Tuesday, June 30, 2015

This is the next in the ongoing blog-series on "The New Birth"
The IRRESISTIBILITY of the New Birth
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

When God chooses to rebirth a man, that person will most definitely be changed. None can resist the powerful working of God. God has ordained all things that will ever happen and all things will come about precisely and perfectly the way that He foreordained it to happen. Nothing will ever remain unfulfilled. No person will ever die unconverted if God has elected them. One who is born again -- or, born from above -- is drawn to Christ by God alone (John 6:44). Indeed, it is the power of God that draws sinners to salvation. All of this affirms the reality that the regeneration that God imparts to sinners is irresistible.

The irresistibility of the new birth is seen, proven, and extolled in the following headings.

1) The picture of regeneration. Jesus spoke to Nicodemus in John 3 and provided a very simple illustration of the new birth. The illustration was simple, straightforward, taken from nature, and one that Nicodemus certainly could understand. Quite simply, the “wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). Many points come to the surface in a careful study of this verse. But, specifically, one should understand the simple picture that Jesus uses to illustrate regeneration. Jesus likens the new birth to wind. Wind blows wherever it wishes and none can resist it. Wind is invisible, it is powerful, it is irresistible, it is beyond human control. That is exactly what Jesus conveys with this image. In the same way that people do not know where wind comes from nor where wind is going, so it is with the new birth. No one can determine where it comes from nor where it is going. It is an invisible, powerful, divine, supernatural, instantaneous, beyond-human-control event. The picture of new birth is like the wind, something that is far beyond the reach and grasp of mere human hands as it far exceeds the human grasp.

2) The perversion of mankind. Jesus description of the new birth unveils, also, the perversion of mankind. If the new birth is an irresistible working of God that happens to the sinner, it emphasizes the utter perversion of all men. That is, men -- all humans -- desperately need this new birth to escape the wrath of God. But no man can do this to themselves. No man has the power or the ability to do it. Man is too perverted, too warped, too deceived, too in love with himself.

3) The power of God. That Jesus illustrates the new birth with wind blowing wherever it wishes also shows the power of God. Just as God brings the wind, directs the wind, controls the wind, removes the wind, commands the wind, and stills the wind, so it is the same power of God that brings this regeneration to spiritually dead sinners. The new birth comes from God and it glorifies the unrivaled, unequaled, unfathomable, and untiring power of God.

4) The preeminence of conversion. If the new birth is a gift from God imparted to the sinner, then it extols the preeminence of this miraculous event. The sinner does not want it; he’s dead. But God, in grace and in power, brings the new birth to dead sinners irresistibly and gloriously!
This is the next part in the ongoing blog series on "The New Birth"
The CLEANSING of the New Birth
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

What Jesus told Nicodemus should have immediately brought Scriptures from Ezekiel to mind. Jesus told the teacher of Israel, who read and knew the Hebrew Bible, that he must be born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5). To see the kingdom of God, Jesus clearly told Nicodemus that he desperately had a need. And that need was spiritual in nature. It was a new birth, a supernatural, God-given miracle, that would make him clean. But what is the nature of this cleansing that comes from the new birth?

To understand Jesus’ phrase that unless one is born of water and the Spirit, one must turn back to Ezekiel 36. In Ezekiel 36, the prophet speaks to the house of Israel (v.22) and speaks on behalf of God and how He will act for His Name and for His glory among all the nations (vv.22-23). God clarifies what He will do to the people of Israel. He reveals that He will take Israel from the lands and bring them back to their own land and that God will sprinkle clean water on them and they will be clean (v.25). When God promises (“I will”) to sprinkle clean water on the people of Israel this signifies cleansing, purification, consecration, and the washing away of past iniquities. God continues: “I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols” (v.25b). God emphatically promises to Israel that in that day when they are regathered into their own land that God Himself will purify and cleanse them from their filth.

Speaking on behalf of the LORD, Ezekiel continues by declaring that God will give them a new heart and put a new spirit within them” (v.26). Not only would God cleanse them from their iniquities by the washing of water but God would also give them a brand-new heart and a new spirit in them. Indeed, God will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and put in them a heart of flesh (v.26b). These verses from Ezekiel are the background for Jesus’ words to Nicodemus in John 3 when He says that Nicodemus must be born of the water and the Spirit (going back to Ezek 36:25-26).

The new birth that God brings about for sinners is not only an exclusive work of God and a supernatural miracle demonstrating His power, but it also proves the sufficient cleansing that the sinner needs to stand righteous before this heavenly Judge. Ezekiel 36:27 promises that God will put His Spirit within those whom He regenerates and He causes them to walk in His statutes and they will be careful to observe His ordinances. All those whom God regenerates, he declares righteous and cleanses (justifies), and all those whom God regenerates and justifies, He performs the work of sanctification in them as they diligently obey His commands. Truly when Jesus tells Nicodemus that a person must be born of water and the Spirit, it is understood that He referred to the thorough cleansing, the divine cleansing, the supernatural cleansing, the instantaneous cleansing, the effectual cleansing; indeed, the perfect cleansing! Nothing else is needed. When God grants the new birth to a sinner by grace, that person is granted new life and cleansed from all his sin because he is washed clean by God’s merciful grace and by His powerful doing. No wonder Paul wrote: “He saved us … by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5). Jesus spoke of the new birth as a wonderful truth: a full, divine cleansing!

Friday, June 26, 2015

This brief-audio blog series is answering the question:  

Why is same-sex marriage [homosexuality, transgenderism, same-sex attraction, LGBTQ, et al] sinful in God's eyes?

This contains all of the messages in this audio-blog series.

Same-Sex Marriage Is Sinful because...
Part 1 = It defies God's created design  |  listen

Part 2 = It refuses to learn from past history  |  listen 

Part 3 = It presents a damning gospel  |  listen

Part 4 = It ignores the coming wrath of God  |  listen

Part 5 = It destroys a people & sends them to hell  |  listen

Part 6 = It attempts, pridefully, to 'play God'  |  listen

Part 7 = It provides no hope of eternal salvation  |  listen

Conclusion: The hope available to the homosexuals  |  listen

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 — Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

This brief-audio blog series is answering the question:  

Why is same-sex marriage [homosexuality, transgenderism, same-sex attraction, LGBTQ, et al] sinful in God's eyes?

This contains 6 of the 7 audios in this audio-blog series.

Same-Sex Marriage Is Sinful because...
Part 1 = It defies God's created design  |  listen

Part 2 = It refuses to learn from past history  |  listen 

Part 3 = It presents a damning gospel  |  listen

Part 4 = It ignores the coming wrath of God  |  listen

Part 5 = It destroys a people & sends them to hell  |  listen

Part 6 = It attempts, pridefully, to 'play God'  |  listen

The 7th and final part will follow in coming days. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

This brief-audio blog series is answering the question:  

Why is same-sex marriage [homosexuality, transgenderism, same-sex attraction, LGBTQ, et al] sinful in God's eyes?

This contains 4 of the 7 audios in this series.
Same-Sex Marriage Is Sinful because...
Part 1 = It defies God's created design  |  listen

Part 2 = It refuses to learn from past history  |  listen 

Part 3 = It presents a damning gospel  |  listen

Part 4 = It ignores the coming wrath of God  |  listen

The next 3 parts will follow in coming days. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Brief audio blogs answering the question: Why is same-sex marriage [homosexuality, same-sex attraction, transgenderism, et al] sinful?

Same-Sex Marriage Is Sinful because...
Part 1 = It defies God's created design  |  listen

Part 2 = It refuses to learn from past history  |  listen

Monday, June 22, 2015

The LGBT community has made many claims about itself and about how they believe Christians ought to relate to those in the community.

I provide many of their claims with biblical responses here.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

From JC Ryle:

Are you a dying believer? Have you gone to that bed from which something within tells you you will never come down alive? Are you drawing near to that solemn hour, when soul and body must part for a season, and you must launch into a world unknown? Oh, look steadily at the cross of Christ by faith, and you shall be kept in peace! Fix the eyes of your mind firmly, not on a man-made crucifix—but on Jesus crucified, and He shall deliver you from all your fears. Though you walk through dark places, He will be with you. He will never leave you—never forsake you. Sit under the shadow of the cross to the very last, and its fruit shall be sweet to your taste. "Ah," said a dying missionary, "there is but one thing needful on a death-bed, and that is to feel one's arms around the cross!"
I lay these thoughts before your mind. What you think now about the cross of Christ, I cannot tell. But I can wish you nothing better than this—that you may be able to say with the Apostle Paul, before you die or meet the Lord, "God forbid that I should boast—except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!
This is the next part in the ongoing blog-series on the New Birth.
The SOVEREIGNTY of the New Birth
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The new birth comes from God -- and God alone. No one can pick, choose, determine, plan, or resist the working of God as He accomplishes this act in the soul of a sinner. In a word, the new birth is a sovereign work of God. That means that it is a supernatural act, a royal act, a kingly act, an exclusively-divine act. None can resist when God brings the new birth. None can reject it. None can refuse it. And none can resist His power. This is the glory of the sovereignty of God’s power as He puts it on display through the regeneration -- new birth -- of a soul.

James speaks of the sovereignty of this new birth when he writes: “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth” (James 1:18a). The Greek reads: βουληθεὶς ἀπεκύησεν ἡμᾶς λόγῳ ἀληθείας. This means that God caused us to be born [ἀπεκύησεν] all by the determined decree of God’s sovereign will [βουληθεὶς]. And the means by which God brought this about what through the Word of Truth [λόγῳ ἀληθείας] -- that is, the Scriptures.

In this text, the absolute and unrivaled sovereignty of the new birth comes to light. Not only is it working from God alone (Ezek 36:25-27) but it also, from the James text, consists of an outworking of God’s eternally, foreordained, unchanging and unfailing decree. James says that by God’s will, He brought us forth. A few important concepts arise at this point.

1) The WILL of God. This will speaks of the decreed, unchanging, eternal, foreordained, uninfluenced purposes of God. This is not the desirous will but it speaks more of the decreed and supreme will of the sovereign over heaven and earth. The new birth happens, ultimately, because of the sovereign decree and eternal purpose of God. No one approaches the King and tells Him what to do, forces Him to act, or sways Him, or influences Him, to act in a particular way. He is unchanging, uninfluenced, perfect, eternal, and glorious. And yet, it is by this perfect decree that He imparts the new birth -- by grace, by His plan, through His purposes, for His glory.

2) The WORKING of God. The verb is singular in the original Greek. The Bible does not say that we birthed ourselves with God’s help. It does not suggest that God brings about the new birth as we cooperate with Him. Rather, the verb is singular which underscores the monergistic work (=‘working-of-one’) of God in the act of the new birth. He brought us forth. God causes people to be born again. It is God who starts the birthing process, who imparts the new life, and who sustains the new life -- all by His power and for His renown.

3) The WORSHIP to God. This sovereign act of the new birth must result in the praise of His glory. He elected His people and He predestined them to adoption as sons. And the bringing about of this in their lives is the wondrous act of regeneration. The newly converted sinner, then, worships His God. He has a new nature and cannot not praise His Savior. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above -- from the Father of Lights (James 1:19). The working of God in bringing about the new birth, by His doing and by His decree is brought to light and it propels the regenerated person to honor, worship, obey, and savor this Sovereign God!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

This is part 4 of the ongoing blog-series on the New Birth.
The GLORY of the New Birth
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The monergistic working of God in accomplishing the new birth points to the unspeakable glory, the unfathomable grace, and the unrivaled character of God. Nothing in all the universe can compare with the mighty mercy of God in causing spiritually decaying and filthy corpses to rise to new spiritual life by the sovereign breath of the Spirit. Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. None can glory except in what God has done through Christ by means of the Spirit of life.

1) This glory of the new birth points to the SOURCE of the new birth. All glory goes to God alone. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. The true nature of the new birth comes from God -- and it can only come from God. Flesh gives birth to flesh. But it is the Spirit that gives birth to spirit. What can revive spiritually dead souls? None but the Spirit Himself. Thus, the source of the new birth -- the Spirit of God -- highlights the glory of this supernatural process.

2) This glory of the new birth points to the GOAL of the new birth. All glory is directed ultimately to God through the entire process of the new birth. Regeneration does not end with new life. New life continues through the person’s life and takes them to eternity. That is, the very moment that the Spirit imparts spiritual life, the newly converted sinner enjoys the blessings of eternal life throughout the entirety of his life as he battles for holiness and till he awaits the beatific vision in glory. All of this points to the ultimate goal: Christlikeness in the Christian that brings about glory to God!

3) This glory of the new birth points to the RESULTS of the new birth. Regeneration changes a man not only inwardly in his soul but outwardly as he now is supernaturally enabled and miraculously willing to obey God. Before regeneration, the natural man cannot obey God, nor does he want to. But when God has worked, the result of new life brings about growth, like that of a tree. Over the course of time, it grows, it strengthens, it bears much fruit, it’s healthy and flourishing.

4) This glory of the new birth points to the UNIQUENESS of the new birth. No other creature in all the vast universe can bring about this new birth. Nothing in all the world can be likened to this instantaneous, God-worked, miraculous process. Only God can grant life. Only God can raise the dead. Only the Spirit of life can breathe the breath of salvation into rotten and abominable transgressors to make them beautiful and cherished possessions of the Master!

5) This glory of the new birth points to the GRACE of the new birth. The new birth comes to the sinner by the uninfluenced grace of God. None raise their hand and initiate this process. Corpses can’t move. This glorious working exclaims the matchless and mighty grace of the God.

6) This glory of the new birth points to the PRAISE for the new birth. It is only those who are born again who see the kingdom of God. And it’s in that kingdom where endless praise happens! Unrelenting, unmitigated, untiring worship occurs there! Let regeneration prompt praise to God.
This is part 3 of an ongoing blog-series on The New Birth

The IMPOSSIBILITY of the New Birth
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The very fact that Jesus told Nicodemus that in order for him to enter the kingdom of God he must receive the new birth shows that it is utterly impossible for him (or, for any man) to bring about this new birth by his own powers. Nicodemus heard Jesus speak and stood baffled at what the Son of God said. He couldn’t wrap his self-righteous mind around this. How could a person be born again? In fact, Nicodemus asked the Savior: “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he” (John 3:4). Nicodemus is not a fool. He is extremely smart as he is the teacher of Israel (John 3:10). He wasn’t being silly by asking how he could crawl back into his mother’s womb. As a Jew of Jews, he affirmed that from the very beginning of his life, he endeavored to be as righteous as he possibly could be and he wondered how he could start over again. In other words, he wondered how he, such an old man, could begin anew and try again.

But Jesus spoke to the absolute impossibility of this new birth in John 3:5 when he said that “unless you are born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” This speaks to the utter inability of Nicodemus (and thus, any other religious person) to attain eternal life by their own merit. These words from Jesus allude back to Ezekiel 36 in the context of the New Covenant and the work of God that He, and He alone, would do to His people.

For instance, God promised glorious promises to His people by stating: “I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean” (Ezek 36:25). Then he said: “I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols (Ezek 36:25b). Furthermore: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you” (Ezek 36:26). Right after that he promised: “I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and I will give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek 36:26b). And finally: “I will put my Spirit within you and I will cause you to walk in my statutes and you will be careful to observe my ordinances” (Ezek 36:27). When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, he alluded to these verses by affirming all of the divine promises of redemption for His people — all found in the phrases: “I will…” (Ezek 36:25-27). This underscores the impossibility of humans achieving the new birth. No man can ever attain this salvation on his own. Nor can be birth himself again spiritually.

Even the illustration that Christ used in speaking with Nicodemus emphasizes the impossibility of giving oneself spiritual life. Christ speaks of the birthing process. That is to say, as impossible as it is for a person to birth himself the first time physically, so absolutely incomprehensible that he would be able to birth himself a second time spiritually. Just as the person was passive in the physical birthing process so he is passive in the spiritual new-birth. When God grants new life from above, the sinner receives life as a gift of God. He cannot earn it. He does nothing to achieve or contribute to it even in the slightest. It is utterly an impossibility. Just as the birthing process happens to the person so the spiritual birth from above happens to the sinner. This all shows that the new birth is an absolute impossibility by human powers and capabilities. But God, however, can do the impossible and He, He alone, imparts new spiritual life to sinners by grace!

Monday, June 15, 2015

This upcoming weekend, many individuals and families will gather at Logan Valley Christian Retreat for the annual CFBC retreat -- getaway!

The theme this year is: BODY LIFE IN THE LOCAL CHURCH

The weekend will be a wonderful time to get to know others in the church and the weekend will focus specifically on specific texts from Galatians 5-6 that direct our attention to body life in the local church.

4 Messages:

1. Session #1 Friday PM - The Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
2. Session #2 Saturday AM - Bearing One Another's Burdens (Galatians 6:1-2)
3. Session #3 Saturday PM - Through Love, Serving One Another (Galatians 5:13)
4. Session #4 Sunday AM - Boasting Only in the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 6:14)

If you cannot join us, all of the audios will be available at the CFBC media page.

And please be in much prayer for the retreat -- 
- that relationships would be formed
- that friendships would grow
- that Christ would strengthen His church
- that the Spirit would empower His messengers who will preach the Word

See you this weekend!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Don’t Return to the Vomit!
Biblical Counsel for God’s People
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The Bible addresses real issues of life. One can confidently turn to the Word of God to find comfort in afflictions, guidance in uncertainties, strength in weakness, warnings against sin, and commands for Christians. The Scriptures speak of how the people of God must view sin. Sin is a terrible evil. It woos, it traps, it kisses, and then it kills. Sin whispers that its a friend till in the end it slaughters with a death-blow. But the Bible provides the truth that God’s people must heed to mortify sin and to guard from patterns of evil.

Like a dog that returns to its vomit, is a fool who repeats his folly.
— Proverbs 26:11

This essay will provide a few helpful thoughts concerning this verse & its application.

1. Be sensitive to sin & inform your conscience by Scripture.
The people of God must inform their consciences regularly with biblical truth so that the conscience is tender toward sin. Believers must not allow their consciences to become calloused and hardened. Reading the Word, understanding what He says, reflecting on the gospel, being in awe of God and His character, and seeking true godliness is what Christians must constantly attend to. This will keep them sensitive to sin, focused on Christ, and zealous toward holiness.

2. Going back to vomit is disgusting.
Everyone has seen it. The dog will return to its own vomit and begin to lick it up. Everyone sees it and everyone makes a sour face when it occurs. This precisely is the picture that Solomon brings to mind when he talks about a person returning again to that same sin. This is the person who falls into transgression and refuses to repent of it, mortify it, and slaughter it. He, in fact, enjoys the sin (or, part of the sin) and stubbornly holds on to it. The man who sins and does not kill it and take diligent efforts to eradicate that sin from his life is in a dangerous situation. It’s as if he is walking back to the vomit of his sin that he committed before. He walks toward it, he smells it, he circles it a few times, he looks at it, he makes sure others aren’t nearby and then he begins to lick that putrid pile of abominable vomit again. Don’t go back to your vomit!

3. God labels you a fool if you continually repeat folly.
God holds no punches in the Word of God. He does not flatter. He lovingly speaks truth and reproves evildoers. The person who sins and then returns to that same sin again (and, repeatedly) is a fool. He lives foolish in his practical affairs and he conducts himself stubbornly in religious matters. He has no regard for God and is hard-hearted toward the gospel. He is not sensitive toward sin nor is he demonstrating a longing after Christlikeness. This foolish person opposes God, rejects Scripture, refuses to believe, and reveals a hardened heart. Don’t go to the vomit and be this kind of fool.

In light of all this, what are some practical helps to set upon your heart?

1. Get God's Wisdom from Scripture
The greatest book in all the world is God’s Book. Nothing is more important in all the universe than having the divine, perfect, sufficient, and unchanging revelation from Almighty God contained in the Bible. So, child of God, learn it. Study it. Get God’s wisdom from the Word of God. The Bible makes wise the simple. It imparts understanding. It contains the mind of God. It is, in fact, the Truth. The Bible is more relevant than any current event that could happen tomorrow. Since this is true, know the Bible, read it, and imbibe God’s wisdom from Scripture.

2. Inform your conscience & keep it tender.
Returning to sin will kill. Like someone who tries an addictive substance, if he returns to it again and again, it’ll eventually kill him. So it is with sin. What’s the safeguard? Read the Word and let it inform your conscience by the truth contained in it. Let Scripture be your guard in life, your standard for life, your map toward holiness, and your comfort in distress. Keep your conscience tender by swimming in the sweet waters of Scripture. Be tender toward sin. The conscience is a gift from God and this mechanism alerts you as to when you’ve violated the internal law -- warning system that God has put inside you. Keep it tender. Don’t let it become callous.

3. Confess your sin, receive God's forgiveness & forsake it.
Be constant in confession. Be daily in devotion. Be regular in repentance. If you make no war with sin, then be sure that sin’s battle against you will ultimately turn out for its victory and your demise. If you have any desire to be holy as a child of God you must be constant before the Throne of Grace bringing your requests to God, seeking the grace of Christ, and receiving the abundant pardon available in the gospel. Confess your sins and then abandon them. Make the decisive break with them once and for all. Allow no pet sins. Have no cherished, or beloved, sin. Don’t permit secret sins in your soul. Slaughter the entirety of your sin. He who amputates a leg has not killed the whole person. Don’t cut off a finger of your sin and think that you’ve dealt adequately with it. Mortify it and replace it with a holy zeal for Christlikeness and gospel-delight.

4. Resolve to live purely & NOT return to, sniff & then eat your vomit again.
As abominable as the thought is of returning to your vomit so abominable should it be to consider returning to a sin again. Let the people of God recognize God’s view of sin. He likens it to vomit. And the stupidity of returning to that particular sin is akin to turning around, seeking, and finding pleasure in that vomit. What a heinous thought! How disturbing. Let God’s truth remind God’s people to be pure in life and be always striving to change. God’s people must repeatedly pray with the psalmist: “Make me walk in the path of your commandments for I delight in it” (Ps 119:35). The Bible says that the one who confesses and forsakes his sin will find compassion (Prov 28:13). Let all true Christians resolve to live holy lives and adamantly refuse, by God’s grace and by the Spirit’s enablement, to return to, sniff, and then eat that old sin-vomit again.

Download the pdf article.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Open air preaching is biblical. It is one divinely-appointed means of proclaiming the gospel to the lost. But the question must be asked: what kind of man should stand, open the Bible, and herald?

The kind of man that may open air preach must be, first and foremost, a converted man. He must have received the full pardon of all His sins by the shed blood of Jesus Christ at Calvary. This man must have himself fled to Jesus Christ before he stands up before crowds and calls them to find refuge in this Savior. He must cling to Christ as Lord and as Savior so that he doesn’t hypocritically call others to do what he himself hasn’t done. He must truly be regenerated. This converted man, indwelt by the Spirit of God, is able then to know the things of God and to proclaim them with power. True unction, Spirit-given empowerment, comes to the man who is saved by God and full of love for God. He is saved and is a new creation. He has a burden for the lost because he knows that, apart from the sovereign grace of God, he would himself still walk on a path headlong for eternal perdition. But praise be to God that His sufficient grace has intervened and saved him. So the open air preacher must genuinely be saved. Otherwise, it’s a mere show, or religious ceremony. God does not want merely more preaching on the streets; God uses godly, converted, burdened, and Christ-loving men who love God, love others, trust the Bible, and are convinced of eternal hell to stand and proclaim the only saving message found in the substitutionary, wrath-bearing atonement of Jesus Christ when he paid for the sins of His people once for all and was raised from the dead for their justification.

2. A PURE Man
The kind of man that may open air preach must not only be pardoned, but he must also be pure. He must be a sanctified man. The herald must be holy. The man who lifts his voice to proclaim Christ must diligently mortify his sin. Those whom God saves He sanctifies. Those whom He regenerates, He changes. Not all men of God who want to preach should. There are some saved men but they’re not diligent in killing sin, pursuing Christ, putting off the old, putting on the new, reading the Word, and praying with fervency and confidence. The open air preacher must be pure. He must meet the qualifications of Scripture. That is, he must be above reproach in his character. He must be a family man before he’s an open air preaching man. He must disciple his wife and shepherd his children adequately. Any man who ignores and abandons his family for the ministry of open air preaching has sinned and must repent, be cleansed, and re-orient his priorities.  He must be self-controlled, not given to any substance, dignified, honorable, having a good reputation with outsiders (especially this pertains to open air preachers who deal with nonbelievers and with civil authorities). He must be, of course, able to teach.

The kind of man who may open air preach must also be a prepared man. The whole life of a preacher is a sort of preparation for every sermon. But he must specifically be preparing for each time he heralds. Preaching is not sharing. It’s not chatting. It’s not gaining a crowd. Preaching is speaking the very words of God to people so that they may hear the Truth that God has revealed, from the man whom God has sent, so the Spirit who has all power, can draw sinners who hear the gospel to Jesus Christ. Thus, the open air preacher must study before he preaches. He must stand and know what he’s going to say. He must not fumble around. God needs no preachers who fumble their way through sermons. Prophets don’t fumble nor do they pontificate. They say God’s words and then they sit down till they have something else to say to the people. Not only must the open air preacher study but he must labor in prayer. O how utterly essential this is. The open air preacher must beg God to come upon him with power! He must beg God to intervene and supernaturally work. The preacher must depend wholly upon God. If he does not pray then he does not trust in God; then he is a prideful man and he must never think he speaks for God. The true open air preacher must labor in prayer for the souls that will hear him on the streets. He must be full of the Spirit, full of the Word, full of prayer, and full of anticipation of what God will do through his weakness, by the gospel, for His own glory!

The kind of man who may open air preach must have much passion. Preaching is not entertainment nor is it a mere lecture. There is teaching in preaching but preaching is not limited to teaching. Preaching is logic on fire. It is a man with a mission because he’s been given a message from God that has burned in his soul and he has one unconquerable passion: to see the dead quickened to new life by faith, and faith alone, in Jesus Christ! The open air preacher has a zealous passion about him because he knows hell is real, the flames are crackling, and life is short. So he knows that every time he preaches, eternity hangs in the balances. He feels the urgency of the moment since there are those who may hear him preach and they may die before they ever hear the gospel uttered again. Eternity may grip them and hell may swallow them. Open air preaching is nothing less than battling for souls. Knowing the fear of the Lord, the Apostle said, Christians persuade men. Open air preachers are not ashamed to beg, that is, to beg sinners to repent and turn to Christ in faith alone. He must have an indomitable zeal to win souls to Christ. He must understand the gospel -- what he’s been saved from and where he is going -- and he must preach as if he can smell the fires of hell and hear the singing of heaven. Eternity is soon-coming! He preaches with a pursuit, a passion, and a purpose: to see spiritual corpses rise to new life by the sovereign working of the Spirit of God through the preached gospel of grace. The preacher must be inflamed with a passion for Christ’s glory and for God’s exaltation. Indeed, the open air preacher must believe in the sovereignty of God. The Spirit draws men to salvation. It is the preacher who makes Christ known, as Paul said, “Him we proclaim.” The preacher must preach Christ and trust God with His work of saving. The preacher must take everyone to Calvary in the faithful declaration of the full gospel and then trust God for the supernatural work of converting the soul.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

This is part 2 of a lengthy blog-series on the new birth.
The NECESSITY of the New Birth
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

As has already been seen, the new birth speaks of the birth from above, that is, a heavenly birth. This heavenly birth comes from God, given by grace, to the sinner in desperate need of supernatural intervention lest he perish in his sins. But the question then arises, just how important is this new birth. Is it really that important for a person to be born again? What if they merely know about God or have an intellectual assent to Jesus Christ? Will this save them? What if they’ve been baptized? Or what if they’ve gone to church and have remained faithful in a local congregation all their lives? What if a person prayed a prayer and was real sincere in uttering those words to accept Jesus into his heart? Don’t these help? Contribute? Work? Save?

In the passage in John 3 when Jesus speaks with Nicodemus, Jesus unequivocally and most lucidly reveals the necessity of this new — heavenly, divine, God-given — birth. In other words, anything else will not save; indeed, anything else cannot save.

In John 3:7, Jesus says to the learned Jewish Nicodemus not to marvel that Jesus said: “it is necessary for you to be born again” [or, born from above]. The specific phrase that this essay hones in upon is: “it is necessary” [δεῖ; dei]. This underscores the absolute necessity of the new birth. The word δεῖ that is translated: “it is necessary” occurs elsewhere in the New Testament translated as “must”. For instance, Jesus began to tell His disciples that he must [δεῖ] go to Jerusalem and suffer many things (Matt 16:21). In this very same context as Jesus speaks with Nicodemus, He says that just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so must [δεῖ] the Son of Man be lifted up (John 3:14). Later in this same chapter, John the Baptist declared: “He must [δεῖ] increase” (John 3:30). Later in John’s Gospel, he wrote that the disciples did not understand the Scripture that Jesus must [δεῖ] rise again from the dead (John 20:9). All off this emphasizes the absolute necessity of something happening. In the context of John 3 and Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus, He unswervingly, unashamedly, and unambiguously affirmed that Nicodemus (and all people, especially Jews in this context; as signified by the plural ‘you’ ὑμᾶς in John 3:7).

The words that come from Christ’s own lips demand that a person be born again to enter heaven. He must be birthed from above. It is absolutely necessary for someone to receive God’s gift of the re-birth to see the kingdom of God. If not, no one will enter. Unless God does the work, no one will make it to heaven. Unless God acts, and initiates, and imparts life, and grants the heavenly birth, no person can make it to heaven. It’s not a matter of a person’s will; it reveals the inability of a person to make it to heaven unless God, and God alone, acts. If a person has not been born again to a new and living hope by the supernatural working of God, then he shall never be saved. Salvation rests on God alone.

The redemption work is a monergistic work — that is, the working of one. It is God who must impart spiritual life to spiritually dead sinners so that they may live, be forgiven, be renewed, and able to follow Him as a way of life.It’s not optional, it’s essential. It’s not up to a person’s will, it’s up to God’s sovereign prerogative and decree. Truly, it is necessary [δεῖ] for you to be born again!
This is the first of a blog series on the new birth.

The MEANING of the New Birth
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Jesus said to Nicodemus, the teacher of Israel, when he approached him and remarked on the signs that He had done: “Truly, truly, I say to you that unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Jesus said the same thing in verse 7: you must be “born again.”  What does it mean, however, to be born again? What does the Greek phrase refer to?

When Jesus told Nicodemus that a man must be born again to enter the kingdom, it behooves every reader to carefully study the text so as to know the divinely-given meaning of this most-important verse. To misunderstand this verse is of grave consequence. To rightly understand it thrusts one to the highest heavens in worship.

To be born again means that one receives the new birth from above. The word that occurs in this passage is ἄνωθεν [anothen] which speaks of being born “from above.” It speaks of the Mercy Seat which sat above (on top of, ἄνωθεν) the Ark of the Covenant (Ex 25:21 LXX). The curtain of the Temple, at Christ’s death, was torn from top (ἄνωθεν) to bottom (Matt 27:51). Jesus’ tunic that the soldiers took at His crucifixion was seamless, woven in one piece from top (ἄνωθεν) to bottom (John 19:23). This means that the main way that this particular word is used throughout the gospels and especially in the Johannine literature is that it refers to something that is from above.

Thus, Jesus states that a person must be born from above in order to enter the kingdom of God. To be born from above speaks of a supernatural birth. It encompasses a divine miracle. To be born from above bespeaks to the fact that the person who is birthed is receiving the action. He is not the active participant but the passive receiver of the heavenly birth. To be born again defines what it means for God, by His initiative and by His grace, to speak life into spiritually dead sinners’ hearts. To be born from above means that it is beyond this space and time here. It far transcends human capacities and religious abilities. It goes beyond what humans can achieve by their own power and effort. It rests entirely beyond the initiative of the sinner. This birth from above (or, the re-birth, or the second birth) means that God alone is the giver of this new life.

When Jesus spoke to Pilate, He told him that he would have no authority over Jesus unless it had been given to him from above (ἄνωθεν; John 19:11). This authority from above speaks of the authority that God gives. This authority that comes down from above comes from God. Thus, the meaning of being born again is that the sinner is born from above; that is, from God. All of this points to the reality that the meaning of the new birth is that God is the initiator, the accomplisher, the grace-giver, the sufficient dispenser and the active operator of this new birth. It is a birth that comes from God.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Our world desperately needs men. Real men. Manly men. Godly men. Holy men. Courageous men. Men who fear no one because they fear their God more. Our culture despises true, biblical manhood. What our young people today who grow up in American society will not learn on their own, from their friends, from Hollywood, or simply by observing the way of culture is how to be a real, godly, courageous, man of God.

So in this brief essay, I will give 5 simple lessons for young, maturing men.

1. Fear God.
Young man, if you are to be a real man, you must fear God. To fear God means to have a true understanding of who God is and what God has done in Christ. It is to know the redemption story and to be affected by what God has done for you by sheer grace. To fear God is to know God and to follow God in obedience. This means that you, young man, must be humble. Manhood and pride are never harmonious. They are antithetical. A true man must be humble. He must not so much think merely ‘lowly’ of himself nor must he think simply ‘less’ of himself. To be humble is, really and fundamentally, to view yourself the way that God views you. That, young man, will humble you. This means that you are a dependent creature. You are created and you are therefore dependent -- on God. You can do nothing for yourself. You need God for everything -- for life, for strength, for breath, for help, for comfort, for salvation. Indeed, young man, if you are to be a man of God, you must fear God which will drive you to the people of God who also fear God. That means you, young man, must be a church-man. No man of God forfeits his involvement in the church. No godly person ignores the church or shoves it to the side. A godly young man will invest his time, his energy, his prayers, and his service to the local church because he fears his God, he loves his God and he loves God’s people. So, fear God. Know God! Obey God! Bow humbly before God. Be a church-man!

2. Work hard & work till the task is done.
Young man, a lesson that you must learn, and learn early in life, is to be a hard-worker. To be a hard worker demands that you be a man who keeps your word. You must let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no. Be a man who keeps your word -- at all costs. Don’t lie, don’t deceive, don’t make plans and then break them all when something more exciting comes around. Be a man of integrity. Work hard & do what you say you’ll do. And do it heartfully and joyfully. To be a man of God also means that you are a worker who works till the task is complete. Don’t quit early. When things get tough, don’t give up. Quitters give up and failures give up. True men continue, they persevere, they work hard, they complete the job. Young men, this will require you to put down the video games and get a job. Work hard. Turn off the movies and do something eternally productive. Stop the complaining about what others have done to you, about how hard life is, and how you feel as though you’re not getting what you deserve. Put off whining and put on worship. Kill the complaining and replace it with joy-filled gratitude to a sovereign King who has made you, created you, and redeemed you by His grace! So, young man, be a man and put your hand to the plow. Work! Yes, work hard! Yes, work tirelessly! And learn to sweat, learn to labor, learn to exert energy and learn to get tired -- and keep working even when you’re tired. Don’t worship work but worship God while you work hard. So, young, growing men, a lesson you must learn is to work hard and work till the work is done.

3. Lead & take responsibility.
Young man, growing man, let me exhort you to lead well and take responsibility. Leaders do not abdicate responsibility, they welcome it, cling to it, and fulfill the responsibilities to the utmost of their abilities. Lead actively. Don’t be a passive observer. Men of God lead in the home. It’s not optional. God calls you to it. He has commissioned you to be a leader in the home -- one day, if and when you are married -- as a husband to lead your wife and as a father to lead your children. Leading is not opposed to humility. To lead well is to model integrity and Christlikeness for others. To lead well is to serve others. To lead well means that you take responsibility, you fulfill your responsibilities, and you work heartily in every element of those responsibilities as an act of worship not to men but as to God! Young man, you live in a world where corrupt leadership abounds at every turn. At all levels of authority, domineering, selfish, self-serving, greedy, man-centered leadership dominates the landscape. Do not look to the world for a model for leadership -- in the home, at your job, or in the church. Look to the Book. The eternal, trustworthy, faithful, unfailing Word of God. See Christ and how He led and took responsibilities and how he did not back down, shy way, or give up when things became tough. He led well & finished well. You must do the same.

4. Be on time.
Young man, another element that will help guide you through life is very simple. Be on time. When you have a meeting, arrive in plenty of time. If you arrive the minute something begins, you’re late. If you arrive five minutes early, consider that to be arriving on time. This requires integrity. To constantly arrive late to meetings, to church, to the job, to discipling appointments evidences a lack of integrity and it shows that you view your life and its duties with little seriousness. Young men, fight this! It’s not about you! Life does not revolve around you! Keep your word when you have duties and commitments. Leave your home early and awake in plenty of time in the morning to meet with God and commune with Him in prayer and then arrive early to your dutiful appointments. This requires you to plan well. There may be rush-hour. There may be other factors that come into the picture. So you, young man, must plan well. Yes, this means you must make a schedule, you must abide by that schedule. You must discipline yourself. Make the most of your time. Don’t waste a moment. If you continually show up on time, alert and awake, ready and eager and joyful, you will distinguish yourself quickly as a man -- as a leader -- vastly different from the other people surrounding you in culture. Young man, live with integrity!

5. Read your Bible, pray it, memorize it & obey it.
Young man, as you grow and age, and become a man of God and a man of dependability, one more mark must be mentioned. It is as if the best is for last. It is as if all the others flow from this one. This is the root out of which the other characteristics of life blossom. Young man, invest yourself in one thing, one thing truly, and one thing tirelessly. Know your Bible. Many men in the world have hobbies that dominate their lives. Other men work so hard that they worship their vocation and think always and only about their appointments, their clients, and their income. Still others don’t do anything well because they have fifty things going on at once and it’s impossible to do any of these with any credibility, dependability, and whole-heartedness. Young man, be an expert at your Bible. Know it well. Study it. Memorize it. Pray it. Obey it. Govern your life after what it says. Determine that you will obey God whatever the cost -- even if it means persecution, martyrdom, and death. It will matter little when you lie on your deathbed how much money you made (since you can’t take it with you) nor will it matter little how many hours you spent fishing or playing sports or how many friends you had (since none of that will matter in eternity). What will matter, however, is how well you know your God. How much has His glory affected you, transformed you, awed you, dazzled you, and captivated you. Do you know your God? O young men, focus your heart, your mind, your energies on one primary thing -- and it is the preeminent thing -- the diligent study of and the intentional praying through the Word of God. Don’t settle for anything less. Do not trifle, young men. Be serious. Be focused! You may be alone. Many friends may abandon you. They don’t take life seriously. That’s fine. You will, however, young man, stand before God and give an account of your life. Don’t throw it away. And don’t lose your soul forever! Have concern for your soul! Even while a young man, consider eternity! It’s coming! You can’t stop it. You can’t resist it! You can’t ignore it! You can’t escape it! So give yourself, devote yourself, tirelessly wade yourself in the deep end of God’s Word. Read it, study it, pray it, memorize it, and young man, at all costs, obey it!

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