniable miracles proving that He had come from God and with God’s power. So the question is not, “Is Jesus a King?” or “Is Jesus sovereign?” To these important questions, the Scriptures loudly and repeatedly affirm with certainty!

The question is, however, does Jesus function as the ruling and reigning King over the Kingdom as the Scriptures in both testaments teach? The purpose of this essay is to present a robust, exegetical and theological answer to that question. Indeed, Christians must study prophecy and should come to a proper understanding of the Scriptures so as to not neglect the Word and such a comforting genre of study as this. Interpreters should heartily affirm the clear teaching of the Word of God concerning the kingdom of God which shall come.

Download and read the rest of the essay HERE.

More on premillennialism can be found here

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

This is an encouragement to the saints (1 Thess 1.2-3)
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

1Thessalonians 1:3 — constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father.

When Paul speaks of the τοῦ ἔργου τῆς πίστεως of the Thessalonian church, he recalls the work that is produced by their faith. Their faith sprouts forth godly works. Note how the work is singular. There are, of course, many manifold works that believers produce for the glory of Christ. But in the body of Christ, they are unified, working together, and here noted as being singular. He notes their work produced by faith. O that every church would be marked by and characterized by its work that springs forth from its faith in Jesus Christ. That means that true faith in Christ is never alone; it always produces works. Though no one is saved by his works, true faith is never without works. All true faith will generate works, produce good works, and seek to live a life of good works NOT in order to attain salvation but in gratitude for the salvation already received by faith alone in Christ. O may churches excel still more in the Thessalonians model of having this kind of work that stems from faith!

The Thessalonian church also is recognized for its τοῦ κόπου τῆς ἀγάπης. Amazingly, Paul marks out this church’s work, labor, toil, even trouble because of their great love. The labor of this church springs forth out of its great love! The love of this church is not only for Christ but it’s also for one another. And, of course, this love that marks the church in Thessalonika did not generate with themselves but it was initiated first and ultimately by God Himself in the sovereign grace He bestowed upon His elect in saving them. Then, those who have received this saving love in Christ, respond with a great love for Christ and a contagious love for one another in the local assembly. This great love brings forth toil, work, labor and a diligence in serving one another. This kind of hard work, this unrelenting service, and this inconvenient (at times) commitment to one another all grows out of a diligent and impassioned love for Christ and for His Church. The gospel of God’s grace, revealed in Christ, granted by mercy is the great foundation of this great working love in the local church of Thessalonika.

Finally, the Apostle Paul commends the church for its τῆς ὑπομονῆς τῆς ἐλπίδος. The believers are grounded in a solid, unshakeable hope that produces their steadfastness. Their endurance, their perseverance, their steadfastness is not grounded on their own human efforts or consistency, but rather it is based upon the hope that believers have in the Lord Jesus Christ (τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ). Amidst much hardship, many sorrows, severe persecution, and harsh afflictions brought on by gospel-opponents, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ refuses to flinch and retreat. Rather, believers are marked by godly hope which springs forth joyfully and unfailingly in perseverance. Note that the church is corporately commended for this steadfastness. One cannot be steadfast apart from the local assembly. One will not persevere through trials and great oppression left to himself, in isolation, as a lone ranger. Rather, it is the community of faith, the assembly of the redeemed that stimulates one another to keep enduring because of the great hope that is laid before us in Christ Jesus, our Lord and King. O that churches would remember this and that true hope in Christ (hope in heaven, hope in Christ’s return, hope in evil’s defeat, hope in the coming Kingdom) would catapult the church to great steadfastness as believers endure together, grow together, meet together, encourage one another, and remain steadfast shoulder to shoulder. 
In Mark's account of the choosing of the 12 (Mark 3:13-19), Jesus goes up on the mountain and then selects men whom He Himself wanted to serve with Him. Drawing from the text, here are four application points to consider devotionally.

The men who were designated to be Apostles were ordinary men. Varied backgrounds comprises the men whom Christ used in His service. A tax collector, a zealot, some fishermen, other Galileans were those ordinary ones whom Christ used in His ministry. Our Lord did not go to Jerusalem to find the elitist, the scholars, the rabbis and Sanhedrenists, What an encouragement that Christ employed ordinary men, with ordinary talents, with ordinary abilities, with common issues that we can all relate to. What made these ordinary men extraordinary was not gifting and abilities. Rather, it was the call of God on their life and the empowering that came upon them to do the awesome work God had predetermined for them. Ordinary men, like you and me, can do great works for Christ as we serve Him with humble obedience, joyful reverence, and diligent persistence.

Mark’s gospel record tells us that Jesus went up to the mountain and He summoned those whom He himself wanted, and they came to Him. We also know from Luke’s account that Jesus spent all night in prayer prior to making this decision. He carefully thought about whom He would select to be engrafted into His mighty service. What a glorious Savior who initiated the selection of certain men to be His ambassadors in ministry. They did not seek Christ out. Nor did they catch His eye because of their academic achievements or political viewpoints or radical risk-taking endeavors. Rather, He prayed and came to these ones and He initiated the contact and He employed them into HIs service of gospel proclamation. All those whom Christ selected were those whom “He Himself wanted.” What joy to think that He selects men into service that He himself wants to be employed in his gospel-work.

These disciples had one glorious characteristic: they were with Christ. They spent time with Christ. They watched Christ. They observed Him. They lived life with Christ. He empowered them to preach and He gave them authority to cast out demons. Their ministry was a supernatural one. That is, theirs was a ministry that they could not achieve in their own strength and by their own intelligence. But Christ empowered them to do the task that He gave to them. What they could not do on their own, they were now enabled to do by the sovereign grace and ineffable power of God that enabled them to do the spiritual work of this important ministry.

A three-fold ministry sums up the ministry of these men. First, they are to be WITH CHRIST. Second, they are TO PREACH. And Third, they are TO CAST OUT DEMONS. Note that the first element of gospel work includes that nonnegotiable duty of every minister to be with Christ. Without close communion with Christ, the ministry will be cold, heartless, lifeless, and powerless. The minister must be with Christ, fellowshipping and communing with Him, close to Him and able to say with the Psalmist: “The nearness of God is my good!” Second, Christ sent them to preach. Yes, they must prioritize the verbal proclamation of this good news of salvation found in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene. Preaching encapsulates the minister’s primary work, the most taxing work, the most exacting work, the most supernatural work, and the most urgent work. May the Lord help His ministers to be faithful in studying the Word and preaching the Word faithfully, accurately and compellingly. Third, they were to minister to the needs of men by casting out demons and delivering them from the power of darkness. They had the ability to cast out demons because Christ Himself endowed them with this authority. Note that they were with Christ, then they were preaching the gospel to men’s hearts and minds, and they cared for men’s bodies and physical well being to cast out demons and guard them from the Evil One. May God’s ministers be faithful in Christ’s service as we commune with Christ, preach His Word, and minister to men’s needs.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A while back, we posted a number of articles to help Christians in understand why family worship proves to be so valuable and how to equip believers to implement this in the home.

Here are the articles:

1. Family worship & evangelism
2. Family worship & prayer
3. Family worship & Scripture
4. Family worship & theology
5. Family worship & application
6. Family worship & praise
7. Family worship & catechism
8. Family worship & regeneration
9. Family worship & leadership (complementarianism)
10. Family worship & marriage
11. Family worship & the glory of God

Here is our catechism that we've put together with our commentary & Scripture proofs (still in process).

For a simple overview of family worship, click here. Also, here are some benefits to family worship and some of the purposes of family worship.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Process of Becoming a Leader of Christ Fellowship Bible Church
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church (St Louis, MO)

The church belongs to Jesus Christ! He resides as the sovereign Head over His Body, the church and He has spoken clearly and sufficiently in His Word, the Bible. What He says has total authority over all that happens in His Church. The Scriptures very clearly present qualifications for the leadership offices of elder and deacon. But the practical question remains: how does one become a leader? What is the process by which a man becomes a leader in the church of Jesus Christ?

At CFBC, we have summarized this practical process in a few practical headings.

First, Selecting men.
Leaders prove themselves to be leaders long before they’re appointed to leadership positions. That means that these men will evidently demonstrate themselves to be doing the work of service long before they are publicly affirmed with a leadership title. They’re not in it for the title, the prestige, the position, or the authority. They want to serve and they do the work with or without the recognition or official leadership title. So the leadership of CFBC selects men who already are showing themselves to be doing the work of ministry. For a deacon, it is one who shows a life of integrity, one who is consistent in his speech and commitments, one who is willing to serve, aid the shepherds, and help do the work of ministry to free up the shepherds to maintain prayer and the study and teaching of the Word as their foremost calling. For an elder, here is one who already is living out the qualifications (of personal life, home life, marital life) as well as a man who shows himself to be shepherding folks in the Word (teaching biblical truth with clarity and accuracy) as well as defending against false and harmful doctrine. So the selection of men consists in the recognizing of those men who already are doing the work in the local church. We seek them out, the leadership meets with them and asks if they have a desire for leadership in the local assembly.

Second, Examining men.
Then after the selection of men comes the process of examination. The Apostle Paul talks about leaders being tested and examined. This can be both formal and informal. Informally, it refers of course to the examination of the man’s life by observation and by careful scrutiny. It also, however, includes the necessary examination formally. This refers to a written examination (for both elders and deacons). We also, at CFBC, choose to examine the man in an oral interview where we ask specific questions about the prospect’s spiritual life (sexual purity, Bible reading, prayer time, marriage, family worship, financial condition, repentance, evangelism, etc.).  For an elder and deacon, we would interview the wife privately (without the husband there), and children (if applicable). For an elder, we would also go to his workplace and interview at least two co-workers to gather their impressions on the prospective leader. The oral and written examinations will help the existing leadership team in testing the candidate for a ministry position. This is a crucial element of the process of becoming a leader. This stage in the process is not to be rushed; nor is it to be overlooked. A man must be examined first before becoming an official leader in the church.

Third, Approving men
After a man has demonstrated a godly life, faithfulness in service in the local church, and after he has been examined, the CFBC leadership will bring the man before the church congregation in a corporate worship service and present him as a viable candidate for leadership. The leadership then calls on the church as a whole to give input to the leadership team about the candidate over a set period of time (say, a month or so). This includes the flock and their impressions, perceptions, concerns, or affirmations in the leadership process. After this set period of time, the leaders may approve the man by mentioning to him the weightiness and responsibility of leadership in Christ’s church.

Fourth, Recognizing men
Then after a man is approved by the leadership, he is recognized publicly in a public worship service and appointed to the leadership position (of elder or deacon). This is a public recognition and the existing church leaders will pray for the new leader and commit him, his family, and the ministry to the Lord for His glory and for the health and protection of the church. No church makes a leader. No church raises up leaders. The Spirit of God does this. We view our job to disciple, pray for, train, and encourage men to serve in many ways. As they serve, the Spirit of God makes it clear over time who is already doing the work of service. And the more these faithful servants do the work, it becomes overwhelmingly clear both to them, to the leadership, and to to the congregation as a whole, whom the Lord is raising up to be a leadership (either a deacon or an elder).

More on leadership can be found at Pastor Geoff's website.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Matthew 3:12 — “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

From this text, the Word of God speaks of the reality of eternal punishment. We can study it under a few headings:

1. WHO - Jesus Christ: “HE”
John the Baptist is around the Jordan River baptizing many people who are coming to him from the nearby areas and when the religious leaders arrived, he warned them to flee from the wrath to come (Matt 3:7). He warned these Pharisees and Sadducees that he baptizes with water for repentance, but Christ Himself is coming who is mightier and He baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matt 3:11). Jesus Christ has a winnowing fork in His hand and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor and He will gather His wheat (=believers) into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff (=unbelievers) with unquenchable fire. This tells us that judgment will be decisively and justly administered by Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus would later declare that the Father has given all judgment to the Son (John 5:22) and it is Christ Himself who sits on a Great, White Throne at the end of the age and He will cast all nonbelievers into the Lake of Fire (Rev 20:11-15). Make no mistake, it is Jesus Christ the Sovereign Lord, who judges nonbelievers.

In the message in the open air to the very religious masses, John declared that Jesus will gather His wheat into His barn and He will burn up the chaff (Matt 3:12). There is an element of certainty here. No doubt exists. No uncertainty or potentiality is in the text. Christ Himself will cast all the chaff away. For all nonbelievers, no matter how rebellious, indifferent, oppressive, or religious they have been, Christ Jesus will most surely cast all unrepentant sinners and Christ-rejecting rebels to hell.

3. VIOLENCE - “burn up”
Sometimes John the Baptist is called a “hell, fire and brimstone preacher.” To be fair, he’s a faithful prophet who delivers what God has for the hearers. In the public, John courageously and unflinchingly declares that Jesus will burn up the chaff. He will burn them up. The language Matthew uses is that Jesus will consume them up, burn them entirely, utterly destroy them violently. Later, in Jesus’ public teaching before many crowds, he will say: “Gather the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up” (Matt 13:30). All unrepentant sinners who do not come to Christ alone for salvation will be burned up. It also must be mentioned that Christ Himself will burn up the chaff. Christ actively and righteously exacts perfect judgment in the burning of all sinners who die apart from Him.

4. RECIPIENTS - the chaff
The faithful preaching of the forerunner to the Messiah also includes the description of those who will be judged. He calls them “chaff.” Chaff speaks of that which is worthless, nothing, unhelpful, light, useless. John says that the Lord Christ will burn up all nonbelievers -- and he calls them chaff. The Bible likens the wicked to chaff (Ps 1:4) who blow away in a wind. It is the Angel of the LORD who drives the chaff away (Ps 35:5). God, in His almighty and unstoppable power, makes all the wicked like chaff which are driven away (Ps 83:13). So here, John graphically and honestly speaks of nonbelievers as “chaff” -- that which is useless and unprofitable.

5. ETERNALITY / SEVERITY - with unquenchable fire
Far different than a common mantra of everyone going to heaven, or no one going to hell, John the Baptist taught that all the chaff would be burned up with “unquenchable fire.” All nonbelievers will go to the place of eternal fire (Matt 18:8). At the end of the age, Christ will judge those and say: “Depart from me...into the eternal fire” (Matt 25:41). False teachers will make their eternal home in the “eternal fire” (Jude 7). Not only does John speak of fire, but the fire is unquenchable. That signifies the enduring nature, the endlessness, the never-ending everlastingness of this fiery judgment of God that will crush all nonbelievers. It’s unquenchable, it never goes out, it never fades, it never loses its power, it never goes out, it never rests. Sinners who do not repent of sin will go into hell, into the unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43).

With the reality of eternal punishment clearly set forth in Scripture, note the hope for those who turn to Christ Jesus by faith alone. John the Baptist says that Christ Himself will “gather His wheat into the barn.” This picture provides such a personal, protective, caring love of the Savior who gathers His people, whom He has purchased with His own blood, into the barn. Think of the usefulness, the benefit, the blessing of wheat. Think of a barn and the protection it offers from bad weather, from invaders, and from harm. Christ is the only refuge and the only hope for sinners. No other way to escape eternal punishment exists. Turn to Christ and live! Repent and believe the gospel! Come to Christ and find life!
The Pastor Is the Primary Worship Leader.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Lots of titles swirl in church-circles today. Minister of music. Worship director. Worship pastor. And on they go. Often these titles that relate to a ‘worship leader’ point to the person who plans, leads, and organizes the music part of the service.

As important as those faithful folks who serve in the area of music are, and those who give leadership in the music in the church gathering, we do well to remember that the primary worship leader in the assembly of God’s people is the pastor.

If worship could be simply defined as a response to the revelation of who God is and what God has done, then the pastor is the one who has the primary duty of revealing God to the people through Scripture and preaching Christ week by week. It is he who sets the glory and majesty of God before the people through the reading, preaching and application of the Word of God. Of course, this understands worship to not be synonymous with music; music can be an expression of worship and it can be a vehicle by which the saint can adore and praise God. But the “worship time” does not equal the “music time” in the church gathering.

So how does the pastor function as the primary worship leader in the church gathering?

The pastor has the wonderful privilege of calling the saints to prepare themselves to meet with God. As Moses called Israel to purify themselves for in three days, God would descend to meet with them (Exodus 19), so the pastor leads in guiding the congregation to prepare well ahead of time to meet with the Lord. Again, worship is fundamentally a heart-filled response to who God is and how God has revealed Himself. Through the faithful preaching of God’s Word week by week, and the diligent leading the flock to the throne of grace in prayer, and the modeling of heart-preparation for corporate worship, this is one important way in which the pastor leads believers in worship.

Worship is serious. Just read Revelation 4 and 5 and one will quickly find the absence of joking and trivialities and worldliness. In fact, the innumerable multitudes in heaven (both angels and saints) are often prostrate before the sovereign Lamb worshiping Him, adoring Him, and offering expressions of praise, honor, and worship. The pastor functions as the primary worship leader as he teaches the Word of God so that there is a sobriety in the presence of God. It’s as the pastor-hymnwriter of old once penned it: “how sweet and aweful [=awesome] is the place with Christ within the doors.” As the saints gather to worship God in corporate worship, it should resemble the corporate worship of heaven (as seen in Revelation 4, 5, 7, 15). There should be a great sobriety, understanding that Almighty God, in full, unclouded glory is beheld, present, and fully deserving of our focus, delight, and worship.

Perhaps the greatest way the pastor functions as the worship leader is by setting God before His very own people through the regular, consistent, solid expounding of Holy Scripture. In preaching the Word faithfully, God shows Himself to His people through the mouthpiece of the preacher. In heralding the Bible, the greatness of God will shine forth brilliantly and unmistakably. The minister will declare the sinfulness of sin, the glory of God, the sufficiency of Christ, the propitiation of Christ, the certainty of judgment, and the call to repent and believe the gospel. As the Word of God goes forth in power, aided by the Holy Spirit, God exalts Himself, honors His Son, builds His church, edifies His people, and compels them to worship privately, publicly, and evangelistically. Thus, the pastor who tirelessly obeys God’s call to “preach the Word” is the real, ultimate worship leader in showing who God is to the congregation thus allowing them, by God’s grace, to respond in praise, worship, humility, repentance, and adoration.

The pastor has the responsibility of maintaining a Godward focus in the worship gathering. The music is to exalt Christ. The Scripture reading is to be serious, focused, and clear. The prayers in the gathering should reflect those of Scripture (in all their various forms). The preaching should be expository, Christ-exalting, gospel-declaring, and Spirit-empowered. From start to end, the worship service should maintain a focus centered on the majesty of God, the glory of Christ, and the enabling grace of the Spirit. It is the pastor who ultimately carries the service along and he is the one who is to see to it that God -- not man -- remains the focus of the entire gathering. God must be central; not man. God must be exalted; not man. God must be thought highly of; not man. God’s Word must be preached; not man’s. It is the pastor who can plan, lead, maintain, and see to it that the corporate worship gathering centers on God from beginning to end through everything that is done.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Pillars of Promises for the Child of God
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church  (St Louis, MO)

In times of deep dark despair, don’t listen to yourself & your doubts; rather, speak biblical truth &  anchor your trust in God’s promises!

What are some *GO TO* Promises that you can cling to?
1. Rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven (Luke 10.20)
2. Don’t be troubled; Christ prepares a place for you & will come to receive you to be with Him (John 14.1-3)
3. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; do not let your heart be troubled; nor let it be fearful (John 14.27)
4. Whoever will call on the name of the Lord WILL be saved (Rom 10.13)
5. Having been justified by faith, we HAVE peace with God thru our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 5.1)
6. HOPE does NOT disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts thru the Holy Spirit (Rom 5.5)
7. As a believer in Jesus Christ, you are justified and saved from God’s wrath thru Christ (Rom 5.9)
8. If God is for us, who can be against us (Rom 8.31)
9. Who can condemn you? Christ died, yes he was raised, is at the right hand of God, and intercedes for us! (Rom 8.34)
10. Neither death, life, angels, principalities, things present or things to come, nor power….will separate us from the love of God (Rom 8.38-39)
11. What you’ve learned and received and heard in Scripture, practice these things and GOD of peace will be with you (Phil 4.9)
12. God has forgiven me ALL my transgressions having canceled out the certificate of debt & has taken it out of the way NAILING it to the cross (Col 2.13-15)
13. All believers have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls (1 Pet 2.25)
14. We have an inheritance in heaven thru Christ which is imperishable, undefiled, and will NOT fade away, reserved in heaven for us, protected by the power of God (1 Pet 1.3-5)
15. After you’ve suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (1 Pet 5.10)
16. I write to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake (1 John 2.12)
17. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one (1 John 2.13)
18. God is able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in the present elf His glory blameless and with great joy (Jude 24)
19. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death (Rev 2.11)
20. Whoever overcomes will be a pillar in the temple, will not go out anymore, will have the name of God, the name of the city of God, and the new name of Christ forevermore (Rev 3.12)
21. NO temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it (1 Cor 10.13)
22. the LORD will protect you from ALL evil; he will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever (Ps 121:7-8)
23. God has not dealt with us according to our sins…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us (Ps 103.10-12)
24. For YOU, LORD, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to ALL who call upon you (Ps 86.5)
25. The LORD GOD is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly (Ps 84.11)
26. Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; ... they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary (Isa 40.31)
27. The Lord gives eternal life to His people and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of my hand (John 10.28)
28. God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose … He conformed us to the image of His Son (Rom 8.28-29)
29. In your presence is fullness of joy; in your right hand there are pleasures forever (Ps 16.11)
30. You are good and you do good; teach me your statutes (Ps 119.68)
31. Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases (Ps 115.3)
32. the LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1.21)
33. The LORD hears the prayer of the righteous (Prov 15.29)
34. In heaven, there will no longer be any curse and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bondservants will serve him; they WILL see his face, and HIS name will be on their foreheads (Rev 22.3-4).
35. As many as received him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born … of God (John 1.12-13)
36. Ours is the God of all comfort who comforts us in ALL our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction (2 Cor 1.3-4)
37. My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness (2 Cor 12.9)
38. The LORD is slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression (Num 14.18)
39. We don’t know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us … and He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Rom 8.26-27)
40. Therefore, there is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8.1)
41. Whoever believes in (Christ) will not be disappointed (1 Pet 2.6)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

How To Pray For Your Pastor
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Pray for him ...
1. To have an insatiable hunger for God’s Word.
2. To feed regularly & be filled joyfully from communing with God in His Word.
3. To love his wife selflessly, sacrificially, and with a tender, servant’s heart.
4. To disciple his children in the words and works of the Lord.
5. To lead his family in regular times of family worship at home.
6. To tell, show, and prove to his wife and children that the family is his primary ministry.
7. To model what a man of God is to be like even within the confines of his home — above reproach with his eyes, his words, his attitudes, and
his private life.
8. To study diligently for every single sermon.
9. To pray fervently as a man who is inseparable from his best friend.
10. To intercede for every single family (especially the husbands and fathers) in the church.
11. To train up Godly men who can help share the responsibilities and burdens of ministry.
12. To disciple other men who can disciple their own wives, children, and other men in the church.
13. To flee ferociously from all sexual temptations.
14. To repent daily from pride and self-autonomy.
15. To humbly confess to others when he sins against them.
16. To be shepherded by others who ask him the “hard” questions about his personal life, family life, walk with God, and thoughts.
17. To shun all forms of materialism and the love of money.
18. To be used by God mightily in the preaching of the Word, in the discipling and raising of men, and in evangelism.
19. To provide visionary leadership for the local church that is biblical and gospel-centered.
20. To meditate daily on the beautiful glory of the gospel of grace.
21. To remind himself daily that he is in need of the gospel just as much as those to those to whom he preaches.
22. To be protected from Satan’s sly schemes and deceptive devices that he will regularly cast into your pastor’s path.
23. To enjoy the work of the ministry.
24. To not lose heart from all of the emotional, spiritual, and ministerial battles.
25. To counsel others biblically from the Word of God.
26. To live such an exemplary life at home so that his wife and children can sit under his preaching with integrity rather than seeing him as a
hypocritical liar.
27. To befriend his wife more than any other woman and more than any other man on the earth.
28. To have wisdom and guidance as to where to focus his efforts in the ministry.
29. To manage his time well so that he focuses on the priorities rather than on the peripherals.
30. To evangelize with regularity, zeal, persuasion, and urgency.
31. To retain a tender compassion for the lost who are dead in their sins & yet a fervent passion to see them saved.
32. To take hold of God in prayer in the morning, in the afternoons, and in the night so that he may commune with His God even when no
one else sees or notices his fellowship with his God.
33. To kill every known sin in his life; to allow no sin to linger; to uproot every sin from its inceptive root.
34. To reject every form of pastoral pride that could arise in his own heart such as longing for a bigger church, mass converts, new building,
speaking engagements.
35. To live minimally so that he does not fall into the temptation of loving money, relying on money, or seeking more money for happiness.
36. To rejoice often in the One who is infinitely worthy of our joy, namely, God Himself and His great goodness.
37. To partner, pray with, encourage, and serve missionaries who are laboring for Christ and His gospel around the globe.

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

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Blessed Gift & Duty of Godly Fathers
Geoffrey R. Kirkland

Godly fathers are gifts from the Lord. I thank the Lord for my father, a man of God, who early on for me modeled holiness, church involvement, integrity of character both inside and outside the home, and hard work. My father has taught me -- and still is teaching me -- much about faithfulness, endurance, perseverance, sobermindedness, and trust in the Lord. Godly fathers are blessed gifts to families and these fathers also have an unspeakably important duty from the Lord. I’ll just list four duties of godly fathers.

Fathers must lead. They must lead in the home. They must lead as men who do not forcefully or authoritatively demand submission or things to be done their way. Rather, they lead as stewards; that is, as men who have been given a grace-gift and a divine-calling from God to lead by serving the people in their home (and, in every sphere of life they’re in). In fact, the best way to lead is by following. That is, lead others by following Christ. The fervency with which a man of God follows His Savior sets a worthy example for others to emulate. Godly men must lead. He follows the example of other men of God in Scripture, in his church and strives to practically serve, tangibly provide, spiritually shepherd, and consistently love his family.

It’s humbling to repent. And yet when the Spirit of God reveals our sin and we understand where we’ve sinned, where we’ve failed, where we’ve been selfish, and where we’ve spoken rashly or impulsively, it’s crucial for men of God to repent in the home. In fact, a great way to lead in the home is by repenting in the home. Even if another person is also at fault, godly men can take the initiative in repenting first. Perhaps there’s conflict or a great disagreement in the home, the penitent man will come humbly and repent where needed by specifically asking for forgiveness and seeking to reconcile. When he sins, however public or private, he seeks to keep short accounts with the Lord and with those in his life.

In a society with so many options for distractions, entertainments, and time-wasters, the mature Christian man will prioritize those things that God calls him to invest in. For instance, he will keep watch over and diligently guard his soul. This will manifest itself in frequent bible reading and prayer times. He will also faithfully love and shepherd his wife as his foremost priority in this life as he knows they have a permanent union that is to emulate the relationship of Christ and actively involvement in his local church. He will care for, instruct, and spend time with the children that God has entrusted to him. The focused man on biblical priorities will not neglect his family at home for work, or friends, or sports, or entertainments. None of these are bad, but this mature man keeps these activities in their rightful place. He prioritizes family worship, his local church, intercessory prayer, and caring for his wife’s needs and his children’s souls.

Godly men prioritize prayer and commit themselves to prayer. This godly father will pray fervently, privately, publicly, daily, and expectantly. He knows the Lord will hear the prayers of the godly man and so this drives him to great prayers. Indeed, the godly father knows God is omnipotent and that his prayers reach the ear of the enthroned almighty King. He prays for his own heart and purity. He prays for his wife and for his children (and, grandchildren). He prays for those he interacts with (at his employment, sports, hobbies). He longs for his neighbors to come to Christ. When a great day is closing, he leads his family in prayers of thanksgiving and worship. When trials strike and pains penetrate, he gathers with the family to trust in the Lord by calling upon His name for strength, endurance, and joy in the midst of the trial. Joy floods his heart at the mercy seat where he communes with God for his family.
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