“The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word; by which also, and by the administration of baptism and the Lord’s supper, prayer, and other means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened” (1689 Confession 14.1).
Notice that faith is a grace or gift of God. Faith comes in conjunction with the ministry of the Spirit and Word of God. Faith, once born in the heart, is strengthened through means: the Word of God, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, prayer and other means. The means of grace are God’s delivery systems, ordained conduits, through which grace comes to souls from heaven to the earth. What can we learn from this? Consider three things:
First, we see how redemption accomplished becomes redemption applied. We know from the Bible that our blessed Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ, accomplished redemption for us (that is, He purchased all the benefits of redemption – justification, adoption, sanctification, glorification, eternal life]). Redemption has been won; eternal life has been gained. Redemption in all its facets has been accomplished via the life-unto-death obedience of Christ along with the reward of His resurrection and all for us. The Son of God became one of us, for us and for our salvation. All is done! The doctrine of the means of grace explains how accomplished redemption becomes applied redemption. It tells us how acquired grace becomes distributed grace which is actually possessed and personally enjoyed by sinners on the earth. Or we could put it this way: The means of grace are the conduits through which redemption accomplished becomes redemption applied.
Second, we are reminded of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in relation to our exalted Mediator. The doctrine of the means of grace also reminds us of the relationship between our exalted Mediator and the Holy Spirit in relation to accomplished redemption. Grace comes from Christ, who is in heaven, through ordained means utilized on the earth. Purchased grace becomes experienced grace by virtue of what the Holy Spirit does with or through the means of grace. The Spirit of God takes the blessings procured by the incarnate Son of God, who is now in heaven, and brings them special delivery to our souls through the means of grace. In other words, the means of grace do not work on their own; they do not have effective power in themselves. The means must be blessed by God in order to be effectual, in order to actually and really convey grace to us. The means become effectual, they actually convey grace, but only when God blesses them to that end. This is the office of the Holy Spirit; He brings the things won for us by Christ to our souls through means, as and when He pleases.
Third, we are reminded that all of this comes to us in the context of a robust doctrine of the blessed Trinity. The doctrine of the means of grace assumes and illustrates the glorious doctrine of the Trinity; the Father chose us, the Son became one of us to redeem us, and the Holy Spirit applies the fruits of the incarnation to and in us.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!Richard Barcellos Grace Reformed Baptist Church Palmdale, CA .