What is a sacrament?


  • In secular world:  Something that binds or brings under obligations
  • In the Bible:  An ordinance instituted by God representing the work of Christ

1.  In Protestant Churches only two

  • Baptism
  • Communion

2.  God instituted sacraments

  • to accompany the Word
  • they have no meaning apart from the message of Jesus Christ
  • visible “pictures” of Christ’s grace
  • help us in our faith by giving us visible signs

3.  Sacraments are

  • Signs and seals of God’s grace in Christ

3.1  As seals they are the visible confirmation of the Covenant of Grace

  • God authoritatively pledges Himself to invest grace in us
  • we pledge to believe and obey

3.2  As signs of the Covenant of Grace

  • established with Abraham
    • Genesis 12:1-3; 17:6-7; Romans 4:11;
  • fulfilled in Christ

4.1 The signs in the Old Testament

  • circumcision
  • blood of the Passover lamb
    • signs accompanied with blood
  • vivid illustration of covenant disobedience
  • pointed forward to Christ, the obedient one

4.2 The signs of the New Testament

  • no more blood
    • Christ paid for covenant disobedience
  • water of baptism
  • wine and bread of Communion (New Covenant)

5. Two elements in each sacrament

  • Visible sign
    • water; bread and wine
  • Inward spiritual grace signified by it
    • Christ crucified
    • union with Christ, the indwelling of the Spirit (regeneration, justification, sanctification)

6.  Relationship between the sign and what it signifies

  • it is not the means of grace
    • Baptism and Communion does not save
    • the water is not the literal blood of Christ
    • the bread is not the literal body of Christ
  • the elements represents what Christ has done to save
  • As water cleanses when I wash
    • So the blood of Christ cleanse from sin
  • As bread nourishes
    • So the body of Christ nourishes my soul
  • As the blood of the lambs saved
    • So the blood of Christ saves

7.  Because the sacraments were instituted by God

  • they convey true grace
    • Baptism: in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
  • Communion:
    • “This is my body/blood –drink/eat it – signs of the New Covenant
  • we are under obligation to use it

8.  Only meant for those who believe in the saving grace of Jesus Christ

  • It is not for unbelievers
    • believe the Word about God’s grace in Christ, then use sacraments
  • Covenant renewal
    • meaningful when accompanied by faith
  • It marks God’s people as different from unbelievers
    • blessing for believers becomes condemnation for unbelievers

Sermon preached by Rev D Rudi Schwartz on Sunday 27 October 2013

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