So far we have established that we are called to live as citizens of Heaven, representing God’s kingdom to the world. The best way to do that is to become more like God, and we do this by abiding in His presence.
But how do we, practically, live in His presence? We can’t see God or sit down with him at the dinner table. We can’t touch Him or go on a road trip.
Fortunately, Scripture outlines many different ways we can engage with God in a relational way. The theological term for this is the “means of grace.” In other words, these are the means or methods through which God gives us His grace. As you should remember from earlier topics, His grace is what justifies us and sanctifies us.
I’m going to share a few of these but before I do, it is important to understand that this is not meant to be a checklist. This is not a list of chores that you must complete for God to love you.
Thanks to the work of Jesus, God already loves you and approves of you. So the means of grace are really just simple ideas for building a stronger relationship with God.
Books could be written and have been written about each one of these, but I want to give a high-level summary of 10 different means of grace to encourage you in your faith and hopefully give you some new ideas to explore your relationship with God and to practice abiding in his presence.
This comes right from Psalm 1 passage we read earlier. If you want a great relationships with someone, you need to spend time listening to them, and there is no better way to listen to God than to listen to His Word. My hope is that after taking this course, you will better understand and appreciate the story told in the Bible, and this help you to get more out of your time in the Word.
People are called to pray throughout all of Scripture. Praying gives us the opportunity to speak to God, to share what is going on in our lives and ask Him for grace. Through prayer, God shapes our will to better align to His own. Prayer, of course, can be done between just you and God or with others.
Colossians 3:16 says
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
There is something special about singing spiritual truths that somehow helps them sink deeper into our hearts.
Jesus did this frequently in the gospels – crowds would come looking for Him but he would escape to the desolate places. This is one of my favorites: I love being out amongst God’s creation – it allows us to quiet our hearts and appreciate the beauty of what He has made.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 calls us to “encourage one another and build one another up.”
A lot of modern culture idealizes the Lone Ranger or individual who can overcome anything, but the reality is, we need other people. Kingdom living is partly about restoring the relationships between mankind, and our faith in the Lord will be stronger with the support of others.
Putting others first helps us identify with Christ. We don’t often think of these things as a means of grace, but parenting and charitable work and caring for your sick friends or family are all ways in which God can shape us. Serving others takes the focus off of ourselves, and we can learn so much about God’s character by serving others.
I want to take a moment to highlight parenting, because as a parent of a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, I know how hard it can be to spend time in the word or in extended prayer. It’s hard to find time for quiet when you can’t even find the time to shower or eat breakfast. But if you are a parent, I want to encourage you that God uses the time you spend parenting to work in your heart. There is a reason we refer to Him as Father, and we can identify with him well when we spend time parenting.
Too many believers treat church as a place to go and get fed and then move on. Serving in your church, getting engaged with other believers, and seeking to build up the Bride of Christ will benefit your spiritual walk far more than simply being a consumer at church.
We depend a lot on money, but giving it away helps us to remember who we really need to depend on. Giving is an act of worship, and through it God can do incredible work in our heart. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 says this,
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”
You see that? Giving enables us to abound in every good work.
Both of these were given to us by Jesus as a way to identify with Him. I’m not going to get into who it’s for or how it should be done, but I will encourage you to participate in these things at your local church, because God gives us grace through them to help transform our hearts.
And those are 10 different means of grace. It’s not a full list, and there is plenty more to be said about each one. If you want to learn more, I’ll provide some links at the bottom of the text for this topic.
Now, we have one more video to go in this course, but before then, you also have one final activity to complete around the Means of Grace.
Here are a few great resources on the Means of Grace/Abiding in Christ:
How People Change by Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp
Persistent Prayer by Guy Richard
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline by Catherine McNiel
Handbook to Prayer by Kenneth Boa
New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional Hardcover by Paul David Tripp
Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines by David Mathis
Lastly here is a great worship song called “Abide” by Housefires: