20 March 2005
Genesis 17:7, Exodus 12 & 1 Corinthians 16:23
The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 92. What is a sacrament?
A. A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ; wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English:
Q.92. What is a sacrament?
A. A sacrament is a holy regulation established by Christ, in which Christ and the benefits of the new covenant are represented, sealed, and applied to believers by physical signs.
1. Where did we obtain the word “sacrament”?
The word “sacrament” is a theological word, not a biblical word. It is of Latin origin and was used by the Romans to signify their military oath. The soldiers, in taking this oath, promised that they would not forsake the standard of their leader.
2. How is the word “sacrament” used by the church today?
Rightly used, it means something that is sacred, it is a solemn engagement to be the Lord’s.
3. Why do we call a sacrament a “holy ordinance”?
It is called a “holy ordinance” because it has been appointed for holy reasons.
4. Is it necessary that a sacrament be “instituted by Christ”?
Our Larger Catechism uses the words “instituted by Christ in His Church” and our Confession states “immediately instituted by God” and Paul expresses the necessity by his words in 1 Corinthians 11:23 - “For I have received of the Lord ....”
5. What are the two parts to a sacrament?
The two parts to a sacrament are: (1) The outward or sensible signs; (2) The inward grace, the spiritual part.
6. How can we bring these two parts together?
We can bring them together by recognising that the inward graces are represented by the outward signs.
7. Why are the benefits only applied to believers?
They are applied to believers for it is only believers who have the true faith that enables them to discern and apply the spiritual grace involved. It is only the believer who has a real, effectual application of Christ.