The Lord has been very kind to me in that He has given me a life lived within the church. For this, I am very thankful.
It is not that every particular local church I have been a part of was perfect or even close. It isn’t that I have always been a Christian as part of these churches. Neither is true.
I was practically born in the crèche (nursery) and have attended a church more or less every Sunday for my entire life. I rebelled against much of the teaching I received in my adolescent years, but in God’s providence came to a clear understanding of the gospel of Christ in my early 20’s through the ministry of the faithful pastor of my local church.
I love the church. And I am unashamedly a committed Baptist. This doesn’t mean that I don’t associate with Christians who are not Baptist, I have many friends who are not Baptist and find them to be dear brothers and sisters-in-Christ. There is great depth to friendship when each of us acknowledge some denominational/doctrinal distinctives are not essential to the gospel while, at the same time, not minimising them as though they are unimportant.
I just finished reading a very helpful book on the church and am planning to preach a three-part series in the coming weeks on the church as part of the AM services here at Howick Baptist Church. This has caused me to reflect on those books, authors, etc. which have influenced my thinking on the church. Beyond my own study of the Scriptures here is a list of the most helpful items (You will notice a number of recent items from 9Marks and Mark Dever specifically. Truthfully, there isn’t anyone writing today on the subject of the church who I’ve found more helpful or who has more influenced my love for the church.):