Thursday, April 26, 2018

16 Benefits of Expository Preaching
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

In what follows, I'll provide 16 benefits of expository preaching. 

Expository preaching...
  1. Allows God to speak through His written Word, by His chosen mouthpiece, to all who are present.
  2. Defines the primary way that Christ promises to build His Church -- through the regular, faithful, steady, theological, Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered expounding of Scripture.
  3. Feeds God’s people on the whole counsel of God.
  4. Is the primary means that the Spirit of God brings lost sinners to salvation through faith alone in Christ alone.
  5. Is the primary means through which the Spirit of God sanctifies, grows, convicts, and conforms the likeness of Christ in true believers.
  6. Upholds the absolute sufficiency, divine authority, unstoppable power, and glorious comforts found in Holy Scripture.
  7. Brings out the authorial meaning of the text that is singular, unchanging and expounded.
  8. Models for believers how to study God’s Word and how to derive at the meaning of the text and proper application of the meaning of that text for their lives today.
  9. Aids the congregation to know what will be preached on next week (if it’s sequential exposition through a Book of the Bible).
  10. Prevents a minister from saying his opinions, or reading into the text what’s not there (eisegesis), or entertaining people with stories.
  11. Grows the preacher himself as he studies the text of Scripture to be preached and benefits from the sanctifying work of God’s truth in his own soul and life.
  12. Goes forth with the power of the Holy Spirit with much prayer and faithful proclamation.
  13. Must be priority and central in the local church.
  14. Informs the minds of believers with theological truth so as to see how the text that is preached fits within the immediate and greater context of that chapter and book. It shows the flock that God’s Word is a unity and that systematic theology is to be derived out of Scripture as it is properly interpreted.
  15. Does not change with the cultural changes, preferences of men, laws of the land, or generational shifts. It is a timeless mandate from God.
  16. Allows the sermon to be preached in any culture in the world as the meaning of the text does not change from place to place (applications may differ but the meaning remains constant).
Pastor Geoff's sermons & articles are found at his webpage.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Twelve Features of Biblical Preaching
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

This brief write-up will expound upon 12 features of biblical preaching. These features need to be reviewed and recovered in our day so that God’s Word will go forth with mighty thunder, in the power of the Holy Spirit, so that God may save many for the glory of Jesus Christ.

1. EXPOSITION — To exposit the biblical text refers to the teacher bringing the authorial intent out of the text of Scripture. This is the meaning of the particular text. To exposit means to dive deep in bringing the true meaning out of the text and making it plain to the hearers.

2. PRECISION — Biblical preaching must be precise. There must be clear arguments, cogent lines of reasoning and biblical supports for what is stated. The Bible is very precise. God is very precise. The gospel is very precise. The truth that saves is very precise. So our preaching should be very precise and clear.

3. DECLARATION — To preach God’s Word includes the declaration of God’s Truth. To declare is different than sharing truth. Someone may share a cookie, but we declare what God has said. The minister of God has a word from God as received in Scripture and he declares it to the congregation that has assembled to hear from God. Preaching is the declaration of Truth.

4. INSTRUCTION — All biblical preaching must include instruction. To instruct is to inform the mind and engage the intellect. To preach God’s Word is to reveal the mind of Christ, the heart of God, and the wisdom of the Spirit. To preach powerfully demands clear instruction.

5. APPLICATION — Jesus is the master example of preaching with application. He summoned His hearers to action. He called them to repent and believe. He warned them of remaining in their sin. Consider the Book of Hebrews, which is a word of exhortation, which repeatedly calls the hearers to action. True preaching includes both imparting Truth and specific calls to action.

6. PASSION — To preach God’s Word is to let the Word of God speak through the man. When God speaks, heaven roars all the earth must listen! A faithful preacher internalizes God’s Word and says that it’s like a fire in His bones that He cannot keep in. He preaches with passion so all would hear, believe, be moved, and be caught up with the glory of the divine Truths expounded.

7. PERSUASION — The art of public speaking includes persuasion. Jesus persuaded. Paul sought to persuade in his preaching. To persuade is to present the realities of something in such a way so as to bring others with a contrary viewpoint to a different perspective. The gospel is preached with the intention of persuading the lost to turn from their sins and embrace Christ!

8. EVANGELIZATION — All biblical preaching must include the good news of Jesus Christ. A sermon without Christ is like a solar system without the sun. To preach the Bible without the good news of Christ is to give a car without the engine. It’s useless and void of any good thing. Let all who preach proclaim Christ and Him crucified in every sermon. Not every text is about Jesus Christ but every text can lead to Jesus Christ. Preachers must evangelize in every sermon.

9. INVITATION — To give an invitation does not mean a call to ‘raise a hand,’ or ‘walk an aisle.’ Rather, to invite refers to the preacher heralding God’s Word, proclaiming the salvation found only in Christ, and then summoning lost sinners to forsake all else and embrace Christ by faith alone. To invite is to compel, to woo, to summon, to beg, to seek, to entreat, and to welcome.

10. COMPASSION — Faithful preachers emulate Christ as men of compassion. To preach is to pity the lost and present the only remedy for their sin-sick souls. To preach the Word is the greatest way to show compassion upon lost sinners and converted saints. Preaching presents Christ in His fullness to all who have gathered so they may gaze upon Him for rest, rescue, and refuge.

11. CLARIFICATION — Preaching the Word of God must include clarification. To preach well is to ensure that the words that have been spoken derive from Scripture and that the stated facts fit within the larger theological framework of systematic theology. Thus, faithful preaching includes the clarifying of what is said through repetition and supporting the truths stated with other Scriptures in the entirety of God’s Word.

12. EXHORTATION — To preach is quintessentially to exhort. It is a call to action. To preach is to summon to change. A man who has the Word of God presents the meaning of the text in such a way that he then exhorts the hearers to take action in light of what was declared. Enter through the narrow gate! Unless you repent you’ll perish! Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts! Praise Him for His excellent deeds! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

On biblical preaching: here are more articles & podcasts from Pastor Geoff's website.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Pastor’s Responsibility To Train Men
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

When I read the Pastoral Epistles, my heart reflects on the duty that God gives to shepherds to care for, train up, and multiply men of God. Truly this is God’s work ultimately. To this I wholeheartedly affirm. Nevertheless, God has entrusted all shepherds with the glorious and preeminent duty of developing leaders, instructing them in truth, and equipping them to serve Christ and His church.

Here are some ways that I seek to fulfill this responsibility to train men in the local church.

1.    PRAY for MEN
It’s an impossible task. I can’t bring men to the church, make them stay, or make leaders out of men. It’s an entirely impossible task that far exceeds my abilities. But I pray. I pray often and I pray hard for God to bring godly men. For me, I designate Tuesdays specifically in my morning times of meeting with God in prayer to earnestly call upon Him for men of God to rise up within our church and for God to also bring to us men of God with an earnest, humble, devoted, and sincere passion to serve the people of God and the gospel of grace.  I believe that leadership development begins with desperate prayer. I call upon God who alone can do this work!

2.    TEACH the MEN
Paul called upon pastor Timothy to take what he had learned from the aged Apostle and “instruct faithful men” and to pass on the truths to them. The duty falls to the pastor-shepherds to primarily teach the men in the local church. Books, articles, seminaries, professors, conferences are such blessings and can — and should! — be employed but these ought not to eliminate the responsibility of a local shepherd who can weekly teach men who serve in same body of Christ. For me, I disciple a few men throughout the week and then on Friday mornings, I meet with the men of my local church for an hour and a half of focused, shepherding, intentional study of God’s Word and application to our lives.

3.    INVEST in MEN
Teaching is one thing. Investing in the lives of the men is related, but it goes beyond the mere instructing of the mind. Paul said that he not only imparted the gospel to the Thessalonians (truly, he did this!), but he also imparted his very own life as well. He invested in the men. His heart was knit to theirs. His affections were longing for their holiness. His purposes were tethered to the sanctifying work of the Spirit, through His Word, in their lives, for the glory of Christ!  He invested in believers so they would grow in grace and love Christ more. I endeavor to invest in the men that God has brought to serve with me in the local church. Whether it’s a few men, more than that, rather than being discouraged about the men who don’t show up, what a privilege to invest in the men (however many or few there may be) who do show up to be taught. I invest in those who want to be taught, who desire to be trained, who hunger for righteousness, and who reciprocate in leadership development.

4.    MEET with MEN
I meet with the men weekly as a gathering on Friday mornings. In this time, I spend about thirty minutes sharing my heart on practical shepherding related matters. This could include everything from marital matters, sexual purity, working hard on the job, family worship, why we pick the songs we sing at church, our mission statement, qualifications for elders, why we preach the way we do, how to prepare for and respond to the Word of God preached, and many other topics. Then after this brief heart-to-heart discussion, we dig into God’s Word for a straight hour and study it together. We exposit the Word and then we apply the Word. When I meet with men during the week — even for a lunch! — I bring my Bible (not on my phone, but my physical, hard-copy, paper Bible!) and I open it and read a portion of Scripture and share a word of encouragement or a brief exhortation to the brother I’m with. I want them to know that at any time, at any place, with whomever they may be, they can also take God’s Word, read it, be strengthened by it, and depend upon it for blessing and growth.

Leading men and developing leaders includes encouragement. We can’t only drive men and call them to action only. I believe we must encourage those who serve. For me, I enjoy sending specific text messages and writing specific post-card letters of encouragement to those who faithfully serve. Jonathan encouraged David in the Lord. It is a gift of God’s grace that He gives us one another in the family of God so that we can encourage the men as we see them leading at home: leading their wives, praying with their families, leading in family worship, teaching the children catechism, reaching out to other men for discipleship, how they teach and impart God’s truth. We need to be encouragers who find what God is doing in their lives and verbalize this to them so that God will be praised, they will be encouraged, and they’ll be challenged to excel still more.

Leadership is not about doing all the work alone. A good leader delegates. Godly leaders find men of God, men who are capable of leading, men who have shown servant’s hearts and humble mindsets, and provide opportunities for service for them. Leaders delegate responsibilities to others. In the local church, leadership is a shared ministry. Never was God’s intention for one man to lead everyone. Through Moses’ father in law, Moses appointed leaders over the nation to help him lead in the oversight of cases and disputes that came up. So Godly leaders today find gifted, able, holy, and growing men and find ways to delegate responsibilities and give tasks to men to serve, to teach, to disciple, to instruct, to lead, and to oversee certain opportunities.

7.    MULTIPLY Godly MEN
This is God’s work. But God uses faithful shepherds who take biblical truth and invest it into others to grow and develop other men of God. My heart is to see many men grow and multiply themselves. I want to see leadership multiplication. I long to see every man in the local church a growing man who multiplies himself and reduplicates himself as a humble servant of Christ and a diligent servant of His church. I want to lead by example in this, by God’s grace. May God multiply Godly men in and among His local churches as His shepherds seek to multiply themselves and see men develop into men of integrity, men of holiness, men who lead, men who are above reproach, and men who initiate opportunities to reach out to other men and disciple them in the Word and ways of God.

Monday, April 16, 2018

When the Pastor Speaks at a Graveside Service
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

It’s a time of loss and a time when the cruel effects of sin stand visibly before our eyes, when you stand in a graveyard with the casket there ready to be lowered into the ground, what does a minister of the gospel say? With immediate family, a host of extended family members, and others who have have gathered for the occasion, how can a pastor shepherd with gentle care, proclaim biblical truth, and be unwavering in gospel-courage at such an emotional place? Here is one approach that I took recently when I spoke at a graveside ceremony. I took as my text the opening few verses of Psalm 90 on the character of God and then later on in the psalm when Moses calls us to number our days to present to God a heart of wisdom.  In this brief 5-minute message outside, at the graveside, next to the casket carrying the body of the deceased, I presented some lessons for us.

I exhorted everyone present to take this occasion to look in various directions.

1. Look BACKWARD —
On such an occasion as standing in a graveyard with many family members, it’s imperative to get quickly and clearly to the cross-event. I took it as an opportunity to call all who were present to consider looking backward at another death, one that happened long ago, in Jerusalem. Not just to another man, but to the Divine Son of God. I chose to begin here as it provided me a way to get immediately to the hope of the gospel found in Jesus Christ alone.

2. Look DOWNWARD — Secondly, I called everyone standing outside to look downward. That is, I asked them to gaze to the ground, the dust, the dirt, the clods of clay. Look down and see the large hole in the ground that has been dug. Look at the casket that will be lowered there momentarily. See the dust of the earth. I then reminded every single person that this will be you one day. One day your very own body will return to the dust of the earth just like the deceased body that lies here. We do well to remind people on this occasion of the brevity of life.

3. Look UPWARD — But right then, at that point, I transitioned quickly to something bigger and greater still to come in the future for true believers. (And I made that very clear that this is the hope for the Christian; the one who is in Christ.) That is, we look upward to the hope of Christ’s coming in the clouds (1 Thess 4:13-18) when Christ returns to catch up those who are His to meet Him in the clouds. The dead in Christ will rise first and meet the Lord in the air and then the others who remain on earth will instantaneously be snatched up to meet them in the clouds. Yes, this day is soon-coming! This is the sure and comforting hope for the Christian!

4. Look FORWARD — Moses calls his readers to number our days so that we may present to God a heart of wisdom. There’s a sense in which every person standing on that cross, at that gravesite needs to number his days and recognize the future, though known to God, is unknown to us. I exhorted those present to be wise, to look forward and consider death and turn to Christ in saving faith so as to present to Him a heart of wisdom, fearing God, turning from sin, and walking in holiness.

5. Look INWARD — Finally, after these brief words, I summoned everyone to look internally (not in a self-introspective way, of course). I called everyone to truly examine their souls and ask themselves if they, in their own hearts, are really trusting Christ Jesus alone as the only One who can save them from coming judgment. Indeed, is this true of you? Are you trusting Christ?

All in all, it’s a very brief time and yet it should be one where the gospel is clearly presented, where the lost are confronted with the Truth of the gospel, and where believers are comforted with the hope found in Christ. This is one approach that I took recently in a graveyard service. May God use the Word of God as it goes out to save many and comfort those who are grieving in Christian hope.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Fullness of Joy: Honoring God & His Sufficient Word Rightly.
The Fullness of Joy in Being a Cessationist
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

It was not too long ago that someone posed the question to John Piper about whether or not continuationists have more and greater joy than cessationists. It’s an interesting question that was given to Piper and one that he answered publicly. I read it and found myself respectfully disagreeing with him on numerous points, even to such a point that I felt it necessary to respond with a brief write-up, primarily for my own thinking and for my church family. It should be noted that this is not a central, core, gospel tenet. There are sweet brothers in Christ who differ on these viewpoints. I do believe they are very important but I believe they are not crux, central gospel tenets. John Piper is a dear brother from whom I’ve benefited greatly, so I am not disagreeing about soteriological issues but, at this point, I’m disagreeing with an important hermeneutical issue.

Cessationists would affirm that the miraculous, sign gifts ceased when the Apostles died and the canon of Scripture was completed. Thus, there are no more gifts of prophecies, speaking in tongues, healings, and interpretation of tongues today.  Continuationists would affirm that all the spiritual gifts are still operative.

Do continuationists have more joy than cessationists? I will argue that Piper incorrectly answered the question when he affirmed that continuationists do have more joy than cessationists. I would argue that cessationists do in fact have great fullness of joy. I’ll argue this with a few brief headings.

1. God is FOR our joy; but He is not ABOUT our joy.
The Bible states repeatedly that true believers have joy and await an everlasting eternity of joy with God! Even a fruit of the Spirit is joy in the life of a believer. But let it be said: God is for our joy and He imparts wondrous joy to our hearts, but God is not about our joy. The existence of God is not existing for and revolving around our joy. God is about His joy. In so far as we are united to Christ through faith, we have His joy made full in ourselves. True believers rejoice because of who God is and how God has revealed Himself in His Word.

2. Deep Joy comes in rightly interpreting the Word.
Deep-seated, unrelenting, indomitable joy fortifies the heart of the Christian when we know we’ve read and understood His Word correctly. The Bible is the sufficient Word and the sign-gifts (such as tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecies, healings) have ceased when the Apostles died and the New Testament canon was complete. Thus, to know that we have the correct hermeneutic and the proper interpretation of a given text is what gives unspeakable joy to the Christian.

3. Satisfying Joy comes in adhering to the absolute sufficiency of the Word — no additional revelation, prophecies, or ecstatic languages are needed today.
When we come to God’s Word, we must bow the knee to the absolute authority and perfect sufficiency of Holy Scripture.  Whatever the Word says, that we believe and cling to.  The Bible is our only rule for conduct and godly living. It is the authority for it is the revealed, clear, inspired, inerrant, infallible, unchanging Word of God.  True joy comes in clinging to this sufficient Word, not in seeking after or hearing about a new revelation or vision that someone claims to have from God, or a prophetic word from a teacher in our day. True joy is found when we cling to the body of truth that has been once for all delivered to the saints. We must cling to and hold on to the truth.

4. Fullest Joy comes in Glorifying God Rightly.
Fullest joy does not come in spiritual gifts per se but in using them rightly for the glory of God. Again, if the end of our worship is joy in spiritual gifts then we’re missing the ultimate mark. The ultimate object and end of our worship must be to glorify God supremely through the spiritual gifts that He has given. Glorify God rightly demands that we honor His Word supremely as the sufficient, clear, authoritative revelation that He has given to us. Nothing more is needed. No further verification of the gospel is needed by way of miracles. God has given all that we need. As Peter put it: we have the prophetic word made more sure. May we honor God and His Word rightly so that God receives all the glory. The Spirit of God works in and through the written Word. Let us hold to this and cling to this as we glorify God rightly with God-given joy.

May the Lord impress upon our hearts the simple truth and joyous reality that God’s Word is the precious, true, sufficient revelation that He has given to us. No new revelation or prophecy or vision from God is necessary. None at all. God’s Word is the clear, authoritative, and inerrant truth. Let’s cling to God’s Word as He has revealed Himself in the written body of revelation and rejoice exceedingly in His Word knowing that this is the infallible, eternal, unchanging Word that He has given to us for our good, for HIs glory, and for our joy as we serve Him!

An audio on "cessationism: the ceasing and fulfillment of the miraculous, sign gifts" can be found here when it was preached during the CFBC foundations class.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: the Guarantee, the Glory & the Assurance.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

It is of first importance, the Apostle Paul said. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead proves to be the bedrock doctrine of the Christian faith. One cannot read the Book of Acts without noting the constant theme of the Apostle’s proclamation, namely,  the resurrection of the crucified One and salvation that comes only through His Name.

This article provides some gleanings on the importance on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Resurrection is the GUARANTEE of our life.
When Jesus Christ rose up from the dead, He guaranteed that all His people will in fact live eternally through Him. In Christ’s resurrection, all His people live. His bodily resurrection certifies His peoples’ future resurrection. Christ’s resurrection in glory assures His peoples’ resurrection in glory. The new body of Christ provides the template for the new bodies that God’s people will receive in glory. The resurrection of Christ guarantees our life -- only in Him

The Resurrection is the SATISFACTION of Christ’s atonement.
Infinite wrath came down upon the divine Son of God when He bore the curse of the Father’s wrath at Calvary. He became sin for His people and propitiated the Father’s righteous anger against sin. Thus, when the Father raised His Son from the dead, it proved that the Father was truly satisfied with the Son’s propitiatory work. Wrath has been appeased. Salvation has been won. The reality of the resurrection shows the sureness of the Father’s satisfaction of His Beloved Son’s atoning work for His elect.

The Resurrection is the TRIUMPH over all death.
Satan is the father of lies and the god of this age. He is the prince of darkness and the one who holds the power of death. Indeed, when Christ was raised from the dead, it presents the triumph of Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory and the Prince of Life, over all powers of death and darkness. Indeed, Christ defeated the Evil One at Calvary. Fulfilling prophetic words even from Genesis 3, Christ bruised Satan himself on the head and gave him the fatal blow when he defeated death and conquered all evil when He displayed His power in the resurrection.

The Resurrection is the FULFILLMENT of biblical prophecy.
One thousand years before the Lord Jesus came into the world in human flesh, King David prophesied that the Lord would faithfully preserve and watch over His special one and not allow His chosen one to see decay. Even Isaiah the prophet made clear that the suffering Servant who would die as a substitutionary sacrifice for His people will prolong his days through the resurrection. Thus, that Jesus rose from the dead fulfills the glorious and sure Word of Jehovah who prophesied centuries ahead of time that Messiah would rise triumphantly from the dead!

The Resurrection is the SEAL of future glorification.
What will our future bodies be like in glory? How sure can we be that we will inherit eternal life? The resurrection of the Lord Christ provides the seal and certifying mark that we will be with Christ and that we will be made like Christ in His glorified form. His resurrection provides the confident certainty that we will be resurrected in a body that resembles His glorified body.

The Resurrection is the HEART of true hope.
All who have received the new birth by the sovereign grace of God alone are those who have hope -- a sure hope that comes through the substitutionary death and the resurrection life of Jesus Christ. It is a living and interceding Savior who reigns in heaven as He sits at the Father’s right hand that instills hope to the child of God.

The Resurrection is the UNIQUENESS of biblical Christianity.
One may scan the history books and travel the world today and count the innumerable religions and ways of life that will bring one great happiness and peace. But every founder and religious figure in the religion has one thing in common -- they’re all dead and they’ve all decayed. They’ve passed and they’re gone. But Jesus Christ is alive. This is the exclusive and distinguishing mark of biblical Christianity. Life can only be found in the living God. Victory over death can only be granted through One who Himself proved He triumphed over this great monster. Christ alone has done it and this is the unique, essential, foundational, and proclaimed message of Christianity.

The Resurrection is the COMFORT for our eschatology.
When loved ones die, the Apostle Paul exhorts believers to not grieve as the pagans do who have no hope. Rather, true believers have an indomitable comfort that springs from the resurrection life and soon-coming return of our Risen and living Lord, Jesus Christ.  Believers know that Jesus intercedes right now, at this very moment, in heaven for His own sheep and that He will return again to catch His people up in the clouds to be with Him forever. And believers ought to comfort one another with these words. It is the death of Christ and the resurrection of Christ that guarantees this future, eschatological hope which plants great comfort deep into the hearts of believers -- even when undergoing great suffering in life.
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