Baptism And The Lord’s Supper…Means Of Grace?

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.

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5 Comments

Filed under Baptism, church, Lord's Supper

5 responses to “Baptism And The Lord’s Supper…Means Of Grace?

  1. C.T. Lillies

    Pete asked me about this yesterday in the comment section of the post I did on “Communion”. You parsed it a little finer than I did but hit it dead on–good post.

    Josh
    “…the word of God is not bound.”
    –2 Timothy 2:9

  2. Jeremy Weaver

    Thanks Josh.

  3. Peter D. Nelson

    Nicely done Jeremy, I’m glad you “parsed” it so tightly in doing so you’ve defused a lot of strawmen that I’ve seen raised on this issue.

  4. I have been studying theologies for a while now. Both Eastern and Western. I collected a large mass of knowledge in sacramental, moral, and dogmatic theology. I have a wide collection of books, so I feel I can handle most objections when asked, though I am no card carrying apologist with a Pontifical Catechis certificate.

    You hear various arguments, on grace and efficacy of works: faith alone or baptism and faith. Well baptism is a good work, produced by Jesus Christ. So I believe in Faith as a work, and effected by an external rite called baptism — which is the sacrament of faith.

    Yet, I find it very interesting and even obnoxious that the New Church of Vatican II (which claims to be the Church of Christ that subsists in the Catholic Church) has established a foreign rite to suppress the traditionl Latin Tridentine Catholic praxis (from the Council of Trent) to the point of invalidating the grace of baptism in this Novus Ordo rite. I’m not sure what is the mainstream Protestant stance on this new baptism?

    In fact, I recently read this new scholarly book on the topic entitled “Praxis Obnoxia: A Moral-Theological Conclusion On The New Modernist Rite of Baptism.”

    http://www.lulu.com/content/3824207

    I am very impressed with it, and I cannot refute its arguments, scholarship — tons of quotes from theologians, doctors, councils, and Popes. Basically, the book proves the new rite of baptism is null and void–that means there is no valid baptism in the Vatican II church, and thus no valid sacraments and no salvation in that sect. It seems “very weird”, I admit at first, but the facts are the facts, and I had to read the book a few times to really grasp the significance of what has happened since 1960s. Once you get the book you cannot put it down, it is so intense in scholastic volume.

    I even spent some days of hours in the Gordon-Conwell College libraries to talk to some doctors, and even had a debate with a Greek Orthodox Professor from Harvard on this topic of conditional rebaptism or economia or oikonomia.

    Not sure what’s your stance? It seems Saint Cyprian would of rebaptized people coming from the New Church to the traditional Orthodox Catholic Church of the Romans.

    Any opinions on this? A book review perhaps? Are you familar with “Praxis Obnoxia”? I must say this is a “Hot Topic” with Traditionalists and Conservatives.

  5. Jacob

    nice post, i agree there is no salvation outside the church, as St. Cyprian believed.

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