Episode 227: The Means of Grace – Where Hope Abounds

April 26, 2022

Today we’re setting the stage for a series on “Hope and the Means of Grace.” There is a two-fold purpose for this series. First, to encourage you as Christ-centered leaders to tend to your faith formation. Second, to revisit the means of grace as a source of hope. 

In each episode, we’ll explore one big idea as well as answer two questions: What’s the leadership message? Where is hope? This week, we begin with an introduction to the means of grace. The question, “How do you tell the difference between giving and receiving grace?” reminds us of why the means of grace are vital to Jesus followers.

Along the way, we explore the meaning of grace in scripture and turn to John Wesley for his understanding of the means of grace. 

The Means of Grace

John Wesley had a clear view of the means of grace.

He noted,

“By ‘means of grace’ I understand outward signs, words, or actions ordained of God, and appointed for this end – to be the ordinary channels whereby he might convey to men preventing, justifying, and sanctifying grace….

The chief of these means are prayer, whether in secret or with the great congregation; searching the Scriptures (which implies reading, hearing, and meditating thereon) and receiving the Lord’s Supper, eating bread and drinking wine in remembrance of him; and these we believe to be ordained of God as the ordinary channels of conveying his grace to the souls of men. [II.1]” – Sermon 16

Explore John Wesley’s Sermon 16 On the Means of Grace

More than anything, remember this: wherever we are in our journey of faith, hope abounds! Want to encounter that hope? Explore the means of grace.

Episode 227: The Means of Grace - Where Hope Abounds


[00:00:00] Sara: You're listening to the leader cast episode 227.

[00:00:04] You're listening to Leader cast, Transforming Mission's podcast with Tim Bias and Sara Thomas. Providing you with resources to navigate the challenges and opportunities of courageous Christ- centered leaders

[00:00:20] Tim: Sara I'm going to start this episode with a question. How do you tell the difference between giving and receiving grace?

[00:00:32] Sara: That's a good question. Hang on to it for just a moment. As I remind you that you can find show notes for this episode@transformingmission.org forward slash 2, 2 7. The show notes are a great place for you to listen and share this episode with us. Maybe there's someone in your life that needs some encouragement from the means of grace.

[00:00:53] And you can share this series.

[00:00:55] Tim: So today we're setting the stage for a series on hope and the means of grace. There's a twofold purpose for this series first is to encourage you as Christ -centered leaders, to tend to your own faith formation. And second to revisit the means of grace as a source of.

[00:01:20] Sara: So in each episode, we'll explore one big idea, as well as answer two questions. What's the leadership message. And where is there? Hope so, Tim, you asked a question as we were getting started. How do you tell the difference between giving and receiving grace? And I am a hundred percent certain you were not setting us up for a joke.

[00:01:43] Tim: No. When I think about giving and receiving grace, I mean, it's the word in the scripture for Grace's care OSS means gift. And when I think of that, from that perspective, I remember a story that. Dr. Fred Craddick used to say out of a tale out of his childhood he was part of a of a, of a youth group and lived in a very poor section of the community where they were.

[00:02:08] And there were people that needed food or needed help. Everyone helped one another. But one of the things that the youth group did. Would be to put together baskets of food non-perishables or sometimes fruit vegetables, and then non-perishables and they would take them to a person's house, knock on the door and then run and hide. And watch them as they came to the door for the food. It was just I think he said it was your, your you're not supposed to be doing it to get credit for something. So by leaving, if they weren't going to get the credit for, for doing it. And he said, one time, it was his turn to leave the, the basket or the bag or whatever it was on the porch.

[00:02:51] And he knocked on the door. Everybody ran. But before he could set the bag down and run the door opened and there was a little boy that answered the door and credit's the only thing I knew to do was to hand the basket or the, or the bag, whatever to the little boy. And at that time his mother came to. And he said, I have brought this for you. This is a gift for you. And she invited him in and he sat down and low boy sit down. He was bringing the basket to them because they needed the food, but the little boy took a apple out of the basket and then gave it back to him. So he was giving the gift, but the little boy was giving him a gift. And if I remember Dr. Craddock correctly, he says, you know, when you're in the midst of grace, you don't know whether you're giving or receiving. So that's where my question came from today.

[00:03:56] Sara: Carice, I never say that correctly. I hope I'm saying that correctly. And in the Greek, and then Hassid in Hebrew is what gets translated. Both grace and gifts. That's what, that's what you were pointing to now. I've added the Hebrew. Word in there as well, which translates grace, mercy, steadfast love, favor, favor.

[00:04:20] And in both of those contexts, there, there is a giving and receiving and grace, if you, you know, if you look at the scriptures, there's a variety of contexts, but Tim, what you're pointing to are two of those contexts, one in which. Someone grants to another, the action of one who volunteers to do something that's not otherwise obligatory.

[00:04:45] And then the second is a response to generosity or thanks or gratitude. And what you just illustrated is both of those in the same, in the very same place, the giving and the receiving. Now definition of grace that I learned somewhere along the line was that grace is the undeserved unmerited love of God.

[00:05:11] There's nothing that we can do to earn it. It is a gift. If God is merciful, if God's steadfast, love is present in our life. For me, it's pretty obvious where you can find. So, since we're talking in this series about hope in the means of grace, Tim, where is there hope in the means of grace?

[00:05:37] Tim: Sara, I thought you were going to keep going. That would have been good. There is hope in the means of grace. And not trying to answer a question with the same words as your question, but Wesley reminded us by means of grace. We're talking about outward signs, words, or actions that are ordained by God. They're ordinary channels where you might as Wesley would say whereby we might convey to men preventing, justifying and sanctifying grace,

[00:06:07] Sara: So that's a Wesley talking. And so, yeah, he's talking about men

[00:06:11] Tim: right?

[00:06:12] Sara: and 20, 22, we would probably make that word humans people. So just hear it for when it, when it was said and when it was written.

[00:06:21] Tim: So for all of us, it's it's, it's those ordinary and he said channels. It's the ordinary practices where you and I, men and women adults and children might experience or participate in the preventing, justifying and sanctifying grace. Now, Wesley. Named those, I don't know that he always named them all at the same time, but there were those that that the chief means of, of grace prayer whether in secret or in, or in the congregation, he said searching the scriptures.

[00:06:55] And I think what we're talking about there is that we're reading, hearing and meditating upon the scriptures and receiving the Lords. Eating bread, drinking wine and remembrance of, of Christ. And, and as Wesley said, these, we believe to be ordained of God as the ordinary channels conveying his grace to the souls of all people.

[00:07:23] said men, but we'll say all. So the means of grace are concrete, spiritual disciplines set apart by God as the most reliable way we receive preventing justifying Grace.

[00:07:40] Sara: So wherever we are on our journeys of faith, what I'm hearing you point to via Mr. Wesley, is that grace abounds. I think sometimes we jumped over prevenient grace or preventing grace. So can we talk about that one for just a moment? Sometimes I think we talk about. Making decisions for Jesus, or we talk about our faith journey in from that moment that a decision was made to follow Jesus if we're implying that once we made a decision that initiated God's presence in our life.

[00:08:23] And part of what I love about the means of grace and where I see the hope coming through is presence proceeds our decision. And that's what prevenient grace reminds us of

[00:08:38] Tim: Um,

[00:08:38] Sara: god's gift to us. Were there before we ever thought to name it or ask it, or even respond to.

[00:08:46] Tim: God's prevenient grace preventing Grace May have been the very reason you made a decision. That's what you're, that's what you're talking about. It may have been that prompting of God, because God is always coming before us. So God's gifts coming before us may happen with families. And I have that experience myself with my grandmother, just reading the scriptures to me on every evening.

[00:09:13] And I'm not, I'm making fun of her, but that was God using her to prompt me or praying for me at night when I would go to. So God's gifts have come before any of you and some of you may think about it, whether it was at a, at a camp when you were camping or vacation Bible school, or you're with just something as common as a movie with a friend God's grace is moving and whether it's grace that proceeds face.

[00:09:49] Meet you in faith or helps you grow in the likeness of Christ. It's what we're talking about. Grace abounds. So for our purposes, those ordinary channels of grace at Wesley pointed to remind us that there is hope in prayer and searching the scripture and in holy communion. And Sara, if I'm not mistaken next week, we're going to talk about the misunderstandings of the means of grace, but for today right now, because of God's grace, there's always hope.

[00:10:23] And the means of grace are a way for us to encounter the love of God that we know in Jesus. But it does raise a question for me as leaders. Are you on the giving or receiving end of God's grace? I think I've asked that question, but. Are you on the giving or receiving and of God's

[00:10:45] Sara: Yeah.

[00:10:45] Tim: that's. And really, if you, if you deal with that question, you become bathed grace.

[00:10:52] So that's why we asked the question.

[00:10:54] Sara: Tim's not going to let that question go today on, on this episode. And , if you're asking me, I hope the answer to that question is I hope you're on both ends. I hope you're on the giving and, and the receiving end. that this. a leader, you model grace, invite people to encounter God in the midst of grace that you share grace.

[00:11:18] And that yes, you're also receiving grace.

[00:11:23] Tim: And Sara, I want to remind the people who are, who are listening to the definition that you and I use for disciple is a grace filled Christ follower who puts faith into action.

[00:11:36] Sara: So how can you embrace that definition and not be on both the giving and receiving ends of, of grace? And so leaders, maybe the hope and reminder for you today is simply this, unmerited love of God abounds and the means of grace, whether it's through prayer, reading and searching the scriptures, the sacrament of holy communion,

[00:12:02] maybe you need that reminder, or maybe the people that you're leading need to remember that either way grace, about.

[00:12:11] Tim: Sara thinking as, as we are talking about whether we're giving or receiving when we do. Recognize we're receiving God's grace. And that may be sometimes just the forgiveness that we receive, or it may be that we're just so surprised by the love or the appreciation of somebody else has for us, it's almost impossible not to turn around offer it back. Now that doesn't mean that you might not experience some of those things. And you'd say, why in the world are they doing that to me and all that? And I would say probably didn't get the full force of the grace because when grace abounds

[00:12:54] Sara: Yeah.

[00:12:55] Tim: and you're receiving that grace, it's very difficult not to turn around and give it back.

[00:13:01] And it may not be back to the same person. That's been giving you that is bestowed grace upon you. It may very well be on somebody else.

[00:13:10] Sara: So what you're now pointing to Tim, I'm sorry. If I interrupted you, is grace invites a response?

[00:13:18] Tim: Exactly. And we cultivate that response?

[00:13:23] Through prayer, searching the scripture and through holy communion it helps us not only recognize the grace in which we're living, but it also helps loosen our giving to bestow grace upon us.

[00:13:38] Sara: So that's where we're heading for the next few weeks as we explore the means of grace, where grace and hope abound. So let me remind you, as we conclude this episode, that you can find the show notes@transformingmission.org forward slash 2, 2 7. And remember who you are is how you lead bye for now.