Wednesday, October 19, 2016

How do I speak of Christ? I don't feel equipped!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

As society raises its intolerable fist at evangelical, Bible-believing Christians, there are many believers that simply don’t feel equipped to speak of the gospel of salvation.  Many attend church faithfully, they read their Bible regularly, they pray with diligence, and they even want to speak of their Savior. They just feel ill-equipped and incompetent to be a mouthpiece for the Lord in the midst of a hostile and hellbent society. What is to be done?  This brief essay provides five helpful encouragements for every Christian so you can speak of Christ as His ambassador and for His glory!

1. Speak what you know.    PROCLAMATION
Every Christian is called to evangelize. None are excluded. ‘But how can this be?’ one may reply. Simple: if you are a Christian then you have heard the truths of the gospel and you have come to believe it to be true. If you yourself are saved, then you know enough to share with others so that they may be saved. You may not have the finesse and theological mastery that some others may have, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Better to have diligence, passion and tenderness in evangelism than heady, arrogant and even apathetic fact-telling of the gospel. So, Christian, speak what you know! You know God and His holy character! Then speak of that! You know of your sin and man’s inability to save himself! Then speak of that! You know of God sending His Son and putting Him on the cross as the sin-bearer to extinguish God’s wrath and to forgive of your sin. Then speak of that! You know of the need to repent and forsake your sin and trust in Christ alone to be clothed with His spotless righteousness! Then speak of that! Dear Christian, speak of what you already know. Proclaim the truths that are hidden in your soul that are so precious to you.

2. Speak of whom you love.   AFFECTION
A Christian is part of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The church is termed throughout the New Testament as the Bride of Christ. Just as a bride loves her husband, so the church of Jesus Christ loves her Bridegroom. Just as a bride enjoys her husband, submits to him, loves him, honors him, and follows him, so the bride of Christ enjoys, submits to, loves, honors, and follows the ultimate and everlastingly sweet Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.  Speak of the one your soul loves. Speaking theological, gospel facts is one thing. Speaking these blessed truths with passion because they erupt from a soul that has been ravished and satisfied by the sweet embraces of Christ can be a very powerful gospel witness. Of course, it’s not a show. But true believers love to speak of the One they love. As we speak of our newborn children when they are born because we love them so much, how much more ought the people of God to speak often and speak highly of our great Savior who has won our affections.

3. Speak with loving urgency.   URGENCY
Eternity is soon-coming. Countless millions of souls live as practical atheists: whether or not they profess to believe in God, they live as though God does not exist and as though they are accountable to no one. Hell is truth learned too late. All in hell understand that they reside there forevermore because they did not repent. This must instruct and inflame us to speak often and urgently to the lost with gospel truth. To be urgent regarding something is to present something as of supreme importance that necessitates careful hearing, diligent response, and focused attention. Dear Christian, you don’t need to be a scholar to speak gospel truth, you simply need to love God and love your neighbor. You don’t need to know all the theological arguments of eschatology and all the opposing arguments (and counter-arguments) for the false beliefs of the afterlife. Rather, speak urgently and winsomely as you have a great love for the souls of others and you want them to join you on the journey to heaven and to experience the fullness of Christ’s face and embrace in the everlasting bliss of happiness. You’d be urgent if someone’s house was on fire. You’d be urgent if a toddler walked into the street with oncoming traffic approaching. How much more must we be urgent with the undying souls of others -- those whom we know and those whom we don’t know. Be urgent! Be loving! Be speaking!

4. Speak of God's grace to your soul.   TESTIMONY
Never underestimate the power of your testimony. Your gospel story is a unique, God-given, divinely-graced experience. Of course, every person’s story is different in some details but the gospel will always remain the same. Sinners were dead. God freely came out of infinite and sovereign love and imparted life to the spiritually dead soul. And the regenerated person repented of sin, trusted in Christ, saw Him as glorious, and happily forsakes all to follow Him. Speak this gospel story to others. Everyone loves a story. Tell them what happened to you. Tell them how God changed you. Tell them how Christ saved you! Tell them how the sovereign Spirit drew & regenerated you. Speak of what God has done for you. You can do this! You can recount your life. Brag on the Lord. Bless His Name. Make much of His grace, His redemption, His crosswork, His beauty, His forgiveness, His righteousness, His patient and everflowing mercies. So Christian, no degrees are needed for this. Speak of the story of God’s radically transforming work that He wrought in the depths of your soul that thus changed your life. If you aren’t sure how to do this, focus on how Paul does this throughout the Book of Acts. Share your testimony. Be unashamed and be happy to share this!

5. Speak of what you're studying.      MATURATION
Often people will ask you on a Monday morning: “how’d your weekend go?” Or, maybe on a Friday morning, they may ask: “how are you today?” Consider having a thoughtful reply to such questions rather than just the easy, typical, thoughtless responses that we can sometimes mechanically mutter. Speak to others of what you’re learning in your own Bible reading. Share with others what you’re hearing preached from your local church on Sundays and Wednesdays. Be willing to express how you have been changing and growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Speak of what you’re studying. People usually want to learn and hear what people are learning, thinking about, or contemplating. Be willing to share these things with others. As you mature, make it known to others. Are you hearing a sermon series through the Book of Psalms? Then share with others how you’re learning that God’s Word is sufficient for the people of God to guard and guide them through any and all issues and circumstances of life (the good, the bad, the ugly). Are you currently reading Romans on your own? Share with others what you’re reading and meditating upon in the early morning hours. Are you reading a book on the attributes of God? Then, share a bit of information from your reading with others that may stimulate their thinking and open up more conversations. Dear Christian, you are equipped to share the gospel. No education is necessary. Grow, of course! Study more, obviously! Seek to deepen your knowledge and widen your understandings of the gospel but don’t think that you need something else in order to be equipped to share the gospel of God’s grace.

So, then, dear Christian, if you have been saved by God’s grace, then you are equipped and can speak of Christ! So go and be proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus has done for you (Luke 8:39)!

More articles at Pastor Geoff's website.

Friday, October 14, 2016

From Charles Spurgeon:

"In our schools you do not try to bring children to the baptistry for regeneration, you point them away from ceremonies; if I know the teachers of this school aright, I know you are trying to bring your classes to Christ. Let Christ be the sum and substance of your teaching in the school. 

Young men and young women, in your classes lift up Christ, lift him up on high; and if anybody shall say to you, "Why do you thus talk to the children?" you can say, 'Because my soul yearns towards them, and I pant for their conversion;'"

From a sermon from Mark 10:13-16

Thursday, October 13, 2016

John Calvin has a wise word from Luke 18:15-17 text when little babies were brought to Christ.

Calvin affirmed:

"Those little children have not yet any understanding to desire his blessing; but when they are presented to Jesus, he gently and kindly receives them, and dedicates them to the Father by a solemn act of blessing …   To exclude from the grace of redemption those who are of that age would be too cruel … it is presumption and sacrilege to drive FAR from the fold of Christ those whom he cherishes in his bosom, and to shut the door, and exclude as strangers those whom he does not wish to be forbidden to come to him.”  

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Why DEFINITE ATONEMENT (Particular Redemption) Must Be True
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The doctrine of definite atonement or particular redemption refers to the biblical truth that Jesus died on the cross only for His elect and actually procured their eternal salvation at Calvary. All that the Father gave to the Son are those for whom the Son died. And all that the Spirit regenerates are those that the Son redeemed. This is contrasted with what is sometimes called unlimited atonement or universal redemption (Jesus died for everyone). The atonement of Christ is limited in scope, not in extent. All that Christ died for are fully and everlastingly redeemed by Christ since He ‘accomplished redemption’ at Calvary. What follows are nine reasons why definite atonement must be true.

1. Because of the UNITY OF THE TRINITY
The Lord Jesus prayed in John 17 and repeatedly referred to those people that the Father had given Him. From eternity past, the glorious Father gave a particular, a special, a peculiar people to the Son. These are particular souls. These are divinely chosen ones. The Son came in human flesh to live for & die for these particular ones that the Father gave Him. All that the Father gave to the Son were fully pardoned at Calvary.  The Spirit of God grants life to all who are elect. He gives life to them. The Father and the Son give life to a particular group of individuals. And thus, the Son came to redeem them. To pit the Son of God against the Father and the Spirit would make the members of the Triune Godhead to be at odds with each other. And this cannot be. The Godhead always works in glorious concert, beauty, happiness, and harmony together.

Jesus often made mention of mission statements, or life-ministry statements. He said: The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). If he died for everyone, then everyone is either saved or Christ’s crosswork did not actually save anyone but merely made people savable. Elsewhere Jesus said the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. He came and delivered Himself up to ransom (to purchase, to buy, to possess) a certain group of people. Thus, Christ’s intention was to actually save sinners, not to make all men savable. The intent of the atonement defines the extent. His intent was to save, to redeem, to atone, to ransom. By this intent to save, Christ actually saved them.

The Word of God says that Jesus died for His Bride and gave Himself up for her to make her holy (Eph 5:25-26). Elsewhere Jesus said that He came to give Himself as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). The prophet Isaiah said that the Servant of Jehovah would justify the many (Isa 53:11). Indeed, this Suffering Servant also “bore the sin of many and interceded for the transgressors” (isa 53:12). The teaching of the Bible claims that Jesus came to suffer and die for only His elect people and live on their behalf.

What did Jesus actually accomplish at the cross? Did Jesus really save people or did Jesus make people savable by dying for them? What did the atonement achieve? The many words that comprise the theological range that describes what Jesus did on the cross all underscore that Jesus perfectly saved people by dying for them. He was made sin on our behalf (2 Cor 5:21). Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law having become a Curse for us (Gal 3:13). Christ loved me and gave Himself up for me (Gal 2:20). In Him we have redemption through His blood (Eph 1:7). Christ took the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us, and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross (Col 2:14). These verses clearly affirm that Jesus actually atoned, indeed, in definitely saved, moreover, he everlastingly procured salvation for His own.

Something supernaturally mysterious took place at Calvary. It is unfathomably deep and ineffably sublime, namely, that the God-Man would bear the infinite & holy wrath of God the Father in the stead of sinners. The nails and crown of thorns didn’t redeem or save sinners. The whips and mockings didn’t save rebels. What saves sinners is that the Father’s righteous and holy wrath was poured out not on the sinner who deserves it but on the sinless Substitute, the Lord Jesus, by grace, in their stead. This everlasting, divine wrath of God was satisfied and appeased by virtue of Christ’s substitutionary death. Jesus did not bear this for every person alive. Jesus bore the eternal punishment only for His people. All those who do not repent and believe will bear their own penalty that they justly and rightly deserve in everlasting punishments in hell. Because Christ took the divine curse for them, He must have died only for His own otherwise everyone’s penalty would be paid and there would be none in hell (but the Bible thoroughly charges ‘universalism’ as heresy and as a damning gospel. Praise God for His sovereign, securing & saving love!

There are those who teach that Jesus died for all but the benefits of Christ’s crosswork only apply to those who place their saving faith in Christ and, then, the privileges and benefits of the cross save them -- by virtue of their faith. But, there is a great biblical problem with this. The Bible declares that all men are sinners and thus are born ‘dead in sin’ (Eph 2:1, 5). Dead sinners don’t put their faith in Christ. They can’t. They are not able to do so. Man is so unable to come to God because He is wholly full of sin and entirely pervaded with the poison of corruption in his nature, his being, his words, and his actions. Thus, for someone to say that Christ died for all but the saving benefits are given to those who put their faith in Christ assumes that an unregenerate man could in fact do such a thing. But this is entirely impossible and emphatically something that could never be done. Thus, because of man’s deadness in sin and inability to believe, Christ died only for His people and the Spirit gives life to the dead souls for whom Christ died.

The Bible says that it is the Spirit who gives life. God saves. Man does not save himself by believing upon Christ. Man cannot cause the crosswork benefits to be applied to himself through his faith. Rather, God the Spirit mercifully, sovereignly, irresistibly, and particularly grants new life (the new birth) to those whom the Father has chosen. The Spirit does not give life to everyone. Nor does the Spirit give life to those who first chose Him. Rather, it is the Spirit, the blessed and glorious third member of the Triune God-head, who imparts instantaneous, supernatural, everlasting life into the souls of the dead sinners that the Father gave the Son and for whom the Son purchased.

The biblical meaning of the word ‘atonement’ carries with it the connotation of blood sacrifice, substitute, appeasing of anger and the pacifying of wrath. It means that something (an innocent one) died in the place of guilty ones. It means that the sins are covered because the penalty has been paid and poured out on another. For Jesus to die and atone for His people, it means that the life of the flesh had to be given and this is what made atonement for the souls of God’s people. This must intimate that Christ actually atoned for His people or else the blood sacrifice, the substitute, the appeasing of divine anger would have actually pacified the wrath of God for everyone. But the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ atoned in full for all the sins of all God’s people alone.

The cross of the divine Savior accomplished something else as well. If Jesus did not actually procure and perfect salvation for His people at Calvary then the crosswork is nothing more than a ‘good try.’ Since then it remains up to sinners to put their faith in Christ and then finish the deal. But rather, Christ Himself is worthy to receive all glory and honor and praise for the Lamb of God, even in heaven, is praised for His being slain and purchasing for God with His blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Rev 5:9). Thus, the very fact that Christ died and really saved, perfectly pardoned, everlastingly placated God’s fury, and expiated all the sins of His elect produces infinite reasons to praise the God-Man for His wonderful work of love for His people. The love of God, the mercy of Christ, the divinity of Christ, the propitiation of Christ, the regeneration of the Spirit, and the grace of God perfectly harmonize together to produce a well-deserved and everlastingly-happy song of praise to Jesus Christ, the Lord, who is the Lamb slain when He offered up Himself for His people (Heb 7:27).

More essays and articles can be found at Vassal Of the King.
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