A Brief Look at the Nine Marks of a Healthy Church: Mark Two, Biblical Theology


A Brief Look at the Mark:

Throughout history, people have longed to believe in an idea or story that makes sense of the world. The reason they long for this is that deep in their hearts they understand there is something that makes sense of reality. The beauty of the Christian faith is we have that overarching story; we have the metanarrative in the redemptive story of the Bible. A healthy church will be able to engage its people with this metanarrative. This is a call to understand theology and doctrine that comes from seeking the whole counsel of God’s Word. Pastor Dever points out that this comes mainly through understanding the character of God and how He deals with us. Dever gives five words that help us understand more fully God and what he is doing in the world through the revelation provided in The Metanarrative.

It is vital to understand that he is a God who creates. Next, he is a God who is holy. Our members and non-believers alike must see that we cannot be in relationship with God because of our immorality. Thirdly, he is a faithful God who keeps his covenant promises. Dever points out that this creates a conundrum of how God can be both forgiving based on his promises and at the same time be a holy God that must punish sin. In a proper biblical theology, we realize that this conundrum is solved in the person of His Son. He both shows His covenant love in the provision of a sacrifice and He demonstrates His wrath against sin in the crushing of that sacrifice. Next, He is a God of love. Finally, and perhaps most important, He is a sovereign God. Dever points out that this is a practical biblical theology. We can rest in a God who is in control of every aspect of this universe and our lives. So related closely with the preaching of the word we must possess sound Doctrine. This sound doctrine is gathered by reading the whole of Scripture. Even in these five words you get a grasp for  the economy of God’s Salvation: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration.

Practical Ways to Implement this Mark into Your Church:
Jonathan Akin has been very helpful with this section. First, there are several books that can help the pastor preach and the bible study teachers teach in a way that focuses on biblical theology. These books include: Goldsworthy’s “According to Plan”, “Gospel and Kingdom”, Clowney’s “Unfolding Mystery”, or Vaughan Roberts’ “God’s Big Picture.” Second, Pastors should listen to preachers who are biblical theologians. Men like Tim Keller, Russell Moore, and Andy Davis do a wonderful job of weaving biblical theology in their preaching. Third, Pastors and disciplers should teach those that they mentor to read the scripture in light of the big picture of Scripture and in light of the overarching doctrines that define who we are as followers of Christ. The discipler must seek to show the one he mentors how to have a biblical worldview shaped by biblical theology and how to filter all of life’s decisions through this grid. Next, even at a young age begin teaching the children the stories of the bible but always do so focusing on the overarching structure of the Scriptures and the center of ever story, Jesus Christ. A great resource for this is a book by a woman from Tim Keller’s church entitled “The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name.” Finally, the pastor must constantly set the context of their sermons in the scope of redemption history. An example could be setting marriage sermons in context of the overarching story.

It might look something like this:

“Why are there marriage problems? The difficulty in marriage is as old as the Garden of Eden. The fall in the Garden explains all marital conflicts. However, the picture of marriage throughout the Scriptures is a picture of the Gospel, Christ and His Bride, and will end in the marriage supper of the lamb. Marriage continually tells the overarching story and it paints the picture of the Gospel.”

Marriage sermons placed in this context teach the Storyline of the bible. The same can be true of any sermon. We must continually engage this metanarrative that makes sense of the world.

Part one of this series covered the first mark of the church, expositional preaching and check out IX Marks Website