Means of Grace
Following Jesus involves being engaged in spiritual warfare and God has provided a number of ways to equip His children to fight the good fight of faith.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
“Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12).
“Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you”
(2 Peter 1:10-11).
The fact that God called us out of darkness into His marvellous light, means we need to live a new kind of life, with new ways of thinking and behaving. And because our hearts are still deceitful and we still go astray in many ways, God has given us means of grace to grow in our salvation and find our fulfilment in Him.
Reading the Bible
“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17).
Reading the Bible is essential to knowing God and growing in the grace and knowledge of God. The Bible is the inspired and perfect record of our Maker communicating with His creation. It is a faithful and perfect account of the words and life of Jesus, and the teachings of the Apostles of Christ.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
If we have believed in Jesus, spending quality time reading the Bible is food and drink for our soul. God, through the Holy Spirit; speaks, instructs, corrects and guides us primarily through His word. If we are not diligently coming to Jesus on a regular basis through the Bible, we will become spiritually malnourished and weak in our ability to fight sin, and be transformed into the image of Christ.
“like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord” (1 Peter 2:2-3).
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit”
(2 Corinthians 3:18).
“Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray” (Luke 5:16).
Praying is simply talking to God. Jesus opened up the way to have direct access to God through His atoning sacrifice on the cross. It is the highest privilege to be in a loving, Father/child relationship with our Maker, and Jesus is the only mediator by which we can gain access to the very Throne Room of God. Prayer is a means of grace primarily for our benefit and blessing, bringing us closer to God and increasing our faith and assurance.
“For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe” (Ephesians 1:15-19).
“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst”
Fellowship involves meeting with people who are born again by the grace of God through a genuine and sincere trust in Jesus. It is the family of God meeting together in worship, Bible reading and prayer. It can be as little as two people meeting in the name of Jesus, or thousands. Examples of fellowship include: 2 believers or a small group meeting to read and pray, as well as a large church gathering of believers in Christ.
“let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Acts of Love
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Galatians 6:9-10).
Acts of love is our faith in action. It is good deeds, good works, serving and helping those in need; motivated by the love of God in Christ for us. As we come to know and experience God’s kindness towards us, we take on the same characteristics and act accordingly - like a child imitating a father. Real faith is always accompanied by godly actions.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. "And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. "The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell - and great was its fall” (Matthew 7:24-27).
If we have experienced the forgiveness of God in Christ, we will forgive. Although it may be difficult and we may struggle with it, nevertheless, we will fight to forgive because we have been forgiven. When we see people in need, our heart is moved with compassion, we do our best to do something about it. Our actions may not manifest themselves perfectly, but there is a genuine desire to put our faith into action and help those in need. The love of God in Christ motivates us through the Holy Spirit to get involved in many different ways to serve God and people.
“We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things” (1 John 3:16-20).
“Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
The end of the age is when Jesus returns, and since Jesus has not yet returned - this command to “GO and make disciples”, is still in force today. The message of Jesus is good news; in the forgiveness Jesus accomplished by His death and resurrection, and a warning to escape from the coming wrath and judgement of God upon all who reject His offer of free mercy and grace.
Sharing the good news of Jesus will always bring persecution and rejection from many, but there are always some, who by the grace of God, will receive Jesus and inherit eternal life. Just like you received Jesus because someone shared the good news with you. Evangelism is for every believer and it is a means of grace when we step out and confess Jesus is Lord.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).
“do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).
Baptism is a command and a symbolic gesture, like a wedding ring, which signifies our union with Christ. It is also a public confession of faith and a pledge of commitment and loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ. As a means of grace, if done with genuine sincerity of heart and mind, it is a powerful act of declaration in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Not only to people in this world, but to all the heavenly host who rejoice in the salvation of sinners.
“In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).
The Lord’s Supper
“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me." In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
The Lord’s Supper is both an act of remembrance and a proclamation of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. The most significant act in human history - the defeat of sin and death, and the accomplishment of eternal salvation. There can never be enough reminders of the greatest act of love and it is a great means of grace to all who believe in Jesus.
It is an opportunity to reflect on the cross on a personal level and confess our sins, and find acceptance, forgiveness and peace. All who participate in the Lord’s Supper proclaim the event of the cross not only to the world but also to all the heavenly host to the praise and glory of God.
“I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh” (John 6:51).
Growing in Christ
“grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).
The means of grace are not an end in themselves. They are tools and methods designed for a specific purpose, and that purpose is to know God and become more like Jesus. Our goal is to love God and love people with the same love and principles demonstrated by Jesus.
Jesus is fully God and at the same time He is also fully man. The perfect example of the glory of God and what all people have been created to be. We will not attain the perfection of Jesus in this life but as we come to know Him more intimately, we will be transformed more and more into His same image and likeness.
When we first believed in Jesus, we received the Holy Spirit and were adopted as children of God. This means we are a new creation, born again by the Spirit of God. The Creator of all things is now our Heavenly Father. We are no longer a criminal before a Judge or a rebel before a King - we are children of Almighty God who is also the King and Judge of all creation.
The means of grace are how we grow in the grace and knowledge of God, and find our hope and purpose in this life while we wait for the return of Jesus or the end of our time here on earth. Either way, all who are in Christ by grace through faith are saved and safe in the Mighty, all knowing and all loving hands of our heavenly Father.
“...work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God...” (Philippians 2:12-15).
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).