Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Duty of Christian Wives: Teaching Children [& Grandchildren]
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

[This is part of a forthcoming eBook on "The duties of Christian wives."]

Timothy’s mother and grandmother had sincere faith and undoubtedly instructed him in godliness from a very early age. In fact, 2 Timothy 3:15 says that from his nursing days he knew the sacred writings which were able to give him the wisdom that led to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. That is to say, Timothy’s mother and grandmother taught him biblical truth even from the nursing years. Remember King Lemuel who was taught by his mother (Prov 31:1). Let godly wives never underestimate the power of teaching God’s Word to their children. And let grandparents never underestimate the power of the Scripture when pressing it home upon the hearts of the grandchildren.  The Bible clearly presents a pattern of godly parents teaching biblical truth and instructing truth to children. Indeed, Psalm 78 says that this must be done so that the children we have can tell to the next generation to put their confidence in God (Ps 78:6-7). Let all parents and grandparents carefully heed these examples and seek, by God’s grace, to do likewise.

1) Teach Scripture Daily. Moses commanded the people of Israel to teach God’s words diligently to their children -- even when lying down and rising up, when at home and when traveling (Deut 6:6-9). May godly mothers carefully receive and diligently apply the truths set forth in the Old Testament and the command in Eph 6:4 to bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Godly wives, make it your priority if God has graced you with children in the home to teach biblical truths to them every single day. Like a little water that is added over the course of time, a small tree will grow into a mighty and unshakeable oak tree. So it is with God’s Word. May you instruct your children’s hearts with God’s truth so that the doctrines of the Bible will sink deep into their minds and guide them all through life. From the youngest of ages, teach your children Scripture -- teach them about God, man, sin, Christ, the Spirit, the gospel, faith, repentance, the Church, and eternity.

2) Teach Godliness Practically. Godly wives, live out Christian piety in the home so that your children can see you. Don’t be a Christian just for the sole purpose of being seen and noticed by your children. But you should live out your Christian live in such a way that the doctrine you verbalize is enfleshed by your conduct. Your instruction should be preached by your lifestyle every day. As a Christian wife, show your children self control, the sufficiency of the Word, the importance and centrality of the local church, the need to pray for the unsaved around you, the joy of walking with Christ, and the priority of prayer. All that you teach with your mouth, preach with your life. Enflesh your instruction.

3) Teach Prayer Continually. Godly wives, you have the greatest weapon in the history of mankind always and ever at your disposal -- prayer. You can storm the mercy seat of the great King of heaven and earth and plead your petitions before Him in the name of Christ! So go often! Go frequently! Go humbly! Go desperately! Go persistently! Have your children obeyed you? Then go together to God’s throne and give thanks! Have they sinned by lying? Then go to God in humble repentance and beg for forgiveness. Have you sinned against them? Then seek their forgiveness and pray together. Is there a magnificent storm outside? Then worship God and extol His mighty power together! Teach prayer often and regularly. Teach different kinds of prayer, mothers.  Teach your children to not only ask things of God but also to adore God for who He is. Teach your children to thank God for what He’s done and to praise Him for all His promises. Teach your children to pray for the lost and to beg God for the advancement of the gospel among the nations! Teach it, model it, and then actually do it. Pray together.

4) Teach Repentance Carefully. Godly wives, the more you grow in Christ the more you’ll see your sin. The heart-desires you have that control you at times, the anger that may come out, the selfishness that may manifest itself in various ways. So repent to God and repent to those whom you have offended. And let your children see this and hear this and join in with you in this. Godly moms, never underestimate the power of modeling repentance and contrition before the Lord. Show them that God is the holy God of the universe but also a merciful God to penitent sinners!

5) Teach Humility Preeminently. Be careful, Christian wives, how you present yourself. Guard your attitude! Guard how you talk about others and how you respond to others. Guard from pride! Set the example in instructing your children that humility is always better than pride. Pride is Satan’s way and humility is God’s way. Seek to teach this verbally and to live it out practically. Humility must be preeminent in your teaching. Show this as you relate to your husband, as you pray for other church members, as you go with your children to serve the needy and care for the helpless in the church. Teach and model humility as it is ultimately found in the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel!

6) Teach Theology Widely.  While your husband is away at work, make it a point to be the resident-teacher to download God’s truth from His Word into the hearts of your children. This requires, godly wives, that you will first learn and study theology on your own so you can then impart it to your children. Never underestimate the importance of teaching theology and a biblical worldview. Teach theology in such a way that everything -- yes, every single thing -- is viewed through the purview of God’s sufficient Word. Teach them the attributes and person of God. Teach them about the depravity and wretchedness of all mankind. Teach them about God’s sovereign work in sending Christ to make propitiation for the sins of His people. Teach them about the Spirit who regenerates, sanctifies, and seals us for glory. Teach them about the beauty and necessity and involvement in the local church. Teach them about future things such as heaven, hell, the last judgment and the nearness of death.

7) Teach Submission Visually.
As your children see you, Christian wives, submitting to your husband, you will actually be teaching your daughters not only how they should submit to their husbands (or showing your sons the kind of wives they want to find and marry) but you also will be modeling how all believers should be submitting to Christ Jesus. After all, the way a wife submits to her husband is to be a picture of how the church submits to Christ. So never underestimate the power of a submissive attitude as you honor your husband, respect him, speak well about him, do what he says, follow his leadership, and worship God in seeking to complete and bless him as your companion. This kind of godly attitude and conduct in your marriage relationship will teach submission visually for your children.

More resources on Godly motherhood can be found here and here.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Man of God: Consider Growing in These Ways As You Lead at Home
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Godly men love God and pursue His Word with constant vigilance. Not in our own strength, but with God’s daily supply of sufficient grace, and with His constant forgiveness when we fall short and fail, we continually strive to worship Christ, magnify Him, and refocus on the duties He requires of us. And the greatest environment where we can live out godliness, and where we will have the most lasting impact in this life (and for generations to come!) is in the context of the home. Men, we are leaders in our homes. And as we lead, consider growing in these five specific ways.

Man of God: lead by DYING DAILY.  When God gave you the new-birth, the heavenly-birth, indeed, the second birth, you really began to live. But paradoxically, when God gave you life, it required your death! You died to yourself. Moreover, Christ summons all of us to die daily and to take up our cross and to follow Him. Dear brother in Christ: how can you die daily? Specifically, in your context, in your home situation, with your wife, with your children (or grandchildren!), with your neighbors, in your local church sphere, how can you die daily? Is there one thing that you could put off while replacing it with a very specific, tangible, selfless duty that would encourage and bless your wife (or children)? Doing the dishes? Taking out the trash? Writing a note to your wife and children? Making coffee for your wife? Coming home from work, shelving the iPhone, and giving full attention to the kids (or, your wife) and lavishing them with affectionate love? Dear men: we are called to love by dying to self. Let’s grow & excel in this!

Man of God: lead by ENLARGED PRAYING. God called the people of Israel to open their mouths wide and then God promised: “I will fill it” (Ps 81:10). Do you pray small prayers or big prayers? What if God were to say “yes” to all of your requests? Consider how much would really change? Honestly. What about your neighbors? Family members? The most hostile, postmodern, anti-God co-worker that you may have? What about the millions of souls that need conversion in our land? What about the shutting down of all Planned Parenthoods? What about God converting your children at a young age?What about God giving you wisdom to generously support a missionary? Man of God, I trust that you pray, but how can you enlarge your prayers so that we can ask big things of a big God. Remember: God does far more abundantly beyond all that we could ask or even think (Eph 3.20). Let’s enlarge our prayers and see God mightily work!

Man of God: lead by ROMANTIC DATING.  You may be married -- and you may be happily married. But dear man of God, the duty belongs to you to cultivate and maintain the embers of romance in your marriage. Romantically date your wife. You have married up! God gave you a gift in a wife. God declares: he who finds a wife finds a good thing (Prov 18:22). When was the last time you got her flowers? When was the last time you took her to her favorite restaurant? When was the last time you asked her specific, open-ended questions probing deep into the recesses of her heart (what excites her? What scares her? What blesses her? What is is most enthralled with regarding God’s attributes? etc.). When was the last time you lit candles and played her favorite music for an evening of romance, affection, and selfless giving of oneself to another? Dear man of God: it’s not your wife’s duty to romance you, you are the leader and the God-given privilege is yours to romance your wife. So date her and romantically date her with heartfelt passion and genuine affection!

Man of God: lead by FAMILY WORSHIP. In our society of bustling busyness, man of God, I ask whether or not you lead in regular, consistent, God-centered family worship? Do you lead and pastor your family well? It doesn’t matter if you have theological training or if you don’t have all the answers or even if you are a “really busy man.” The priority is and always will be the souls that God has entrusted to our care for the specific time we have them (our wives and our children). You are the resident “in-house-pastor.” Do you gather your (whole) family and praise Christ in song? Do you gather the family and read the Word together and discuss it? Do you gather the family and pray together with intentional gatherings of Christ-exalting worship? God deserves to be worshiped, in our homes, by our families, on a daily basis! Men, let’s lead by fulfilling what just might be the greatest and most important duty God has given to us in this life. Don’t just do it for me, for you, for your wife, for your kids, but for “generations to come” praying that your kids would do it with their kids and so on. May you leave a legacy of a family who gathers together to worship Jesus together on a daily basis.

Man of God: lead by ENHANCING JOYFULNESS. Your home may be a place of warm and inviting joy. But how can you enhance joyfulness? How can you grow in your understanding of what true joy really is? Joy is not synonymous with giddiness or feeling positive. Joy, biblically defined, intimates a deep-rooted and unshakable confidence that God is perfectly in control -- in all things. Thus, we can really be joyful at all times and in all circumstances. So how can you cultivate this in your home? How can you remind your kids of this when a kid picks on your child on the schoolyard? When another team slaughters your daughter’s volleyball team in a tournament? When your child studied hard but didn’t do well on that particular exam? How can we cultivate and enhance and remind our families of biblical joy rooted in God through all things that happen. When you drive and behold a full moon in the clouds, how can you remind them of God’s greatness and rejoice? When you drive to church to worship the Risen King with the saints, how can you remind your family to rejoice? Dear man, I trust you already are joyful. But how can you grow and enhance joyfulness in your home environment? May the Lord help us to be joyful men.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Duty of Christian Wives: Submission.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

I suppose there may be no more controversial word in modern times than “submission.” But thankfully we walk by faith, not by sight. Our marching orders come from the clear revelation of God in the Bible and not by men’s opinions that can be located online. If one were to simply scan society today, one would need not look very long before understanding that the wife’s duty to submit in the marriage relationship for God’s glory and for her joy seems to be forgotten. Actually, it’s willfully rejected and arrogantly trashed as nonsense and some even go so far as to suggest that submission is harmful for females. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Submission actually is a wonderful concept that all people are called to. All Christians are commanded to submit to God (James 4:7). All Christians are called to submit to their church leaders and to obey them (Heb 13:17). Christians are all called to submit to authorities in government (Rom 13; 1 Pet 2:13). So submission is not a bad thing in and of itself. It’s not evil. It’s not harmful. It’s not bad. It’s not given by God to make life miserable. Rather, just as there are different role and distinctions that we all understand, submission is a given. For instance, in the workplace, the boss leads and the employees are to follow the instructions of the leadership. Even in the Trinity there is various distinctions in role and function: “Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Cor 11:3). The idea of “head” or “headship” signifies authority. It’s not a bad thing. There is authority in the workplace. There is authority in government. There is authority in the local church. So there is authority in the home. This does not mean the wife is less important or to be looked down upon! While remaining equal in person, worth, and dignity, there are still differences in role and function and responsibility that exist. And that’s where submission comes in when dealing with the marriage. In the Bible, God calls the wife to submit to her husband.

God says: "wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord" (Eph 5:22). Elsewhere, God says: "wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord" (Col 3:18). Submission is commanded by God of all Christian wives to their husbands. So how is a Christian wife to submit?

Submit WORSHIPFULLY. The glorious way that God describes a woman’s role to submit is so profound. It’s far deeper than sheer obedience. Submission is not synonymous with obedience or just “getting the job done.” Anyone could force someone to obey, I suppose. But submission, at its very fundamental level, is a heart disposition. One could obey and hate it. But one could never biblically submit while the heart is fuming or bitter inside. That’s called hypocrisy and that’s not what God calls us to. So, Christian women are to submit -- and they are to do it “as to the Lord” (Eph 5:22). Amazingly, this catapults the realm of submission into the realm of worship. The way that a wife submits to her husband is to be the way that she submits to the Lord. She should do so willingly, heartfully, joyfully, happily, patiently, prayerfully, and hopefully. She should submit with a glad heart, a thankful heart, and a trusting heart. Only women who have been saved by God’s grace can do this, however. It’s wrong to assume that God’s standards for a Christian marriage can be expected in a marriage between unbelievers. But when God has transformed the soul, and regenerated the heart, and given His Spirit to reside within the believer, now that woman can -- is able to! -- submit to her husband in a worshipful disposition as if she would be submitting to her Savior and Lord!

Submit UNCONDITIONALLY. “I’ll submit if you only…” No! The Bible knows no conditions! The only exception that the Bible provides for not submitting to government, church leaders, or a husband is if you are demanded to specifically sin against Scripture. In such a case (and only in such a case), the godly wife must choose to obey God rather than men. But preferences, or opinions, or feelings, or emotions don’t constitute as biblical reasons to not submit to one’s husband. Wives, God calls you to submit to your husbands. This is fitting in the Lord. It is well pleasing to Him. There are no exception clauses. First Peter chapter 3 even has biblical counsel for godly wives who are married to unbelieving husbands -- even, very harsh, very unreasonable, very ungodly, very foolish husbands -- and the counsel God gives is for wives to “be submissive” to your own husbands (1 Pet 3:1). This requires daily taking up one’s cross, following after Christ, and doing what He says -- for His glory, trusting in His plan, and relying on His power.

Submit HEARTFULLY. Make it your ambition to submit to your husband with a happy heart that trusts that God’s ways are best. That way, if you relate to your husband and submit to him with this on your heart and mind, you will submit even in the tough and difficult times. And even in those times when you don’t feel as though he deserves it, remember that you submit to your husband with a heart that trusts in God, in His Word, and in the reality that there is great satisfaction found in obeying God rather than doing what seems easy in the moment. To submit heartfully means that our inner man -- our heart, our mind, our thought patterns, our inner person -- must be daily transformed by Scripture so that the way that we think, the way that we respond, the way that we communicate, and the way that we conduct ourselves is guided by, governed by, and guarded by God’s Word. The more that you immerse yourself in Scripture, the more you will do what God calls you to do in the specific role in which He has put upon you -- and you’ll do it with all your heart. Remember the Apostle Paul said that whatever you do in word or deed, do ALL in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father (Col 3:17). And a bit later, Paul also said: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (Col 3:23). True submission is a heart disposition that follows God’s design for you in the marriage context as you ultimately serve your heavenly Lord and Master! This is the path of true and lasting and fulfilling joy.

Submit JOYFULLY. Submit joyfully. It’s easy, a wife may say, to submit to a Godly husband. But remember, there are no perfect husbands in this world and the joy comes not in what seems easiest or what appears to be the most fun or what brings the most immediate gratification, but joy comes in a settled, unshakeable disposition and conviction that God is for my good and that God remains in control in and through all things -- for His glory. That is why you can have joy even when you submit to an imperfect man. God is in control and is sovereignly and providentially working all His preordained plan out according to His purposes in you, through you, and in your marriage! Rejoice in this! After all, God calls us to rejoice always! Don’t be worried and don’t be fearful! Trust in God and believe in Him! Don’t be anxious but be prayerful. Cast yourself entirely and daily upon Him. Joyfully rest in His character as you seek to obey His commands. He will honor that and reward you on that final day! Submit with a satisfied joy!

Biblical submission is a God-graced duty for all Christian women to place themselves under the authority of their husbands. It is a willful, a deliberate, a daily, a trusting, and a joyful following of God’s ways regardless of how one may feel in the moment because we as Christians must live by what we know to be true and never by what we’re feeling in the moment. Emotions are never solid grounds to determine how or what we are to think or do. May God equip and help Christian wives to submit to their husbands with happy hearts and with a worshipful attitude -- for His glory!

This is part of the forthcoming eBook on the Duties of Christian wives.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Effectively & Maximally Utilizing the Weekly ‘Preparation for Worship’ Email
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

NOTE: I understand that not all local churches have a weekly 'Preparation-For-Worship' email that is sent out. This is particularly geared for the saints at Christ Fellowship Bible Church (St Louis) where this is the case. And this is a pastoral encouragement to take that email and utilize it effectively.

At Christ Fellowship Bible Church in St Louis, Missouri, we send out a ‘Preparation for Corporate Worship’ email usually on Thursday or Friday to the congregation to aid them in preparing for worship for the upcoming Sunday gathering. 

Consider, bread bakes quicker when the oven is warm. Imagine if our hearts were warmed by prayer, bible reading, meditation, and anticipation when we arrived for corporate worship! How much more could we glean?

Preparation. We all get it. You prepare for a math quiz. You prepare for a annual budget meeting. You prepare for your appointment with the business client who is in town. You prepare for the presentation you have to give at the convention in the near future. We even prepare early for the football games that we attend. We all prepare for things. We get this.

How much could the church of the Lord Jesus Christ exponentially grow if we deliberately and devotionally prepared for the corporate worship gatherings?

In this message, I want to provide 7 suggestions that the Christ Fellowship Bible Church congregation can consider in utilizing in the preparation for worship email to the maximum.

1. Pray specifically. — This may seem obvious, but let me state it just in case. The most powerful instrument available to us in our preparation for, presence during, and application following corporate worship is fervent, persistent, believing, specific prayer. Yes, pray ahead of time and the more specific you can be in your praying, the better.

2. Read carefully.  — Since the habit at Christ Fellowship is to preach verse-by-verse through books of the Bible, this is usually quite simple to follow, but you can read the text that will be preached for the upcoming Sunday. Read it thoughtfully. Read it slowly. Read it prayerfully. Read it devotionally. Read it studiously. Read it worshipfully.  Even consider reading the public reading of Scripture text that will be preached (often we read through a Psalm or another portion of Scripture at the beginning of the worship gathering).

3. Sing carefully.  —  Take special note of the songs that'll be sung. Consider picking one, or two, or all of them (if you have the time) and ponder the lyrics and sing them & think of the theology, Scriptures that it points to and brings to mind.

Consider doing numbers 1-3 together with your family in ‘family worship’ on, say, Saturday evening or Sunday morning. O imagine the blessing and preparedness when the entire family comes to corporate worship having prayed specifically, read the Word carefully, and sung the songs thoughtfully! What a blessing that’d be! And what an example that would set for the children!

4. Arrive early.  —  Consider arriving early to serve, set up, meet folks, extend a hand of greeting. Make it your goal to seek to pray with & encourage one person. Rather than coming at the moment of the start of church (or, worse, 15 minutes late!), leave earlier and arrive earlier so as to edify the saints and then be in your seat for a few moments before the service begins to quiet your heart, ask for the Spirit to give you focus, careful attention to Truth, and a worshipful gaze upon Christ throughout the entirety of the gathering!

5. Serve proactively.  —  In the emails, we list a number of things going on that upcoming week (or, in the near future). So, find a ministry going on, or an event, or an evangelism outing and seek to participate in it. Indeed, if you can’t attend it, pray for it. Consider attending and meeting folks and encouraging them in the ministry. Consider serving in a care group. Consider giving folks a ride if that’s a need.

6. Read broadly.  —  In the emails we send out, there are usually about 4-6 resource links at the bottom of the email for further reading and study on a given topic -- bible knowledge, theology, biography, biblical counseling, Christian living, etc. So, find just one article & then read it carefully and enhance your theological, practical, counseling understanding. Or, read them all if you're able and have the time! Maybe print them out and put them in the car and if you have a few minutes here or there, pull one out and read it. If you’re early for a lunch appointment or waiting for a meeting to begin, read through one of the articles. These are carefully selected to encourage you and bless you and guide you in the ways of truth so we grow in thinking biblically.

7. Encourage thoughtfully. —  Dear flock, you see who is serving! You observe what's going on! You notice who will be preaching. Consider this as a pastoral suggestion: make it a point to weekly approach one person and specifically encourage them. Don’t flatter them (there’s a difference!). Glorify God by affirming what God is doing through that person for the benefit of the flock (or, you personally!). What would happen if the Savior graciously cultivated in us an encouraging, affirming, upbuilding culture of love!

In conclusion, these 7 suggestions are ways to incorporate the Preparation for Worship email that it sent to you each week and to use it well. This is a guide to the preparation guide! May the Lord help us to deliberately prepare for worship to devotionally grow in His Word, and to delightfully magnify the Savior as we emulate Him, worship Him, and love His redeemed people!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Instruction & Parenting
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Parents all understand Paul’s command to “bring the children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6.4). But sometimes we grow weary in teaching the same old truths on many occasions again and again. Solomon could relate. He said “Hear my son your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching” (Prov 1:8). All through the Book of Proverbs, we receive many examples of Solomon pleading with his son to hear, listen to, heed, pay attention to, and receive His instruction. For instance, “my son, do not forget my teaching but let your heart keep my commandments” (Prov 3:1). This is a vital and unending part of parenting. As the children grow, we as parents must be deliberate in our teaching and instructing of their hearts. This not only takes place in the discipline room when they’re very small (with simple points of instruction) but as the child gets older, the physical spanking will decrease and the verbal instruction and biblical reasoning with the child will increase. When the child is so young that he cannot articulate or reason with you as the parent, discipline with the rod is the primary means of discipline when he has sinned. But as the child grows, verbal instruction, reasoning from the Scriptures, and helping the child see the desires that rule his heart that cause him to then choose to act, speak, or respond a certain way will then take priority in shepherding them toward Christ.

So how do we teach and instruct? It’s something that we can’t not do. We can’t ignore this clear command. We’re called to impress God’s truths deeply on the hearts of our kids (Deut 6.4-9). Come my children listen to me and I will teach you the fear of the Lord (Ps 34.11). So what does this teaching and instruction look like?  I want to provide 7 brief descriptions of our parental instruction to our children.

1. Our instruction must be biblical. I suppose that’s obvious for us as Christian parents but this point cannot be overemphasized. With the incessant pull of media, videos, movies, music, shows, and with the unraveling of the “family” in our culture, we can’t just coast in casual teaching of our children. We must daily show our kids (from the youngest of ages!) what the Bible says, where it says it in the Bible, why it says what it says, and how we must live in response to God’s Truth. Let it be said: we don’t want our instruction to be child-centered or man-centered, but God-centered and biblically-founded. We must be the primary soul-carers (pastors!) of our kids.

2. Our instruction must be formal. By this I refer to regular times where we gather as a family to teach our kids about God and His truth in family worship. As Joshua said: “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord” (Josh 24.15), so every parent must resolve to formally instruct the children in the home, in the Word, with intentionality, as a priority, each day. Going to church 50 times a year (1x a week) is good, but teaching 360+ times a year in the home is unparalleled!

3. Our instruction must be informal. Not only are there planned times of teaching but there is also the “as you are going” mentality of parental instruction. What if you see an ambulance driving by? What if you see a beautiful sunset that God has painted across the sky? What if you see a beautiful rainbow with all the colors magnificently displayed? What if you see two men fighting on the street corner? What if you see something immodest on a billboard? How do you respond in these unplanned opportunities, but to take it as a providential gift from God as a teaching moment! As you look around, you could constantly give thanks and praise to God for everything and use this as an opportunity to informally, and yet powerfully, teach your kids.

4. Our instruction must be incarnated (lived out). We could teach that we must pray always. We could teach that we must rejoice in Jesus Christ. We could tell our kids to give thanks in all circumstances. We could tell our kids to repent, ask for forgiveness, grant repentance, and walk humbly. But do we model this with our lives? Part of parenting is modeling and showing how God’s Word changes our lives. Our kids are watching! So much of living is more caught than taught. So teach with your mouth but also show with your life!

5. Our instruction must be courageous (even when the world doesn’t want it). Of course, the world is at enmity with Christ and it is darkness as God is in the Light. Of course biblical teaching is at odds with worldly thinking. Yet our teaching must be founded on the Word, grounded in truth, courageous in our application and resolute in our obedience. We tell our kids: God’s glory is the ultimate goal and we live for Him, we rejoice in Him, we suffer for Him, we’ll die for Him! It’s always better to die for the truth than to live for a lie. Teach from the Bible and also include the importance of courage and convictions. Don’t just hope for the kids to have some truths, pray for the truths to grab hold of your children! That’s living with courage!

6. Our instruction must be joy-filled (God’s path is always best). Solomon told his son, Rehoboam, “do not forget my teaching but let your heart keep my commandments … it will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones (Prov 3.1, 8). Indeed, how “blessed is the man who finds wisdom” (Prov 3.13). Our teaching must include not only the laws of God and the duty to obey but also the joys of obedience and the pleasantness of following Christ even in the midst of sufferings, hardships, uncertainties, and pain. Let us remind our kids the best and most joyful and most satisfying path is always God’s path as clearly laid out in Scripture. We pursue whatever we think will bring us the greatest happiness and pleasure, so let us constantly impress upon our children that obeying God brings great joy -- because it does!

7. Our instruction, as it comes from Scripture, is sufficient (found in Scripture). Remember the doctrine of bibliology, the Bible is absolutely sufficient for all things related to life and godliness (2 Pet 1.3-4). That means that what God has clearly revealed and said in His written revelation (the Bible) is all we need for guidance and help through life -- any situation in life. We don’t need to supplement the Bible with secular scientific hypotheses, or modern-day psychological formulas or self-help ideologies. God’s Word is enough and sufficient for our instructing our kids and for helping them as they grow and mature through the early ages through the teenage years till they move out and live on their own.

We can’t overemphasize the importance of teaching our children … to put their confidence in God and not forget the works of God but to keep His commandments (Ps 78.5-7). May God help us to teach and instruct our children well, from Scripture, with joy, with intentionality, for His glory.

More can be found at Pastor Geoff's articles page.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Every godly parent loves his child and ultimately wants what’s best for him and for his eternal well-being. Parents long for their children to trust in Christ alone for salvation! God’s Word provides the only sufficient, eternal, authoritative, divine guidelines for parenting our children. That is to say, other resources can prove to be helpful and inspiring but God’s Word is authoritative, God-breathed, and wholly sufficient for all matters pertaining to life and godliness, including parenting. So, what does Scripture have to say about discipline and spanking?

The Apostle Paul says that parents must “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6.4). God also says in the Old Testament that “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;  The rod of discipline will remove it far from him” (Prov 22.15). Furthermore, God most clearly commands us as parents “do not hold back discipline from the child,  Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from Sheol” (Prov 23.13-14). God says that “the rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother” (Prov 29.15). Then God instructs parents: “Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will delight your soul” (Prov 29.17). Why all this? Because our children need to be guided to understand that sinful decisions that their heart makes have consequences. Remember, the heart of the nonbeliever rages against the Lord (Prov 19.3). And so parents live by faith when we discipline our children because God says that the rod of discipline will remove that folly far from him (as the parent provides gentle, loving, biblical reproof as well seeking to get at the heart).

So your child has sinned. Your precious little one has disobeyed God, defied you, transgressed God’s Word, and you’ve now taken your child into the discipline room. Then what? What do you do? What do you say? How do you discipline & point to Christ? How can you be firm with truth & tender with compassion?

This is a brief template that seeks to provide practical wisdom in assisting parents in the discipline and instruction of small children.

1. Gather the facts. —  Ask questions of the child (as much as you’re able with the younger ones) such as: "what happened?" or “tell me what’s going on.” This way you seek to understand the situation (even if you saw it) and you’re allowing them to speak and give their account of the event.

2. Reach the heart. — Then, whatever happened to them, you ask "how did you respond?” or “how did that make you feel?”  “what did you choose to do in that moment when it happened?” Then you can ask: “Why?” All of these questions intentionally target the heart. We want to reach the heart.

3. Expose the sin. — At this point, regardless of what’s happened, it’s vital to specify the sin. Perhaps the child manifested a heart of selfishness, a desire for control, an outburst of anger, not considering others as more important than themselves, etc. The goal is to clearly expose the sin.

4. Prove it biblically. — Ideally, we as Christian parents should have an open a Bible and show the child where in the Scriptures they have sinned against God. This is crucial so the child knows he didn’t ultimately sin against mom or dad but first and foremost against God. This is where godly parents need to constantly study the Word and hide it in our hearts so that we can bring biblical truth to the child’s heart regularly & specifically.

5. Give the discipline. — The sin has been committed. The facts have been gathered. The heart has been exposed (as much as possible). The sin has been clearly stated and biblically proven. The child is guilty and has disobeyed God. Now the parent must use the rod. The goal is to bring enough pain for the child to see the error in what he’s done but, of course, the discipline is not to bring harm or bruising to the child. Using the rod must be done in a private location and it must be firm. Whether it’s one swat or two or three on the rear-end (an area that’s not exposed and easily covered up), the parent must choose to obey God and use the rod when the child has sinned. Parents must choose to obey God rather than follow culture on spanking. Culture calls it “harming/abusing the child.” God calls it: “saving your child’s soul from death!” Choose to follow God! Use the rod.

6. Express tender love. — Immediately when the discipline has occurred and the child is saddened by the pain, hold the child, hug the child, affectionately place the child on your lap, and verbally tell them: "I love you!” This tender love and physical and verbal reassurance is important.

7. Give the gospel. — Now is the glorious opportunity to say: “do you know why I did this? You've sinned. And our God is holy. You're a sinner, just like daddy (or, mommy)…” The Law has exposed the sin. The child has received a discipline for the offense. Now bring the balm of the gospel and the hope of Christ. The glorious benefit of this consists in parents having many opportunities (even daily, at times!) to present the gospel to their children who have sinned. Yes, our God hates sin and sees our sinful hearts! But God sent His Son to take the “eternal discipline” that we deserve. Compel your children to trust in Jesus! Sinners are saved by faith — childlike faith — in Jesus as Lord & Savior! Show them Christ’s glory, worth, work, and hope! Never underestimate the power of a faithful father who disciplines when he’s home and able and a faithful mother who disciplines in the home and how many gospel occasions this presents with the child. O may God use Christian homes to save children at young ages for His glory and renown.

8. Pray with them. — When all has been done and said, don’t forget to pray for them and with them. Still keeping the child on your lap and embracing him in your arms, pray for God to save them. Then, move on tenderly, lovingly, caringly, affectionately, and prayerfully.

For young children in the home that must learn that there are painful consequences to sinful choices, God’s prescribed method of discipline is employing the rod. We as parents must never use the rod out of anger, frustration, or in a manner of lashing out at the children for a foolish choice they made. Rather, parents must all learn from God who disciplines those whom he loves and he scourges every son that he receives (Heb 12.5-6). Indeed, godly parents discipline for a short time as seems best and long for the time when it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Heb 12.11). Out of love, parental love, God-like love, as you love your children, discipline them and declare the gospel to them. Or, as Paul puts it: bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6.4).

More resources found at the parenting link.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The ULTIMATE MODEL of Parenting.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Sometimes parents may ponder to themselves: “can anyone else relate to me in this situation?” Or, “has anyone else ever gone through this?” Parenting can seem lonely. When children disobey, when young children act defiantly, when teenager revolt, parents may think that they’ve done it all wrong and that no one could relate to the despair that has risen in their soul. But I want to encourage every parent with a simple reality from Scripture. The ultimate parent is God. Remember what God said in Isaiah 1:2 - “Listen, O heavens and hear, O earth; for the Lord speaks, ‘Sons I have reared and brought up, but they have revolted against me.’” Indeed, later Isaiah says: “Israel has abandoned the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away from Him” (Isa 1:4). Have you, dear parents, ever felt like this? Be encouraged: God can relate to you in every situation in life -- even the discouraging, lonely, and confusing parenting moments that enter into your life.

God is the PERFECT model. Of course, God is perfect...He is God! And He calls Israel, “My Son” (Hosea 11:1 and Isa 1:2). Let us remember that our God takes on the title of “Father” (Eph 3:14-15) and loves for His children to call Him “Abba” Father (Gal 4:6). God is the perfect model of a parent. He is the Father. He has children. And He had sons, and as Isaiah tells us, they were wayward and rebellious. Let us look to God as our model and observe how He parents.

God is a SYMPATHIZING parent. As involved as God is in the lives of His creatures, we see that He is a God of emotion and that He is a God who cares. And God refers to Israel as “sons that he has reared and brought up” (Isa 1:2). But these sons have revolted against Him. Indeed, they have acted corruptly, abandoned Him, and utterly despised God. Could you imagine? Maybe you’ve been there, or maybe you’re going through it. Sons rising up and revolting against their parents and abandoning and utterly despising them! So God can relate. So God was one who was grieved by this. So much so that God invited them to come back to him, to return to him, and to be forgiven (Isa 1:18). O how God wanted to reconcile with them! He was grieved and hurt by their sin.

God has WAYWARD children. Israel was greatly rebellious. Indeed, they were full of evil deeds (Isa 1:16). They offered heartless sacrifices and were prone to just going through the religious motions of offering sacrifices (Isa 1:11). They trampled God’s courts (Isa 1:12) and prayed with uplifted hands as though God ignored their sin but would hear their petitions (Isa 1:15). So bad had Israel become that she didn’t even know how to blush over sin anymore. O yes, God can relate to you if you have children that have strayed. But wait, Did God do something wrong? Of course not! How faithful and tender and patient He was! Yet He had wayward children.

God UNCONDITIONALLY LOVES  His own. Never, ever, does God abandon His people, Israel. God tells them that the fixed order of the moon and stars and sun would have to pass away before God would give up Israel as His people (Jer 31.35-37). Of course God is faithful to His promises and HIs covenants! Consider the elect of God! While we were His enemies, Christ died for us (Rom 5.8). He loves us unconditionally. He remains faithful -- even when we are faithless (2 Tim 2.13). How does God treat His elect children (=believers) when we sin against Him? He is faithful to love, diligent to discipline, constant in compassion, long-suffering in patience, and ready to forgive. O what a most merciful and gloriously gracious God we worship and serve! How faithful He is with us -- even when we sin in those moments of stubbornness and being wayward. May we learn from our Father and love our children in the same way.

God LAVISHES LOVE and PROMISE-FILLED HOPE to His children. As the perfect model, God shows us that we can constantly communicate and remind the children of wonderful promises that come to all of His children -- He will still love us (Rom 8.35-39) and He will never leave or forsake us (Heb 13.5). How does God treat you as His child? He lavishes constant love upon you as you study Him, know Him, and seek to plumb the depths of His unfathomable love (Eph 3:14-19). He is always available to communicate with you through His Word and provide hope -- faithful, sure hope -- to you as His child through faith alone (2 Cor 1:20). May we learn from God, our perfect model, as we seek to be faithful in parenting our children as God Himself loves His own.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Goals of Parenting
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Without goals, it’s only a matter of time before one wanders without a sense of direction and purpose. Without clear, decisive, straightforward goals, no ultimate mark will be hit and ultimately one will be meandering aimlessly, without direction, and at a loss as to the reason why he does what he does. We must remember our goals. And not only must we remember our goals, but we must ensure that we have the right ones. When talking to Christian parents, a common goal for the children is that they become Christians. As important at this is and as noble as this is, this is not the ultimate goal of parenting. For if conversion is the goal, and if a child does not come to Christ, then the parent has failed in parenting. And that’s not the biblical understanding of Christian living -- or parenting. In this write-up, I want to delineate a few goals of parenting and, in so doing, I also want to underscore the priority of the first item that is listed below.

The first and preeminent goal of parenting must be faithfulness. It is required of God’s stewards that one be found ‘trustworthy’ (1 Cor 4.1-2). Children of God receive a warm and glorious welcome into the kingdom when they hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt 25.21, 23). God demands faithfulness of His people -- the kind of faithfulness that emulates His own faithfulness. Success, according to the Bible, is not results or numbers. Success in the Bible is gauged by faithfulness. How faithful is the parent to pray for the children? How faithful is the parent to selflessly love the children and daily point them to their eternal refuge in Christ? How faithful is the parent to get at the heart in the discipline room and during the occasions of instruction and discipleship? How faithful is the parent to lead in family worship and bring Christ and His gospel to bear in the hearts of the children? How faithful is the parent to repent of sin, ask for forgiveness, and model Christlikeness to the children? Parents must remember that the ultimate and chief goal of parenting is faithfulness. Be faithful to what God has called you to do and leave the results to God.
Secondly, the goal of parenting includes evangelization. Of course, every Christian parent longs for his children to come to know Christ in a saving way. Every parent longs for, prays for, and strives for this. And rightly so! But faithfulness to God does not guarantee the conversion of the child. But in being faithful to God and in being obedient to His Word, a Christian parent will evangelize the children daily. Indeed, he will utilize opportunities to formally teach about God (family worship, devotions, etc.) and informally teach about God (on a road trip, a funeral, watching a sunset, seeing an amazing creature, etc.). Parents must relentlessly, patiently, prayerfully, tenderly, and urgently evangelize the children by pointing out their sinful hearts, the character of God, the penalty for sin, the punishment of hell, the love and life of Christ, the substitution that procured salvation, the need for repentance and faith, and the hope of eternal life for all who believe. Parents must lovingly invite the children to come to this God in Christ and to love Him, serve Him, obey Him, and trust in Him!

Third, parenting must have the goal of preparation. This includes preparation for judgment day. There is a day soon coming when everyone will stand before Jesus Christ, the Judge of heaven and earth. And our job as parents is to prepare, by God’s enabling grace and power, our children to stand before the Almighty and just judgment of God! Furthermore, we want to devote ourselves to prepare them for life.  We want them to know what integrity is and what it looks like. We want them to be hard workers. We must teach and instruct them to be busy, workers with their hands, devoted to God, truthful in all things, and living with an eye toward eternity. Additionally, we parent to teach our children to prepare for marriage. We parent our boys to be men who lead, who are humble servants, selfless in their daily sacrifice, and genuinely loving as Christ loves. We teach our girls to be gentle, helpers, submissive, and to joyfully embrace the calling to follow and complete a man that God may bring into their lives. Finally, we want to  prepare our children for when they themselves are parents. But ultimately, of course, our primary focus is on their preparation to meet God -- which most certainly will come.

Next, the goals of parenting must entail a multi-generational influence. We don’t parent only for now. We parent for the future. We must remember the long-term perspective of parenting. Let’s not have a narrow, myopic focus of parenting but remember that our children will one day be parents and they will be parenting their children, and then their children will have children that they will parent, and so forth. We must remember that we want to teach the generations to come -- yes, even the generations yet to be born -- to trust in the Lord and place their hope in God (see Psalm 78:1-8).

Finally, the goal of parenting includes demonstration. That refers to the demonstration of the gospel visibly and relationally. The way that God as Father treats us as His children has a very direct correlation to how we as parents must treat our children. And in so far as we faithfully understand how God treats us, we want to faithfully emulate His conduct with our children so as to rightly show selfless love and humble sacrifice in the gospel. How do we demonstrate God’s selfless, sacrificial, humble love toward our children when they sin?  How do we lavish forgiveness upon them that emulates God’s enormous forgiveness of us?  How do we communicate clearly, often, tenderly, and with comforting promises like God does to us in the pages of Scripture? How do we unilaterally initiate occasions to love our children even when they do not love in return?  This is how God has loved us in Christ? Let us seek to remember the ultimate goal of being faithful to God and to His Word as we strive, working by His power, to follow Him, obey His Word, and see God’s Spirit regenerate our children by His sovereign grace.

More can be found at Pastor Geoff's site here.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The POWER of parenting
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Every parent could honestly say that often the cry of our hearts is “Help, Lord!” Indeed, we as parents desperately need God’s strength for the daunting — and humanly impossible — task of shepherding precious souls to Christ. No greater calling exists for a Christian with children than to honor God by bringing up the children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Frequently it is the case that parents have run low of energy, feel burnt out of doing yet another discipline, and they wonder if this particular ‘season of life’ will ever come to an end. Where do we as parents turn in moments of hardship and weakness? Where do we go when we need strength and grace?

God tells us that “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor 10.9). So in this text, God tells believers that in times of weakness God’s power is made perfect. The weaker we are as parents, the stronger God’s power works in and through us.

Elsewhere, the Apostle Paul provided the philosophy of ministry as he stated that his duty was to proclaim Christ (the unfathomable glories of this Savior!) by admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom so that he may present every man complete in Christ (Col 1.28). Yet, he goes on to state that he labors (that is, exerting tremendous energy and diligent effort), striving according to God’s power which mightily works within him (Col 1.29). In a sense, this is every parent’s philosophy of ministry as we seek to be ‘undershepherds’ in our homes caring for the little sheep that God provides under our care for a certain period of years. How do we proclaim Christ? How do we admonish and instruct and teach and labor and fulfill these lofty (and, again, humanly impossible!) goals? Not with mere human effort but according to God’s almighty power which so powerfully works within us.

Our God can do the impossible. Furthermore, God is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or even think, according to the power that works within us (Eph 3.20). That text means that our God is able, powerful and working in such a way that He can do more than we could pray for and more than we could ever imagine because He mightily is working in us. Paul lives to know Christ and he also wants to know the power of His resurrection (Phil 3.10). And we should learn to pray like this so that we would know what is the surpassing greatness of God’s power toward us who believe (Eph 1.19).

These verses repeatedly underscore the most wondrous reality that in our overwhelming weakness and inability, God remains overwhelmingly strong and able to do what we could never do. Our God is strong, mighty, sovereign, providential, and saving. He works through weak earthen vessels (2 Cor 4.7). Do you feel weak? Do you feel inadequate? Do you feel defeated and in despair? Do not lose heart! God still has the victory and is strong in your weakness! He supplies the daily strength that we need for parenting. The greatest prayer and the most humbling cry that we as parents can repeatedly utter is: “Help, Lord! I can’t do this! I desperately need you!” God will work and act — for His glory working in and through you. Trust Him. Receive His power! The same Jehovah who sat as King at the flood is the same One who gives strength to His people (Ps 29.10-11). Rely on Him. Rest in Him. Request to Him. Receive His power!

More from the eBook on "parenting" can be found at Pastor Geoff's website.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The highest calling that God has placed upon mankind is when God takes a regenerated man, empowers Him with the Word of God and Spirit-endowed courage, and calls, commissions, and consecrates him to impart God’s truth to people. Preaching changes lives! God uses preaching as the ordinary means by which He quickens dead souls to new life. The Spirit uses the man of God as he delivers the Word of God in proclaiming the saving gospel of Jesus Christ so that all of God’s elect will hear, repent, and trust in Christ.

To preach is to faithfully and powerfully deliver God's message to God's people and to show them how God's truth should change the way they live. This writing briefly summarizes biblical preaching.

 In a word, ‘what is it that God demands that all His ministers do?’

All preaching must derive out of the Bible. Any message that does not come from the Bible cannot be a sermon. A true sermon is one that is sourced in the Bible, comes out of the Bible, is guided by the Bible, works through the larger theme of the Bible and glorifies the God of the Bible. Every minister must preach biblically. He must preach with one book always in hand and with a finger pointing to the text. He must have as his authority the Word of God. He must preach biblical sermons, not ethical sermonettes. He must preach powerful truths that arise from the Bible, not relevant talks that tickle the ears of the unconverted.

One of the most important elements of preaching revolves around the prayerfulness of the preacher. The man of God must bathe himself, his message, his heart, his affections, and his congregation in prayer. He must beg for the Spirit’s empowering as he opens his mouth to herald. He must spend a considerable amount of time meeting with God in prayer before he meets with people to preach. He must spend much time on his knees to be qualified to deliver the message to God’s sheep. Many charlatans have to pray before they preach; true ministers of God long to pray before they preach. Many ear-tickling ministers might pray before they speak; God’s men must meet with God before they proclaim the Word. Prayer must permeate the preacher’s life, sermon preparation, spiritual walk, and family life.

In preaching, the man of God speaks as God’s mouthpiece. The herald takes the message of the Sovereign and imparts it to His subjects. As a faithful ambassador, the preacher (khrux/kerux) takes the message and faithfully delivers it to the appointed recipients without alteration, without apology, and with courage. Speaking for the heavenly King requires that the man of God revere the thrice-holy God supremely. A preacher who has little reverence for God should never step behind a pulpit. The thought of standing with God’s Word in hand and speaking for God should overwhelm the minister every time he considers such a terrifying thought! Yet, God has ordained it and He has called for it. So every preacher should be awe-struck, reverential and serious as he preaches God’s Word.

God’s men who open their mouths to speak God’s Words must ensure they speak the meaning of the text. The exegetical skills needed include knowledge of the original languages, literary devices, and a proper understanding of how the structure of individual paragraphs fit into the whole chapter and book. The man should spend much time in the original languages poring over the words, conjunctions, prepositions, verbals so as to understand the meaning of the text by what the original author intended by what he wrote to the original hearers. The minister must bring the meaning out of the Scripture. This requires time, labor, rigorous effort, many notes, plenty of time, and an abundance of prayer.

When a man preaches expositionally it means that he preaches a message that comes out of the Word of God. Just as it is a biblical sermon, it follows the normal pattern of preaching consecutively through entire books of the Bible. God gave whole Bibles to make whole people. So preachers should preach entire books of the Bible. This ensures that the herald will preach the full counsel of God while omitting nothing. He must preach on every doctrine, every truth, every theme of the gospel, every blessing, and every curse. He must take the Word of God and preach it whenever he plants himself behind the pulpit. To preach expositionally ensures that the man has prepared his sermon from the Bible, and that he has already done his work in the original languages and come to the authorial meaning of the text. Every true minister preaches expositionally.

Preaching is never boring. What a contradictory statement to surmise that God’s message to people could ever bore people! God’s truth engages the heart and it instructs the mind and it woos the affections. The man of God who preaches must herald a sermon that engages the audience. Every good preacher of God has done this. Indeed, Jesus Himself engaged people as He preached. He related the text to the people. He brought them into the sermon. He captivated them and seized their attention as He taught. Preachers today must do the same. With the Bible in hand, proclaimers should endeavor to seize the attention of the hearers, keep their attention throughout the entirety of the sermon, and drive their will to a decision at the end of the sermon as to how they must respond to God’s message that they have just heard. Preachers must engage with the hearers. Preaching is not a lecture or a discourse. It’s a heart-engaging, mind-engaging, will-seizing activity that God has ordained.

If a man stands to speak God’s Word and preaches without passion, he ought to retire and never step foot into a pulpit ever again. If the man of God does not passionately believe his text he ought never to think that his hearers will be persuaded to believe the text he sets before them. If the minister does not have a heart set aflame with God’s truth, then the hearers will not be set on fire by the message. But if the preacher is on fire with God’s truth, standing with the authority of God who is Himself the consuming fire, then his hearers will be set on fire by the embers that proceed out of the truths imparted. Preaching is a man set on fire by God’s glory and a man who earnestly desires that all men would know his God, and his text, and his gospel, and his Savior! May it never be that a man can speak of these truths heartlessly and impassionately. The preacher should soak himself with the gasoline of the Word in the study all week and then as he lights the fire as he preaches in the pulpit, people will come and be changed as they see him burn.

How will people hear without a preacher? People will perish everlastingly under the just wrath of God Almighty and the painful torments of His anger if they die in unbelief. Every preacher must preach with an eye toward the glorious splendor of heaven and with an eye toward the horrifying flames of hell. He must come to preach after he has heard the choral praises of heaven and after he has heard the horrifying shrieks of the damned. He must remember that he preaches for eternity. Every sermon is a battle for the souls of his hearers. The preacher must desire to convert the wayward, to convict the obstinate, and to confront the impenitent. He must evangelize them in every sermon and call them to repentance. Every sermon may not be an evangelistic, gospel message, but every sermon — regardless of the text from which he preaches — must include a clear gospel presentation. Preacher, win souls! He who wins souls is wise! Don’t be a foolish preacher and refuse to present the gospel. Be a soul-winner and preach for conversions.

9. Preach URGENTLY
Eternity hangs in the balances every time the man heralds divine truth. Every person listening has an eternal soul and will live on forever. Those who believe in Christ and receive Him as the Son of God will be saved and all who reject Jesus Christ call God a liar and will suffer God’s judgment forevermore. Preachers stand up with a zeal to win souls for Christ! He stands as a surgeon urgently pleading with his patient to receive the balm that can heal the illness. The preacher functions as a fireman who lifts his voice and urgently calls for people in the burning home to exit immediately! He heralds with the same urgency as a lifeguard who calls out to those drowning in the deep waters. The preacher of the gospel must preach as a dying man to dying man as if he really believed that someone present may die before hearing a gospel message again. Men of God must believe they have received God’s truth that must immediately be preached, it must decisively be received, it must wholly be followed, and it must unreservedly be embraced!

Preaching is persuasion. To preach is the divine mandate to take God’s Word and impart it to sinners while endeavoring to persuade sinners to see the gravity of their sin and their dire need of a Savior. While fully depending upon the sovereign working of the Spirit of God taking the Word and penetrating it deep into the souls of the hearers, the preacher still crafts the message in such a way that he wants to affect the will. He wants the will to be won and wooed to Christ. He says with the Apostle Paul that he persuades men to believe. He wants to preach such a glorious Christ and a magnificent gospel that sinners must instantly flee to this Christ! He wants to herald such an irresistible gospel and a horrible hell that the unrepentant turn from their sins to Christ at once! Preaching depends totally on the sovereign working of God for any and all effectiveness but the minister understands that his responsibility consists of preaching in such a way so that sinners see the weight of their sin, the crushing blow of God’s coming fury, and the sufficient atonement that Christ accomplished at Calvary, and the necessity to repent, believe, count the cost, and follow Christ.

11. Preach BOLDLY
It does not matter who sits in the audience when the man of God holds the Word of God, he preaches what God says in the Bible without shrinking back from hard texts and appropriate applications. The man of God unashamedly preaches the full purpose of God. He boldly calls sinners to repent or they will go to hell. He confidently affirms that the biblical Jesus will crush and conquer all of His enemies — not just all blasphemers but those who simply walk by Jesus indifferently or apathetically. He calls the rich and the poor to repentance. He calls all men to come to Christ and trust in Him. He could stand before the King, the President, the Emperor, or the most powerful human council that could assemble and he will herald the unadulterated gospel with power, clarity, passion, and fervor. All preachers must preach with lion-like boldness. Indeed, the righteous are as bold as a lion!

The Apostle tells his protege to preach with all authority. That means that God’s preachers must command and demand a response! The source of this authority rests not from the preacher himself. He has no authority whatsoever — regardless of his position. The authority entirely comes from God Almighty and His message that He has entrusted to His slaves to preach. The men of God who take the gospel of God must preach the Word with all authority. They must call and command. They must instruct and apply. They must allow no one to disregard or despise or refute the message. Preachers cannot shy away from the ministerial calling to herald with a commanding presence. Again, this authority exists not in himself but solely in the God of the gospel and in the gospel of God! Just as an ambassador of old had authority because he delivered the King’s edict, so the man of God has commanding authority because he delivers the Sovereign King’s edicts. When Jesus preached, the peoples remarked that he taught with authority. May heralds of God learn from the Son of God to teach with authority and command sinners to repent!

The minister should lead the entire flock of God as the worship leader. If he worships, the sheep will follow. If his soul is caught up to the heaven of heavens in heartfelt praise, then the people will do likewise. As he prepares, he must worship. As he preaches, he must worship. After he’s through, he must worship. As he depends on the Spirit to take the Word and implant it deeply into the people’s hearts, he must worship. The minister must worship God with joy out of the pulpit and in the pulpit. He is the worship leader. To worship is to respond to God’s revelation of who He is and what He has done. If anyone ever has unending reasons to worship God, the minister of the gospel certainly does. He has studied all week. He has been alone with God. He has cried out to God for his own heart, for the souls of his people, for the benefit of the sermon, and for the unction of the Spirit. He has met with God and God has met with him. He has truly communed with God. His God knows him and he knows his God. Let every minister of the gospel preach the Word as an act of worship, fully reliant on God’s power to make the Word effective. Let every herald preach as a man enamored with the stunning beauty of Christ, the awesome privilege of preaching His Word, and the atoning gospel that he has both experienced and that he has been commissioned to herald as God’s ambassador. Man of God, worship!

More articles on preaching can be found here.  Audio podcasts on preaching can be found here.

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Short, Biblical Overview of Future Events
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

A hermeneutical & presuppositional note
When studying Bible prophecy, one must remember that God progressively revealed Himself in Scripture over the course of time. This is codified in the Scriptures -- both in the Old and New Testaments. When God made eternal covenants with the ethnic nation of Israel in the Old Testament, these covenants must still remain in tact with the people that God originally made the covenant with because of God’s faithful and trustworthy character. When we interpret prophecy, then, we must begin the study with the Old Testament and then move to the New Testament rather than reading the Old Testament through the lens of the fuller revelation of the New Testament. This means that Israel always refers to ethnic Israel (both in the OT and NT, in every instance). The Old Testament prophets revealed much about the future kingdom where there would be great blessing, prosperity and protection for Israel -- and the nations! -- even though some of the chronological specifics don’t come till later (e.g., New Testament revelation). Thus, to interpret Bible prophecy correctly, we must start with the Old Testament and build the foundation there so as to understand the authorial intent (=meaning) of these texts and then move to the New Testament for greater light, more details, and to fill in many of the gaps regarding the end-times schema. The approach of Bible prophecy that this simple overview takes is the futuristic approach. This will be spelled out simply in what follows.

#1) The “Catching Up” of Church-Age Saints to Meet Christ in the Air
The Word of God clearly reveals that the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, will return again (1 Thess 5:9-10). This is foundational to biblical eschatology. The NT presents two distinct aspects of this “second coming” of Christ in the eschatological schema. There is a coming when Christ comes to the clouds to catch up (=seize suddenly and irresistibly) His saints, that is, those who are “in Christ” (=NT church-age believers who are alive) to meet Christ and those who have died in Christ in the air (1 Thess 4:16-17). There will be a most glorious union between believers and Christ Jesus in the clouds and thus they shall be together (1 Thess 4:17). This coming of Christ will be sudden, immediate coming that is likened to a blink of an eye (1 Cor 15:51-58). It will be a glorious coming of Christ for His church to rescue them, as promised, from the coming time of testing that will come upon the entire inhabited earth to test those who dwell on the earth (Rev 3:10; 1 Thess 1:9-10). This is a coming that could happen at any moment (=it is imminent) and thus church-age saints must always live with expectancy looking for the any-moment return of Christ!

#2) The 7-Year “Tribulation” Period to Judge the World & Prepare Israel for the Kingdom
The Bible reveals that what begins the final “week” -- the 7-year period of great testing -- is the making of a firm “covenant” between AntiChrist and Israel (Dan 9:27). This is what begins the period of great testing on the earth that will come upon the world. It is a time of Jacob’s distress (Jer 30:7). It is called the “Day of the LORD” that will come from the Almighty to punish the world for its evil (Isa 13:6-11). The purpose of this 7-year period is two-fold: first, it is for God to bring distress upon all those who dwell on the earth because they have sinned against the Lord (Zeph 1:14-17) and, second, to protect the Jewish people, save the Jewish people, and prepare them for the coming kingdom (Ezek 36:22-32; Dan 11:35-39; Rom 11:25-27). The NT brings clarity in showing that this time of “tribulation” will be tremendously severe, worldwide, and so supernatural that all men will know that God is bringing judgments (Rev 6-16 -- the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments).

#3) The Second-Coming of Jesus Christ in Power & Great Glory
At the conclusion of the seven-year tribulation, as Jesus puts it, “immediately after the tribulation of those days”, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light and the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky and he will come on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory (Matt 24:29-30). Revelation 19 tells more of this magnificent coming as it states that Christ will come all the way to earth to bring judgment upon the nations (Rev 19:15). He will descend to the Mount of Olives (Zech 14:1-5) and He will come with His angelic host and with the redeemed of heaven and He will execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way (Jude 15). He will gather them to the “valley of decision” where he will sit to judge the nations and he will roar from zion and tread the wine press of His wrath (Joel 3:12-16; Rev 19:11-21; 2 Thess 1:5-10). Whereas the Lord only descended to the clouds in the catching up of the NT saints that occurred seven years earlier, now He descends all the way to earth in a much slower, more visible, unmistakable coming -- akin to lightning (Matt 24:27).

#4) The 1,000 Year Earthly Millennial Kingdom
After Jesus has returned to earth and after he has judged the nations, he welcomes true believers who have come to faith in the Tribulation period to come and inherit the kingdom that has been prepared for them (Matt 25:34). The OT speaks of this time of restoration (immediately following a time of cataclysmic and divine judgment) where Israel (the ethnic, Jewish nation) will be gathered from the nations (Isa 11:11-16) and Israel as a nation will enjoy the full benefits of the New Covenant that God made with the house of Israel and Judah (Jer 31:31) as they will fear God and obey Him (Jer 32:39-42). God promised that a “Branch” will execute justice and righteousness on the entire earth (Jer 33:14-18) and Israel will dwell securely among the nations (Ezek 37:24-28). The NT specifies the specifics of the duration of this kingdom -- it will last for 1,000 years (Rev 20:1-7). The saints of God will reign with Christ for a thousand years (Rev 20:6). It will be a time of blessed joy, worldwide blessing, political justice, and Christ-centered kingship (Ps 2, 72, 110; Jer 23:1-6; 33:1-26) that will bring to fruition the confluence of all of the wonderful, irreversible, divine covenants that God made with Abraham (the land of Israel), with David (a glorious King who would rule), and with Israel in the New Covenant (regeneration and forgiveness to God’s people).

#5) The Great White Throne Judgment Upon All the Unsaved of Human History
After the 1,000 year earthly Kingdom, Satan who has been bound for the entire 1,000 year kingdom period (Rev 20:1-3, 7) will be released and will gather together his minions for one last final revolt against Christ and he will immediately be seized and thrown into the everlasting lake of fire and brimstone (Rev 20:10). Christ will sit on His glorious throne to judge the world (John 5:22). He will sit on a Great, White Throne (Rev 20:11). Scores and multitudes of nations will be sovereignly brought before this sovereign Christ and He will judge them according to their deeds -- which are written in His books (Rev 20:12). If anyone’s name is not found written in the Book of Life, they will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 20:11-15). This is the second death (Rev 20:15). The Word of God seems to indicate that this great white throne judgment is only a judgment for the unsaved of all of human history as there is no indication of the righteous being at this judgment. It is a sovereign judgment sentencing all nonbelievers who have ever lived into the everlasting torments of divine wrath in the lake of fire and brimstone where they will suffer the fury of God’s just judgment forever and ever (Rev 14:11; Matt 25:46).

#6) The Eternal State:  The Lake of Fire & the New Heavens/the New Earth
The hope of believers is to “forever be with the Lord” (1 Thess 4:16-17) and to see the face of Christ and behold His righteousness forevermore (Ps 11:7; 17:15). Every true believer longs for the day to be in the real, bodily presence of Jesus Christ the Lamb of God where there are pleasures forevermore and fullness of joy (Ps 16:11). O for the dwelling of God to be among men, and for God to dwell among them forever and ever is the sure foundation of the believer’s hope (Rev 21:3-4)! Believers will see the face of God and His name will be on their foreheads (Rev 22:4-5). Indeed, these blessed and hope-filled words are “faithful and true” (Rev 22:6). But all the unsaved -- the lost -- that is, those who are cowards, unbelievers, abominable, murders, sexually immoral, sorcerers, and idolaters and all lairs will find their place in the eternal lake of fire, which is the unending second death (Rev 21:7-8). May we as believers live for eternity (1 John 3:3) and urgently plead with sinners to repent of sin and believer in Christ alone for salvation and for deliverance from divine, everlasting wrath (Acts 17:30-31). Jesus said: “I am coming quickly” (Rev 22:12). Let us say with John, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20) and with the saints: “Maranatha” (1 Cor 16:22).

Some podcasts on eschatology & on futuristic premillennialism can be found here.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Yea but, I’ve Asked Jesus Into My Heart.
This continues the "...Yea But" eBook series where I take common objections that many raise regarding the Bible and I seek to answer them biblically. 

The New Testament no where exhorts people to look to a past decision to confirm a present condition. The Word of God has no commands to pray a certain prayer in order to be saved. Nowhere does Jesus lead a person in a prayer so they may be saved. Nowhere does the Bible command people to “ask Jesus into your heart.” As common as it is today, it’s totally devoid of biblical support.

In fact, asking Jesus into one’s heart, or as it’s commonly termed: “the sinner’s prayer” has done more to promote easily believism, a sort of ‘Carnal (unChristian) Christianity’, and thus has deceived countless souls into thinking that they’re actually saved because of something that they did when in fact they still are lost, dead in sin, and headed for hell. Praying a prayer can satisfy many in thinking that it’s a sort of “fire insurance” to get them out of hell but this self-assurance has no biblical support.

We must understand what the Bible teaches regarding salvation.

  1. Salvation is wholly and entirely “from the Lord” from beginning to end (1 Cor 1:30; Rom 11:36). God is the initiator, the accomplisher, the sustainer, and the guarantor of true salvation.
  2. The gospel call is to: “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). Repeatedly, Christ went preaching repentance (Luke 5:32) and He called all His followers to preach repentance (Luke 24:47). The prophets preached repentance (Ezek 14:6; 18:30) as did the Apostles (Acts 17:30).
  3. The prophets, the Apostles, and Christ Himself did not model the idea of leading people in a sinner’s prayer to get saved.
  4. God does not need a sinner to “invite Christ into his heart.” Rather, God sovereignly invades a dead sinner’s heart by His sovereign power, undeserved love, and unstoppable compassion.
  5. Before the sinner responds to the gospel (in repentance and faith), God the Spirit first quickens the spiritually dead soul so that it is a heart alive to God, thirsting for God, seeing the depravity of sin, and it is thus able to respond to the gospel call in repentance and faith. But the first and primary work of salvation is when God regenerates the sinner’s soul which then enables that person to see Christ as glorious and trust in Him alone as Savior and Lord.
  6. The New Testament does not call Christians to look to a person’s past decision or event to certify the genuineness of one’s salvation. Rather, it calls for examination of the life that is now being lived and to assess the fruit of one’s conduct. Truly regenerated people will be bearing the fruits of the Spirit. Those who love the world and live like the world as a way of life show they have never been changed and, regardless of what they profess with their lips, they are devoid of eternal life and are workers of lawlessness (Matthew 7:21-23).
  7. Many may make the profession that they “asked Jesus into their heart” or “they made a decision to surrender to Jesus” and it can subtly be the case that some may trust in their decision to follow Christ more than they trust in the righteousness and propitiation of Christ Himself. In other words, some rely more on their wise choice for Christ rather than in the crosswork of Christ. Why are they saved? They would answer: “because I asked Jesus into my heart.” Thus, they are subtly boasting in self and in their decision rather than in Christ alone.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

In the last few weeks, we at Christ Fellowship Bible Church have been actively working at putting together podcasts where we deal with one of the most common realities of our day — "Depression".

THE GOAL: to persevere through the reality of life's pains with true, lasting, biblical HOPE.

This is an 8-part audio podcast series that works through the 8 most common types of depression.

We define the type of depression, provide the symptoms that the medical community provides, and then we give counsel from God's sufficient Word for Christians so as to persevere through the real struggles of life with Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered, God-glorifying HOPE.

1. Major clinical depression  |  link
2. Persistent depressive disorder  |  link
3. Bipolar disorder  |  link
4. Seasonal depression  |  link
5. Psychotic depression  |  link
6. Postpartum depression  |  link
7. Situational depression  |  link
8. A-typical depression  |  link

The link to the entire series can be found HERE.

2 Tim. 3:16-17 — All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Pray for Your Church Leaders!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Unspeakable weight rests on the shoulders of every under-shepherd who has the gloriously heavy duty of caring for the souls of God’s blood-bought sheep. It is a duty and a call where the watchman cannot clock out or say he’s uninvolved. It is a tireless work. It is a wonderful work. It is a busy work. It is a consuming work! And every minister of the gospel, called by God to such a high and holy calling, would not ultimately want to do anything else.

How can we pray for our church leaders? How can we hold up their arms as they engage in relentless ministry?

1. To Pursue Christ Supremely.   (The pursuit of his life.)
Make it your aim to consistently pray for your pastor-elders to “take up their cross and follow Christ” daily (Luke 9:23). As Jesus put it, he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me (Matt 10:38). Pray for your leaders to follow after Christ, that is, to pursue Christ, that is to prioritize the person of Christ more than just doctrine about Christ. Ask God to give them a burning love and a supreme passion for Christ’s honor and renown -- not their own earthly recognition and fame. Pray for your leaders to pursue Christ and so find themselves awed by the unspeakable love that Christ has shown to their souls that they would preach as men lit on fire! Pray that they would pursue Christ supremely whether people watch or not, whether people notice or not, whether people applaud them or not, whether they become popular or not, whether they become conference speakers or not. Pray that they’d say I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord (Phil 3.8).

2. To Proclaim Christ Boldly.      (The proclamation of his lips.)
And as you pray for your leaders to pursue Christ, present your requests to God that this passionate pursuit of Christ would result in passionate proclamation of Christ. Yes, pray for your ministers to study hard and preach hard! Pray for them to pursue Jesus Christ and to preach Jesus Christ! But keep persistent in prayer for your shepherds! Proclaiming Christ boldly is urgently needed in this hour! A famine in the land exists! A famine in our country, in our culture, in our cities, in many ‘evangelical’ churches! As unpopular, or as unwanted, or as undesirable as it may be to the masses, pray for your shepherds to preach the Word -- in season and out of season! Pray that they’d reprove, rebuke, exhort and do all this with great patience. Indeed, times will come -- and are here! -- when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths (2 Tim 4:2-4). Pray for your leaders to be unflinching, unashamed, unapologetic, unabashed in proclaiming the excellencies of this Christ! Pray for this to happen when the church is gathered for equipping. And also pray that your leaders would model this for the flock when the church scatters to proclaim the gospel and call sinners to flee from the wrath to come and follow after Christ wholeheartedly! Pray for men of God to arise and persevere in bold preaching!

3. To Study Christ Hungrily.       (The passion of his soul.)
Jesus had twelve men that He chose to learn from Him, to preach with Him, to perform miracles, and to be with Him (Mark 3:14). It was known of the early Apostles that they had been “with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Pray to God that your ministers would so study Christ that it would be their all-consuming passion. As someone who hasn’t eaten in a day would find his stomach growling for food, may the souls of our shepherds hungrily long for Christ and the Word! Like the Apostle John, pray for your leaders to study Christ, for John spoke of His time with Christ: we have heard Him, have seen Him with our eyes, have looked at Him, and have touched Him with our hands -- this Word of Life (1 John 1:1). John went on to say: “We have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life … which was manifested to us” (1 John 1:2). And all this so that our joy may be made complete (1 John 1:4). O pray for your leaders to so happily hunger for, so fervently follow after, so joyfully linger with Christ Jesus, the Lord. Pray that the ministries and duties and meetings and responsibilities would not cloud out or distract him from the primary work of prayer and the ministry of the Word. Pray that your leaders would not lose their first love (Rev 2:4).

4. To Serve Christ Pastorally.      (The imitation of his Master.)
There is an amazingly high calling that God gives to every under-shepherd to “watch over the souls” of those God has placed under their watch-care (Heb 13:17). Like a watchman, the minister of the gospel must always be looking out, alert, and on guard. He cannot become drowsy in the ministry or invaders will come when he’s not expecting. He must be vigilant to guard from Satan’s schemes. The duty of your pastor-shepherds is soul-care. Moreover, the writer to the Hebrews exhorts us: “let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Heb 13:17b). Pray for them to serve Christ as they serve Christ’s flock vigilantly. Pray that they would tirelessly guard from false teaching, from worldly psychologies, entertainment strategies, and seeker-friendly methodologies and give themselves to what is most helpful for the souls of God’s people. Pray for God’s daily strength for them to do this. Intercede on their behalf that they would indeed watch over every soul that God has placed under their care to serve and to shepherd. And pray for them to do this service with joy, as to Christ, as they imitate Christ Jesus.

5. To Meet Christ Prayerfully.      (The unburdening of his soul.)
Pray for your leaders to pray. Ask God to meet with them in sweet times of communion. There’s much in the life of a minister to distract him and deter him and busy him so that he doesn’t have “time” even to pour out his soul to God. But pray that God would guard him from such evils! Pray for your shepherds to unburden his soul constantly to God, his Abba Father! Like Hannah in 1 Samuel 1, who was “oppressed in spirit,” she “poured out her soul before the Lord” (1 Sam 1:15), ask God for your leaders to pour out their souls and meet Christ prayerfully in the times where they (often!) may feel oppressed in spirit! Her prayer (in 1 Sam 2) focused on the gloriously mighty and immutably comforting character of Jehovah! O let it be that we would pray for our leaders to meet Christ in prayer and rest in Christ’s unchangeableness and that this would so fortify them in hope, comfort them in distress, and gladden them in truth. Never underestimate the power of intercessory prayer! Let us pray for our pastors to pray in their praying and so receive refreshment and answers as they prayerfully labor for Christ, for conversions, and for saints!

More articles at Pastor Geoff's website.
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