June 18 – LD 25, Day 1: The Means of Grace
Tuesday the 18th of June
in Heidelberg Catechism Meditations
Read: Ephesians 2:1-8
I have been asked to write a series of meditations on Lord’s Days 25 to 31 of the Heidelberg Catechism. The subject of this section is what has been called the ‘means of grace’. Part of the reason why there is such an unusually long section in the Heidelberg Catechism on this subject is the historical fact that the truth of the sacraments was a greatly debated subject at the time of the Reformation. This debate engaged not only the church of Rome and Protestantism, but it was also between the two major branches of Protestantism, one more or less following the teachings of Martin Luther, the other those of John Calvin.
We can however learn much from the biblical teaching of this section of the Heidelberg Catechism. The whole of the catechism teaches us the wonderful truth that we are saved only by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. The grace of God comes to us through faith in Jesus Christ. We must know Him, trust in Him, and glory in Him alone as our Savior. Even our faith is a gift of God’s grace. (see Eph 2: 8). It is not of ourselves that we should have something to boast in ourselves. We give thanks to God for the faith He gives us!
God uses means to work faith in our hearts. These are called ‘means of grace’. These means God Himself also has given and ordained in His church.
Being saved by Jesus Christ is a great spiritual mystery and wonder. It is a mistake of some Christians however to imagine that being a Christian is merely a matter of a mystical personal experience or some vague personal relationship with Him. Faith in Jesus Christ involves knowing the truth of God revealed in Jesus Christ. Faith is knowing the fullness of the treasures of salvation which are in Him alone. We must grow in our faith by growing in the spiritual understanding of this truth and embrace it with our hearts. Faith involves growing up unto the fullness of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge as they are in Christ. We must grow up unto the stature of the full measure of the knowledge of Jesus Christ unto a perfect man, or in other words, a mature Christian. This faith, God works in us by the means He has Himself ordained and appointed in the church. See Eph 4: 11 to 16.
As Christians, we are called to confess this truth and to live by it for the glory of Jesus Christ. We do not come to know Christ Jesus through a personal quest of our own great knowledge and intellectual powers. God gives us the wisdom and knowledge of faith. He also works the conviction and assurance and comfort of faith in our hearts.
When the Bible teaches us that our faith is the gift of God, it means more than faith being given to us as merely an external gift; somewhat like a package or present that we then take with our hands and make our own. That faith is a gift of God’s grace means that God actually works faith in our hearts. He does this by the mysterious and wonderful operation of His Spirit in our hearts. God works both the power to believe in our hearts and also our actual believing, by the means of grace of which Lord’s Day 25 speaks.
When we experience lively and true faith in our hearts, we should thank Him for this wonderful gift. By this gift, we are spiritually united to Christ, rely on Him completely, and glory in Him alone.