As Christians, on of the central beliefs we have that distinguishes us from all other religions is the belief in conversion. Conversion is that moment when a person transfers from the darkness into the light. We are God’s child and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit God resides within us. The life giving power of God to raise Christ from the grave has risen us from the grave of death and life of God is in the soul of man.
This idea of the life of God in the soul of man was the title of a Christian classic by Henry Scougal and became very influential in the lives of men like George Whitfield and John Piper. The basic premise of the book is that “to be Christian is to have ‘Divine life’ resident and reigning in a human being.” (p. 7) While reading the book himself, Thabiti Anyabwile grabbed the essential truth that affected so many others but felt there was more to say. The result was a series of messages to his church in the Caymen Islands that took the idea of the life of God within man and fleshed it out within the church. Thus, Anyabwile’s book is titled The Life of God in the Soul of the Church: The Root and Fruit of Spiritual Fellowship.
The premise of the book is simple: though the life of God is present within the individual believer, it is also present within the corporate church. The foundation for this corporate indwelling of God is found in 1 John 1. It is here (borrowing from Scougal) that we find union with Christ as expressed through fellowship as the foundation for the the life of God in the soul of the church. “The essence and foundation of all true spiritual and biblical fellowship is the life of God in the soul of man experienced personally by believing the truth and shared relationally in the church.” (p. 18) So while the life of God resides with the individual believer, this life is shared and expressed relationally within the church. As believers we are not just joined to Christ but we are joined to a body of believers – the church, the bride of Christ.
Moving from shard fellowship with Christ, Anyabwile shows us from 1 Cor. 12 how Christians are all given a gift to use for the edification of the fellowship they share within the church. Healthy Christian fellowship is dependent upon healthy Christians identifying and using their gifts for the body of Christ. Central to his point, Anyabwile rightly stresses that one cannot claim to be joined to Christ spiritually and be removed from Christ’s body, the church, physically. Anyabwile warns, “The most dangerous place to be in the world, then, is outside the body of Christ.” (p. 39) Once cannot be obedient and faithful in using their gifts if they are not joined to a local gathering of the body of Christ.
Now that the foundation for the life of God in the soul of the church has been established in the fellowship of the body and the exercising of ones gifts, the rest of the book explores various passages in which the life of God is expressed within the church. These chapters touch on areas like loving one another, giving for the needs of others, forgiving one another and even singing to one another. Since the content was first preached, each chapter has the warmth and encouragement of a pastors heart and perspective. Through exegesis, explanation and solid application, your heart will be encouraged and uplifted as you are challenged to allow the life of God within you to overflow into your life within the body of Christ. These truths are familiar but they are presented in a fresh and invigorating way that will have lingering affects on your heart and mind.
I encourage every Christian to read The Life of God in the Soul of the Church. Every pastor needs to preach these truths and every Christian needs to be familiar with them. This book would serve as a great Bible study guide and be the catalyst for further study on how the life of God is expressed within the body of Christ. Read, be challenged and get to work!
NOTE: I received this book for review from Christian Focus Publications through Cross Focused Reviews. I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review and the words, thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.