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Sacrifice and Salvation

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

 

Sacrifice and Salvation

Thursday, June 15: Colossians 3:1-17

I minister to a diverse population of people as a Chaplain.  In a pluralistic environment filled with people of varied faith backgrounds and beliefs, I am often astounded by the commonality in people’s wrestling with their spiritual lives.  It usually comes down to this question: “Was I good enough?”  Did I live my life in a way that will fulfill the desires of whatever ‘Being’ is out there so I can get to heaven?  Am I good enough to deserve a happy afterlife.  As I engage in these conversations, I find myself ever thankful for my Christian heritage of faith.  The heritage of faith – the gospel kingdom we are adopted into as believers – doesn’t let us ask the question “Was I good enough?”  The gospel message begins by telling us “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).  We aren’t good enough.  We’ve never done anything to merit entrance into the Gospel Kingdom.  We’re dirty sinners who, by all rights, should dwell in the muck and mire of our sin for eternity.  The good news of the Gospel, the promise we find in the Sacraments, is that we don’t have to be good enough.  Christ came to earth, lived a perfect life, and took the punishment we earned through our sin onto himself.  He died a painful, horrible, unearned death, forsaken by God, so that we could be cleansed in his blood.  He defeated the powers of sin and death and the devil so that we could stand before the Lord as if we had never sinned nor been sinners.  Christ doesn’t say to us “You weren’t good enough.”  Christ says to us, “You aren’t good enough, but I am, and I’ve taken your place.”  As Paul so beautifully writes, this is the good news, the promise at the core of the Sacraments: “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.  This is the gospel that you have heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant” (Colossians 1:21-23). 

Chaplain Sarah Hoogendoorn