Back in the days when horse & buggy drove the dirt roads & our country was rebuilding after the devastation of the Civil War, the families of the Adams-Friendship community were also moving forward. An earnest group of people banded together in the summer of 1867 to establish a church to worship the Creator God of the Bible. The First Congregational Church of Friendship has a storied history of many notable citizens, pastors, & sincere servants who endeavored to be faithful to the Lord. “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory & honor & power; for You created all things, & by Your will they exist & were created” (Revelation 4:11 NKJV).
Over the course of the first 100 years of the church, the clarity of the gospel of grace became overshadowed by religious tradition. A dramatic shift took place in the 1960’s when the church was called back to the Bible & the grace of God made freely available to everyone through the blood of Christ poured out at the cross for sinners everywhere. This is but a mere glimpse into how this assembly became known as Friendship Bible Church. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, & that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9 NKJV).
It was at that time, that God’s grace began to be emphasized as the primary dynamic in salvation. It is defined as God’s love, favor, & kindness which cannot be earned by doing good things & avoiding the bad. It is free to people everywhere as we are all sinners who have broken God’s law & heart. Jesus Christ is God Himself & His blood was the price that needed to be paid in order to purchase the only way for sinners to be rescued from the just penalty we all deserve in hell. “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24 NKJV).
Half the people got saved! So goes the story of what happened in that chapter of the history of our church. For many, being Christian was a religious formality instead of the internal reality of being born again spiritually & having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5 NKJV).
The Bible was opened afresh as God’s Word was taught in the power of the Holy Spirit. Salvation by grace was the foundation to understanding the present administration of grace which Christ entrusted to the Apostle Paul by a revelation called “The Mystery.” This also gave rise to the freedom of living by grace rather than religious legalism. Looking back on our rich “Heritage of Grace” fills our hearts with humility, gratitude, and joy for all the great things that God has done. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness & worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, & godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12 NKJV).
*Published in the Adams-Friendship Times-Reporter: June 2017