How Jesus Runs the Church

No More of Man’s Ideas,
Instead Only Christ’s Rule!

by Reed DePace

My completing seminary included a move to a new denomination, the PCA. Coming from a denomination whose tradition was rooted in German pietism and Dispensationalism my understanding of how God works through church government was decidedly uninformed. My advisor, Dr. Richard Gaffin, thought it a kindness to recommend to a man just finished with all the hard reading of his seminary classes, a relatively easy work on this subject, James Bannerman’s two volumes: The Church of Christ: a treatise on the nature, powers, ordinances, discipline, and government of the Christian Church.

And yes, if you’ve had opportunity to consider Bannerman’s work, you know I am having a little fun. Sincerely though, I remain grateful for Dr. Gaffin’s recommendation. Working through Bannerman over the next two years was fundamental to my current understanding and security in my church government practices.

ImageYet, for many a reader, especially elders, Bannerman is just going to be a bit too much. So what to do? For a class I am taking this summer I just finished reading Guy Prentiss Waters’ How Jesus How to Runs the Church. This IS the book you should read. Dr. Waters covers all the ground of Bannerman, if not in as much detail then certainly as effectively in greater simplicity.

The greatest thing about this book is how clearly Waters roots the points he makes in the Scriptures themselves. Rather than a technical book on church government, this reads like a theology book, explaining, well, exactly what the title declares, how Jesus (actually) runs the (His) Church. This Scripture-rooting strength means that applying what Waters teaches easily becomes an expression of faith. And it is only through faith that Jesus is present to superintend a church.

This book is going in our church’s officer training course. I am urging our present elders to read it. I urge you as well.

by Reed DePace
[I receive no remuneration for this recommendation.]



  1. Roy Kerns said,

    June 30, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Concur with your commendation of Bannerman, Reed. And also with your caveats.

    A book I urge upon those wanting a thorough yet popular level discussion: Kuiper’s “Glorious Body of Christ:”. Originally written as a series of essays appearing in the OPC’s in-house magazine, Presbyterian Guardian (predecessor to New Horizons), they later formed the book. Sometimes the reasoning needs some expansion, some refinement. Yet often the reader will experience what one should in reading good theology: worship.

  2. July 1, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    I remember reading Bannerman some years ago. He’s not that hard to understand and I enjoyed most of what I read (didn’t finish the whole thing). I quit after awhile because I got tired of waiting for the “good stuff” – he was spending way too much time (IMO) bashing the Catholic Church. As an ex-Catholic myself, I could appreciate it. But, after a significant number of pages (40 or 50?, I don’t remember), it was more than time to move on.

  3. John Bugay said,

    July 1, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    Too much time “bashing the Catholic Church”? Hmmm, I might have to check it out!

  4. Mark B said,

    July 2, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Water’s book is an excellent layman’s guide on this subject for the literature table in the back of the church, or the library.

  5. Reed Here said,

    July 2, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    Mark, yep!

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