Here’s the my sermon outline for my sermon on Word of God as an ordinary means of grace, preached at Cross of Christ Fellowship, our church in Naperville.
Means of Grace Week 1: Word of God
Series intro: If you have been a Christian for very long, you know that sometimes it can be really hard to follow Jesus. It can be very difficult to a disciple of Jesus. It is hard to follow Jesus when those around think you are a fool. It is hard to follow Jesus when you don’t understand why God has allowed such painful circumstances into your life. It is hard to follow Jesus when the cultural pressure to reject biblical teaching is so intense. It is hard to follow Jesus through seasons of unanswered prayer.
So how do we stay strong in our faith? How might we experience God’s help and strengthening to continue on? How do we receive his power to keep going? The answer is the ORDINARY MEANS OF GRACE. The ordinary means of grace is a term that theologians use to describe the ordinary ways that God regularly strengthens His people to follow Him. These ways include God’s Word, fellowship with other Christians, the Lord’s Supper and prayer. This is how God’s people have always found new resources of strength and help from God, and we see this Acts 2:42. For the month of July, we’ll spend 4 weeks in this verse and look more deeply at the Ordinary Means of Grace together.
QUESTION: Why spend four weeks looking at Acts 2:42?
ANSWER: Here we are presented a precious and concise summary of how Christians regularly experience God’s strengthening power in their lives. We are shown a pattern of DEVOTION for us to follow.
-Book of Acts tells us about the very early beginnings of the Church.
–Jesus has ascended into heaven and called his disciples to be his witnesses to the end of the Earth
-The day of Pentecost has arrived and the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples.
-Peter preached a sermon and 3,000 people came to faith.
-Immediately after this we find our verse:
Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
-This is how the Early Christians were strengthened in their faith and grew in maturity.
-Here is a pattern of devotion for us to follow.
-We too need regular, daily, strengthening in our faith.
-God’s appointed means for this is found in the ORDINARY MEANS OF GRACE.
Some Definitions of the Ordinary Means of Grace:
John Frame: “Certain channels by which God gives spiritual power to his church.”
J. Ryan Davidson: “The instruments Christ ordinarily uses to birth and strengthen the faith of the elect as he is present among them.”
*THREE CLARIFICATIONS about the ORDINARY MEANS OF GRACE:
1. God is free to strengthen his people in other ways. But He ordinarily uses these means.
-We’ve been instructed to attend to these particular ways by God’s Word
2. These “means of grace” work through faith by the Holy Spirit.
-Contra Roman Catholicism
3. They are called “ordinary” not because they are boring, but to speak of the way God typically works.
-Tim Challies speaks about how the word “ordinary” works against our tendency to always want the extraordinary
or mountain top experience or something else.
TODAY: We consider the Word of God as a MEANS OF GRACE. I’d like us to look at our passage and consider two things together: 1. How is the Word of God a means of grace? 2. How might we devote ourselves to the Word of God?
My prayer is that we would see that through the Word of God we might experience the grace of God.
TEXT: “They were devoted to the apostles teaching” (Acts 2:42)
–DEVOTED: Committed, actively giving time and energy to. The Early Christians were devoted to these practices.
-Jesus changes our lives. There is a focus here, a new delight, a new priority: to follow Jesus above all. (MUSIC SCHOOL)
-True commitment to Jesus will manifest itself in some ways. Here is God’s design for devotion to Him.
-TO THE APOSTLES TEACHING:
-Apostles Teaching: Apostles were called by Jesus to lead the Early Church.
-Carried the authority of Christ (writings to the Church were treating as Scripture)
-Referred to as the “Foundation” of the Church (Acts 2:20)
-Apostles’ teachings for us: NEW TESTAMENT.
-Christians devote themselves to hearing the Word of God (OT and NT).
IMPLICATION: Christians in the Early Church and through the age of the Church has been devoted to the Word of God, to hearing it, believing it, living it out. Is that true of you? If someone looked at your life, would they say that is true of you?
TWO QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER: 1. How is W of G a means of Grace? 2. How might we devote ourselves to it?
I. How is the Word of God a MEANS OF GRACE?
Common Misconception: The Bible is a book of rules to take away my fun. Or, it is boring, or irrelevant.
Truth: The Word of God is God’s Word. It tells us about God’s grace and through we experience His grace.
-It is His revelation of Himself and the truth of reality given to us, so that we might know Him and the truth of reality.
-Piper speaks about Word of God as like a window to behold the beauty and glory of God.
-If we’re bored with God or His Word, the problem is not with God, but us!1. Grace of conversion: Romans 10:14-17
-Faith comes through hearing.
-How important it is for us to share the gospel with others: Rolo in Columbia
-Conversion of Augustine, Luther, Francis Schaeffer, pastor in NV
2. Grace for the Christian: 2 Tim 3:16. -Grace to learn about who God is
-Learn God’s holy character, his attributes
-FOR OUR JOY! To behold His beauty, His glory,
-Grace to consider what God has done
-Learn the precious truth of the gospel
-God is not only Creator, His is Savior.
-Grace to know how we ought to live
-Learn what God requires of us: Great Commission and Great Commandment
-God’s ways for our life leads to the grace of living how we were meant to live.
-Grace to be protected from the lies of the world
-Wisdom to protect us from the lies we face.
PERSONAL: I have experienced so much of God’s grace through His Word. I’ve been comforted, corrected, convicted, guided, refreshed. There is SO MUCH grace to be had. God has strengthened me again and again.
CHILDREN: I know some of you really enjoy reading books. And there are some great books out there. But there is no book more wonderful, more important, or more life-changing than the Bible. It is God’s book to you. Read it.
SUMMARY POINT: The Word of God is a means of grace because through it, people are converted and God’s people are strengthened.
II. How do we DEVOTE ourselves to the Word of God?
First, see that sin HINDERS US all: Eph 2:11-12; Col 1:21
-Unbeliever: spiritually dead and deaf to God.
-Believer: indwelling sin and Satan oppose you. Continued opposition working against devotion to God’s Word.
-Isn’t always easier in our flesh to do something else (look at our phone, stay in bed longer, distract ourselves)
Second, see how Christ has come to rescue us in the gospel.
-Jesus came to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15)
-at the cross he dealt with our sins (Heb 9:26, 10:14)
-He died and rose again.
-Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit, so that we, by God’s grace, might joyfully hear from God and read His Word.
-Jesus is our help when our hearts are cold, when we’re distracted, when we need to help.
Third, express a devotion to the Word of God in these ways:
1. Preaching of the Word
-Come expecting to hear from God.
2. Daily Reading of the Word
-Make reading the Bible the first thing you do in the morning.
-Make it the FIRST thing you read in the morning (before you look at your phone)
-Simple approach: Place in OT, NT, Prov, Psalms. Read a little of each.
3. Read the Scriptures with others
-Read with your spouse, read with your children, read with friends, your CG.
-Take a passage and wrestle with it in your heart, chew over it.
My Plea: Be devoted to the Word of God. It is one of the ordinary means of grace. It is through it that we experience God’s grace in our lives, strengthened us to follow Him each day.