5 Reasons the Ordinary Means Are Extraordinary Gifts

The Gospel Coalition | 11/25/2018 | Staff
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Cal Ripken Jr. became an extraordinary baseball player by doing an ordinary thing: he showed up for work. He did it again and again and again, a record 2,632 consecutive times. The Hall of Fame third baseman first appeared in the Baltimore Orioles starting lineup on May 30, 1982. His name wouldn’t be absent until September 20, 1998.

Barry Bonds became baseball’s Benedict Arnold by attempting something extraordinary: bending baseball’s rules. One of the most feared sluggers of the 1990s and 2000s, Bonds broke a most hallowed record—Hank Aaron’s 755 career home runs. But Bonds did it by cheating. For the last several years of his career, he took drugs that artificially enhanced his performance—and inflated his home-run totals—enabling him to pass Aaron.

Baseball - Players - Approaches - Way - Reformed

These two baseball players illustrate two different approaches to ministry—God’s way and ours. In the Reformed tradition, preaching, prayer and the ordinances—baptism and the Lord’s Supper—are often called the “ordinary means of grace,” since they form the heart of worship and the core of local church ministry.

But in our good desire to see disciples made, I fear we get thrown by the term “ordinary.”

Phrase - Means - Grace - God - Work

The phrase “ordinary means of grace” does not imply God’s work is dull and unspectacular. There is nothing ordinary about God’s grace. His Spirit uses the public proclamation of an ancient book to convince an enemy army to love him and want to join his family.

A few months ago, a pastor from my hometown told me he’d recently planted a new church. I asked him to tell me more about it. As only a mountain man from north Georgia could put it, he said, “Well, it ain’t much to look at. Just preachin’, prayin’, and sangin.’ But we figure that’s plenty.”

Plenty

Plenty, indeed.

It’s plenty, because bad things happen when we exchange God’s means of grace for our...
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