During this week, Time With God will break from its regular format to explore selected passages to prepare our hearts for the coming New Year.
Historically, Christians have referred to the ways, practices, or actions that result in strengthening and deepening our faith as “means of grace.” The means of grace have much to do with our practical, spiritual maturity. You might say that they are the Spirit’s tools of grace and growth. Some of the specific means of grace are the gathered church, the Word, prayer and worship, and suffering. Today and tomorrow, we’ll explore two of these channels that God has set apart for the corporate and individual growth of his people.
Scripture affirms that hearing the Word through preaching, teaching, and personal devotional time are ways that we encounter God and are changed. The Word is how we learn what to believe about God and his character, and also how we learn what conduct he requires of us. But does one method matter more than the other? If I go to church faithfully and hear the Word taught, is that enough? Does it make a difference if I do personal Bible study?
Let’s go to God’s Word for insight and answers.
READ THE WORD: 1 Timothy 4:13 (ESV)
13Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. (1 Timothy 4:13)
14How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? (Romans 10:14)
16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)
11I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11)
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
RESPOND TO GOD
From these verses, how does the public teaching of God’s Word give grace to grow? How do these verses give support that our personal time in the Word causes growth?
Taking advantage of God’s means of grace, especially being in his Word, is like putting ourselves in a greenhouse for growth. In fact, it is central to our spiritual health. The Word brings accountability, sharpens us, and leads us when we hear it together. Simply put, hearing the Word taught with a local body of believers positions us to experience God’s presence in a way that we simply cannot on our own. When we go to where the Word is taught, we listen, and we grow. We are also profoundly changed when we pull away to a quiet place to read and study the Word and hide it in our heart. It’s no surprise that both the public and private intake of God’s Word are necessary and vital in becoming who God already sees us to be.
- Praise God that he has given us the means of grace to grow.
- As the New Year approaches, take some time to reflect on how you can better take advantage of his means of grace.