We often say that NDIC is a grace-oriented church, meaning that we seek to have gracious and loving attitudes towards one another. We come from all walks of life and are on different stages in our spiritual journey. That is why we seek to build a culture which is loving and respectful.
In short we envision the following aspects to be a part of our church culture:
• Open and Respectful
• United while being diverse
• Non-religious, yet at the same time deeply spiritual – A Spirit-filled community
• Grace-oriented interpersonal relationships
• International, with mutual cultural sensitivity
• A deeply committed, loving, caring community where the lonely and the broken find new hope and a sense of belonging
• Joyful, relaxed, fun, and at the same time deeply serious
Grace is mentioned 170 times in the Bible. Consider some of the ways it can be defined:
1. Grace is God's unmerited favor.
That is, grace is God doing good for us that we do not deserve. In the Bible, grace and mercy are like two heads of the same coin. Mercy is God withholding judgment or evil that I deserve; grace is God giving me blessing or good that I do not deserve. Because of God's mercy, I do not receive the judgment of God against my sins; because of God's grace, I receive eternal life and a promise of heaven though I do not deserve them. Both mercy and grace come to me though the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. Grace can also be defined as God's sufficiency or God's fullness in the life of the believer. God told Paul, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
That is, the grace of God in Paul enabled him and empowered him in his weakness. Another verse states, "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8). God's grace working in us supplies the sufficiency whereby we may abound to every good work. I like to call grace "God's enoughness." By this I mean that God is enough for us no matter what the situation we face.
This being the case, you can see that grace is first of all necessary for salvation.
Ephesians 2:8 states, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." One aspect of salvation is called justification. That is the act by which we are declared just (righteous) before God on the basis of the payment Jesus Christ made for our sin. The Bible clearly teaches that we are justified by the grace of God (Romans 3:24; Titus 3:7).
But not only are we saved by the grace of God--we also serve the Lord and live the Christian life by the grace of God. The letters of Paul always speak of a blessing of grace for the believers (along with peace). Just for an example, Romans 1:7 states "Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." Paul is speaking to believers who are already saved and on their way to heaven, but he also recognizes that they need grace for living the Christian life. They need God's strength and sufficiency.
A good verse to help explain this grace by which we live is 1 Corinthians 15:10 where Paul testified, "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." It was God's grace that made him what he was. It was God's goodness working in him that made him the great servant of God he was.
So, obviously, we also need the grace of God. We need it first of all for salvation. Without the grace of God, we cannot have eternal life. However, we also need the grace of God for our daily walk with God. We are weak and prone to stray. Jesus told us that we can do nothing without Him (John 15:5). But God provides daily strength through His grace working in us. We should seek this grace for living from him. Then, we should believe that He will provide what He has promised and walk with assurance that His grace is working in us.