A Reforming Ministry

Article
03.01.2001

Welcome to the website of the 9Marks Ministries. 9Marks is a ministry of Capitol Hill Baptist Church (Washington, DC) and other like-minded churches and church-leaders who want to see God glorified in His church as we move into this new century.

Our chief end in this, as in all other endeavors, is the glory of God. As Jonathan Edwards, John Piper, and others have written, the chief end of God is and always has been His own glory. Scripture is clear that God delights in Himself. Theologians have called part of this doctrine the aseity of God, that is, the self-existence of God. God in no way needs us. He is not dependent on us. We have no reason to believe that He is or ever even could be lonely. God’s love for us flows not out of His need, but out of His love for Himself and for His creation.

From Ezekiel to Romans 9, from Genesis to Revelation, we see that God is clearly about making His name known. He wants to present His own glory—His character—to His creation. This is the way that He has chosen to glorify Himself, to let the truth be known. God desires to glorify Himself through creation and through manifesting His character in judgment and redemption in this world.

This is where the task of evangelization comes in. God preeminently makes His character known to His creation through the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. How is this gospel to be made known? An important part of the biblical answer to that question may surprise many today. A central element of New Testament evangelism which has been all but lost today is its corporate nature—the church. A vital, biblical ecclesiology, then, is a vehicle of Christian growth, both in evangelism and sanctification. I pray that we will share the passion of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who, as a young pastor in Wales, once said, “I want to get back to the discipline of the —discipline for the minister as for the members—and to recapture the glorious conception of the Christian life, that men may feel that there is no honour which can be conferred upon them so great as their church membership, and that ministers may feel that there is nothing in life to be compared with the preaching of this glorious and incomparable gospel,” (Iain Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:  The First Forty Years, p. 228).

If the church is so important to God, then it would be difficult to overestimate the pastor’s crucial role in the plan of God. Even as the people of God are created by God’s Spirit through His Word, so they are most particularly dependent upon God’s work through those gifted and called to serve the body by bringing that Word to them. We who are joined together in this work of reformation, church by church, are convinced that those of us who are called to be pastors are called to pivotal positions, with tremendous opportunities to bring glory to our Lord.

Let us heed the word of the Lord through Ezekiel concerning the shepherds of God’s people in a past day:

“The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them. Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.  ‘For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice,” (Ezekiel 34:1-16).

In order to help us heed God’s word through Ezekiel, we need pastoral fellowship and accountability. But we pastors are too often negligent of this main duty of ours. We misconceive our role and forget our accountability to God. In order to counter this, we profit from fellowship together with others who share this same calling.

And that brings us to 9Marks Ministries and this website. 9Marks Ministries exists to call churches, and particularly their pastors and teachers, back to first principles for the greater glory of God.  To this end we undertake publications and meetings, and now we launch this mental association of pastors by means of this website. By reading this far, you, too, must be somewhat interested in the same goals and ideas. Welcome to our fellowship.

By:
Mark Dever

​Mark Dever is the senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D. C., and the President of 9Marks. You can find him on Twitter at @MarkDever.