BOOK REVIEW | The Loveliest Place

The Loveliest Place by Dustin Benge was a great read as it painted a beautiful picture of the purpose of the church. I found myself highlighting several things while reading and have posted those notes below…

  • The church is the focused domain where all God’s presence, promises, and purposes are unveiled and eternally realized.  Location: 144             
  • This book has one aim: to set before you a thoroughly biblical portrait of the church that derives its life from the sweet fellowship of the Father, Son, and Spirit, creating a community of love, worship, fellowship, and mission, all animated by the gospel and empowered by the word of God.  Location: 156             
  • The church is beautiful because the lens through which Christ regards her is his cross—the focal point of blood, righteousness, forgiveness, union, justification, regeneration, and grace. His cross makes her beautiful. His perfection makes her beautiful. It is his sacrificial, substitutionary, sinless blood that washes her garments as white as snow. The cross of Christ makes her beautiful not only inwardly by justification but also outwardly through sanctification. From giving second birth to final glory, the righteousness of Christ creates a beautiful church. Location: 198              
  • To grasp Christ’s love for his church is to plumb depths that have no bottom, find a treasure with no bounds, and climb heights that have no peak.  Location: 638             
  • The Holy Spirit is sufficiently enough to equip and empower you to discharge every aspect of the turning-the-world-upside-down ministry to which Jesus has called his church. The exaltation of Christ to the right hand of the Father at his ascending enthronement and subsequent sending of the Holy Spirit can clearly be seen as advantageous after a quick survey of a few of the numerous ministries he performs within the church:
    • He counsels (Isa. 11:2).
    • He imparts wisdom (Isa. 11:2).
    • He adopts (Rom. 8:15).
    • He calls to ministry (Acts 13:2–4).
    • He empowers (Acts 1:8).
    • He illuminates (1 Cor. 2:10–13).
    • He produces fruit (Gal. 5:22–23).
    • He seals (2 Cor. 1:22).
    • He strengthens (John 14:26).
    • He helps (John 14:16).
    • He intercedes (Rom. 8:26).
    • He provides truth (John 14:17, 26).
    • He teaches (Luke 12:12).
    • He testifies (John 15:26).
    • He guides (Acts 16:16–17).
    • He grieves (Eph. 4:30).
    • He convicts (2 Thess. 2:6–7).
    • He loves (Rom. 5:5; 15:30). Location: 833              
  • Glancing at Jesus doesn’t make sinners beautiful. Being a mere spectator of a local church doesn’t make sinners beautiful. Living on the edge of gospel-centered ministry doesn’t make sinners beautiful. The beauty for which we are saved is accomplished only through an intense, heartfelt stare at Jesus. We all know what it’s like to receive a glaring stare from a parent when we’ve disobeyed. Words aren’t necessary for a reprimand; the stare alone communicates the required level of conformity. Jonathan Edwards says we need such a sight of the divine beauty of Christ that our hearts and wills bow before his loveliness. Naturally, as long as our redeemed souls are encased in sinful flesh, we oppose the Spirit’s work of beautifying holiness. But “one glimpse of the moral and spiritual glory of God, and supreme amiableness of Jesus Christ, shining into the heart, overcomes and abolishes this opposition, and inclines the soul to Christ.”4 When the Spirit causes the beauty of Christ to dawn in our hearts, all opposition to holiness flees, our eyes firmly rivet to his flawless loveliness, and we are made beautiful.   Location: 862            
  • During the final moments of his life, standing before Pontius Pilate, Jesus declared that the reason he came into the world was to “bear witness to the truth.” He added, “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). Notice in his stunning testimony that Jesus proclaimed that he came to bear witness to the truth—not a vague, obscure, nebulous, open-to-one’s-own-interpretation kind of truth. Jesus came to bear witness to only one truth, God’s truth, the only truth that exists. The only truth that will still be standing when heaven and earth pass away (Matt. 24:35).  Location: 1,054             
  • No church has the freedom to tamper with, tweak, add to, or subtract from the good news of Jesus Christ—we are just to herald it. For there is nothing more beautiful and lovely in the sight of God than the extricating of sinners from the kingdom of darkness and delivering them to the kingdom of light.   Location: 1,646            
  • A life characterized by Spirit-led walking is continuously concerned with growing in Christlikeness, having our minds saturated with the truth of God’s word, having our hearts enraptured in perpetual doxological praise, giving our lives in service to love and help our neighbors, and glorifying the Lord in all things. To walk in the Spirit is to manifest a life patterned after our perfect example, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a life whose constant desire is to “be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Phil. 3:9). It is a life whose overarching desire is to “know him and the power of his resurrection . . . becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3:10–11).   Location: 2,029            
  • Jesus’s command to rejoice in the face of persecution leaves no room for the church to stagger into self-pity and dejection. Far too many of us are known more for our whining and complaining than for our rejoicing and gladness. Self-pity spoils the garments of Christ’s bride and defaces her beauty. The only acceptable responses to persecution are joy and celebration, with the firm assurance that our treasure resides in heaven, not in this temporal world. Paul shows us that our joy, as believers yet in this world, is always mingled with sorrow. Believers should be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10). We are sorrowful at the condition of the hearts of our persecutors while rejoicing that we are being persecuted for righteousness’ sake.  Location: 2,215             
  • Unity requires one-anothering. There are fifty-nine “one another” statements in the New Testament that speak directly to what we are to do or how we are to act toward each other. For example: “Be at peace with one another” (Mark 9:50). “Love one another” (John 13:34). “Serve one another” (Gal. 5:13). “Forgiving one another” (Eph. 4:32). “Admonishing one another” (Col. 3:16). “Encourage one another” (1 Thess. 4:18). “Do not speak evil against one another” (James 4:11). “Show hospitality to one another” (1 Pet. 4:9). As these samples show, the “one another” statements divert attention from ourselves to others. Others become the focus of our ministry. The “one another” passages are not suggestions for a successful life but commands for right Christian living. Unity is impossible when we consider ourselves more significant than others. The anthem of disunity is “me, myself, and I.” We desire our opinions to be heard, our views considered, and our plans fulfilled. We could go as far as to say that unity requires the obliteration of self. It is the complete denial of self to maintain love, fellowship, and peace within the church. By obeying these injunctions, believers ultimately obey the second great commandment, to love one’s neighbor as oneself (Mark 12:31), which puts the gospel of Christ on display as the transformative power it claims to possess. Have you wondered how you can beautify the bride of Christ? “One another” fellow believers. Location: 2,338

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