What is meant by "means"?

Discussion in 'Calvinism/Arminianism Debate' started by Reformed, Feb 8, 2015.

  1. Reformed

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    Theologically speaking, what is meant by the term means? Means is an action that brings about a thing. Means is not a work of man. It is typically reserved for the work of the Holy Spirit. For instance, the Gospel message is the means God uses to call sinners to repentance and faith. The Holy Spirit works through the message preached (1 Cor. 1:21). The preacher is simply a tool used to convey the message.

    You may have heard the term means of grace (media gratia). Donald McKim defines means of grace as, "The ways by which God's grace is extended and received by humans. In Protestant theology, the emphasis has been on the Word and Sacraments* as God's instituted means of conveying this grace that leads to justification and sanctification."

    When we partake of the Lord's Supper we are receiving a means of grace. It is not that there is anything mystical or supernatural in the elements, but rather our faith is strengthened as we contemplate the significance of Christ's death on our behalf. The strengthening of our faith is by grace.

    When we are baptized our baptism is also a means of grace. Look back on your baptism. What does it signify (c.f. Rom. 6:3-11)? If you meditate upon the spiritual significance of your baptism, does it not strengthen your faith? Are you not encouraged by the fact that you have died to sin and have been raised in newness of life? That is a work of grace in your life by the Holy Spirit.

    *In Baptist theology the term "sacrament" is often replaced with the term "ordinance" in order to remove any Roman Catholic implications, even though our Presbyterian brethren in no way were advocating a Roman understanding of the term.
     
  2. The Archangel

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    Perhaps it's a bit off topic to mention this, so I'll mention it and see if you, Reformed, think it to be off topic. If not, we can pursue the discussion further.

    I do not think Baptism and The Lord's Supper can rightly be called "Means of Grace." I don't think we can say that God's grace is received through either. There's something edifying about the ordinances, absolutely. But at root level the only thing that baptism gets you is wet and the only thing the Lord's Supper does is fill one's belly with some type of bread and some type of juice (or wine).

    The reason I say this is that to say that God's grace is received through these things is to say that the act of partaking in the ordinances appropriates God's grace in some way, which is, of course, the Catholic understanding of what happens.

    The ordinances only have any type of efficacy in the life of a believer. But, the ordinance itself cannot be one thing to one (a means of grace to a believer) and one thing to another (a non-believer). So, it has some benefit--and greatly so--to a believer, but I don't think the observance of the ordinance itself can bring God's grace. In other words, ordinances are not conduits of God's grace.

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
  3. Jerome

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    But what does The Confession 14:1 demand?
     
  4. The Archangel

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    Can you provide the text or a link to said "Confession?"

    The Archangel
     
  5. Reformed

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    I do not think your post is off topic, so I am happy to respond.

    Roman Catholic theology teaches habitual or sanctifying grace. Romanism views this type of grace is conveyed by the sacraments and encompasses both justification and sanctification. That is not at all how the Reformers viewed the sacraments (ordinances).

    Does grace flow from the ordinances? Not from the ordinances themselves. If that is what I meant in the OP then I would, indeed, have been Roman in my view. Instead grace flows from God, through the Holy Spirit, to the believer. This should not be a difficult concept to accept. All that we have is of grace. What do we have that we did not receive (1 Cor. 4:7)?

    Dispensing with the Presbyterian view of baptism, the Puritans believed the Lord's Supper did convey faith strengthening grace to the recipients; not through the elements but by the Holy Spirit. Presbyterians would say that baptism initiates the recipient into the local, visible church and is the one-for-one replacement of circumcision. As Baptists we would disagree with that, but baptism still has a grace component.
     
  6. Reformed

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    Here is that part of the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession of Faith: Chapter 14.1
     
  7. Reformed

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    P.S. I did not want to initially link to the confession out of fear that I would have been accused of using a work of man as opposed to scripture. But you asked.
     
  8. The Archangel

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    I'm familiar with the Catholic position as well as the Presbyterian arguments.

    Your explanation here is, IMO, quite orthodox and in accordance with Scripture.

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
  9. Iconoclast

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    20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

    21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
    22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.



    Does this verse speak to this issue in that the conscience rightly related to the Lord Jesus Christ having been saving united to Him, reflects upon the mercy of God in being longsuffering with the elect until all are saved?

    In verse 15-16 he was speaking of the duty to maintain a good conscience as that is essential to being a godly witness. reflecting upon our position In Christ, Our Saving Union Romans 6 and our identification with Him.

    I do not think grace is conferred in a sacramental sense[some seek to make this case but I struggle with this explanation.]
    Any grace conferred would seem to be the Spirit showing us our defects in light of His perfection through the law of God as a mirror . We are to live in light of the grace of God enabling us to do what we are commanded to do to God's glory.
    We are called to be saints, called to holy worship and service of God....

    12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

    13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

    14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

    15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

    16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

    17 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.

    Do you men think this figures in here?
     
    #9 Iconoclast, Feb 9, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 9, 2015
  10. Earth Wind and Fire

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    So how does that square with your "New Covenant Theology "
     
  11. thatbrian

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    Having been a member of both Baptist and Presbyterian churches, I can see both sides of the argument; however, I must admit that when I hear people speak of baptism as an, "act of obedience" or a "public declaration", I cringe a little.

    If baptism symbolises our union with Christ in his death and resurrection i.e. the gospel, then we are more true to scripture, and the doctrines of grace, when we think of baptism in a gospel sense. Baptism is grace coming to us, not the demonstration of our loyalty or the seriousness of our commitment to Christ, but the demonstration of the loyalty and seriousness of HIS commitment to us.

    Also, taking this from the context of the Great Commission, baptism is more something that is done TO you more than something done BY you.

    I'm not fully convinced of either the Baptist or the Presbyterian position on this subject. I have not been fully persuaded of either (yet).
     
  12. kyredneck

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    It means that there is a huge segment of Christianity that rejects the truth that 'the Spirit where He willeth doth blow'; that God cannot put His law in the inward parts and hearts of His people without the 'means' prescribed by their theologians.
     
  13. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Yea....Amen:thumbsup:
     
  14. Reformed

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    I am not a fan of NCT. It does away with the moral law of God. Since the moral law pre-dated the Mosaic Law, the aspects of the Law that Christ fulfilled does not include abrogating the moral law.

    Also, NCT has no root in church history. It is basically an invention of the digital age. It falls short of any serious, credible scholarship.
     
  15. The Archangel

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    I don't see any particular issues. Do you?

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     
  16. Yeshua1

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    For one to be a Baptist on this issue, would see Baptism and Communion as both being symbols to point out the deeper spiritual truth, that they both form a picture to the death and resurrection and salvation God gave to those of us now redeemed in Christ...

    One can use those experiences to mediatate on the Lord, to draw closer to him, but that is NOT due to any inherit grace in those ordinances, but that they make us more focused on him during those times...
     
  17. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Does this also qualify ....

    12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
    New International Version (NIV)
     
  18. Reformed

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    Foot washing was not set as an ordinance. Jesus was using foot washing to make a point of about serving one another. Instead of practicing foot washing in worship we can follow Christ's example by loving and serving one another in real life.
     
  19. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Only if you see a conflict, which you apparently don't.

    My own concern with this is Baptists seeing saving grace in Presbyterian Ordnances. It congers up RC sacramental theology for me personally.
     
  20. The Archangel

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    This is quite a ridiculous statement and not true in many respects.

    The Archangel
     

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