The Heart Of God And The Church -- By: Michael J. Anthony

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 176:704 (Oct 2019)
Article: The Heart Of God And The Church
Author: Michael J. Anthony

The Heart Of God And The Church*

Michael J. Anthony

* This is the fourth article in the four-part series “The Heart of God,” delivered as the W. H. Griffith Thomas lectures at Dallas Theological Seminary, February 6–9, 2018.

Michael J. Anthony is research professor of Christian education at Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada, California.


The third article in this series examined the heart of God in relationship to social engagement. It explored God’s heart as it reaches out to the lost, the broken-hearted, the socially alienated, disenfranchised, marginalized, and trafficked. While the article did not explore the more than two hundred verses that speak of God’s compassion and care for these individuals, it did survey about two dozen verses that speak of his overwhelming concern for those who find themselves in need of justice and advocacy.

I steered away from references to social justice, since that term and its corresponding paradigm have often been pirated and distorted. I prefer the notion of social engagement, so I asked that each of us consider through the ministry of the Holy Spirit how we might represent the heart of God in the broken world in which we live. There is no prescriptive answer, but having no response is not a valid reply to our investigation.

The first article in the series explained that the concept of God’s heart speaks of God’s determined will and pleasure. I referenced Hans Wolff’s excellent work Anthropology of the Old Testament, where in one chapter he summarizes twenty-six Old Testament passages referring to God’s heart by saying, “They generally attest to His steadfast will and His longing desire—usually in regards to His plans for the future to which His whole will is completely committed.”1

This article looks at the heart of God as it pertains to the church. Mark Dever observes that

ultimately, the church should be regarded as important to Christians because of its importance to Christ. Christ founded the church (Matthew 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 (Ephesians 1:23; 4:12; 5:23–32; Colossians 1:18,

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