La Mesa Adventist Community Church

4207 Spring Gardens Rd, La Mesa, CA, 91941-7964

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9 Marks of a Healthy Church
            Mark Dever has written a book that he has titled “Nine Marks of a Healthy Church” which I will summarize in this article and will close with a challenge and an opportunity for everyone to give their insights. The local Church is God’s evangelism plan. The local Church is God’s evangelism program! I have come to see and understand that a relationship with a local congregation is central to individual discipleship. The Church is not an optional extra; it’s the shape of your following God!
            The First Mark of a healthy Church is whether or not the Bible is central to its preaching and teaching. When a Church gets the priority of the Word of God established, then you have in place the single most important aspect of the Church’s life, and growing health is virtually assured, because God has decided to act by His Spirit through His Word (Romans 10:17). The Bible presents God’s promises to us—from all kinds of individual promises throughout the Bible all the way to the great promise, the great hope, the great object of our faith, Christ Himself, and His return for His people.
            The Second Mark of a healthy Church is its biblical theology. We must understand God’s truth as a coherent whole, coming first as a revelation of God. God wants us to come to know Him. Questions of who God is and what He is like can never be considered irrelevant to the practical matters of church life. Different understandings of God will lead you to worship Him in different ways. The Church must always be open and ready to discuss difficult questions about God. The God of the Bible is a Creating God, a Holy God, a Faithful God, a Loving God, and a Sovereign God and He wants to make Himself known to us.
            The Third Mark of a healthy Church is its biblical understanding of the Gospel. What is the Gospel? Why is it Good News? Is our message, though larded with Christian pieties, basically a message of self-salvation, or is there something more in it? The Good News is not simply that we are okay . . . or that God is love . . . or that Jesus wants to be our Friend . . . or that we should live right! Have we heard the Gospel? Have we believed it with our lives or are we still playing at religion? Do we attend Church occasionally when our curiosity is up or our guilt is aroused, while regularly and with great satisfaction serving first of all ourselves? To really hear the Gospel is to be shaken to your core! To really hear the Gospel is to change. Have you heard the Bible’s great message about God and our old sins forgiven and a new life begun and about a personal relationship with your God, your Creator, now and forever? What better new could you hear?
            The Fourth Mark of a healthy Church is its biblical understanding of conversion. As amazing as it may seem to us, from John 3 to Acts 9 to Ephesians 2 to 1 Peter 1 and on and on, we find the same message, which according to the Bible is a crucial part of the Good News. Change is possible! What will this change involve? Mental acceptance, moral resolve or mere relying on Christ? How does this change happen? We do nothing, we do everything, or God works this saving faith in us? To change as you need to change may seem beyond you—but the Good News is that it is not beyond God. You need only to heed the words of Jesus: “Repent, and believe the Good News and you shall be saved!”
            The Fifth Mark of a healthy Church is its biblical understanding of evangelism. If in our evangelism we simply imply that becoming a Christian is something we do ourselves, we disastrously pass on our misunderstanding of the Gospel and of conversion. We need to come to understand that in our evangelism we must be partners with the Holy Spirit, presenting the Gospel but relying on the Holy Spirit of God to do the true convicting and convincing and converting. May we as individuals and as churches be involved in the ministry of evangelism—and may God help us not to do it in a wrong way but in a way that presents the Gospel clearly. Then we will see results.
            The Sixth Mark of a healthy Church is its biblical understanding of church membership. In this past century alone, Christians have all but ignored biblical teaching on the corporate nature of following Christ. Our churches are awash in self-centered narcissism and hyper-individualism. But when we go back to 1 John or even the gospel of John, we begin to see that Jesus never intended us to be Christians alone, and that our love for others who aren’t just like us is taken to be indicative of whether we truly love God. We read in Ephesians 5:25 that, “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.” Acts 20:28 reminds us that He “bought His Church with His own blood.” If we are followers of Christ, we too will love the Church that He gave His life for. Following Jesus means that we are involved, care and are concerned for each other on this journey through life.
            The Seventh Mark of a healthy Church is its biblical understanding of holding its members accountable. Is there any behavior that churches should not tolerate? Does our Church indicate a concern for anything beyond our own institutional survival? We need to live lives that back up our profession of faith. We need to hold each other accountable when we depart from the teachings in the Scriptures. And part of the way we love each other is by being honest and establishing honest relationships with each other and speaking in love to each other, even to the point of loving confrontation.
            The Eighth Mark of a healthy Church is its biblical understanding and concern of Christian discipleship and growth. Evangelism that does not result in discipleship is incomplete evangelism. Consider what it means to be a Christian. It is not that you are perfect, but that your heart does intend to seek God. If you are a Christian, it is because God, by His own graciousness in your life, has grown a desire in you to live a life that pleases Him more and more.
            The Ninth Mark of a healthy Church is its biblical understanding of church leadership. Leadership in the Church should not be granted as a response to secular gifts or position, or to family relationships, or in recognition of length of service in the Church. Leadership in the Church should be invested in those who seem to evidence in their own lives and who are able to promote in the life of the congregation as a whole the edifying and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit whose ultimate purpose is to bring glory to God! There is a world that needs to see people made in the image of God living out that image as the Scriptures tell us.
            In Ephesians 4:1-16 Paul’s great concern for the Church is that the Church manifest and display the glory and the grace of God “until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God."

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