Reflection on ‘The Church’ (Mark Dever)

When I began this book I was anticipating a ‘typical’ 9Marks book. That is, some popular level references and arguments that are helpful and instructive, but in my opinion lacking in some of the substantive depth needed for a foundation. I had longed for a more rigorous exposition of the nature of the church. Happily, this was the book I had been looking for all along! The Church proved to technically proficient and dealt with the most basic issues of what (or who) a local church is.
Early on Dever makes the point that God has consistently been in the business of saving not just individuals, but a people. And specifically, a people that accurately reflects God’s character. And one of the attributes/adjectives that has been used to describe the church is holy. This is very helpful. The church is not merely a group of Christian extroverts coming together to exist however they want. Instead, Christians represent Christ. They are always promoting a message with their lives and doctrine of who God is.

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Does the Bible Prescribe Church Polity?

This Spring 2016 I hope to be at Together for the Gospel. That is, I hope to be worshiping and being equipped with my Presbyterian, Anglican, Bible church, and Baptist brothers and sisters in Christ (among others). I am glad that we can rejoice in and come together for the gospel that is of “first importance” (1 Corinthians 15:3). But just because a matter is of secondary importance, does not relegate it to the status of unimportance. Such is church polity. And I confess that I have often ignored and dismissed church governance as being unimportant (and maybe even unspiritual!). Thankfully, Bobby Jamieson’s Why New Testament Polity is Prescriptive gives a helpful corrective to such anti-authoritarian and post-modern thought by bringing us back to the Bible.

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Review of ‘Prayer’ (Tim Keller)

In general, I think Tim Keller is pretty good. I think he is great at engaging with skeptics and seekers, but I don’t agree entirely with his philosophy of ministry. I like Dever’s The Church more than Keller’s Center Church. He’s good, but I don’t think he is great. That is, until I read his recent work Prayer! I confess that this is one of the best books…that I have ever read. Yup. I was probably just as stunned by this admission as you are now! As I review my notes I am hard-pressed to choose what to highlight and what to leave aside.

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Review of ‘George Mueller Bio’ (John Piper)

Because I have already ready a Mueller biography, I was not expecting to learn much more by Piper’s efforts. And in some sense, much of what Piper expounded was review for me. Mueller was a great man of prayer, he was ultimately concerned with God’s glory as seen in His provision, and the Lord graciously blessed Mueller’s labors. But! I was surprised to see how Christian hedonism seemed so apparent in Mueller’s life. Of course, that is not how he would have put it. But Piper has a knack for finding these things.

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Review of ‘Deliberate Church’ (Mark Dever)

If one’s philosophy is ministry is like a building, then you might consider Mark Dever’s previous work The Church to be the foundation and The Deliberate Church to be the framing, drywall and plaster, with even some tips on painting and decor. Poor illustrations aside, this book is by far the most practical that I have read in the 9Marks series on healthy churches. And if there was any one 9Marks book to give to a pastor, it would be this one.

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Position Paper: the Church

Broadly put, the Church is the invisible body of elect Christians that have ever existed. And while the universal Church may be relatively easy to define, it starts to get a bit more tricky when one attempts to define the local church. Nevertheless since the Jerusalem Church in Acts 2 to the mega-church of the late twentieth century, I believe the Bible presents a standard pattern: a local church is a group of Christians that regularly gather together for the right preaching of God’s word and the right administration of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. This definition begs for explanation and what follows is such an unpacking.
It must be noted that a true Christian local church is composed of Christians.

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Review of ‘A Call to Prayer’ (JC Ryle)

Ryle is concerned with the spiritual state of the universal Church. That is plainly evident from this tract on prayer. And Ryle’s concern is primarily directed at a perceived (private) prayerlessness among most church members and Christians. Of course, private prayer is a hard thing to measure, but I think Ryle’s accurate rebuke is just as fitting today as it was a century ago.

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