Saturday, November 9, 2019

My Earnest Desire to Preach the Word
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The Lord requires His servants to be faithful in all things. As I handle the Word, as an expository preacher of the Bible, I earnestly desire to preach the Word faithfully. The Lord will take care of the results, the breadth of the impact, the way in which people respond obediently to God’s Word heralded, and the measure by which people will tolerate the Word. But my duty does not change. My earnest desire is to herald God’s Word, to declare the King’s message, to convey the Master’s mandate, to proclaim the edict of the Sovereign. To be true to God and true to His Word, I want to preach His Word in the following ways.

1. Accurately
As a messenger of God, I’m described as a workman in Scripture who works so as to not be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of truth. This means I must accurately interpret the Word and rightly divide the text. My hermeneutic must be accurate and my applications should be appropriate. This takes time and requires diligent effort. I’m resolved to preach the Word accurately.

2. Faithfully
The requirement that God demands from His servants is faithfulness, not productiveness. Lots of people succumb to the temptation to concern themselves with ensuring that they are fruitful when God calls them to be faithful. As I study and preach the Word, I must proclaim it faithfully, fearlessly, and truly as it was given from the Master. I cannot change the meaning of the text or alter it to suit my interests or those of my hearers. I’m resolved to preach faithfully.

3. Clearly
The Lord has spoken clearly and God’s men must preach! When God has so clearly spoken, his prophets must clearly speak! What God has spoken clearly in the light of the Word, His ministers must not muddy the message and whisper it in the dark. The Bible reveals the existence, nature and character of God with clarity. The Scriptures reveal the depravity and condemnation of man lucidly. The Word details the crosswork of Christ and His redemption of undeserving sinners. And God demands that all sinners turn from sin and trust in Christ alone for the salvation of their souls! The truth of the Bible must come to light as God’s man heralds. I’m resolved to preach the Word clearly.

4. Consecutively
God gave a whole Bible to be preached. God entrusted us with a whole Bible to make a whole Christian. As a preacher of the gospel, I am diligently committed to the consecutive expository preaching of the Bible.  That means I make it my regular practice to take a book of the Bible and preach through it verse-by-verse. This allows the congregation to understand the context, the background, the author and main themes. Further, it enhances our understanding of how and why God gave us the books of the Bible the way He did. So I take His Word and preach it consecutively by reading the text, explaining it, applying it, and then moving to the next verse till I complete the book.

5. Compellingly
One duty that rests upon me as a preacher is that I must preach the Word compellingly. I must preach it with passion and with a purpose. To minister the Word means that people ought to be changed by the Word. I want God’s truth to transform human hearts. I want believers to imbibe the living Word so that they want to change and are compelled to implement steps of godliness in their Christian lives. To preach compellingly means that I preach in such a way that I evoke interest, and call for attention, and present the Truth in such a way that it cannot be refuted. Of course I believe fully in the sovereignty of God as I proclaim His Word and I trust that only God can do the internal, soul-changing work in the lives of people. Nevertheless, my desire is to overwhelm people with the majesty of God, the marvel of grace, and the mercy of salvation!

6. Compassionately
How many lost souls live at this moment on the brink of a Christless eternity! O to think of the untold multitudes of immortal souls who will receive divine punishment without end forevermore because of their sin and their rejection of Christ as Savior and Lord. I endeavor to preach the Word with compassion as so many are like sheep without a shepherd. When Christ saw the multitudes on the mountain, He had compassion for them. When Jesus saw the two blind men on His final journey to Jerusalem, he had compassion and touched their eyes resulting in their healing. Jesus had affection in His heart for those to whom He ministered. So it must be with me! As I preach the Word to men and women, boys and girls, church-members or not, I resolve to preach compassionately.

7. Courageously
No one was as bold as Jesus. In the fact of many crowds and vehemently hostile enemies, He continued to walk obediently to His Father and to speak boldly concerning sin and salvation. Every minister of the gospel must be courageous. He must fear God and not man. To be a man-pleaser in ministry is to be a bird that is trapped in a net. To fear God and serve Him boldly requires the proclaimer of the gospel to not fear men or live for man’s applause. This means that the herald should prioritize the affirmation from God and not fall prey to the admiration of men. This is deadly for his ministry, his preaching, and his faithfulness. To preach courageously requires a man to stand confidently on God and His Word, to prioritize the soul and eternal realities. Fear God, not man, O man of God! Preach boldly!

8. Urgently
The time will come when everyone will hear their last sermon. No one knows when that last sermon will be. Life is so short and eternity is soon coming that preachers do well to recast their hearts upon the imminency of death. Preaching with an eye toward heaven and an eye toward hell and preaching with one ear hearing the singing of heaven and the other ear hearing the shrieks in hell will assist the herald to preach with urgency! O the tragedy of someone coming into contact with us and, worse, sitting under our preaching, and then dying without a specific and urgent summons to forsake his sin and rely upon Christ’s righteousness and atoning blood for eternal salvation! We must regain an eternal mindset. As a Christian preacher once said: “stamp eternity upon my eyeballs!” The very nature of the ministerial work necessitates an urgency as we deal with eternity. Souls! Eternity! Heaven! Hell!

9. Persuasively
When Paul traveled to Rome, he testified about the kingdom of God and sought to persuade people concerning Jesus (Acts 28.23). Elsewhere, Paul affirmed that he persuades men (2 Cor 5.11). Paul believed in the sovereignty of God and the need for God to change the heart. Paul understood that he could not persuade someone into the kingdom. Nevertheless, he sought to make the gospel so clear, to wound the conscience with the Law, to preach the horrors of sin, and then to present the all-sufficient balm of Christ’s propitiation so that sinners would flee to Christ for everlasting hope and refuge. O may I study the Word and craft the sermon and preach the Word with such a passion so as to persuade my hearers to make the decision today to turn to Christ and live!

10. Engagingly
I want to be an engaging preacher. It’s one thing to have someone’s attention. Clowns jumping up and down can get someone’s attention. But I want to secure interest and preach so engagingly that people not only are listening but that they listen engagingly. I long for the hearers to silently answer the questions that I present from the pulpit. I want them to nod their heads when I make comments. I want them to get lost in the Truth presented and in the glory of the God proclaimed. I cannot engage the hearer on human terms but the Spirit of God must assist me as I preach the Word accurately so that my hearers are engaged with the biblical message I’m heralding.

11. Authoritatively
These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority (Titus 2.15). Those words from Paul to Titus serve as an important element in preaching. All true preaching is authoritative preaching. This does not mean that it’s angry or harsh or mean-spirited. Rather, to preach authoritatively means that the authority and demand to listen to the message comes not from the preacher but from the source, the giver -- God Himself. Thus, since I bear the King’s message and I preach the Lord’s gospel, I preach authoritatively because it belongs to and comes from God. So I must not apologize for the hard truths declared. I must not shrink from the difficult demands. I must preach as a man under compulsion and a man who has been entrusted with a ministry from the King of the universe!

12. Prayerfully
The Apostles publicly stated that they will devote themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word. Paul came to the Corinthians not in rhetorical finesse but with full confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit as he preached. We must pray before we preach, as we preach, and after we preach. Prayerlessless in ministry signifies self-confidence in ministry. Rather, men of God must be wholly dependent upon God, fully reliant on His grace, and utterly desperate for His power. And these particular realities will drive God’s man to his knees in genuine prayer calling upon God and asking for God’s blessing. Ministers of the gospel do well to pray on their knees more and peruse the commentaries less. Heralds must beg God for His power to go forth even through weak vessels. So then, preach prayerfully.
Crucial Reminders Regarding Biblical Preaching in An Era That Mocks It.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

I’m a preacher and I love to preach. I live and breathe preaching. God has called me to preach and I praise Him for the inestimable privilege more royal than ruling as a king over an empire. I am acutely aware, however, that biblical preaching has fallen on hard times in our day. In fact, not only is expository preaching rejected by so many but even religious leaders and ministers mock faithful, authoritative, expository, biblically-saturated preaching. Some may say it’s antiquated or for those in bygone eras. It was how people learned long ago but nowadays people are different. Others may quip that people won’t come to church if they’re not entertained with a pithy and relevant message about God that is a little ‘dose of God’ to get you through the upcoming week. Further, some may have the audacity to say that this kind of preaching is boring and people can’t sit for an hour-long exposition anymore. I don’t buy any of those arguments as they’re just excuses that men make so that they aren’t confronted with the power of God’s Word, the sinfulness of their own hearts, their condemnation before a holy God, and the absolute necessity that God demands upon them to repent of their sin entirely, trust in Christ completely, and walk in holiness of life fervently. So with all that said, faithful, expository preaching is mocked in our era. So this essay seeks to provide some crucial reminders for us preachers.

1. The PRIMACY of preaching
The greatest mandate given to ministers of the gospel comes in 2 Timothy 4:2 to “preach the Word (which is after a verse [v.1] full of solemn declarations and authoritative reasons which underscore the importance of the imperative command in verse 2). Every faithful local church must place the central emphasis of the ministry on the proclamation of divine truth from the Bible. Everything else supports and undergirds and fleshes out this key ministry. Whatever a church may have, if it does not have preaching, it is an impotent and faithless gathering of professing religious people. Preaching must have primacy in the church because this is how believers are established in the gospel (Rom 16.25). This is why ministers must prioritize prayer, study of the Word, and preparation for the heralding of God’s message.

2. The POWER of preaching
I believe that nothing is more powerful in all the universe in our age than the biblical preaching of Truth. Why is it powerful? Not because of the messenger’s charisma, personality or rhetorical skills, but because of the Truth of the message that is preached. When faithful preaching happens, God’s power is unleashed. God’s power is mighty, majestic, authoritative, unstoppable, and effectual. Biblical preaching is the primary means through which Christ speaks to His people as they gather to hear from Him as His Word is accurately preached. After all, it is the preaching of God’s Word. And the Word is living and active, sharp, and powerful, and effectual. Always remember that even when you can’t see power at work visually, it is still at work invisibly, supernaturally, internally, and providentially.

3. The SERIOUSNESS of preaching
One of the greatest burdens on my heart at the present resides in the lack of sobriety in pulpits all across our land. So-called “pastors” are more described as entertainers than expositors. They better fit the job description of a CEO of a corporation than an undershepherd of Christ’s institution (the Church). They live as man-pleasers rather than God-fearers. They spend more time endeavoring to be culturally relevant than biblically faithful. So when men stand up before the hearers, they speak as if they’re at a circus to get laughs, to win the emotions, and prompt many goats to feel themselves to be sheep because of an experience, a decision, or a prayer that they’ve prayed. What we so desperately need now are men of God who fear nothing but God and these men will change the world for Christ. We need men who pray on their knees, who intercede for their congregations by name, who evangelize courageously and who suffer joyfully, who preach as if standing before an audience of One preaching God’s message, fully, faithfully, fervently, and fearfully. O let God’s men regain a sobriety in the pulpit as they open their Bible and speak for God to men and declare God’s message to all who have gathered as if souls depend on it -- because they do.

4. The NECESSITY of preaching
God told Ezekiel “you shall speak my words to them” (Ezek 2.7). Paul told Timothy to “give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching” (1 Tim 4.13). The Apostle himself affirmed the necessity: “I am under compulsion -- for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Cor 9.16). These Scriptures prove the absolute necessity of preaching. This means that every faithful minister of the gospel -- every biblical shepherd who serves Christ and His blood-bought sheep -- must primarily and necessarily be a preacher of the Bible. He may be a leader, a guy with lots of visionary ideas, a man who delegates well, a persuasive communicator, and a winsome person but if he is not primarily a preacher then he is not fulfilling his God-given role. Every elder must be able to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict (Titus 1.9). Far better would church services be to shorten the music time, fire the drama team, and eliminate the media clips and put the absolute necessity of the preaching of the Word of God in the center of the worship gatherings. I am under compulsion, I can and I must preach. Is that your passion?


5. The CONVICTION of preaching
Faithful ministers of the gospel don’t preach because it is an option or just another vocation for their lives. No! Men of God preach because they stand toweringly convinced that God has called them to this life of service for His ultimate glory. Thus, no clever argument, no persuasive theory, no cunning allurement could draw them away from the highest privilege God could bestow upon a mortal: to be a spokesman for God’s glorious gospel. Lots of people have opinions about life and hobbies and preferences and circumstances, but the man who rests unswervingly in the conviction that God has ordained preaching as the primary means both for the converting of the lost and for the sanctifying of the saved is the man who lives with indomitable joy. So we preach as servants of the King who are absolutely convinced that God will receive glory as His Word goes forth. He will use His Word through His people.


6. The REWARD of preaching
All true believers who endure will receive the crown of righteousness on that final day! Men of God who speak for God by heralding His Word must frequently remember that when the Chief Shepherd appears, He will bestow the unfading crown of glory upon His own. In fact, faithful pastors who shepherd the flock of God among them who have exercised oversight voluntarily, who have served with eagerness, not for sordid gain, and who have provided to be examples to the flock and not lorded it over those allotted to their charge will receive heavenly rewards. We serve and preach, we labor and strive, we run and agonize to receive the imperishable wreath. Yes, God is a rewarder of those who seek Him and those who served Him by faith and labored with integrity are men of whom the world is not worthy and they’ll stand on that final day and hear: “well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Master” (Matt 25.21). So brother-pastors, labor on and labor hard. Christ’s full reward is sure to come!

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Faithful Church Ministry According to Scripture
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The Lord of the Church has not left His church to wonder about faithful church ministry and how it must be done. Christ Himself promised to build His church and He guaranteed that even the forces of hell will not destroy the beauty of this God-designed institution. We must remember that the same Lord who rules as Lord over His church and who guarantees the ultimate triumph of His church also gives clarity on how church ministry must be done. He didn’t create the church and leave it up to us to figure out how to do it. Rather, we find in Scripture what faithful church ministry looks like. One text that specifically addresses the issue is Ephesians 4. In this article, we’ll see 7 ways of understanding what a faithful church ministry is like according to the Bible.

1. The gifts for ministry [Eph 4.7]
The Lord equips His church with the necessary means of building up and edifying one another so that the whole is strengthened. These are spiritual gifts. Christ, the Lord over His church, gives a grace-gift to each Christian so that the believer will employ that gift corporately, for the benefit and upbuilding of the church, and for the glory of Jesus Christ. Scripture lists many gifts when one combines all of the New Testament catalogues of gifts. Ephesians 4 mentions a few: apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers. The Lord graciously imparts a supernatural grace-gift at salvation to each believer so that the church will be strong and equipped. The faithful church ministry has people who serve in differing roles and functions, utilizing their God-given gifts, for the upbuilding of the church congregation and for the glory of God in the midst of a watching world.

2. The grace for ministry [Eph 4.7]
The Lord gives all that is needed for His people to serve Him faithfully in life, in ministry, and in holiness in the world. He gives this by grace -- sovereign, undeserved, lavish grace. Nothing in ministry is earned or deserved; it’s all of grace. Even the opportunities to serve and build up one another come from the benevolent storehouse of grace. And God gives gifts according to His prerogative. Christ has all authority as He is the victorious Warrior-King. Psalm 68 makes this clear as the Lord triumphed over all His enemies and has thus received all the spoil from the conquered foes and thus is now able to distribute gifts to all of His subjects in His kingdom. This is what Christ does. He owns everything and rules over everything and has given particular grace-gifts to His people for ministry and service. Believers ought not to whine or complain in a discontented way but ought to serve thankfully and diligently because it is, after all, all of grace!

3. The goal of ministry [Eph 4.12]
Perhaps one of the greatest unknowns in all of Christian ministry nowadays is why the church exists. What is the purpose of the ministry? What is the goal of gathering with the church week by week? Why did God give different gifts, all by His grace, and bestow leaders to His church? Ephesians 4 clarifies in no uncertain terms that the purpose of the church is for the equipping of the saints for the work of service (v.12a). It is all so that the body of Christ may be built up (v.12b). The goal does not consist in budgets, numbers, staff personnel, building programs, societal involvement and engagement, popularity and recognition or anything of that sort. Rather, the goal of ministry is acutely defined as the building up of the body of Christ and the equipping of the saints to do the work of service. If this is not happening, then faithful ministry is not happening. If saints are not being equipped for service and if the church is not being built up, then the church has veered off course from faithfulness and fallen into the ditches.

4. The greatness of ministry [Eph 4.13]
Christ’s plan for the growth and maturity of His people is the local church. The greatness of Christian ministry manifests itself as believers all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God Himself (Eph 4:13). No greater goal for Christian ministry exists. No greater joy can well up in the believer’s heart than to undertake the greatness of Christian ministry by attaining and enjoying the unity of the faith with all the saints. Indeed, this unity culminates in the true and transforming knowledge of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In other words, no Christian can enjoy the fullness of the great ministry of God apart from the local church. Further, no child of God can attain the true knowledge of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, while living divorced from a local congregation of believers. Indeed, one’s spiritual growth is directly linked to his direct and intentional involvement in the chief context where Christ’s greatness is manifested, in the local church!

5. The guarding of ministry [Eph 4.14]
The good Shepherd cares for and guards His sheep. He has a plan to do so through His church. Indeed, Ephesians 4 makes clear that believers are no longer to be children (=immature) who are tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine. Yes, fads come and go. Waves of “new” teachings come up and then rush back out to the blackness of the sea. New ministry methods, worship styles, ideologies, evangelistic ‘techniques’, and programs seem to appear at the speed of light. Nevertheless, Paul says, don’t be led astray by such things. Indeed, it’s craftiness and deceitful scheming by the Evil One, ultimately. We must stay true to Christ, to the knowledge of Christ, to the gospel of Christ, to the church of Christ, and to the ministry of Christ. How is a child of God guarded from error and deceitful doctrines and bad teachers? Christ’s great plan consists in the faithfulness of a solid and thoroughly biblical ministry that upholds His Word and expounds it faithfully and boldly. Rejoice in this guardianship.

6. The growth of ministry [Eph 4.15]
When Christians and ministers come together and they begin to discuss their churches it often doesn’t take long before someone will speak of how big their church is and refer to God’s growth of the church in terms of numbers. While this is not bad per se it is an inaccurate barometer of a faithful church ministry according to Scripture. How does the church grow? Ephesians 4:15 says it must consists in believers speaking the truth in love to each other. Additionally, believers are to grow up in all aspects into Christ who is the head over His Church. That is to say, a healthy and thriving local church that can boast in Christ because of its growth makes clear that they are endeavoring to grow up in all things into Christ who Himself is the Head and sovereign Lord over His local assembly. The church may be shrinking in numbers but growing in faithfulness in so far as the ministry is growing in Christ in all aspects -- in serving, in giving, in preaching, in evangelizing, in discipling, in disciplining, in fellowshiping, and on and on.

7. The giving in ministry [Eph 4.16]
What does all of this require?A faithful church ministry according to Scripture does not just happen. Coasting in neutral will never produce a thriving and Christ-exalting local church. What must be there? Verse 16 shows that the whole body of Christ is fitted and held together by what every joint supplies. This means that every single person, indeed, as Paul puts it “each individual part” deliberately causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself (=upbuilding/edification) in love. Faithful ministry demands the self-denying, self-sacrificing, Christ-emulating, and others-oriented focus of joyful giving to one another in the church. Lots of people exert energy in entertainment, sports, leisurely activities, hobbies, travels and vacations, and physical exercise. What if Christ’s people all deliberately supplied diligent effort, regular service, others-oriented sacrifice, and intentional love in the context of the local church. This kind of faithful church ministry, however, cannot happen with a few leaders or a few sold-out members. It happens as the whole body works together and as every joint is supplying effort and as each individual part works unifyingly for the growth of the body. This is a faithful church ministry according to Scripture. O the bliss of this Christ-honoring local church which would serve to be heaven on earth; indeed, it would put us in the suburbs of heaven while we serve Him on earth awaiting our entrance into His heavenly kingdom!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Set It On Your Heart to Serve Your Local Church Family
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

All Christians do well to serve as Christ has served us. How gracious is His love for us! O how lavish is His mercy toward us! How steadfast is His faithfulness toward us. In light of who our Savior is and what He has done for us, what are a few practical ways that you can set it on your heart to serve your local church family? Below are 5 simple ways you can serve your church.

1.  Attend
When you joined your church family as a member, you probably signed some sort of form that talked about membership vows or commitments with the other believers. Undoubtedly one of the ways in which members serve one another regularly and consistently is through attendance. It almost doesn’t need to be said it’s so obvious. But then again, it does need to be explicitly stated. One of the greatest and simplest ways to serve your local church family is through being there physically and being there in a prepared way consistently. In attending, you are physically showing that your priority is with God and His people and with the gathering of the spiritual family and with the hearing of His authoritative Word. In being prepared to worship internally, you show yourself to be diligently proactive in seeking great things from God, expecting great things from His Word, and speaking great truths of the gospel to one another for the edification of the saints. Very simply, mark it on your heart to attend your local church’s worship services with the utmost regularity.

2.  Greet
How frequently does the Apostle Paul greet the saints in his letters? Consider how Paul loves to express heartfelt love toward the fellow saints who serve Christ in local churches! Romans 16 provides quite a sampling of exhortations to “greet the saints.” Hebrews 13:24 specifically commands believers to greet the leaders and all the saints. In that culture, they were to greet one another with a kiss of love (1 Cor 16.20; 2 Cor 13.12; 1 Pet 5.14). But how about you? How can you proactively and regularly and intentionally greet those in your local church? Yes, greet those whom you know and those who you don’t know -- indeed, even those who may be different than you. One way to apply and implement this may be to arrive at church 15 minutes early and endeavor to shake the hands of folks with a particular line of encouragement and preparation to meet with the living God. Consider when the service is over, getting out of your seat and approaching someone else who is alone, or who you don’t know, and sharing one thing that the Lord showed you from His Word and asking what they learned from the sermon. To greet is to express heartfelt love to the fellow believers in the Christian assembly. Let’s do this!

3.  Pray
As a shepherd, one of my foremost duties is to intercede for the flock of God that He has called me to serve. I must pray for them, with them, on behalf of them, and bring them to the Father in diligent, specific, fervent prayer. And for this privilege, I rejoice and glory. But thanks be to God I’m not the only one who can pray for the flock. Consider what it would be like if you prayed for your church family -- by name, specifically, with regularity. Think of one of the greatest ways you can serve is something that can be done in the privacy of your home, or during an hour of fellowship with another brother from the church as you say: “Come, let’s pray for the church family together, by name.” Never underestimate the power of diligent, specific, continual intercessory prayer for the saints. However young or old you may be, whatever your work schedule or vocation may be, whether retired or entering the work force, re-embrace the almighty power of prayer as a specific and necessary way to serve in your church.

4.  Disciple
Everyone talks about discipleship. What is it? It is the regular activity of believers whereby one Christian helps another Christian walk with Jesus. To disciple others does not mean you need to be a part of a large ministry, though it can include that. Discipleship includes writing words of encouragement, calling another brother or sister and praying with them and sharing Scripture together, meeting with a fellow member for regular Bible reading and prayer together, taking a younger saint with you as you live the Christian life so they learn from your example. The main ingredients with discipleship are two-fold: intentionality and sacrifice. Discipleship requires intentionality because the Lord wants our hearts to be fully given to Him and to His people. Furthermore, the Lord calls His people to self-sacrifice and to daily mortification of one’s own pursuits and desires for the greater joy of pursuing God and His glory and the good of His people. Set it on your heart to intentionally serve and sacrificially disciple others and help them grow in Christ.

5.  Remain
An additional way to serve in your local church, as imperfect as it may be and with the flaws that it may have, consists in the simple and yet profound element of being faithful. Quite simply, remain where you are! Make a commitment to a church and join in membership, and then stay there! Remain faithful! Serve regularly! Encourage your flock. Whether numbers go up or go down, whether a leader comes or one leaves, whether a season of hardship or suffering or persecution or relative ease is upon you, set it on your heart to remain there and remain faithful. Our society has become professionals at attending and going and staying and contributing as long as there’s something in it for me, but then when that seems to wane, the prevailing attitude is to jump ship and move on to something else and something bigger and more fulfilling. O how we need to teach the next generation of young people the importance of regular, steady, persistent, and enduring faithfulness. Stay put! Stay faithful! When it’s hard, remain committed. (Of course there are biblical reasons to leave a church and go to another, but sadly, many times people leave a church and go to another are not for biblical reasons but for preferential reasons.) I believe one way for saints to serve is to simply remain faithful to the local church, to pray for her, to love her, to care for her, and to live together with her in the journey of sanctification.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Philosophy of Evangelism
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

At Christ Fellowship Bible Church, we believe that part of our mission is to evangelize the lost. The joyful privilege and God-given duty that rests upon every single Christian includes the proclamation of the saving message of Jesus Christ with the lost.

1. Our evangelistic endeavors must be just that -- evangelistic.   This means that when we go out to proclaim the saving message of Jesus Christ, that we actually proclaim the saving message. We believe in helping people, serving the needy, feeding the hungry, clothing the destitute, but our primary focus that undergirds all of our acts of mercy must be the saving of the sinner’s soul through the proclamation of Christ crucified for sinners, buried, and raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. We cannot allow our evangelism outings to be superseded by acts of kindness alone. They are not opposed to one another and neither should we neglect to care for our neighbors. But the greatest way we can serve them is to evangelize their souls and summon them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ alone.

2. Our evangelistic endeavors must be faithful in gospel proclamation.   When we proclaim the gospel, we must ensure that we declare the faithful and full gospel. Of course, not every conversation or outing will allow for a lengthy gospel dialogue, but we must proclaim Christ’s substitutionary death, His resurrection, man’s sin, God’s coming judgment, and the absolute necessity for sinners to repent and believe the gospel. This may be spoken verbally, or through a tract, or a gospel sign, or a letter. But we endeavor to faithfully convey the gospel and not fall into a message that omits the call to repentance or a message that downplays divine wrath. Rather, we resolve to remain faithful to God, His Word and the gospel & proclaim the full message and invite sinners to embrace Christ and be saved!

3. Our evangelistic endeavors must be submissive to governing authorities.   Wherever we go, we bear witness to the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel. Thus, we want to humbly obey our governing authorities. If, for example, a law enforcement officer asks us to move from one location to another spot twenty feet away, we want to comply with those who are in governing authority over us. We will obey and submit to our authorities unless they demand that we stop preaching Jesus Christ or if they demand that we sin. Then, we must obey God rather than men. But, as is most often the case, when the authorities come our way and engage us, we must engage them humbly, respectfully, lawfully and submissively.

4. Our evangelistic endeavors must be trusting God to sovereignly grant regeneration.  When we proclaim the gospel, we cannot and we will not turn to manmade ploys to manipulate people into making a decision. Rather, we will proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and believe that no one can say “Jesus Christ is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. We believe that men are saved through hearing the Word as the Lord sovereignly saves them. This takes the pressure off of us to try to convert the sinner or say the right thing to get them to believe. Rather, our trust rests wholly in the sovereign hand of God who promises to save all of His elect. So, we confidently and joyfully proclaim the gospel trusting God to work through us for His glory.

5. Our evangelistic endeavors must be bathed in prayer.  Though we believe in the absolute sovereignty of God to save sinners, we still go and urge sinners to embrace Christ and turn from sin to be saved from divine judgment. And all of our evangelistic efforts must be bathed in prayer. How utterly foolish to think we could preach, or converse, or speak biblical truth with power in our own strength apart from the working of the Holy Spirit! So we must pray! We must seek the Lord in prayer! We must beg Him by asking, and seeking, and knocking that God will save His people. We must urge God and press our needs upon Him and seek the Lord of the harvest to bring many into His kingdom! Prayer must undergird our efforts.

6. Our evangelistic endeavors should be both formally and informally planned.  There are occasions where we have formal and planned outings to proclaim the gospel to the lost. But these must not be the only times we share the gospel. The Lord graciously and providentially brings across our path opportunities and people every single day that we can evangelize -- at an intersection, at a restaurant, a child, a neighbor, a stranger walking by. We must be ready to proclaim the gospel when we’re out with the church family and when we’re by ourselves and the Lord grants a gospel-proclaiming moment.

7. Our evangelistic endeavors must be aimed at the glory of God.   The ultimate purpose of all our evangelistic efforts must be for the glory of God. The great joy of God and renowned of His name is our ambition. We want God to save His elect and for Christ to be worshiped and praised by multitudes of saved sinners! The primary purpose of sharing the gospel is not to feel better about ourselves, or gain a sense of super-spiritual Christianity. Further, our primary purpose is not simply to grow the church and get more people in the doors. Our aim in evangelism must first and foremost be the ultimate glory of God. He is worthy of worship and praise. And for this reason, we go out so that He may use His Word, as it is faithfully conveyed, to save His people, all for His glory. We evangelize for the exaltation of God! This is our chief aim.

More at our CFBC website.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Answering Some Common Questions About CFBC, Part 5
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church  (St Louis, MO) 

1. Do you believe divorce is permissible?   —   We uphold and affirm a high view of marriage as the permanent union between one man and one woman. God designed marriage to be for life. But because of men’s hardness of heart and because of sin, and though it’s never God’s intended design, God provided occasions for a marriage to end. Never does God command a divorce but he permits divorce in only two instances. The Bible speaks of only two occasions when a believer may legitimately get a divorce. It must be said, however, that the believer does not have to pursue a divorce if these instances occur, but if he does find himself in such a position, divorce may be a legitimate last-resort option. The primary goal is always the preservation of the marriage union and to pursue any and all means to remain married, as God designed it. But if this is not feasible, then God has provided two, and only two, legitimate grounds for divorce. First, when one’s spouse is guilty of persistent, unrepentant sexual sin. When a spouse is guilty of unrepentant and ongoing sexual sin outside of the marriage with one’s spouse, that consists in legitimate grounds for divorce. Second, when the nonbeliever abandons the marriage and forsakes the relationship. These are the only two grounds for a believer to pursue a divorce. Of course, the preservation of the marriage is the first goal because marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church.

2. Can someone get remarried who has been divorced?  —  It is our understanding of the Bible that when a divorce occurred on biblical terms (that is, if a believer divorced a spouse on one of the two biblical grounds), then that believer is free to remarry, but only in the Lord. The person who has gotten a divorce for unbiblical reasons, however, that the Lord does not permit in the Bible (anything other than the two grounds that are provided in the New Testament: ongoing sexual sin and the unbeliever’s desertion of the marriage), then that person must remain unmarried for if that person were to remarry another person he would be committing adultery.  If divorce occurred prior to one’s conversion, and then the Lord mercifully saves someone, it is our conviction that the regenerated person is a “new creation” and the “old things have passed away and new things have come.” And thus, we would allow that person to be free to remarry someone, but again, only a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.  For other instances and questions, we advise individuals to seek out their elders for biblical counsel, wise guidance, and diligent shepherding through these life decisions.

3. Who pastors your pastor and cares for him spiritually?  —  Our shepherd-elders meet twice a month for elder meetings. From time to time, in the Bible reading and particular articles that they read together, they are able to shepherd one another and care for each other’s souls through accountability, prayer, exhortation, and confession together.  Our pastor has an older man who speaks openly, honestly, and candidly into his life to ensure that he is encouraged, sexually pure, devoted and faithful to his wife, caring for and shepherding his children, and deeply and devotionally in love with Christ.  These relationships are vital for the spiritual well-being of the pastor/elders. Sadly and tragically, elders advise church members to seek guidance and care for their souls while church leaders neglect their own counsel. Because this is the case, we praise the Lord that our pastor has men who faithfully, honestly, frequently, and diligently probe his heart in pastoral care.

4. Why do you encourage the young people to sit through the entire Sunday worship service?  — When CFBC gathers, children sit through the worship service with their parents. We do not offer children’s church, kids programs, or other occasions for our young people to be away from the service. The simple reason for this is because of our strong conviction in the sovereign power of the Word of God read, preached, and applied. We want our young people to be under the powerful Word and to hear it read, exposited, applied, and cherished. We understand that a 4 year old will not glean as much as a 15 year old. And a 15 year old will not receive as much as a 25 year old. Nevertheless, we believe the Holy Spirit takes His Word and accomplishes great things when the Bible is read, sung, prayed, expounded, and applied. We want our young ones to habitually be under the Word rightly divided. We want them to see the church family prioritizing and receiving the Word. We want them to be able to dialogue with their families about the sermons after church and throughout the following week. Much of the specific application and implementation discussions can and should occur as parents take the preached Word and speak in specific ways with their children following the sermon. Quite simply: our philosophy concerning this is tethered to our conviction regarding the power of God’s Word on all people — both young and old.

5. Why do you not have a youth group?  —  Our great passion and burden for our young people is to see them regenerated by the power of the Spirit, to help them grow in the knowledge of Christ and to equip them for a lifetime of ministry and service to the Lord wherever He may use and call them. We seek to provide resources for fathers so that they can be the primary ‘pastor’ and discipler of their youth. It is our ambition to see older men disciple the younger men and the older women disciple the younger women (Titus 2). We do not provide a youth group because we do not have someone at this time who can take such a load upon their plate. And with this, we have endeavored to include the young men and young women in various meetings, studies, and get togethers in the church. Rather than create a venue for people to hang out primarily with people their own age, we have diligently sought to teach and live out the older saints investing in the young people in the church. With that said, however, we do have a youth Bible study on Sundays at 4:00PM and we do offer a catechism class for our young children during the 4:00PM Family Bible Hour time. But the primary shepherding of our youth should come from the parents and we seek to assist our parents, encourage them to be faithful, and to equip them with resources necessary to shepherd their children toward Christ and in Christ.
Answering Some Common Questions About Christ Fellowship Bible Church, Part 4 
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church (St Louis, Missouri)

 
1. Why do you not own your own building?  — When CFBC began in 2011 with only a few people, purchasing a building was not, of course, a feasible option. Part of the philosophy of CFBC that began early on was the desire to refrain from purchasing a building but rather to rent from another place so as to utilize the funds that God brings in for the advance of the gospel locally and globally. In other words, our personal church’s philosophy has been to not to go in debt in buying a building but to try to be wise in using the maximum amount of funds that God gives for gospel advance in global ministry opportunities. We recognize that this is not a philosophy that every church must have. Of course not! But for us, at this time, we have made it our ambition to be faithful in renting from another place and being faithful where we are and, with that, to be faithful in sending money far and wide to see God’s kingdom advance!

2. What is your primary aim in serving in global missions?  —  The primary place where CFBC has chosen to focus in global missions is in the training of indigenous men in expository preaching and biblical church ministry. We recognize, of course, that many good missions opportunities exist, including bible translation work, orphanage work, church-planting work, and many more. And from time to time we may assist ministries as the Lord provides and as the shepherds see fit, but the primary focus for the missionaries that CFBC supports has been the training and equipping of men around the world to be expositors of the Word of God. The burning desire of CFBC is to see men equipped in hermeneutics, theology, biblical languages, biblical counseling, and church history so as to have the tools for a life of God-glorifying work in expounding the written Word of God to ministry contexts where God has placed them.

3. Why do you preach the gospel & call sinners to repentance in every sermon you preach at CFBC?  —  Every gathering of the church is a time for equipping and instructing of the saints. But we also recognize that many nonbelievers may sit in the pews as well. Such may include the children that are present, visitors that may have entered, regular attenders who may be outside of Christ, and perhaps even church members that may be unconverted. The passionate desire of CFBC is to see men and women love Christ, embrace the gospel, pursue holiness, and long for heaven. Every text of Scripture, when rightly preached, can lead to the cross and show us the need for God’s grace in Christ’s gospel. So our ambition is to rightly preach the meaning of the text, as the author intended it, and then to rightly and appropriately proclaim the gospel in every exposition with a two-fold aim to (1) summon the believers to remember and enjoy this gospel truth and to (2) exhort nonbelievers to repent of their sin, forsake it, and flee to Jesus Christ by faith alone for the forgiveness of their sins and eternal rest for their souls. We preach the gospel in every exposition because this is our hope and we want saints to savor this hope and sinners to surrender to this message!

4. What is family worship & why do you encourage all men to lead in this?   —   Family worship consists of the regular habit of families gathering together to worship Christ because He deserves to praised, in our homes, in our families, every single day. Family worship consists of three basic elements.  First, there must be the reading and instruction from the Bible.  Second, the family must pray together.  And third, the family should sing together. Why family worship? First, we must worship God who deserves to be worshiped every single day. Also, parents must instruct the children in the Word of God and impress biblical truths upon their hearts from the youngest of ages with all diligence. Next, parents must themselves remember biblical truth and allow their own hearts to be transformed by the truth from God’s Word. Furthermore, family worship provides an opportunity to evangelize the children with the prayer that God the Spirit will use the written Word to regenerate the souls of the young ones at a young age and drive them to Christ. Additionally, family worship prepares the children for and models for them how to have family worship when they are grown up with families of their own. Finally, family worship helps to maintain a Word-centered home so that the Bible rests as the centerpoint, the focus, the authority, and the sweet satisfaction.
 
5. Do you allow a woman to preach or serve as an elder at CFBC?  —  The Bible clearly forbids a woman to teach or have authority over a man in the public gathering of the saints. The Bible also clearly presents the church leadership office of elder as being a role that is only for a man. We do not, therefore, allow a woman to occupy the office of elder, pastor, overseer, or leader. Also, we do not permit a woman to teach or lead or have authority over men in the public gathering of the saints. Women can, however, teach other women, disciple other women, instruct other women, and serve in many other ways in the church family. But we resolve to stand upon the clear, timeless, and authoritative Word of God on this important matter. Regardless of what culture may say or recommend, we humbly and courageously bow to God’s truth as our only and ultimate and clear authority.


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Why is it important to have regular family worship?
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

I believe it’s critical. Family worship, I’m convinced, should have a central place in the regular life of every Christian household. It’s essential. Not because of who I am or who we are as parents, but because of who God is and how powerful His Word is. Family Worship is fairly simple. It involves the reading and teaching of the Bible, prayer, and singing together. It is a solid foundation for the family. It is an anchor to guard from the winds and waves of life’s storms. It proves to be the rock upon which the theological foundation of the children is built. Quite simply: our view of God (Theology proper) and our view of His Word (bibliology) will manifest itself in our frequent (or, our lack of commitment to) gatherings of family worship.

But, why is it important to have regular family worship in the home?  Here are some reasons.

1)  To prioritize the Word
The regular practice of family worship underscores the priority of the Word of God for the home. It reminds the parents and the children (and others who may be present) that this particular family centers on, revolves around, submits to, and strives to obey the Bible. Reading the Word, discussing the Word, instructing from the Word, praying the Word, and even singing songs that teach truth from the Word all reinforce the supreme authority of God’s Word.

2)  To refocus our hearts
After busy days of work, sports, school, entertainments, social media and cultural happenings, we need to be refocused daily upon the Word of God & the gospel of grace. Family worship provides the wonderful means of refocusing the hearts of the parents and the children upon the divine Truth which is unchanging, permanent, eternal, and worthy of meditation.

3)  To expose our sins
Interestingly enough, family worship provides ample opportunities for the Word of God to do the soul-searching, sin-exposing surgical work. From the youngest of days, children need to be taught that the Bible has the answers to man’s greatest problem of sin. And, with that, the Bible honestly addresses and exposes our sin, for it calls it what it is, and it provides the only solution in Christ. The Scriptures will expose sins of pride, selfishness, anger, control, impatience and disobedience. These will provide many shepherding opportunities and evangelistic conversations.

4)  To evangelize the children
Our precious children must be saved! Christian parents know this and they affirm, with God’s Word, that no one can save them but God alone. They must be born of God to be saved. They need new hearts. And God’s Spirit works in and through His Word as it goes forth. Parents, however young the children may be, must be reminded to read and teach and evangelize their children constantly, patiently, persistently, prayerfully, and specifically trusting God to work.

5)  To obey the Lord
God instructs fathers to teach His Word diligently to their children in the home and as life events happen. Training, instructing, shepherding, reproving and teaching should be regular in the Christian family. God calls His people to pray at all times. All people -- even young children -- are called upon to praise God! And, like Joshua, parents should resolve that as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. We must prioritize the worship of God in our homes!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The Christ Fellowship Bible Church leadership has provided questions and answers to some of the common questions that folks have asked.  www.CFBCSTL.org

This is part 3 of the ongoing series.

11. Do you believe the Bible speaks to real-life struggles and problems?  —   The Bible is the very Word of the living God who knows human beings and can relate to their struggles. Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses for He was tempted in all ways just as we are. The Bible provides the all-sufficient help, as the all-sufficient guide, for believers to put off sinful ways and habits of life and to replace those bad habits with godly patterns and lifestyles. With the power of prayer, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the fellowship and accountability of the local church, a Christian can walk in a way that is pleasing to Christ. The Bible does not promise that Christians will live without pain and hardship. But the Bible does promise that when those times of pain and seasons of hardship do come, God remains faithful, good, sovereign, and near to His people. Even if the Bible does not address a particular issue in our day directly, it will provide principles and guardrails so that the child of God can honor God, walk in holiness, and keep in step with the Spirit.

 12. Why do you practice biblical counseling?  —  Biblical counseling, simply defined, is the belief in and application of the all-sufficient Word of God to every-day issues. This is distinct from secular psychology or Christian, integrative counseling. Secular and worldly philosophies cannot be mixed with biblical truth to help believers navigate through the struggles of life. Rather, the Bible teaches that every believer is filled with all goodness and knowledge and is able to admonish one another (Rom 15.14). We are called to counsel one another so that every man may be complete in Christ (Col 1:28-29). Biblical counseling can happen within the context of the local church as believers encourage others believers in the Word and minister truth to each other (Heb 3:13). This is not an overly simplistic way of viewing real-life issues and very complex sin cases; rather, this affirms and upholds the divine nature of and the infinite wisdom found in the written revelation that God has given in His Word. Thus, we practice biblical counseling because the power to change comes from the Spirit working in and through His Word as our hearts are transformed and as we are conformed more into the image of Jesus Christ. The focus of biblical counseling is not, ultimately, for life to get better or for a problem to go away. The preeminent goal is to be pleasing to God and to walk in a manner that is obedient, Christlike, humble, and biblical. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit that guides us with everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet 1.3-4).

13. Why do you hand out gospel tracts?   —  We love to hand out gospel tracts — or, as we call them “paper missionaries — because tracts can go places that we can’t. Sometimes we pass someone quickly at a gas station, a restaurant, on a park bench, or at a crosswalk in the city. Placing a gospel tract in someone’s hand is one way of presenting the biblical gospel and calling that person to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as they read the tract.  It also provides an opportunity for that person to go back to the tract and read and re-read it at a later point. Perhaps, the Lord may, in His kind and infinite providence, allow someone else to find or read that gospel tract. Handing out a gospel tract can also provide helpful follow-up information if a church address and website is on the back if the person has any questions. Tracts are helpful because good ones are simple, well-worded and faithful to present the biblical gospel and summon a response from the reader to turn away from sin and submit to Jesus Christ as Lord. So, handing out gospel tracts is a way to proclaim the gospel to many people even if they’re isn’t time at that particular moment to engage in lengthy dialogue about eternal matters.

14. Why do you offer a 4PM Family Bible Hour class?  —  We have a “Family Bible Hour” class because we want to equip our church family with solid doctrine, biblical truth, and helpful instruction to cultivate biblical discernment and deepen their knowledge of Christ and of His gospel. In fact, for our Bible hour class, we have gone through our entire 14-page What We Teach doctrine statement (on two occasions we’ve taught through it entirely paragraph by paragraph). We have gone through biblical counseling, the attributes of God, Bible survey (both Old and New Testaments) and biblical home-life topics.

15. How do you expect the church to prepare before coming to Church on Sunday?  —  It is the earnest desire of the elders of CFBC for every member to diligently prepare and expectantly come to corporate worship with the mindset of coming to meet with God and coming to serve one another. Often we hear people say: “I didn’t get anything out of that sermon” or “that place isn’t very friendly” or “no one reached out to me.” We long for the church family to take the weekly preparation for worship email that goes out (on Thursday/Friday) and utilize it in (1) reading the text that will be preached, (2) familiarizing themselves with the songs/hymns, (3) praying for visitors, the members, the leadership, and the preacher. We get out of worship what we put into it. If we come cold of heart, distracted in our minds, and rushing through the door just as service is beginning, it’s no wonder that someone may not ‘get much out of worship’; their heart is not engaged nor was it prepared. But if the person were to take the preparation email and diligently pray and read, study and plan ahead, the oven of the heart would be warmed when the Christian arrives on Sunday. Our goal is to view Sunday’s gathering as a meeting with the living God of the universe! He calls us to worship Him! He invites us to worship Him! We get to worship Him with other believers! Come and let’s rejoice and bow low before the King who is altogether deserving of all worship!

More questions and answers will come in the future.
The Christ Fellowship Bible Church leadership seeks to answer some of the common questions that folks have asked us.  (www.CFBCSTL.org)

This is part 2. It is continued from part 1. 

6. What ministries do you have?   —  When people often ask what ministries we offer, it can often refer to what we as a church have to cater to their desires and age groups? At CFBC, we believe that the greatest ministries that we must have, biblically, are the regular preaching of the Word of God, the diligent praying with the saints of God, and the faithful shepherding by Godly leaders. We seek to define ministries not in terms of ‘programs we offer’ but in terms of ‘people to serve.’ In other words, rather than offering a ministry for the divorced, a senior-saints’ ministry, a youth ministry, a children’s ministry, a women’s ministry and the like, we endeavor to reframe the conversation around people within the flock that we can actively and intentionally serve. We are called to minister to “one another” (Gal 5:13). With all that said, we do have men’s and women’s Bible studies during the week. We do have occasions where the older women disciple and teach the younger women in biblical womanhood. On Sundays, we have Bible studies for our youth and a catechism class for our children. When someone thinks about a ministry to plug into, we encourage them to actively think about who they can serve in the church family. And in doing this, ministry happens and the flock is edified.

7. Why do you most-often pick hymns to sing and not Christian radio favorites?  —  We view the singing portion of the worship service as a very important occasion to worship God and reflect on who God is, remind each other of what we believe, praise Christ for what He’s done, call the saints to worship God, and affirm with the believers that we will strive to walk in holiness.  We choose songs because of their content not because of their style or when they were written. Most often, we do choose the hymns of the faith because of their rich and theological content. Some hymns are quite old and some have been more recently written. We also choose songs to sing because of the lofty and majestic nature of the music that aids the congregation in singing together. The hymns that are chosen often will specifically connect with the theme of the text that will be preached that day. Or, at other times, the songs will be selected to work to progressively work through a theme (for instance, the character of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the glory and beauty of Christ). We encourage our congregation to sing loudly, to sing together, to sing heartfully, and to sing joyfully. Singing praise to God, after all, will comprise one of the blessed activities that we’ll do in heaven. So we endeavor to choose God-glorifying and gospel-saturated songs here to wet our appetite for eternal glory with the Lamb!

8. Why do you usually only have one musician and one vocalist leading as they stand off to the side?  —  We often have a very simple setup in terms of musicians aiding in the music portion of our worship services. Often we will have a musician, or two, and then a vocalist, or two. And at that, they are situated up front and off to the side (on the opposite side of the screen where the words are displayed). The reason for this is because we want the music to serve and support the theology and we want the musicians to be fade in the background so the focus rests more on the content of what is being sung rather than the skillfulness of those up front. We do encourage our singers and musicians to play and sing with excellence and to lead in a way that does not draw attention to themselves. But we strive to have the music played in such a way so as to serve the words of the songs so that the focus centers on the theology and doctrine that is being sung and not on the talent of those playing those songs. And for us, this is one way that we’ve found helpful in serving the church family during the music time.

9. Why do you have a mid-week prayer meeting and encourage the body to attend?   —  The powerhouse of the local church is the prayer life of the local church family. We firmly believe that we could employ all kinds of ministry tactics and clever outreaches but if the Spirit of God does not attend His Word with Almighty power, it is all useless.  We preach the Word powerfully and we strive to pray the Word fervently. The mid-week prayer meeting revolves around two important elements. First, we gather and sit under the preaching of the Word of God (though it’s a shorter exposition). And second, we respond to God’s Word that has just been preached in corporate prayer.  Often our corporate prayer times include a few ’seasons’ of prayer. We will pray out loud, corporately, together, and praise God and reflect on His gospel. We will confess our sins.  We will pray specifically for the church congregation (members, ministries, outreaches, events). We pray for the missionaries and other local churches in the area. We also pray for our families and various needs in the congregation. This teaches the congregation how to pray. It serves to model for the children how to pray and why prayer is important. It shows the congregation that communing with God is a two-way conversation. We hear from God (through His written Word) and then we respond to God (in prayer). 

10. Why do you encourage and support street preaching?   —   We believe the Bible is true when it says that the “gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes — to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Rom 1:16). Rather than expecting lost sinners to all funnel into our church on a Sunday, out of great love for God, and out of great love for our neighbor, we seek to go out to the lost and seek to proclaim the saving gospel of Jesus Christ to them and call them to turn from their sinful ways and trust in Jesus Christ alone to be saved from God’s eternal wrath. Street preaching is simply one way of getting the gospel to the masses. Preaching on the streets, in the open air, requires a confident and an unwavering conviction in the sovereignty of God to save His elect. So we go because God has His people! This gives us confidence and joy in our zealous pursuit of the lost! Far from driving sinners away from God, they are already dead in their sins and enemies of God and headed for wrath, we can’t drive them further away by bold proclamation of the gospel; rather, we summon them to obey God’s call that “He is summoning all men to repent” (Acts 17:30). The Old Testament prophets were street preachers.  John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul, Peter, and the early Apostles were street preachers. It’s one way to take the gospel to the public ‘highways and hedges’ and compel sinners to come in (Luke 14:23). All of this flows from a deep love for God and for His glory, and out of a great love for our neighbors and for their undying souls. So we go, we go out, we go fervently, we go boldly and proclaim the biblical gospel and summon all sinners to repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15).

More questions and answers to come in the future.
In this blog, the Christ Fellowship Bible Church (www.CFBCSTL.org) leadership seeks to answer some questions that folks have asked:

Part 1


1. Why do you prefer & use the NASB translation?  —  We prefer to use the New American Standard Bible (NASB) as our preferred English translation because of the philosophy of the team of translators to present an English translation that’s true to the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, to be grammatically correct, to be understandable, and to render the terminology, concepts, word order, phrases as faithfully as possible in contemporary English. The NASB is the English translation, in contemporary English, that’s the closest and the most literal to the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. Thus, we can say to our congregation: even though you may not know the original languages (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic), the Bible you have faithfully presents a translation that is the closest to the original language in word order, terminology, grammatical concepts, and verbal tenses.
 
2. Why do you have a corporate scripture reading & pastoral prayer in the Sunday service? —   Every Sunday when we gather together for corporate worship, we have a particular time during our worship service where a man will read God’s Word out loud and then we will have a lengthy prayer of adoration, confession, supplication, and intercession. When the Word of God is read, the congregation stands in honor of our Majestic King and in honor of the all-sufficient and divinely authoritative Word. The reason we read the Word in this way on Sundays is to hear from the Lord, through His Word, by the Spirit, as a church family. Often we read through books of the Bible (one chapter each week) or perhaps we will read a portion of Scripture (Old or New Testaments; sometimes a reading from both) that supplement the text that will be preached. Then the prayer is a lengthy adoration to God in response to His Word. God has spoken through His Word and then the prayer is the people’s response of praise and worship to God.

3. Why do you preach for one hour?   —  The important feature is not how long one preaches but does the sermon provide enough time to exposit faithfully the text of Scripture that will be preached.  To preach requires that the man of God introduce the text, provide a bit of background to the text and historical details, he outlines the text and exposits the meaning of the text verse-by-verse, he must illustrate his points and support what he says with other Scriptures (the analogy of faith/cross-referencing), he must faithfully apply the text to the hearers’ lives and provide the implications of the text, and then he must present the gospel of Jesus Christ and a call for the lost to repent and believe the gospel. Faithful gospel expositions cannot be done in 15 minute sermonettes. We preach so as to faithfully exposit the truth of God revealed in the Word of God so that the people of God will be blessed, instructed, protected, and nourished on the sound doctrine of Holy Scripture. We do not cave into the cultural mantra of shortening sermons because people’s attention spans can’t handle long expositions. Rather, we seek to faithfully preach God’s Word and we rejoice when God’s people hunger for the Word and cherish the privilege of hearing from the Lord as His Word is faithfully heralded with boldness, faithfulness, clarity, urgency, relevance, and Spirit-given power.

4. How does someone ‘serve’ at CFBC?   —   Frequently someone will ask the question: “How can I serve around here?” What needs to be done? It can be the case that people who ask this question may be looking for a particular ministry, or niche, or volunteer position to fill to accomplish a task or duty or role (a greeter, making coffee, unlocking the doors, Sunday school teacher, etc). One of the ways that we have joyfully responded to this question of how people can serve is to simply state that we have a church family comprised of so-and-so number of members. Pick one, or two, and make it your ministry to serve them faithfully. In other words, our intentional desire is to equip our flock to be serving “one another” as we build solid vines rather than busily drain ourselves in fashioning ornate trellises. We desire to exert our energy and manpower in people ministry and not so much in programs. We’re not anti-programs! But we seek to encourage folks to creatively think of ways to live out the “one another’s” in the Church family with the members. This, then, presents many opportunities for all people to serve so that no one is left out, no one is overlooked, no one is not needed, but rather everyone is invited to come onto the playing field and actively, intentionally, faithfully, proactively, and regularly serve for one another in the church family until every man is ‘complete in Christ.'

5. Do you try to create a casual environment to worship God on Sundays?   —   When you come to the Scriptures, worshiping Almighty God is never a casual encounter. There’s nothing relaxed or easy-going when God meets with His people. In fact, worshiping God in Scripture is often associated with His holiness, His majesty, His power, and the worshiper falling down in prostrate worship before God, the Sovereign King. We do not intend to ‘create’ any environment with the purpose of impressing or catering to people who come to church. Rather, our goal is to be faithful to honor God rightly, revere Him humbly, exalt His Word supremely, and expound His Word clearly. Rather than creating an environment that makes people comfortable, our ultimate ambition is to present the glory of God in such a heavenly and other-worldly way that the corporate worship of the saints is a heaven-like, transcendent, reverent, and awesome occasion where God is magnified, Christ is preached, the gospel is loved, the Spirit is unifying, fellowship is sweet, and worldliness is absent.

More parts will follow in coming days.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Praying for Men of God
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

As a church planter and as a man devoted to the trustworthiness and clarity of the Bible, I have begged God over the years to raise up men -- faithful men, humble men, Bible-men, servant-minded men. I praise God that He has richly blessed His church with faithful servants to lead, oversee, care for, and minister to the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ! I still, however, eight years into our church plant, pray for the Lord to raise up, equip, bring us men of God!

Like what? What do I pray for? How do I pray for this? Today, for instance, I was praying for the following 5 necessities:

Men Exemplary in Character
I pray for God to give His church men who are exemplary in character. This means they will meet the requirements that God provides for elders in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. They will be holy men on the inside before they desire to be public men on the outside. They will love Christ, follow Christ, serve Christ, and delight in Christ whether they have a title or not. They are above reproach in their hearts, in their homes, and in their demeanor. I genuinely long for God to raise up more men solid in character, robust in Truth, courageous amidst opposition, and gladdened by grace.

Men Pastoring at Home
I pray for men who prioritize their home lives. If a man is married -- regardless of his age or how long or short he has been married -- he must prioritize his bride as his first ministry. If he has children still in the home (whether infants, toddlers, young children or teens), he makes intentional efforts to be at home with them and pastor their souls. He prays with and for them. He teaches them the Bible and applies it to their hearts. He evangelizes them and invites them into the arms of a loving and inviting Savior. He protects his family time so that he can have meals with his family, lead them in family worship, and remember that that which qualifies him for public shepherd-ministry is how well he pastors in the private ministry in his home.

Men Intentional in Shepherding
I pray for men who take the initiative. They want to dig into the lives of God’s people. With this I do not refer to information junkies or people who have the ‘answers’ to every person’s problems. Rather, I pray for the men who knows he’s filled with all goodness and knowledge and he knows he is able to admonish one another. He genuinely cares for people. It’s one thing to love the position of elder. It’s quite another to love the people that we serve. I pray for men to reach out and ask good questions, not just sit in the pew alone before church and then jet out as soon as the service is done. I pray for men intentional, thoughtful, proactive, and diligent in caring for all the saints.

Men Able to Teach
I pray for men who know God and know God’s Word. The great need of our day is discernment. We need men who know truth and can stand with healthy doctrine, biblical support and courageous convictions. I pray for men to have regular times of communion with God in prayer and in the Word. I long for brothers who grow and excel in their teaching by discipling others, by gathering groups of guys to disciple and teach the Word, by teaching his own home and family consistently. This is not about degrees, it’s about devotion. It’s not about professionalism, it’s about precision in and convictions for the written Word of God.

Men Devoted to Prayer
I pray for men who love to pray, men who need to pray, men who really do pray, men who must pray! Men of God understand that prayer is the life-blood of the Christian life, it’s the fuel that energizes and gives power to Christian ministry. This brother will pray -- though it may be brief -- with struggling Christians before or after service. They will pray in private for their wives and children and church family. They will gather with others and pray and give thanks when the Lord answers prayer. I pray for men to pray in the corporate prayer meeting. I pray for men to pray fervently, specifically, biblically, and believingly.



May God, in His abundant kindness and glorious sovereignty, raise up many men to shepherd His churches in the power of His might and with the grace and servanthood of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Some thoughts on how to prepare for worship.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church


In Exodus 19:11, God told Moses to have the nation of Israel ready and prepared for the Lord to come down in the sight of all the congregation on Mt. Sinai. We serve a God who desires that His people ready themselves to meet with Him in worship. How much more should we, blood-bought and regenerated servants of the true God, prepare to meet with Him in worship, praise, adoration and hearing of the Word of God.

Here are some practical ways that you can prepare.

Prepare by reading
Prepare by reading the text that will be read and expounded. Ready your soul by familiarizing yourself with the truths of God in the text that will be exposited and applied. Ask the Spirit of God to give you light as you read and insight as you study and diligence to apply. Prepare by reading the text a few times. You can even pray through it phrase by phrase. You can try to determine some of the main verbs, the main points, the key phrases, repeated words, and theological point that the biblical author conveys. Think of how much more you will get out of the sermon if you come already having read the text, studied the text, prayed through the text, and made observations of the text! Come prepared having read the sermon text beforehand.

Prepare by praying
Joined together with the last point, one very profitable way you can prepare for worship consists of praying for the time of worship. Pray for the preaching of the Word of God to go forth with power. Pray for your minister to have boldness and courage in preaching the “full counsel” of God. Pray for his mind to be focused on pleasing Christ, not men. Pray for him to be faithful to the text and to have freeness in expounding and applying and exhorting with the Spirit’s power. You can also pray for the congregation to be edified by the Truth, focused during worship, free from distraction. Pray for the young children who will sit in corporate worship. Pray for the Spirit of God to do a sovereign work in their little hearts and minds. Pray for the entire Sunday gathering — the Family Bible Hour class, the youth/high school Bible study, the catechism class for our young ones, and for the nursery teachers who will teach and shepherd the little kids. Pray for the music to point to Christ, His Gospel, and His Word. Pray for the fellowship to be sweet. Pray for visitors who may attend to hear the gospel and be open to the Truth, by the Spirit’s powerful work.

Prepare by anticipating
Anticipate great things in coming together to meet with God and with His people. You know from God’s Word, when God is present with His people, great things happen! In fact, the impossible can happen! Indeed, our God can convert souls and sanctify His adopted children! Anticipate a great feeding from the Word of God as the Spirit of God takes His Word and directs it deeply into your soul. Anticipate that God will exhort you, encourage you, convict you, illumine you, grow you, sanctify you, and show you more of Christ and His glory. Anticipate rich fellowship with the redeemed. Anticipate the heaven-preparing joy of singing corporately with the congregation as you magnify Christ and exhort one another to steadfastness and gospel-remembrance. Anticipate a meeting with God.

Prepare by planning
Plan ahead to proactively serve and encourage a few folks in particular. Perhaps there’s a member you’ve not connected with in some time. Seek them out, shake their hand, ask how the Lord has been growing them, and ask how you can pray for them specifically. Then, take 30-seconds and pray for them right then and there. Perhaps there’s a young man or a teenage girl that you can reach out to and share a Scripture text with them to chew on for the upcoming week. Maybe there’s a small child that you can approach and encourage with a high-five and an encouraging word about God and a call to trust in Christ alone for salvation. Plan to encourage one another and minister to the flock. Additionally, plan to arrive early. Arriving right on time and leaving when the final prayer concludes provides you with no time for fellowship and mutual encouragement. So plan to arrive a bit early and stay a bit after the service and see how God may bless your soul in rich conversations. Plan a good question to ask as well. For instance: “How did God encourage you in this sermon today?” “What did God show you about Christ and the Gospel in this message?” “Is there one way that I can join you in intercessory prayer this upcoming week specifically?”


Prepare by prioritizing
Prioritize the worship of GOd. Sundays in our culture have become a second Saturday. Sports, entertainments, hobbies, laziness, yard work and social events seem to always be available and knocking on our calendars. Remember to prepare for worship by prioritizing the sweet worship of God with His people. It is my conviction that nothing is more important — in our week! — than the corporate meeting with the saints when the Word of God will be preached. The Lord’s Day belongs to God. It is His day to worship Him, delight in Him, gather with others who long to give Him praise! It seems obvious to say, but prioritize the gathering of the saints. Worship with joy, with delight, with passion, with focus, and with regularity.


Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Devastating Reality of Sin
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

This article serves to explain what sin is and how evil sin really is.

Definition of Sin:
Sin is any lack of conformity to the law of God by transgressing its obligations or by failing to fulfill its commands. Sin is lawlessness. It is not being or doing what God requires; or it is doing what God forbids. To sin is to fall short of God’s perfect requirement of absolute obedience to His Law. Sin is not just bad behavior and outright wickedness but it includes motives of the heart, thoughts of the mind, words from the mouth and certainly conduct in one’s life. Sin infects all that a person is. No person is alive who is unaffected by the pervasive, extensive and tragic effects of sin.

Origin of Sin:
Sin entered the world when Adam, the first man God ever created, disobeyed God when he and his wife, Eve, ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. God clearly told them that they would enjoyably eat from any tree in the Garden of Eden but God commanded them to not eat of only one tree, and they chose, willfully, disobediently, and pridefully, to eat of that forbidden fruit. Adam’s sin brought about death and the curse. The soul that sins will die. Adam’s sin affected not only him but all of his posterity — all people, all generations that would ever come after him. Every person born naturally of a woman enters this world corrupted with the sin nature inherited from Adam.

Examples of Sin:
Sin can be classified in three main categories: sins of the heart, sins of the mind, and sins of the will. The desires, the thinking patterns, and the actions are all affected by sin. Selfish desires and prideful motivations are examples of sin that have taken root and flow out of the heart.  Also, the mind of man (his thinking pattern/processes) is corrupted by sin. Man cannot think rightly and does not understand God properly. Man is blinded and corrupted in his mind and in his intellect. Furthermore, his behavior and conduct is sinful as an outflow of the sinful desires and selfish motivations of one’s heart. Evil desires, greed, slander, fornication, adultery, anger, wrath, drunkenness, impatience, selfishness and pride are all manifestations and examples of sin. Other practical examples of sin include evil, envy, strife, deceit, malice, gossips, haters of God, unbelief in Christ, arrogance, boasting, disobedience to parents, idolatry, homosexuality, transgenderism, masturbation, stealing, reviling, cheating, and using God’s name in vain.

Effects of Sin:
God says that the soul that sins will die. The true Word of God also declares that the wages of sin is death (spiritual). Sin has affected all of mankind, all of man’s makeup, all of human history, and it will remain until God creates a New Heaven and a New Earth. So pervasive are the effects of sin that all man’s makeup (thought, words, deeds, motives) are completely affected by the devastation of the curse of sin.

Magnitude of Sin:
Sin is so bad because God is so holy. The measure of sin’s magnitude has to be compared with the dignity and honor of the One sinned against. God is infinitely holy and perfectly just; indeed, God is absolutely perfect and infinite and eternal in all of his attributes and characteristics. Therefore, to sin even one time against God would mean that a person has committed a sin worthy of an eternal, infinite punishment because it has offended an infinitely holy and eternally righteous God. A human may ignore a sin or may pretend it doesn’t exist. God, however, remembers each sin that has been committed against His holiness and sees the mountain-like problem and gigantic tragedy that sin has caused.

Judgment for Sin:
Every single sin that has ever been committed in the history of the world will be personally, infinitely, and perfectly judged by God. No sin will ever be left unpunished. God is a righteous Judge who has indignation every day. Every sin that men ever commit slight His holiness and ignite His righteous and holy anger. God promises that He will repay men for all that they have done. Every thought will be judged. Every careless word will be judged. And every wicked deed will be judged by God. Even thoughts, and words, and deeds that men have forgotten about and even those which men aren’t even aware of will be brought to light on judgment day and God will fairly, righteously, and perfectly judge the sinner who stands guilty before God.

Devastation of Sin:
Sin brings forth death. The devastation of sin is that the moment Adam sinned, death entered the world and all sinned. The Bible says that men are totally depraved and radically corrupt. This does not mean that every person is as bad as he possibly could be, but the Bible means that the totality of man’s being, in all of his parts and faculties (thoughts, will, heart, intellect, and behavior) are all touched by sin, depraved by sin, and under the curse of God. Nothing is more tragic and more infinitely devastating in all the world than the committing of a sin.

Awareness of Sin:
No one can rightly understand the nature of sin apart from a true understanding of who God is and from the revealed Word of God, the Bible. Men are blinded by sin to their own sin. It’s like a blind person who walks into a cave full of snakes. He’s not even aware and can’t understand that danger is all around him. An awareness of sin comes from the Bible as it is read, God is understood, the Spirit of God gives understanding, and sin’s evil is exposed. Again, the sinfulness of sin cannot be rightly understood or dealt with apart from the written Word of God, the Bible.

The Law that Exposes Sin:
No one would understand the enormity of sin and the heinousness of sin without the clear revelation of the Bible. Where does anger come from? What makes coveting so bad? Why is pride a sin? Why is worry and anxiety a sin? The Law of God exposes the heart of men and the uncrossable gulf that exists between God and men because of sin. We would not know what sin is were it not for God’s clear revelation given to us in the Bible. The Ten Commandments expose the heart and the behavior of men that brings all men to the position of full and total guiltiness before a holy God.


Denial of Sin:
The chief denier of sin is Satan. He said long ago in the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve that if you eat of the forbidden fruit: You will not surely die. But the denial did not prevent the reality of sin’s devastating effects. So it is today as many people deny the reality of sin or the enormity of sin or the consequences of sin. But God does not ask men to agree with him nor does God seek to make a compromise with men. The denial of sin does not change anything in God regarding His certain and fair and infinite punishment against sin. For a man to deny sin exposes the reality that he is walking in the likeness of his spiritual father, Satan himself, who denied sin. But death surely came and everlasting judgment will most certainly come. To deny sin is to deny reality. To deny sin is to call God a liar. And God will punish all those who reject Him and His truth.

Cover up of Sin:
Sinners have cleverly and brilliantly devised many ways to try to cover up their sin. Lying, deception, manipulation, blame-shifting, outright denial, and remorse are a few of the many ways in which men endeavor to cover up sin. The Bible provides abundant accounts of men and women who sought to cover up their own sin (in a number of ways). But in every case, God sees the heart of man and no human cover-up can ever prevent the all-seeing eyes of God from fully observing the sin and assuredly punishing the sin. People may do their best to cover up their sin and may successfully cover up some sin and keep others from finding out but nothing is hidden from God. Every creature stands naked and fully exposed before the eyes of God before whom every person will have to give an account.

Consequences of Sin:
God lovingly & clearly declares that the soul that sins will die. God will repay sinners according to their ways. The consequences for sin are infinite, eternal, just, and fair as from the Righteous God who always does what is right. And this just judgment comes from the righteous God who powerfully and perfectly does what brings Himself greatest glory. The sinner who dies in his sinful condition — whatever religious background he may have or whatever perception of goodness he may have about himself — will be everlastingly punished under the fierce and just wrath of God in the Lake of Fire, in conscious, unending torment in God’s presence and holy punishment.

Conviction of Sin:
Lots of people feel guilty. Many people may do a bad deed and feel bad about it. Lost of reasons may exist for such emotions and feelings. Many may not want to get caught and they may not want the consequences, or they want to preserve their reputation. But the Bible reveals that there is really only one adequate response to sin, namely, true conviction over sin that results in repentance (turning from) and faith (turning to) in Jesus Christ Jesus. True conviction over sin can only come from God the Holy Spirit who convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). On the final day when Jesus Christ returns in glory to judge the world, He will convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done. Everyone will either be convicted by God the Spirit and turn from their sin, or they will remain in their sin and be convicted on the day of judgment when it’s too late and they’ll be cast into hell.

Removal of Sin:
A day surely comes in the future when God will remove sin entirely from the world. But it will not come until the Lord brings great judgment upon the world that has rejected him, casts sinners into hell and believers enter glory, and then the Lord Himself will re-create a New Heaven and a New Earth where righteousness dwells. In this future estate of blissful joy and everlasting glory, no sin will exist and nothing unclean, impure, unholy or defiled will ever exist. Just as life existed without sin in the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve sinned, so there is coming a future time when sin will forever be eradicated and absolute righteousness will forever be the life of the redeemed in glory.

Inadequate Remedies for Sin:
Our world has sought to invent countless ways to remedy the sin problem. Religions abound in various stripes and forms to call people to moral living and kind actions to try to outweigh the bad deeds. Roman Catholics seek to purge their own sins by being good, praying prayers, and acts of penance. But any religion and any effort and any life of morality will always prove to be inadequate to save a soul from the all-seeing eyes of God and from the sure wrath that will come upon every sinner’s soul everlastingly. Religion, philosophies, worldviews, tolerance, self-denial, and philanthropies will prove on the final day of Judgment to all be worthless, demonic, deceptive and absolutely unable to save.

Forgiveness for Sin:
Only one solution for the sin problem exists. And the solution for the sin problem is found entirely outside of man. No person can ever achieve his own forgiveness or cooperate with God to bring about his own forgiveness. God alone can forgive and it is a work of God — and a work of God alone. If God were to keep a record of all wrongs committed, who could stand blameless before Him? But with God there is forgiveness. The only way a sinner can be forgiven is for God to intervene and graciously, mercifully, and undeservedly lavish forgiveness through the substitutionary, sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross. God must punish every sin. God has provided one escape from wrath in hell. And that escape is not religion but the righteousness of Jesus Christ. When Jesus died, God reckoned/imputed sins of guilty lawbreakers to Jesus on the cross. This is the real reason for the cross: for Jesus to bear the curse of God and bear the wrath of God in his soul, infinite punishment from God for His people. Then, those who believe in Jesus Christ alone, by faith alone, by grace alone are imputed/reckoned with the perfect righteousness (obedience) of Jesus Christ that God requires to enter heaven. So the only way to be forgiven is through the redemptive, saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross. That way, God is just in punishing your sin (on the substitute) and He is just in reckoning you as being declared righteous not in your own righteousness but in the perfect merits of Jesus Christ your substitute. Come to Jesus Christ by faith alone! Turn to him and be forgiven of your sin and saved from the everlasting penalty that your sin deserves in hell! Flee to Jesus Christ and find life and joy and forgiveness.
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