A brief survey of the top fifty best-selling Christian books reveals what subjects are of the greatest and least interest to the majority of professing Christians. Books on purpose, finances, personality, self-esteem, love languages, and relational boundaries dominate the list. Books on the triune God, Christ, sin, the gospel, Scripture, preaching, the sacraments, prayer, church discipline, and the local church are woefully wanting. Since Jesus Christ and His saving work form the foundation of our faith (1 Cor. 2:2; 3:11), we should be most concerned about knowing how to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18). Our growth in the grace of Christ will be commensurate with our use of the means God has appointed. Theologians refer to these as “means of grace” (media gratia).
The means of grace are God’s appointed instruments by which the Holy Spirit enables believers to receive Christ and the benefits of redemption. Although He could have chosen to reveal Christ immediately to His people, He has determined instead to do so through certain means. God assigned the Word, sacraments, and prayer to be the foremost means by which He communicates Christ and His benefits to believers.
Jesus teaches that the Scriptures are the primary and indispensable means of salvation (Luke 16:31; 24:27, 44–45). The preaching of God’s Word was central in the ministry of the Apostles (Acts 2:22, 41; 4:4; 5:20; 6:7; 12:24; 15:7, 32, 36; 16:14; 19:20; 20:32). Paul explains in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” The Apostles placed the highest value on the Word of God as the means of the salvation and sanctification of believers (Col. 3:16; Heb. 5:14; James 1:18, 21, 25; 1 Peter 2:2).