Friday, February 24, 2023

The Vision (2.24.23): The Ordinary Means of Grace


Image: With Pastor Paul Wang, one of the lead translators for the new Trinitarian Bible Society Chinese NT at a Thanksgiving Service in Herndon, Virginia (2.23.23).

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday afternoon’s sermon, “Revivals or the Ordinary Means of Grace?” Look here for the full manuscript for the message.

The Reformed (Biblical) theological tradition, teaches that God has provided for his people “ordinary means” of grace.

This is taught in our Confession in 14:1. The ordinary means the Lord has provided for the saving of sinners and then increasing and strengthening them in the faith, as noted in Confession 4:1 are:

First: The ministry of the Word. That means the reading of the Word, privately and publicly, and it especially means the preaching and teaching of the Word (see Romans 10:14, 17; 1 Corinthians 1:21-24; 2 Timothy 4:2).

Second: Alongside the ministry of the Word we also have the ordinances or sacraments of baptism (the public confession of one’s faith before men, and the symbolic identification with his life, death, and resurrection by immersing the whole body in water—in obedience to his command) and the Lord’s Supper (taking bread and cup in that spiritual meal instituted by Christ and commanded for perpetual obedience till he comes again) (see Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

Third: To these the confession adds prayer. Paul urged believers to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). In Acts we have description of the church often meeting to pray, as when the apostle Peter was imprisoned and they gathered in the house of Mary the mother of John (Acts 12).

Fourth: And it mentions “other means appointed by God.” This might include fasting, meditation on the Word, the assemblies of the saints, but these must have scriptural warrant (see, e.g., Matthew 6:16-18; Acts 2:42).

May the Lord continue to use these means to draw men to himself and to increase and strengthen them in “the most holy faith” (Jude 20-21).

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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