9 Marks, ‘Four questions that have not received the attention that they deserve in today’s Church:’

Currently, in my Sunday School class at Kosmosdale Baptist Church, my good friend Brian Shank has been teaching through the book 9 Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever, leading us to examine the biblical picture of what a healthy church should look like so that we can be continually reforming according to the Word of God. This past Lord’s Day, we looked reviewed the chapter “Biblical Theology,” looking at the exhortation given in Scriptures such as 2 Timothy 1:13 and Titus 1:9 that we should pay careful attention in making sure our doctrine is sound. In order to practice self-assessment of whether or not our beliefs are in line with the Bible, Dever poses a series of questions. By regularly thinking through our answer to questions such as the four listed below, turning to the Bible as our sufficient authority in forming our answers, we can help make sure that we have God’s perspective on truths that are central to the Gospel of Grace:

    1. Are people basically bad or good?
    2. What did Jesus do by dying on the Cross?
    3. What happens when someone becomes a Christian?
    4. If we are Christians, can we be sure that God will continue to care for us?

Though more questions than these four are certainly necessary for a sound biblical theology (Dever himself mentions others), those I’ve listed above are a good starting place in thinking through doctrine that highlights the Gospel message as presented in Scripture. Many congregations– even congregations that claim to hold to the authority of Scripture– carefully avoid dealing with questions like the four above. This is because most people in church leadership today value the approval of their congregation more that they fear God. And congregations who are used to having their desires accommodated generally do not like to think carefully through doctrines such as those mentioned above because the answers they will find point to the absolute sovereignty of God. As my pastor, Tray Earnhart, pointed out, it is the sovereignty of God that is the most uncomfortable doctrine for us to deal with, but it also has the greatest power for change in our lives because it most directly challenges our sinful attitudes. Sin makes those who are outside of Christ desire absolute sovereignty– they are a law unto themselves and act as their own gods. Sin makes even those who have trusted in Christ seek some place of limited sovereignty– we still tend to desire some area in which we are in control, and it is this tendency that must be constantly checked through sanctification– a growth in submission to God. One primary step in this process of sanctification, both for individuals and as a church, is the willingness to struggle with questions such as those above, so that core values of our faith are firmly established by the Word.

As a model for how these questions may be answered, I submit the following. More could certainly be said in response to each of these questions (and my fellow Strange BaptistFire bloggers may wish to add additional thoughts in the comments), but I believe that the answers I’m giving these questions will be nearly identical in content to what the other Strange BaptistFire bloggers believe. I encourage everyone reading this post to answer these four questions for yourself, drawing your thoughts from the Bible, and to think about how the leadership of your church would answer these questions:

a. Are people basically bad or good? “Although God created Man upright and perfect” (2LBCF 6:1), “[Man] transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His law, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors” (AOP 4). [Gen. 1-3; Ps. 51:5; Rom. 3:10-18]

b. What did Jesus do by dying on the Cross? “The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of God, procured reconciliation, and purchased an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto Him” (2LBCF 8:5) [Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:14; Romans 3:25, 26; John 17:2; Hebrews 9:15]

c. What happens when someone becomes a Christian? When someone becomes a Christian, he or she is “regenerated,” a term signifying that he or she has been “born again” [Jn. 3:3] or made into “a new creation” [2 Cor. 5:17]. This rebirth necessarily results in faith and repentance, both of which are gifts of God’s grace [Eph. 2:8-9; Heb. 12:2; Acts 11:18; II Tim. 2:25]

d. If we are Christians, can we be sure that God will continue to care for us? Yes. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” [Rom. 8:35] The Apostle also declared to Christians that God, who has begun a good work in us, will perfect that work [Phil. 1:6]. This is because Jesus is not only the author, but also the perfecter of our faith [Heb. 12:2].

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4 Comments on “9 Marks, ‘Four questions that have not received the attention that they deserve in today’s Church:’”

  1. Thomas Twitchell Says:

    Thanks for you answers to these questions. I especially liked the use of the confession (WCF?), as well as the Scripture. Perhaps you could expand this using the WCF or another with the Scriptural proofs along with explanation. It kinda makes a catechesis and perhaps will be helpful for further exploration by inquirers.

  2. Mike Cheek Says:

    Maybe you’re already aware of this, but there are some slight technical glitches with your posting. Things like d. show up at the beginning of paragraphs. I am using IE 6.0


  3. Thomas,

    I was hoping others would expand this in the comments section.

    Mike,

    Sorry- I’m not seeing any code at the beginning of paragraphs, so I don’t know how to fix the problem.

    In Christ,
    -Andrew


  4. […] Strange BaptistFire asks four questions that have not received the attention that they deserve in today’s Church, from Mark Dever’s 9 Marks of a Healthy Church […]


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