I have a great interest in the means of God’s grace, because I need all of it I can get. [and mercy too but that is another post]
God could, if it was His will, convey all the grace we need in this life through the power of the Holy Spirit without assistance. However, like many other things in God’s economy He has chosen to use means. Often times, it is through the gathering of His people that He works: Theologians define it this way:
The means of grace are any activities within the fellowship of the church that God uses to give more grace to Christians. ~ Wayne Grudem
Of course, personal prayer, worship, Bible study, and faith, are all means through which God works to bring grace to us as individual Christians. But considering the doctrine of the church, God uses the activities of the Biblically defined New Testament church to convey grace as well.
Various lists of these means exist but commonly these are referred to: teaching the word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, prayer for one another, worship, church discipline, giving, spiritual gifts, fellowship, evangelism and personal ministry to individuals.
Notice the idea here: when you participate in the teaching of the word, as a learner [disciple] or a teacher you receive God’s grace [the word is the power of God for salvation]. When you give, not only is it a form of personal worship and obedience but an act of corporate worship that blesses others; baptism in obedience to Christ on display for the church; the sanctity of God’s bride displayed in church discipline and on and on and on.
All these examples are instances of how God imparts grace. But what is the common denominator to all these?
Fellowship implies attendance [and I believe membership]. If you are not here, you miss out on God’s ordained means of imparting grace to His church. Do you want to miss out on that?
We must realize that all of these means of grace occur within the fellowship of the church. Those who neglect the fellowship of the church willfully cut themselves off from all of these means of grace and thereby cut themselves off from most of the ordinary means that the Holy Spirit uses to bring blessing to his people [spiritual*, not necessarily material]. These means of grace ought to give us great appreciation for the amazing privilege of being members of the body of Christ, the church universal and members of the local body of Christ at Northside Baptist Church.
*“Spiritual” [the adjective], in the biblical context, occurs 26 times. The majority of usages are contrasts between the “carnal” and the “spiritual” person. The “spiritual” person in the New Testament context is the person who is a mature believer that walks in obedience to the Lord. Nothing magical or mystical, just the person maturing in obedience to the simple commands of scripture. Being spiritual is being a mature Christian.
So, when God’s grace through the fellowship of believers is imparted to us, guess what? It helps us mature and become more Christ-like [sanctification]. And you know what that means: For this is the will of God, your sanctification [1 Thess. 4:3].
So we have come full circle; grace helps us to mature in Christ-like-ness which is the will of God for our lives. So why would you want to miss out on all the grace you can get to mature and obey the will of God?