Monday, January 20, 2020

Encouraging Kids for the “Sunday-Sermon-Feast”
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

I love being a dad. Being a dad is at the same time gloriously rewarding and wonderfully difficult. Thanks be to God for His Word and for His Truth and for His Church. As a dad, I want to shepherd my children by prioritizing the local church. So I want them to know just how important it is to worship God corporately, to gather with His people, to hear the Word preached, to glory in our Risen redeemer! Here are a few ways that I’ve thought about encouraging children for the “Sunday-Sermon-Feast.” How do you help your kids prepare? What are some short, simple ways to help them prepare for it?

Here are 4 simple, memorable headings:

1.  GET READY!  (prepare)
Encourage your children to get ready for worship ahead of time. Put the children to bed on Saturday night and cheerfully remind them that the best day of the week is coming when we gather with God’s people to worship our sweet Savior! Then, when the Lord’s Day morning arrives, remind them of the high privilege to enter into the King’s presence to worship Him! So help your children prepare! Give them a view of God’s bigness. Show them His glory. Gather the kids and pray for the preacher, intercede for the Spirit’s power, ask for the lost to be converted, petition God for the believers to be fed and equipped. Help your kids Get Ready! Just as a parent would get ready and prepare for a sports tournament how much more must we prepare to meet the Lord and worship the King of the universe!

2.  GET IN!  (sit and focus; listen)
Remind the children that when we gather to worship God, it is an awesome privilege to be in God’s holy and wonderful presence. It is wonderful but it’s also fearful. Encourage the kids that God is high and exalted while at the same time He is near and intimate. Tell the kids that the preaching is for them -- not just for the older folks. Exhort the kids to sit still, to listen well, to listen for a key word(s), to try to get the main points in the sermon outline. Just as the kids sit still and focus during their favorite movie, so remind them that the worship of God far exceeds a movie and that we can -- and must -- get in the Word, internalize it, focus upon it, fight distractions, and listen to God speak to our souls through the preaching of His Word.

3.  GO OVER!  (review, pray thru it)
After a child receives a Christmas gift, what does he do the next morning? He plays with that toy again, and then the next day. And the next! How much more must we go back to God’s Word and reflect on the greatness of His Truth -- again and again. You took your children to corporate worship, Excellent! Now, shepherd your children by going over the message with them (on the drive home). Then, if they are of age, encourage them to gather their sermon notes (or a few words they scribbled down) and review and reflect and go over the message again. Teach your children to pray through the sermon and re-preach it to their souls! Let not a sermon be lost by failing to go over the truth that was heralded. Let us hear and heed and receive and feed upon it all week long!

4.  GAZE UP!  (look to Christ)
In all your hearing and in all your applying and in all your doings, remember to gaze up to Jesus Christ! Remind yourself as you teach your children that Jesus is the sum of all things and He is the great Savior to all who come to Him in repentance and faith! In affliction, in hardship, in conviction of sin, in the discipline room, in the call for repentance and trust in Christ, in Christ’s demand for holiness among His people, remind the kids to look upward to Jesus Christ!  This is necessary not only initially in conversion but every single day of the Christian’s life! Gaze upward to Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Practical ways to evangelize:
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Here are some very pastoral and practical tips for you to consider as you proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. These are just some suggestions and practical ways that you can begin and engage in conversations with the lost. Some are common, some are specific, some are creative, some may need to be adapted to your particular context. But whatever the case may be, speak of His excellencies and go "fishing for men"!

  1. Open your mouth to someone tell them what God has done for your soul (Ps 66.16)
  2. Give someone a gospel tract and say: this changed my life, may I share this with you?
  3. Have family worship every day in your home. Open your Bible, read a portion (a chapter, section) and then discuss it. Sing a hymn that extols God and His gospel. Then pray together and reflect on the gospel as a family. In doing this, the powerful Word and the glorious gospel will be regularly brought before each person in the household (parents, spouses, kids). Engage in family worship even when visitors are over, when extended family is in town, when unsaved neighbors drop by, when church members visit. Continue the routine as a family every day and you’ll be blessed by how much gospel proclamation goes on by the reading, discussing, praying and singing of God’s Truth!
  4. Approach your neighbors that just moved into the neighborhood with a plate of cookies and a gospel tract and welcome them to the neighborhood, offer to serve them in any way, and encourage them to read the tract.
  5. Parents must faithfully teach and discipline the children when they disobey. When a child disobeys, the parent must lovingly take the child to the room in private to discipline the child. The parent must probe the heart with questions that search/reveal the motive as to why the child did what he/she did. Then the parent must open the Bible and show the child how the action was sin (against God; not just against dad/mom). Then the parent must discipline with the rod (for small, young children). Then, the parent must swoop the child in his arms and affirm his great love for the child, God’s great holiness, and Christ’s provision at Calvary so that the child doesn’t need to perish forevermore. Every discipline with a child is a gospel-proclaiming opportunity! Be faithful! Use it! Speak truth! Proclaim Christ daily to your children!
  6. Write a personal letter to a friend, co-worker, or family member and present the gospel simply, clearly and with specific application and exhortation to repent/turn from sin and believe in the Gospel. Invite their response for further discussion and follow up.
  7. Write a general gospel letter and share the good news of Jesus Christ with friends because you care about them and their soul, indeed, their eternal well-being.  Then, go door to door in your neighborhood and put the letter on their front door or knock and hand it to them personally.
  8. Go to a local Jr high, High school or college and hand out gospel tracts to students on the public sidewalk as they are going to/from class.
  9. Drive to a busy parking lot (Wal-mart, mall, grocery store, fitness center, strip-mall, downtown area) and put gospel tracts on car windows just above the driver’s car-door handle.  Don’t put the tract under the windshield wiper but rather put it by the door handle so people are sure to see it and can easily grab it and read it.
  10. When you purchase something (anything!) and people give you a receipt (at McDonalds, Starbucks, a grocery store, etc.), say “Thank you very much” and offer to give them a “thank you tract” — as a way of saying thank you to them.
  11. When you go to a restaurant and eat out, when the server comes to take your drink orders, ask the server for his/her name and then offer to pray for them and ask for one specific way that you can pray for them (you’ll be amazed and surprised at how friendly and amazed people are by this simple request). Then, when you pray for your meal, of course, pray for your server as they requested and for the person to have an open heart when they receive a gospel tract at the end. Then, when you pay your bill, tip them generously and leave a gospel tract there with a hand-written “thank you” on the receipt as a personalized way of showing gratitude to your server.
  12. At the local gas station, while you are filling up your car, put a gospel tract in the credit card slot at the pump for the next person to come and find the good news of Jesus Christ waiting for them. And, if there is someone on the other side of the pump, you could say: “Did you receive one of these yet today?”  (They’ll almost always say “no” — and then you can give them the best news they could ever hear!). 
  13. Get a piece of thick chalk and go to a few public sidewalks near your house, near a local school and clearly write out in big letters a verse of the Bible that is gospel-laden (e.g., John 3.16; 2 Cor 5.21; John 3.3; Luke 19:10; John 3.36; Isa 45.22; Rom 3.18, et al). 
  14. A man of God can grab His Bible, open it, read it, and preach in the open air the saving message of Jesus Christ so that all who pass by hear the gospel loudly heralded. 
  15. Go to a local abortion clinic and open your mouth for those who have no voice. Speak forth the gospel of Jesus Christ by pleading with the dads and moms to not murder their children because God hates the hands that shed innocent blood. Warn of coming judgment & call out for life, proclaim Jesus Christ, the Prince of Life, and admonish them to forsake their selfish, murderous ways and fly to Jesus Christ for eternal life & peace! You can do this almost any day of the week!

Friday, December 27, 2019

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The gospel consists of the good news that God has accomplished the work of saving sinners. This message is the good news of God and the great message about God! Many dimensions of this gospel can be studied, but in this brief write-up, I will list four dimensions of the gospel.

1. I’m saved BY GOD  (justification)
Those in heaven cry out “salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Rev 7.10). Quite simply, Paul states that God saved us (Titus 3.5). When I consider the good news of the gospel, I must remember that I am saved by God. The source of my salvation is God. He is the originator, the genesis, the accomplisher, the beginner and the One who thought and wrought my salvation. As the psalmist said: salvation is of the Lord (Ps 3.8). I am saved by the effectual, initiating, perfect, supernatural, miraculous work of God Almighty as He came to me and did all that was needed to rescue my perishing soul!

2. I’m saved FROM GOD   (judgment)
One of the most remarkable aspects of the gospel is to remember that not only am I saved by God but I am also saved from God. The ultimate nature of hell is being forsaken of God and subject to His ceaseless and infinite wrath forevermore. The beauty of the gospel consists in the reality that God has saved me by His power and from His just punishment. God has saved me by Himself and He has saved me from Himself, that is, His holy wrath, His hot hatred, His just punishment, and His righteous anger. This is what Christ bore on the cross. He was not saved from God’s wrath but was crushed by God so you may be delivered from His infinite crushing for your sin.

3. I’m saved TO GOD     (service)
The Lord Jesus proclaimed in the open air in Jerusalem that whoever believes is free. And if the Son makes you free, you are free indeed (John 8.36). This freedom, however, is an interesting freedom. It is freedom from sin and a gloriously joyful bondage to Christ. To be saved by God means that a person is no longer under the domain of sin with sin as his cruel-master but now he is brought into a blessed bondage to Christ with a most marvelous Savior as His master. Believers are called “slaves” and even in glory God’s bond-servants will serve him (Rev 22.3). God saved me by Himself, from Himself, to himself for obedience!

4. I’m saved FOR GOD     (God’s glory)
To God alone belongs the glory forever and ever (Rev 5.13). In this plan of God in rescuing sinners, He has saved us by Himself, from Himself, to Himself, and now For Himself. That means that this enterprise of salvation must result in God’s glory and His utmost praise. It must redound to His perpetual praise and His magnificent worship! It ignites our hearts to praise Him in this life as we’ll praise Him in this way in the next also! God has saved you not to make much of you but for you to make much of Him. Boast in the Lord! Let your soul magnify the Lord, make its boast in the Lord and say how great your God is! He saved you!
 The Needed Area of Ministry In the Home
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

We often talk about serving in the ministry of the Lord! And rightly so. We must stress that the ministry of the Lord does not always equate with busyness outside the home. What about the young mom with a toddler or the mother who home-schools her three elementary-school aged kids. How do they practically serve in ministry? In this write-up, I’d like to suggest a needed area of ministry in the home.

1. Minister in the Home as you LEAD IN WORSHIP
How can a young dad minister to the Lord? How can a mom actively engage in ministry? Here’s one way: lead your children in worship by showing them how great God is, how glorious His Word is, and how desirous He is to save sinners! Never underestimate the power of leading at home in worship. Men must take the lead in overseeing the home and ensuring that Christ is worshiped in the home. Moms also can lead the children in worship as they teach the children throughout the day. Remember, serving in ministry does not only demand busyness outside the home!

2. Minister in the Home as you ENJOY FAMILY LIFE
Another way that you can minister to the Lord is by enjoying family life. Just enjoy each other! Have fun! Engage in activities and go places together and enjoy the community of family life. It is no wonder that Christ calls His church a family of believers, a community, an assembly, a gathering of brothers and sisters. So it should be in the home. Enjoy family life together as you savor the common graces and blessings God has given.

3. Minister in the Home as you LOVE YOUR CHURCH
Young families need to remember that much is taught, but more is probably caught. The children watch and observe how we speak about the church and how we use the time that God gives us. Minister in the home as you love your church. You can actively serve your church by praying for your church. Consider the powerful ministry of gathering the kids and praying for the sick, the unemployed, the struggling, those going through trials. Consider the great opportunity of praying and thanking God for the church family in family devotions each night! Be creative!

4. Minister in the Home as you VISIBLY LIVE GODLINESS
God told Israel to impress His Words upon their hearts and then to teach them diligently to their children (Deut 6.4-9). One necessary and crucial area of ministry consists of the pursuit of holiness. And think of the benefit to the active longing for Christ, the intentional reading and prioritizing of His Word, the living out of holiness, the repentance and mortification of sin that is visibly seen in the home before watching children! They know you believe! They go with you to church. But for the children to see you live out your godliness is paramount and powerful!

5. Minister in the Home as you DISCIPLINE YOUR CHILDREN
God calls all parents to train up their children in the ways of the Lord. This must be done in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ministering to the Lord occurs even while at home and serving your children. If a man neglects his family to be frequently gone doing bigger ministry events, he has an unbalanced and unbiblical view of ministry. He needs to reprioritize his life and focus on his home first. In the shepherding of your children’s souls, you actively and regularly engage in ministry. We often tell our young children that mommy is a missionary because she is just that -- living on mission in the home as she proclaims Christ relentlessly (and, oftentimes, hourly!) to them -- even in the discipline room. Shepherd their souls, expose their sin, point them to Christ, call them to God’s grace, and remember that this vital ministry cannot be ignored. Serve God by serving at home. Serve in the needed area in your very own home.

Monday, December 23, 2019

The Preacher’s Monday & A Rock-Like Pillow
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Spurgeon said it well: “The sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which the child of God rests his head at night, giving perfect peace.” I agree with this statement with all my heart. I preach this truth and I heartily embrace this doctrine. I love it. No doctrine captivates my heart more and occupies my mind more than God’s sovereignty. Nevertheless, for me as a preacher of the gospel, Sunday nights and Mondays are by far the hardest times of the week.

Every preacher, myself included, finishes preaching and at the end of the day (or the night, or the following morning) reflects on the exposition and wishes that he could have done better, or said something clearer, or exalted Christ higher, or made application more piercing. But I want to reflect on something that God has taught me, and is still teaching me, that the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which the preacher of the gospel rests his head at night, giving perfect peace knowing that the exposition he preached is done and God will most certainty and effectually use His Word according to His sovereign purposes for His glory. God does this not because of me or because of my eloquent exposition. It’s not about how many commentaries I perused or how many verses I diagrammed in the languages. It’s not about my memorable homiletical outline or my nicely-packaged opening and closing illustrations. God uses His Word in spite of me, for His glory, by His powerful Spirit, through His Word.

Satan knows when to attack faithful preachers of the gospel. I would assume that many faithful expositors have those sermons when they felt dry in the pulpit, there was a sort of coldness in heart, a lack of connecting with the people, and a certain impotency in the proclamation. Satan loves to whisper this into the preacher’s ear and tell him he’s not doing any good.

Praise be to the Lord that I can -- and must intentionally -- remember these truths:
  1. God sovereignly rules over all things in creation -- including every sermon I give.
  2. God promises to use His Word because the power is in the living and powerful Word of God as it goes forth, not in the brilliant exposition that I may preach.
  3. God decreed from eternity past -- in His glorious and everlasting counsils -- not only every exposition that I will ever preach but also every hearer that will ever listen to every sermon I preach and furthermore, every effect that will ever come from the sermon I herald.
  4. God sanctifies me as His child as I continually grow in childlike faith in my Father who comforts His people with radiant beams of divine excellencies in Christ from His Word.
  5. God humbles me to continually reinforce in my heart the reality that I am weak and impotent in myself and that I must daily and deliberately cast myself fully upon the mercy of God, the power of Scripture, the glory of the gospel, and the comfort of the Spirit.
  6. God will receive all glory through the reading of His Word and the faithful expounding of His Truth. Sermons are not about me. And that’s one of the subtle temptations the Evil One darts at the preacher’s heart, that every sermon is about him. Sermons are about God, pointing to Christ, expounding His Word, energized by the Spirit, and delivered with passion. God will receive glory regardless how the preacher may feel or how I perceive the message may have been received.

So, again, I conclude where I began that, for the preacher, the sovereignty of God truly is the pillow upon which the preacher really can lay his head at the end of each Sunday, knowing that God gives perfect peace!  And for that, I rejoice and rest! It is the Rock-like pillow upon which every minister lays his head.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The preacher! The minister of the gospel! A shepherd of the church. Perhaps in times past these were elevated positions held in high esteem by the common man, but today we must regain the profound privilege of the preacher. Amazingly, my target audience is not those in the world but those in the church. Indeed, those who occupy the position of pastor or minister of the gospel: WE ourselves need to re-gain the profound privilege of the preacher. In this essay, I believe we need to elevate our estimation of and the privilege of the office of the minister of the gospel in at least five ways.

1.  The PULPIT — preach God’s Word, God’s Truth
The pulpit is a throne, it is the throne for the Word of God. The pulpit is the place where God stands and speaks to His people. God has designed the proclamation of His Word to be the primary means by which He both saves and sanctifies His people. The pulpit must allow God to speak forth to His people through His Word and it must not be a place where men speak human, trivial ideas. The pulpit must house and herald God’s profound wisdom from the Scripture, through the man, to the people, by God’s Spirit.

2.  The POSITION - as preacher, minister, servant, herald, shepherd
O the high honor of being a spokesman for God! What an honorable and holy calling to be summoned by God most High and commissioned to speak forth His Word, from His Book, to His people, by His power. A shepherd, a pastor, a minister, a preacher, a soul-winner! These are all high callings that God has put upon His man who heralds the Word! Never underestimate the high calling of this position! Tremble & rejoice!

3.  The PRAYER - a man of desperate and fervent prayer
All of a minister’s work is spiritual work and is powerless and fruitless unless it is bathed with and energized by prayer. Amazingly: the work of the minister of the gospel just may be the only calling where all the duties are absolutely impossible unless it is undergirded by desperate and fervent prayer. Men of God who preach the Word must be men who say no to many things in order to say yes to God in prayer.

4.  The PURITY - holiness of life
People are watching! What a travesty that many look at ministers or celebrity preachers and mock them (or Christianity, or God Himself!) because of an unholy life, a sinful habit that has become public and the work of the preacher has become a laughingstock of the masses! O let us regain the absolute necessity of being holy men. Why? As priests of old were consecrated, so let ministers be holy men in conduct & life.

5.  The PURSUIT - of God — not being so familiar with the the LORD that we forget to be in awe of Him
To minister as a leader of the flock is first of all to remember that one is a follower of the Chief Shepherd. Before you lead others, you must follow the Lamb! It’s easy to do sermon preparation and lose the awe. Seek to maintain a holy wonder & a heartfelt awe of God in everything you do as you pursue God Himself!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Describe The Ideal, Biblical Church! How Would You Respond?
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

This morning in my weekly men’s Bible study, I started our discussion by asking this question to all the men present: If you were to plant a new church, what would you have and what would you need in your Church for it to be faithful? In other words, describe the ideal, biblical church for me. But I told the men that with every answer they gave, they must prove it with chapter and verse! In our 30-minute discussion, the men responded with these Scriptures and marks of the ideal, biblical church.

1. Ephesians 4:12 - Equip the Saints
The first answer immediately came as a brother shouted out Ephesians 4:12! The ministry must be all about equipping the saints to do the work of service! The primary duty of the leaders that God gives to the church is to equip God’s people to do the work of ministry for God’s glory.

2. 2 Timothy 4:2 - Preach the Word
Another brother then immediately turned to 2 Timothy 4 and read verse 2: to preach the Word of God. This is the preeminent call and duty of every faithful minister, to teach and preach the Bible with clarity, with accuracy, with fidelity, and with power. A faithful church must preach the Word.

3. Mark 11:17 - House of Prayer
One brother turned to the gospels and mentioned how Christ described the Temple as a House of Prayer. The church must be a place where prayer -- fervent prayer -- is prioritized!

4. Colossians 3:15-16 - Instructing one another with psalms, hymns & spiritual songs and giving thanks to God
Then, one brother turned to Colossians 3 and read about the need to instruct and teach one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs as we make melody to God and give thanks to Him! He pointed out the need to sing, to give thanks, to teach, to instruct -- and all this happens as the Word of God is richly dwelling with us.

5. Titus 1:5 - Appoint Godly Elders
Next, a man took us to Titus 1 where Paul exhorts Titus to appoint elders in every city. But not just any kind of ‘leader’ will do; Titus must appoint the right kind of elders. They must be men who are above reproach. So we discussed the need to have godly, above reproach shepherds.

6. Ephesians 4:1-3 - Maintain Christian Unity
One brother stated that Ephesians 4 must be a central text so that we would remember to walk in a manner worthy of the calling (v.1) and that believers would walk in all humility, with gentleness, with patience, and show great tolerance for one another in love, all the while striving to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This is the church protecting its unity!

7. Matthew 28:18-20 - Make Disciples, Baptize and Teach Them
We then turned to Matthew 28 where we were reminded of the mission of the church: to GO and SPEAK! To go out and speak forth the gospel and make disciples. And then to baptize them (practice the ordinances of baptism and, also, the Lord’s supper), and then to engage in the ongoing responsibility of teaching them to obey all that Christ commanded. This is life-on-life discipleship as believers grow in grace and follow Christ together.

8. Acts 2:42 - Devote themselves to teaching, prayer, breaking of bread & fellowship
One brother directed us to Acts 2:42 where we observed the example of the early church where they regularly devoted themselves to four primary essentials. They intentionally gathered for the Apostolic teaching, for prayer, for the breaking of bread (communion or hospitality/meals) and regular fellowship.

9. Acts 2:44-45 - Serving One Another
Then, another brother encouraged us to look at that same context and observe how the early church provided for others in need and ministered to one another in tangible, particular ways as was profitable to serve and love and care for one another. A faithful church serves one another.

10. 3 John 6-8 - Equip and send off faithful missionaries and be fellow workers with the Truth
Finally, one brother reminded us of the paramount and joyful privilege of giving financially in the context of the church so that we can equip and send and support missionaries to go out “for the sake of the Name!” Indeed, the church sends out missionaries who are faithful so that they may do gospel work near and far and in so doing, the church engages in a glorious ministry where they are “fellow workers with the Truth” (3 John 6-8).

What an excellent list!  Not too bad for a group of guys putting our minds together at 6AM on a Friday morning before they head off to work (with no knowledge ahead of time that they would be asked this question)! May the Lord keep us faithful to His work, His Way, and according to His Word -- because Christ Alone, the Head over His Church -- is altogether lovely & worthy!

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Some Benefits to Having a Paper Bible on Your Lap

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

I have the mobile and electronic devices. I have a computer. I have an iPhone. And I use them daily. They benefit me tremendously in my work, in my writing, in my communication, and in my research. So I have no problem with the electronic devices and tablets and gadgets per se. But I'd like to share a few pastoral thoughts about why it may be beneficial and prudent to go to church with a paper bible in hand rather than a tablet, or an iPad, or an iPhone. In fact, I would suggest that it would be worth your serious consideration whether you should leave your cell phone (or tablet, etc) in the car while you’re in church. I suggest that this is especially true for parents with young and teenage children.

In what follows, I’ll provide what I believe to be some benefits of having a paper Bible with you and open before you when you gather with God’s people to worship.

  1. it aids you in focusing in Scripture alone rather than the temptations a device may bring. This may seem overly obvious but the cell phone is like bringing truckload of temptations do your front porch. I’m not referring necessarily to sinful or immoral temptations. I’m just suggesting that we prioritize the Bible alone when we sit under the Word of God and there are far fewer temptations when you have your paper Bible open on your lap and a pen and paper to take notes than there are if you’ve got your iPhone open with apps, calendars, scores, programs, games, and even ringers!
  2. it prevents the endless distractions that could come with an electronic device (text/popup/reminder/internet).  Having your cell phone with your Bible on it may bring an unnecessary distraction or temptation to respond to this text or that alert or this email or that breaking news report, but why even put yourself in that situation to be distracted? True, someone may say that there are many other temptations (people sitting near you, the instruments, the preacher’s attire, etc.). But we live in a digital, cell-phone worshipping age, and doesn’t it seem prudent to do all that you can to intentionally focus on God’s Word in God’s House rather than bring a gadget that may distract you from hearing what God has for you through the Word of God?
  3. it sets an example for the children/teens to have an open Bible.  This is the passion that gave rise to this article. Dear parents, how do you teach your children? Do you want to model for them to get a little Bible on their phone here or there? Do we really believe that when our children are on their phones that they’re doing nothing but studiously poring over the Scriptures? Perhaps -- and we pray this would be the case. But oftentimes, it isn’t. What if you have your children (children and teens and young adults) bring their paper bible with them to church and leave their cell phone in the car. And parents, you do the same! Set the example. Show them it’s good and proper and beneficial to have a Bible and to use it well, know it well, love it, know it, memorize it, and walk with it.
  4. it serves in cross-reference study to have fingers in 2 or more scriptures to compare. It’s far easier to track with the preaching of the Word if the preacher goes from Scripture to Scripture and text to text and Testament to Testament when you have a paper Bible.  It can just be quicker and more profitable to have your paper Bible open and turning with the teacher to the texts that he’s reading. You could even leave a pice of paper there in a text for further study at a later point.
  5. it helps you learn the order of the books of the Bible better. This is mentioned because of the overwhelming illiteracy of the Bible in our day. It is good to know the books of the Bible and the order of the books of the Bible! One knows the order of the books of the Bible better when he has a paper Bible and is flipping from book to book rather than just going to a Table of Content screen and tapping the Book. Take 25 seconds and see if you can turn to Malachi, then Matthew, then Ruth, then Romans, then 1 Chronicles, then 1 Corinthians, then Hosea, then Hebrews, then Song of Solomon, then Philemon. See if someone can do it quicker in a paper Bible or on a tablet. I suggest it would be the person with the paper Bible.
  6. it familiarizes you with the text & with locating Scriptures for future reference. As you track with the preacher by looking at the texts, words, phrases, paragraphs in your text you become familiar with texts themselves and where the texts are in your particular copy of God’s Word so that in future times of need, you can go back and reference a verse or section. Even though you may not remember the specific reference you may remember, for example, that it was on the top side of the left column on the left page of your Bible. This can only be done with a paper copy of God’s Word.
  7. it may allow you to mark in your Bible a note or two or a cross reference. I suppose there may be some apps or programs that allow you to take notes on the digital devices, but it’s not the same as underlining a key word, or drawing a circle and connecting it to key word a few verses earlier, or jotting down an outline in a particular portion of Scripture. This is more readily available in having your paper Bible open and before you.
  8. it contributes to the benefit of reading books (chapters) and not just reading clips/quotes (from a device).  When we read on our phones or tablets we train ourselves to read little portions at a time (or, what can fit on a screen in front of us) and then as we keep scanning or flipping or scrolling to read more and more text, it can become burdensome and tedious. But having an open Bible on your lap more easily lends itself to lengthy Bible reading and focused times of saturating in Scripture.
  9. it presents a kind of priority & seriousness as you carry and open and study your Bible. We don’t parade ourselves around carrying Bibles just to be seen and noticed by others. That would be arrogant and prideful. Nevertheless, there is something important about walking to church with a Bible in hand. You have your Bible and you understand that you’re in God’s House to study God’s Word with God’s people. As you carry your Bible and study your Bible, there’s a priority and a seriousness as you have it with you and set it before you and reference it with your eyes continually during the sermon.
  10. it will not die if you use it constantly for 10+ hours. there's no battery life to the written text of the Bible. Quite simply, electronic devices have battery life that sometimes can fade out and die. But, of course, with your paper Bible, it never gets low in battery life!

   Quite simply, what are the benefits of having an open, paper Bible before you at church?
  1. PROTECTION (from distractions as it protects you from unnecessary popups, texts, alerts, emails, scores, etc.)
  2. FOCUS  (helps you in focusing on Scripture alone as you zoom in on the book resting on your lap as the priority)
  3. EXAMPLE (this especially is true for parents to model the setting aside of devices and guard from distractions)
  4. STUDY (aids in cross-reference/turning to multiple scriptures as you flip from Scripture to Scripture in a sermon)
  5. ORDER (with a paper Bible, you learn the order of books of the Bible far better than on a device)
  6. FAMILIARIZATION (with texts/where they're located on the page for review at a later point)
  7. NOTE-TAKING  (jotting down notes in your paper Bible can be easier and more memorable than on a device)
  8. SERIOUSNESS (take your bible to church to hear God talk; there's a reason God gave us a *book* & we use it)
  9. SUSTAINABILITY (the bible just doesn't lose battery-life, doesn't die; it always has full charge!)

Friday, December 6, 2019

A Strong Plea to Bring Your Bible To Church
(Not the Phone, but the Book)

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

When the post-exilic people of Israel gathered at the Water Gate after they had returned to the land and resided there for some time, they asked Ezra the scribe to “Bring the Book” (Neh 8:1). This is a strong plea not only for every preacher to bring the Book, open the Book, and preach the Book, but it also is a strong piece of pastoral encouragement to bring your Bible to church. By bringing your Bible I’m referring to your paper Bible, the document, the Book. We all have our smartphones and our Bible Apps. We have plenty of translations and gadgets on our phones to aid and enhance our studies. But as I continue to preach week by week, I still remain convinced that there is great benefit to having your Bible open and on your lap when you hear the Word preached. This is in no way a command or some man-made law. Rather, these are some pastoral suggestions that I think are helpful. Here are a few reasons why I strongly encourage you to bring your Bible to church.

1.    To turn to cross references.
Bring your Bible to church so that you can easily turn to the cross references with your pastor as he preaches. Perhaps someone who is savvy on the electronic devices can search and find other Scriptures quickly, but it seems to be that, more often than not, those with paper Bibles are doing the Scripture examination as we go to different texts in the sermons. Also, having a paper Bible encourages you to know the order of the Books of the Bible so that you can turn in your Bible to different texts quickly. Thus, I think that having your Bible with you as the Word is preached is beneficial so that you can -- and should! -- turn to the various Scriptures that your pastor references in his sermon so that you can learn more, engage well, and understand the truths being heralded.

2.    To minimize distractions.
Bring your Bible to church as this may help minimize distractions. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that there are myriads of distractions in church. But with the phone or the iPad, it seems to me that more distractions may be readily available. As the pastor is preaching and someone follows along on the Bible App on their phone, what happens when a text message pops up, or a new email arrives, or a calendar reminder shows up, or an ESPN alert catches your eye? This is not to say that there are no distractions for the person with their paper Bible, but it seems that distractions can be minimized by having your Bible open, on your lap, and pen out eager to take notes.

3.    To teach the youth who are watching.
Bring your Bible to church because people are watching, especially our young people. Our young people idolize media and electronics. They have the phones, they see people on their phones, and they spend way too much time on their phones. And when our young people (children and teens) are with us in corporate worship, they’re watching. They see the people of God. They look around and observe how people are singing, praying, and listening to the Word. So, what do they see? Do they see men and women with their Bibles open, prizing and prioritizing the Bible above all else? Do they see people with a well-worn, a well-used, a marked up Bible? They see people all day every day stand and wait, who walk and travel incessantly glued to their phones. Does it have to be this way at church too? Can we show our young people and our children just how much we prize and prioritize God’s Word by shutting off the phone and having our Bible open during the sermon? And let us not forget that what our young people see us doing, they will do, but they won’t have the measure of self control that we do. So, if you read the Bible on your phone, they will do the same. But don’t be surprised if they start scrolling through social media and tuning out during the preaching of God’s Word.

4.    To make notes.
Bring your Bible to church because I think it is easier to take notes when you can see the text in front of you, make comments, jot down outlines, and cross references in your Bible (or in a notebook/bulletin) so you can refer to it later. I fully understand there are very effective ways to take notes on the electronic devices as well. But for me, in my Bible, I can’t overstate the importance of making notes in my Bible, underlining, highlighting, circling a word, drawing an arrow connecting repeated concepts, or jotting down an outline for future reference.

All in all, may we be people of the Book. Just as the people of God beckoned Ezra to Bring the Book (Neh 8.1), so I also want to encourage God’s people in our day who have Bibles to “Bring the Book!”

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.

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