Q. 93: What are the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption?
A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption are His ordinances, especially the Word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer; all which means are made effectual to the elect for salvation.
Believe it or not, what you’ve just read above is an excerpt from The Baptist Catechism drafted by our late 17th century particular Baptist forerunners. Contemporary evangelicalism has a habit of conflating categories such that, for example, salvation virtually becomes a synonym for justification. The Reformers and both the paedobaptist and Baptist Puritans made careful distinctions between each specific benefit of redemption, and these benefits are couched within the overarching scheme of salvation, which encapsulates the entirety of the Christian life.
Baptists have historically believed that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are effectual means of salvation. But what does this mean? Does it mean that we must be baptized in order to receive grace leading to justification? No, that is not what this means. Justification happens at the moment of conversion, by faith alone (which itself is a gift), but there are necessary means which truly regenerate believers will partake of, and these means lead elect saints to the conclusion of their salvation (i.e. conformity to Christ).
These means could also be referred to as those by which Christ conveys, or communicates, the benefits of redemption to His people. Among these normal means are the Word preached, the baptism of professing believers, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer. Christ communicates the benefits of redemption by means of these ordinances, through His Spirit. And these means specifically apply to the locus of sanctification. The ordinances are the ways in which Christ, through His Spirit, conforms the sinner to His image, the fruition of which is the fullness of our salvation (Rom. 8:29, 30).
This will become clearer as we move through questions 94-96 of The Baptist Catechism.