BY: Matt Creamer
Another value that we have at New Philadelphia is that we desire to be “Gospel Driven.” We want our lives to be changed, motivated, and empowered by grace. Not only are we desperately in need of God’s grace when we first come to Christ in faith, that same grace leads us forward into lives of holiness-“practical holiness.” Positionally, we are holy when we trust in the finished work of Christ, but practically speaking, we all know we have a long way to go. The Holy Spirit works in our lives to make us more and more aware of the Holiness of God and His Holy Law, which in turn makes us more and more aware of the depth of our own sin. This grace of God’s kindness leads us to repentance and changes our desires and wills to live lives more in conformity with the reality of who we are and Whose we are in Christ. More and more we are changed to live and love like Jesus.
But this is a process. Our growth in grace is an operation of the Holy Spirit-on His timetable-and the Spirit will not be finished with us until ultimately, we are mage perfect when we see Jesus face to face either when He welcomes us into heaven at our death or He returns to complete His renewal of all things.
But this life of holiness is not a life of isolation and private growth. We are called into community with our brothers and sisters to be agents of change, together with the Holy Spirit, in each other’s lives. We are personally adopted by God as His sons and daughters. In our adoption we immediately have a family to love us and walk with us. We are called to confess our sins to each other and preach the gospel to each other daily-constantly. The Spirit uses the means of grace-the preaching of the word, the sacraments, fellowship, worship, and prayer to help us spur one another on towards living and loving like Jesus. It is a lifestyle of receiving and giving grace.
The more we know our own need of grace and recognize our need for mercy and forgiveness, the more gracious we are to each other and the more we extend God’s grace to our brothers and sisters. This lifestyle of humility, transparency, and vulnerability, allows us to live together in love and honest accountability. When one of us falls or struggles, we are all there for each other recognizing that except for the grace of God there go I in any and every circumstance. We realize that we are all in this together and all desperately continue to need God’s grace to become more and more like Jesus. This is “Gospel Driven” “Grace-Based” community, we call it the Church-the body of Christ that He purchased with His own blood! The grace that saves is the grace that sanctifies-that makes us practically holy.