Means of Grace within the church.
*Just a reminder that this study of Wayne Grudem's book, Systematic Theology, is not by any means me teaching, but rather a simple summary chapter by chapter of his book for my own enrichment.*
All the blessings we experience in this life are undeserved; they are by grace.
But some of those means used to give grace to us are within the fellowship of the church.
There are many varied activities within the church that God has given as special ways of receiving God's grace day by day.
The main known ones are:
- preaching of the Word
- This brings people to faith through hearing, builds people up as Christians, guides us, convicts us, gives us wisdom and hope...
- Charles Hodge says, throughout history true Christianity has flourished just in proportion to the degree in which the Bible is known, and it's truths are diffused among the people.
- This comes along with obedience to God, public confession of faith, and a body of Christ rejoicing together over their brother or sister in Christ.
- the Lord's supper
- This is also connected with obedience, being right with God and your neighbor, and uniting in memory of Christ's death and resurrection.
Grudem also suggests:
- Prayer for one another
- The Bible encourages us to pray together, shows us the Holy Spirits involvement during prayer,
- this is also mentioned as "worshiping in spirit," during worship in the O.T. God's people were delivered from their enemies, and we can expect to draw near to God. often in the midst of worship and singing, God has revealed himself in the Bible. It is as James says in James 4:8, Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.
- church discipline
- This causes more purity in the church, and encourages more holiness, it can thus be counted as a means of grace. However, no spiritual good comes unless the wrongdoer has true godly grief and true repentance.
- Church discipline should always be remembered that it is done in the presence of the Lord, and with assurance that it has heavenly sanction connected with it. This helps for accountability on both sides.
- giving is ordinarily done through the church and it then distributes gifts to ministries and needs cared for by the church.Keep in mind that Simon the sorcerer was rebuked for thinking that he could obtain the gift of God with money.But, if done in faith, in commitment to Christ, and love for his people, then there will be great blessing in it.Giving blesses the giver (God loves a cheerful giver), the recipient as they receive, and all around who can join in thanksgiving for the gift.
- spiritual gifts
- God wants us to use our spiritual gifts to strive to excel in building up the church. (1 Cor 14:12). Just as we all have different spiritual gifts, so can we bless each other through our differences.
- We should “meet together….and encourage one another.” Heb 10. In fellowship, friendship will grow, so we can care for one another better.
- There is many links in Acts between evangelism and being filled with the Holy Spirit. This ministers saving grace to the unsaved, and gives blessing to the person sharing.
- personal ministry to individuals.
- This can be words of encouragement/exhortation/wise counsel, giving to assist the material needs of a brother or sister, anointing with oil, and laying on of hands
- Again, Grudem points out that the important aspect of all of these is that it occurs in connection with fellowship within the church.
We should “meet together….and encourage one another.” Heb 10. In fellowship, friendship will grow, so we can care for one another better.
When ANY of these are carried out in faith and obedience, we should expect and look for evidence that the Holy Spirit is ministering to people at the same time as these actions are being done.
We ought to not neglect to meet together, but see that these means of grace occur WITHIN the fellowship of the church.