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.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Trashing Your Grumbling.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

We’ve all been there when a person grumbled about a certain circumstance that they can’t stand. Perhaps in that moment the language goes on and on about how unfortunate it is, how they wish it’d be different, and how they surely know the answer and solution for how to make it different. We’ve heard it. We’ve been there. We’ve done it.

Yet the Bible says: do everything without grumbling or disputing (Philippians 2:14).

So what can we do? We must affirm and apply these factors.

1. Grumbling is a sin.
We must call it for what it is. God calls grumbling sin. Period. But grumbling expresses dissatisfaction with someone that has happened, occurred. It’s can even include a perceived disapproval of something that may or may not have happened. To grumble is to live discontent. To grumble is to not glorify God in that moment. To give into grumbling is to pour lighter fluid on the fire of our discontent and ungrateful hearts. God hates grumbling. That’s why He killed a nation of grumblers in the wilderness many generations ago. We can’t brush this aside and ignore it. Nor can we reject it or refuse to see it in all its monstrous corruptions. We must understand that God said on one occasion of old when Israel grumbled: “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against me” (Num 14:27)?

2. Grumbling must be mortified.
With the understanding that grumbling is sinful, we cannot tickle it or ignore it or redefine it or giggle about it. Nor can we find solace in the fact that there are untold myriads of people who grumble online, on social media, on blogs, and in conversations (just ask a fellow employee!). Because grumbling is a sin, it must be laid aside or hacked to pieces. If a murderer broke into your home you wouldn’t show hospitality to him at all, nor would you coddle him or sympathize with his covetous desires for your stuff. No! To use Paul’s language, these sins must be “put to death” (Col 3:5). This is what God literally did with a grumbling nation. He did put them to death — in the wilderness. We must slay this monstrous dragon and we must have no mercy toward this thankless monster. Grumbling is discontentment lodged deep in the heart. It is dissatisfaction taking root in the heart. For this reason we must mortify — wage war violently and persistently with! — our grumblings. In a word, we must aim to be daily trashing our grumbling. It isn’t a one-time duty but an ongoing discipline for every Christian, to put to death the deeds of the flesh and this certainly includes complaining and grumbling.

3. Grumbling must be exchanged.
It does no good for a person to quip: I won’t do that anymore. Or, sorry for my complaints. The Word of God calls believers to and empowers believers to radical amputation by putting off sinful habits and replacing them with godly habits. If grumbling reveals a thankless heart and a discontented spirit, then we must cultivate thankfulness and contentment. Perhaps we do well to rise early in the morning and frequently thank God for what He has done for us in the gospel, all the wondrous and undeserved benefits we have in Christ, and every blessing He bestows upon us every day. We can deliberately grow in thankfulness to seek to deliberately slay our grumblings. To foster contentment means that we need to be thankful for God, for finding our all in all in Him and resting in His all-sufficiency and then reminding ourselves that in Christ we truly lack nothing. It calls for a refocusing of mind — daily. We do well to pray for a grateful heart and to cultivate a content spirit as we go about our day. So, then, the words of Paul become so very practical when he says: give thanks in every circumstance. May the Lord help us to trash our grumbling and triumph in gratitude — for the glory of Christ, for the sweetness of His name, and for the all-satisfactions found in His gospel! 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Ordinary Work Can Produce Extraordinary Results!

Encouragements to Preachers & Churches.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Ordinary preachers heralding ordinary sermons to ordinary congregations over many years will produce EXTRAORDINARY RESULTS by an EXTRAORDINARY GOD.

I want to break that down phrase by phrase.

Amazingly, God fills his pulpits with men — sinful men! Redeemed men purchased by Christ who have submitted to Him by faith alone and who have turned from sin and who stand desperately in need of divine grace when entering the pulpit, most astonishingly, God uses men to handle His Word. But that’s just the point. God uses ordinary men. God employs frail human beings into His work of ministry. Clay pots and weak vessels are called by God to do His work. There are many preachers who have left indelible marks on human history, to God be the glory! But far more are the untold numbers who have just plodded faithfully, unpopularly, and without recognition or applause. Mark it: God uses ordinary preachers not because of who they are but because of what they do — they faithfully speak God’s Word as faithful mouthpieces declaring what He has said in His all-sufficient and fully authoritative Word.

These ordinary preachers herald ordinary sermons. God’s Word is never ordinary. God’s Truth is never just ordinary. I understand that. But I mean that God’s plan is not for there to be smashing grand slams every week wowing the congregation and stunning the congregation with amazingly new and mind-blowing ideas and never-thought-of tidbits. No! God’s plan is for men of God to stand up week by week and simply read the text, explain the text, apply the text, and trust the Spirit of God to do great work through this faithful service. There are some sermons that God has used mightily by His grace at particular times. For instance, consider Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Consider his sermon to Cornelius and his household in Acts 10-11. Consider Paul’s sermon in Acts 16 while in the Philippian jail. Or perhaps consider Paul Washer’s sermon “The Shocking Youth Message.” God has used particular sermons in great, popular ways. And praise the Lord for His kindness and mercy in these ways. Remember that God’s plan is not for there to be smashingly new, out of this world messages that bring instant changes. His plan is often done through ordinary men preaching ordinarily *faithful* sermons over the long haul. May God be praised!

Many churches in our country have attendance under 100 people. That’s not good or bad, but just the way things are. God uses ordinary congregations comprised of ordinary Christians saved by the pure and spotless blood of Christ poured out for their deliverance. Consider faithful men who deliver faithful sermons to faithful — though small! — congregations. This is plodding and serving and ministering and persevering with faithfulness. The congregation may not make headlines for changing the world. It may not have accolades for having the largest missions-budget. But this congregation is fed the Word of Christ, nourished on the truth of God, empowered and convicted by the Spirit of God. People are changing. Lives are being transformed. Marriages are strengthened and gospel-demonstrating. Young people hear truth and are equipped for a lifetime of service to Christ in whatever employment they embark upon. The plan of God is for His people, His church, the blood-bought saints of God to be taught truth, edified in Scripture, enflamed with heart-impassioned love for Christ, and obedience to Him by the Spirit’s grace.

Like many things, change does not come overnight. Plant a small tree and you’ll see it doesn’t become a towering Oak overnight. Observe a newborn just arriving home from the hospital. In a few days, not much change may be noticeable. But in 10 years, change will undoubtedly be evident. God’s common plan for His church is not for mighty moments to rock the world but for the consistent, faithful, unashamed, courageous preaching of God’s Word to His people over the long haul. God calls His people to faithfulness not to mighty moments of prominence. He calls pastors to study the Word, to pray and prepare, to protect and guard the flock, and to herald day in and day out and “do the work of an evangelist” tirelessly and unswervingly. Without distraction, without being diverted and without shame, the man of God should stand up with God’s Word, preach God’s message, to Christ’s church, empowered by the Spirit — whether or not there is visible change, growth or results. But over many years, the people of God will grow deeper in knowledge of Christ, will soar higher in worship to God, and will keep in step intimately with the Spirit. Ministry is a mandate from God to endure for the long haul — for many years. Endure! Persevere! Keep at it! Don’t give up!

And when God uses ordinary preachers who herald ordinary sermons to ordinary congregations over the course of many years, we trust that our extraordinary and awesome God brings extraordinary results by His grace and for His glory. And the extraordinary results may not make news headlines or be inscribed in world annals. The culture may not even observe it at all. But this extraordinary results consist of this simple and awesome reality: the whole body of Christ will be fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, and it will bring the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love (Eph 4:16). In a word, the church will “grow up in all aspects into Him who is the Head, even Christ” (Eph 4:15). The extraordinary result that this extraordinary God produces is the conforming of His people into the image and likeness of His most worthy Son, Jesus Christ. This awesome work does not happen overnight. But as faithful men preach the Word faithfully to faithful congregations over an extended period of time, God does His internal, sovereign, supernatural, unexplainable work in marvelously preparing His people for glory and to behold His face where all will fall before the Lamb and cry out: “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever” (Rev 5:13)!

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