A few days ago I posted on the Baptism and the Lord’s Supper and whether or not they should be called ordinances or sacraments. My position was that they are both. In the meta of that post Peter asked a clarifying question;
Are the ordinances/sacraments of baptism/communion merely memorials or are they in fact means of Grace?
My response to that;
They are in fact a means of grace.
By that I mean that they communicate God’s grace while they do not necessarily impart God’s grace.
By that I mean that they are symbols, much like a wedding ring is a symbol. The wedding ring does not make me married, does not make me loved, does not make me love, but it does communicate to me the fact that I am married, I am loved, and I do love. But this is not love in the abstract…it is love for a person…my wife. The ring then by symbolizing love points me to the object of love.
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are two of the means that God uses to show His presence to the Church.
I need to make a post out of this.
So this is the post.
The question is, “Do we receive anything from being baptized or partaking of the Lord’s Supper?” I think it is helpful for us to understand first of all what we do not receive from these ordinances.
We are not saved by participating in either ordinance. That is to say, there are no salvific graces being given through them. We are not regenerated, converted, or justified by them. They do not contribute to my status as a Christian. We are not made more Christian by being baptized. I am not becoming more saved each time I partake of the Lord’s Supper.
What then are the graces that are given through Baptism and the Lord’s Supper?
In both these ordinances our faith is increased. We are assured of our union with Christ and with those in his body, the Church. We are encouraged to live in the power of Christ’s resurrection, as dead to sin and alive with Christ. Our union with our fellow brother’s is also augmented by them.
A specific grace given through baptism is a clear conscience. A specific grace given through the Lord’s Supper is fellowship with Christ and his Church.
Now before we dismiss these things as graces that we would be given anyway in the normal ministry of the Church (in Worship, Preaching, etc.), let’s ask ourselves two questions, “Would my faith be as strong without these ordinances?”, and, “Could we get along without these ordinances?” And before you answer let’s all remember that these were commanded by Christ to be observed by all of his followers.