One of the best books I have read this year is The Church: The Gospel Made Visible by Mark Dever. I would like to share some of my favorite quotes from the book:
John Stott said, "The church lies at the very center of the eternal purpose of God. It is not a divine afterthought. It is not an accident of history." The church should be regarded as important to Christian because of its importance to Christ. Christ founded the church (Matt. 16:18), purchased it with his blood (Acts 20:28), and intimately identifies himself with it (Acts 9:4). The church is the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12, 27; Eph 1:22-23; 4:12; 5:20-30; Col 1:18, 24; 3:15), the dwelling place of the Spirit (1 Cor 3:16-17; Eph 2:18, 22; 4:4), and the chief instrument for glorifying God in the world (Ezek 36:22-38; Eph 3:10). Finally, the church is God's instrument for bringing both the gospel to the nations and a great host of redeemed humanity to himself (Luke 24:46-48; Rev 5:9) (pgs x-xi).
Churches which preach the gospel are true churches; churches which do not are not. Churches the preach the gospel possess a biblically deficient form of polity can be considered "true" but "irregular" churches (pg xxvii).
God's eternal plan has always been to display his glory not just through individuals but through a corporate body (pg 4).
The church reflects the character of God (pg 15).
The church is holy and is to be holy because God is holy (pg 16).
The God of the Bible must be the foundation and framework of all teaching and preaching in the church (pg 25).
The Christian church is commanded to practice baptism by immersing a person in water who both professes and evidences conversion (pg 30).
Church discipline should be practiced in order to bring sinners to repentance, a warning to other church members, health to the whole congregation, a distinct corporate witness to the world, and ultimately, glory to Godm as his people display his character of holy love (pg 68).
Reading and preaching God's Word, singing his praises, and praying to him are the required elements in the weekly gathering of Christians (pg 71).
A non-Christian's greatest need to hear the gospel (pg 83).
The invisible church is the church composed of all true believers, whether or not they are not in the visible church, and excluding those in the visible church who are not genuinely converted (pg 92).
Some recommend a pastor should govern the church almost like a CEO. But this gives inadequate attention to Scripture's teaching on both the plurality of elders and the role of the whole congregation (pg 142).