Determining the heart of the church is somewhat difficult. Today’s churches seem to take on multi-faceted roles between serving their congregants and being a voice in the public square. Pastors, too, are faced with multiple responsibilities. Yet, as Joe Thorn makes clear, the heart of the church is not necessarily what the church does, but where it derives its task(s). Put simply, the church is charged with only one task: preaching the gospel. In so doing, these other facets of the church become evident, but it all must come back to the gospel of Christ. If the church gets the message of the gospel wrong, everything is done in vain.
Joe Thorn’s The Heart of the Church is one of three books dealing with the church as a whole. This particular book deals with the foundation of life and ministry in the church: the gospel. Written with precision, Thorn discusses the message of the gospel, its history, and its doctrinal implications for the church. These three aspects of discussion make up the book’s parts.
First is the history of the gospel. Thorn discusses the gospel (God’s redemptive plan for humanity) as the theme of Scripture, and the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. I appreciate these chapters because the key to Scripture is Christ. The Bible, as the Word of God, is framed around the revelation of God in Christ and his salvific purposes.
Second is the doctrines of the gospel message. Covered in these six chapters are justification, forgiveness, faith and repentance, reconciliation, sanctification, and good works. Thorn masterfully discusses these doctrines and their place in Christian theology. It must be noted that these doctrines are from the Reformed position of Christian theology.
The third part is the God of the gospel. In these five chapters, Thorn discusses God’s sovereign and definite role in the salvific process. Once again, this is from the Reformed position. Despite their Reformed origins, it seems these are doctrines one would believe regardless.
Thorn concludes with, “If the gospel is not the heart of the local church, then something else will be.” I think this is the thesis of these three books: the gospel must be the heart of everything the church is and does.
You need this book. Your church members and pastors need to read this book. Even if there are theological disagreements, we must get the gospel message correct, or else we do everything in vain.
Disclosure: I received this book free from Moody Press through the Moody Blogger Review Program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
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