Grace is the first ingredient necessary for growing up in the image of God. Grace is unbroken, uninterrupted, unearned, accepting relationship. It is the kind of relationship humanity had with God in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were loved and provided for. They knew God’s truth, and they had perfect freedom to do God’s will. In short, they were secure; they had no shame and anxiety. They could be who they truly were.
The Church is the Body of Christ, and the Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. He fills the Body, directs its movements, controls its members, inspires its wisdom, supplies it's strength. He guides into truth, sanctifies its agents, and empowers for witnessing. The Spirit has never abdicated His authority nor relegated His power.
No flower can bloom in Paradise which is not transplanted from Gethsemane. No one can taste of the fruit of the tree of life, that has not tasted of the fruits of the tree of Calvary. The crown is after the cross.
The life of faith, and the instinct of faith are one and the same. It is an enjoyment of the goods of God, and a confidence founded on the expectation of His protection, making everything pleasant and received with a good grace. It is indifference to, and at the same time a preparation for every place, state, or person. Faith is never unhappy even when the senses are most desolate. This lively faith is always in God, always in His action above contrary appearances by which the senses are darkened. The senses, in terror, suddenly cry to the soul, "Unhappy one! You have now no resource, you are lost," and instantly faith with a stronger voice answers: "Keep firm, go on, and fear nothing."
The great challenge for the future church won’t be filling pews on Sundays, but rather living and speaking authentically into the cultural pain and ache of our day. Jesus is leading the church where religious hype and cultural callousness cannot go. Our worship before God can never justify our poor relationships. Jesus calls us to restore the broken altars of our families, friendships and relationships before we bring our worship to the altar of God. Reconciliation begins with hearing. Healthy church creates safe, vulnerable, disarming space to hear and be heard by others. A wounded church desperately needs a revival of hearing.