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Lesson #91: Effectual Sacraments

Wednesday, January 12, 2011, 6:00
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Lesson #91—Effectual Sacraments


Shorter Catechism Q & A #91

Q. 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.

Memorize Q&A—Exposition

Salvation, being the grace of God, in Christ, whereby we are eternally delivered from sin and guilt, we understand the sacraments to be “a means of salvation” whereby we receive blessings by the very presence of Christ and the Spirit, and his Word.

What does it mean?

The Sacraments become effectual to our salvation, not by the virtue of the elements or by men but:

  • by the blessing of Christ: (1 Peter 3:21, Matt. 3:11, 1 Cor. 3:6)
  • by the working of the Holy Spirit: (1 Cor. 3:7, 6:11, 12:13)
  • by receiving them by faith: (Acts 8:13, 35-37)

What is our practice?

We work out our salvation, studying the Word of God, preparing our hearts and deeds, looking for the covenant blessings of God, as in the sacraments.

Quotes for thought and discussion:

“Does the efficacy of sacraments depend upon the blessing of Christ? Yes: Lo, I am with you always, Matt. 28:20. And upon the working of the Spirit? Yes: for it is the Spirit that quickeneth, John 6:63. And are they effectual to those only who by faith receive them? Yes: He that believes, and is baptized, shall be saved, Mark 16:16.” (Matthew Henry)

“A lady who was present at the observance of the Lord’s Supper, where Ebenezer Erskine was assisting, was much impressed by his discourse. Having been informed who he was, she went next Sabbath to his own place of worship to hear him. But she felt none of those strong impressions she experienced on the former occasion. Wondering at this, she called on Erskine, and stating the case, asked what might be the reason of such a difference in her feelings; he replied, ‘Madam, the reason is this—last Sabbath you went to hear Jesus Christ; but to-day, you have come to hear Ebenezer Erskine.’” (John Whitecross, Illustrated)

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