Wednesday, May 29, 2013

From Charles Spurgeon in a sermon on Malachi 3:6:

The proper study of the Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can engage the attention of a child of God is the name, the nature, the person, the doings, and the existence of the great God which he calls his Father.  There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can comprehend and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-contentment, and go on our way with the thought: “Behold I am wise.”  But when we come to this master science, finding that our plumbline cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought: “I am but of yesterday & know nothing.”

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

EM Bounds:

The man makes the preacher. God must make the man. The messenger is, if possible, more than the message. The preacher is more than the sermon. The preacher makes the sermon. As the life-giving milk from the mother's bosom is but the mother's life, so all the preacher says is tinctured, impregnated by what the preacher is. The treasure is in earthen vessels, and the taste of the vessel impregnates and may discolor. The man, the whole man, lies behind the sermon. Preaching is not the performance of an hour. It is the outflow of a life. It takes twenty years to make a sermon, because it takes twenty years to make the man. The true sermon is a thing of life. The sermon grows because the man grows. The sermon is forceful because the man is forceful. The sermon is holy because the man is holy. The sermon is full of the divine unction because the man is full of the divine unction. 

 (Source: EM Bounds, Power Through Prayer).

From Henry Law:

Forgiveness has swept away all hindrances. [God] holds in his hand the blood which opens the gates. Thus washed he comes to the very presence--to the audience-chamber, to the bosom of His God. With filial love he cries, "Abba, Father." He hears in reply, "My son." He is bold to pour forth floods of petition, to tell out all the secrets of his heart. Loving ears receive--loving lips reply. Sweet is this communion--hallowed is this fellowship. He dwells in God and God in him--heaven is frequented in spirit before earth is left. The forgiven flies upward and finds this welcome. It must be conceded, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven."

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Preach With an Eye Toward the Glories of Heaven &
an Eye Toward the Shrieks of Hell

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

I wonder if many preachers realize that each Sunday souls hang in the balance. Every sermon makes someone either closer to heaven or closer to hell. Could it be that some pastors lose focus of the divine power that exists when God’s Word goes forth. We do well to remember the awesome weightiness and supernatural power that is present when the man of God takes the Word of God and explains the meaning of the text clearly. Let us therefore remember afresh the privilege of preaching and strive to preach in such a way that God moves in a saving and sanctifying way during every sermon. We should preach for eternity for, indeed, nothing less is at stake.

1. Because False Converts May Be Present.
A true believer is known by his fruit. Some churches may have people who grew up in church, were baptized in church, have taken communion regularly, and have even served in various ministries as needs came up. But none of these, in and of themselves, secure one’s reconciliation with God. It could be that someone has all of these (good) characteristics yet he has not fully surrendered his life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ — and Him alone. Every pastor consumed with the glory of Christ and with the gospel of God prays for those in His flock who come each week who might not be saved. There are those who may “think” that they are saved when in fact they are not. There may be those who look like, smell like, talk like, hang with, and serve like born-again Christians. And it is precisely because these false converts most probably are present in every church that a preacher must preach with an eye toward the glory of heaven and with an eye toward the shrieks of hell.

2. Because Both Heaven and Hell are Real.
We preach because hell is real. Left to ourselves, all humans would run on a fast-paced highway to hell. By default we are headed for hell. This precisely explicates the reason why every preacher must preach boldly with eternity in mind. Just as hell is real, so heaven is also real. They both exist eternally. They both will endure forever. They both are mutually exclusive so that no one will ever be able to cross from one to the other. Therefore, because every person will eternally end up in either heaven or in hell, the herald of God must preach with an eye toward the glory of heaven and with an eye toward the shrieks of hell.

3. Because of the Urgency of the Message.
What happens to a man here determines what happens to that man’s soul in eternity. In this life, if a man who is by nature rebellious toward God refuses to repent, believe in Christ, and follow Him, at the moment of his death, that poor soul will awake to an everlasting doom in hell. If, on the other hand, a man has humbled himself before the awesome holiness of God and repents and believes in Christ, at the moment of his death he will enter the unspeakably glorious joys of heaven. This life determines what happens in the next. What a man does here establishes where he will spend all of eternity. If, for no other reason, this must persuade a preacher of God’s Truth to preach with an eye toward the glory of heaven and with an eye toward the shrieks of hell.

4. Because It May be the Last Message Someone Hears Before Entering Either Heaven or Hell.
Unless the Lord Jesus returns first, every living person will die and there will come a point — unknown to him — when he will hear his last sermon in a church. No man living knows the date of his death. And the preacher certainly does not know the date that people in His flock will die. Therefore, herein lies the reason why every single pastor must preach every sermon considering the ever-true reality that it may in fact be the last sermon someone in His flock hears before entering either heaven or hell. How distressing the thought that some in our flocks may hear a gospel sermon, die that same week, and remember that sermon for endless eternities to come as their consciences torment them. Let us preach preparing our saints for glory and warning the unregenerate of damnation. Let us preach as a dying man to dying men as if we were never to preach again. Let us, at some point in our sermon preparation, consider the possibility that a father, a mother, a teenager, a young child, or a senior saint may not return to corporate worship next week because they have passed from this world to the next. O, dear preachers, let us preach with an eye toward the glory of heaven and with an eye toward the shrieks of hell.

5. Because It Binds the Preacher to Preach Christ & His Gospel in Every Sermon.
If we consciously reminded ourselves that people in our flocks may transition from this life to the next this very week to come, it would unequivocally compel us preachers to proclaim Christ and Him crucified. We would beg sinners to repent and be reconciled to God. We would plead with our saints to cherish Christ and show them the benefit of Christlikeness. Whatever book we exposit, whatever chapter we preach, whatever verse we highlight, whatever sermon we deliver, we must bind ourselves under oath to preach Christ and His gospel in every sermon so that the saved are satisfied in their union with Christ and so that the sinners are trembling in their plight before Christ. All this leads to the same supposition that I’ve purported thus far, namely, we must preach with an eye toward the glory of heaven and with an eye toward the shrieks of hell.

6. Because Everyone Needs to Have Eternity Pressed Upon the Mind Daily.
To be of any spiritual profit, one should have his mind fixed upon His union with Christ who is seated in the heavenly places which thus guarantees His future glory that will follow because He is “in Christ.” Every Christian must be reminded of eternity regularly. Sinners must hear of the eternity of weeping and gnashing of teeth that awaits them unless they find salvation in Christ’s atoning blood. Every preacher should determine to regularly bring eternity to bear upon his people’s minds each week. The unregenerate could care less about eternity. The regenerate must concern themselves daily with the imminent certainty of eternal glory that awaits them. Believers need these reminders and unbelievers also need to hear that they will be destroyed under the mighty hand of God unless they confess their sins, believe in Christ and turn from their idols. Thus, because all people — both believers and unbelievers alike — need to have eternity pressed upon their minds daily, this must motivate the proclaimer of God’s Word to preach with an eye toward the glory of heaven and with an eye toward the shrieks of hell.

7. Because the Unbeliever Present Needs to Hear of the Doom Awaiting Him & the Availability of Being Reconciled to God While the Opportunity Exists.
Though every sermon may not be an evangelistic sermon, every sermon should include the saving gospel of Jesus Christ and warn the unrepentant of eternal doom that awaits them. A pastor cannot know the innermost hearts of all the people sitting before him, so he should assume, then, that an unbeliever who might be present must hear of the everlasting destruction that will engulf him if he refuses to bow the knee to Christ Jesus as Lord. And yet, he should learn about the one way to escape the eternal fires of hell by being reconciled to God through Christ Jesus who died in the place of sinners. God, in His gracious patience, provides opportunities for sinners to hear the word about Christ and to put their faith in Jesus Christ who died for His elect so as to propitiate the Father’s righteous wrath. Unbelievers need to know of coming doom. They also need to hear of the availability of being declared as righteous before God as this only comes by faith in Christ. Thus, while the opportunities exist, pastors should preach for eternity seeking both to win the wayward and to encourage the elect. This further supports the proposal that every pastor should preach every sermon with an eye toward the glory of heaven and with an eye toward the shrieks of hell.

Download the pdf article here.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

From Barry Cooper:

... for our discipling to “stick”, we ourselves have to be passionate about what Christ has already done for us. And what is that, exactly?

He became your wretched sin so that you could have his perfect righteousness.

All you are was laid on him, so that all he has could become yours.

He experienced hell, so that you don’t have to.

He came as the Son of Man so you could become a Son of God.

You are Christ’s brother or sister.

You have peace with God the Father.

He knows you perfectly, and yet loves you utterly.

You have fellowship with and through his Holy Spirit.

You are adopted irrevocably into God’s family.

You have a certain inheritance in the new creation, infinitely greater than any piffling rollover
jackpot, and it is the triune God himself.

Until these truths (and others like them) make your heart sing, you cannot be a good discipler. So perhaps the first step to becoming a good discipler is not to say anything until they do.

From Barry Cooper

Friday, May 3, 2013

How To Train Your Children
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

1. Train them to know the Bible. Teach your children to know that the Bible is God’s book. It is the only book given to man by God. The Bible must relentlessly be pursued. The wise person knows the Bible. A godly person knows the God of the Bible. A Christian knows his Bible and the more he takes in the hungrier he becomes for more.

2. Train them to read the Bible. Children must learn to read the Bible. They must examine every page of Scripture as a studious biologist studies a cell. He should look at every tree, every branch, every twig, every leaf, and every vein in the leaf to as to know it full-well. A child can read and can understand the Bible because it is a book that can be comprehended by little children. The message of the Bible is a message of life that even a young child can ascertain. Teach a child not just to skim words in a Bible, but to read — really read — the Bible.

3. Train them to reverence the Bible. As a book given by God the Creator, the Bible must be revered highly. As high as we esteem God is as high as we must esteem the Bible because it is in the Bible where God has disclosed His character. Children should honor the Word. They should speak of the Word. They should ponder the Word. And children must be taught how to honor, respect, fear, and obey the Word in all that it says. 

4. Train them to study the Bible. A young child learns early in school how to read, write, listen, take notes, and interact intellectually with what has been taught. In the same way, a young child can learn how to read the Word, write thoughts down concerning the Word, listen to God’s voice from the Word, take notes when the Word is preached, and interact intellectually with what he has read. Studying is worship. To study is to examine every part of a chapter, a verse, a clause, a word! To study is to notice why the author wrote the word the way he did, why he chose that word and not another, and why he put it in the place he did in the text. He is to inquisitively ask questions about the text so as to observe and interpret the text rightly according to the intent of the original author (and Author).

5. Train them to reject sin’s allurements. Sin is like an apple that looks bright red on the outside until one takes a bite and realizes that the inside is worm-infested and corrupt. Sin draws one to the candy store and tells the little boy to eat anything and everything he wants for all of his days and yet the boy does not know that if his diet consists only of chocolate candies, it will eventually lead to his death. So it is with sin. Sin looks beautiful, appealing, enticing, alluring, satisfying, and utterly pleasant. But sin is like a bee that brings pain. Children need to know that sin promises delightful pleasure but only brings divine punishment. Children must learn that sin promises a happy reward when in fact it only produces harmful ruin. Children must see the enticements of sin. They must learn of Satan’s plots. They must know of the temptations of the flesh. And children must be taught to flee temptation, to reject rebellion, to run from iniquity, and to scatter from sin.

6. Train them in the Holy Spirit’s work of saving grace. The greatest miracle in the world is when God saves a sinner who believes in Jesus Christ. This gospel of God’s saving grace is made available to all who repent of their sin, turn to God, and believe wholly upon Christ Jesus alone. This divine gift is nothing short of a supernatural miracle enacted by God and granted to a believing sinner by grace. Parents must dispense the gospel message of saving grace to their children daily. Children must know of their sinfulness and thus their plight before a holy and just God. Children must learn of the brevity of life, the urgency to repent, and the exclusivity of Christ. Children must hear of the deity of Christ as it is revealed in His virgin birth, sinless life, substitutionary death bearing the Father’s eternal wrath, and culminating in his supernatural resurrection from the dead. Children must know of the humanity of Christ as it is revealed in His childhood piety, obedience to the Law, endurance of every temptation, and dying on a criminals cross. Parents must resound the song that Jesus fully bore the Father’s wrath in the place of His people so that they no longer have to pay the penalty for their sins. By faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, the believing sinner is reconciled to God and clothed with the complete robe of Christ’s righteousness so as now to be righteous in God’s sight. And this entire salvation plan is a gift and an outworking of God the Spirit. Children must learn this, know this, hear this, and be reminded of this regularly.

7. Train them in the practical living founded upon theological truth. To glorify God is to live a holy life. For to be holy is to reflect God and His character for He Himself is holy. To know God leads to right living for God. To know the gospel of Jesus Christ inevitably leads to a life of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. To be saved by Christ is to be satisfied by Christ. Right theology leads to right practice. Biblical orthodoxy fuels biblical orthopraxy. Children must know that the assurance of salvation comes when a life is continually being changed, shaped, molded, and conformed more into the image of Jesus Christ. Sanctified living, fruit bearing, godly deeds, a life walking in the Spirit are marks of true conversion. Parents must tell their children to follow Christ, to love Christ, to enjoy Christ and to use all the available means of grace to further their sanctification. The life of the Christian is likened to one who rings out a wet rag repeatedly. He should squeeze the Scriptures in frequently so as to extract its fullness, fruitfulness and its flavor so that his mind is filled and his heart is warmed and his life is transformed.

Download the pdf here.
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