Charles Hodge, a systematic theologian from days gone by, defined the phrase the means of grace in this way: “The phrase is intended to indicate those institutions which God has ordained to be the ordinary channels of grace, i.e., of the supernatural influences of the Holy Spirit, to the souls of men.”1 Because grace is imparted by the Spirit through the means below, the Spirit may be characterized as “the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29). What are these means of grace?
The first is God’s Word. Acts 20:32 states, “I commend you . . . to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 2 Peter 3:18 states, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The normal means whereby we are built up through God’s Word are through reading, preaching, and its focus in the Lord’s Supper and baptism.
The second is prayer. In prayer we “draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). The normal means whereby we avail ourselves to grace in prayer are in personal times of prayer, prayer with other Christians, and when the church prays together.
The third is one another. “But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (Eph 4:7) for the purpose of building up one another (Eph 4:16). This grace is imparted through speaking God’s Word to one another or serving one another in some way: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10; cf. 4:11). The normal means whereby we give and receive grace to and from one another can be in both personal and corporate settings (i.e., the gathering of the church).
Eliminate or deprive yourself of these means of grace on an occasional or frequent basis, and you’ll find yourself missing the God-given means of being sustained by and growing in His grace. How will better avail yourself to His Word, prayer, and God’s people this year? Do so and grow in grace!
- Charles Hodge, Systematic theology: Vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1940), 466. Originally published in New York by Charles Scribner and Company in 1872. [↩]