Grace for the Battle
October 22, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
Every year, I preach several sermons in January on the means of grace. The means of grace are God’s appointed avenues to bring his grace into our lives. The primary means of grace are God’s word (preached, memorized, studied, meditated upon, etc.), prayer, and the sacraments. Question 85 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism clarifies why the means of grace are so important. It asks and answers:
What does God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse, due to us for sin?
- To escape the wrath and curse of God, due to us for sin, God requires of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption.
We are saved by faith, but our faith is never alone. We are called to make “diligent use” of the means of grace. These feed our faith. And, by these means, God passes along “to us the benefits of redemption,” like peace, hope, reconciliation, comfort, power, etc. The means of grace are the gateway God gives to us to enjoy all that he has for us in Jesus.
This year, I titled this sermon series on the means of grace Battle Ready. I approached the topic from the perspective of spiritual warfare. We are in a spiritual battle “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). Revelation 12:17 describes our enemy and his present disposition towards the church. “Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” Satan brings the war to us. It never is a question of whether or not Satan attacks. It always is a question of how will we be ready.
How can we be “battle ready” when Satan makes war on us?
The diligent use of all the means of grace.
Satan attacks you personally. He wants to undermine your confidence in Christ. He wants you to doubt your security in Christ. He wants you to be paralyzed in guilt and fear and anger and discontentment. He does not want you to find joy and peace in Christ. What are you doing about this?
Satan attacks the church. He wants the church to be distracted from Christ. He wants the church to fight against itself, to hide from one another, lie to one another, suspect one another. He wants the church divided and embroiled in conflict. What are we doing about this?
The simple answer, and yet the only answer with the power of God, is to make diligent use of the means of grace. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16). “Continue steadfastly in prayer” (Col. 4:2). Recall that you have “put on Christ” in baptism (Gal. 3:27). Participate in the blood and body of Christ (i.e. communion, cf. 1 Cor. 10:16). These are the means God has blessed so that we can “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Eph. 6:10).
We are in the midst of a hostile battle. Are you battle ready?