Pick up the book, The Deliberate Church (Crossway Books, 2005) by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander. Brothers and sisters among two dozen families in our church have started their reading of this book for discussion in 2008. I have read the foreword and introduction. Here are my top eight quotes so far.
Paul instructs Timothy to devote himself to preaching the Word (2 Tim. 4:2) precisely because that Word makes the man of God “adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17). Timothy didn’t need the latest rhetorical techniques, business practices, or creative ministry models based on captivating metaphors (21).
But no one comes to the Christ unless the Father draws him, and no one obeys the Gospel unless the Spirit gives him the gifts of understanding, repentance, and belief—and only God makes things grow (23).
A church is not a Fortune 500 company. It’s not simply another nonprofit organization, nor is it a social club. In fact, a healthy church is unlike any organization that man has ever devised, because man didn’t devise it (25).
Fundamentally, God intends the local church to be a corporate display of His glory and wisdom, both to unbelievers and to unseen spiritual powers (John 13:34-35; Eph. 3:10-11) (26).
The uniqueness of the church is her message—the Gospel. . . . That Gospel is visualized in the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, both instituted by Christ. The distinguishing marks of the church, then, are the right preaching of this Gospel and the right administration of the biblical ordinances that dramatize it (26).
Ours is a ministry of magnification—making God’s glory appear to eyes of the world as big as it really is by bringing it into closer view and sharper focus in the form of the local church. . . . We are building a corporate, organic structure that will accurately magnify God’s glory and faithfully communicate His Gospel (26).
The Word builds the Church (27).
This Gospel, then, is that God is our holy Creator and righteous Judge. He created us to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever, but we have all sinned, both in Adam as our representative head, and in our individual actions (Rom. 5:12; 3:23). We therefore deserve death—spiritual separation from God in hell (Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:3)—and are in fact already spiritually stillborn, helpless in our sins (Ps. 51:5; Rom. 5:6-8; Eph. 2:1) and in need of God to impart spiritual life to us (Ezek. 37:1-4; John 3:3). But God sent His Son Jesus Christ, fully God and full man (Phil. 2:5-11), to die the death that we deserved, and He raised Him up for our justification, proving that He was God’s Son (Rom. 5:1; 1:4). If we would have Christ’s perfect righteousness credited to us, and the penalty for our sins accounted to Him, we must repent of our sins and believe in Jesus Christ for salvation (2 Cor. 5:21; Mark 1:14-15).
What do you think?
And for the sake of controversy and debate, I don’t dwell heavily on the historic Christian creeds and confessions (20). I get accused too often that I am a creedal Christian. My desire is that our church family in the I-15 corridor looks to the Word afresh and through the convicting power of the Spirit and formulates “doctrinal certainties grounded in scriptural truth” (20). Propositional truth direct from heaven is most precious.