Monday, March 18, 2019

How Should You Hear the Word of God Preached?
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Q. 160. What is required of those that hear the Word preached? [From the Westminster Confession, 1647]
A. It is required of those that hear the Word preached, that they attend upon it with diligence, preparation, and prayer; examine what they hear by the Scriptures; receive the truth with faith, love, meekness, and readiness of mind, as the Word of God; meditate, and confer of it; hide it in their hearts, and bring forth the fruit of it in their lives.

1. You should attend to it with diligence.
It is as if you were going to meet with the king of the land himself, one would most certainly plan accordingly, come with punctuality and listen with diligence. So it must be for the children of God who listen to the preacher herald God’s Word. God’s people must diligently come to be fed divine truth. An earnestness must be exuded from God’s people as they have one primary object on their minds on the Lord’s Day — God. Nothing else captivates the believer’s mind like Christ does. Nothing ravishes the believer’s heart like Christ does. Nothing wins the affections and nothing woos the saint’s love more than the saving gospel of God’s grace freely bestowed in Christ’s death on behalf of repentant sinners. So come! Come with diligence! Come with Christ-centeredness! Come with eagerness! Come with expectancy! Come with frequency! Come with sobriety and expectation to meet with, commune with, and hear from the Living God.

2. You should attend to it with preparation.
As one would prepare for an important business meeting, so God’s people should also prepare to meet with the God of all creation. To prepare is to make oneself ready to meet with, come before, and stand in the presence of God Almighty. Preparation must begin with prayer. It must continue with sufficient sleep. Preparation includes the reading of the scripture text that will be preached on the following day. Preparation demands arriving to corporate worship early to meditate, pray, expect, and adore God. Without preparation, one cannot worship properly. One gets out of worship what one puts into worship. Without preparation, little heart warming and soul feeding will occur. As one would prepare equipment, leave early and take diligence to arrive on time to a sporting or entertainment event, how much more should God’s child prepare his heart, his Bible, his wife, his children and leave early and arrive promptly to worship God. A prepared heart is a ready heart. A prepared heart is a humble and willing heart. A prepared heart is a moldable and shapeable heart.

3. You should attend to it with prayer.
To pray is to take hold of God’s power and beseech God to rend the heavens, come down, descend powerfully, and with supernatural power. Only God can convert. God’s people must pray for the conversion of sinners, the edification of God’s people, and the magnification of God’s Triune name and work in salvation. God’s people must pray in repentance to rid themselves of all known sin before the Word comes. God’s people must pray that the minister of the Word would speak with supernatural power. Indeed, the mouth is that of a man but the voice is that of God. Pray for unction — the sovereign, effectual power of the Spirit in and through the preached Word — as the man of God preaches the Word of God to the people of God. All God’s people should pray for God’s help on the way to hear the sermon preached. Believers must pray and ask the Lord to grant assistance while the Word is heard. And saints must pray for a soft, humble, and willing heart to specifically apply and implement the sermon throughout the course of the week. O the danger of not hearing sermons well! O the danger of distractions while the sermon is going forth! O the danger of hearing the Word and allowing Satan, like a pecking bird, to snatch the seed of the Word so that it bears no fruit. Nothing prepares a man of God for worship more than earnest wrestling with God in prayer. Expect God to work. Pray for God to revive. Adore God as preeminently worthy! Confess! Rejoice! Pray!

Just as people of old would bake bread on Saturday evenings so it would be warm on Sunday morning, so the people of God should read, pray, and study the Scriptures on Saturday nights so that their hearts are warmed and prepared for worship on Sunday.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Urgency of Soul-Winning.

Jude 23 — save others, snatching them out of the fire…

Soul willing, by definition, must be urgent. The urgency comes not just from the method but from the reality of the spiritual state of men. Time is short and all those who die in their sins will perish in hell under the unrelenting and righteous wrath of God. All who die in Christ, forgiven and righteous in His merits, will enter life and spend eternity in blissful joy and worshipful delight dwelling in God’s presence. But while you are here, you and I are called to be urgent. We must be urgent in soul-winning. Man-fishing is the charge that Christ has given to His followers. We are to get up and go out and call all to surrender to Christ as Lord and as Savior.

Here’s an explanation of soul-winning in a few ways.

The book of Jude calls the believers to save others and to be snatching them. To save and to snatch speak of important, urgent, preeminent realities. To snatch means to forcefully carry someone away. It is as if we are grabbing someone by the shirtcollar, with respectful tact, and pleading with them with compassionate urgency to flee from the wrath of God which surely is to come. Christian living always should have the smell of urgency to it. Our conversations should have the spark of tenderness and urgency in our demeanor. Our prayers and evangelism and confidence in proclaiming the gospel to the lost should be fueled with urgency, fired with passion, and firmly resting on God’s sovereignty to save His elect. And with this confidence in God’s work, we urgently go!

Cast your eye upon that little phrase “out of.” We are to be saving and snatching souls out of the fire. There is a real joy in proclaiming to sinners headed for eternal destruction that there is a certain way of escape. It’s sure. It’s possible. It’s free. It’s real. So certain is this hope in Christ that we can proclaim to sinners that if they trust in Christ alone they will be saved from the wrath of God! What joy to urgently, joyfully and tenderly plead with sinners and summon them that they can have the certainty and the confidence of escaping hellfire if they come to Jesus Christ alone in saving faith.

No one spoke of the eternality of hell more than Jesus Christ Himself. God wants us to grasp the undying nature of eternity. Heaven and hell go on forever and ever -- for endless ages to come. In 10 billion years, no more time will have been lost in eternity. It shall have no end. And your job and my job is to snatch sinners from the fire. The fire refers to the judgment. Jesus Christ spoke often of the eternal fires of hell (Matt 13:40, 42, 50; 25:41). O let us go toward sinners with urgency and courage and summon them to life eternal with Christ and warn them of everlasting doom under His wrath if they perish remaining in their sinful unbelief.

The fact of the matter is this: there is still time to get right with God! God’s patience continues. He has not shut the door of opportunity yet. Now is the day of grace. Today is the acceptable time. The command in Jude still applies to us. We are to save and snatch sinners out of the fire. Let the example of Christ minister to us as He pleaded with sinners to come to Him while there is still time: “Come to me!” “Whoever is thirsty, let him drink.” “Whoever beholds the Son has life!” “Enter through the narrow gate”! O let us gain an intolerable burden while recognizing the moment of availability that God still graciously gives to hellbound sinners! Let’s go to them, with the gospel, with loving urgency, and summon them to forsake their sin, flee to Christ, follow Him, and find life!

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