What the church is determines what the church does. Unless we grasp what and how God has designed His church to be and function, we are likely to find ourselves moving farther and farther away from what we should be and what we are called to do.
The text is designed to teach what makes a healthy and true church.
1)The right preaching of the gospel
2)The proper administration of the ordinances
3)The development of biblical leadership
4)The gracious implementation of church discipline
5)A clear focus on the mission that Jesus gave
Right preaching is the foundation of any true and healthy church and is most misunderstood. Most people attending their church would claim that their teaching is the gospel. True teaching makes God known from the scriptures and reveals to us the sin that hinders our relationship with the creator. The teaching always ends with the hope of the gospel. Is the preaching done with the authority of the word? Is the word sufficient or do we add to it. Does the preaching try to make God relevant? In doing so, we make God small and the preaching is not done in the authority of God’s word.
With the ordinances baptism and the taking of the bread can be misunderstood. These ordinances do not save us but are used to worship God more fully. I loved this quote Baptism is not a picture of potential salvation, but of salvation received. It is a testimony, not of ones’s future faith, but of Christ’s accomplished redemption and an individual’s union with Him. Baptism is for those the Lord has called to Himself and who have received the Word (Acts 2:38-41) The ordinances are used to display the gospel for all. The ordinances preach the gospel and should be used as an opportunity for the body to receive the gospel.
Is the church run like a business? Churches are meant to care and shepherd the flock. The pastor should know the members and the health of the church that they are leading. Shepherding is not about managing an organization but about serving and leading a people. It demands that people be known.
Church discipline is a means to help those in serious sin, to have accountability, and the church as a whole is protected. A church that takes sin and the consequences of sin seriously. It is also an opportunity to experience the Gospel. In discipline, it is an opportunity to love.
The mission of Jesus can also be misunderstood. The text says it best. Jesus calls the church to preach the gospel and teach the scripture in such a way that people are conver5ted and then matured in the faith. Conversion is not the mission. Indoctrination is not the mission. The mission is to make disciples. Conversion marks the beginning of discipleship, and instruction and indoctrination are means of discipleship. But disciples are made in the context of community, where our doctrine and teaching are put into the realities of everyday life through mentoring and peer to peer to gospel relationships. The mission is to make God known by proclaiming the truth of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
With clear focus and just the gospel please, obedience becomes like breathing. We are compelled by the spirit and not of our own efforts.
A Special Thank You to Moody Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.