Doctrine of the Church

The Meaning, Marks, Descriptions, Activities, Ministry Roles, and Realities of the Church

Curated by Tim Keller

Attributes of the Church

  • Part 1Runtime: 55 min

    Tim Keller

  • Part 2Runtime: 53 min

    Tim Keller

Study Question
What are the attributes of the church?
  1. One
  2. Holy
  3. Catholic
  4. Apostolic

Video Resources
  • R.C. Sproul explains the meaning of the four marks of the church, showing how they indicate that peace, purity, and unity are not options for the body of Christ.

  • Ken Mbugua, a Pastor in Nairobi, answers the question: "What do you wish American missionaries knew about Christianity in Africa?"

Audio Resources
  • Russell Moore, Curtis Woods, Isaac Adams, Kevin DeYoung, and Jonathan Leeman – Race, Political Partisanship, and the Unity of the ChurchRuntime: 01:02:01

Church in Contrasts

  • Church as Local and UniversalRuntime: 57 min

    Harvie Conn

  • Church as Organization and OrganismRuntime: 54 min

    Harvie Conn

  • Church as Visible and InvisibleRuntime: 55 min

    Harvie Conn

Study Questions
Who were some of the early people that spoke of the invisibility of the church and what was the historical backdrop to their development of this doctrine?

Jan Hus, John Wycliffe, and John Calvin were all early reformers that spoke of the invisibility of the Church in one sense. This was largely in response to the historic Catholic explanation of the visible Church.

What are two key doctrines that are brought into tension with the contrast of the Church as both organization and organism?

The doctrines of the kingdom of God and the Church.

What is the relationship of the attributes of the invisible Church and the visible Church?

The attributes of the Church are factual descriptions of the form of the invisible Church, but also give the ideals that are to be realized in visible churches.

Local / Universal

Video Resources
  • David Powlison answers the question: "Can I grow in holiness without the local church?"

Organization / Organism

Video Resources
  • Matt Chandler, Michael Horton, and Tim Keller discuss the role of the Church in culture and the conflict between the Church as both institution and organism.

Invisible / Visible

Video Resources
  • Ligon Duncan delivers a talk on the invisible Church at the 2006 Ligonier National Conference

Church as the Kingdom of God

  • Church as the Kingdom of GodRuntime: 55 min

    Edmund Clowney

Study Questions
Who does Clowney argue that Jesus is contrasting between when he told Peter that he would build his church on the rock?

Clowney argues that it is Peter in contrast to the rest of the world, not Peter in contrast to the other apostles.

What is the purpose of the keys of the kingdom?

Bringing members into and out of the membership of the local Church.

Is the kingdom of God present today?

There is an element of “already” and “not-yet” of the kingdom of God today. Churches today are present kingdom outposts on the battlefront. So in that way, the kingdom is in the world today. However, one day, the kingdom of God will encompass all of creation.

  • Greg Gilbert – The Church: The Embassy of the KingdomRuntime: 55:36

Church as the Assembly of Christ

  • Church as the Assembly of ChristRuntime: 53 min

    Tim Keller

Study Questions
What is the relation of Christ to his assembly

He is both Lord and Vassal (Servant) in the covenant with his people, the assembly.

What is the Old Testament account that this analogy is drawn from?

The analogy of the Assembly of Christ draws from the account of God assembling his people together at Mt. Sinai, after the Exodus. In a similar way, Jesus is delivering his people through the great and mighty deliverance of his death and resurrection. He takes his people out of bondage and assembles them together at his feet to build his church.

What is the significance of the glory of God in the assembly of Christ?

Keller talks of it being the “banner-breaking” glory of God that does the unexpected. The glory of God affects change and brings about renewal.

What does Keller say is missing if there is only interaction from minister to pew in a church when it gathers?

Keller says that this is evidence of a lack of the fellowship of the Spirit. Fruit of the fellowship of the Spirit is seen in members interacting and caring for one another.

Church as the Body of Christ

  • Church as the Body of ChristRuntime: 53 min

    Richard B. Gaffin, Jr.

Study Questions
Which Biblical author is the metaphor of the Body of Christ unique to?

The Body of Christ is an idea that is unique to Paul

What aspect of the church is emphasized in the metaphor of the Body of Christ?

The Body of Christ emphasizes the eschatological newness of the Church.

What misconception does this metaphor help protect against?

The Body of Christ metaphor helps to protect against the idea that we are each saved completely as individuals, without considering the corporate aspect of salvation.

Audio Resources
  • Greg Gilbert – The Church: You are the Body of ChristRuntime: 60 min

Church as the Fellowship of the Spirit

  • Church as the Fellowship of the SpiritRuntime: 56 min

    Richard B. Gaffin, Jr.

Study Questions
Should we think of the body of Christ as a reality or a metaphor?

Gaffin, along with the Reformed tradition, argues that the “body of Christ” is a metaphor, not a physical reality

Should we think of "Christ as head" and the "Church as body" as one metaphor or two?

Gaffin, along with Herman Ridderbos, argues that these should be seen as two different metaphors. However, this is not a universal consensus. John Murray believed that it was only one metaphor.

Church as the People of God

  • Part 1Runtime: 52 min

    Edmund Clowney

  • Part 2Runtime: 54 min

    Edmund Clowney

Study Questions
In Clowney’s view, what is the scope of the “assembly” that defines the church?

To Clowney, it is both the physical assembling of local churches, as well as joining in a shared assembly in the presence of Christ with all of the saints of all time. However, he argues that it is most fundamentally the latter.

Who are the people of God?

The people of God are all those who are called by God, from all times and all places, to join in the assembly in God’s presence. This includes Israel in the Old Testament and the Church in the New Testament.

What are the two words that Clowney says are the epicenters of the writings of the prophets?

Redemption and renewal.

Where do we see individual election in the Old Testament?

In the promise of the Remnant. It shows that there is a people within the people, chosen within the chosen.

Recommended Reading

Church Discipline

  • Part 1Runtime: 54 min

    Ron Lutz

  • Part 2Runtime: 47 min

    Ron Lutz

  • Part 3Runtime: 51 min

    Ron Lutz

Study Questions
What is church discipline?

In the broadest sense, it is that which marks the line between the Church and the world.

What are the goals of Church discipline?
  1. Be concerned for the glory of God’s name
  2. Preserve the purity of the Body
  3. Restoration of the offender

Video Resources
  • Juan Sanchez describes how Church discipline can actually be loving.

  • Tom Ascol – Church Growth & Church DisciplineRuntime: 65 min

Church Ministry Roles

  • Diaconal Ministry: Part 1Runtime: 52 min

    Tim Keller

  • Diaconal Ministry: Part 2Runtime: 49 min

    Tim Keller

  • Diaconal Ministry: Part 3Runtime: 56 min

    Tim Keller

  • Elder MinistryRuntime: 46 min

    Ron Lutz

  • Women and Church Office: Part 1Runtime: 52 min

    Richard B. Gaffin Jr.

  • Women and Church Office: Part 2Runtime: 52 min

    Richard B. Gaffin Jr.

Elder Ministry

Video Resources
  • Ryan Kelly, Rick Phillips, & Bob Doll discuss implications of those times when staff elders and lay elders collide

  • Greg Gilbert – The Church: The Congregation and Her EldersRuntime: 58 min

Diaconal Ministry

Video Resources
  • Isaac Adams discusses the roles of elders and deacons in the church according to the Bible.

Audio Resources
  • R. Kent Hughes – Deacons and DeaconessesRuntime: 30 min

Women and Ministry

Marks of the Church

  • Marks of the ChurchRuntime: 49 min

    Harvie Conn

Study Questions
What was the reason for creating a list of marks of a true church?

In the time of the Reformation, there was growing concern that a church could possess all four attributes, but still lack a vital relationship with Christ. This led to the development of a list of marks.

What are the three marks of a true church?
  1. Right preaching of the Word of God
  2. Right administration of the sacraments
  3. Church discipline
Were all of the Reformers in agreement about the marks of true churches?

No, they had many different lists of the the marks of a true church. These different views are laid out in Berkhof’s Systematic Theology.

Ministry of the Church

  • Ministry of the ChurchRuntime: 53 min

    Richard B. Gaffin Jr.

Study Questions
Who does Gaffin argue has authority for oversight and rule in the Church?

Gaffin argues that both the deacons and elders have elements of oversight and rule in the Church. He avoids conflating the two, however.

Does Gaffin argue for the inclusion or exclusion of women from the diaconate?

Gaffin argues for the exclusion of women from the diaconate.

Church Renewal

  • Obstructions to RenewalRuntime: 55 min

    Tim Keller

  • Primary Elements of RenewalRuntime: 52 min

    Tim Keller

Study Questions
Can we bring about revival?

Contrary to what some believe, revival cannot be brought about by human effort. We can prepare ourselves and try to create the setting for revival, but the reviving is done by the Holy Spirit.

What is "defective orthodoxy?"

Defective orthodoxy is a term that originated with Martyn Lloyd-Jones, referring to different problems that exist in seemingly truth-filled churches that hinder the coming of revival.

What are some examples of defective orthodoxy?
  1. Over-stressing the intellectual: only teaching doctrines, while not applying to the heart.
  2. Lack of doctrinal balance: becoming too focused on one peripheral doctrine (eschatology, spiritual gifts, etc.).
  3. Over-concern with mechanics.
  4. Un-mortified sin.

Spiritual Renewal

Video Resources
  • Tim Keller answering questions about church renewal.

  • Tim Keller teaching a workshop on a Biblical theology of revival at TGC13.

  • Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaching a sermon entitled, "Revival: What is Revival?"

  • Richard Phillips, Kevin DeYoung, and Bryan Chapell discuss the temptation to manufacture, the danger of giving up, the problem with measuring success in revival terms, and more.

Church Revitalization

Video Resources
  • Brian Croft preaching a sermon entitled, "Should I Plant or Revitalize a Church?"

  • Mark Dever preaching a sermon at T4G 2016 entitled, "Endurance Needed Strength for a Slow Reformation and the Dangerous Allure of Speed."

  • Panel discussion on Church planting and revitalization at 9Marks and NAMB conference in 2016.

Present Realities Faced by the World Church

  • Part 1Runtime: 40 min

    Tim Keller

  • Part 2Runtime: 51 min

    Tim Keller

  • Part 3Runtime: 55 min

    Tim Keller

  • Part 4Runtime: 54 min

    Tim Keller

Discussion Questions

How does the urbanization of our world today change our missional strategies?

How can we focus on reaching the nations through global cities, while not ignoring rural churches?

Video Resources
  • The authors of two new books—Why Cities Matter and Christ + City—discuss the strategic importance of cities to God, the culture, and the church.

  • Stephen Um and Jared Wilson discuss the importance of rural ministry with Collin Hansen.