Means Of Grace
My early view of growth in Christ was fairly immature. For what I could figure out, being a Christian basically meant this: I made a profession of faith by saying a prayer and now I have to do certain Christian activities like read my Bible, pray and go to church. There was no rea- son behind those activities other than duty. While I benefitted from some of these activities, I recall feeling so guilty when I didn’t do them. The guilt went so far that I made it a condition of God’s love for me. I needed a better, and biblical, model for my life as a believer.
Later, I was introduced to the concept of means of grace. I recall the first few times I heard this phrase. It sounded odd. Perhaps the confusion was from my weak understanding of sanctification. The means of grace are simply activities that God has established that He uses to give a blessing and to grow us in Christ. When performed in faith, they give us grace and conform us more into the image of Christ. Certainly there are personal, private activities such as prayer, Bible study and worship. All of these activities are graciously given to us to help us become more like Christ. There are also corporate activities that can take place only with the church. Some of these activities include teaching of the Word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, corporate worship, giving and personal ministry to individuals. All of these, when observed through faith, the Holy Spirit uses to bless the believer.
Let’s make sure that we are clear. These activities are not means of salvation and do not make us justified before God. Furthermore, performing these activities outside the bounds of faith will not provide a blessing. We stand in grace (Rom. 5:1) and grace flows only through the channels of faith.
Over the next few pastoral words, I would like to explore the various means of grace that we have available. But we need a firm foundation of gospel truths. Once regeneration takes place—that is, once the Spirit instantaneous brings new life—the believer is justified at that moment and forever. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). As adopted sons, nothing can change our position in Christ. However, in Him, we are called to become more Christ-like. God has graciously given us activities that, through faith, that can help us become more godly.