Summary: ? John Wesley identified 5 tools for growing in our faith as the Means of Grace. He didn’t invent them. In fact, these are practices handed down from both Judaism and the early church. And as a result, generations have born the fruit of these spiritual di
The Means of Grace
Have you ever been told to do something, but then weren’t told how to do it? Or have you ever been told to do something, but then you weren’t given the tools for getting it done? There’s nothing worse than being given something to do, but then not being given the means to do it. We’re just left to figure it out. In our Scripture today, Paul challenges us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” but then he never tells us how to do that. So how do you grow in God and what are the tools needed to do that? John Wesley identified 5 tools for growing in our faith as the Means of Grace. He didn’t invent them. In fact, these are practices handed down from both Judaism and the early church. And as a result, generations have born the fruit of these spiritual disciplines. He considered them to be gifts from God. Their purpose is to help us be obedient to God, grow our relationship to Jesus, transform us into the likeness of Jesus and build the kingdom of God. They enable us to make ourselves regularly available to God and to the power of grace.
The problem today is that we assume people not only know these means of grace but are practicing them as well. The Methodist church has failed in equipping its believers in how to grow their faith. For example, how many of you even know what the means of grace are. More practically, how many of you have ever been taught how to pray or to fast? Now the goal of the Christian life is to become like Jesus Christ and the only way to do that is through the grace of God and the means to do that is through the Means of Grace.
Last week, we talked about how John Wesley started with the end in mind. He asked what a fully devoted, mature follower of Jesus look like. To answer that question, he went to Scripture, the guide for our life and Jesus, the example of our faith. John Wesley identified 10 biblical characteristics of a follower of Jesus Christ and thus a Methodist. He shared those in a 1742 short pamphlet titled, “The Character of a Methodist”. From this, he created a discipleship system to build such qualities and characteristics in the people called Methodist including the Means of Grace.
Wesley defined the means of grace as “outward signs, words or actions ordained by God,…to be….channels whereby He (God) might convey to men preventing, justifying or sanctifying grace.” He believed practicing the means of grace was essential to the life of Christian discipleship. These basic practices are how Christians open themselves to God’s grace and allow the Holy Spirit to work within us, transform us and empower us to do the work of Jesus. The means of grace make us available to God and the power of grace to conquer sin, purify us, and make us whole. They are practices through which we learn the mind of Christ by attending to all his teachings, summarized in the Great Commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all of your strength … You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31).