March 27, 2008 Leave a comment
I have decided to review Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever. Dever is the Senior Pastor of Capital Hill Baptist Church. This book has been out for a while but I am just now getting around to reading it. It has been on my list for a while now though. So far, I am enjoying it. In this post I will give a review of Mark I.
The first mark of a healthy church is expositional preaching. It is not only the first mark; it is far and away the most important of them all, because if you get this one right, all of the others should follow. (p. 39)
Expositional preaching is not simply producing a verbal commentary on some passage of Scripture. Rather, expositional preaching is that preaching which takes for the point of a sermon the point of a particular passage of Scripture.
Seems clear enough. Basically, Dever is saying that the most important mark of a healthy church is to let God’s Word speak for itself and let it be the focus of all teaching. When this is the case, God will be glorified and disciples will grow.
In the second half of the chapter Dever discusses the central role of the Word of God. He divides into three subsections. They are: “The Role of God’s Word in Bringing Life”, “The Role of God’s Word in Sanctifying”; and “The Role of the Preacher of God’s Word”. He summarizes these up pretty good when he says
We need God’s Word to be saved, but we also need it to continually challenge and shape us. His Word not only give us life; it also gives us direction as it keeps molding and shaping us in the image of the God who is speaking to us.
God uses His Word to bring life…physical and spiritual. Dever says that since the fall and our separation from God, God must speak to us if he wants us to know Him. If He chooses not to speak to us then we are doomed to be eternally separated from Him. We need to listen for what He is saying to us. Thankfully, we know that He does speak with us. Hebrews 1:1-2 says “1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”
What emphasis do you place on expositional preaching? Do you prefer a different style? If so, why? Do you agree with Dever that it is the primary mark of a healthy church?