[Review] The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace

On this episode, Jim Cassidy reviews The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace: More than a Memory (Mentor, 2013) by Richard C. Barcellos. Barcellos seeks to demonstrate that the Lord’s Supper is more than a mere remembrance or memorial to Christ’s death; it is a means of grace.

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Jason Delgado

5 years ago

Great review guys. Good questions y’all ask at the end. I would also agree with you on the “direction of the arrow” (it was Calvin’s Institutes that convinced me of that).

To answer one of your questions… Yes, Baptist have historically believed baptism is a means of grace http://confessingbaptist.com/?s=baptism+means+of+grace

p.s. Oh and finish the rest of the verse “the promise is to you you and your children”… 😉

Great review guys!

David Betz

5 years ago

As a 1689 RB who understands both sacraments as covenantal means of grace, I second this comment at every point.

Jeremy A. Walker

5 years ago

I agree as well. The direction (Arrow) is fundamental in nature. We are being brought to Him, rather than He being brought to us. Great observation.

Mike Waters

5 years ago

Very good interview – I really like this book!

But, I do have to admit, the review turned rather interesting toward the end. Does not historic Reformed theology understand that the means of grace, are those ordained means through which grace is communicated to the SOUL.

Do we believe that the means of grace, public and private, somehow strengthen the body? I understand that the salvation Christ purchased includes body and soul, but wasn’t the interviewer confounding these?

“Fallen man receives all the blessings of salvation out of the eternal fountain of the grace of God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ and through the operation of the Holy Spirit. While the Spirit can and does in some respects operate immediately on the SOUL of the sinner, He has seen fir to bind Himself largely to the use of certain means in the communication of divine grace” – Berkhof, 604

Mike Waters

5 years ago

Make that three.

Mike Waters

5 years ago

That is, another 1689 RB who understands both sacraments are means of grace 🙂

Amanda Mimbs

5 years ago

I am yet another RB who understands the Lord’s Supper as a means of grace.

Don Speedy

5 years ago

The discussion was helpful and profitable until the end of the review. To enter into a discussion about baptism, when offering a review about a book on the Lord’s Supper as a means of grace seems to be off topic. If you want to discuss baptism as a means of grace, I encourage you to review a book on that topic. Instead of celebrating what Richard has in common with you, you decided to critique a doctrinal difference, which, according to the title, isn’t the thesis of the book. Brothers, I encourage you to stay on topic.

Javier Hernandez

5 years ago

Agreed.

Brandon Adams

5 years ago

Thanks for the review. Here are some links from Barcellos to answer your question:

Baptism as a Means of Grace, sermon by Richard Barcellos

Can Baptists Be Reformed? Is this a contradiction in terms? A Baptist’s Response a response to a blog asking about baptists and sacraments as a means of grace:

Maybe the larger question here concerns Smith’s contention that the BC does not affirm the sacraments as means of grace. This is a common claim. I think it is wrong. The first paragraph of the BC’s chapter “Of Saving Faith” is a slight revision of the WCF. It inserts “baptism and the Lord’s Supper” in place of “the sacraments” and adds “and other means appointed of God” after prayer and immediately prior to “it is increased and strengthened.” The doctrine of the means of grace is the same as the WCF, though. Here is that paragraph:

The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word; by which also, and by the administration of baptism and the Lord’s supper, prayer, and other means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened. (BC 14:1; emphasis added)

Faith is a gift, “the work of the Spirit of Christ in” the heart’s of God’s elect. That initial work of the Spirit is subsequently “increased and strengthened” “by the administration of baptism and the Lord’s supper.” Baptism and the Lord’s Supper increase and strengthen faith. They are means of grace.

Smith claims, at least implicitly, that the old Baptists were not satisfied with an ordinary means of grace ministry. I will let the reference to the BC 14:1 stand on its own and refer the reader to chapter 20 of that same Confession.

I want to go on record (and I can because this is the internet) as one who thinks the BC of 1689 is of the “Old Side” persuasion concerning an ordinary means of grace ministry – it is a word and two-sacrament document.

Also, you emphasized the sacraments as signs AND seals of the covenant of grace. It’s worth noting that the 2nd LBC retains the language of sign, but omits the language of seal. Compare WCF 28.1 with LBCF 29.1 (presumably because the Holy Spirit is the seal of the covenant of grace, but I don’t have a primary citation on that).

Brandon Adams

5 years ago

I don’t think I’ve ever heard an appeal to the redemption of our bodies as an argument for household baptism, but I guess I’ll add it to the list. To jump from the redemption of our bodies to the inclusion of our progeny in the covenant of grace is a rather large jump (I honestly don’t see a hidden line of deduction anywhere – perhaps you could spell it out).

Appeal to the old covenant’s physicality and “bodily” emphasis again won’t get us anywhere because we do not agree that the old covenant was an administration of the covenant of grace. We do believe that the old covenant was full of all kinds of types and shadows that operated on a physical level, but appealing to types won’t get us to a “physical” “bodily” new covenant that includes our natural progeny.

Rich Barcellos

5 years ago

I agree with Brandon.

Sean Holland

5 years ago

Specific link to Fred Malone’s sermon on baptism as a means of grace given at the 2011 ARBCA GA, at which Barcellos also gave his sermon on the Lord’s Supper as a means of grace.

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=820131148315

Jerry Chase

5 years ago

I am UNconvinced that the Lord’s supper (or baptism) is a MEANS of grace. No; it is my understanding that grace comes directly from God into the soul of the believer (who is a believer by grace and the gift of faith). Baptism and the Lord’s table remain a command for the church to practice, but neither are a MEANS of grace, in my solemn humble opinion which is not affected by claims of men. My mind is captive to the Word of God, and I do not believe that the Word conveys this concept. It seems to me that claims of either being a ‘means’ of grace are merely man’s interpretive claim(s).

Jason Delgado (@jXd1689)

5 years ago

Show said to chime in for a dialog… too bad that didn’t happen 🙁 Well, here is some more resources: http://confessingbaptist.com/baptism-a-means-of-grace-roundup-2/

Jeremy A. Walker

5 years ago

Great points men! I am always drawn to discussions of how serious the nature of our faith is. Also, the idea that any element of Christ’s earthly life can be discarded as “just a memory” is tragic. Thank you for your review. The benefit of our belief in Christ is the uniting of us to Him eternally. We must engage Him through proper application of Scripture to build fellowship with the Holy Spirit. You are helping believers do this very thing. Thanks!

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