Promise and Action
HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, LORD’S DAY 25
It is by faith alone that we share in Christ and all his blessings: where then does that faith come from?
The Holy Spirit produces it in our hearts by the preaching of the holy gospel, and confirms it through our use of the holy sacraments.
What are sacraments?
Sacraments are holy signs and seals for us to see. They were instituted by God so that by our use of them he might make us understand more clearly the promise of the gospel, and might put his seal on that promise. And this is God’s gospel promise: to forgive our sins and give us eternal life by grace alone because of Christ’s sacrifice finished on the cross.
Are both the word and the sacraments then intended to focus our faith on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross as the only ground of our salvation?
Right! In the gospel the Holy Spirit teaches us and through the holy sacraments he assures us that our entire salvation rests on Christ’s one sacrifice for us on the cross.
How many sacraments did Christ institute in the New Testament?
Two: baptism and the Lord’s Supper
Promise and Action
Wednesday, June 14: Galatians 3:23-4:7
The promise of the gospel stands at the core of the Sacraments. What is that promise? That while we were still sinners God poured out his loving grace into our lives through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and by His resurrection defeat of sin and death, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit our hearts are cleansed and we can stand before the Lord as if we have never sinned nor been sinners. Paul explains: “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29). The Sacraments serve to point us to toward Christ and to remind us of our adoption into the family of God, into the gospel Kingdom. This grace and this adoption remind us that we are not to conform to the patterns of the secular and unbelieving world but are to be transformed by God’s renewing of our minds so we can carry out his will for our lives (Romans 12:1-2). This grace and this adoption, however, are not something we are meant to hoard for ourselves. The gospel promise does not call us to stand so far apart from the unbelieving world that we ignore those unbelievers who have not experienced the grace so richly poured out into our own lives. No! The promise of the gospel, which we so deeply experience when we celebrate the Sacraments, is an invitation for all people from every tribe and language and nation to experience God’s rich love and grace and mercy. We are meant to proclaim this gospel truth with our entire heart and soul and mind and strength, in every interaction we have, in every plan we make, in every relationship we develop, in every word we say, in every note we sing, in every TV show we choose to watch, in every meal we make, in every single thing we do down to the very tying of our shoes. The Sacraments point us toward the gospel promise, and we in turn, are meant to point unbelievers to that same promise. As we continue to study and celebrate the Sacraments, I pray that you will embrace the gospel promise, finding ways to proclaim it from the depths of your very soul in all you do.
Chaplain Sarah Hoogendoorn