Friday, July 27, 2012

The Greatest Way I, As a Pastor, Can Love My Flock
Geoffrey R. Kirkland, Christ Fellowship Bible Church

I love my church. I love the sheep that God has entrusted to my care & shepherding-oversight. But I must ask and remind myself frequently of the best ways that I can love my flock. If I don’t review this regularly, I may easily veer into a myriad of “good” opportunities but I need to remember that — especially as a church planter who has limited time, resources, and energy — I need to find the “best” ways that I can serve, love, shepherd, and minister to my flock & relentlessly pursue them.

I. Intercede for Them Before the Throne of God

Like Jeremiah who interceded on behalf of his people in Judah before the Lord and prayed frequently for them. He lamented their sin. He asked God to intervene. He trusted in God’s future promise of restoration. Paul reminded the Thessalonian church that he prayed always for them (2 Thess 1:11). He also emphasized to the church in Colossae that he does not cease to pray and ask that they might be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding (Col 1:9). So then, a faithful shepherd is one who intercedes on behalf of his people. He beckons the throne of God on behalf of his flock. He prays for their spiritual welfare, their continued perseverance, and their increased knowledge of God that would result in an uncompromising commitment to holiness. May I love my flock in this way.

II. Teach to Them the Full Counsel of God’s Word

When Paul was with the church in Ephesus he did not shrink back from declaring to them the entire purpose of God. That is to say, he taught them what God had revealed in His Word. This is why Paul demands that his young protege, Timothy, preach the Word. His mindset and focus must rest solely upon the things of the Word of God. He is to be “in them” and to “be absorbed in” the reading of Scripture, the exhortation, and teaching (1 Tim 4:13, 15). A necessary commitment that I must have is to faithfully study, adequately prepare, organize simply, communicate clearly, and boldly herald the full counsel of God’s Word. May I love my flock in this way.

III. Shepherd Them with the Sufficiency of God’s Word

The church at Rome was able to admonish one another in a counseling/discipleship way because they had the Word of God (Rom 15:14). They could speak into each other’s lives because Paul had invested in them, taught them, relayed the truth to them, and prompted them to pass it on to others. With the “living and active” Word of God, one can apply the truths of God’s Word to any situation in a believer’s life so that the believer can replace sinful patterns or habits with godly patterns and habits so as to walk in a new trajectory so that he is conformed to the image of Christ for God’s glory. I must shepherd the flock of God with tenderness, care, humility, and willingness. May I love my flock in this way.

IV. Model for Them a Man Saved by Grace & Growing by Grace

Those that saw the change in the Apostle Paul after his conversion kept hearing that “he who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy” (Gal 1:23). For this reason, the immediate result is that “they were glorifying God because of me” (Gal 1:24). May it be said that as the flock sees change in me — a sinner saved by grace and one who is growing in grace — they would glorify God and worship Him for His mighty power in saving and sanctifying a rebel such as I. One of the reasons the minister should be in the Word, taking pains with the Word, and abiding in the Word is so that his progress will be evident to all (1 Tim 4:15). The church is commanded to imitate the faith of their leaders (Heb 13:7). So may it be said that I can say with Paul that my people can look at my life and follow my example (2 Thess 3:7). May I love my flock in this way.

Download the full PDF here.

Monday, July 23, 2012

I have come in my study on end-times with Christ Fellowship Bible Church to examining the future period of the Tribulation — a period where God will judge the world in righteousness.

A.W. Pink gives a helpful admonition to us preachers:

A Word to Preachers. Brethren, do we in our oral ministry, preach on this solemn subject as much as we ought? The Old Testament prophets frequently told their hearers that their wicked lives provoked the Holy One of Israel, and that they were treasuring up to themselves wrath against the day of wrath. And conditions in the world are no better now than they were then! Nothing is so calculated to arouse the careless and cause carnal professors to search their hearts, as to enlarge upon the fact that "God is angry with the wicked every day" (Ps. 7:11). The forerunner of Christ warned his hearers to "flee from the wrath to come" (Matt. 3:7). The Saviour bade His auditors "Fear Him, which after He hath killed, hath power to cast into Hell; yea, I say unto you. Fear Him" (Luke 12:5). The apostle Paul said, "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (2 Cor. 5:11). Faithfulness demands that we speak as plainly about Hell as about Heaven.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Philosophy of Baptism
By Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The purpose of this brief paper is to present the case that baptism is appropriately administered only to those who give a believable profession of faith in Jesus Christ. This paper will ask a few questions and then seek to provide thoughtful and biblical answers to support the case for believer’s baptism.

1. What Does Baptism Symbolize?

The word baptize is used a number of places where the ordinance of baptism is not in context. In Romans 6:4ff, we have been buried with him (Christ) in baptism into death so that we might walk in newness of life just as Christ was raised from the dead. The point is that because of our union with Christ (being ‘in Christ’ or ‘with Christ’), we are no longer living in sin because our old nature is gone. Thus, Christian baptism represents the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

2. Who Should Be Baptized?

Consider the following Scriptures. In Matthew 3:2, John the Baptist preached: “Repent for the kingdom is near” … then they were baptized (v.6). In Acts 2:38, Peter declared: “Repent and each of you be baptized….” Further, Acts 2:41 reveals that “those who had received his word were baptized.” Acts 8:12 notes that “when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike” (cf. v.13). Then in Acts 9:18, Saul/Paul believed and then was baptized. Acts 10:47 contains the words of Peter when he speaks concerning the conversion of Cornelius: "Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” And, in Acts 8:36-39 we find that only those who hear the word and believe thus making a profession of faith should be baptized. If the ordinance of baptism is to reflect the theological picture of union with Christ, how can one walk in newness of life if he has not been saved/professed Christ? Indeed, it can be said that when one closely scrutinizes the texts of Scripture, one can conclude that the only people whom the NT specifically identifies by name as having been baptized were adults at the time of their baptism who had heard, repented & believed the gospel.

3. What Is the Pattern of Baptism in the Early Church?

It seems that in Acts 2:38-41; 8:13, 36-39; 18:8; and 19:1-5 that the pattern for the early church was one’s personal faith in Jesus Christ and then the immediate response of baptism.

4. What Is the Proper Mode of Baptism?

The Scriptures provide the following information concerning baptism. In John 3:23, John baptized at Aenon because there as much water there. Then, Mark 1:10 says: “When John baptized Jesus they came up out of the water” which indicates that they both were in the water and then they both ascended out from the water. Acts 8:38-39 reveals that Philip and the Eunuch both went down into the water, Philip baptized him, and then they both came up out of the water. Another interesting and, perhaps, technical note should be mentioned. In the NT, the use of baptize as immersion by dipping is quite clearer. The passive forms of baptize (… was baptized) are always used. That is, the subject of the verb is baptized (and it is people who are baptized). Nowhere is there even one NT instance where water is baptized/poured/sprinkled on someone (in the active verbal form). This corresponds beautifully with the meaning of the theological concept of the believer who is baptized into Christ.

5. But Really, Is This Discussion on Baptism Really All That Important?

The immediate and clear answer must be an emphatic yes. This issue of baptism of believers only is eminently important because it is a direct command from our Lord Jesus. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus commands his followers to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. Then they are to baptize them and teach them all that Jesus commanded. So then, according to Christ’s command, we are obligated to baptize every disciple—follower of Christ (who has made profession of faith).

For those who have never been baptized (by immersion) since conversion, the Word of God reveals that, on the authority of our Lord’s command, you should be baptized as an initial and important step of obedience in your walk with Christ. What a beautiful picture of the believer’s union with Christ — His death, burial, and resurrection — awaits you as you follow our Lord’s command and show the gospel in a visible way to the local congregation of Christ’s Church.

In conclusion, the CFBC doctrinal statement words it this way:

Christian baptism by immersion (Acts 8:36-39) is the solemn and beautiful testimony of a believer showing forth his faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior, and his union with Him in death to sin and resurrection to a new life (Romans 6:1-11).

Download the pdf here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

As referenced by CJ Mahaney during his message at RESOLVED, Tony Payne provides a helpful little article providing the 5-word antidote to grumbling — and the point is to be well-taken. One would imagine that many people can relate to the congregation member who has an "issue" with a particular church for whatever reason. I laughed when I read this.

This story has been passed onto me second- or third- or possibly fifth-hand. Who knows how accurate the details are, or whether the words were spoken exactly in this way? But from my knowledge of the man in question, it is entirely believable. In fact, if it isn't true, it's the kind of story that would almost be necessary to invent.

An eminent and well-known English preacher was approached by a congregation member who complained about some aspect of church life. It may have been that he didn't feel welcomed, or that he was finding it hard to make friends and fit in; it could have been that he was finding the service dissatisfying or the preaching too long; it could have been that the music was not to his taste or that his family was not being catered for to his satisfaction. The details of the complaint have been lost in the telling and re-telling of the story.

The preacher listened to the complaint, paused, and then replied with five words that cut straight to the heart of not only the man's problem, but the problem with all grumbling and complaining in church. He simply said, “It's not about you, stupid!” and walked off.

It was a stunningly rude response—the kind that this preacher seemed uniquely capable of getting away with in his very English way. But doesn't it exactly express what is wrong with grumbling and complaining in church?

It really is the height of idiocy to think that church is about me and my needs and my family and my satisfaction. It completely overturns the teaching of the Bible—that church is about God and Christ and loving other people. In fact, if we wanted to summarize Paul's rebuke to the dysfunctional Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 11-14, a pretty reasonable slogan would be “It's not about you, stupid!”.

So the next time you're feeling grumpy about church, and are complaining that this or that aspect leaves you cold, remind yourself of the five-word answer to grumbling. And if you're really game, when someone starts grumbling to you about how they don't like the music or how they're sick of the preacher's jokes, just give them a slightly incredulous look, shake your head, and say, “It's not about you, stupid!”.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Here is an excellent excerpt from George Whitefield's sermon titled: The Holy Spirit Convicting the World of Sin, Righteousness, & Judgment. It is noted in John Carrick's book, The Imperative of Preaching.

Whitefield proclaimed:

Be humble therefore, O believers be humble. Look at the rock from whence you have been hewn. Extol free grace; admire electing love, which alone has made you to differ from the rest of your brethren. Has God brought you into light? Walk as becometh the children of light. Provoke not the Holy Spirit to depart from you: for though he hath sealed you to the day of redemption, and you know that the prince of this world is judged; yet if you backslide, grow lukewarm, or forget your first love, the Lord will visit your offences with the rod of affliction, and your sin with spiritual scourges. Be not therefore high-minded, but fear. Rejoice, but let it be with trembling.

As the elect of God, put on, not only humbleness of mind, but bowels of compassion; and pray, O pray for your unconverted brethren! Help me, help me now, O children of God, and hold up my hands, as Aaron and Hur once held up the hands of Moses. Pray whilst I am preaching, that the Lord may enable me to say, This day is the promise in the text fulfilled in some poor sinners' hearts. Cry mightily to God, and, with the cords of a holy violence, pull down blessings on your neighbours' heads.

Note the following elements in his preaching.

1) The use of the imperative! He commanded his followers to act.
2) The use of biblical illustrations. Nearly every line alludes to some portion of Scripture.
3) The use of word pictures. Such images as the "rod of affliction" or "spiritual scourges" and "bowels of compassion" paint vivid pictures in our minds.

Preach like this, my brothers!   More at The Preacher's Fellowship at CFBC on Saturday, July 7th.

Monday, July 2, 2012

We invite you to join us as we go to downtown St. Louis to hand out tracts, engage people in conversations, and open-air preach this 4th of July.

WHEN: Wednesday, July 4th
WHERE: Meet at Pastor Geoff's home at 4:00pm
BRING: Bible, tracts, water, & some $$ for dinner
WHAT: We will proclaim the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ to the masses of people

Pray now that God would glorify Himself as we strive to put Christ & His gospel on display to the lost this 4th of July in St Louis, MO.

More info at the CFBC website
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