The Ordinary Means of Grace

My youngest two boys are in many ways as different as night and day. The older one recently received a computer game as a gift and was thrilled with the creativity, strategy, and historical acumen required to become a successful competitor. The younger one, however, quickly wrote off the game because “the graphics weren’t good.” The latter, rather the former, is the picture of too many Christians in the 21st century. We want “good graphics.” We want excitement, thrills, and goose bumps to permeate every corner of our lives…even our spiritual life.

It is our hope that our spiritual growth will be accompanied by as many “bells and whistles” as possible. We are akin to the Jews who “demand[ed] signs” (1 Cor. 1:22) in order to find their spiritual satisfaction. However, God’s means of growing us in His grace are often too simple for our tastes. The answer to question 88 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism describes God’s usual method for accomplishing our sanctification: The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are, his ordinances, especially the Word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation (italics mine).

Granted, “the Word, sacraments, and prayer” may not tickle our fancy as much as the hottest new church program, or warm our hearts as much as the latest “there is a conqueror inside you” anecdote, but it is the ordinary process used by God to sanctify His beloved children. We may not “feel” our spiritual growth anymore than a youngster can “feel” his physical growth, but it is comforting to know that same God who began a good work in us promised that he would “bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” May the Lord teach us to desire Christ and His sanctifying work through His ordinary means of grace: “the Word, sacraments, and prayer.”



  1. ginger said,

    February 28, 2009 at 3:44 PM

    Thank you Pastor Clifton, today is Mary’s birthday and what a wonderful way to celebrate by finding the Rankin File up and running again. GOD’S GRACE IS SUFFICIENT.

  2. cliftonr said,

    February 28, 2009 at 4:17 PM

    We will be praying for you and Deas, especially today. Yes, it is so good to know that God’s grace is sufficient so that His power is made perfect in our weakness. Therefore, we can boast all the more gladly of our weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon us. (2 Cor. 12:9) Thank you for your kind words.

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