Timmy Brister briefly expands on these words from Mark Dever, both of which deal with the contemporary phenomenon of treating the gathered church as unimportant or as an impediment to spreading the Gospel. They are also relevant to those who want to contend (correctly) that all of life is worship, except for the few hours on Sunday morning which is a ‘meeting’, roughly analogous to attending a TAFE course.
“Many Protestants have begun to think that because the church is not essential to the gospel, it is not important to the gospel. This is an unbiblical, false, and dangerous conclusion. Our churches are the proof of the gospel. In the gatherings of the church, the Christian Scriptures are read. In the ordinances of the church, the work of Christ is depicted. In the life of the church, the character of God himself should be evident. A church seriously compromised in character would seem to make the gospel itself irrelevant.
The doctrine of the church is important because it is tied to the good news itself. The church is to be the appearance of the gospel. It is what the gospel looks like when played out in the lives of people. Take away the church and you take away the visible manifestation of the gospel in the world. Christians in churches, then, are called to practice ‘display evangelism,’ and the world will witness the reign of God begun in a community of people made in his image and reborn by his Spirit. Christians, not just as individuals but as God’s people bound together in churches, are the clearest picture that the world sees of the invisible God and what his will is for them.”
Mark E. Dever, ‘The Church’ in A Theology for the Church, edited by Daniel L. Akin (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2007), 836.
The gospel is absolutely essential to the church.
The church is incredibly important to the gospel.
Therefore, the recovery of the gospel is essential to the health of the church, and the importance of the local church is crucial to the advance of the gospel. May God gives us a passion for churches to be driven by the gospel, and may God grant churches an unrelenting ambition to make it unmistakably visible in our world for the glory of Jesus’ name.