Jesus Held By the Wood

Jesus held by the wood.
Delivered and delivering,
Jesus held by the wood.

Witnesses on either side.
Mary silhouetted,
quietly gazing
with great feeling
on her son,
the sky dark above.
As at the beginning,
so at the end.

Jesus held by the wood.
Delivered and delivering,
Jesus held by the wood.

The scene of Christmas
and of Calvary,
of the cradle
and the cross.

—Mark Dever, The Message of the New Testament

Tolle Lege: What Is a Healthy Church

Readability: 1

Length: 126 pp

Author: Mark Dever

There is a sea of books that end with “church” telling your church what it should be. For the most part it is a sea of stupidity. Not so the books ending in “church” by Mark Dever. Mark Dever has had a more profound impact on my thinking concerning the church than anyone else. I want him to impact you thinking too.

I have recommended time and again different books by Mark Dever. Why recommend books on the church? If one is going to be a member of some organization, wouldn’t you want to know what the organization is about and what membership entails?

I am thankful that much of Devers’ material has now been compacted in the tiniest of packages so that even the member with the most sever of allergies to reading can have a solid understanding of the church. I may allow a member to opt out of reading 9 Marks of a Healthy Church, but I will implore them to read What is a Healthy Church?.

A healthy church is a congregation that increasingly reflects God’s character as his character has been revealed in his word.

Friend, what are you looking for in a church? Good music? A happening atmosphere? A traditional order of service? How about:
     a group of pardoned rebels . . .
     whom God wants to use to display his glory . . .
     before all the heavenly host . . .
     because they tell the truth about him . . .
     and look increasingly just like him–holy, loving, united?

One church-growth writer recently summed up his strategy on growing churches by saying, “Open the front door and close the back door.” By this he means that churches should make themselves more accessible to outsiders while also doing a better job of follow-up. These are good goals. Yet I suspect that most pastors and churches today already aspire to do this, and to a fault. So let me offer what I believe is a more biblical strategy: guard carefully the front door and open the back door. In other words, make it more difficult to join, on the one hand, and make it easier to be excluded on the other. Remember—the path to life is narrow, not broad. Doing this, I believe, will help churches to recover their divinely intended distinction from the world.

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