Really appreciated this blog post from Jason Stellman -
We just finished our Fall term of Sunday School at Exile Presbyterian Church during which I took the adults through Danny Hyde’s book Welcome to a Reformed Church (which I highly recommend). Most of EPC’s members are ex-evangelicals who are being introduced to Reformed theology and worship for the first time, and as such, they benefited greatly from the clear and straightforward style with which Danny writes.
This morning we covered the final chapter on the means of grace, and I wanted to reflect on something that Danny says about the sacraments. He writes:
"As Christians, we need more than verbal communication, that is, God speaking to us and conveying information to us. We also need to communicate to us in a more holistic way. We need him to communicate Himself to all our senses and to all the aspects of who we are. A wife needs her husband to do more than give her advice on how to fix her problems; she needs to feel his sympathy, his understanding, and his love. So it is with us as the bride of Christ."
What I find helpful here is the emphasis on the participatory aspect of our relationship with Christ, that we need more than to behold Jesus from afar with clipboard and pencil, taking notes on how interesting a subject he is to study. No, we also need to be joined with him as a husband and wife become “one flesh.”
This is what covenant theology is all about. It has been observed that the difference between a covenant and a contract is that the latter is about the exchange of goods and services, saying, “This is mine, that is yours.” The former, on the other hand, is about the exchange of persons: “You are mine, I am yours.” This is why Paul employs the nuptial imagery that he does when he likens the Lord to a groom and the church to his bride. According to the apostle, Christ is a divine husband who becomes one with his bride, mystically united as “one flesh,” thus creating “one new man” with Jesus as Head and we as members.
It is here that the sacraments come in. “The bread that we break and the cup that we bless,” Paul asks, “are they not a participation in the body and blood of Christ?” Jesus put it this way: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” Speaking of baptism, Paul tells the Galatians that “as many as have been baptized have put on Christ,” and he tells the Romans that “as many as have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death.”
So for all of our attention to doctrinal detail and precision, it is refreshing to be reminded every now and then that the mystery of the gospel is all about “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” and that our union with the Son of God makes us “partakers of the divine nature.”
Of course, I can’t pretend to be able to explain what this all means exactly, but I do know that we should be taking every opportunity to avail ourselves of the means of grace that God has given his church, so that this participatory union in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection can be something that we not only affirm, but also experience.
You can read more at creedcodecult.com. Thanks Jason for those encouraging words.