2012 Reading quotes

Sacraments of Grace and Gospel

February 9, 2012
In his classic work, The Cross of Christ, John Stott elaborates how the sacraments dramatize the meaning of the cross:

“Protestant churches have traditionally referred to baptism and the Lord’s Supper as either “sacraments of the gospel” (because they dramatize the central truth of the good news) or “sacraments of grace” (because they set forth visibly God’s gracious saving initiative). Both expressions are correct. The primary movement which the gospel sacraments embody is from God to man, not man to God. The application of water in baptism represents either cleansing from sin and the outpouring of the Spirit (if it is administered by affusion) or sharing Christ’s death and resurrection (if by immersion) or both. We do not baptize ourselves. We submit to baptism, and the action done to us symbolizes the saving work of Christ. In the Lord’s Supper, similarly, the essential drama consists of the taking, blessing, breaking and giving of bread, and the taking, blessing, pouring and giving of wine. We do not (or should not) administer the elements to ourselves. They are given to us; we receive them. And as we eat the bread and drink the wine physically, so spiritually by faith we feed on Christ crucified in our hearts. Thus, in both sacraments we are more or less passive, recipients not donors, beneficiaries not benefactors.”

(page 253)

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