“Means of grace” are the things in which God uses to grow us in grace and sanctify us together with the rest of the church. The means of grace within gospel community (the church) are vast and vital to the Christian life. Many in the past have seen baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and sometimes prayer as the only official means of grace within the church, but there are several others that should also be considered. These include the teaching of the Word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, prayer for one another, worship, church discipline, giving, spiritual gifts, fellowship, evangelism, and personal ministry to individuals. Many of these things can be done alone, but when they are done in the context of a local church they come with increased blessing and benefits.
The teaching of the Word builds up the body and draws the members deeper in their walk with the Lord. Baptism is the public sign of the gospel and how it has transformed the new believer’s life and often results in substantial spiritual growth and encouragement in the church. The Lord’s Supper is similar in that it pictures the gospel and the nourishment that the gospel brings to the one with saving faith. Prayer for one another not only builds up those who are participating, but it also accomplishes powerful things in the body. Worship brings much glory to God and like the preaching of the Word brings about sanctification in the believers who worships in spirit and in truth. Church discipline, though it can seem like the opposite of a means of grace, when it is done properly can unify the church, protect it from impurity, and lead to the repentance of a straying brother or a false convert. The financial giving of the church body also blesses the church and brings God’s blessing on those who are cheerful givers. Spiritual gifts by their very nature build up the body along with the fellowship of the church. Evangelism brings about the blessing of adding more worshipers bringing the church to see God’s power and grace better. Finally, as members care for one another in personal ministry while using their spiritual gifts, the church will be built up in love leading to added blessings.