Q.67. Are both the word and the sacrament then intended to focus our faith on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross as the only ground of our salvation?
A. 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.
The catechism answers with a hearty affirmative to this question. In fact, in this question one finds the key to the Christian’s life and faith: a focus on Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for our complete salvation. All preaching, teaching, and living must have Christ as its center if it is to be of any lasting value. For if Christ is not the center of our faith, then what hope is there for the new life apart from sin. Read 1Corinthians 2:2-5.
Read 1Corinthians 2:6-16. Paul eloquently tells the believer their knowledge of the faith comes not as a result of study or worldly wisdom, but because the Spirit teaches about Christ. And to prove his point, Paul refers to a passage of Scripture from Isaiah 64:4 to make it clear that the message of Christ originates in the Scripture but can only be understand by the enlightening work of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit’s work is to testify to Christ. The Spirit desires nothing more than to make Jesus known among the nations. Therefore, the Spirit teaches believers, convicts souls and draws people unto the only salvation available – an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Read 1John 4:2, 5:6
The sacraments are no different than the word. When the Spirit instructs us through the written word, we access that body of knowledge that God has established to teach humanity about our history, our need for salvation, and the person who saves. When we partake of the sacraments, we visibly associate ourselves and are associated with the covenant people throughout time and space. Consider the Lord’s Supper, Paul tells us that participation in the meal is an individual proclamation of the death of Christ. Read 1Corinthians 11:26.
In the sacrament of baptism, the spirit affirms to us that our sins are washed away and our new clothes, our clean clothes, are the robes of Christ. This too, refers back to the Word, but applies it to each individual believer. May we always rejoice at the wonders proclaimed in the sacrifice of Christ made available to his body in word and sacrament. Read Romans 6:3 and Galatians 3:27.
Q.68. How many sacraments did Christ institute in the New Testament?
A. Two: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Read Matthew 28:19-20. While we have already alluded to this, there are two sacraments the Holy Spirit uses to teach and affirm our faith. As reformed believers, we baptize infants and all adults who have not previously been baptized. We do this because of the covenant and the promise that salvation is for the family. Additionally, Jesus instructs his followers to baptize and then teach. So as believing families we do just that, baptize them and then teach them the faith. We also celebrate the Lord’s Supper because Jesus asked us to remember his life and death. Read 1Corinthians 11:23-26.