What is God?

Q. 7: What is God?

A. 7: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”

(John 4:24, Job 11:7-9, Psalm 90:2, James 1:17, Exodus 3:14, Psalm 147:5, Revelation 4:8, 15:4, and Exodus 34:6)

EXPLANATION

Since God is the first and chiefest being, and since God has graciously provided His Word that gives us the knowledge that we need about Him as well as how to live for Him. It is important, then, that we know who and what God is. The Baptist Catechism provides a helpful, brief, and packed answer to the question, “What is God?”

Without getting into too much nerdy detail (and trust me, this is really difficult for me!), theologians have regularly divided God’s attributes (or, characteristics, and many other labels) into communicable and incommunicable attributes.

What do these mean? Berkhof helps distinguish these two terms when he writes, “While the incommunicable attributes emphasize the absolute Being of God, the communicable attributes stress the fact that He enters into various relations with His creatures.”[1] So we could delineate these terms further (and possibly simpler) by saying that God’s incommunicable attributes are what make Him God (e.g., infinite) while His communicable attributes are those that we experience (or, demonstrate, e.g. His holiness).

The Catechism, as we have noted, is not exhaustive. It is meant to be a teaching tool, providing the foundation truths of the faith and encouraging further study and contemplation. Even with that, however, the Catechism provides ten answers to the question, “What is God?”

Books have and will be written. The infinity of God provides a never-ending source of materials for study and praise. How can we summarize this important and life-changing question? God, though completely transcendent (i.e., out of our reach), He is also immanent (i.e., close and understandable to a finite degree), has graciously revealed Himself to us. The Scriptures cited above offer a presentation of these ten aspects of God (which include communicable and incommunicable attributes).

APPLICATION

As with all these attributes, we could spend eternity and never plunge its depths. We will, therefore, limit our applicational thought on one facet: God’s holiness. In Revelation 15:4, the individuals who were victorious over the beast (15:2) declare to the Lord, “For You alone are holy” (NASB). God is holy. That is what God is, if you will. There are a variety of ways to describe this, such as God’s separateness from creation and His moral perfection. But how can we apply this knowledge? Peter offers us a helpful and direct way in 1 Peter 1:15-16, “But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy” (NASB). In other words, be like God. Imitate Him, represent Him to others, strive for holiness!

Search the Scriptures for the incommunicable attributes and praise Him for His grace! Study and live the Scriptures as you learn about the communicable attributes and praise Him for His grace. What is God? Our God is unimaginably marvelous!


[1] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology: New Combined Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1938), 57-58. You can purchase it <a href="http://<iframe style="width:120px;height:240px;" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=librarymusing-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1773563319&asins=1773563319&linkId=77d3318bfa191c37dad7a91e36e72fed&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff"> here.

What is in the Bible?

QUESTION SIX


Q. 6: What things are chiefly contained in the Holy Scripture?
A. 6: The Holy Scriptures chiefly contain what man ought to believe concerning God, and what duty God required of man.
(2 Timothy 1:13, 3:15-16)


EXPLANATION


The Baptist Catechism continues building on the construction project, brick by brick. We have answered several questions (please see links below if you have not read them). The Catechism addresses what the Scriptures contain in this question, which we will see the importance of momentarily.


First, I wanted to discuss the way this question is asked. The framers of the Confession and Catechism carefully choose their words. The Catechism asks what things are “chiefly” contained in the Scriptures. Why chiefly? Because, as anyone familiar with the Holy Scriptures will declare, there is a lot more than doctrine and practice. One example is the genealogies (e.g., see Genesis 10). Now, they are important for a variety of reasons (all of which are outside the scope of this post), but they do not directly teach any doctrine or provide examples of piety (practice). They do teach, however, chiefly the things we should believe about God and our duties toward Him. Let’s look at those.


Doctrine


The first of the two-part answer is “what man ought to believe concerning God.” That is, doctrine. Doctrine, defined in a Christian way, is simply teaching. Specifically, it is the teachings contained in the Scriptures and taught by the pastors and elders of the church. It involves items such as God, humanity, sin, and many other topics. This teaching is found in the Holy Scriptures. Though creeds and confessions are helpful (only as they are based in Scripture), they do not take authority over Scripture. What do we believe? We believe what the Scriptures teach.


Practice


The second of the two-part answer is “what duty God required of man.” The Holy Scriptures do not only teach what we should believe (which, as we will discuss below, has enormous implications for what we do), they also teach us what to do. This is our practice or our lifestyle (cf. Phil. 1:27). The Scriptures teach us how we are to live. How do we live as husbands? The Scriptures tell us. How do we function with the government? The Scriptures tell us. How do we handle our finances? Surprise, surprise, the Scriptures tell us!


APPLICATION

The applications of this question and answer are as broad and wide as the Holy Scriptures themselves. On an individual level, we apply the doctrines of Scripture to our understanding and beliefs. It is not “what I think is…” or “I believe that…” but “The Scriptures teach…” These are important distinctions that must be made and kept. We have all sorts of influences on our beliefs. Educational institutions, culture, friends and family, backgrounds and ethnicities, all of these and more affect our beliefs. While there is nothing we can do about most of these, we should always check their validity to the Scriptures. Paul teaches us this in 2 Tim. 1:13, “Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” (CSB)

Paul understood his words to be inspired from God (see 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Additionally, we should apply the practical aspects from Scripture to our lives. For example, if you are a husband, you should utilize Paul’s teaching in Eph. 5:25-31 to live as a husband. The Scriptures give practical teaching such as this on almost every page. We do not live, in other words, the way we want to but the way Scripture tells us to live.


Corporately, as in involving the Church (and I mean individual, local churches) this question and answer gives us the truths we are to believe and the way we are to conduct our services. This truth provides freedom and boundaries on what churches can or cannot do. That is, there are some aspects of worship that are not allowed in the house of God (i.e., the church) that are okay in homes. Does our church hold to these truths? Does our church hold to these practices? These are important questions that we must know and answer in accordance with the Scriptures.

Bavinck Blessings

What does God’s omniscience mean for me? As a theologian, I love contemplating the amazing (and infinite) depths of our Triune God. I look forward to an eternity of learning about my Savior. But God knows all. There is nothing outside of His knowledge.

Herman Bavinck, the Dutch Reformer and theologian, discusses God’s knowledge at length in his second volume of Reformed Dogmatics. Bavinck writes, “God knows things not by observation, but from and of himself. Our knowledge is posterior: it presupposes their existence and is derived from it. Exactly the opposite is true of God’s knowledge: he knows everything before it exists….he knows all things in and of and by himself. For that reason his knowledge is undivided, simple, unchangeable, eternal. He knows all things instantaneously, simultaneously, from eternity; all things are eternally present to his mind’s eye.” (Reformed Dogmatics, II, 196)

We cannot grasp these statements; let alone the truth they communicate. I find his last statement particularly wonderful, “He knows all things instantaneously, simultaneously, from eternity; all things are eternally present to his mind’s eye.” What a glorious truth! The Scripture, as Bavinck points out, clearly and consistently teaches this truth. It is wonderful and, to me at least, soul-stirring. But what does it mean for the average Christian?

First, this incredible truth deserves our unhindered worship. After a lengthy discussion of God’s election, Paul bursts out with praise, writing, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways! To him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Rom. 11:33, 36b, CSB) As we attempt to grasp God’s unimaginable knowledge, we should be moved to utter praises to Him.

Second, this wonderful reality should comfort us. God knows all things fully, at all times, and in every conceivable way. This means that God knows what tomorrow holds. He understands, infinitely so, the different paths that His children walk. We can trust Him completely, as Sovereign Lord of creation, because He knows all things fully and completely. This is the same God that Paul tells us works all things for our good (Rom. 8:28).

Third, building upon the previous truth, we can rest in the daily difficulties. When we receive bad news from the doctor, when we are involved in an accident, when someone hurts our feelings, all of these are in God’s mind. He knows everything. Add to this the truth of the incarnation of Jesus, and we are left with a God who knows by His deity and by His experience the troubles we face (cf. Heb. 4:14-16).

Check out the previous blessing from Bavinck here.

You can purchase Reformed Dogmatics here.

Bavinck Blessings

I recently picked up Herman Bavinck’s substantial work Reformed Dogmatics. It is highly acclaimed as a must-have in works on theology. A fellow blogger and friend added me to a group in which readings are assigned and discussions can begin about the readings. The chapter to be read this week is chapter 5, God’s Communicable Attributes. I am about 4 pages in, but it is excellent.

While I am not a Bavinck scholar, I do want to share blessings that I receive as I read it. What is the first Bavinck blessing?

He writes, “Unlike human knowledge, God’s is not based on observation; it is undivided, simple, unchangeable, eternal.” (179)

That statement is dense, philosophically and theologically. However, it is also dense practically. That is to say, it is a wide-ranging truth that involves our lives. This thought is not simply for ivory tower theologians, it is for the mom of four children. It is not for the erudite scholar, it is for the mechanic.

What is the blessing? God is. There is no aspect of time, past, present, or future that is outside of God’s present being. This has enormous implications and too many for us to unpack in a brief post. However, I want to focus on one thing. In this period of US history, the times are unparalleled (though some could argue it is not, I have not experienced such a monumental shift in culture and society like the last ten years have witnessed). While theologically most Christians will acknowledge that God knows this, Bavinck expands this to a level that is at our grasp (at least in a limited fashion, He is, after all, infinite). His knowledge, contrasted with the limited knowledge of humans, is not based on observation. It incomprehensible, and this is what its practicality lies. He knows all, He is presently in all tenses of time, without any hinderances. What a comfort that is to the believer! As we look to the future, uncertain of the present, and longing for the past, God’s knowledge is undivided, simply, unchangeable, and eternal.

Hallelujah!

You can purchase Reformed Dogmatics here.

Guided by Gurnall: Part Thirteen

It has been a while since I picked up William Gurnall’s mammoth book, The Christian in Complete Armour. However, I began reading it again, and as usual, my soul is blessed. I want to share a few quotes from the small section I read for your benefit. Let me encourage you, purchase this book! It will be a blessing to your soul as well.

In this section, Gurnall is describing the reason why Christians must be armed against the enemies of our souls. He divides this section up in various ways, but the section I read today addressed the stratagems of Satan. He offers five stratagems. We will not reiterate them here, but I do want to highlight a few.

First, he speaks of the stratagem of deceit. Gurnall writes, “He hands out false colours, and comes up to the Christian in the disguise of a friend, so that the gates are opened to him, and his motions received with applause, before either is discovered.” (75) He then goes on to discuss the different ways Satan deceives us (with several examples from Scripture). But his final statement bears repeating. “O what need have we to study the Scriptures, our hearts, and Satan’s wiles, that we may not bid this enemy welcome, and all the while think it is Christ that is our guest!” (75)

The devil is deceitful, far more deceitful than we can conceive. What is Gurnall’s advice? Study the Scriptures! Devote yourself to the Word of God. Study your own heart. Learn what tempts you. Study your propensities to deception. Finally, study the devil’s wiles. Learn how he operates. Look to the Word of God for example after example. You will be ready to withstand Satan’s wiles.

The second stratagem is Satan’s ability to gain what Gurnall calls “intelligence.” (75) Gurnall draws a graphic picture in our minds, “Satan is the greatest intelligencer in the world’ he makes it his business to inquire into the inclinations, thoughts, affections, purposes of the creature, that finding which humour abounds, he may apply himself accordingly,–[finding] which way the stream goes, that he may open the passage of temptation, and cut the channel to the fall of the creature’s affections, and not force it against the torrent of nature.” (76) How I need to study the Scriptures with this same intensity! Our enemy is tireless, always giving himself to studying his prey and their habits. What a humbling reality this is!

In another section describing the subtleties of the devil, Gurnall makes a comment that is profound, and one that for me helps me understand how some individuals who become popular leaders leave the faith. It also describes those popular teachers who are discovered to be wicked men and women. Gurnall states, “Yes, such is the policy of Stan, and the frailty of the best, that the most holy men have been his instruments to seduce others.” (82) I immediately thought of Ravi Zacharias, who happens to be the most recent example of this subtlety. While we should still be shocked, we should also remember that Satan uses well-known teachers and preachers to bring dishonor to the name of God.

These are a few thoughts that we would do well to heed. After so many years, we are still guided by Gurnall.

Purchase the book here!

For more guidance from Gurnall, check out the previous posts:

Guided By Gurnall: Part Twelve

Guided By Gurnall: Part Eleven

Guided by Gurnall: Part Ten

Guided By Gurnall: Part Nine

Guided by Gurnall: Part Eight

Guided by Gurnall: Part Seven

Guided by Gurnall: Part Six

Guided By Gurnall: Part Five

Guided by Gurnall: Part Four

Guided by Gurnall: Part Three

Guided by Gurnall: Part Two

Guided by Gurnall: Part One

Guided by Gurnall: Introduction

“What is love?” Jay Adams and the Idea of Love

“What is love?”

How would you answer that?

Love is a feeling.

Love is an emotion.

Love is getting a dozen roses.

Love is….

We complete that sentence with all sorts of ideas and concepts. What it boils down to, however, is two philosophies: biblical love and unbiblical love.

I have been reading through The Christian Counselor’s Manual: The Practice of Nouthetic Counseling by Jay Adams. Though I do not agree with everything in Adams’ book, I found his treatment on love helpful. Regardless of whether you engage in biblical counseling, we need to have a biblical concept of love. This will benefit our lives as well as others. It will also dispel the clouds of confusion that so easily fog our thinking.

Unbiblical LoveBiblical Love
“The philosophy is that love happens. ” (150)“Love is giving–giving of oneself to another.” (151)
“Love is not something to work at; it just happens.” (150)“It is not getting, as the world says today.” (151)
“Love comes full blown from the head of Aphrodite.” (150)“It is not feeling and desire; it is not something over which one has no control.” (151)
“It’s the kind of thing that just is or isn’t.” (150)“It is something that one does for another.” (151)
“It isn’t something you develop, it isn’t something that grows, it isn’t something that you work hard to achieve, it isn’t a thinking thing, and it certainly isn’t something that you can will.” (150)“Non one loves in the abstract.” (151)
“It is something that happens. And when it happens, it happens in such a way that you know that it has happened!” (150)“Love is an attitude that issues forth in something that actually, tangibly happens.” (151)
Adams’ discussion of love

Obviously, this is not exhaustive (or, theologically rigorous). However, it does provide us with a great table to navigate in our discussions with people about love and the Scriptures.

What is love? Adams provides us with an excellent answer.

Ought everyone to believe there is a God?

QUESTION AND ANSWER TWO

The second question and answer of the Baptist Catechism is,

Q. 2: Ought everyone to believe there is a God?

A. 2: Everyone ought to believe there is a God; and it is their great sin and folly who do not.

Explanation

Last week we established that the beginning point for our life with God (and truly, all life) is God. Logically, the Catechism moves from that foundational thought to humanity. Because God is the first and chiefest being, then, what is humanity’s response to be?

This involves belief. The Catechism provides two supporting Scriptures for us to consider Hebrews 11:6 and Psalm 14:1. Let’s look at these Scriptures first, and then we can more effectively unpack the Catechisms teaching.

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”—Hebrews 11:6, ESV

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good.”—Psalm 14:1, ESV

The verse from Hebrews is extremely profitable for our question and answer. If God is the first and chiefest being, then it makes sense that we must believe in Him. The author of Hebrews posts it in an even more significant way, informing us that without faith (i.e., belief) humanity cannot please God. It is impossible.

Furthermore, it is not enough simply to believe. The author of Hebrews says, “whoever would draw near to God must believe that he [God] exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (My emphasis). There are many that believe in God (or, perhaps more accurately, a god), but belief is as far as it goes. The author of Hebrews makes it clear that mere belief is not enough. Belief in God as first and chiefest being should change the way in which we live (i.e., that God rewards obedience positively and punishes disobedience negatively). Question 6 will address this idea further.

Additionally, if God is the first and chiefest being, it makes sense that humanity would want to be close to Him. We read in Hebrews 11:6, “whoever would draw near to God,” which implies that there are some who would not draw near (a point that is addressed with Psalm 14:1).

If God is the first and chiefest being, then yes, everyone ought to believe that there is a God.

We could say more about Hebrews 11:6, but now let us turn our attention to Psalm 14:1. Ought everyone to believe there is a God? Yes, but what about those who do not? The Catechism teaches us that this unbelief is a “great sin and folly.”

The psalmist offers much that helps us understand this great sin and folly. First, it is a belief that stems from the innermost part of the unbeliever’s being (i.e., the heart). Books, articles, and monographs have been written upon this subject, but at the heart (forgive me!) of the matter is that the Hebrew way of thinking about one’s heart concerned the entirety of the being’s mental and emotional decision-making factory.

Second, we see that the unbeliever’s life opposes God. “They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.” In other words, they are depraved. Beeke and Smalley’s definition of total depravity is helpful, “Total depravity means that corruption infects the whole person and stains every act he performs.”[1] Correlation does not equal causation. However, there is a connection between a refusal to believe in God and act in accordance to His truth, and that connection is found in total depravity. Paul teaches us this in Eph. 2:1-3 and Rom. 3:9-18 (which also quotes our psalm).

APPLICATION

How can we apply this to our daily lives? I see at least three ways.

First, we must believe that there is a God. He is the first and chiefest being, therefore we should trust in Him (as stated in Heb. 11:6). Belief also requires knowledge. In other words, I cannot believe in gravity if I do not have any idea of what it is or what is means. We are working on the foundational knowledge that God exists and that He is the greatest being. Our goal, then, should be to expand this knowledge. We will deal with this in question three, however, we need to ask ourselves if we are developing our knowledge. If you believe in God, you will!

Second, our lives should demonstrate a belief in God. That is, we should live differently if we believe that God exists. We have already discussed this from a positive standpoint, so we will not reiterate this point again. However, we should apply this belief to our actions. If we say we believe in God, but our lives do not demonstrate this, then we are lying to ourselves and others. James tells it like this, “But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves” (James 1:22, NRSV).

Third, we must guard our hearts against unbelief. While we rejoice in God’s goodness in allowing our depraved hearts to be regenerated, we also acknowledge that sin can find its way into our hearts in the form of unbelief. Solomon warns us, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Prov. 4:23, NRSV). Guard your heart against the great sin and folly of unbelief. This can be applied to a variety of situations. We can doubt God’s Word that He will provide for all our needs (cf. Matt. 6:33). We can doubt God’s Word that He will be with us all the time (cf. Matt. 28:20). The list could go on, but I think we get the picture. We must guard our hearts against unbelief.


[1] Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology Volume 2: Man and Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 404.

Who is the first and chiefest being?

(Originally posted at warriorcreek.org, used with permission)

Today we begin a new series through the Baptist Catechism. Unfortunately, when many hear (or, in this case, read) the word catechism they think of Roman Catholics. This, as I said, is unfortunate, for the Church has historically used catechisms to teach children and adults the theology of the Scriptures. (If you are interested in looking into the history of catechesis, I recommend this thesis: “A Historical Review of Catechesis: Development, Use, and Disuse” by John Kidd.)


Catechisms are structured differently. Some catechisms use the question and answer format (e.g., Baptist Catechism and the Westminster Shorter Catechism). Others provide a detailed treatment of doctrine and practice (e.g., Catechism of the Catholic Church). Each week, we will look at one question and one answer (with the supporting Scripture). We will briefly discuss it, and provide a few suggestions for application.
I have a two-fold goal in working through the Catechism. First, I hope to increase our knowledge of the Scripture and the doctrine we derive from it. Second, I hope our lives increasingly conform to the holiness of God as revealed in His Word.

Without further ado, let us begin.

QUESTION AND ANSWER ONE


Question One: Who is the first and chiefest being?Answer One: God is the first and chiefest being.Supporting Scripture: Isaiah 44:6; 48:12; and Psalm 97:9
The question and answer provide the starting point for everything. We are introduced to God. He is described as the first and chiefest being. It is from God that everything else flows. Let’s examine this in a little more detail.


EXPLANATION

God is the First Being


God is the first, meaning He was present before anything else existed. Isaiah 44:6 and 48:12 both convey the same message: God is first and last. He existed before anything else, and He will outlast everything.


God is the Chiefest Being


Psalm 97:9 teaches us that God is “exalted far above all gods” (ESV). There is nothing that comes close to God. We will see the implications of this truth further into the Catechism (questions 47-86).


APPLICATION

This short question provides us with much to consider. Its brevity is profound because it packs a tremendous amount of truth into one question and answer (a theme that runs through the entire Catechism). We can ask ourselves if we truly believe this. How can we tell? Ask yourself the following questions:
· Does my life display that I believe God is the chiefest being? In other words, what do I spend my time thinking about, what do I do?· Does my life display that I worship Him? If He is the first and chiefest being, anything less than perfect worship and obedience is idolatry.


There are many more questions we could ask, but this is a great way to begin our look at the Baptist Catechism.

“But they should know better!”: A Lesson in Maturity and Patience

In Philippians 3:15, after a lengthy treatment discussing the supreme importance of following Jesus Christ, Paul writes, “Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.” (ESV)

During my sermon preparation for Sunday, I was working through Calvin’s Commentaries and came across a much needed reminder, particular in the Church and the Academy. We need to display maturity and patience with others, regardless of their knowledge of biblical truth or lack thereof. (I am writing this now because, inevitably, someone will caution that this does not mean we should accept everything and be patient with false doctrine. I hope that this is self-evident, because Scripture does balance this out, for example, see Titus 3:9-11).

On this verse, Calvin writes, “Let us in the mean time learn also from this passage, that we must bear for a time with ignorance in our weak brethren, and forgive them, if it is not given them immediately to be altogether of one mind with us. Paul felt assured as to his doctrine, and yet he allows those who could not as yet receive it time to make progress, and he does not cease on that account to regard them as brethren, only he cautions them against flattering themselves in their ignorance.” (Calvin, Philippians, 104)

Several points deserve our attention.

The Mature

First, consider the maturity of Paul, and those who accept his teachings. It is assumed that their life and doctrine are inline with Scripture. It makes sense, then, that those who know and live God’s Word would be the most patient with others. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some individuals who are highly qualified (intellectually speaking) are some of the most impatient and hard people. Intellectual capacity does not bring maturity. Maturity includes a grasp of the doctrines of Scripture and a life that matches (cf. Ezra 7:10).

The Patient

Second, consider the patience displayed by the mature. Paul does not berate them for failing to understand his teachings (even Peter had a difficult time, 2 Pet. 3:16). He simply assumes that, as they grow, their knowledge of the Scriptures (as evidenced by Phil. 3:16). When we have grasped a certain doctrine, or view of Scripture, we need to be patient with those who may have a harder time (or, slower, as the case may be). It is a common joke (though true, all-to-often) that when individuals embrace the Doctrines of Grace that they become “cage-stage-Calvinists.”

That is, they want to convert everyone to their views and display little patience for those who view Scripture differently. We need to follow Paul’s example and be patient with people. It takes time for people to mature with regards to their lives and their grasp of biblical doctrine. There is a reason that men and women of godly character disagree. We are finite, fallen creatures glorious saved and wisely grown in this life, with various backgrounds, cultures, and educational opportunities. As a result, it changes how we view Scripture. Just as we did not believe everything in Scripture immediately upon our salvation, we should not expect any different from others.

The Trusting

Third, and finally, maturity and patience is strengthened by God. Paul says, “God will reveal that also to you.” Paul was displaying faith, not in his ability to communicate, nor in his hearers’ ability to comprehend, but in God. He trusted that God would do with His children what He thought best and when He thought best (Phil. 1:6). When discussing differences in theological views, let us trust that God will grow us as He sees fit. While we still engage in theological discussion (Prov. 27:17), these should be engaged with, you guessed it, maturity and patience, all the while displaying faith that God will grow us.

Where do we go now?

We have looked at Mark Dever’s 9 Marks of a Healthy Church. We looked at Scripture, discussed the practicality and biblical essence of each mark. Now what?

We need to heed James’ advice, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22, NIV) In other words, we need to get busy!

How can we do this? What practical steps can we put in place to begin this journey to a healthy church? Here are a few practical things we can do, generally speaking.

First, begin by addressing one mark now. Do not wait to do it, start now! There truly is no time like the present. Part of what you do will depend on your position. If you are a deacon, you will have a greater responsibility (and ability) to further healthy change. Whatever your position, you must do something. It may involve you studying Scripture and sharing it with others. It may be asking questions in a meeting. Whatever it is, start now (and start with one). There is a biblical precedent for this in 2 Pet. 1:5-8.

Second, seek to master one mark. What do I mean? If you desire to renew a commitment to biblical church membership, read books about it. Study the Scripture passages that discuss it. Be a “church membership” expert. What this will do is provide you with the knowledge to help others (a biblical concept as well, see 1 Tim. 1:5, 4:6).

Third, challenge others! The writer of Hebrews states it like this, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24, NASB). They may desire to focus on another area of church health (such as biblical theology). That does not matter, cheer them on to search it out!

We asked at the beginning, “Can a church be healthy?” I hope that it is evident, now, that the answer is “YES!” The church can be healthy. Now the question before us is, “Is my church healthy?” You can answer that with a “YES!” as well, but you have to get to work!