How do Christians grow, learn, and mature? Some common answers are reading a book, participating in a small group or youth group, going to church or Sunday school, being around other Christians, acting (or not acting) a particular way. Though these things have benefited many people, they are not, in and of themselves, how believers grow, learn, and mature.
The transformation of a believer’s life (sanctification) is a work of God’s grace alone, in which the Holy Spirit enables a believer to die more and more unto sin and live more and more unto righteousness. In other words, the Holy Spirit gives undeserved favor (grace) by making believers more and more like Jesus in what they think, say, and do.
This truth is reflected in what are often called the means of grace. The means of grace are particular activities God has promised to use to bless his people. They include the Bible (its reading and especially its teaching), the sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper), and prayer. Another means of grace tied to the previous three is fellowship with other believers. These means of grace are God’s appointed ways through which the Holy Spirit grows, teaches, and matures believers. Can God bless his people through a magazine article, book, Christian music, or social activity? Of course, and he often has! However, in the Bible God has not attached special promises to those activities in the same way he has promised to bless his appointed or chosen means of grace.
The key to understanding the means of grace is realizing they must be done in faith. In other words, do you truly believe God will transform your life simply through the reading and teaching of his word, participating in the sacraments, and praying? Many people think they need “more” to grow as Christians, that these simple, ordinary means of grace are not enough. But that is what is so wonderful about God’s chosen means! By man’s standards, the ordinary means of grace seem insufficient to transform people’s lives, but in the Bible, God has promised all-sufficient grace to his people through his appointed means. God has asked his people to do them in faith, and when his means work as promised and people are transformed, the people cannot claim credit for the change. All credit, honor, and glory are due to God alone for the work he has done!
We hope to add more ministries and activities over the upcoming years. Yet no ministry or activity should ever replace or become more important than God’s means of grace, which are fundamental to the growth, learning, and maturity of every Christian…and every church.