We recognize that many today in the church feel compelled to come up with clever marketing techniques, to offer therapeutic remedies, to invent 'spiritual (sounding) disciplines', and/or enforce man-made rules or standards as 'necessary means' to grow Christ's church (whether in number, in holiness, or both). However well-intended and even 'successful' some of these things may outwardly appear to be, New Life believes that the Bible from cover to cover makes clear that God has not left the ministry of the church to our own devising. The message of the gospel must not be thought of as an 'initiation ritual' whereby God sovereignly saves us, but then it is up to us to attain greater holiness or to worship Him in whatever way we invent. No, the gospel permeates the full scope of the Christian faith, including our maturation process in the faith and our worship of God. In short, we believe and confess that God through His Word and Spirit prescribes for the Church His own means of grace -- that is, the way in which Christ's gospel comes to us. As part of Christ's Church, we are called to avail ourselves to this grace, by which we are saved, nourished, built-up, added to, and challenged to grow in grace and godliness.
Means of Grace
If the Church sojourning now on earth belongs to Christ (Eph. 5:22ff.) and if Christ has truly ascended unto heavenly glory (Acts 1:6-11), how does the now-'invisible' Christ minister his grace to the 'visible' church? This has been a perplexing question throughout church history, with many individuals and denominations disagreeing on how Christ connects to his Church.
New Life believes the Biblical solution comes through understanding the role that God's appointed 'means of grace' play in the salvation of His people, particularly as it relates to both the 'internal' and 'external' means of grace.
By internal, we speak about what God requires of us to, on the one hand, escape his wrath and curse and, on the other hand, receive the benefits of Christ's redemption. And the Bible speaks of two means that work internally: faith and repentance. Paul states before the Ephesian elders that his ministry to them was one of "testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21). That is to say, the way the grace of Christ is to be properly received is through faith (receiving and resting in Christ alone for your salvation) and repentance (turning from sin and endeavoring to follow Christ). However, it's important to note that by requirements, we do not dare suggest that faith and repentance are new works; both faith and repentance are thorougly 'saving graces' that the Lord himself must give.
By external, we speak about the 'ordinary means' that God visibly uses to make His grace effectual. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says, "The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption, are his ordinances, especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation" (#88).
Means of Grace
- Internal: Faith and Repentance
- Lord's Supper
- Preaching Christ-centered
- New Life uses the Trinity Hymnal for its congregational singing.
- Lord's Supper
- Purpose statement:
- In-depth study of God's word; discussion of pertinent topics
- Our goal is not simply to feed intellectual growth alone but to help people live out and become more competent in their Christian walk.
- Profession of Faith
- Weekly Studies