A gracEmail subscriber writes: “Over recent months I have felt the Holy Spirit leading me to study ‘means of grace.’ Are there God-given means of grace — things we can do that will release grace to us? Is this a scriptural idea?”
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If we think of “grace” as salvation and fellowship with God, there is finally only one “means of grace.” That is faith — trust in God, dependence on him and his unmerited kindness. Grace is a gift, and it can only be enjoyed by receiving it. In this most basic sense, we have access by faith into God’s grace (Rom. 5:2). We are part of God’s creation and we are totally dependent on him. At the center of faith is a sense of creaturely dependence which manifests itself in a grateful and receiving spirit.
In a broader sense, most Christian churches understand baptism and the Lord’s Supper to be “means of grace.” In observing these ordinances commanded by Jesus himself, by faith we encounter the Risen Lord who promises to meet us there. Stretching out our empty hands of faith to Jesus Christ, we receive the gift of himself and all that he accomplished for sinners. This is not a mechanical transaction, however, like putting a coin in a vending machine and receiving a piece of candy. It is a personal encounter involving relationship between us and the living God.
Finally, if we think of “grace” as encompassing all of God’s gifts to us, the answer to your question becomes very inclusive indeed. Defined this way, every activity through which we experience God’s earthly kindness becomes a “means of grace.” That includes fasting and prayer, Scripture reading and meditation, as well as giving to the needy, visiting the lonely or comforting the sorrowful and bereaved. In this broader sense, resting in silence, listening to the ocean’s waves, smelling the scent of summer rain or contemplating a forest or a mighty mountain can also be “means of grace.” So, for that matter, can teaching a child, making love to a spouse, eating and drinking with a grateful heart or performing our everyday tasks with joy and satisfaction (1 Tim. 4:4-5; Col. 3:17).