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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

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

... an excellent book from an excellent communicator which will inspire and challenge. ~ Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology

...doctrinally rich and biblically faithful, with a vital message for today's church. ~ Grace Magazine

"It is both rooted in the exposition of God's Word and full of practical wisdom. I pray that God will use it to encourage many Christians to pursue the fullness of 'the life of God in soul of the church." ~ Tim Chester (Pastor of Grace Church, Boroughbridge, Yorkshire)

"Building on what Christ has accomplished for us, this apostolic view of sanctification fleshes out what it means also for Christ to be formed in us, as we are conformed to his image. For anyone who doubts the practical relevance of good theology, this book will be a turning point." ~ Michael Horton (Professor of Systematic Theology & Apologetics, Westminster Seminary in California, Escondido, California)

"There can be no healthy church apart from true biblical fellowship; there can be no true biblical fellowship apart from the gospel. In this powerful book Thabiti Anyabwile draws these two together, anchoring the life of the church in the message of the church". ~ Tim Challies (Blogger at )

"Picking up where Henry Scougal left off, Thabiti reminds us that the life of God, which is in the soul of man, is consequently and necessarily also in the soul of the church. In other words, union with Christ is not just an individual truth, it is also a corporate, covenantal possession as well. Thabiti leads us through several texts that confronts and comforts us with this truth. This is a much appreciated addition to our understanding of Christ-centered church life." ~ Anthony Carter (Lead Pastor, East Point Church, East Point, Georgia)

Review

In this new book, this gifted pastor takes us right into the heart of the New Testament Christianity and the very nature of the Church, demonstrating the fellowship that is one of the signs of the gospel - both to the church itself and to the watching world. ~ R. Albert Mohler (President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Christian Focus (September 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845509234
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845509231
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #676,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The full title of the work is The Life of God in the Soul of the Church: The Root and Fruit of Spiritual Fellowship. It is published by Christian Focus under the 9 Marks imprint.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Way back in the mid 1600′s, a guy named Henry Scougal wrote a short little book to encourage a friend in his spiritual life. It was later published for wider readership as The Life of God in the Soul of Man. I would probably be unfamiliar with it myself if John Piper didn't make a big deal about it in The Pleasures of God (I suppose I should get around to reading it).

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.

Overview

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.
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Format: Paperback
Pastor Anyabwile has been one of my favorite contemporary churchmen ever since I first read his books and blog, listened to his sermons, and heard him speak at a Peacemaker Ministries conference. I am truly grateful to his family, his beloved church family at First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman, and IX Marks, for making his wisdom and insights available to us all. What a gift of God's grace! And what a treasure this book is. I started in on page 1 of "The Life of God in the Soul of the Church" and didn't stop reading until the last page of the Afterword. Throughout the entire manuscript, I would stop, thank God for His Word, and cheer an internal, "Yes!" in response to Pastor Anyabwile's exegesis and application. His strengths as an author are many, but I particularly appreciate how deeply he moors Section 1 (theological foundations of spiritual fellowship) in Holy Scripture so that both section 2 (expressions in the life of the local church) and section 3 (koinonia/sharing/fellowship) flow so naturally and necessarily from each point that he makes. I also appreciate the tangible, practical examples he gives for living out our union with Christ and one another.

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!
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Format: Paperback
What makes the Church the Church--and what's its role in the believers' life?

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.
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