Lord's Day 41

Week 40 :: Week 41 :: Week 42


In question 88 of the catechism we learn that Christ imparts His blessings through the Word, the Sacraments, and through Prayer, all of which are effectual for our salvation. Last week we studied how the Word of God becomes effectual for salvation through the prayerful preaching, hearing, and application of the Word in our lives. Now we turn to a brief study of the Sacraments. 

Augustine once wrote that the sacraments are visible signs of God’s invisible grace. That is, what is happening outwardly in the elements represented in Baptism and Communion, convey what the Holy Spirit is doing inwardly; washing away our sins and feeding us spiritually. Calvin wrote, “as our faith is weak unless it is supported on every side and sustained by every means… our merciful Lord, so adjusts himself to our capacity that, since we are creatures who always cling to the earth and cleave to fleshly things, and do not think about or even conceive spiritual matters, he condescends to lead us to himself by just such earthly things, and to set before us in the flesh a mirror of spiritual blessings. The sacraments, in themselves, do not save us, only God saves us. They are, however, effectual unto salvation, bringing us to an encounter with the grace of God. 

The reformed tradition recognizes only two sacraments to be authorized by Christ; Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These are the only two ordinances of the church that were specifically authorized by the Lord; Baptism, in Matthew 28:19 when Jesus commanded, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” and Communion in Luke 21:19, when Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” 


Almighty God, you have shown your grace in ways we can clearly understand through the sacraments of Baptism and Communion. May the water and the meal teach us to trust in you alone for our salvation, and strengthen us to follow you. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Question 91

Q. 91. How do the Sacraments become effectual means of salvation?

A. The Sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him that doth administer them; but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of his Spirit in them that by faith receive them.

Scripture Proofs

1 Peter 3:21;

Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

Matt. 3:11;

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

1 Cor. 3:6-7;

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

1 Cor. 12:13;

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

Question 92

Q. 92. What is a Sacrament?

A. A Sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ; wherein, by sensible signs, Christ and the benefits of the new covenant are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.

Scripture Proofs

Gen. 17:7;

And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.

Gen. 17:10;

This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.

1 Cor. 11:23;

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,

1 Cor. 11:26.

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Question 93

Q. 93. Which are the Sacraments of the New Testament?

A. The Sacraments of the New Testament are Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper.

Scripture Proofs

Matt. 28:19;

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Matt. 26:26-28.

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.