The 2011 ARBCA General Assembly began at 8:30 a.m. with a devotion by Pastor David Johnson on the life of Jeremiah. This year's theme is "The Means of Grace." Dr. Jim Renihan opened the series with a sermon, "Defining the Means of Grace." He defined the means of grace as instruments or methods by which the grace of God is imparted. They are channels of grace. He stated that there are two criteria necessary for an activity to be a means of grace:
1. Is it of Divine Institution. In other words, there must be a Divine origination or command. Has God plainly declared the activity in His Word?
2. There must be a Divine Promise attached to it. Has God plainly declared in His Word that He would bless the activity with His grace.
The means of grace declared in the Word of God and consistent with our Confession are prayer, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, and the ministry of the Word. Our Confession lists other means such as occasional fasting with thanksgiving.
During the evening session Pastor Tom Lyon brought a wonderful sermon on "Preaching as a Means of Grace." The sermon had three points. Preaching is the ordinary means of grace because:
1. No other means enjoys the authority of preaching. Preaching is the voice of God.
2. No other means enjoys the atmosphere of preaching. Preaching involves preaching AND hearing. He quoted Martyn Lloyd-Jones, "You cannot put preaching on paper." Nor is a recorded sermon the same as preaching.
3. No other means enjoys the accuracy of preaching. The preacher must be well prepared.
4. No other means enjoys the agenda of preaching. Only preaching can fulfill the Great Commission of teaching "all things."