From the Preface: The book is not an exhaustive treatment of the Lord’s Supper. It has a primary focus which can be stated in question format. How is the Lord’s Supper a means of grace? I do not deal with many important issues related to the Supper, nor do I interact with all the secondary historical-theological issues and sources. My aim is very specific–to provide exegetical and theological grounds upon which the Supper is seen as a means of grace. I will also examine some of the Reformed tradition’s confessions and catechisms. That part of the study seeks to illustrate how the exegetical and theological data has been formulated into doctrinal statements and to confirm that my thesis is not novel.
What are means of grace? How do accomplished blessings for us become applied blessings in us? Is the Lord’s Supper a means of grace and if so, how? Is it only a memorial meal, something we do, or does God do something to us through the Lord’s Supper? How often should churches partake? What should be our attitude during the Lord’s Supper? These and other questions are answered in this book.
Foreword by James M. Renihan
Recommendations by Michael Haykin, Robert Oliver, Carl Trueman, and others!
There are at least three qualities that combine for the making of good “stewards of the mysteries of God:” skill in the interpretation of Scripture, familiarity with the history of Christian thought (for perspective, insight and the detection of error), and acquaintance with the human heart for the due application (“rightly dividing”) of scriptural truth. In his newest book Richard Barcellos brings out these qualities for the task of helping his fellow stewards appreciate and dispense the rich fare of the Lord’s Supper.
The book provides a greatly needed exegetically demonstrated answer to the question, “What is the meaning of the Lord’s Supper?” For many, it is a mere memorial. A memorial does not need to be thought of as “mere.” In fact, memorials of God’s redemptive acts, may, as such, be a powerful means of grace if used correctly, but for many, even as such its value is lost. The greatest strength of Dr. Barcellos’ book is his exegetical demonstration that the Supper is so much more than a memorial; it is a God-given way for the actual experience of, a participation in, a true, real, spiritual “eating” of the glorified Christ, with the result of a true increase of spiritual joy, strength, and growth in the likeness of the Lord. Along with this, he corrects several serious doctrinal and practical errors which have come into the church and which have kept the children of God from rightly and fully receiving the blood-bought benefits of the sacred meal. Here is the old Reformed doctrine of the Supper, a truth for which Protestants were martyred, the doctrine set forth in all Reformed Confessions, set forth afresh and convincingly to 21st century readers, soundly proven and extensively explained from the Holy Scriptures. Written with students in mind, it should be on the required reading list of all who are preparing to be ministers of the Word.
Richard W. Daniels
Ph.D., Westminster Theological Seminary
Author of The Christology of John Owen
Ever since the mid-nineteenth century, Evangelical eucharistic theology and praxis have been marred by a deep-seated anemia. The origins of this condition are manifold, but surely one of them is the lack of a robust view of the spiritual presence of Christ at his Table. In this regard, Richard Barcellos is to be commended heartily for detailing the biblical and theological foundations of what our forefathers in the Faith knew well, namely, that, the Lord’s Table is, in the words of the Calvinistic Baptist William Kiffin, a vehicle of “spiritual nourishment.”
Michael A. G. Haykin
Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
The Lord’s Supper is more than a memory. Modern Baptists have often fallen into the “dead memorial” category. Others have emphasized self-examination to the point of morbidity. Our Particular Baptist forefathers taught the “spiritual presence of Christ” in the supper and an understanding of this is vital to our spiritual vitality. This new book by Dr. Barcellos will be a great help for men in the ministry, and those studying for the ministry. May God use this book as a catalyst in bringing about continuing reform in our churches.
Pastor Steve Marquedant
Sovereign Grace Baptist Church
None of us have fully appreciated the stupendous blessing which the Lord’s Supper is to Christ’s church, but Dr. Barcellos’ excellent treatment of this subject can strengthen our grasp upon the exalted reality. With capable exegesis of key Scripture passages, demonstrable consistency with the best systematic theology, and informed interaction with historic Christian thought, this important work will, with God’s blessing, assist modern pastors to realize better the true nature of this second ordinance of Christ as a capacious channel of sanctifying grace. With unqualified recommendation I urge a careful reading of this book, especially if your theologically-formative influences were similar to mine, committed to the memorial view of the Supper, not unusual among Baptists of the last century or so.
An especially delightful surprise awaits the reader at the end, where Dr. Barcellos cogently links the profound spiritual realities he has proven from Scripture with the most practical implications for the manner of Lord’s Supper observance in our churches. The connection of doctrine and practice in this area may not have been obvious at first, but having seen it in print, I find it inescapable. May the Lord reform His churches and strengthen our unity by the standard of His Word and through the sound teaching of this incisive analysis.
D. Scott Meadows, Pastor
Calvary Baptist Church (Reformed)
I warmly recommend this modern presentation of the Reformed or Calvinistic doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. The contents of the book demonstrate the aptness of its title. It is founded on a thorough exposition of Scripture, with particular attention to the teaching of the apostle Paul and it is consistent with the great Reformation confessions of faith. Some treatments of this position have tended to be abstruse: this is not. It demands careful attention as all scriptural doctrines do, but the careful reader will find it warm and practical. Many Christians have adopted a memorialist view in reaction to the false sacramentalism promoted in some quarters. Richard Barcellos calls us back to the biblical position of our fathers. Such a return can only enrich the worship of our churches and that of individual members. Thoroughly practical it deserves a wide sale and careful study.
Robert W. Oliver, Ph.D.
Bradford on Avon, UK
Visiting Professor of Church History
Puritan Reformed Seminary, Grand Rapids, MI
Author of History of the English Calvinistic Baptists 1771-1892
Baptists have often been accused of downplaying or even ignoring the Lord’s Supper as an important part of the Christian life, and there has sadly been much evidence that such an accusation has merit. Thus, it is good to be able to recommend this book in which Baptist pastor and theologian, Richard Barcellos, reclaims the Lord’s Supper as a means of grace and argues for its significance in the life of the local congregation. It is to be hoped that this book will have a significant influence in encouraging us all to think more carefully about the role of the Supper in the life of our churches.
Carl R. Trueman
Paul Woolley Professor of Church History
Westminster Theological Seminary, PA
About the Author
Richard C. Barcellos, Ph.D., is pastor of Grace Reformed Baptist Church (www.grbcav.org), Palmdale, CA, and author of In Defense of the Decalogue: A Critique of New Covenant Theology and Better than the Beginning: Creation in Biblical Perspective.