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The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace (1)

Jul - 23 - 2011
Richard Barcellos

In the next several days I will be posting the gist of a message I preached at the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America’s General Assembly last April. You can listen to the message here or read on.

The Lord’s Supper as Means of Grace: More than a Memory 

I.                   Introduction

Greetings: I want to thank the ARBCA General Assembly Planning Committee for entrusting me with this sacred stewardship. I have not and do not take it lightly. I think this subject is vitally important for our churches and for the Reformed and Evangelical Church at large. I hope you will agree with me once I am finished.

Difficulty of my assignment: I believe my assignment is the most difficult of all the assignments given for these reasons:

1. Because of the amount of ink spilled on this issue at the time of the Reformation: The debates on this issue at the Reformation lead me to think that my assignment is very difficult. More ink was spilled over the issue of the sacrament of Communion at the time of the Reformation than over the issue of justification sola fide.

a. We learn from this that the Lord’s Supper is vitally important to the church (or at least it ought to be and it certainly used to be).

b. But we also learn that it is fertile ground for disagreement among good men. I think it was when Luther finally concluded he could not agree with Zwingli on this issue that he said, “Zwingli is of another geist, another spirit.”

c. The Reformation debates on this issue, then, lead me to believe I have been given a most difficult assignment.

2. Because of the tendency in everyone to allow presuppositions to cloud their judgment:There is a tendency in everyone to bring preconceived notions into discussions which often shield us from hearing what some one else is arguing for.

a. I have found this to be the case with reference to the Lord’s Supper in my own experience.

b. I was raised RC and converted to Christ through the ministry of a Bible church. My experience has been that my experience prejudices me against certain aspects of the discussion concerning the Lord’s Supper as a means of grace.

c. This has made it difficult for me to understand, for instance, what Calvin says (means!) on this issue, not that I fully understand all that he says. J

d. In my own experience, I have found that I did not understand what others were saying because I had already made my mind up, though not because I had adequately studied the issue.

These are two reasons I think my topic puts me at the bottom of a hill that seems at times insurmountable. But the Lord is with us and when His Word is opened and explained accurately then He speaks and there He makes obscure things clear.

My Assignment:

1.      What it is not: It is not necessarily to prove to you that the Lord’s Supper is a means of grace, though I hope to do that. The title for my talk was given to me and it assumes that the Lord’s Supper is a means of grace. Also, it was given to me by confessional Reformed Baptist men and their confessional and catechetical documents explicitly affirm the Lord’s Supper as a means of grace.

2.      What it is: I take it that my assignment is to show you not that, but how the Lord’s Supper is a means of grace. My answer to that is that the Lord’s Supper is a means of grace because of what the Holy Spirit does in the souls of believers when local churches partake of the Lord’s Supper – the Spirit enhances present communion between the exalted Redeemer and his pilgrim people on the earth. Or, the Lord’s Supper is a means of grace at which Christ is present by His divine nature and during which the Holy Spirit nourishes the souls of believers with the benefits wrought for us in Christ’s humanity which is now glorified and in heaven at the right hand of the Father.

My methodology:

1.      The struggle: I have struggled with how to present this material. Should I give the historical-theological-confessional position first or the biblical position? Or should I give the biblical arguments showing how the Lord’s Supper is a means of grace and then move to the confessional formulation of the doctrine?

2.      The decision: I have decided to present some of the biblical evidence concerning the nature of the Lord’s Supper as a means of grace and then show you how and where the confessional and catechetical data reflects the teaching of the Bible.

3.      What it will look like: I want to show you this under the following three headings: A. The Biblical Data which Advocate the Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace; B. The Confessional and Catechetical Formulation of the Lord’s Supper as Means of Grace which accurately reflects the teaching of Scripture; and C. Final Thoughts.

Part 2 can be read here.

5 Responses so far.

  1. Kierra says:

    I’m out of laegue here. Too much brain power on display!

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