To my church family:
It is no accident that the name of our church is Grace Baptist Church. However, I think we all have the tendency to pull into the parking lot of the church several times a week where the sign telling us we are people of grace greets us, yet not to give a second thought to what it means that we are members of GRACE Baptist Church. In answering the question of what it means to be people of Grace, I have jotted down six implications of taking that title upon ourselves. These six are by no means exhaustive, but I heartily encourage each of us to think deeply upon these six.
“What does it mean to be people of Grace?”
- It means our worship gathering is top priority in our week. We know we are deeply needy sinners, and we know God is our providentially gracious Savior. We know that we cannot stay connected to Christ when we are not pursuing connection with others who are “in Christ.” We know that we must walk by faith in the Son of God every day. But the Lord’s Day, the Resurrection Day, the First Day is not ours, but is devoted to the All-surpassing Gracious One.
- It means that when we come into our assembled worship and fellowship we are eager to receive God’s grace by ordinary means. We understand that grace is God’s miraculous favor on our lives that emboldens and enables us to glorify and serve God, and that this favor and spiritual empowerment is ministered to us through the emphatic exposition of God’s Written Truth (Word); through the sincere and Spirited prayers of confession, adoration, thanksgiving, and intercession; through public reenactments of God’s grace upon us symbolically in communion and baptism; through fellowship of God’s people in verbal praise, generous giving and mutual, Biblical counsel. Thus we are eager to receive grace and not to promote schism, murmuring, or bitterness.
- It means that we are eager to dispense grace upon grace to people of whom we may not have ever found common ground with in the world, but now view as our beloved brothers and sisters through Jesus Christ because God is graciously giving us a proper view of all people’s worth as created from God’s own hand in his own image; but that his church is chosen, holy, and precious. To be dispensers of grace, we interact with one another both within and without the public assembly by seeking to prefer other’s opinions, ideas and personalities even greater than our own. To be dispensers of grace, we pursue peace with everyone, giving every benefit of doubt to our mutual grace-enabled friends. To be dispensers of grace, we seek to be quick and clear confessors of our often wrong-headedness and offenses, while being even quicker to forgive one another for those offenses. To be dispensers of grace we recognize that our sinfulness is no more sinful than our brother’s sinfulness and that true repentance always demands true welcome. Thus we are coming into the worship assembly painstakingly looking for opportunities to be a dispenser of God’s grace both in this way and in many more ways, remembering that we must dispense grace to those of our number who are struggling to dispense grace themselves.
- It means that we place the greatest Demonstration of God’s Grace before our collective minds’ eyes in everything we do. Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, is the greatest visible expression of God’s grace from his humblest beginnings to his gracious and vicarious sacrifice and resurrection. Thus our sermons, our prayers, our songs, our ministries, our missions all seek to give the utmost attention to the identity, mission and call of Jesus Christ, the Good News. The written Word of God points in all its themes to the Gospel’s power to save us foolish sinners and redeem the world back to God, and this alone is gracious, so we emphasize this.
- It means that we joyfully submit to one another, listen to one another, prefer spiritual wisdom and experience over material prosperity, and appoint humble, godly leaders to teach us, rebuke us, challenge us, and show us the Grace of God in Christ Jesus. It means we expect them to dispense grace to us, while we do the same to them.
- It means that we are so engaged in the concept of God’s miraculous grace, that we cannot help but tell others about this gracious Lord and God whom we serve. Thus we are eagerly interested in seeing the grace of God in the Gospel advance near and far until Jesus, the giver of all grace returns so graciously.