Means of Grace-The Sacraments
The ways that God blesses the church are called the Means of Grace and we’ll see that each one is unique and indispensable to us. The sacraments are agreed upon by all Christian denominations as a means of grace and are another benefit to us. Some Christians have a longer list of what is included in the sacraments (Roman Catholics have 7, Lutheran have 3, other Protestants have 2) but they do agree that the sacraments remind us of His promises and publicly declare His love, forgiveness, and grace.
Let’s take a quick view of two of them: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Scripture tells us that baptism gives us an opportunity to identify with the death and resurrection of Christ (Rom. 6:1-11). Among other benefits, baptism allows us to experience in an outward way (the lower story), the inward transformation of our hearts (the upper story).
Baptism is a moment in time when we experience personal communion with God and receive His forgiveness by allowing the water to ‘wash away our sins’. What a wonderful way or means for receiving God’s grace in the presence of other believers. Baptism strengthens our faith and allows the community of believers to witness God’s amazing grace as He transforms us. However, this one-time act of baptism isn’t the end; the church also comes together for another amazing time of communion with God: the Lord’s Supper.
Dissimilar to baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, or the Eucharist isn’t a one-time act but a repeated experience that allows believers to celebrate God’s forgiveness and love. It’s a time when we enter into God’s presence, yet again, and remember the death and resurrection of Christ. It reaffirms His covenant to us and we confirm our commitment to Him; it’s like renewing your marriage vows. When you got married you told your spouse that you love them, right? But is your attitude that you told them once and that’s enough? No, you reconfirm your love. Communion is another sacred act that we enjoy as a body of believers that shows us, in a another supernatural way, that an inward grace is being imparted to us. We physically experience the outward act of eating the bread and drinking the wine (or juice), literally, the visible confirming the invisible.
The sacraments are special, they’re set-apart for us by God as special times with Him. Let’s view baptism with renewed eyes and participate in the Lord’s Supper with a refreshed perspective of joining ourselves to Christ; they are truly God’s means of showing His grace to His Church in unique and indispensable ways.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:10-11 ESV