The doctrine of the church is as important, as it is exciting. Exciting you may respond. "I have never thought of the doctrine of the church being exciting" many may react. If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, and His Scriptures, then you will know that the church is central to all of His contemporary purposes. Contemporary has become a new buzz word in the church. My question is: should a church be seeking to be contemporary or biblically faithful?
Ephesians 5:25-27 "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish".
Colossians 1:17-18 "And he [the Lord Jesus Christ] is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent".
Jesus Christ is the head of the church, which is his body; now that is significant. As we would expect the Westminster Confession has much to say on the doctrine of the church. Three foundational chapters are Chapter 25 "Of the Church" with 6 different sections. Also Chapter 26 "Of the Communion of the Saints" and also Chapter 30 "Of Church Censures". The chapter on Church Censures teaches the third mark of the church, which is church discipline. I suggest that we all read these three chapters, in order to refresh our minds upon the centrality of the doctrine of the church with the gospel.
It has become a buzz word to talk about "gospel ministry" without this phrase being explained. But in a New Testament sense can we talk about gospel ministry without talking about the doctrine of the church?
Three subjects need to be discussed today.
What is a biblical doctrine for public church worship? What is the church's theology for worship?
What is a biblical doctrine for church government?
What is a biblical doctrine for the doctrines that we hold on every theological subject?
In sum, doctrine, worship and church government are the "big 3" truths for the church.
A book to recommend is the Glorious Body of Christ by R. B Kuiper, through the front cover is poor, the content of the book is excellent. The chapter by Guy Prentiss Waters on Church Government in the book "The Westminster Standards for Today" is excellent also.