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The Life of God in the Soul of the Church: The Root and Fruit of Spiritual Fellowship Paperback – September 20, 2012
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Henry Scougal was a 17th century Scottish pastor who wrote a small book for a friend entitled The Life of God in the Soul of Man. Although the book was small, it has proven to possess enduring quality and powerful insights even to this day.
Enter Thabiti Anyabwile, a 21st century pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman. Pastor Anyabwile, inspired by Scougal's original work has written a book designed to extend our understanding of the Life of God beyond the individual soul, to encompass the overall fellowship of the local church.
Pastor Anyabwile's book is offered as a corrective to over-emphasized individualism found in many evangelical churches. He seeks throughout the book to highlight discipleship pursued intentionally through relationships in the the local church, using the rich tapestry of fellowship found throughout the New Testament as the basis for this course correction.
The book is essentially a lightly edited sermon series that Pastor Anyabwile preached in his home church in 2008. As expected from a sermon series, the book is not written in a heavily academic tone but rather carries a pastoral feel, with strong contextualization within the body of his local church. Publishing a collection of thematic sermons has both strengths and weaknesses. It is written at a very understandable level, avoiding unnecessary theological jargon. This makes it accessible to nearly every adult Christian. As expected of sermons, many illustrations and most applications are chosen and emphasized from within the congregational life of a pastor's local church.Read more ›
In a very similar vein, Thabiti Anyabwile put together a sermon series for his church called The Life of God in The Soul of The Church. That sermon series has now been published by Christian Focus and is part of the 9 Marks series.
When originally preached to the First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman over the summer of 2008, Anyabwile's goal was to "impress upon the saints of First Baptist Church a particular vision of spiritual fellowship centered not on external activities and programs but on our shared life of spiritual union with Jesus the Son of God." (p. 12 iBooks ed.) In short, he wanted his church to see that life together is both rooted in Christ and grows up into Christ.
The book is organized around the doctrine of our union with Christ. The first part, which includes 2 sermons, explains the doctrine itself briefly, but focuses on the nature of spiritual fellowship and what it looks like in the body of Christ. His key texts for these two sermons are 1 John, and 1 Corinthians 12:12:27.
Next, Anyabwile spends the rest of the book applying our union with Christ to our relationships. Deftly moving throughout the epistles, Anyabwile begins and ends this group of sermons with chapters on loving one another. Though I don't think Anyabwile intentionally used a chiastic structure for this section, if he did then his sermons on suffering and forgiveness form the core.Read more ›
In his Introduction, Pastor Anyabwile stated that he "wanted us to see that our life together was both rooted in God the Son and grows up into the full resemblance of the Son. Our union with Jesus is both the root and fruit of spiritual fellowship." He most certainly achieved this goal. Thank you, Pastor Anyabwile!
So many books are trying to answer these questions and the results vary pretty wildly to say the least. Whether we think the Church should be driven by purpose, simple, vertical, or whatever qualifier you want to put in front, if our understanding of the Church doesn't flow from a greater knowledge of our union with Christ and its implications, we likely need to reconsider.
Thabiti Anyabwile understands this, and in his new book, The Life of God in the Soul of the Church: The Root and Fruit of Spiritual Fellowship, he explores the foundations and expressions of our union with Christ.
Why do we need to develop a robust understanding of the Church?
"[Anyone] trying to serve a church without a big, healthy understanding of the Bible's teaching on the church is like a man trying to catch a 600-pound marlin with dental floss, or like a man trying to build a house by laying his bricks ten yards apart," Anyabwile writes (Kindle location 175-177).
In other words, an under-developed ecclesiology is a ministry killer. It's all well and good to say that you love the Church and want to serve her, but if you don't know what the Church is according to Scripture--and this applies especially to those serving as leaders--you're setting yourself up to fail.
Anyabwile's corrective to this is among the strongest I've read. While distinguishing between them, he refuses to separate the "vertical" and "horizontal" aspects of spiritual fellowship. You can't actually build a functional ecclesiology without the two together.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had the privilege of hearing Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile (please don't ask me to pronounce it) on In The Market with Janet Parschall, and thus I wanted to read the book. Read morePublished on June 5, 2013 by Jeffrey C. Reynolds
Is Christian fellowship necessary to have a healthy spiritual life?
Is this fellowship based on activities or on union with Christ? Read more
Far too often, we take the Church for granted. This can play out as a complacent comfort that relies on the routines and activities of the local church for social structure, an... Read morePublished on October 22, 2012 by J.R. Lonas
As a church music director and corporate worship leader, much of what I do and think about has to do with church life, and has to flow from my theology of the Church. Read morePublished on October 6, 2012 by Josh S.
This book is essentially a sermon series on various New Testament texts taken from the Epistles, texts that deal with our life as the church. Read morePublished on October 5, 2012 by Le Gallois
One Sentence Review: A book I wish that every Christian would read, so that they would have a greater love for what God has done (in uniting us to Himself and to fellow Christians)... Read morePublished on October 5, 2012 by Amazon Customer
Henry Scougal, the 17th Century Scottish theologian penned a book called The Life of God in the Soul of Man. Read morePublished on October 5, 2012 by James R. V. Matichuk
As Christians, on of the central beliefs we have that distinguishes us from all other religions is the belief in conversion. Read morePublished on October 4, 2012 by Craig P. Hurst
This book was borne out of a real need in a church that was doing well at caring for each other and developing long-lasting friendships, but as Anyabwile described it, "The caring... Read morePublished on October 4, 2012 by A. Wencl