For my regular readers, they know that I often appeal to the means of grace in the life of the church. For those new to the term, it may seem odd. So I thought I would give a short explanation about the means of grace. What are the means of grace?
The means of grace are simply the elements God has given to the church to show grace to His people. In other words, these are very normal elements of worship in the church that God has chosen to show grace. The first element is that of preaching. When the word of God is faithfully proclaimed, then God uses the normal proclamation of His word in the life of both the believer and non-believer. (Read more here.) This also includes the simple reading of God’s word as well, which is why in many Reformed churches, you will find parts of the worship service dedicated to the reading of God’s word.
The second means God has given to the body for nourishment are the sacraments of baptism and the LORD’s supper. During both of these, Christ feeds His people with spiritual nourishment by faith. This is why I’m a strong advocate for weekly communion. We need the regular feeding Christ offers to us and should take advantage of the means He has given to His church for that nourishment.
The third means is prayer, especially corporate prayer. God uses prayer as well to feed us and mature us as His people during prayer.
While these things seem very ordinary, they are, this is how God has chosen to nurture His people. The means of grace are not flashy, or will not appeal to the non-believer and some carnal believers. But they are how God has called His people to be faithful to Him.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism also speaks to the means of grace:
Q. 88. What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption?
A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption are, his ordinances, especially the Word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.
Q. 89. How is the Word made effectual to salvation?
A. The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching, of the Word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation.