Thursday, December 11, 2014

Geoffrey R. Kirkland

Every pastor hears it. Every shepherd receives that phone call. Every minister faces the same question. Someone comes to the elder and says that he doesn’t feel plugged in because the church doesn’t ‘have what I need.’ Or, to phrase it slightly differently, a churchgoer may quibble: ‘I don’t feel as though I can relate all that well to others in your church. There’s not that many people my age’ (or, my season of life, etc.). Every man of God serving in leadership in Christ’s church has been there. He’s faced it. He’s dealt with it. So, how do you involve various and all age groups into the beautiful and unified body of Christ in a local assembly?

A local church will have lots of groups, from twenty-somethings, to high school students, to the divorced, to the widowed/widowers, to the middle-aged singles who have never been married, to the teenagers, to the empty nesters, to the hurting ones who have been divorced, to families with young children, to the young children themselves, and to senior saints.

What follows does not attempt to exhaust ideas as to how to incorporate various age groups but it does seek to provide some ideas as to how a local assembly can corporately worship together and consciously, deliberately, compassionately, and patiently extend the arms of Christian love to any and all ages in the body of Christ.

1. Teach on the BEAUTY OF THE CHURCH.
Jesus does not define the body of Christ by class, race, age, gender, cultural background, likes, hobbies, or interests. Rather, the church consists of all those whom Christ redeemed with His own blood. The church serves as a mosaic of God’s glorious power, majesty, and creativity. The church comprises both Jews and Gentiles who have come together in Christ to worship Christ! Teaching this, and reinforcing this with regularity, is necessary in reminding everyone of the church’s beauty, diversity, glory, and vastness.

Whether the instructions are directed to the five year old boys, or the teenagers, or the emotionally crushed divorcees, or the senior saints, all must hear the important reality that they must listen attentively to the Word of God. They must engage their minds. Jesus calls for it and demands it. Let him who has an ear, let him hear! Church leaders must call for young and old, regardless of the season of life, to pay attention to the Word preached as a precious jewel that was cast forth.

3. Instruct to show MERCY TOWARD ONE ANOTHER.
Ministers should patiently and tenderly instruct all ages to demonstrate supreme mercy toward one another. Older saints should have mercy toward younger families with toddlers. And teenagers and twenty-somethings must exude overwhelming honor and grace toward senior saints who move slowly down the aisle in the sanctuary. The body of Christ must live with mercy and compassion toward one another. A church that encourages all ages to be present in corporate worship must remember this with frequency and strive to confess failures and implement change where needed.

The same gospel that the stay at home mother of four needs is the same gospel that her one year old, three year-old, six year old, and eight year old need. This gospel is the same gospel for the eldest saints who grow ever closer to graduating to heaven and for the teenagers battling with the cultural onslaught of pressures, sins, and temptations. It’s the same gospel for the businessman as it is for the middle-aged single woman who has never been married. The gospel that saves is a gospel that far surpasses the entire universe of background, age, and past histories. The gospel is not bound to an age group. The gospel must never be changed, manipulated, altered, or more palatable for various age groups. The little ones learning to walk need to hear of God’s glory, His justice, Christ’s righteousness, His atonement, repentance and faith, and their full surrender to Christ for life in the same way as the empty nester couple remembers the glory of the gospel.

So how does one really plug into the church? Is church involvement really dependent upon one’s age? What a church has to offer? What programs the church presents? Are these really the issues that get people plugged in and keep them involved? Or is there something deeper — and more biblical — that can shed light on this? One should recall that Moses discipled Joshua. Paul discipled young Timothy. Godly men are to take spiritual truths and pass it on to other faithful men who can teach others also. Titus 2 commands older women to take younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, submissive to their own husbands — all so that the Word of God will not be dishonored. Imagine a church where older men (empty nesters, senior saints, fathers and husbands) came alongside of younger men (new believers, teenagers, young dads, new husbands, twenty-somethings) and walked with them weekly in the Word of God and in prayer. Consider the beautiful portrait of women meeting with other women for regular prayer, fellowship, discipleship, comfort, encouragement, and stimulation to love and good deeds. Singles could meet with young moms at their home while the kids are napping. Senior saints could reach out to the hurting divorcees. A culture of discipleship should repeatedly be reinforced in the local body. Indeed, the dads have the responsibility of shepherding and discipling their own children first and foremost. God instructs fathers particularly to instruct, discipline, disciple and pass on God’s Word, God’s works, and God’s ways to the children in the home throughout the week. In a church culture like this, not one person is left out. There is a place for everyone since the heartbeat of this kind of ministry is people-work, discipleship work, intentional life-on-life growth.

6. Pray for the UNCTION OF THE SPIRIT.
The only way true godliness can pervade the local church is when the Holy Spirit effectually implants His Word into people’s souls. Thus, the power to bring about change and growth in a local church resides in the Spirit of power. Believers must pray in the Spirit for godliness. Christians should cultivate holiness and prayerfulness in seeking to honor God and magnify Christ, all by the power of the Spirit through the reading and application of the written Word. The ultimate need of every soul irregardless of age, season of life, background, or status is the same. All men need the gospel of Jesus Christ. All must hear of their pervasive sin, God’s unbending righteousness, His supreme mercy, Christ’s once-for-all atonement, and the demand for repentance and faith in counting the cost to follow Him. The Holy Spirit raises the dead. He opens blind eyes. He unlooses mute mouths. He gives a heartbeat to the lifeless corpse. He makes men twice-born, that is, born-again. In the fabric of the local church, all believers must remember that the ultimate need that everyone has is the hearing, receiving, applying, delighting in, and submitting to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is made effective through the preaching of the Word and its application all by the effectual power (=unction) of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, instead of suggesting that a local church does not have the demographic preferences that one may hope to find and thus allowing that to serve as an excuse to leave a good, Bible-teaching local church, one should reconsider the importance of diligent and deliberate discipleship that biblically should come through the ongoing ministering of the Scriptures to one another. Indeed, every single Christian has the responsibility to warmly accept other believers into the fellowship regardless of these cultural (preferential) issues and strive to incorporate all people into the discipling web of interpersonal relationships built on Christ, Scripture, prayer and holiness. Amen.

Download the pdf essay here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

“Holy to the LORD” [קֹדֶשׁ לַיהוָה]
The Mark of the Minister
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

In Exodus 28:36, God instructs Moses that he should make a plate of pure gold and shall engrave on it, like the engravings of a seal: ‘Holy to the LORD’. And this plate of pure gold shall rest upon Aaron’s forehead (v.38). In reflecting on a similar parallel for the minister of the gospel today, he should also have a sort of engraving that sets him apart as a man wholly devoted to the LORD.

In pondering this very phrase, I see a few marks that every minister of the gospel should have this engraved on him that distinguishes as singularly minded man with a God-given mission and a God-driven passion. In a word, the mark of the minister should be that he is a holy man entirely devoted to the LORD.

1. Holy in his SOUL
The man who serves as the minister of the Lord must be holy in his soul. This means that this man must be soundly converted; that is, set apart in his soul. He must be a new creation. The old things have passed. Old desires, wishes, ambitions, pursuits and interests are all delightfully superseded by a ravishing new nature that loves Christ Jesus.

2. Holy in his HEART
God requires that those who approach Him in worship must have clean hands and a pure heart. This no less applies to the ministers of God who have His Word, preach His Word, and call sinners to repent and follow Christ. This man must be set apart for Christ in the innermost recesses of his heart. His passions and affections long for Christ alone.

3. Holy in his THOUGHTS
That which permeates the minister’s mind are ravishing thoughts of Christ, mind-boggling realities of the gospel, supreme enjoyments of God’s character, and relentless compassions to urge the hellbound to be converted. This man is set apart in his thoughts. He has nothing else that consumes his mind save the holiness of his heart and life.

4. Holy in his MOTIVATIONS
The minister of the gospel lives for One. He fears no one but the LORD. His motives are for the glory of Christ. He always lives and thinks in the immediate presence of God. Thus, every motive, every intention, every purpose of his life should be set apart for Christ, for His glory, for His renown; not for self-promotion or self-aggrandizement.

5. Holy in his CONDUCT
If God has called a man out of darkness to Himself and has set him apart for the Master’s use, then the true minister manifestly and aggressively pursues holiness. He zealously fights for holiness. He must be holy in his life. He must be set apart from the world. He never strives to be like the culture; He must, by God’s divine mandate, be different, set apart, and entirely devoted to God’s work, in God’s way, in God’s likeness, for God’s glory. This demands his holiness.

6. Holy in his WORSHIP
The main worship leader in corporate worship is the preacher. He sets the tone for everything. He sets the key and carries the tune. He must be wholly given to adoration and praise as he response to God’s revelation in His Word. He occupies himself with God. He worships throughout the day. Worship describes him. And, worship delights him.

Download the pdf article here.

Friday, December 5, 2014

JC Ryle describes the day of judgment:

Believers and unbelievers, holy and unholy, converted and unconverted, are now mingled in every congregation, and often sit side by side. It passes the power of man to separate them. False profession is often so like true, and grace is often so weak and feeble, that, in many cases, the right discernment of character is an impossibility. The wheat and the chaff will continue together until the Lord returns. But there will be an awful separation at the last day. The unerring judgment of the King of kings shall at length divide the wheat from the chaff, and divide them for evermore. The righteous shall be gathered into a place of happiness and safety. The wicked shall be cast down to shame and everlasting contempt. In the great sifting day, every one shall go to his own place.

--Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke (p.97-98).

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

This brief essay serves to ask heart-probing questions so as to gauge my heart and my love for Christ. May I rehearse these questions frequently so as to ensure sexual purity in the ministry for God’s glory and for the good of my soul.

1. Do I love Christ passionately?
I will always pursue what I love most. Do I love Christ or do I love sex? Do I love temporal, immediate, sexual pleasure more than I enjoy the lasting, eternal, full pleasures of Christ? If I am loving Christ passionately, fully, diligently, daily and savoringly then I will not live a life pursuing sexual immorality in any of its forms.

2. Do I really meet with God in prayer daily?
Not do I ‘say my prayers’; but, do I really meet with, commune with, fellowship with and enjoy intimacy with the Living God? Meeting with God and speaking to Him (prayer) and hearing from Him (Scripture) can safeguard us from the wily and seductive lures of immorality.

3. Do I spend too much time online simply 'browsing' blogs/sites?
With all the bad that exists online, there are tremendous and abundant resources for biblical study, theological dialogue and counseling tools. But even though I may not be looking for porn, it may come looking for me while I’m harmlessly browsing a blog or a site when a pop-up appears. Get online, study, then get off. Don’t browse aimlessly.

4. Do I enjoy marital intimacy frequently with my beautiful bride?
One of the God-given safeguards for immorality (physical or cyber) is the full, intoxicating lovemaking between a husband and his wife. Do I enjoy my wife? Do I serve her? Do I please her? Often? Regularly? Diligently? Passionately? If not, I’m already heading down a dangerous path. Begin now to invest all my efforts and passions toward my wife!

5. Do I have any relationships, occasions, or appointments where I may be alone with a woman other than my wife?
As I look at my calendar, my phone, my texting conversations, my Facebook messages, the pictures I peek at, is there anything where I may be alone with a women who is not my wife and I’m hiding it? If so, cut it off immediately! Flee and forsake it!

6. Do I have anything in my heart/life/mind/ministry that I'm unwilling to disclose to my wife?
A shepherd deals with sin constantly. Of course, his own sin first and then the sins of the flock that he shepherds. But is there any issue, relationship, conversation, woman that I’m afraid to disclose to my wife? Am I honest with her?

7. Do I welcome other godly men specifically asking me about my own sexual purity?
Not the simple question: “Are you pure?” Everyone could subjectively answer affirmatively to that. But are there men who really love me and men that I ask (and beg!) to probe into my heart, my desires, my internet searches, my internet usage, my relationship with my wife? Men, probe into my life! Men, ask me anything! Dig and dig and help me!

8. Do I hate it when I do sin sexually & do I repent of it seeking to mortify that hellish dragon?
What is my attitude when I do lust after a woman? How do I respond after I’ve fallen? Do I hate it? Do I despise it? Or am I ‘that guy’ with a ‘beloved/cherished/pet sin’ that I’m unwilling to slay with the death blow? To repent is to hate, forsake, confess and replace it zealously!

9. Do I earnestly pursue & diligently pray for aggressive holiness?
The greatest weapon is the Word and prayer! Hear from God (Scripture) and then speak to Him (prayer). Do I passionately, urgently, frequently, intentionally pray and beg God to make me pure, holy, above-reproach entirely? Do I pray this before I give in to lust? Pray before you begin the day for God to grant abundant purity in heart, mind and body.

10. Do I rehearse in my mind the devastating effects that falling sexually would have on my marriage, family, and ministry?
Countless consequences would crush me if I were to fall sexually! Rehearse them frequently! Remember them often! Fear lest you give into sin! Remember that I would dishonor Christ, I would lose the pastoral ministry, I would be disqualified, I would use the trust of my wife and my children. I would disappoint those whom I’ve discipled, led to Christ. People would see me as a hypocrite and as man unwilling to mortify sin. Satan would gleefully rejoice and the world would have yet another bit of ammo to shoot at the hypocrisy of ‘Christians’. O flee! Flee hard! Flee fast! And fear Christ and His discipline enough to passionately pursue holiness!

Download the pdf article here.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Beginning Sunday, December 7th, Christ Fellowship Bible Church will launch a verse-by-verse expositional preaching series through the Book of Revelation.

This study will help you understand the glory of Christ & His triumphant victory over the forces of evil.

CFBC takes a futuristic premillennial position regarding the hermeneutic (='how to interpret') the book.

Revelation 1:19 provides its own outline of the book:
Revelation 1:19 – "Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.

Christ tells the Apostle John to write the things...
1. Which you have seen (PAST) — chapter 1
2. Which are (PRESENT) — chapters 2-3
3. Which will take place after these things (FUTURE) — chapters 4-22

Join us at 4:00PM every Sunday at CFBC. Or, if you can't join us, the sermons will be online at the media page.
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