Summary: This sermon is intended to introduce the three of the many important ways that we can find God’s grace – through prayer, the searching of Scripture, and the Lord’s Supper. John Wesley lifted these three as the “chief means of grace.
“The Means of Grace”
John Wesley Sermon Series
(taken from John Wesley on Christian Beliefs, The Standard Sermons in Modern English, Vol. 1, Abingdon Press:2002)
July 20, 2003
Purpose: This sermon is intended to introduce the three of the many important ways that we can find God’s grace – through prayer, the searching of Scripture, and the Lord’s Supper. John Wesley lifted these three as the “chief means of grace as they are ordained by God to be the ordinary channels of conveying his grace to our souls.”
I. Introduction –
Have you ever heard the term “means of grace?” Where did you hear it?
I never did until recently at Emmaus. In fact, I could have missed it, but I don’t remember it even in seminary.
Let me try to explain it to those who haven’t heard of it.
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt you needed God there?
Do you believe that God is everywhere, all-knowing, omnipotent?
Then what did you do in those situations to realize God’s presence with you?
These are the “means of” (the way to get to, the directions, the opportunities for)
grace. They can be anything that draws us closer to the realization that
God and all of his grace is right there with us.
Examples – prayer, confirmation, marriage, ordination, forgiveness, healing, the
Sacraments – but not limited to these. Our means of grace may sometimes be our children….sometimes. Our means of grace could be the car actually starting on a cold morning, or the love someone feels when they’re remembered on special days, when they feel the special touch of someone helping instead of hurting. Means of grace are literally all around us.
In Wesley’s day – the “means of grace” were handled by the church, therefore the idea of the means of grace being open to the people was unheard of and often dismissed….
In fact, the Moravians (modern-day Quakers come from this tradition) however, didn’t believe in them at all. Calling them a farce because the true means of grace are not physical but spiritual only.
In our day – we believe that the church should be about the “means of grace” business, but we also hold that God can touch each person individually as he so chooses. And we follow Wesley in that we see three particular means as “chief” among them all….prayer, searching the Scripture, and Communion.
Let’s look at these a little bit closer this morning….
Scripture – I John 5:14-15 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God:
that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know we have what we asked of him.”
Experience – AMBS labyrinth – Wakelee Prayer Walk
How to Live Out – devotions, corporate prayer, Wakelee Prayer Walk,
III. Searching the Scriptures
Scripture – II Timothy 3:16 – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is
profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Experience – My time of reading the Psalms in St. Petersburg.
How to Live Out – In study private and corporate, in worship hearing it read and
proclaimed, and in applying it to our lives.
Scripture – I Corinthians 11:26 says, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup,
you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
Experience – Communion is the time when we remember the life, death, and resurrection
of Christ. It is the time when we can celebrate the astounding gift given. It is the
time when the Spirit of grace pervades everything we do.
How to Live Out – by being a “communion people” not only physically, but also
Spiritually. I respect the Morovian tradition because it has at least its emphasis on
the right thing – it’s not what we do, but why we do it that makes it real. It’s not the simple act of eating bread and grape juice, but the Communion with Christ and one another it represents in our spirit.
To conclude this morning, I want to leave you with four cautions that Wesley gave in his sermon as to the use of these means of grace….He says….
“As to the manner of using the means of grace, if they are to convey any grace at all to those who use them, we must remember several things. First, always retain a keen sense that God is above all the means we may use to seek him. Take caution, therefore not to limit the Almighty.
Second, before you use any of the means of grace, let it be deeply impressed on your soul that they have no inherent power in themselves. A means is, in itself, a poor, dead and empty thing. But because God invites, I respond. Because he directs me to use these means to wait on him, I will use them and wait for his free mercy, from which comes my salvation.