Saturday, December 29, 2018

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

I love the gospel. But I have a tremendous burden pressing upon my soul. I wonder how many professing Christ-knowers and Jesus-lovers actually know and believe the biblical gospel. Just what is the real good news of salvation? What really took place at the cross? What did God do? I believe that Galatians 3:13 is one (of many!) clear statement that strikes at the very heartbeat of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Galatians 3:13 says that “Christ became a a curse for us.” Here, I will summarize Gal 3:13 with the phrase: "Christ our Curse for our gain! And in this writeup, I'll provide 6 components to this phrase in understanding the gospel.

1. Know the BIBLICAL CHRIST  (Christ…)
For Christ to save, one must possess the saving Christ. Lots of religions have a Jesus where he may fill the role of a teacher, a wise sage, a miracle worker, a prophet, or something else. The question then must be: what does the Bible say? How does the Word of God describe this Christ? He, being fully and truly God, descended from heaven, born of a virgin, he lived a perfect and righteous life obedient to Law of God. Never having sinned, he was rejected by men, delivered to death, and crucified a horrifically public and shameful death. More than that, on the cross, God crushed Him under the weight of the divine fury of righteous wrath in being the sin-bearer for His people. That means that the biblical Christ became the propitiation of HIs people. He appeased and satisfied the Father’s just wrath by taking all the sins of His elect upon Himself on the cross. Then when he drank that “cup” in full, he exclaimed in triumph: It is finished! This Christ was buried, then He rose up from the grave showing Himself alive for forty days to many hundreds of people. Then he ascended physically and visibly into heaven to be with His Father where He is seated at the right hand of the Father in glory where He intercedes for His own. Is this the Christ you know? Do you trust in this substitute? Do you know Him? Own Him as your own Savior? Trust His blood to shield you from God’s wrath?

2. Know the GREAT EXCHANGE  (Our…)
The text says that Christ redeemed us! What a glorious phrase! The very heart and soul of the gospel message is that God punished Jesus for my sin in my stead. He died for me, meaning in my stead, for me, in my place! He redeemed us by being our curse! To think of the almighty arrows of divine rage that were aimed and ready to fire at our fully-deserving and wholly-defenseless souls and then at the perfect moment, Christ the divine Son steps in, receives the fulness of all the blows of all the arrows and all the divine punishment and hatred so that you are shielded and spared and safe hiding in Him. He took it all! He paid for it all! Your life is found in His death. His death results in your everlasting gain! Never see the substitution as old and outdated news. Never get past the phrase: Jesus died for me. In this great exchange, God’s wrath is satisfied and your life is spared! In Him, you live! Rejoice!

3. Know the DIVINE CURSE   (Curse…)
The Holy Spirit guided Paul’s hand to write down that Christ became our “curse.” He became a curse for you. Paul says that the one is cursed who does not abide by all things written in the Law to perform them (Gal 3:10, 13)! How impossible it is to attain our own standing of righteousness before God! When Israel was on the doorstep of entering the Promised Land, God declared that if Israel did not obey the Lord God, to do all His commandments, that all these curses would come upon them and overtake them (Deut 27:15). The rest of Deut 27 (the long chapter!) surveys the many (!) curses that God Himself would bring upon Israel if she faithlessly disobeyed God’s covenant and rebelled. Paul’s point comes into focus here. Just as Israel of old failed to obey the covenant and received the covenant curses, so we too, have disobeyed God and have sinned against Him and thus sit under the everlasting curses of this covenant-God who will -- and must! -- punish sin. Behold the power and righteousness of God. God brings extraordinary plagues on sinners. There is no remedy, no hope, no abatement, no rest, and no mercy for those who persist in willful sin and unbelief and who die in this unregenerate state. O what an awful & infinite curse!

The dark thunderclouds break as the gloriously blinding rays of sunlight burst in as Paul says that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law having become a curse for us (Gal 3:13). Christ became our curse for our gain. Something happens to us at the moment of salvation. The Scripture declares that for those for whom Christ died, He took their sin. But the Word also testifies that those who believe in Jesus Christ alone are counted righteous in Him. Our sin is reckoned to and put upon Him. And His righteousness is reckoned to and put upon us. Our lawlessness is given to Him and His righteousness is given to us. Our transgressions and heinousness is imputed to Christ on the cross and His obedience and holiness is imputed to us by faith. This is the splendid reality of double-imputation. It’s the glorious and heart-stirring truth that the Bible speaks of frequently. Through the obedience of the One man (Christ) the many will be made righteous (Rom 5:19). Through faith in Christ, we are found in Him, not having our own inherent righteousness derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, namely, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith (Phil 3:9). God made Christ to be our sin so that we may be the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5:21). Behold the comforting assurance that when God looks upon one of His children, He beholds them through the righteousness of Christ -- indeed, the festal robes of Christ Himself are shrouded over us!

5. Know the INFINITE GAIN  (Gain…)
Jesus Christ became your curse so that you can receive infinite gain! Paul speaks of it in these terms: “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” is yours in Christ (Eph 1:3). Amazingly and almost incomprehensibly, Paul declares that for those who suffer the loss of all things and count all self righteousness to be heaps of trash and filthy garbage, these believers gain Christ (Phil 3:8b). What an unspeakable reality to gain Christ! To lose everything in all the universe and yet to gain Christ is to have all! Christ is all in all. To have Christ is to have everything! What infinite gain comes to the child of God (even the weakest saint and the most newborn child of God!) who possesses Jesus Christ as His own! Salvation is not only about gaining the glory of Christ in the future (2 Thess 2:14) and dying is “gain” (Phil 1:21). It’s about possessing Christ and living all out for Him now (Phil 1:21a) and rejoicing in this ever-flowing spring of infinite love and joy welling up in our souls as children of God. To have Christ is to have gained everything. Never lose sight of the wonder of having Christ live in you -- the hope of glory! Immeasurable gain!

The text in Galatians says that Christ became a curse for us (Gal 3:13). The work of salvation is always a complete work. Always does God perfect redemption for all of His elect and never does God go back on His work and come up short with an incomplete work of salvation. For God to save, He saves completely -- to the uttermost. When Christ became our curse, He took all our sin and bore it all in full on the cross. Those who are His, by repentance and faith in Him alone, have the guaranteed promise that this divine curse that once loomed over our necks has now been satisfied on Christ and now there’s nothing but grace, glory, love, security, and promises that are ours! Rest in this security. Focus on this fixed standing you have in Christ. Never does God lose one of His children. When He begins a work in a soul, He will carry it on to completion till the day of Christ Jesus. Nothing, no one, ever could separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ! Find comfort in your soul in the procured, promised and perfected salvation that Christ effectually achieved for you! Stand in awe of His glory as you stand in this grace robed in His righteousness! Rejoice and be glad. Your everlasting glorification will come! Your curse-bearer is your everlasting protector and He will carry you, as a Father would his own children, safely home to behold His face everlastingly!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Leading in Family Worship During Conflict.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

I’m a great sinner who has been redeemed by a greater Savior. But I still am a sinner! Recently, I lashed out in anger at my children. I raised my voice pointed my finger at them in selfish anger and scolded them. In moments like these, how can I, even in such a moment of sinful conduct, lead my family to the presence of God in family worship? Someone might say: isn’t that hypocritical? Aren’t you being two-faced in sinning and then leading in family worship?

How do we as sinful parents still lead in family worship even in those moments when we’ve sinned (right in front of our kids!)? How can we lead well? How can we model godliness, practice repentance, and obey the Lord in bringing the family (the little Church) into God’s presence in family worship? I will provide 5 suggestions to lead in family worship during moments of conflict.

God does not require us to lead in family worship only after we’ve got it all together. Amazingly, God uses broken and humble vessels for His glory. We must veer away from the mentality that we’ve gotta ‘have everything put together nice and neat’ and then we’ll be adequate to serve! No! Our sufficiency and adequacy comes from the righteous robes of Christ reckoned to us, not from our performances in self-cleansing. Come to God humbled and come before your family humbled.

God is near to the broken-hearted. Turn to God and return to Him (as the prophets so often preached!) and He will hear from heaven and bring blessing. Repent of your sin to God (first) and to the family members you’ve sinned against, and to the family as a whole if they observed your sinful action. A repentant disposition is one of the greatest pedagogical tools a father has in the home. The children should not perceive the parents to be sinless or too good for repentance. Rather, let them see your repentant heart and repentant prayers to God! That’ll teach!

In your repentant heart, you come to your family and specifically (and humbly!) acknowledge your own sin. This requires, however, you cannot blame-shift. You cannot minimize the sin and say it was a mistake or mess-up. You can’t make excuses about it. Own it. Acknowledge your own sin and then specifically ask the family members to forgive you for your own sin against God and against them. Wait for your family to hear your request for forgiveness and then let them answer and affirm their forgiveness of you. Remind them (everyone, even the kids) that forgiveness is a promise of pardon where you actively choose to not hold the sin against the person, you won’t bring it up to others, nor will you dwell on it repeatedly). Use this as a God-given, grace-filled shepherding moment to teach about forgiveness -- and God’s greater forgiveness to big sinners like us (yes, even to big sinners like dad and mom!).

Lead. Yes, lead in family worship. Again, God does not require perfection in his worship leaders. But he does require humility and faithfulness to Him. So, in these moments of sin and humiliation before God and before the family, let this not drive you away from doing your duties in leading at home, but rather let it drive you to the oft-receiving embrace of an adopting Father who loves His elect with a preserving and undiminishing love. Lead. Sing. Read. Teach. Pray. Seek to be obedient to God even if you don’t feel like it. Even if you feel like an inch tall and your sin is plastered across your forehead, remember to gaze upon Christ’s cross and remind yourself (and the family) of the marvelous grace of our loving Lord -- indeed, grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt! Praise the Lord!

Parenting consists of a massive trust in God’s sovereignty. In our blunders and in our sins, we trust God that He will use us and our inadequacies to shine the spotlight on His grace and mercy all the more! We pray that our children would see that the same grace that we call them to embrace is the same grace that we as the parents need -- daily! We humble ourselves, repent of sin, ask for forgiveness, and dutifully and joyfully lead in family worship trusting that God Himself will use His Word not because of us but in spite of us as we teach His powerful and living Word in our homes on a daily basis. May God use our sins and the moments of conflict to result in bringing Him glory and great teaching moments in the home for our children to see the manifold riches of God’s love & the mercies of His gospel!
Desiring Eldership! It’s a Good & Blessed Thing!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

God’s Word states in 1 Timothy 3.1 that if any man aspires to the office of an overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do! It’s good to desire eldership! How noble it is for a man to aspire to serve and shepherd the flock of God! It’s not a desire to hide or be ashamed of, but rather we should speak of the good and blessed and God-given desire to serve as an overseer.

In speaking on this, I want to help us understand a number of related items to this great desire!

1. Understanding the Gift.
The Bible teaches that God has given those to lead the Church and that includes pastors/elders and teachers (Eph 4:11). Elders are God-given gifts to His church. They are to serve as God’s stewards and His representatives. So, the call to be an elder comes gloriously and graciously from God for the well-being and maturation of His Church.

2. Undertaking the Call.
An elder is far more than a ‘job’. The office of elder is an all-consuming and joyfully-embracing ministry of humble service and servant leadership that God places deep within the soul of a man. An elder/shepherd is more than a task-accomplisher or a charismatic personality. The office of eldership requires a man to undertake a most blessed call & a consuming responsibility to serve God with integrity, to model holiness for the saints, and to teach sound doctrine!

3. Unashamed of the Desire.
Men must never be ashamed of the desire to serve as an elder. I wonder if men of God earnestly desire to serve the local church but in humility are ashamed to verbalize their desire to lead. They don’t want it to be perceived as an arrogant ambition to rule over people. But let it be humbly stated: the desire to lead is good, noble, lofty, God-given and one that should be pursued and cultivated through serving the church and communicating with your leaders!

4. Unrelenting in Passion.
In Thessalonika, the Apostle Paul said that he labored relentlessly among the believers. With the Ephesian elders, Paul testified that night and day for three years he admonished the brethren passionately. All men do well to remember: the work of an elder is just that: work! It is a fine work he desires to do! God’s man to lead as an elder must have an undying commitment to God, an unswerving commitment to truth and an unrelenting passion for Christ’s glory!

5. Unflinching in Courage.
The brilliant wiles of Satan and his masquerading messengers passionately hunger to infiltrate the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ from without and from within! Elders must be vigilant. They must watch and stand as guardsmen to sound the alarm when danger is near. Elders must be men of courage to stand face to face to oppose what is evil and to guard the church from false teachers, dangerous doctrine and sinful living! Christian men are courageous men.

6. Unswerving in Faithfulness.
The great demand for God’s men requires that they be found ‘faithful’ and steadfast to Christ and His calling. They don’t need to be popular, wealthy, or successful. A man of God strives to be faithful to God even if it means upsetting the standard, the norm, the tradition, or the popular opinion. He would rather suffer at the hands of men than sin against God. He will shepherd souls, preach truth, defend against error, live purely, pray importunately and lead with integrity. An elder is a man who will be unflinching, undeterred, & unswerving in faithfulness to God and to His Word.

7. Unilateral in Ambition.
A question that men who aspire the office of eldership need to be asked is this: why do you aspire to the ministry? What’s the goal? Why do you want this? The ultimate aim and ambition must be for the glory of God and for the good of Christ’s church. Too many men have fallen (privately or publicly) to the sin of self-promotion or raw domination over people in the church. But a man of God says: I want to honor and glorify God as I serve Him and serve His people in this particular local church. Notoriety or not, he wants to please His Savior and His King!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Spiritual Battles of a Minister.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Before any minister is a shepherd, he first is a sheep. A man may be a leader in front of a congregation of believers but he is foremost a servant who must bow low before the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  That reminds us that leaders do not stand immune to temptation and to struggles. Leaders wage war on the spiritually grueling and relentlessly intense battlefield daily. No greater calling exists than that of being a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ! To serve God by studying His Word, preaching His gospel, praying for His people, and shepherding Christ’s blood-bought sheep comprises the most gloriously exhilarating gift God could give to a man. But nevertheless, he is still a man. And he still engages in daily struggles. But what are they? What is unique to the pastor of a church? What are the hardships that godly leaders face?

In this brief essay, I’ll present 8 battles that every faithful minister of the gospel battles with so that you can pray for your pastor and care for him diligently and faithfully.

1. Carelessness
One battle that can invade a minister’s life is that of carelessness. With enough time and with the passing of years, a man may grow to be a bit careless in his care for his own soul and for the souls of those he shepherds. Negligence can creep in. Inattentiveness can describe a busy man who has served for a while. Pray that your pastor would guard from carelessness about the work of the Lord and the sheep of God that he is called to care for.

2. Ineffectiveness
Another spiritual battle that wages war frequently in a minister’s heart is the perception of his own ineffectiveness. And to be sure, all men in and of themselves are ineffective and unable to accomplish spiritual good. However, pastors have desires and ambitions and when those don’t appear to be met, he can feel the strong weight of ineffectiveness and inefficiency. He may grow to feel useless, purposeless, and even that his labors are futile. Pray for your shepherd to be on guard against the subtle battle of and wrong thinking concerning ineffectiveness.

3. Fruitlessness
Going with the previous battle of ineffectiveness, all pastors wrestle with apparent fruitlessness of their ministries. Granted, those with small or big congregations or narrow or broad influences may still battle with this battle of feeling fruitless because they don’t see the visible fruit and results of their own labors. Faithful men can pray and preach, study and speak, evangelize & shepherd, train up and disciple relentlessly and see, by God’s sovereign design, very little visible fruit of his labors. This could cause him to battle greatly in his soul. Pray for your shepherd to retain a proper perspective of being faithful to God and letting Him handle the fruit of his work.

4. Coldness / Lukewarmness
There’s not a Christian who doesn’t battle with times of struggling with a cold heart and feeling lukewarm toward Christ, His gospel and His Word. Truth be told, this also happens with ministers of the gospel. As ironic as it may seem that a man may feast upon God’s Word vocationally and stand to preach its glorious truths, his human heart can still wane and grow cold toward Christ and His glory from time to time. Pray for your minister to prioritize a flaming love for Christ and a zealous pursuit of His Word and prayer devotionally before he steps into the office to do it vocationally. Studying and preaching is great but pray for your minister to do these duties out of a warm heart toward Christ. Pray for him to wage war against lukewarmness. Pray for him to kindle the coal of love for Christ in private before he stands to speak of the love of Christ in public.

5. Weakness
Every faithful minister understands his own weakness and inadequacy. In fact, faithful shepherds who know God’s Word rightly recognize that apart from Christ and the Spirit’s powerful enablement, the preacher can accomplish nothing. Nothing! The Evil one, however, loves to capitalize on this and implant feelings of worthlessness from the man’s own weaknesses. How weak the man is to save and to sanctify, to build and to sustain the church. This truly is God’s work. But a man’s weakness does not mean he is useless. Pray for your pastor that in his weakness he would lean on Omnipotence. Pray that his weakness would launch him to desperate prayer and humble dependence so that in his weakness, God would use him mightily!

6. Unpreparedness
There’s always more commentaries to study. More articles can be read. The sermons could often be better, outlines could be crisper and introductions and conclusions could be tighter. But the minister knows he must take his seemingly pitiful notes to the pulpit and stand and speak for God. Oh he has studied. He’s gone through the text and he knows the meaning and he’s done the adequate sermon preparation-work. Still, a lingering sense festers deep in his soul that he still feels unprepared to stand before God, before God’s people and speak the oracles of God. So much more could be said. Perhaps it could be said better. Maybe a funeral kept him from adequate study time. Perhaps a marital conflict in his own home caused late nights and persistent distractions. Maybe grief over an unbelieving child weighed him down. Pray for your shepherd to study hard and preach the Word even in the busy seasons and unforeseen distractions.

7. Self-promotedness // Over-confidence//self confidence
Men of God affirm and quickly state that the ministry is not about them. True. But the temptation still resides deep in the hearts of pastors to be appreciated, honored and respected. At times, this could lead to self-promotion, self-pity, over-confidence and self-confidence. The temptation to be liked, to mesmerize the congregation, to attain many retweets can be a very subtle battle in the soul of the man of God. The spiritual battle rests in his emptying himself of himself so that he may fill himself with God. Pray for your minister to be confident in the Savior, not himself; to be ravished with God and His glory.

8. Giftedness
The battle of comparing oneself with others is very real in the ministry. Jealousy can quickly creep in and take over a man’s heart. Pray for your shepherd to be thankful for the gifts that God has graciously & sovereignly given to him rather than to be jealous in comparing himself with others whom God also uses in the ministry! The measure of a man’s giftedness has nothing to do with publicity or popularity but it has everything to do with the merciful grace and decreed sovereignty of God. Pray for your shepherd to use his gifts, hone his gifts, thank God for his gifts, minister with his gifts, and glorify God to the fullest with his gifts.

A HELPFUL PURITAN PRAYER [from the Valley of Vision]:
…My end in preaching is to know Christ, and impart His Truth;
My principle in preaching is Christ Himself, whom I trust,
for in Him is fullness of spirit and strength;
My comfort in preaching is to do all for Him.
Help me in my work to grow more humble…
to pick something out of all providences to that end,
to joy in thee and loathe myself,
To keep my life, being, soul, and body only for thee
to carry my heart to thee in love and delight
to see all my grace in thee, coming from thee
to walk with thee in endearment.
Then, whether I succeed or fail, naught matters but THEE ALONE.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Believers love God and love the people of God. True Christians take great joy in worshiping together with the saints. But, how should you attend your church? What should mark your deliberateness in attending corporate worship? Perhaps we would do well to take a step back, ponder deeply and think about six descriptions on how you should attend church.

1. regularly  
Attend your church regularly. This may seem obvious but in our extraordinary-busy, priority-confused culture we do well to hear the simple call from God to not forsake the assembling together with the saints. It does the Christian much good to gather often and sit under and hear divine truth proclaimed in the local church. Christians love and long for the regular occasions to meet with God and with His people and to fellowship, to worship, to engage, and to serve one another.

2. hungrily  
Attend your church hungrily. When you’re hungry, you eat. When you’re really hungry, sometimes all you think about is food. How much more should this be true of the believer. We should attend worship with the saints with a great appetite. We should attend hungry to hear from the Lord. We should go eager to feast upon His Word. We should go longing to fill our mind and heart with the glories of Christ. Prepare and plan and attend your church hungry to receive God’s glorious Word.

3. preparedly  
Attend your church preparedly. You’re thankful when a pilot comes to work and he’s prepared, studied, and able to fly your plane! If this is true of a pilot, how much more should the people of God prepare themselves to minister before the Lord and with His people as prepared as possible. This demands preparation in prayer and preparation in Bible reading. It calls for preparation in leaving the home early enough and arriving early. It beckons you to pray for visitors, for your church family, for your preacher, and for the power of the Word to thunder forth with divine power! Attend your church prepared and ready to meet with the living God!

4. prayerfully  
Attend your church prayerfully. O how common this is thought of but how uncommon this is practiced! Every Christian knows that it’s important to pray. But attend your church prayerfully and deliberately with an attitude and a proactive mindset to serve those whom God brings your way. Pray ahead of time for your fellow church members. Pray for your elders. Pray for your children in the church. Pray for the lost. Pray for the visitors. Pray for the struggling and suffering. Pray for the discouraged and distressed. Pray for the rebellious and profane. And go in a spirit of prayer asking the Lord to help you to go and serve, meet and greet, and encourage and edify.

5. unifyingly  
Attend your church unifyingly. Interestingly, when you gather with like-minded believers you are confessing -- together! -- the same gospel truths and Christian doctrines. When you stand with your congregation and sing gospel-drenched songs pointing to Christ’s gospel, the character and essence of God, the duty for holiness, and the love for the Church, you are uniting and confessing together these truths in lyrical form. When you stand and read the Word corporately, you are affirming with like-minded folks the authority of Scripture. When you hear the Word preached and resolve to submit to it, obey it, follow it, and cherish it, you are uniting together with believers around the same truths of the gospel. This produces joy and unity!

6. purposefully  
Attend your church purposefully. What would happen if your church was comprised of 75 believers who all attended with a purpose to serve, to encourage, to engage, to edify, and to build up the flock of God. It’s easy to go and get. It’s easy to just sit and hear the sermon and leave quickly. But what if you had the purpose to attend your church to speak a word of encouragement to someone, to reach out to a young child and speak a bible verse to them, to thank your pastor for one specific thing he mentioned in the sermon and how it showed you more of God’s glory? May the Lord graciously cause you to attend your church with great, deliberate and intentional purpose -- for His glory and for the saints’ edification!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Glorifying God & Blessing Your Pastor
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Do you ever wonder how you can glorify God in practical and tangible ways as you serve in your local church? Or, do you consider how you can actively minister in your church? How can you bless your pastor and bring joy to him? Here are a few simple and very practical ways that you can glorify God and bless your pastor as you minister right where you are in your local church.

1. Pray for him in his praying.
Do you know when your pastor prays? Do you know if he has a schedule or regular times that he prays for the flock, for his sermon preparation, and for the ministry? Do you know what days of the week he devotes to his sermon preparation? If not, it would be good for you to ask him and find out when he prays, when he studies, when he prepares sermons and then you can do your part to labor with him in praying even during those same times. Consider the blessing it would bring to his soul to know that he has someone (or many!) in his own church family specifically praying with and for him as he seeks the Lord in prayer, studies the Word and prepares his sermons. Consider this: find out from him when he meets with the Lord in fervent prayer and when he studies and do your best to labor with him, shoulder to shoulder during those times. Imagine the blessing this could bring to his preaching, to your soul, and to the church family as a whole.

2. Be attentive in his preaching.
Glorify God by allowing His Word to sink deep into your hearts. What did your pastor preach on last week? What was the main point? What in the sermon convicted you? How did Christ show Himself to you through what was said in the Word? Are you attentive? Do you fight distractions? Do you arrive early, on time, well-prepared, and hungry to meet with God? Another way to glorify God in your church and to greatly bless your pastor is to come attentive and sit eagerly when the Word is read and heralded. Distractions happen. Children cry. Noises come and go. But do your best to intentionally, actively, deliberately fight off distractions. Fight the wandering mind. Strive to not let your mind wander when the Word is being expounded. If you struggle with this, then move to the front row (now this will encourage your preacher!). Consider this: prepare ahead of time, come early, find one or two people before the service and pray a brief prayer for God’s rich blessing on the worship time and on the preaching of the Word. See how God will use this to encourage you and the church family as you do this weekly.

3. Serve with him in the ministry.
Serving is one of those things that everyone in a local church knows people should be doing but it can sometimes be the case that few people are actually doing it. How are you serving? This does not mean big-time ministry leaders. You can serve by praying regularly through your membership list. You can serve by reaching out to and greeting visitors and new folks on Sundays. You can serve by opening your home for hospitality to different families from your local church. You can serve by finding a family with young kids and offering to watch the kids so the parents can have a date night together periodically. You can serve by driving to the home of a retired person and having a time of Bible-reading, prayer, and encouragement together. You can serve by taking some gospel tracts and going to a school, a local college, a nearby neighborhood, or a busy marketplace and sharing the gospel. Consider this: how would God have you to actively serve Him in His local church, your family, on a regular basis. How can you creatively, proactively, intentionally and happily serve the people of God in your membership family? Remember: the pastor’s role is to equip you, the flock, to do the work of service!

4. Propagate the gospel in manifold ways.
Advance the gospel! Me? Yes! Imagine the innumerable ways that you can actively serve to advance the gospel in your community? You can glorify God by speaking forth His Word and propagating the gospel. How? If you have kids in the home, prioritize this as your great mission field. Teach truth and preach the gospel to your children (however young or old they may be). How can you serve in praying with your family and with those in your church for revival -- locally, in your congregation and in your city, and around the world? Think of how you can play a part in ministering love to your community while you clearly articulate the gospel of Jesus Christ as well (e.g., a homeless shelter, Christmas caroling). Have you considered writing a hand-written letter (1-page) to your neighbors and explaining the gospel of Jesus Christ to them and calling them to repent and believe? Is there someone that you can invite to church and offer to drive them, explain what it is and why it’s important? Is there an abortion clinic nearby that you can go to and call out to the women to not murder their babies while offering them the grace and forgiveness of Christ if they repent and trust in Him? Consider how you -- yes you! -- can actively play a part in propagating the gospel! It’s not only the pastor’s job, or the evangelist's job, or the missionary’s job; it’s our job. We all must preach repentance to all! And God will use us!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

15 Benefits to Having Children in the Worship Service
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

An audio podcast can be found here.

What are some benefits to having the children in the entire worship service? What can be gained? Why do I have this conviction? This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are 15 reasons why I believe kids in the worship service is a wise decision.
  1. They are exposed to the powerful Word of God.
  2. They observe the church body worshiping Christ.
  3. They see the importance of biblical, elevated, transcendent worship.
  4. They notice that worshiping God thru Christ is not only something their parents do, it’s something many people joyfully do.
  5. They learn the great hymns of the faith — often memorizing the stanzas and hiding the truths in their hearts.
  6. They realize the primacy of the written Word of God that permeates the worship service.
  7. They understand how holy God is as the congregation stands to sing to Him, to read His Word and to pray.
  8. They distinguish between the holy place of worship and the unholy environment of the world.
  9. They grow to intellectually understand who God is, what the gospel is, and what He expects of His people.
  10. They are able to ask follow up questions to the parents after the worship service.
  11. They are placed in a place where God’s Word can save them or sanctify them as it goes forth.
  12. They observe how important it is to give financially to the Lord and to His work.
  13. They see the diversity of the people of God — young, old, various colors, ages, seasons of life all united together to worship Christ Jesus the Lord.
  14. They learn to pray as it is modeled by the pastor and others who lead the congregation in prayers (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, praise, petition)
  15. They see how specific the Bible speaks to everyday issues as it is preached and applied to everyday life week in and week out.
Audio podcast can be found here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Learning From a Leaf.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

On most days I walk to church. On my way home on this warm, October day, I was praying and giving thanks to the Lord and I noticed a beaming-bright red tree in front of me.  The branches were dancing in the wind and the colors seized and captured me. I picked just one of the low-hanging leaves from this tree that may extend 40 feet in the air. This leaf that I picked launched me into worship as I gave thanks to the Lord for His magnificence. Suddenly, a neighbor greeted me. Perhaps he wondered why my lips were moving and why I seemed to be happily muttering to myself walking down the road. For a brief time, this conversation diverted my attention off of the leaf but when I returned home, I opened my computer and jotted down a few ways that I can learn from this leaf. To be specific, I have noted twelve ways that we can learn about God from this leaf.

From this leaf, I see the following features of our great God.

1. Design of God
This leaf sings to the wondrous design of God. God had a purpose in this leaf and in placing it where he did on the particular branch that He did and allowing it to dangle in front of me as I was walking by. The design of God is far more complex and glorious than even the best of men could replicate. This leaf teaches me the wondrous and unspeakable design of God.

2. Creativity of God
I’m a fairly routine guy (some may call that boring!). I’ve not been gifted with lots of creativity. But I can’t help but marvel at the creativity of God who masterfully planned, worked, accomplished and upheld this little leaf. Leaves aren’t the same. There’s lots of shapes, colors, sizes, thickness, weight and purposes for leaves. But this particular leaf serves a very precise purpose by God’s creative plan.

3. Power of God
I learn about the power of God in gazing upon this leaf. I can’t create a leaf; neither can you. But the amazing ability of God to design a leaf and then create it perfectly and then uphold it consistently is a remarkable testimony to the omnipotence of our great and kind God.

4. Life of God
I need lots of things for life. I need water. I need oxygen. This little leaf needs nutrients. That’s why it was connected to the branch. Both this leaf and I depend on something else for life and sustenance, but God Himself needs nothing outside of Himself for life. He is the very essence of life. He depends upon nothing for his well-being. But this leaf will soon die because I have severed it from the tree from which it received its nutrients. But God, however, is perfectly full of infinite life and sweet satisfactions in and of Himself. We depend utterly and fully upon Him.

5. Provision of God
How did this leaf grow to the size that it is? How did it sustain its health and life? The answer simply is by the wondrously caring and enormously intricate provision of God. God cares for His creation and He provided the nutrients needed from the tree, from the roots, from branch, and from this stem to sustain its life. God Himself receives glory in providing for everything -- even this leaf.

6. Precision of God
Just before my neighbor interrupted my silent musings on the glory of God from this red leaf, I was staring at the backside of the leaf and marveling at all of the veins. And there are many of them. God is very detailed because He is a precise God. There are many veins in this leaf that all jut out of the main stem. They serve a very precise purpose in this one, single particular leaf. This reminded me that I serve a God who cares about details. He’s very precise, perfect, detailed.

7. Sustenance of God
We may feed our animals and water our flowers but who cared for this leaf? Why did it last as long as it lasted on that particular branch? Who kept it there? Who upheld it? Who kept it connected? Who provided for it? The answer to all these questions is God. By his infinite wisdom and very-present power, He sustained this leaf on that branch by His own Word. In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself upholds all things in the entire universe -- and that surely includes the red leaf that I plucked today.

8. Sovereignty of God
In the eternal decrees of God, what a breathtaking thought that God ordained that this leaf would be plucked by me today and that it would catapult me into a season of worship and wonder. Who would have thought? Just one leaf? Perhaps that was one of the purposes of this particular leaf that God made. In His sovereign plan, He knew that this particular leaf would serve a purpose until a particular day and time when I would pluck it (and would soon die afterwards). What a God who reigns supremely over all His creation and who works all things together in His providential plans to bring Himself great glory and to gladden the hearts of His people.

9. Beauty of God
No one can make a green leaf and turn it into an apple-red, brilliantly-shining leaf but God. No one has this beauty. This red leaf paraded the glory of God before my eyes as I saw His matchlessness and His satisfactions and His delightfulness. No one can compare with Him. O to behold God’s beauty more and to gaze upon His glory often! May God ravish us with His beauties as we see Him in His creation and praise Him for His wonders.

10. Inexhaustibility of God
This leaf teaches me another element about God: he is inexhaustible. He is infinite. None can fathom Him. The Creator stands high above His creation. The Maker is infinitely above the items that He made. Here is a leaf full of intricacies and clear revelations of the mind of God. And yet, it causes me to marvel at the inexhaustibility of God. Who has counseled God? Who has known the mind of the Lord? Who taught God to do this? O that I may fall down before the wisdom and knowledge and glory of this great God!

11. Wrath of God
This leaf is soon to die. It certainly must die. Most assuredly I am convinced that this leaf, because it is severed from the the life of the tree, will wither and die before long. So it is with everyone who is not connected to, abiding in, trusting in Jesus Christ. He Himself is the Life. All who are apart from Christ have no life in themselves and will most assuredly die. They must die. Those who are not abiding in the vine will be cut off and thrown into the fire. What a sobering reminder from this little leaf about the urgency of finding life in Jesus Christ, the One who gives Life!

12. Blessedness of God
Why has God made so many leaves? I contemplated that there are so many leaves. It's incalculable really. So, Why has God made so many of them? What purpose do they serve? What about those at the very top of a tree or those hidden deep in the inner recesses of an unexplored forest? What purpose do they have? I believe the answer is they ring loudly and exist joyously to give glory to God. God is infinitely happy and blessed and these leaves exist for no other purpose but to give happiness and joy to God. He takes pleasure in His creation and that surely includes leaves -- even if no one researches it or no person notices it or no animal uses it. This particular leaf, then, gives exceeding joy and abundant happiness to God.

How to Preach with Great Power
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

If we are to be gospel-proclaiming men filled with God’s truth and called to preach it in season and out of season, then we desperately need God’s help. We acutely understand the great responsibility that we have to study the Word to show ourselves approved as a workman rightly handling the word of God. Also we know we must preach it powerfully, apply it specifically, and proclaim the gospel of salvation so that God may save the lost and edify the saints. 

But how do we preach with great power? What needs to happen to preach with the “unction” of God? How do we get this power? This write-up will bring out five elements needed to preach with great power.

God’s man must be...

1. Faithful to the Text
If we are to be men who preach with great power, we must speak God’s Word faithfully and accurately. God does not bless those who wrongly divide His Truth. He calls all those who minister the gospel to study regularly, diligently and intensely so as to be able to say “thus says the LORD” when he stands in the pulpit to speak the oracles of God. God called the Levites of old to be students of the Word so that they could teach throughout Israel. They were to know the Law and know the commandments of God and they were to be able to instruct the Israelites in the Scriptures. Ezra was a man who gave himself to study the Law of the Lord (and obey it) before he taught it in Israel. So also for us, we must study to show ourselves approved to God. We must understand the authorial meaning of the text. We must regain the precise, accurate interpretation of the words that God has given in the text so that we may preach every word and every line faithfully and compellingly. To have divine power in preaching, we must preach God’s words accurately as He intended them to be understood.

2. Free from hidden sin
The man of God must be holy. The beginning chapters in the Book of Numbers speak repeatedly about how the priests and the Levites were to be cleansed and purified before doing their duties. Similarly, men of God today must be pure and holy as ministers of the gospel. The man of God should be free from wickedness. Ministers of the gospel must repent quickly of all known sin, they must harbor no ongoing sin in their lives, they must wage war violently against sin that pops up its monstrous head, and must fight by God’s grace to walk in holiness for the glory of Christ. To preach in the power of the Holy Spirit demands that the man be holy, consecrated, walking in a manner worthy of the calling. See what happened to Nadab and Abihu when they sought to do God’s work in an unholy or impure way. God’s heralds must be holy servants of the great King.

3. Focusing on God’s Glory
To preach with great power necessitates that the man be utterly consumed with one big purpose and ambition — the glory of God alone. Faithful preaching cannot coexist with endeavors to make a big name for oneself. The fame of God and the fame of self cannot both be desired at the same time. To preach with Holy Spirit power calls men of God to remember that while they stand in the pulpits to preach, they must focus on three objects: God, the soul of his hearers, and his own soul. Or even to simply it further, one must preach for One — God and His glory. This consuming ambition will drive the man to faithful study of the Word, to relentless communication of God’s attributes, to the consistent proclamation of Christ’s person and crosswork and resurrection for the salvation of ruined sinners, and for the need for sinners to repent and turn to Christ for salvation. God’s men have power in so far as they are totally devoted to God’s glory alone!

4. Fearless in Heralding Christ
If we want to preach with great power, then we must preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified. No other message could ever come with divine power such as this. Paul said to the Romans that the gospel is the power of God. And it is this gospel that is about the righteousness of God which comes through faith! To preach with divine power calls for the herald to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified in the midst of a Christ-rejecting and God-hating society. Never shall the preacher cater the message to what the non believing world wants to hear. The truth teller of the gospel must receive his marching orders from God — and God alone. And God has summoned him to “preach the Word — and be ready in season and out of season!” So in the fearless heralding of Jesus Christ, regardless of the consequences, the man of God can know he has divine power in the preaching of Jesus Christ who Himself is the almighty power of God!

5. Fervent in earnest prayer
Undoubtedly, spiritual power comes through prayer. O let men of God call upon God earnestly for more power, for spiritual power, for divine ability to articulate divine truths faithfully. A man may have a good commentary as he speaks doctrine in the pulpit but to preach with divine power and thunder the truth like piercing arrows deep into men’s hearts is a work that God must do. Men must be earnest and desperate for this power. Paul, who himself was indwelt by the Spirit of God, begged the believers to pray for him. The author of Hebrews called the congregation to pray for him. O how godly men must be fervent in earnest prayer calling upon God and entreating the flock of God to seek the blessing and favor of God upon the preaching of the eternal truth. To be used of God and for the Word to go forth with unstoppable, irresistible, and God-given power, we must ask God for it. No man who goes into the pulpit full of himself will be filled with Christ and filled with Holy Spirit power. Let God’s men be empty of themselves, void of all reliance upon self and may they come humbled, broken, desperate, and crying out to God for power, for filling, for clarity, for unction, and for boldness in the preaching of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Then, and only then, can the man do the impossible: speak the oracles of God with power and conviction. Let men of God be unashamed in fervently calling upon God for power in earnest prayer!

Friday, October 5, 2018

The CONVICTION of Preaching
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The man of God who preaches the Bible must have conviction. When Jesus taught those who heard him said that he taught them with authority — not as their teachers. To fully understand that we speak of eternal things demands our passion, our conviction, our urgency. We preach to persuade. We preach to call sinners to Christ. To preach the Word requires conviction. I want to speak of this kind of conviction in four ways.

1. conviction in PASSION
The herald of the Word must have conviction in his passion. He must preach as a man who believes what he says. How tragic for someone to speak of the glories of Christ in a half-hearted way or in an emotionless way. Sad is the congregation who has a man bored in the pulpit and who speaks of gospel-truths in apathetic ways. Let God’s men rise with passion, with earnestness, with confidence. Like the old skeptic who rose early to go hear George Whitefield preach in the open air. Someone saw him and said: Hume, you don’t believe in the gospel. To which Hume replied, “I don’t, but Whitefield does.” Let us preach as men on fire as the divine truths have burned deeply into the very souls of our being.

2. conviction in CERTAINTY
Men must know truth and be convinced of truth. Men hold opinions but convictions hold the man. We need men who stand and confidently speak forth the gospel truths with certainty, with courage and with conviction. The church does not need man-pleasers who sway their opinions to the tune of culture and to the sound of the day. We need men with convictions in the certain truths of Scripture. Men are desired who stand and speak forth with unflinching courage.

3. conviction in FULLNESS
Every man who has the Word of God should speak forth the Word with conviction in the fullness of divine truths. He must be convinced of the fullness of divine power that goes forth and will assuredly accomplish what God desires. There must be a great fullness consuming the man who stands before the people as he is a called man by the Almighty King to speak forth the glorious excellencies of Christ. The preacher must be filled with divine truths, with eternal glories, with everlasting hope, and with Spirit-given power to speak forth the gospel in all the rays of beauty.

4. conviction in PERSUASION
The Apostle Paul sought to persuade King Agrippa. Let all men of God follow Paul’s example to persuade sinners of their lost condition and plead with them to repent from sin and turn to Christ. There should be a great polemic in our preaching as we argue forth the reasons for Christ’s glory, the benefits of trusting in Christ, and the folly of rejecting Him. We must speak with great persuasion as dealing with men’s everlasting souls. Never should a man stand and herald the gospel in a ‘take it or leave it’ sort of way. Preachers must say: “this is the truth. You must believe it!” The preacher stands between frail men and soon-coming eternity. He knows he stands as a bridge bringing God to men and bringing men to God. O may we increase in our conviction as we preach the Word. May we preach with passion, with certainty, with divine fullness and with great persuasion. May God’s men say with Paul: the Word of God came with power, with the Holy Spirit and with full conviction! May God give more men with the towering conviction of the saving truths of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The NECESSITY of Preaching
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Some current church gurus have quipped that preaching is outdated and now irrelevant. We’ve stepped into a new era where monologue doesn’t work anymore, they say. In fact, many may affirm that standing behind a large wooden pulpit, with a Bible open, wearing a tie and authoritatively telling people what the Bible says and how they must respond doesn’t seem to connect with our post-Christian culture anymore. So this timeless duty to preach the Word of God is now being replaced by anything, by something. But I must argue that the preaching of the Word of God is vitally necessary and it is critically important. We see the necessity of preaching in at least 5 ways.

We see the necessity of preaching because CHRIST COMMANDED IT.
Jesus Christ commanded His followers to go and ‘preach that the kingdom of God is at hand.’ The main mission of the disciples as they permeated Galilee was to go and preach. To stand and speak was their calling. Jesus called His people to proclaim the Word. The Word that Matthew uses (in 10:7) is the word “to herald” and it implies a messenger being sent from an authority with a message that he must deliver faithfully, accurately and without alteration to the desired audience. Jesus called His followers to preach the gospel.  Peter was in the house of Cornelius and said that he had been ordered to preach to the people and to solemnly declare that Jesus is the judge of the living and the dead! O may we understand the sheer importance of preaching because Jesus demanded it! He calls His ministers to it. Paul said that he was called and sent not to baptize but to preach the gospel. May men of God rise and herald if for no other reason that Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God has called him to this weighty task.

We see the necessity of preaching because SCRIPTURE DEMANDS IT.
Preaching the Word of God must be central in a biblical church ministry because Scripture demands it. The Old Testament prophets frequently spoke the word of the Lord to the people (whether the audience wanted to hear it or not). The Apostle Paul in the New Testament demands that all God’s men preach the Word (2 Tim 4:2). Nothing should eclipse this in Christian ministry. Nothing should bump the preeminence of the proclamation of this Savior and His gospel. In church ministry, the Bible could not be clearer that men must “speak” things fitting for sound doctrine and must speak with all authority to God’s people as God’s mouthpieces. Elders must work hard at preaching and teaching. It is a tireless work and a necessary ministry to speak God’s words to God’s people. And preaching the Word is unquestionably necessary because the Bible demands it. If all else is lost, the preaching of God’s unchanging truth must never be pushed aside, exchanged or minimized.

We see the necessity of preaching because GOD SAVES & SANCTIFIES BY IT.
Men come to Christ through the preaching of the Word of God. This is the Word which Peter preached to believers (1 Peter 1:25). God saves people through the going forth of the Word of God. God does not save apart from the Word of God nor apart from the Truth of the gospel. It is the word of Christ that people must hear to be saved. Men must hear and understand the character of God, the sinfulness of sin, the fairness of hellfire, the substitutionary work of Christ, and the need to believe in Christ alone. It is the preaching of the Word of God that the Spirit of God uses to both save and sanctify. He converts and conforms saints more into the image of Christ through the going forth of divine truth. The Spirit works with and by the Word but not apart from the Word. Let men of God open their Bibles and speak forth God’s Word knowing that God will save whom He desires and that God will sanctify His people through this necessary means of grace — the heralding of the glorious gospel.

We see the necessity of preaching because GOD’S AUTHORITY REQUIRES IT.
God sits on high, far above the highest heavens, ruling over all the affairs of men (Psalm 103:19). No one can rebel against God and His sovereign authority. To read the Bible is to speak forth God’s words. To preach God’s Word is to say: “Thus says the LORD.” God’s authority does not demand a chat, nor does it welcome a ‘conversation’; or still, a roundtable panel. Rather, the authority of almighty God demands that a qualified, faithful and holy minister of the gospel would stand and speak forth God’s Word with all authority. This is precisely what Paul commands Titus to do. Speak these things (gospel truths) with ‘all authority’ (Titus 2:1, 15). No event in all the world carries as much authority in our lives as the sitting under the faithful, sound, expositional preaching of holy Scripture. For in the heralding of God’s Word, the sovereign Creator God addresses all who are there. And the authority of God requires an authoritative proclamation. A chat does not accomplish this, nor does a lecture, a sharing time, a discussion, or a sermonette. We must recover the powerful, biblical, faithful and reverential proclamation of the Word of the living God.

We see the necessity of preaching because SINNERS NEED IT.
Sinners need nothing more than the fervent, faithful and crystal-clear proclamation of God’s Word that lays bare their sinfulness and inevitable judgment as they stand condemned before a holy God. Sinners don’t need entertainment, sports, relationships, friendships, religion, or feel good pep-talks. Sinners must understand their dire condition before the all-seeing eyes of God who promises to punish all sinners (Rom 6:23). Men of God who stand as pastors must understand the eternal ramifications of having and holding God’s Word and the uncompromising need to preach it powerfully and passionately so that sinners may repent of their sin and turn to Jesus Christ by faith alone. We don’t need less preaching in our day. Rather, we need much more preaching! We don’t just need more churches; we need more of the right kind of churches. That is, we need churches who are tenaciously and unashamedly tethered to the passionate preaching of Jesus Christ and Him crucified as men of God stand and speak forth the full counsel of God’s Word. O preaching is necessary because without it, sinners will perish and be lost forever! O let men of God arise and preach in churches and outside of churches! Let godly men preach from the housetops and on street corners. Let men preach in public squares and in living rooms. O may sinners see the gravity of their sin in God’s eyes and flee for refuge to the Rock who is the only Refuge from the coming and inescapable deluge of divine wrath — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. Let us preach powerfully, frequently and urgently! It’s necessary!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

From Michael Wilcock, 2 Chronicles, Bible Speaks Today, p. 247:

Speaking of King Hezekiah...
"When there is a financial crisis, the first thing we think about is money. When there is a communications crisis, our prime concern is to learn how to talk the language of the modern generation. When there is a church attendance crisis, we make it our chief aim to get numbers up. If Hezekiah had responded to a military threat in a military way, the Assyrians would have understood that. Army would have been matched against army, with dire consequences for Judah. But instead he and his people first look up to God."
So needed in our day.  LOOK UP TO GOD!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church, St Louis, MO

No other event comes with such weightiness than the preaching of the Word of God. In a day where seriousness lacks in the pulpits what can be done? What must preachers remember? What must all pastors bear in mind? It is my persuasion that we must recover a great seriousness in the proclamation of the Word of Almighty God.

Preaching is Serious because of ONE WE REPRESENT.
The magnificent transcendence of God catapults biblical preaching in a category that soars high above every other earthly duty. This does not minimize the importance of nor take away the blessings of earthly employments and tasks, but rather it serves to heighten the unsurpassed grandeur of God Almighty and the world-shaking power of His voice that thunders forth through the faithful exposition of His Word. When a man stands to preach the Bible, he represents God. He stands as the mouthpiece for God to herald divine Truths. A preacher is a representative; or, an ambassador. He represents another. He has come on mission from another Person. He comes bearing good news — indeed, divine news. He is an envoy sent from God with good news of a great Savior for guilty sinners freely available to all. The preacher represents God as he takes the Word of God and the truth of Scripture and lays it before the gathered congregation weekly. To represent God is to represent the highest dignitary that exists. To represent God is to represent supreme majesty, transcendent glory, the fullness of Truth, and the judge of all mankind. This is no trivial matter. Herein lies the seriousness of preaching.  The preacher must be serious because of the Almighty One that he represents as he heralds.

Preaching is Serious because of the RESPONSIBILITY WE BEAR.
No wonder one preacher of old ran away when men called him to be their pastor and he exlciamed: “I cannot stand in that awful place” (referring to the pulpit)! O that men would regain such a lofty responsibility and a holy understanding of standing behind the “sacred desk” and saying to people: thus says the LORD. There is a regal responsibility tasked to every preacher. That responsibility is to stand as a messenger from the sovereign King to speak forth His Word faithfully, clearly and powerfully so that Christ may be exalted in the saving of His people. To preach is not to entertain. To preach is not to share. To preach is not to give thoughts or ideas or polls or stories. Nor does preaching consists in the data dumping of commentary-like messages. To preach is to speak forth what God has revealed in Scripture with power, with clarity, with fidelity, and with authority so that the Spirit of God may point men to Jesus Christ and both save and sanctify His elect to the glory of God Almighty. The preacher bears the responsibility of being the very mouthpiece of God. In so far as the minister of the gospel speaks biblical truth faithfully from the text, one can say that the preacher’s word is God’s word. Thus, God speaks through the preacher. What a responsibility! What a duty! What a heavy burden and a glorious calling to be a minister.

Preaching is Serious because of the NEARNESS OF DEATH.
There once was a preacher who spent decades pastoring a church. He loved people but he acknowledged he was not the best student, nor the best preacher. He would often tell stories in the pulpit and one of his foremost passions was to be likable by people and win the popularity of his congregation so they would invite friends to church, feel loved and welcomed there and not feel condemned or judged. But later on his death bed, the man humbly repented with great tears of sorrow that he wasted those years of ministry as he did not urgently call men and women to repentance and submission to Christ as King. He neglected the imminency of death. How many funerals he performed and yet how uncertain he now is of their eternal destiny because he entertained them with stories but he did not press Christ upon the souls of sinful men. O may the nearness of death, the sureness of death, the swiftness of death, and even the finality of death constrain men of God to stand up and preach Christ and call for a verdict — immediately! Nothing in all the world could be more serious than hearing a sermon. Death is coming. Sermons will prepare men for heaven or harden men for judgment. Dreadful is the state to go loaded with many sermons to hell. Death is coming. Let preachers stand with sobriety and seriousness and proclaim the matter of eternal life and death — repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! Be earnest! Be serious! Don’t trifle.

Preaching is Serious because of the URGENCY OF THE GOSPEL.
A man once told a story of coming out of his office building in a downtown area where he looked across the street and saw a small work-building on fire and saw the flames dancing out of the windows and the smoke whistling upward like smoke of a furnace. Immediately he ran to the side windows on the ground level and screamed through the crackles of the flames for men and women to “GET OUT” and “RUN FOR THE DOORS” and he even chanted: “IS ANYONE THERE?” He pleaded, he screamed, he urged, he begged, he did all that he could to warn men to get out for the safety of their own lives. O how much more serious must the minister of the gospel be with eternal life and eternal death. Men preach not for the safety of one’s physical life but for the salvation of one’s immortal soul. Presidential addresses can be urgent. An ultimatum can be urgent. A peace agreement in war can be urgent. But nothing in the world can compare with the urgency of preaching the Word of God to warn sinners — young and old, church members or worldlings alike — of the tormenting fires of hell and of the sweet delights of heaven. Don’t stand to perform when you preach. Rather than being clever and funny on Sundays, men of God must stand with the Bible open and he must speak forth the truths of Scripture because the gospel of Christ crucified, atonement accomplished, propitiation won, repentance demanded and obedience required is urgent! The most serious moment in a person’s life consists in the hearing of the word preached! Let us come with this perspective as we hear from God through His chosen mouthpiece as he expounds divine Truth and may we humbly receive it, with sober hearts and obedient resolutions.

In a Society of the Acceleration of Accusations…. 
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

I wonder if a day goes by where someone, somewhere isn’t accused of some heinous sin and grievous offense. Recently politics have swirled with accusations (of many sorts) regarding one influential figure. Another athlete was recently accused rape. On and on they go. This article is not to suggest that people are or are not guilty of such accusations. Only God knows all the facts and every detail exhaustively and precisely. But my goal in this essay is to plead with men of God who serve as elder-shepherds in the local church to strive to be careful, protective and blameless in all their dealings. No one can guard against accusations. But men of God who serve Christ’s people must live such blameless lives that

God calls men to be above reproach as shepherds. We understand that this call to blamelessness does not demand sinlessness. Of course, no man can be sinless in this life. We must, nevertheless, pursue holiness with great ardency and zeal. We must remember that holiness begins in the heart. The genesis of worship begins with a heart transfixed upon God. The weed of sin begins with a seed underground — in the heart of man. Men who serve as pastors must be pure. Be pure in your heart. Be holy in your heart. Be killing sin — even the unseen and unknown and the respectable sins of culture — with great ferociousness. Pursue purity by gazing on Christ. Be holy by marveling at God’s character. Be distinct as you order your ways to Scripture. Be pure in your heart and you can ensure purity in your conduct. If you want a pure life, then maintain a pure heart.

God’s call for men is to be above reproach. Elsewhere the Pastoral epistles call men to be blameless. We are to be lovers of what’s good. Men of God must not be lovers of money or angry or lazy or bullies. Pastors would do well to meditate slowly and frequently on the list of qualifications (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, 1 Peter 5, and even 2 Timothy 2) and to earnestly pray to God to cultivate holiness more in our lives. Man of God: be careful in your actions with fellow members. Be extremely cautious in your actions toward women. Guard how you interact with others. Refuse to be alone with a woman who is not your wife. In our culture and with much that’s swirling around us, we cannot be too cautious in our dealings with one another and with the world in general. Be careful, cautious, self-controlled and sober-minded.

Elder-shepherd, you must take great care in how you speak with others, where you speak with others, and what you say in your conversations with others. Don’t find yourself alone in a room or in a hallway speaking with a woman (whatever topic may be discussed!). Do not hint at anything that could be perceived as leading a woman on, or hunting a woman down, or harassing her.  We do well to remain biblically faithful, speaking of Scripture and calling men and women to holiness and to the pursuit of Christ. Elders must guard how they speak with others. The tone of voice, the words we use and the location of conversations should all be considered by men of God serving as shepherds in Christ’s church. Protect yourself and be thoughtful as you lead.

The most transparent place should be the elder-team. There should be openness, honesty, humility, and transparency between brothers as men share struggles, situations and conversations that have taken place. This is a clarion call for all shepherd-elders to be forthright and honest with the fellow elders so that there is no ambiguity, no surprises, no shocks, and no accusations that could carry any weight. A man’s character should be blameless, a man’s actions should be above-reproach, his conversations should be Christ-honoring and biblically faithful, and his elders should be aware of what’s going on. May pastors be open and honest about such things so as to take an extra measure to guard oneself and the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and the reputation of the gospel from being marred by sin, by accusation, by evil, and by the Accuser himself.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church,  St Louis, Missouri

No power exists on the face of the earth comparable to the Word of God. The Bible goes forth with divine power because the Bible is itself divinely powerful. The Scriptures are the God-breathed Word so that every line — indeed every word! — comes forth with supernatural and unstoppable power. Wise is the preacher who takes the Scriptures and stands and speaks forth what God has said in His Word. Foolish is the man who chooses to misrepresent the Scripture, misquote the Scripture, or ignore the Scriptures altogether. God speaks to every minister of the gospel through Paul’s pen when he wrote: “preach the Word.” Every week the preacher’s main job consists in the reading, explaining and applying of the Word of God. In doing this, he unleashes divine power from the Word of God as the Spirit of God uses His Truth for God's appointed ends.

We do well to consider and believe in the power of preaching the Word of God.

The preaching of God’s Word is POWER FROM GOD.
Preaching is life-giving because the preaching of the Word of God accomplishes what God has decreed. The man of God must wholly devote himself to the study of Scripture and to the holiness of heart and conduct. In studying the Truth of Scripture, in crafting the sermon to be preached, and in calling out for God’s help  to aid in the heralding of the gospel, the Word goes forth with world-shaking power. To faithfully speak God’s Word from the pulpit is to say “thus says the LORD.” In so far as the herald faithfully expounds holy Scripture in all of its parts, his words are truly God’s Words. As he diligently and carefully provides the meaning of the text and allows the text to speak, it is in fact the power from God going forth through the man. Herein is the lofty and fearful calling of being a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In no other calling can a man genuinely and accurately say: “here is what God says, go and do it for the eternal good of your souls!” But for the preacher this is not only possible, it is mandatory; indeed it’s urgent! To preach God’s Word unleashes glorious power from God the Spirit as He uses His Word to save those whom the Father has elected and whom Christ has redeemed with His own blood.

The preaching of God’s Word is POWERFUL to CONVERT.
The man must be at the height of arrogance to stand in front of a gathered group and think that his cleverness or creativity or charismatic persona can win the hearts of people to Jesus. No story or illustration or environment or pop-culture, self-help, life-coaching message will ever change the heart or convert the soul. Only the living and active Word of God can do this. A living preacher is one who has and holds and opens and reads his Bible. Indeed, he expounds from it. He has a finger in the text and constantly draws the people in the congregation back to their Bibles so they can see it in their own Bibles. A preacher that kills is the one who refuses to preach from the Word of God as the source of Truth that provides him with what to say when he stands before people. The Bible can convert. The Word of God in Truth can take a soul in Satan’s kingdom and cause him to be born again by God’s grace and deliver him into the kingdom of God. Wise is the man and careful is the expositor who preaches God’s Word knowing that this Word is able to convert lost souls.

The preaching of God’s Word is POWERFUL to SANCTIFY.
Programs don’t sanctify people. Stories don’t sanctify people. Clever strategies and worldly wisdom do not make people more like Jesus. Jesus said: “sanctify them in your Truth; your Word is Truth!” True Christians, like children, hunger for food. They must be nourished and fed and given a steady diet to grow in health and strength. So it is spiritually. A faithful preacher will feed Christ’s sheep with the nourishing food they need and provide them with a steady diet in Truth so that they may be strengthened, edified, equipped, matured, and unshakeable in the faith. The faithful minister of the gospel knows that all of God’s Word is profitable for life, for godliness, for holiness, and for Christian living. To have a man who claims to love Jesus, love the church and care for people but yet he refuses to open his Bible and preach the text of Scripture and expound its meaning week after week is a person who unpreaches with his conduct what he professes with his mouth. Many famished and malnourished sheep need to find shepherds who will feed them with the pure Word so that they can grow in Christ, mature in grace, and be equipped to serve.

The preaching of God’s Word is POWERFUL to be UNLEASHED.
What a travesty that many students of the Bible spend more time in commentaries and word-books than they do in the text of Scripture itself. It’s easy to read a commentary and a theological book. But divine power resides in the text of Scripture because the Bible is the very word of God. The Scriptures are like a lion. The lion needs to be let loose; the lion needs to be let out of the cage. Like a majestic lion, it’ll defend itself. So many want to be clever with worldly ingenuities and clever strategies to win the culture and change society and change the morality of a godless country. But the only source where real, lasting change can truly come from that will reach the heart is from the text of Scripture. The preacher understands his weakness and knows and relies on God’s power when he unleashes God’s Word week by week for God’s people. Even when people cry and complain and when some chaff and grumble and when others may wish him to not be so serious and urgent in the pulpit, he stands as a mouthpiece for God, with the power of Scripture to produce eternal good for the souls of men. So the faithful pastor unleashes the Word week by week. Surveys may go on, statistics may come in, churches may boom in size down the road that refuse to teach all of Scripture and gospel truths, and many people may express opinions about how hard, sober-minded preaching will drive people away and shrink the church. But the man of God stands strong and unleashes the Truth of the Bible through the biblical, faithful, careful, and precise exposition of Scripture. He lives to please God, not men. He strives to win the applause of God, not the masses. He believes in the power of the Bible and so He is relentlessly, consistently, passionately, and preeminently committed to the POWER of preaching.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Upcoming blogs in this preaching series...
The PRIMACY of preaching
The POWER of preaching
The SERIOUSNESS of preaching
The NECESSITY of preaching
The CONVICTION of preaching

The authoritative declaration from God is rare to come by in these days. In a society where much of professing evangelicalism are looking to learn from the culture rather than to speak authoritative truth to the culture, we have exchanged the truth of God for the scraps of entertainment. So many have given up on the expository preaching of Truth and have instead replaced it with a talk that may last for 20-30 minutes so people can leave and get on with their already busy Sundays. The case is clear. The need is urgent. We must return to the primacy of preaching and uphold the glory of God’s timeless call to preach the Word — and to be ready in season and out of season to declare: “Thus says the LORD!”

The man of God who serves as a pastor must be utterly consumed with one primary task. This is the chief work that He gives himself to. He must tirelessly and joyfully and consistently devote himself and his energies and his time to the steadfast study of Scripture and to importunate prayer to the Lord. This is nonnegotiable. He cannot ignore the commands of GOd. The true minister understands the primacy of preaching and is willing to uphold the centrality of preaching in his ministry.

The minister of Christ lives to please Christ and not man. His ambition focuses on receiving the approval from God and not the accolades of men. He is unmoved by cultural fads and political whims. He is not shaken by political pressures and religious ideologies. He knows the ultimate solution for man’s desperate condition is found in the glorious propitiation of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God! As the spiritual soul-doctor, he does not give sick patients what they ask for. He knows what’s best for them and so he gives it to them — even if they may not want it, or like it, or choose it for themselves. He understands that Christ is the healer of depraved and dying souls. He knows the gospel is the only remedy that can save, sanctify and change men. He believes in the power of grace, the glory of God, the wonder of regeneration, and the sovereignty of the Spirit. He marvels at the sweetness of Christ, the hope of Christ’s substitution, and the nearness of eternity.

When God calls a man he bids the man to die to his own expectations, ambitions, goals, and laziness. The man of God must busy himself with Christ, with prayer, with study, and with souls. He is a man on mission with the Word of God in hand and with an eye toward eternity. He knows that God has called him to preach the Word of God. And if the almighty King of the universe has called him to such a noble task, no other enchanting delight should distract him from his ultimate purpose. To be called to preach demands serious study, a serious mind, serious praying, and a serious mindset. That serious mindset includes the notion that eternity is soon-coming. Souls are hanging over eternity — some are headed to glory, by God’s sovereign grace, and many others hang over the flaming pit of hell and will be cast there at the very instant of death, unless God mercifully saves them. Life is short. Eternity is long. Death is imminent. Souls are valuable. The pastor knows this and thus he is a sober-minded man.

Life isn’t a game. Ministry isn’t a game. The Church is not for entertainment. This is why the true minister of the gospel gives himself to the primacy of preaching. His calendar is primarily consumed with study of the Truth of Scripture — the truth that saves souls and sanctifies God’s children — and with the prayer for God’s help. This is the man who understands that when the Church gathers, He must feed the people of God with the deep things of God from the Word of God pointing to the gospel of God with full confidence in the power and Spirit of God. He knows that everything he does in life and in ministry must take second place to the primacy and preeminence and centrality of the authoritative preaching of the Word of God.

This is the minister of the gospel who understands God and who understands Truth and who understands the calling to preach. May God raise up more men by the thousands who are relentlessly committed to the primacy of expository preaching.

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