Questions Regarding the LBCF On Communion

Discussion in 'The Confession of Faith' started by Dachaser, Jun 23, 2018.

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  1. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Section 30 of the LBCF states that the communion is in memorial and celebration of Jesus activities on our behalf.

    I know that Presbyterians and Baptist approach baptism from differing perspectives, but reading through that section, it seemed that Reformed Baptists and Presbyterians agree on the communion?
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2018
  2. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Ch 27 of the WCF makes the distinction:

    I. Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ and his benefits, and to confirm our interest in him: as also to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the Church, and the rest of the world; and solemnly to engage them to the service of God in Christ, according to his Word.

    II. There is in every sacrament a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified; whence it comes to pass that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other.

    III. The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments, rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither doth the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that doth administer it, but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.

    IV. There be only two sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in the gospels, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord: neither or which may be dispensed by any but a minister of the Word, lawfully ordained.

    V. The sacraments of the Old Testament, in regard of the spiritual things thereby signified and exhibited, were, for substance, the same with those of the New.​

    Consider 'Memorial' vs 'Sacrament' and you will have a better example.
  3. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Calvin's Confession:

    "I confess that the Church should be governed by pastors, to whom has been committed the office of preaching the word of God and administering the sacraments; and that, in order to avoid confusion, it is not lawful for any one to usurp this office at pleasure without lawful election. And if any called to this office dc not show due fidelity in discharging it, they ought to be deposed. All their power consists in ruling the people committed to them according to the word of God, so that Jesus Christ may ever remain supreme Pastor and sole Lord of his Church, and alone be listened to. Wherefore, what is called the Popish hierarchy I execrate as diabolicle confusion, established for the very purpose of making God himself to be despised, and of exposing the Christian religion to mockery and scorn.

    "I confess that our weakness requires that sacraments be added to the preaching of the word, as seals by which the promises of God are sealed on our hearts, and that two such sacraments were ordained by Christ, viz., Baptism and the Lord’s Supper — the former to give us an entrance into the Church of God — the latter to keep us in it. The five sacraments imagined by the Papists, and first coined in their own brain, I repudiate.

    "But although the sacraments are an earnest by which we may be rendered secure of the promises of God, I however acknowledge that they would be useless to us did not the Holy Spirit render them efficacious as instruments, lest our confidence, being fixed on the creature, should be withdrawn from God. Nay, I even confess that the sacraments are vitiated and perverted when it is not regarded as their only aim to make us look to Christ for every thing requisite to our salvation, and whenever they are employed for any other purpose than that of fixing our faith wholly in him. Moreover, since the promise of adoption reaches even to the posterity of believers, I acknowledge that the infants of believers ought to be received into the Church by baptism; and in this matter I detest the ravings of the Anabaptists.

    "In regard to the Lord’s Supper, I confess that it is an evidence of our union with Christ, since he not only died once and rose again for us, but also truly feeds and nourishes us by his own flesh and blood, so that we are one with him, and his life is common to us. For though he is in heaven for a short while till he come to judge the world, I believe that he, through the secret and incomprehensible agency of his Spirit, gives life to our souls by the substance of his body and blood.

    "In general, I confess, that, as well in the supper as in baptism, God gives in reality and effectually whatever he figures in them, but that to the receiving of this great boon we require to join the word with the signs. In which matter I detest the abuse and perversion of the Papists, who have deprived the sacraments of their principal part, viz., the doctrine which teaches the true use and benefit flowing therefrom, and have changed them into magical impostures."​
  4. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Later on in the section on Communion though, the 1689 LBCF does refer to spiritual blessings that are bestowed by God upon those who receive it by faith, is that not the same thing as you quoted here?
  5. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Larger Catechism:

    "Q. 161. How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?
    A. The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not by any power in themselves, or any virtue derived from the piety or intention of him by whom they are administered, but only by the working of the Holy Ghost, and the blessing of Christ, by whom they are instituted.

    Q. 162. What is a sacrament?
    A. A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ in his church, to signify, seal, and exhibit unto those that are within the covenant of grace, the benefits of his mediation; to strengthen and increase their faith, and all other graces; to oblige them to obedience; to testify and cherish their love and communion one with another; and to distinguish them from those that are without.

    Q. 163. What are the parts of a sacrament?
    A. The parts of a sacrament are two; the one an outward and sensible sign, used according to Christ’s own appointment; the other an inward and spiritual grace thereby signified."​
  6. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Memorial view is not the spiritual view. The PB's would argue that there is nothing spiritual about the 'memorial' view.

    In the above definition, Christ is not present; whereas, in the spiritual view, He is.
  7. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable


    If I am reading the LBCF correctly, there is no mention of "sacrament" in the LBCF. It may be that this omission and the preference towards "ordinance" is owed to some historical negative views of Romanist sacramentalism.
  8. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    That makes more sense to me, as there is still the distinction to be made between how one views a Sacrament and one an Ordinance then. Presbyterians see them as having real grace of some sense being applied towards those receiving the Sacrament, while Baptists tend to see as Ordinances that are symbols used to highlight the grace we have already received when born again.
  9. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    There seemed to be an aversion for those who made the 1689 Confession to using term Sacrament, due to them not seeing it as conveying effectual grace towards those partaking as the 1646 Confessions seems to be stating.
  10. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Not exactly:

    "The word “ordinance” and it’s origination:

    “… historical notation, the Presbyterian Puritans, for example, used the term “ordinance” as much as they used the term “sacrament,” especially in their personal writings. They were used interchangeably. In the WSC the word “ordinance” is used 4 times and the word “sacrament” 10 times. In the WLC, “ordinance” is used 26 times, and “sacrament” 67 times. Michael Harrison wrote “Infant Baptism God’s Ordinance” and John Cotton wrote “Singing of Psalms a Gospel Ordinance”, where Samuel Bolton wrote, “The Guard of the Tree of Life, a Discourse on the Sacraments,” and Ursinus in his commentary on the HC describes both “What are the signs, and what the things signified in the Sacraments” and “the ordinance” of baptism. John Owen uses the term “ordinance” a whopping 742 times in his writings. He uses the term “sacrament” 84 times. Burroughs in “Gospel Worship” uses the term “ordinance” 104 times. He uses the term “sacrament” 109 times. Theologically, they closely mean the same thing, and are both part of explaining elements in the idea of the unbreakable covenant of Christ. The difference lies in the fact that praying, preaching and singing are also ordinances, but baptism and the supper are sacraments. See the difference here:

    Sacrament. “The word, having been transferred from military affairs to sacred uses, was employed by ecclesiastical writers to signify any mystery or sacred and not obvious doctrine. Scripture more properly calls them “signs of the covenant” (Gen. 9:12,13; 17:11), “signs and seals” of the righteousness of faith (Rom. 4:11), and simply “signs” (Ex. 12:13), “patterns” (hypodeigmata, Heb. 8:5; 9:23) and “figures” (antitypa, 1 Pet. 3:21).” (Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology (Vol. 3) 338.

    Ordinance. I think Thomas Ridgley has a good definition for the nature of an ordinance, “an outward and ordinary means of grace….by which Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation.” The Works of Thomas Ridgley (Vol. 4), 41.”

    Thanks to C. Matthew McMahon
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  11. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Thanks, would you agree that the term Sacrament seems to have vested in it more of a spiritual application of Grace than the term Ordinances?
  12. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    The terms ordinances and sacraments are virtually synonymous, in my opinion. However, I see the LBC uses the term as well; hence, they make a distinction.
  13. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    In addition to Scott's answer(s), I ask "what spiritual benefit is there in it if it is left up solely to the "remembrance" of the individual (corrupt and ever-prone to sin individual)"?
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2018
  14. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    In my opinion, the distinction between a religious rite and a holy one is the difference. The Reformed see the sacrament as holy and the PB's, religious.
  15. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Would you see the same in regards to how each view water baptism?
  16. Timotheos

    Timotheos Puritan Board Freshman

    So in PB preaching, "sacrament" was used quite a bit. And since we borrowed the WSC for the BapCat, they adopted the concept of the Lord's Supper as a means of grace as well. They were certainly not holding to the "memorial" view exclusively but saw a spiritual presence in the elements as well. This is one of a few places I would have preferred the LCF stay closer to the WCF. I think they may have been trying to be a bit more broad in their views among baptists, but that is merely a hypothesis. I've done no research to back it up.
  17. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    The LBCF does say that those who partake of them in faith will receive spiritual nourishment, so how is that different than the WCF view?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2018
  18. Ray

    Ray Puritan Board Freshman

    Don’t Forget about the :
    Belgic Confession:
    Article 33: Of the Sacraments.
    We believe, that our gracious God, on account of our weakness and infirmities hath ordained the sacraments for us, thereby to seal unto us his promises, and to be pledges of the good will and grace of God toward us, and also to nourish and strengthen our faith; which he hath joined to the Word of the gospel, the better to present to our senses, both that which he signifies to us by his Word, and that which he works inwardly in our hearts, thereby assuring and confirming in us the salvation which he imparts to us. For they are visible signs and seals of an inward and invisible thing, by means whereof God worketh in us by the power of the Holy Ghost. Therefore the signs are not in vain or insignificant, so as to deceive us. For Jesus Christ is the true object presented by them, without whom they would be of no moment. Moreover, we are satisfied with the number of sacraments which Christ our Lord hath instituted, which are two only, namely, the sacrament of baptism, and the holy supper of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Article 34: Of Holy Baptism.
    We believe and confess that Jesus Christ, who is the end of the law, hath made an end, by the shedding of his blood, of all other sheddings of blood which men could or would make as a propitiation or satisfaction for sin: and that he, having abolished circumcision, which was done with blood, hath instituted the sacrament of baptism, instead thereof; by which we are received into the Church of God, and separated from all other people and strange religions, that we may wholly belong to him, whose ensign and banner we bear: and which serves as a testimony to us, that he will forever be our gracious God and Father. Therefore he has commanded all those, who are his, to be baptized with pure water, "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost": thereby signifying to us, that as water washeth away the filth of the body, when poured upon it, and is seen on the body of the baptized, when sprinkled upon him; so doth the blood of Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost, internally sprinkle the soul, cleanse it from its sins, and regenerate us from children of wrath, unto children of God. Not that this is effected by the external water, but by the sprinkling of the precious blood of the Son of God; who is our Red Sea, through which we must pass, to escape the tyranny of Pharaoh, that is, the devil, and to enter into the spiritual land of Canaan. Therefore the ministers, on their part, administer the sacrament, and that which is visible, but our Lord giveth that which is signified by the sacrament, namely, the gifts and invisible grace; washing, cleansing and purging our souls of all filth and unrighteousness; renewing our hearts, and filling them with all comfort; giving unto us a true assurance of his fatherly goodness; putting on us the new man, and putting off the old man with all his deeds. Therefore we believe, that every man, who is earnestly studious of obtaining life eternal, ought to be but once baptized with this only baptism, without ever repeating the same: since we cannot be born twice. Neither doth this baptism only avail us, at the time when the water is poured upon us, and received by us, but also through the whole course of our life; therefore we detest the error of the Anabaptists, who are not content with the one only baptism they have once received, and moreover condemn the baptism of the infants of believers, whom we believe ought to be baptized and sealed with the sign of the covenant, as the children in Israel formerly were circumcised, upon the same promises which are made unto our children. And indeed Christ shed his blood no less for the washing of the children of the faithful, than for adult persons; and therefore they ought to receive the sign and sacrament of that, which Christ hath done for them; as the Lord commanded in the law, that they should be made partakers of the sacrament of Christ's suffering and death, shortly after they were born, by offering for them a lamb, which was a sacrament of Jesus Christ. Moreover, what circumcision was to the Jews, that baptism is for our children. And for this reason Paul calls baptism the circumcision of Christ.

    Article 35: Of the Holy Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    We believe and confess, that our Savior Jesus Christ did ordain and institute the sacrament of the holy supper, to nourish and support those whom he hath already regenerated, and incorporated into his family, which is his Church. Now those, who are regenerated, have in them a two-fold life, the one corporal and temporal, which they have from the first birth, and is common to all men: the other spiritual and heavenly, which is given them in their second birth, which is effected by the word of the gospel, in the communion of the body of Christ; and this life is not common, but is peculiar to God's elect. In like manner God hath given us, for the support of the bodily and earthly life, earthly and common bread, which is subservient thereto, and is common to all men, even as life itself. But for the support of the spiritual and heavenly life, which believers have, he hath sent a living bread, which descended from heaven, namely, Jesus Christ, who nourishes and strengthens the spiritual life of believers, when they eat him, that is to say, when they apply and receive him by faith in the spirit. Christ, that he might represent unto us this spiritual and heavenly bread, hath instituted an earthly and visible bread, as a sacrament of his body, and wine as a sacrament of his blood, to testify by them unto us, that, as certainly as we receive and hold this sacrament in our hands, and eat and drink the same with our mouths, by which our life is afterwards nourished, we also do as certainly receive by faith (which is the hand and mouth of our soul) the true body and blood of Christ our only Savior in our souls, for the support of our spiritual life. Now, as it is certain and beyond all doubt, that Jesus Christ hath not enjoined to us the use of his sacraments in vain, so he works in us all that he represents to us by these holy signs, though the manner surpasses our understanding, and cannot be comprehended by us, as the operations of the Holy Ghost are hidden and incomprehensible. In the meantime we err not, when we say, that what is eaten and drunk by us is the proper and natural body, and the proper blood of Christ. But the manner of our partaking of the same, is not by the mouth, but by the spirit through faith. Thus then, though Christ always sits at the right hand of his Father in the heavens, yet doth he not therefore cease to make us partakers of himself by faith. This feast is a spiritual table, at which Christ communicates himself with all his benefits to us, and gives us there to enjoy both himself, and the merits of his suffering and death, nourishing, strengthening and comforting our poor comfortless souls by the eating of his flesh, quickening and refreshing them by the drinking of his blood. Further, though the sacraments are connected with the thing signified, nevertheless both are not received by all men: the ungodly indeed receives the sacrament to his condemnation, but he doth not receive the truth of the sacrament. As Judas, and Simon the sorcerer, both indeed received the sacrament, but not Christ, who was signified by it, of whom believers only are made partakers. Lastly, we receive this holy sacrament in the assembly of the people of God, with humility and reverence, keeping up amongst us a holy remembrance of the death of Christ our Savior, with thanksgiving: making there confession of our faith, and of the Christian religion. Therefore no one ought to come to this table without having previously rightly examined himself; lest by eating of this bread and drinking of this cup, he eat and drink judgment to himself. In a word, we are excited by the use of this holy sacrament, to a fervent love towards God and our neighbor. Therefore we reject all mixtures and damnable inventions, which men have added unto, and blended with the sacraments, as profanations of them: and affirm that we ought to rest satisfied with the ordinance which Christ and his apostles have taught us, and that we must speak of them in the same manner as they have spoken.

    Heidelberg Lords Day 25
    Of The Sacraments
    25. Lord's Day
    Question 65. Since then we are made partakers of Christ and all his benefits by faith only, whence does this faith proceed?

    Answer: From the Holy Ghost, (a) who works faith in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel, and confirms it by the use of the sacraments. (b)

    Question 66. What are the sacraments?

    Answer: The sacraments are holy visible signs and seals, appointed of God for this end, that by the use thereof, he may the more fully declare and seal to us the promise of the gospel, viz., that he grants us freely the remission of sin, and life eternal, for the sake of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross. (a)

    Question 67. Are both word and sacraments, then, ordained and appointed for this end, that they may direct our faith to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, as the only ground of our salvation? (a)

    Answer: Yes, indeed: for the Holy Ghost teaches us in the gospel, and assures us by the sacraments, that the whole of our salvation depends upon that one sacrifice of Christ which he offered for us on the cross.

    Question 68. How many sacraments has Christ instituted in the new covenant, or testament?

    Answer: Two: namely, holy baptism, and the holy supper.
  19. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    No, although they are closer than on baptism.

    Compare LBC's 2 short sentences under "Of Baptism and the Lord's Supper" with the 5 paragraphs in WCF's "Of the Sacraments"
  20. Jonathan R

    Jonathan R Puritan Board Freshman

    To the OP: The Reformed/Particular Baptist doctrine of the supper is no different than the Westminsterian view. Some, as above, point to the use of the word ordinance instead of sacrament as a reticence to use the word. However, confessionally, I believe it was rather a means to emphasize the divine origin and command of the sacrament. The particular baptists of the day used the word sacrament of these institutions interchangeably with ordinance.
  21. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Not true. Hence their use of the word, 'memorial'.
  22. Jonathan R

    Jonathan R Puritan Board Freshman

    To use the word memorial of the supper is not to deny the Reformed doctrine of the supper in favor of a memorialist position but in the context of LBCF 30.2, as a denial of the bodily presence of the Lord in the supper, ala the Roman Catholics.

    See Q102 of the Baptist Catechism where the memorial element of the supper is not even mentioned but only its stance as a means of grace in the church. And this is worth noting because in the LBCF the affirmation of the supper as a means of grace is likewise a denial of it as a mere memorial as the two positions are opposed.

    I'll see if I can find a few other references, but I'll probably be out the remainder of this Sabbath day
  23. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Both of the Confessions stress that it is a way to have God apply grace and spiritual blessings towards those who have received Communion, who have taken in faith, correct?
  24. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    As Jonathan brought out here, wasn't that though stressing that the Communion was not same the Church of Romes sees it as being?
  25. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    My reading and understanding of how the PB were seeing this issue was that they were denying that the Communion is either the same way that Catholic and Lutherans state it as being, and also denying that it is merely symbolic in nature, as most Baptists tend to see it?
  26. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I would assume no; I base this on the fact that they used the WCF as their example. That being, they knew that the WCF did not side w/ Rome.
  27. Jonathan R

    Jonathan R Puritan Board Freshman

    LBCF 30.2 says:

    This is specifically using the term memorial contra the papists. This is not a denial of the supper as means of grace to be taken by faith as it elsewhere affirms this in the catechism and LBCF 30.7

    Also note that the WCF is not the standard for the LBCF, but rather the Savoy Declaration was the standard. And if you note the text of the Savoy in 30.2, it is identical to the LBCF excepting the sacrament/ordinance phrasing. Thus you would likewise have to say that the Independents did not have a reformed doctrine of the supper if you are to deny it to the particular baptists.

    EDIT: Having just gone to reference the WCF: The change in phrasing from commemoration in the WCF to memorial in the Savoy is not large, just a shift into Biblical phrasing ("do this in remembrance of me") as, if I recall, was popular among the Independents. It was not, however, meant to show a different in doctrine.
  28. SeanPatrickCornell

    SeanPatrickCornell Puritan Board Freshman

    A few points:

    1. The use of the word "ordinance" in the confession, instead of "sacrament" was more of a kind of political decision (I don't mean political in regards to secular / national affairs, but more in the sense of "persuasive and appealing to the undecided and unconvinced") rather than a doctrinal decision. Particular Baptists of the day used the terms "ordinance" and "sacrament" relatively interchangeably in their other writing. "An Orthodox Catechism" by Hercules Collins, for example, retains the term "sacrament".

    2. The LBCF does put forth "a" memorial" view, but it doesn't put forth "the" memorial view. Scripture also puts forth "a" memorial view. (Luke 22:19, "And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, 'This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.'").
    - I might add, that WCF29.2 calls it a "commemoration". Commemoration and memorial mean the same thing.

    3. The LCBF doesn't put forth ONLY a memorial view, but absolutely puts forward a "real presence" or "spiritual presence view". (LCBF 30.7, "Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements in this ordinance, do then also inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually receive, and feed upon Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death; the body and blood of Christ being then not corporally or carnally, but spiritually present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses. ")

    I don't see any real "functional" difference between the WCF's teaching on the Supper and the Savoy or LBCF for that matter.
  29. SeanPatrickCornell

    SeanPatrickCornell Puritan Board Freshman

    My apologies to the good points raised by brother. Jonathan R.

    I was putting my post together before, during, and after you posting yours. ;)
  30. Jonathan R

    Jonathan R Puritan Board Freshman

    Hey Sean, haven't seen you in a while since I got off Facebook and can't see the RBFTF anymore. Not a problem - I think both of us deal with these kind of objections often enough that we all see the same points by now.

    Dachaser, a thing to remember is that the particular baptists were more properly an offshoot of the independents (congregationalist paedobaptists) rather than from the errant baptistic groups in, say, the netherlands at the time. Thus their framing the LBCF off the of the Savoy declaration was meant to show doctrinal unity with the puritans. The "memorialist" view I do not think was even prevalent in that day, at least in mainstream theology.
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