Before we go any further, let me go ahead and put “everything on the table” as far as this book goes. I believe Pastor Dever presents an air tight case for what the church should be. While we will handle each section as we go through this book together, I don’t believe anyone can claim to love the Word of God and state that they just don’t agree with the view of the book. Now I understand that is a pretty strong statement but briefly follow with me for a just a moment…which of these could you biblically disagree with? Notice these “Nine Marks”:
• Expositional Preaching
• Biblical Theology
• Biblical Understanding of the Gospel and getting right when presenting it
• Biblical Understanding Of Conversion
• Biblical Understanding Of Evangelism
• Biblical Understanding Of Discipline
• Biblical Understanding Of Discipleship and Growth
• Biblical Leadership
How can someone say: “Well I just don’t subscribe to those view points”? If one would read them or just look at the title of each section, the first word is…well “BIBLICAL” I know we live a culture today that is more pragmatic than anything else, that would rather give statistics and numbers than gain truth, but my dear friends TRUTH is what we are called to! 1st Timothy 3:15 “…I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth.” This “Biblical Understanding” is how we are defined. If we miss truth, we miss everything! Which leads right into our discussion today, if a church fails here it fails completely. We MUST have a Biblical Understanding of the Good News.
I love what Dever says in the opening paragraph of this chapter: “The gospel is the heart of Christianity, and so it should be at the heart of our churches.” The gospel is not something that I encounter at salvation and I grow from there, it is something that I must encounter each moment, as the old hymn says I need to ask Jesus to “keep me near the cross.” We need to understand that what we are presenting people with is not an addendum to their life, not something that will make a good life better - not a prayer, not a “do you want to go to Heaven?” issue. Can I remind you, most everyone in the world would answer with an emphatic “Yes!” to this question. We must remember the key elements of the Gospel that Dever gives: (1) A biblical view of God: He is sovereign and holy. (2) A biblical view of man: We are created in God’s image, but fallen and wretched and we are under His wrath and completely separate from Him. (3) A biblical view of Christ: He is the God-man and uniquely and exclusively stands in between God and man as our substitute and conqueror of death. (4) Have I shared all of this and emphasized the necessity of repentance of sin and faith toward our LORD Jesus Christ, and need to respond. If we get the gospel wrong, we can hardly call ourselves a church – much less healthy, or even Christians. The gospel is what we are all about, it is what defines us; it must be the catalyst for our missions, our message and our entire ministry. This is the one thing we can’t afford to get wrong!