The Means of Grace
in Christian theology
are those things (the means
) through which God gives grace
. Just what this grace entails is interpreted in various ways: generally speaking, some see it as God blessing humankind so as to sustain and empower the Christian life; others see it as forgiveness, life, and salvation.
teach that the Means of Grace
are the ways that God the Holy Spirit creates faith
in the hearts of Christians, forgives their sins, gives them eternal salvation and causes them to grow spiritually. The efficacy of these means does not depend on the faith, strength, status, or good works of those who proclaim the Word of God or administer God's sacraments
; rather, the efficacy of these means rests in God alone, who has promised to work through God's gift of these means to God's church.
For Lutherans, the Means of Grace include the Word of God (both written and proclaimed), as well as the Sacraments of Baptism, and the Lord's Supper. Some Lutherans also include Confession and Absolution as sacraments and as such a means of grace, although they are not counted as such by others because no physical element is attached to Absolution, as is the case in both Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
, the means of grace
are ways in which God works invisibly in disciples, quickening, strengthening and confirming faith. So, believers use them to open their hearts and lives to God's work in them. According to John Wesley
, the founder of Methodism, the means of grace
can be divided into two categories:
- Works of Piety, such as:
- Searching the Scriptures
- Holy Communion
- Christian Conferencing (or "community")
- Healthy Living
- Works of Mercy, such as:
- Doing Good
- Visiting the Sick
- Visiting the Imprisoned
- Feeding & Clothing those in need
- Earning, Saving, & Giving all one can
- the Seeking of Justice; Opposition to Slavery
Careful attention to the means of grace are, for Methodists, important in the process of sanctification as one is moved on toward Christian Perfection through the work of the Holy Spirit.
- Felton, Gayle. By Water and the Spirit. 1998. ISBN 0-88177-201-1
- Felton, Gayle. This Holy Mystery. 2005. ISBN 0-88177-457-X
- Neal, Gregory. Grace Upon Grace 2000. ISBN 0-9679074-0-3
- Pieper, Francis. Christian Dogmatics. Volume III. Theodore Engelder, trans. Concordia, 1953. ISBN 0-570-06714-6
- Underwood, Ralph. Pastoral Care and the Means of Grace. Augsburg Fortress, 1992. ISBN 0-8006-2589-7