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Page 358



 

He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son.

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

These things have I written unto you that believe on the Name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternallife, and that ye may believe on the Name of the Son of God.

-I John 5:10-13

 


Does God's Word and promise need supporting signs and seals, or does the faith of believers require strengthening? Why?



Is the use of sacraments necessary for spiritual life? Why or why not?

God added His sacraments as a means to strengthen our faith in His Word. God speaks audibly via the preaching of His gospel, but instructs us visibly by the administering of His sacraments. The Word is directed to our hearing, the sacraments to our seeing. The sacraments visualize the gospel; they do not teach a different message, but they teach the same truth differently. For this reason, the sacraments are often called the "Visible Gospel."

God's sacraments are signs and seals of His gospel -of Christ and His benefits. A sign is an object we see that represents a deeper truth. The sacrament's visible signs direct us to God's invisible grace. As signs, the water in baptism and bread and wine in the Lord's Supper visually testify of Christ's blood that washes away sin, and of His broken body and shed blood which feed and nourish all partakers of His grace. As signs, the sacraments visualize the truth of the gospel.

As seals, the sacraments confirm the truth of the gospel promises. A seal officially confirms the truth of a matter. As seals, the sacraments visibly confirm the gospel truths: that as certainly as water cleanses us from natural filth, so certainly His blood cleanses all believers from their spiritual filth; and as certainly as bread and wine strengthen and sustain us in natural health, so certainly His broken body and shed blood shall strengthen and sustain believers in spiritual health. The sacraments are God's "guarantee' , that the promises signified are true indeed.

Baptism and the Lord's Supper are termed holy sacraments because they are instituted:

1. By a holy God (Jesus Christ)

2. For a holy purpose (the strengthening of believers in their holy faith).

3. For a holy people (not in themselves, but in their gracious separation by God; God desires to distinguish His church from the world)

Just as God's Word, covenant, and gospel are one in both the Old and New Testament, so the sacraments are one in both testaments. Both the Old and New Testament sacraments are instituted by God, are signs and seals of the same gospel truths, refer to the same covenant and church, serve the same purpose, and have the same meaning. However, the Old Testament form of the


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