God Comes to Us
In our fifth class we covered the means of grace, the divinely instituted means by which God promised to give forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. It is true that our salvation comes solely from the Gospel; however, the sacraments are the Word joined with visible elements (water or bread and wine) and God has promised to bring forgiveness, life, and salvation through the sacraments.
Like so many of the classes we’ve taken, a single blog post doesn’t really do the content of the class justice, but I’ll do my best to touch on the topics and key points of the class.
The Word of God
God comes to us through His Word and our salvation is found in the Gospel. So, we continue to teach and preach the Word of God, especially the Gospel through which God creates faith.
The Gospel is something that never gets old. Day after day, week after week, we sin. We fall short of the Glory of God. So, we constantly need to hear the Word, whether in a sermon on Sunday morning, a Bible study in the evening, or our daily, personal devotions. All are important. Through His Word, God continues to work in our lives, reminding us of our salvation, renewing our minds, and strengthening our faith.
Confession and Absolution
Public confession and absolution, and even private confession has fallen out of vogue in many protestant churches today. This is unfortunate. Yes, we receive forgiveness in other ways, but it’s good to regularly recognize and confess our sins and very good to hear the proclamation of our forgiveness. What a release it can be hear those comforting words, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Baptism – The Word joined with Water
Baptism was instituted by Christ and He is the actor in baptism. While we may go up to the water (or be brought) and a pastor may say the Words and administer the water, it is God who is working; creating faith, forgiving sins, and bringing life and salvation.
In Baptism, we are baptized into Christ’s death. “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:3-4). We receive forgiveness of sins, not just forgiveness for the sins we committed before our baptism, but all our sins. In baptism we receive the Holy Spirit and are made members of Christ’s body, the church.
Communion – The Word joined with the Bread and WineIn communion God comes to us at the altar, giving us His true Body and Blood in, with, and under the bread and wine. Through communion we receive the forgiveness of sins and are nourished and strengthened to go forth and serve the Lord in the coming week(s). We participate in the body and blood of Jesus (1 Cor 10:16). We also proclaim the death of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins to world (1 Cor 11:26). And we are joined together, made one body, as we all partake of the one body of Christ (1 Cor 10:17).
In addition to a discussion of what the Means of Grace are and how God works through them, we discussed many of the issues the face the church today, including infant baptism, open communion, family members baptizing, and using more general names for God (Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifyer) instead of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Share Your Thoughts:
- What do the Means of Grace mean to you?
- Do you have any questions about sacraments?