Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sitting through the Sermon — Some Encouragements.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

When God speaks amazing things happen. Mountains quake. Winds blow. Rain falls. Souls receive eternal life. Armies are put to flight. The voice of God thunders with unstoppable force and supernatural power. When the man of God takes the Bible and speaks God’s Word faithfully it is truly a remarkable event when God addresses His people through the mouthpiece of a man. In every sermon there are two preachers: the human mouth and the divine voice.

This essay provides some helpful encouragements for the people of God as they gather and sit through sermons every week.

1. Take Your Bible.
As a sailor would never leave without the map, so the Christian should not journey to church without his Bible. As the soldier would carry and utilize his weapons, so the Christian must carry and utilize his Bible. The cook needs his utensils, the accountant needs his computer, so the Christian needs his Bible. When going to church, take your Bible with you so you can open it, follow along, read the text, mark it up, and then go home and return to it at a later point for further reflection, study, and meditation. A preacher’s delight is to see his congregation with their Bibles open.

2. Open Your Bible.
Furthermore, don’t just take your Bible to church but open it and follow along. If you don’t need to open your Bible because the man does not preach from the Bible, then it would be time to leave and find a Bible-teaching church. But as the man teaches from God’s Word, open your Bible and follow along with the man as he journeys thru the text.

3. Follow in Your Bible.
In preaching through the selected paragraph, follow along carefully in your own Bible. When he turns to other Scriptures make it a point to try to turn with him to those cross-references so you can learn how to interpret Scripture with Scripture and how you can see how God’s Word wondrously unifies together.

4. Think Deeply About What's Said.
Engage! Listen! The minister spends much effort preparing and exerts much focus in preaching the Word with clarity. And just as he does this, so also the hearers must engage and spend much effort in hearing and focus deeply in the listening to the preached Word. Engage with what is said. Amen what is spoken truthfully in your own heart (or, verbally if so you choose). Think about God’s character. Commune with Christ. Let the words of Scripture sink deep into your ears. Fight hard to not hear a message and say it was good but resolve to engage thoughtfully and deliberately with God’s truth that went forth.

5. Apply Specifically what You Hear.
Hearing -- even, hearing well -- is not enough. James exhorts believers to be hearers and doers of the Word. The one who hears but does not obey the Word of God has deluded himself and is deceived about his faith. The one who builds his house on the rock is the one who hears and obeys God’s Word. So, then, specifically apply what you hear. Listen well and apply well. Hear well and implement specifically. Find 1 or 2 specific items and plan to practice them.

6. Take Notes & Plan to Review Them Thru the Upcoming Week
As the minister proclaims God’s truth to you, it may benefit you to jot down some gleanings from the text to mark in your Bible, put in a file on your computer, or write it on a card and place it where you’ll see it with some frequency. Review your notes throughout the upcoming week. That’s one way to take the meal and chew the cud. Eating is one thing. Digesting is another thing. Don’t just receive the Word. Work it through the mouth, down the throat, into your stomach and let it sustain you for a long period of time. I know of no better way to do it than to rehearse the sermon -- or truths from the sermon -- in prayer and devotional time to grow in holiness by it.

7. Fight! Fight! Fight! for Focus & Resisting Distractions!
You may have to move to the front row. Many churches, buildings, venues have plenty of distractions. Maybe it is focusing your mind to resist the upcoming week’s work-travels. Or perhaps it may be resisting the distraction to allow the mind to wander to a relationship, an upcoming trial, or a sporting event. Fight to focus your heart on God and on His Word. The Devil would love nothing more than for you to sit in church and to have your mind millions of miles away. He would bombard you with fiery-temptations of distractions and would love for you to externally look good at church but inwardly to be focused on self or on the world. That would not be worship. And for that, Satan would rejoice. Maybe it’s an attractive person sitting near you. And you need to initiate a move elsewhere in the worship gathering. Maybe you need to move to the front row so that nothing is in front of you as you hear the Word heralded. But fight, not only physically, but intellectually and mentally, to meet with God for He is worthy of worship!

More essays can be found at Pastor Geoff's articles page.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Here are some helpful resources that we have found to encourage the flock at Christ Fellowship -- especially families with young children -- regarding the matter of intentionally training and patiently working toward having the children worship in 'big church.'

1) Should Children Sit Through Big Church -- AskPastorJohn podcast

2) 9 Practical Ways to Invite Your Children into Corporate Worship -- Radical

3)  Training Your Children in the Home to Sit Still in the Pew -- Pastor Geoff

4) What Can Children Get Out Of Church?  -- Scott Brown

May these resources be helpful as we encourage families to worship together. It's hard. It's laborious. Sometimes it feels like a trainwreck (with an explosion). But over the course of time, may the Lord in His great mercy, bring about great results from intentionally seeking to worship the Lord together -- even with our small children.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Christian's Mission:
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Some thoughts on what every Christian’s mission is by virtue of the fact that he is a follower of Christ. Whether one is a pastor, a carpenter, a banker or a stay at home mom with small children, what is the mission for every Christian? What is it that God calls every child of His to do? How should believers think of themselves? What should saints busy themselves in doing during the brief time of stay on earth? In a word, many often ask, ‘what is my purpose, or my mission?’

Your Mandate.
The risen Christ appeared to His followers and told them that as the Father has sent Him so also does Christ send them (John 20:21). The Savior Himself provides the mandate for all of His followers. He tells all disciples of His to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19). He elsewhere says that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations (Luke 24:47). The mandate comes from Christ Himself and is clear to all followers of Jesus Christ. It’s a mandate, not a suggestion. All followers are obedient or disobedient to it.

Your Mission.
The simple mission that Christ gives is to go and preach the gospel. He says that repentance must be preached. He tells all believers to bear the ministry of reconciliation as God makes His appeal through believers to the lost (2 Cor 5:20). The mission is to simply and faithfully proclaim Christ’s message: be reconciled to God! God made Christ who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5:20-21). Furthermore, all Christians have received salvation and should proclaim the excellencies of Him who called them out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Pet 2:9).

Your Method.
The way in which this mission works itself out in the Christian’s life comes through proclamation. The message must be verbalized. It must be spoken. It is a message that requires words to speak truly of God, candidly of sin, honestly of repentance, urgently of hell, and graciously with patience. The method of Christian mission is not showing people God’s love or living on mission if it excludes verbal proclamation. In other words, the method for the Christian mission to be faithfully obeyed demands faithful proclamation of the biblical gospel. If the gospel is not spoken, then the gospel has not been conveyed and sinners cannot be saved. The method that Christ gives His people is to “proclaim” and to believe “and speak” the full gospel message.

Your Message.
Christ did not send Paul to baptize but to preach the gospel -- not in cleverness of speech so that the cross of Christ would not be made void (1 Cor 1:17). This gospel simply is Christ & Him crucified (1 Cor 1:23). It glories in the righteousness of God imputed to repentant sinners through faith alone in Christ alone. It glories in the substitutionary atonement whereby Christ, the Lamb of God, died in the sinner’s stead receiving the full blow and infinite punishment from God Himself toward sin. God justly punished sin upon the sinner’s substitute, Christ Jesus. This message demands that the sinner respond through faith and repentance. He must turn to God from idols to be enslaved to the living God -- to serve, love, worship, adore, and proclaim Him!

Your Motivation.
Every true child of God has a soul-ravishing ambition: to glory in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:3).  Christians want Christ to be exalted in their bodies -- whether by life or by death (Phil 1:20). The great motivation to live out this Christian mission ultimately has a God-centered, Christ-magnifying, Spirit-given focus. Indeed, the glory and honor of Christ motivates the believer to live on mission by speaking much of God’s character, man’s plight, Christ’s sufficiency and atonement, and God’s demands for a wholehearted response. Furthermore, an unshakeable motivation propels the child of God to cheerfully engage in his blessed mission, namely, the eternal blessedness and joy of Christ to have the full number of His redeemed surrounding His throne in glory. The Lamb will receive the full reward of His sufferings. All His blood-bought elect will arrive in heaven. The reason Christians still live on this earth and have not arrived in the eternal home yet is quite simple: their mission isn’t over yet. So, till He takes you home, your mission is clear. It is given by the wondrous and empowering Savior. So go! Go and speak of Him! Live for Him! Tell of His great deeds! Proclaim His salvation from day to day!

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Read the Bible as Your Spiritual Food
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The Bible is given by God to believers for their good and for their edification. The Scriptures reveal God, expose sin, highlight Christ, and demand repentance and faith. So how can believers read the Bible and profit from it? How can children of God read God’s Word as spiritual food and nourishment for the soul? This essay will provide a number of directions for believers.

Christian, read your Bible...

The Bible speaks of the itself as the spiritual food for believers. Just as people eat meals daily so children of God must feast upon heavenly bread daily. Christ is worthy of our contemplation and worship and study every single day. So feast daily upon His Word to know God, follow God, love God, and obey Him. You can’t read the Bible too much.

Before meeting with men, believers would do well to meet with God. Men are ready to meet with men after meeting with God but before a Christian communes with his Christ, he would do well to refrain from conversing with men. Bible reading should take priority in a Christian’s life. Don’t let anything crowd out this meeting time with God!

Read the word for soul-enjoyment and for communion with the triune God who saved you. Don’t read the Word to check off the box in a Bible-reading plan. Don’t read the Word for others. Don’t read the Word for sermon preparation. Read the Word to warm your heart in greater love for Christ and hotter affection for His magnificence.

Expectations. They usually can be harmful to relationships; but not with Bible reading. Read the Word and expect to meet with God, to fellowship with Him, to realize hidden sins, to behold the merciful Savior, and to expect the Spirit to conform you into the likeness of the Savior. Expect great things from the greatest book ever written.

Bible reading is one-way communication. It is God speaking to His people. One-way communication doesn’t take relationships very far, or very deep. Reading Scripture is God speaking to His people. Praying to God is His people speaking to Him. Two-way communication always benefits relationships and can allow them to deepen, strengthen, and grow fonder in love and affection toward one another. Read your Word prayerfully and talk often with God.

God gave a complete Bible to make a complete Christian. God did not give an entire Bible for people to pick and choose verses or portions of the Bible that they like and merely and only read those sections to the neglect of others. To be a well-rounded, whole Christian, study your whole Bible fully. Read Genesis through Revelation. Understand it. Be patient and devote yourself with diligent discipline to the complete reading of the Bible.

God gave His Word progressively. And thus, God’s people should read His Word progressively. God did not drop a heavenly book down from the clouds one day in its entire form. Rather, men wrote and penned inerrant Scripture progressively over time. Similarly, believers should read through portions of Scripture with determined progression. They should read through all of Ezekiel, all of Leviticus, all of Revelation, all of Zechariah, all of Psalms and strive for understanding and gospel clarity. That is to say: aim to read through books of the Bible, not mere random verses.

Always read with the aim for application. Allow the truth of God from the Word of God to saturate deep into the fabric of your being so you hear God as you read the text. Obey Him as you apply it to your life. Begin by implementing the text to your life specifically. Always read with a view toward growth in holiness and piety. Don’t resist the Spirit’s work of conviction and the guilt that comes over exposed sin. Confess it, humble yourself, repent and turn from it, hide in Christ’s righteousness, and remind yourself of the many promises of Christ to His people. Read the Word with the intent of change. Allow Christ to expose sin. Read and apply. Read and apply.

The more you read Scriptures the more God in His effulgence and exaltation will permeate your heart and mind. You cannot get past Genesis 1 without stopping and worshiping God for His Almighty and unstoppable omnipotence. You cannot get past Isaiah 53 without adoring the God’s great gospel of substitutionary atonement. You can’t get past Revelation 22 without worshiping Christ and longing for the day when all God’s people will see God in eternal bliss forever. Read the Word and respond to God’s revelation of Himself by having God-centered thoughts, God-saturated passions, God-permeated conversations, and God-glorifying motivations. Read the Word and worship the Author!

To meditate means to ponder profusely; it means to chew the cud and to mutter truth repeatedly in one’s heart and from one’s lips. To meditate implies that one fills his heart and mind with God and His truth so that the heart is enlarged, the mind is engaged, the conscience is softened, and the affections are won. Pick a verse from the reading, or, better yet, set aside a specific time to ponder a biblical topic (e.g., substitution, heaven, hell, brevity of life, humanity of Christ, suffering, virgin birth, filling of the Spirit, etc.). Allow the word to soak in you. As a person enjoys soaking in a lingering bath for refreshment, so the child of God should soak as he lingers long with Christ in Scripture.

Always place yourself under the authoritative Word of God. Never sit in judgment over God’s truth. Let the Word expose your heart. Let it prick the conscience. Let it point out crevices of sin. And don’t fight it. Don’t resist it. But embrace the glorious work of God’s grace as He humbles His people, out of Fatherly love, through the written Word and by the searching Spirit. So read humbly. Don’t pick and choose what you’ll obey. Surrender to it all. Humble yourself before the clarity of Scripture. Stand courageously upon the truthfulness of Scripture. Live in full obedience to the authority of Scripture. Proclaim tirelessly the gospel as found in the Scripture. Read with a humble heart!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Beauty & Glory of God the Spirit
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The gospel of Luke says that the Lord Jesus rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit (Luke 10:21). The blessed Savior understood the beauty and glory of God the Spirit. He enjoyed full and sweet communion with the everlasting Comforter. How can believers find consolation from the third Person of the Triune Godhead? This essay provides 10 towering truths to bless the believer's soul.

The Holy Spirit...

The Bible refers to the Holy Spirit with the same attributes as the Father and the Son. The Spirit is a Person which indicates that He enjoys the features of personhood: intellect, wisdom, emotions, communicative abilities. The Spirit, as God, is gloriously perfect in beauty and in His essence and in all the divine attributes of Godhood that He perfectly, everlastingly and wondrously enjoys.

In tragic times of pain and confusing seasons of despair, the Holy Spirit comforts the believer’s soul. The Spirit of God is the ultimate Comforter who comforts the weak, the downcast, the feeble, the dying, and the suffering. He, as God, knows how to perfectly and unfailingly come alongside of His people for grace, joy, strengthening, and refreshment.

The Bible refers to this blessed Person of the Godhead as the Spirit of holiness. He is the Holy Spirit for He in His essence is wholly other, different, separate from sin. He is set apart from the common and profane. Indeed, He is Himself holy and He is the Spirit who fellowships with holiness. He produces holiness. He conforms justified sinners more and more into the holy image and likeness of Jesus Christ. God hones and shapes His people into holiness.

God hates lying. He abhors deception and falsehood. The reason why truth is so good and lying is so bad is because God’s very nature is perfect truth and all faithfulness. The Spirit of God radiates perfect truth without end. He is the Spirit of truth. He is the Spirit who provided the Word of Truth, the Bible. He speaks Truth through His written Word and He guides all true believers into the Truth. Never is there an error or falsehood with God. He is dependable.

The Holy Spirit as a Person has all the communicative powers of personhood. He thinks and He has intellect. He is able to craft and form clear communication. And thus He has! He has carried along the hands of human instruments so that no prophecy of Scripture ever came about by men’s own ingenuities but rather as the Spirit of God carried them the human penmen wrote precisely what God intended. The Spirit speaks ultimately through His written Word.

None can convert except God. None can raise the dead save God. None can convert and change a leper’s spots but the Almighty One who created him. It is the Spirit who gives life. The Spirit draws sinners to the Father. The Spirit, by His own power and by His own ability and for God’s own glory, gives life and converts souls to Christ. None can be born from above except the Spirit of God blow the divine, supernatural breath upon him to give life so that he may repent and believe the gospel to be saved. The Spirit must initiate salvation by giving life to the soul which always and immediately results in repentance and faith. 

God the Spirit is holy and thus makes God’s people holy. God has chosen believers for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. Believers do not magically muster up enough willpower to make themselves holy. It is God who works in and through believers to sanctify them as they cheerfully place themselves within the means of grace. God grows and sanctifies and purifies all the Redeemed. The Spirit sanctifies all the saved.

True believers revel in eternal hope that can not fail. Everlasting heaven and bliss with Christ and fellowship with God is a future certainty for every child of the King. This hope does not -- indeed, it can not -- fail because the love of God has been poured profusely into believers’ hearts through the Holy Spirit who is given as the deposit and guarantee. Thus, no saved sinner can ever lose his salvation. God the Spirit, by almighty, infinite, supernatural, undefeatable power secures and keeps all whom the Father elected and the Son purchased for glory. None are, nor could be, lost!

The Spirit has a primary purpose in His supernatural ministry and that is to point to Jesus Christ. Indeed, the Spirit glorifies Christ and discloses what is Christ’s to His people. The Spirit’s primary aim is to exalt the supremacy of Christ, convert the redeemed of Christ, and carry to heaven all the souls propitiated by the Lamb’s blood. The Spirit aids and assists the believer in living for Christ, loving Christ, speaking of Christ, rejoicing in Christ and worshiping Christ. The Spirit does not seek to draw attention to Himself but humbly points all men to Christ the Savior.

The kingdom of God consists of joy in the Holy Spirit. Christ rejoiced in the Spirit. The Bible intimates that the triune God rejoices in each other so that every member loves, delights in, and finds sweet communion with each other. And it is the Spirit of God, the third member of the Godhead, who provides this joy for those who have been snatched from the kingdom of darkness and brought into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. This kingdom is not one of anguish and joylessness but rather, by the Spirit’s enabling, it is a kingdom of unending and undiminishing joy.

What Must We Do Today to Prepare for Suffering?

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

How can Christians in the West prepare for suffering? All believers everywhere must form a theology of suffering, including children of God sitting in comfort and enjoying many of the freedoms of religion (for now). How must Christians prepare today for the persecution tomorrow? What can be done? 

This essay provides 4 vital keys.

1. Know.
Everything starts with the knowledge of God. Christians must strive to know God. Not just theological terms and concepts and theories, but God Himself. Theories and methods wane and lose their glisten over time. But the study of God never grows old and men of God never tire of studying deeply the beauties and glory of God. To know God rightly, believers must know Scripture. God is to be sought through His sufficient and complete revelation of Himself contained in the 66-books of the Bible. Thus, we must strive earnestly and labor hungrily to know God, to commune with Him, to experience His love, to bathe in His excellencies, and to rejoice in Him for who He is. Without this proper foundation of knowledge sourced in Scripture, all else will fail for it is foundationless. Thus, let us know God.

2. Grow.
After a proper knowledge of God that comes through studying deeply the Holy Scriptures, and as this discipline continues throughout the Christian’s life, the believer can prepare to suffer by growing steadily and earnestly. Like a tree that is watered with water, over the course of time, it grows and strengthens and soars high into the sky so also it is for the child of God. With time and with diligent watering from the Spirit and the Word, children of God grow in strength, courage, depth and influence. Thus, every Christian is to work hard to be a growing Christian. Of course, God is the One who grows His people and conforms them into the image of Christ. But in so far as the believer places himself in the God-ordained means of grace, he will find himself being matured by God, growing in his love for Christ, glorying in the fellowship with the Spirit, and withstanding any and all opposition that may come his way.

3. Go.
Christians know God and must grow in grace and in holiness. This must -- and it will inevitably -- lead the child of God to go outside the comfort zone of his own Christian acquaintances and make disciples of all nations. He will find himself relentlessly driven to take others to heaven with him. He will have an open Bible and an open map and see the possibilities for ministry that remain innumerable. He will hear of the people groups around the world that still remain yet to be reached and engaged with the gospel and his heart will break within him as he earnestly beseeches God in prayer to raise up workers to send out. The Christian himself, however, will go. The more that the child of God knows God and grows with God, he will most certainly go with God to the lost and compel them to come to Christ by faith. He cannot not go. It’s not an option. All Christians are to be missionaries and gospel-proclaimers. That’s the call and duty of a Christ-follower. The mission is thus because it’s the mission of God. And amazingly, the more that suffering and opposition comes, the more God’s people go and cannot be stopped. Go and speak and tell!

4. Sow.
Christians go to the lost for the purpose of speaking of Christ and offering the only water that can satisfy and the only sacrifice that can appease God’s wrath directed toward sinners because of their sin. Going to the lost is one thing. Sowing the seed of the gospel faithfully, tirelessly, relentlessly, and prayerfully is another component that is included. Like the sower who has God’s seed and throws it out, the Christian remembers that some falls on good soil, some on hard soil, and some on superficial ground that appears to be genuine but then in reality it falls away. Sowing the gospel demands patience, it entails urgency, it imitates Christ, it includes tenderness, and it warns of procrastination. Preparing now for suffering tomorrow means that Christians know God, grow with God, go for God, and sow the seed of the gospel in any and all parts of the world so that Christ’s Name would be supremely glorified.

Expository Preaching - a summer intensive class at Christ Fellowship Bible Church.

1. Preaching & preparing the man (holiness)
2. Preaching & desperate prayer
3. Preaching & proper hermeneutics
4. Preaching & crafting the outline
5. Preaching & elements of the sermon (exegesis)
6. Preaching & delivering the message (homiletics)
7. Preaching & God's sovereignty (dependence)

Full PDF course notes:

Audio/mp3 lectures:

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