The Means of Grace


Word

The Bible is the very word of God that He has given to his people. Scripture tells us that the Word of God is inspired (2 Timothy 3:16) – that is, the original documents of Scripture come to us as the very will of God, without error or confusion. Thus they are a trustworthy record of God's own revelation concerning himself, and what his people are to believe and consequently, how they are to conduct themselves.

The Bible does not speak to every are of life in detail, but it does speak to life in principle. It speaks to the greatest matters of life and death, to the smallest matters of how we approach our daily work. Yet the great message of Scripture is concerning the grace of God in salvation.

The above passage from 2 Timothy 3:16 also tells us that the Scriptures are able to make us "wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus". Thus the Word of God is a means of grace – that is, as we by faith read the Word, God grants us grace – that is, he grants us to know and experience more and more of his perfect salvation in Christ Jesus.

Moreover, as we study the Bible diligently, we are granted more of that blessed grace. As we learn more of God, our love for him is enlarged and behaviour before him is conformed to his will. Here are some testimonies from Scripture which speak of the Christian's love for God and his word:

"The Law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is pure making wise the simple; the precepts of the lord are right, rejoicing the heart... More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold" Psalm 19:7-10.

So Jesus said to the twelve "Do you want to go away as well?" Simon Peter answered him "Lord to whom shall we go" You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and come to know that you are the Holy One of God."

Sacraments 

Perhaps you are not familiar with idea of sacraments. You may have heard baptism or the Lord's Supper referred to instead as "ordinances." How can it be that either baptism and the Lord's Supper be means by which God grants the Christian to grow in grace?

First we must affirm that there is nothing special or magical in the parts of the sacraments themselves. The water of baptism is not "holy" water which has special spiritual properties, why it comes straight from a faucet! Neither does anything miraculously change in the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper. Neither will simply taking part in the sacraments have any lasting change in you either. So there is nothing magical in the elements themselves or the partaking of them. How then do they grow us in grace.

Simply by the blessing of Christ in the Holy Spirit working through them. The Sacraments were given by our Lord for this very reason. When a person takes part in the Sacrament, by faith, the Holy Spirit confirms in us the reality of our salvation and strengthens our hope and trust in the Lord. The Sacraments are visible signs and seals of the grace of Christ. They are pictures designed to convey spiritual truths and realities.

In baptism, we are reminded that the waters of baptism represent union with the Lord Jesus Christ and cleansing from sin. When we, by faith, receive the reality of our baptism we are reminded that God has joined us to our Lord and cleansed us from all sin.

In the Lord's Supper, we are presented with the picture of our Lord's death – his body broken in bread, and his blood poured out in wine. As we eat and drink, we not only remember and proclaim the Lord's death until he comes, but we are strengthened in our faith. We have a visible reminder, given to us by our Lord of his life and death on our behalf.

In the Sacraments God is speaking to us, reminding us of his goodness and grace in Jesus Christ our Lord. Therein is great strength and encouragement – even grace for the sinner.

Prayer

In prayer, we draw close to God and praise, thank and bless him for who he is, and offer to him prayers concerning our needs. We pray, just as we read the Word and take the Sacraments, in faith. Without faith, none of these means of grace is effective.

Prayer is a means by which God grants the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to his people. When we praise God in prayer, we are reminded that we come before the great and mighty God. Yet we also come to him as our "Father in heaven" (Matthew 6:9). He is great, yet he is close and loves his children. And because we pray in Jesus name, we are reminded that first our Lord Jesus is not longer in the grave but in heaven, and that he has paid the penalty for our sins, and thus we may come boldly to God and ask him for what we need. What grace can be found in prayer.