Last week, Jim Cassidy over at Reformed Forum reviewed Richard Barcellos’ book, The Lord’s Supper: More Than A Memory. I was surprised to hear a misplaced critique of our view on the sacrament of Holy Baptism so I decided to collate resources for those interested.
First, I posted this a while back:
From The 1693 Catechism
Q. 95. What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption?
A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are His ordinances, especially the Word, Baptism, the Lord’s Supper and Prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.
Q. 98. How do Baptism and the Lord’s Supper become effectual means of salvation?
A. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them or in him that administers them, but only by the blessing of Christ and the working of His Spirit in them that by faith receive them.
Q. 99. Wherein do Baptism and the Lord’s Supper differ from the other ordinances of God?
A. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper differ from the other ordinances of God in that they were specially instituted by Christ to represent and apply to believers the benefits of the new covenant by visible and outward signs.
Q. 100. What is Baptism?
A. Baptism is an holy ordinance, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, signifies our ingrafting into Christ and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.
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.
Confessing Baptist Table Talk feat. Jeff Johnson & Jordan Cooper: On The Means Of Grace & Assurance Of Faith
Richard Barcellos: Baptism As A Means Of Grace
Tom Chantry: The Nature Of Baptism
Stuart Brogden: Baptism As A Means Of Grace
Pastor Wei En Yi : The Ordinary Means of Grace : Baptism