Of the use of the Sacraments they teach that the Sacraments were ordained, not only to be marks of profession among men, but rather to be signs and testimonies of the will of God toward us, instituted to awaken and confirm faith in those who use them. Wherefore we must so use the Sacraments that faith be added to believe the promises which are offered and set forth through the Sacraments. They therefore condemn those who teach that the Sacraments justify by the outward act, and who do not teach that, in the use of the Sacraments, faith which believes that sins are forgiven, is required.
Let’s begin our lesson today with a test in order to refresh our memories:
1）What are the sacraments (sacred orders) that Jesus gave to his church?
——————– & ————————
2）What Swiss reformer in the Middle Centuries made the claim that the sacraments were nothing more than marks of faith or exclusively outward symbols, but not means of grace?
—————– Von ———————.
3）What church body today states that the sacraments are vehicles by which the Holy Spirit is transported to the hearts of people to create faith, or strengthen and nourish faith?
4）What 3 reasons do Lutherans consider the Lord’s Supper and Baptism to be sacraments?
5）Do you believe that any person who does not desire to be baptized is clearly indicating that he does not want to be classified with Christians?
6）Do you believe that the majority of people who come to the Lord’s Table to receive his body and blood for the forgiveness of their sins desire to be numbered with the Christians?
• Remember, it was Ulrich Von Zwingly who denied the necessity of the sacraments and emptied them of their value by saying that they are only marks or professions of faith, but inwardly, he claimed, there is no working of the Holy Spirit. Our forefathers in the Augsburg Confession drew away from Zwingly’s position.
• While we maintain that the sacraments are marks by which we are identified in Christ, we also recognize the sacraments as vehicles by which the Holy Spirit chooses to create, sustain, and nurture an individual’s faith. This will be the focus of our study today.
First, let us look at the “marks of faith.”
I Corinthians 11:26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
哥林多前书 11:26 你们每逢吃这饼，喝这杯，是表明主的死，直等到他来。
What does Paul say that we are doing each time we come to the Lord’s Table?
• Therefore, by publicly partaking of the Lord’s Supper we are drawing a line between us and rest of the world. Christians proclaim the death of their Savior for the forgiveness of their sins, while the rest of the world relies on something else for their deliverance in life. Receiving the Lord’s Supper is a confession of faith on the part of the Christian that they are with Jesus and his church, connected in part through this sacred meal that he gives to us.
Yes, taking communion is definitely a mark that you belong to the family of believers! But more than that, the apostle teaches us in his letter to the Corinthians that there is a close connection that we share with the people whom we choose to commune with. Read the following…
I Corinthians 10:17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.
What relationship exists between me the communicant and the person that I commune with to the right and left of me?
• When you approach the Lord’s Table, you do so with the firm belief that everything he has promised you in this meal, namely—bread, wine, body, and blood, and forgiveness of sins, will be given to you. And by your example you are encouraging others to take the Lord’s words at face value as well.
Part II. A SECONDARY PURPOSE OF THE SACRAMENTS 圣礼的第二层目的
Outside of the mark of faith, these sacraments serve us Christians as our article states, “To awaken and confirm faith in those who use them.”
We know that it is God’s will that none shall be lost, but rather, that all would come to a saving knowledge of his forgiveness in Christ. We need the forgiveness of our sins, and God wants us to have it. He not only announces this fact to us in his Word, but he also places the forgiveness of our sins into Baptism, so that by this “washing with water through the word” (Ephesians 5:26) we may have a visible indication of his good will toward us.
Our God also places the forgiveness of our sins into the Supper, so that in and with the bread and wine we will eat and drink the very body and blood of Christ, which were given and shed for the remission of our sins. Again, we have an indication of God’s good will toward us.
Our article calls the sacraments signs because as such they indicate and announce to us the grace of God. Read the following…
Romans 4:1-3 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
罗马书 4:1-3 如此说来，我们的祖宗亚伯拉罕，凭着肉体得了什么呢。倘若亚伯拉罕是因行为称义，就有可夸的。只是在神面前并无可夸的。经上说什么呢。说，亚伯拉罕信神，这就算为他的义。
What made Abraham righteous? Faith or circumcision?
What was the point, then, of the covenant of circumcision?
Romans 4:11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them.
罗马书 4:11 并且他受了割礼的记号，作他未受割礼的时候因信称义的印证，叫他作一切未受割礼而信之人的父，使他们也算为义。
Fill in the blank:
God had made a special —————- with Abraham, that in him and in his seed all the families of the earth should be ————–. Twenty ———– long years had passed since God announced his promise to Abraham. Abraham was now — — years old; Sarah, his wife, was — — years old and she was still barren. It was difficult for Abraham to have ———– in the promise that he should have a —– from whom should stem the ———— of the world.
神给亚伯拉罕一个特别——–，就是从他和他的后代中地上的万族都要——–。 之后二十———–年过去了。亚伯拉罕现在——–岁；撒拉，他的妻子，——岁还没有生育。亚伯拉罕很难对应许还有——–，相信他会有一个——, 然后从他会生出世界————。
Twice he had schemed to assist the ——— in carrying out his plan. At first he thought of ————- a son, mentioning his steward —————-. He said to God, “You have given me no —————–; so a ————– in my household will be my ———-” (Genesis 15:3). The LORD, however, emphatically said, “This ——– will not be your ——–” (vs. 4). Instead, he promised him a ——— of his own. A second time Abraham tried to assist God by taking the suggestion of Sarah and marrying her maidservant by the name of ————, an Egyptian.
Abe had a son with her and they named him —————-. Even when Abraham was —- —- years old, he still thought of —————- as the heir of the promise. He said to God, “If only ————– might live under your blessing” (Genesis 17:18), because Abe’s ——– had a hard time accepting God’s promises still. Who would have thought that a man in his 100th year and his wife in her ———— th year could have a son. Even Sarah found this to be a bit ———— so she ————-. But the Lord repeated his promise: “Your wife Sarah will bear you a ——–” (Genesis 17:19). And so God encouraged Abraham’s ————– faith by saying, “I am God ————–; walk before me and be blameless” (Genesis 17:1). It was at this time that God instituted the sacrament of —————-. It was to be a seal of his promise and a help to Abraham’s faith.
亚伯拉罕跟她生下一子名叫————. 一直到亚伯拉罕———岁时，他还一直认为————–是所应许的继承人。他对上帝说“但愿———–活在你面前”（创世纪17:18），因为亚伯拉罕的————–很难相信神的应许。谁能想到一个一百岁的男性和——岁的妻子能再生一个儿子。连撒拉都觉得这有点———-所以她———–.但是神重申他的应许：“你妻子撒拉要给你生一个———-”（创世纪17:19）。所以神鼓励亚伯拉罕的————信心说：“我是———的神；你当在我面前做完全人”（创世纪17:1）。也就是在这个时候神开设了———- 圣礼。那是他应许的印记和对亚伯拉罕信心的一个帮助。
So the next time you come to the Lord’s Table, skeptical that he can provide you with everything he promises to provide you with in that meal, namely bread, wine, body, and blood, for the forgiveness of our sins, remember the story of Abraham and learn well the lesson: WHAT SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE FOR MAN IS POSSIBLE WITH GOD!
Why not look at the Sacraments, which Christ instituted the same way? They are God’s special means of grace by which he assists us in our faith. Similarly, they are testimonies to us that God has yet again done the impossible. He has made atonement for our sins, personally; he has blotted them out in the sacrifice of his Son; he has covered us with the garments of his Son’s righteousness; he has adopted us as his children and has appointed us as heirs of everlasting life.
Baptism, being the sacrament of initiation, is chiefly intended to awaken the faith of a tiny child. And baptism never loses its power no matter how long ago it was performed, but we may revert to it daily in our trials and our lapses and find it a potent power to revive our fainting faith.
The Lord’s Supper, being the sacrament of confirmation, is chiefly intended to strengthen our faith. In the very words of institution what one word does Jesus use so that our faith is revived and invigorated?
Because our God is very much concerned about our faith, he allows us various opportunities to have that faith strengthened (The gospel in Word and sacrament). God knows that the enemies of our faith, (The world, our sinful flesh, and Satan) will constantly try to rob us of our joy in God’s grace.
Last week, we looked at the lesson, which showed that we too should also be concerned about our faith because it is possible for a Christian to lose his/her faith in God if it is not strengthened by God in his Word. How concerned is the individual soul who never comes to God’s Word and never comes to the Lord’s Table for refreshing?
By use of the means of Grace, we not only show God our own concern for our faith, but we also allow God to work on our faith by reminding us of his goodness in the gospel.
Let us apply the sacraments in the form of a mini test?
Why do you have your children baptized? Is it because you believe in your own baptism? Do you use your own baptism as a daily source for the renewal of your faith and spiritual life by calling back to mind what God has promised you in baptism? Do you daily drown your Old Adam in your baptism and draw forth the new man crated like God in true righteousness and holiness? Do you cherish your baptism as an ever-flowing fountain of comfort and strength when your faith feels faint and weak? And do you wish your child to have access to this same sign and testimony of God’s will toward him? Or do you have your child baptized merely because that is customary among Christians?
God instituted Baptism as a sign and testimony of his will toward us in order to awaken faith in us. Hence we must use Baptism in such a way that faith is added to believe the promise which is offered and set forth through Baptism.
The Lord’s Supper
Why do you take communion? Do you take it to fill your punch card with God? (Since God commanded it, I’d better get up there). Do you consider your going to Communion as a good work which in itself merits God’s favor? Do you worry about your worthiness before coming? Some people postpone their taking of Communion, with the hopes that they will feel more worthy to take it next time. No, God didn’t give us this sacred meal to test our obedience to him, nor did he give it to us to earn bonus points with him, but rather, to confirm and strengthen our faith in him.
The Sacrament is a sign and testimony of God’s gracious will toward us, instituted in order to confirm our faith, which God knows we sorely need because of our unworthiness. Therefore, are self-examination before coming to the Lord’s Table, need not be a self-torture of all our wretched deeds. The purpose of our self-examination is merely to heighten our joy in embracing the gospel of forgiveness through Christ’s work of redemption.
Luther once said, “He is prepared, who believes these words, ‘Given and shed for you for the remission of sins.’ The words, ’For you’ require nothing but hearts that believe.” (Small Catechism).
Let us then use the sacrament of communion as a faith strengthener. For we realize the sinfulness of our nature; we realize our own weakness in resisting temptation; we realize our lack of zeal to do good works; we realize our lack of patience under the cross. Our faith is far from what it should be. God knows it, and for that very purpose he gave us the Sacrament that by its use our faith might be confirmed.