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Healthy Church Reflections Part 5

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Healthy Church Reflections Part 5

What Is A Healthy Church?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

(2 Timothy 4:1-4)

1. Our church should not only be concerned with how we are taught, but also with what we are taught. That’s why a second essential mark of a healthy church is sound biblical theology, or theology that is biblical.

2. Paul uses the word “sound” a number of times in his pastoral writings to Timothy and Titus. It means “reliable,” “accurate,” or “faithful.” At root, it is an image from the medical world meaning whole or healthy.

3. Biblically sound theology, then, is theology that is faithful to the teaching of the entire Bible. It reliably and accurately interprets the parts in terms of the whole.

“hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:9)

4. Pastors should teach sound doctrine-doctrine that is reliable, accurate and faithful to the Bible. And churches are responsible for keeping their pastors accountable to sound doctrine.

“I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service”

(1 Timothy 1:3-12)5. In practice, every church decides where it requires complete agreement, where it permits limited disagreement, and where it allows complete liberty.

6. The early church put it this way: in essentials, unity; in nonessentials, diversity; in all things, charity.

“This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13)

7. If we want churches that are guided by sound doctrine from the Bible, we must come to terms with the entire Bible.

8. If we want churches that display God’s character, don’t we want to know everything he has revealed about himself in the Bible? What does it say about our opinion of his character if we don’t?

“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine”

(Titus 2:1)

9. The biblical God is Creator and Lord. Yet his sovereignty is sometimes denied, even within the church. When confessing Christians resist the idea of God’s sovereignty in creation or salvation, they are really playing with pious paganism.

10. A healthy church must be especially careful to pray that its leaders would have a biblical and an experiential grasp of God’s sovereignty.

11. They should also pray that their leaders would remain fully committed to sound doctrine in its full, biblical glory. A healthy church is marked by expository preaching and by theology that’s biblical.

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