What is the meaning of Church? Are we just a social club of like-minded individuals that like to spend time together a couple times a week, drink coffee, sing songs, and listen to a feel-good message? I sure hope not! As the body of Christ, we have a Divine calling on our lives. Over 40% of people that are listed on a church roll somewhere are not faithful in their attendance. On the whole, church has lost its appeal, as evidenced by declining attendance and lack of enthusiasm and excitement. As Lead Pastor of Abba’s House, I want to change the way people view “church”; this includes helping you understand the vision of Abba’s House and why you matter to this body.
First and foremost, I want the church to be a Grace Place. We must be evangelistic and center our lives around leading the lost to Christ. The gospel of Jesus Christ is “The Good News”... the most powerful message of love, forgiveness, and hope the world has ever known.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.
~ 1 Peter 3:15-18
So what is grace, really? Simply put, grace is...
Unmerited and undeserved favor;
A new beginning for you;
A gift purchased by the Blood of Jesus on Calvary;
A lifestyle of gratefulness.
It is up to us as believers in Christ to extend that grace, through salvation, to others.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
~ Romans 6:1-4 NKJV
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law, but under grace. ~ Romans 6:12-14 NKJV
Grace is our conviction which means it is our salvation. Hebrews 10:1 explains that the Old Covenant sacrifices were “a shadow of good things to come”. The Greek word for shadow is “skian”, which means an outline. Religion offers the faint shadow of Christ, but blocks the vision of a grace-filled lifestyle. If all you get from church is some pretty sermons and a “get-out-of-Hell-free” card, then you have missed the point. Grace is given to all who ask, not as a license to sin, but as a standard of forgiveness. Christ wants an intimate relationship with us. When we receive His salvation, we have the opportunity to enter into an intimate relationship with Him through covenant. Church should then be about broken people, who have received undeserved and unmerited favor through the grace of God, getting together, edifying each other, and praising Jesus for all He has done. Church should be a place people long to be in, not a weekly chore to check off a list.
Grace can also be a compass for us when we get lost. Sometimes we get so worn down that we let the flesh begin to talk our Spirit out of, or into, things we shouldn't be in. However Christ offers us a promise.
For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them," then He adds, "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. ~ Hebrews 10:14-18
Christ will direct our paths even when we have got off track and still walks with us no matter the situation we may find ourselves in. Last, grace is our calling.
“Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” ~ John 20:21
“... For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” ~ Luke 19:10
You and I have been called for such a time as this! Just think for a moment how God chose us to live in this very hour and location because He knew He would gift each one of us with gifts that others would need. We have the incredible opportunity to go out in our community everyday and show someone the love of Christ. The goal is not to grow the church building, but to see others come to know Jesus intimately. A grace-centered lifestyle is one of compassion and forgiveness. Helping show others that Christ loves them despite their sin, and will change them from the inside out, is a powerful tool we must begin to use more often if we choose to live a grace-filled life.
I challenge you today to show someone grace and share with them the love of Christ. Tell them what He has done for you, and let God do the rest. Church is not a building, it's a lifestyle. Enjoy life and extend the gift of grace to someone who needs it today.
Pastor Ronnie Phillips