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After reading my previous pastoral word, I realized that I woefully underdeveloped a crucial element in our understanding of the means of grace. Let me first give a brief review. The means of grace are simply public and private activities (such as praying and hearing the Word of God) that are gifts or graces (and not law) from God. When performed in faith, they conform us more into the image of Christ. We stand in grace (Rom. 5:1), not works, and grace flows only through the channels of faith.

The second piece of armor described in Ephesians 6:10-20 is the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate was made of leather or heavy linen with slices of animal hooves or horns, or large pieces of metal hammered to conform to the body. No soldier would go into battle without his breastplate, for it protected his heart and other vital organs. So I think we all have an accu- rate picture of the breastplate, but where does the righteousness part of it come in?

Repentance—a word we use quite often in our Christian conversations—is as central to our salvation as faith and yet it can often be an afterthought or an assumption. Repentance is an outworking of the Holy Spirit and has multiple aspects. It is defined as sorrow for sin, renouncing of sin, sincere forsaking of sin and obedience to Christ. It is not mere sorrow, grief or remorse because it includes a turning away from sin and turning toward Christ.

How we look at the Word determines how we look at preaching. Christ designed a way for His inspired, authoritative, sufficient Word to be presented. Verbal, declarative, instruc- tional, applicable, demanding, clear preaching is that way. This passage is not just the property of pastors, however, with application only for how they communicate. These words ground our corporate commitment to preaching that is from the Word.