Thursday, May 28, 2015

From Jonathan Edwards —

“We can conceive but little of the matter. To help your conception, imagine yourself to be cast into a fiery oven or a great furnace, where your pain would be as much greater than that occasioned by accidentally touching a coal of fire, as the heat is greater. Imagine also that your body were to lie there for a quarter of an hour (15mins), full of fire, and all the while full of vivid sense. What horror would you feel at the entrance of such a furnace! How long would that quarter of an hour seem to you. And after you had endured it for one minute, how overbearing would it be to you to think that you had it to endure the other fourteen! But what would be the effect on your soul if you knew you must lie there enduring that torment to the full for 24 hours! How much greater would be the effect if you knew you must endure it for a whole year! And how vastly greater still if you knew you must endure it for a thousand years! O then, how your hearts would sink if you knew that you must bear it forever and ever! That there would be no end! Then after millions of millions of ages, your torment would be no nearer to an end and that you never ever should be delivered! … This is the death threatened in the Word of God. This is dying in the highest sense of the word. This is to die sensibly, to die and know it, to be sensible of the gloom of death. This is to be undone. This is worthy of the name of destruction. This sinking of the soul under an infinite weight that it cannot bear is the horror of hell. We read in Scripture of the blackness of darkness—this is it! This is the very thing. We read in Scripture of sinners being lost and of their losing their souls -- this is the thing intended. This is to lose the soul. They that are the subjects of this are utterly and eternally lost."

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Every minister of the gospel is called by God to an all-consuming task -- to preach the Word (2 Tim 4.2). It’s not that churches today need more preaching in general; rather, churches need the right kind of preaching. So what is this kind of preaching that God requires? What must the man of God devote himself to? God blesses not just preaching but the right kind of preaching. So, in this essay, I will define biblical preaching with four essential ingredients.

Biblical preaching is always God-focused. This means the source of the message is from God, the thrust of the message is about God, the end goal of the message is directly focused on God, and the spotlight all throughout the message rests only and always upon God. Contrary to many -- if not most -- pulpits and speakers today, the kind of preaching that God requires is one that is God-focused not man-focused. That is to say, the sermon is not driven by self-help formulas or entertaining messages that touch on trendy topics or self-improving pep-talks. God’s man must devote himself to the in-depth study of God in the Word of God so that He preaches only what the text says so that God is the source, the sum, and the spotlight of the entire sermon. All that the man says in the pulpit, as he points to the Word, and speaks for the Lord, is always pointing to God and His character, His gospel, His essence, His requirements, His holiness, His sovereignty, His grace, His mercy, and His preeminent glory. The driving goal behind this essential ingredient of preaching is this: all people should leave every sermon not thinking: ‘what a great preacher’ but rather ‘what a great, glorious God!’

Biblical preaching is always Spirit-empowered. Preaching in man’s strength leaves men unchanged, unaffected or, at best, temporarily captivated. But the humanly engineered shock fades away quickly without lasting results. But the preaching that is attended by the power of the Spirit, driven by the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit, and filled with Spirit-inspired Scripture is what brings change -- true, lasting, heart change. Preaching in the power of the Spirit speaks to the kind of preaching that transcends mere human chatting and hip dialoguing. This kind of preaching reaches far beyond the human emotions because the Spirit of God takes His Word and faithful biblical proclamation and drives it deep into the hearer’s heart. Only the Spirit can convert the heart, convict a sinner of his iniquity, and change the believer more into Christlikeness. To preach in the power of the Spirit is to preach with unction. To have the unction of the Spirit in the preaching event speaks of the supernatural attending of the Holy Spirit Himself to the message that is from the Word, that is focused on Christ, that is faithfully exegeted, and that comes from the man who walks in holiness. To preach in the power of the Spirit comes with much prayer, biblical fidelity, holy zealousness, and a Christ-centered, Word-saturated sermon. Every minister must beg God to attend the preaching with power so as to produce God-exalting, heart-transforming results. Let every man of God entreat God for the anointing of the Spirit. For this is the only kind of preaching that can produce any kind of real, lasting effect. The weaker than man is, the stronger he is because the Spirit uses weak men who are faithful to the Word, who herald the biblical gospel, and who extol Jesus Christ so that the power of the preaching and the faith of God’s people would not rest on the wisdom of men but on the power of God.

Biblical preaching is always Christ-centered. To preach a sermon without Christ is to preach an irreligious message void of any supernatural power whatsoever. To preach a message with no Christ is to exalt man and his wisdom and to debase Christ and His gospel. To preach a sermon with no Christ has no power to save, has no Spirit-saturated anointing, and no hope of converting or sanctifying. If a man were to preach a sermon without Christ he must as well stop preaching and never enter the pulpit again since he has squandered and forfeited his right to even be called a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, on the other hand, true, faithful, biblical preaching always centers on Christ just as the planets in a solar system revolve around the sun. Christ is the sun, the center, the apex of all biblical preaching. Every text leads to the cross. Christ is must be in every sermon. Every text of Scripture may not present Jesus Christ or speak about His saving work, but every text of Scripture (yes, every verse!) leads on to the cross of Jesus Christ and His atoning work. Christ is the sum, the substance, the subject, and the seeker of every sermon! Indeed, every sermon points to a glorious Christ because true biblical preaching is comes from the Word of God and the Word of God points to the Living Word who came from God. Thus, if God is to bless a man’s preaching, he must preach Christ and Him crucified. Preacher must herald the person of Christ, the offices of Christ, the righteousness of Christ, the teachings of Christ, the miracles and works of Christ, the humanity of Christ, the deity of Christ, the demands of Christ, the claims of Christ, the Lordship of Christ, the sovereignty of Christ, the death of Christ, the atonement of Christ, the propitiation of Christ, the burial of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, the ascension of Christ, the exaltation of Christ, the intercession of Christ, the coming advent of Christ, and the coming Kingdom of Christ. Preachers cannot forget that all of heaven sings to the Lamb of God who sits on the throne and heaven’s song is: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain’ (Rev 5.9). So then, every sermon, in so far as it is faithful to the Word of God, will preach Christ and Him crucified! If a man chooses not to preach Christ, he should step down, sit down, and, in repentance, fall down.

Biblical preaching is always Word-based. If a sermon is to exalt God, be empowered by the Spirit, and center on Christ, then biblical preaching must adhere to the Word of God. The Scriptures drive the sermon, they are the source of the sermon, they are the substance of the sermon, they support the sermon, they serve to illustrate key points, and they imprint the gospel onto the hearts of the hearers. The Bible drives the preacher and everything that he says. He does not craft his sermon and then open his Bible to find some supporting verses that enhance his message. The Bible drives the preacher. The Bible captivates the preacher. The Bible presents Jesus Christ. The Bible is the living and active Truth of God that pierces men to their very heart of hearts. Preaching devoid of the Word is not biblical preaching, it’s man-centered lectures. To receive the blessing of God in preaching, a minister of the gospel must have one hand pointing to the text of Scripture and another hand pointing to the audience so that the audience is directed to the text of Scripture repeatedly throughout every sermon. The herald preaches the Word because He believes that the Bible is inerrant and that it is infallible. He understands that it is inspired and authoritative. He knows that the Bible is living and it is active. He trusts that the Bible can convict even the hardest of obstinate sinners and melt even the stoniest of hearts. It is the Bible that exposes men’s sins and brings their faults to their conscience so they are stricken, guilty, and understand that they stand condemned before the Law of God. Because the Word has all power, the preacher always has his open Bible while preaching! Never does he forget his Bible or close his Bible or make light of the Bible. Rather, he honors the Word, he points to the Word, he constantly refers to the Word, he preaches the Word, and he centers everything that he says on the written, sufficient, clear Word of God.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Usually at this point in the late Spring/early Summer floods of students finish their last finals and have a lengthy few months of ‘summer time’ ahead of them. This brief article serves as an exhortation to the young people to seize the summer to grow in godliness rather than declining in laziness. Remember this: you will either grow more in godliness or decline further in laziness.

This article provides five simple exhortations for every Christian student.

1. Plan Your Time!
If you don’t plan you’ll fail. If you don’t busy yourself with the right things you’ll make yourself busy with time-wasters. If you do not plan and organize a schedule the days will quickly pass and before you know it the summer will be over and you’ll be heading back to school wondering: “what in the world did I accomplish over this summer?” So, plan your time! Plan to be diligent! Plan to work hard! If you have a job, work at it with all your heart. Be diligent in your work for your employer. Arrive on time and pray ahead of time. Ask God every morning that He would kindly bring opportunities across your path to proclaim the gospel, to talk of your Savior, and to warn sinners of the coming wrath who are living in immorality. Show them a great Savior! Be busy -- but be busy with godly things. Plan your time! Plan to be busy! Don’t be a lazy-man who accomplishes nothing.

2. Study Your Bible!
A godly man studies his Bible. A woman of God loves her God and fellowships with Him in the reading and study of His Word. Dear student, become a pro at your Bible. Study it. Learn it. Devote yourself to it. Invest time in it. Remain in it. Trust in it. Comfort your heart in it. Gladden your heart with its sweet and delightful promises every day. To refuse to go to that party is not a matter of legalistic or ‘old-school’ convictions; it’s because you study your Bible and you want to please your God, not plunge into sensuality. To refuse to give into that temptation of watching that movie, going to that place, watching that scene, hanging with that friend is not a small issue; it is a glorious result that comes from the Spirit-given conviction as you study His Word and resolve to walk in purity. So, get a Bible plan. Read it. Study the Bible in the mornings and at night. Read it over lunch breaks if you have them. Ask a friend to read the Bible with you. Try to read through all four of the gospels in a month. Attempt to read the Proverbs each month. Try to read through the Books of Moses (Gen-Deut) this summer. Be diligent! Be optimistic. And study your Scriptures!

3. Down to Your Knees!
You are only as powerful as you are persistent on your knees. Your strength to get you through the summer with all of the challenges that it will bring does not come from your might, your knowledge, your grades, your school, your credentials, your social acceptability and popularity. No! Your power to live life comes from your weakness and your daily and deliberate dependence upon God in Christ as you pray in the Spirit! Pour out your heart to Him! Pray to God, through Christ, in the power of the Spirit! You have access to God because of the merits and righteousness of Jesus Christ with the Spirit who prays with you in silent prayers to the Father. What a remarkable and mind-blowing reality! So, student, down to your knees! Meet with God before you meet with men. Commune with God before you converse with people. Fellowship with God before you find yourself on Facebook. Trust in the Lord wholeheartedly before you open Twitter and ‘tweet’. Pray in praise! Worship your God! Adore His character, attributes, gospel, deeds, redemption, and provisions (be specific!). Pray for your church family. Indeed, pray earnestly for your pastor, the elders, the families (husbands and wives), for the young people, and for the various ministries. Pray for the missionaries to be strong and courageous. Pray for God to raise up more workers and send them out! O dear student, pray! And pray on!  And pray fervently! Down to your knees and devote yourself to diligent prayer!

4. Serve Your Church!
Precious student, don’t get the summer pass you by without plugging in intentionally and busily in your local church. Yes, busy yourself in the things of Christ! Yes, spend your time with the people of God. No time will ever be wasted in serving Christ and His Body, the Church. You should plan your summer around the Church and all of its activities. Let your local church be the sun of the solar system of your summer. Don’t revolve your time around Facebook, movies, friends, parties, working out. Those are fine. But revolve your heart and days around the body of Christ. This is what will endure forevermore -- the people of God and the Word of God. So, a student may ask, how, specifically, can I serve my church?
  • First, encourage believers. Make it your point this summer to get to know a few people specifically in your church (not only in your age group; get to know some gray-haired, wise saints, and some younger folks). Encourage them in Christ, text them encouragements, pray for them, follow up with their prayer requests.
  • Second, write letters. Yes, the old-school form of communication. It is a deliberate way to encourage folks, including your pastor, all your elders, those who have a part in the worship service, the missionaries, and other folks. It could be a letter via email or a hand-written letter delivered on Sunday. But write letters of encouragement. That may make someone’s year!
  • Third, arrive early to all the church events, especially corporate worship. Don’t be lazy and arrive late. You don’t do that to your final exam, neither should you do that when you meet with God. Get to church early, greet people, take the initiative to look out for new people, people you haven’t met, the leadership team, and encourage the preacher with a brief word that you’ve been praying and interceding on his behalf all week that he may utter the oracles of God with unction. Arrive early and get in your seat and ready your heart a few minutes before service starts.
  • Fourth, stay late after the service. Refuse to slip out during the closing song and adamantly reject leaving without shaking people’s hands and talking deliberately about the message just heard. Stay late. Stay for a while. You’re on summer break. Don’t be selfish and just leave. Don’t think about yourself only and not talk with folks. Don’t rush out and refuse to encourage others and miss out on the encouragement that another may give to you. Stay and chat. Intentionally engage folks in sermon-minded conversations. Ask, “what did you learn?” or “how did the Spirit convict you?” or “what must you change because of that message?” Be intentional, be deliberate, stay late & see how God works!
  • Fifth, disciple someone. You must be intentional with this or it’ll never happen. The author to the Hebrews commands all believers to “encourage one another day after day … so that you will not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3:13). So, you, yes you, college student, you approach someone and ask to meet with them weekly (at Starbucks or your home or over lunch, or wherever) and talk about life for a bit, then open the Word and work through a Book of the Bible, and then pray for each other. Even seek to memorize some Scriptures. Make it your ambition to help others grow in Christ. Christ commands you to make disciples and teach others all that He commanded. So, why not do it this summer?
  • Sixth, have others over and show hospitality. Again, this doesn’t mean that you need to have a five-course meal every Friday night. But it does exhort you to consider having people over to your home. Yes, maybe after church, or before church, or on a Saturday -- and it doesn’t even have to be for a “meal.” Of course it can be. But it need not be a fancy ordeal. Keep it simple and make sure that your parents are aware and supportive of you having church folks over. Indeed, this doesn’t need to be other students who are only your age. Try to ask an older couple to come over. Get to know them and their life and what they have learned in their journey with Christ.  Ask your pastor and some elders to come over to pray with them and ask how you can pray for them as they struggle through the relentless demands, discouragements, and joys of ministry (all at the same time!). Be hospitable and welcome others into your home.
  • Seventh, evangelism outings are a must! Get out onto the streets and deliberately share Christ with the lost. Get some tracts ( and be intentional about handing them out (on cars, to cashiers at restaurants, to coworkers, to strangers sitting on a park bench, to those at the gym, and to any other living creature! Yes, share Christ! Your faith is real when you have an uncontrollable burden for the lost and you know hell exists, you believe in the immediate agony of hellfire and you are compelled, out of love and with compassion, to proclaim Christ to the lost. Ask your pastor to go out with you and share the gospel. Get some other students, and some other families, and go to a sporting event and hand out tracts and talk to people about Christ. You know the gospel -- of course you do. If you’re converted, the truth that you know and believe in, that’s what you must share with others. You don’t need a degree in theology nor do you need to be an expert. God uses clay pots and weak messengers who faithfully impart the gospel (God’s character, man’s utter depravity and helplessness, God’s provision in Christ and His atonement, His righteousness, and His resurrection, and the demand to repent of sin and turn to Christ in faith alone and to follow Him) so that His elect will believe and be saved! Do this! Be busy in winning souls! 
  • Finally, get people together to pray. Yes, have a few folks over after church to pray for the sermon, the flock, the families, the children, the lost. Pray for visitors. Pray for newcomers. Pray for the youth. Pray for the leaders. Get people together on a Monday night to seek God’s face and earnestly plead for revival. If your church has a mid-week prayer meeting, drop everything and attend it! Make every possible effort to be there, be on time, participate, pray, and contribute. See God work and answer prayer! If your church doesn’t have one, then get some folks together and pray through every member of the church, for the leadership, for the worship, for the purity of the church, for courage.

5. Read a Book!
You’re already going to be quite busy if you take to heart what has already been encouraged of you. But even still, in addition to your reading of Scripture, pick a good Christian book to work through for the edification of your soul. Some examples may be: Mark Dever, 9 Marks of a Healthy Church, or Thabiti Anyabwile, What Is a Healthy Church Member? Or, John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus, or, Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in Our Holiness, or J.C. Ryle, Holiness, or Charles Spurgeon, The Soul Winner, or Al Baker, Revival Prayer, or Paul Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands. Pick one of these books and work through it, little by little. Read it prayerfully, practically and apply it to your heart. And after you have applications on your heart, implement it into your life. Pray through what should change and then make diligent efforts to make/incorporate those changes in your life. Read a book and read it well. Chew on it. May your soul be edified by learning from other godly men who have imparted biblical truth for our edification.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

No greater calling exists, in all the universe, for a mother than the God-given responsibility of being a worker at home and caring for her own children. No prestige, money, fame, social status, or honor that the world gives could ever remotely come close to the supremely high calling of motherhood. Indeed, no calling in all the world is more difficult than that of the full-time task of motherhood. The Bible clearly presents motherhood as a supremely high responsibility for all women with children. To abdicate this role is to lose everything. A most pitiful woman would be one with the highest accolades in the corporate world, an untouchable reputation, comfortable paychecks, an ever-growing social network, and honorable achievements in her workforce but at the same time her home life is a wreck. God’s design for women with children is to be workers at home and to be busy doing what He has perfectly called and designed them to do.

The high calling of motherhood includes the following seven responsibilities.

1) Teaching
Solomon exhorts his son not to forsake the teaching of his mother (Prov 6:20). Clearly his mother played a crucial part of teaching the children. The father is absent much of the day because he is at work. But the one who spends most of the time with the children is the mother. She is there in the morning, at play time, during room time, for discipline, and for meals around the table. There are endless opportunities for teaching that exist in the home from day to day. As the mother observes sin, disciplines her children, instructs them on safety, exhorts them to respect authority, and pleads with them to love others more than themselves, abundant opportunities exist for the teaching of the children. But most of all, the mother is one who takes the Word of God and teaches her children the sacred writings which are able to give salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (2 Tim 3:15).

2) Modeling
Young Timothy had a godly grandmother, Lois, as well as a godly mother, Eunice. These women had a sincere faith and modeled it for young Timothy (2 Tim 1:5). As he grew up, Timothy was able to observe his mother walk with God, live for Christ, study the Word, and teach him the truth of Scripture relentlessly. Mothers must model godliness for the children. Much can be taught, but much more is caught. Children must observe their mother confess her sin when she has sinned against God (and others). They must hear her repent of sin. They must see her committed to holiness, fervent in prayer, and regular in studying Scripture. Children must see their mother endeavor to live quietly in the home as she submits to her own husband in everything. They must see purity on TV, hear purity from the music, observe holiness in her conversations, and watch piety in her conduct. A godly mother must model Christ for her children.

3) Evangelizing
The preeminent responsibility of every parent is to regularly give the gospel of salvation to the children so that they may be saved from divine wrath. The mother takes the Word and brings it to bear daily as the children sin. When the mother is in the room giving discipline to small children for their sin, she opens the Word, shows them where they sinned against God, and after the discipline occurs, she lovingly embraces the child and presents the grace of God in Christ. A godly mother has one preeminent ambition in her calling as a mother and that is to see her children be born again by God to a living hope. Yet, the mother fully recognizes her absolute inability to save her children from divine wrath. She knows her children’s hearts are wildly sinful (Jer 17:9) and raging against God (Prov 19:3). She believes that God alone saves sinners by grace (Eph 2:8-9). She pleads with her children to be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:20) and to be justified by faith alone (Rom 3:24). Her life and her mothering could be summed up in this one phrase: the relentless pursuit of winning her children’s souls to Christ, a glorious Savior.

4) Discipling
God calls all Christians to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19-20). This discipling includes the instructing and teaching of all that Christ commanded. Motherhood entails discipleship. A godly mother leads her children to the cross but she also instructs them in how to walk in the shadow of the cross. Children need to be instructed in biblical truth (Deut 6:7). God entrusts the unspeakable responsibility and important duty of showing the children what it looks like for a young Daniel to walk with God, for a teenage Joseph to obey His God, for a young King Joash to honor his God, and for the young King Josiah to lead with humility and godliness. Parents must disciple with intentionality and with regularity. Motherhood provides no breaks, no rests, no days off, and allows for no slacking off. The high calling that God gives to all mothers is to disciple the souls of her children toward Christ and in Christlikeness.

5) Praying
Hannah fervently prayed to God for a son since she was barren (1 Sam 1:15, 19-20). God heard the pouring out of her soul in prayer and he remembered her and answered her by allowing her to conceive and bear a son (1 Sam 1:27). She prayed fervently and with earnestness for a son and then when God granted that request, she gave her boy back to God (1 Sam 1:28). Then she prayed and exalted her God (1 Sam 2:1ff). Hannah prayed with zeal, she poured out her soul, she prayed in her praying, she took hold of God, and she gave God no rest until He heard and until He answered her requests. The power of motherhood comes on the knees. In the weak moments and in the sleepless nights, unspeakable power comes to those who cry out in prayer and seek God’s face in heartfelt prayer on behalf of her children. A woman who prays for the souls of her children truly loves them and a woman who labors long for their souls is a woman who longs to be with her children far beyond the years in this world. A mother must humbly come to God and regularly bring her children to God so that he would bring the fire of salvation to the wood of her teaching. Godly mothers labor for their children, not for physical needs merely, but for their souls preeminently.

6) Trusting
A godly mother trusts in the Lord with all her heart (Prov 3:5). She knows that it is better to trust in the Lord than to trust in man (Ps 118:8). She confidently believes in her God and knows that He is ever faithful. She affirms the Word of God that her children are holy through the influence of a godly parent (1 Cor 7:15). She trusts that God will bless her labors and that he will save her children through the relentless and ongoing instruction in the gospel. She does not presume in the salvation of her children but she prays in faith and believes that God will bless the dwelling of the righteous (Prov 3:33). A mother has the unspeakable privilege of trusting in her God not only in the affairs of everyday life but also for the eternal welfare of her children.

7) Persevering
Mothering is tiring. To care for little, helpless infants at all hours of the day quickly drains a mother’s energy. Going back into that room for corporal punishment after that (same) child has sinned (again) by thundering out verbal anger can sap a mother’s strength. Ministering the gospel to teenage children wrestling with rejection from friends, a bad grade on that test, and feeling rejected by a coach can be time-consuming. Yet the high calling of motherhood demands that she persevere even through tiring times. She knows that she must seek the Lord and His strength (Ps 105:4). She waits on the Lord and affirms that in doing so she will gain new strength and that she will run and not grow tired (Isa 40:31). She believes that she must not grow weary in doing good (2 Thess 3:13). She knows that in her mothering, she must be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Eph 6:10). So she perseveres through all the dirty diapers, she endures through all the discipline situations each day, she continues to give grace and gospel truth to her children even when they are selfish, unloving, and rude. And she reminds herself that after she has suffered even for a little while that the God of all grace, who called her to His eternal glory in Christ, will perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish her (1 Peter 5:10). And so, she perseveres. When she is weak, she is strong. When she feels broken, she is healed through Christ’s gospel. And when she feels like all is hopeless, she hopes in God’s unchanging power and in His matchless faithfulness. And so, the high calling of motherhood entails a mom who perseveres.

“But whatever else you neglect, do not neglect to follow your children with your daily prayers. Very often, this is the only thing which is left to mothers. Their children are either removed far from them, or, if near, they have lost their influence over them. But there is One, who is near to them, and who can influence them. O mothers! plead for your dear offspring at the throne of grace; travail in birth for them a second time--may they be born again. God is gracious. God will regard the fervent, persistent cry of Christian mothers.”
— Archibald Alexander

Never could it be possible for any man to estimate what he owes to a godly mother. Certainly I have not the powers of speech with which to set forth my valuation of the choice blessing which the Lord bestowed on me in making me the son of one who prayed for me, and prayed with me. How can I ever forget her tearful eye when she warned me to escape from the wrath to come?... How can I ever forget when she bowed her knee, and with her arms about my neck, prayed, "Oh, that my son might live before Thee!"
— Charles Spurgeon

A mother’s power always lies in the fact that she prays for her child!
— Abraham Kuyper

Saturday, May 9, 2015

How To Get the Unction [Power] of the Spirit!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Mighty men of God are used mightily of God not because of their gifts or abilities but because of their mighty weakness. The power of God overcomes the weakness of His messengers so that the mighty gospel produces a miraculous, eternal, sovereign change in the hearts of God’s elect. Men of God must recover this absolute, necessary, and desperate dependence upon the sovereign power of the Spirit of God to produce any spiritual fruit in preaching. What is unction? Unction refers to the work of God the Spirit in attending the declared Word of God with supernatural power. In a word, God’s men have simple dependence upon spiritual aid. The man of God must desperately ask for and confidently trust in the Spirit of God to help him, empower him, fill him, and speak through Him so as to bring results in the preaching event.

But, one may ask, how does one get the unction of the Spirit?  This essay provides four simple reminders to every preacher.

1. Pray earnestly!
Perhaps nothing brings the power of the Spirit of God upon the man of God who preaches the Word of God more than earnest, fervent, relentless, believing, and desperate prayers of the minister. Preaching is a supernatural event. It is, to be sure, quite odd. A man rises to a pulpit with a Book in his hand only to speak for the glory of God and to bring about change in his hearers and yet he himself, as the communicator, has no ability or power to produce any real, internal, heart-change in the hearers whatsoever. He preaches and calls on men to do something and yet he is utterly unable to accomplish that change as he utters, as he speaks, as he delivers, as he heralds. All this points to the absolute dependence upon the Spirit of God working through the message and using the very weakness of the man himself in delivering that divine truth so that souls are forever changed, hearts are immediately wooed to Christ’s loveliness, and lives are  diligently changed into conformity of Jesus Christ. The man with the Word of God who speaks for God to people must pray earnestly as if any results that could possibly attend the preaching of the Word depend solely and fully on the Spirit. Because, it does. So, man of God, pray earnestly! In your prayers, pray! In your praying, pray! In your desperation, pray! Pray on!

2. Live Holy!
God uses holy men. He does not use strong men but He glorifies Himself and His majestic power in using weak men. But these weak men must be holy men. Just as a pipe must be clean in order for the water to purely pass through without being polluted, so the man of God, as God’s instrument, must be clean so that the pureness of the Word would pass through without being impotent. God chooses to use holy messengers. He does not need more men; He uses pure men. God does not ask for myriads of helpers to assist with the preaching of the Word; God takes His Word and entrusts it to seriously pious and consistently holy men with an indomitable craving for holiness and with a relentless pursuit of Christlikeness out of sheer love for the Triune God. The man who accomplishes great things is always a pure man. God does not use hypocrites to preach the Word and produce His work for long. How does a man of God preach with unction and with the anointing of God’s Spirit? He must be a pure, holy, blameless, above-reproach man. Man of God: live purely! Flee from sin! Fly to Christ! Abstain from impurities!

3. Seek Others' Intercession!
To get the unction of the Spirit, ministers of God must seek the intercessory aid of other believers who seek God and pray to God on his behalf. Paul did this frequently. He would ask believers to pray for him and to ask for an open door. He would beg churches to pray that he would speak with boldness and go forth with God’s power and speak God’s message the way that it ought to be declared. He sought the churches to help him in his Spirit-endowed power. To get unction in the preaching ministry, men of God must entreat his people to labor diligently, believingly, daily, and specifically in prayer. The power of ministry comes from dependence on prayer. Praying to God and begging for the Spirit of God produces supernatural fruit as God works through the message (and in spite of the messenger) to the hearers. Thus, if a man aspires to a real Spiritual anointing in his ministry, let him humbly, honestly, and desperately beg for believers to intercede on his behalf before the throne of grace in the time of need.

4. Again—Ask earnestly!
The Spirit does not attend the Word preached when the preachers have not asked for supernatural enabling and grace. The Spirit does not bring eternal, effectual, powerful results in ministries where prayer is not central. To refuse to pray proves the arrogance and haughtiness of the minister. To pray in desperation is urgent! To pray with confidence is comforting. To pray with frequency is joyous. To pray to God for spiritual help is paramount. God’s men must ask God for help. The man with God’s message must ask God to attend every part of his preaching — from his clarity, to his delivery, to his orderliness, to his command, to his authority, to his application, to his pauses, to his gestures, to his seriousness, to his power. All of the preaching event must be offered up in prayer as sweet-smelling incense upon the divine altar. He must pray, and pray again, and pray more, and pray in his praying, and pray confidently, and then pray desperately. Let the man of God, in his preparation and in his study, pray for the power of the Spirit to come upon him so that he would preach with Almighty power. Especially right before the minister preaches, he should spend as much time as possible earnestly asking for the Spirit to consume him, help him, attend his words, and make them like fiery, divine shafts which pierce even the hardest of stony hearts. Let him entreat God to loosen his lips so that every word that he speaks would be God’s words. Again, every man of God should seek God’s power by asking for it! So in all the preparation, and with all the outlining, and with all the planning, let the minister ask the Spirit of God earnestly to come with power, to rend the heavens, and to descend upon him so that he may mightily preach, in his weakness and yet in God’s strength, so that souls would be won for eternity!

Download the pdf here.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Charles Spurgeon addresses this...

"It is said by some that children cannot understand the great mysteries of religion. We even know some Sunday-school teachers who cautiously avoid mentioning the great doctrines of the gospel, because they think the children are not prepared to receive them. Alas! the same mistake has crept into the pulpit; for it is currently believed, among a certain class of preachers, that many of the doctrines of the Word of God, although true, are not fit to be taught to the people, since they would pervert them to their own destruction. Away with such priestcraft! Whatever God has revealed ought to be preached. Whatever HE has revealed, if I am not capable of understanding it, I will still believe and preach it. I do hold that there is no doctrine of the Word of God which a child, if he be capable of salvation, is not capable of receiving. I would have children taught all the great doctrines of truth without a solitary exception, that they may in their after days hold fast by them.

    I can bear witness that children can understand the Scriptures; for I am sure that, when but a child, I could have discussed many a knotty point of controversial theology, having heard both sides of the question freely stated among my father's circle of friends. In fact, children are capable of understanding some things in early life, which we hardly understand afterwards. Children have eminently a simplicity of faith, and simplicity of faith is akin to the highest knowledge; indeed, I know not that there is much distinction between the simplicity of a child and the genius of the profoundest mind. He who receives things simply, as a child, will often have ideas which the man who is prone to make a syllogism of everything will never attain unto. If you wish to know whether children can be taught, I point you to many in our churches, and in pious families,—not prodigies, but such as we frequently see,—Timothys and Samuels, and little girls, too, who have early come to know a Saviour's love. As soon as a child is capable of being lost, it is capable of being saved. As soon as a child can sin, that child can, if God's grace assist it, believe and receive the Word of God. As soon as children can learn evil, be assured that they are competent, under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, to learn good."

Saturday, May 2, 2015

True Marriage:
The Only Valid Definition of Marriage
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

What Is Marriage?
Marriage is an institution created by God (Gen 2:18-24) as one man joins himself to one woman (Gen 2:24) in an unbreakable covenant (Mal 2:14) for life (1 Cor 7:39; Rom 7:1-2). Marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman for life. The joining together of any other people is not sanctioned by God and thus does not fit within the parameters of marriage (e.g., same-sex marriage, bestiality, etc.).

What Is the Meaning of Marriage?
The reason the definition of marriage is so exclusive is because the meaning of marriage is so emphatic. In the Bible, God provides the meaning of marriage in very clear, explicit terms. The Bible says a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh (Eph 5:30; cf. Gen 2:24). The Bible speaks of this union between one man and one woman as a mystery — that is, something that was formerly unknown (though it existed) yet now it has been fully revealed. The marriage relationship, of course, existed yet the fullest meaning of marriage was not clearly expressed until the New Testament when Jesus died for His Church. This mystery (of marriage) is great and the Bible says that it refers to Christ and the Church. That clearly affirms that marriage is ultimately a visible picture of a spiritual reality. The way a husband loves his wife must reflect the love that Jesus Christ, the ultimate Bridegroom, has for His Bride. And the way a wife submits to and follows her husband, the head, ought to display the way the church submits to and follows her Head, Jesus Christ.

What Are Some Blessings of Marriage?
1. Companionship
One of the chief blessings that marriage brings is companionship. A husband and his wife are best friends who enjoy the company with each other, and treasure each other and the time that they spend with each other in edification, joy, and pleasure.

2. Procreation
God has designed the marriage covenant to also bring about procreation. When the husband and wife come together sexually, God blesses them with children. Children are a blessing from the Lord and they should be seen as a blessing not a hindrance.

3. Pleasure
The marriage relationship brings sexual pleasure both to the husband and to the wife. The husband makes it his supreme goal to fulfill his duty to his wife by striving to please her and the wife endeavors to fulfill her husband’s desires by serving him. Sexual pleasure is always and only to come only within the marriage relationship and never outside with any outside person.

4. Sanctification
The ultimate meaning of marriage is to display the gospel of Jesus Christ visibly and demonstrably and so one of the chief blessings of marriage is that God gives the husband and wife to each other as a chief instrument/means of sanctification.

5. Testimony
Before a watching world the way a husband and wife treat each other provides a testimony to an unbelieving world the gospel of grace. Also, the couple testifies daily in the home to God’s grace and gospel to their children in pursuing their salvation.

Download the pdf here.
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