Pastor Steve – January Post

Imagine our Church Without Grace.

Our church began in June 1870 as “Kennard Memorial Mission” and in May of 1871 the name was changed to “Bethesda Baptist Mission.” When the mission transitioned into a church, on February 12, 1872, the new church was named “Grace Baptist Church.”

The name was controversial for some. At a meeting on Thursday, March 7, 1872, “some were afraid the new church might not always be able to live up to the implications contained in the name chosen, viz., Grace Church.” (from “Tent to Temple” ©1946 by Edward O. Elliot)

Dr. Frederic B. Gruel had been pastor of Berean Baptist Church and a member of the council that approved the formation of Grace Baptist. He wrote the following: “At this council, considerable objection was raised to the name ‘Grace.’ Dr. Cathcart headed the opposition. He got off one of his telling appeals to history, and would end up by saying, ‘Grace Church! Why, bless you, suppose this church should get some graceless rascal for a pastor, what a pitiful plight it would be in!’” Take heed, Pastor Search Committee!

According to Theologian Justin Holcomb, “Grace” is the most important concept in the Bible, Christianity, and the world. It is most clearly expressed in the promises of God revealed in Scripture and embodied in Jesus Christ. Grace is the love of God shown to the unlovely; the peace of God given to the restless; the unmerited favor of God. (See for a more complete definition.)

What would church be like without grace? The opposite of grace (according to is inhumanity, cruelty, pitilessness, cold-heartedness, ruthlessness, intolerant, unkind, harsh, unforgiving and merciless. Another of the antonyms given for Grace is hard-heartedness. I’m sure this relates to biblical passages that describe a “stiff -necked” people.

A church without grace would fall into legalism. Following the rules would be more important than following the lead of the Holy Spirit. A church without grace would be unforgiving. Don’t make mistakes in that church. Perhaps a church without grace would be run like a business. Programs and activities of forgiveness, mercy and kindness would be overruled by finances, attendance, marketing, and “the bottom line”.

That’s not us. We are called to be a People of Grace. Let’s live into our name. Our existence reflects Christ’s mercy, forgiveness, kindness, caring, tolerance, and love. That way we won’t be a group of graceless rascals.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” (Rev. 22:21)

Pastor Steve

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