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.
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