This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE
In our Living Out God’s Grace Bible study series, we have been exploring the grace of the gospel which brings us to faith in Christ and motivates and enables us to live out our salvation.
In the second half of our series we are considering the “means of grace” by which our Triune God gives us as blessings to not only grow us in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus, but to know and enjoy Jesus more and more. We looked at listening to God in His Word, talking to God in prayer. The next study is the grace habit of belonging to His body in fellowship within our church community. Why is this so important as we grow in Christ?
If Corsham Baptist Church and Church on the Green are to be gospel churches, it must not only receive the gospel and pass it on, but also embody it in a community life of mutual love. Nothing but the grace of Christ can accomplish this.
The Christian community is to be a living example of God’s transforming power, because this is what the world outside needs to see. Our witness in an increasingly fragmented society is that in Christ we’re finding a way to make relationships work, and the power to turn theory into practice. This is the HORIZONTAL dimension of the gospel: reconciled to one another. It is not without effort – relationships need working at. The difference Christ makes is that our labour is not in vain.
BUT our witness to the world is that we’re also rightly related to God: the VERTICAL dimension. The life of God should be visible in our gatherings.
Pastor Eddie Larkman: “The danger is always that we’ll become lop-sided, emphasising one aspect of the gospel at the expense of another:
some churches are big on healing human relationships, yet seem to have lost sight of a holy God to whom we need to be reconciled.
other churches are strong on honouring God by their pure doctrine and verbally correct worship, yet seem to lack the life-changing power that produces mature human beings. They leave people narrow and constricted; they crush people beneath the mighty juggernaut of their correct theology.”
The gospel church that God desires is the church that is growing in both dimensions: horizontally and vertically – where human relationships are being healed and people are growing to maturity – where God is loved and honoured, celebrated and obeyed. These things are not in opposition to one another, but are brought into partnership in Christ. The church that reflects these things is the church that truly shows Christ to the world. And that’s what we’re called to be. I believe we are on that trajectory. And Lord willing, sisters, we can be instrumental as God’s girls in this process!