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Means of Grace

God works in His Creation through means. Specifically, as Holy Scripture attests to, God attaches His promises to certain tangible objects to convey His saving grace to His people. Jesus, God in the flesh, attached His promises of the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation to particular means to be delivered to His people. Those means of saving grace are: God’s Word, Holy Baptism, and Holy Communion


The Word of God

God’s Word is actually threefold:

Personal, Preached, and Written


The Personal Word is the person Jesus Christ – the Word made flesh (John 1:14). This Personal Word is present in the Preached Word. 

The Preached Word is the claims of God and from God on His Creation. The Preached Word is proclaimed in Absolution, Baptism, Communion, and preaching. This Preached Word delivers Jesus and His promises to the hearers. The Preached Word is always proclaimed in accordance with and bounded by the Written Word.

The Written Word is the Holy Bible (Holy Scripture) - the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments as handed down in the church for the proclamation of Jesus Christ. The Written Word is the inspired, inerrant, infallible, sufficient, and efficacious rule and norm for the Christian faith and life. The Holy Scripture is always the foundation for the Preached Word which delivers the Personal Word.


"If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

John 20:23

“The Office of the Keys is that special authority which Christ has given to His church on earth to forgive the sins of repentant sinners, but to withhold forgiveness from the unrepentant as long as they do not repent.”
Luther’s Small Catechism

Absolution is a specific application of God's Word to deliver the forgiveness of sins for the sake of Jesus Christ. Holy Scripture teaches that Christians should confess their sins to God and to fellow Christians (1 John 1:8-9; James 5:15-16). The authority given to the church, the Office of the Keys, is that members of the church can forgive the sins of the repentant sinner (John 20:22-23). A repentant sinner is one who feels sorrow over sin and confesses this before God.

God also calls pastors into the church who speak on behalf of God. As ordained servants of the Word and by Christ’s authority, the pastor forgives the sins the penitent. That forgiveness on account of Christ is the Absolution.



“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

Luke 24:46–47.

“I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.”

Luther’s Small Catechism

Holy Scripture teaches that a pastor is to be an under-shepherd to the flock of the chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ (1 Peter 5:1-3). In this office, the pastor not only performs baptisms, presides over communion, and pronounces absolution, but also preaches the Word to the flock. In that preaching, the pastor is to proclaim the Word of God in order to convict hearers of their sins, forgive sins, and exhort Christians to holy living. 

Holy Scripture also teaches that Christians should gladly hear and learn the Word of God, holding it sacred, for the strengthening of their faith and life (Acts 2:42; 1 Timothy 4:6). By hearing the Word of God, the Holy Spirit works in the lives of Christians to renew and strengthen their faith that they may live according to God’s Will. 

Holy Baptism

“Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…”

1 Peter 3:21.

“Baptism is not just plain water, but it is the water included in God’s command and combined with God’s word.”

Luther’s Small Catechism

Holy Scripture teaches that baptism is a particular means of God’s saving grace delivered in and through water. In baptism, God forgives sins, delivers the Holy Spirit, and incorporates a person into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19, Acts 2:38, Romans 6:1-4, Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 3:21, Colossians 2:12) and into His Body – the church (Ephesians 5:25-26). 


Because of the promises attached to it and what it accomplishes, baptism is for anyone of any age. Because all are born into sin and cannot free themselves (Romans 3:23, Ephesians 2:1), God acts in baptism to forgive their sins and raise them to new life (John 3:5). 

Magdalena's Baptism_edited.jpg

Holy Communion

“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? “
1 Corinthians 10:16.


“[Holy Communion] is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.”

Luther’s Small Catechism


Holy Scripture teaches that Holy Communion is Christ’s very body that was given into death and His very blood that was shed on the cross for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:26-27; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20). Christ’s Body and Blood not only deliver the forgiveness of sins for the strengthening of individual’s faith, but also for strengthening the common union of faith that binds Christians together.  For this reason, communion is shared among those who believe, teach, and confess the same doctrine. 

Holy Scripture also teaches that communion can be harmful to person if he approaches communion inappropriately (1 Corinthians 11:28-29). For this reason, a person should only partake in communion if he has been properly instructed and confesses this understanding in agreement with fellow Christians.

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