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Westminster Larger Catechism

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The Sacraments

Question 161: How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?

Answer:  The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not by any power in themselves, or any virtue derived from the piety or intention of him by whom they are administered, but only by the working of the Holy Ghost, and the blessing of Christ, by whom they are instituted.

1Peter 3:21; Acts 8:13, 23; 1Cor. 3:6-7; 12:13

Question 162: What is a sacrament?

Answer:  A sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ in his church1, to signify, seal, and exhibit2 unto those that are within the covenant of grace3, the benefits of his mediation4; to strengthen and increase their faith, and all other graces5; to oblige them to obedience6; to testify and cherish their love and communion one with another7; and to distinguish them from those that are without8.

1.  Gen. 17:7, 10; Exod. ch. 12; Matt. 26:26-28; 28:19
2.  Rom. 4:11; 1Cor. 11:24-25
3.  Rom. 15:8; Exod. 12:48
4.  Acts 2:38; 1Cor. 10:16
5.  Rom. 4:11; Gal. 3:27
6.  Rom. 6:3-4; 1Cor. 10:21
7.  Eph. 4:2-5; 1Cor. 12:13
8.  Eph. 2:11-12; Gen. 34:14

Question 163: What are the parts of a sacrament?

Answer:  The parts of a sacrament are two; the one an outward and sensible sign, used according to Christ's own appointment; the other an inward and spiritual grace thereby signified.

Matt. 3:11; 1Peter 3:27; Rom. 2:28-29

Question 164: How many sacraments has Christ instituted in his church under the New Testament?

Answer:  Under the New Testament Christ has instituted in his church only two sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper.

Matt. 26:26-28; 28:19; 1Cor. 11:20, 23

Question 165: What is Baptism?

Answer:  Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein Christ has ordained the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost1, to be a sign and seal of ingrafting into himself2, of remission of sins by his blood3, and regeneration by his Spirit4; of adoption5, and resurrection unto everlasting life6; and whereby the parties baptized are solemnly admitted into the visible church7, and enter into an open and professed engagement to be wholly and only the Lord's8.

1.  Matt. 28:19
2.  Gal. 3:27
3.  Mark 1:4; Rev. 1:5
4.  Titus 3:5; Eph. 5:26
5.  Gal. 3:26-27
6.  1Cor. 15:29; Rom. 6:5
7.  1Cor. 12:13
8.  Rom. 6:4

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Question 166: Unto whom is Baptism to be administered?

Answer:  Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, and so strangers from the covenant of promise, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him1, but infants descending from parents, either both, or but one of them, professing faith in Christ, and obedience to him, are in that respect within the covenant, and to be baptized2.

1.  Acts 2:38; 8:36-37
2.  Gen. 17:7, 9; Gal. 3:9, 14; Col. 2:11-12; Acts 2:38-39; Rom. 4:11-12; 11:16; 1Cor. 7:14;
Matt. 28:19; Luke 18:15-16

Question 167: How is our Baptism to be improved by us?

Answer:  The needful but much neglected duty of improving our Baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others1; by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein2; by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements3; by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament4; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace5; and by endeavoring to live by faith6, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness7, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ8; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body9.

1.  Col. 2:11-12; Rom. 6:4, 6, 11
2.  Rom. 6:3-5
3.  1Cor. 1:11-13; Rom. 6:2-3
4.  Rom. 4:11-12; 1Peter 3:21
5.  Rom. 6:3-5
6.  Gal. 3:26-27
7.  Rom. 6:22
8.  Acts 2:38
9.  1Cor. 12:13, 25-27

Question 168: What is the Lord's Supper?

Answer:  The Lord's Supper is a sacrament of the New Testament1, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine according to the appointment of Jesus Christ, his death is showed forth; and they that worthily communicate feed upon his body and blood, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace2; have their union and communion with him confirmed3; testify and renew their thankfulness4, and engagement to God5, and their mutual love and fellowship each with other, as members of the same mystical body6.

1.  Luke 22:20
2.  Matt. 26:26-28; 1Cor. 11:13-26
3.  1Cor. 10:16
4.  1Cor. 11:24
5.  1Cor. 10:14-16, 21
6.  1Cor. 10:17

Question 169: How has Christ appointed bread and wine to be given and received in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper?

Answer:  Christ has appointed the ministers of his Word, in the administration of this sacrament of the Lord's Supper, to set apart the bread and wine from common use, by the word of institution, thanksgiving, and prayer; to take and break the bread, and to give both the bread and the wine to the communicants: who are, by the same appointment, to take and eat the bread, and to drink the wine, in thankful remembrance that the body of Christ was broken and given, and his blood shed, for them.

1Cor. 11:23-24; Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20

Question 170: How do they that worthily communicate in the Lord's Supper feed upon the body and blood of Christ therein?

Answer:  As the body and blood of Christ are not corporally or carnally present in, with, or under the bread and wine in the Lord's Supper1, and yet are spiritually present to the faith of the receiver, no less truly and really than the elements themselves are to their outward senses2; so they that worthily communicate in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, do therein feed upon the body and blood of Christ, not after a corporal and carnal, but in a spiritual manner; yet truly and really3, while by faith they receive and apply unto themselves Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death4.

1.  Acts 3:21
2.  Matt. 26:26, 28
3.  1Cor. 11:24-29
4.  1Cor. 10:16

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Question 171: How are they that receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper to prepare themselves before they come unto it?

Answer:  They that receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper are, before they come, to prepare themselves thereunto, by examining themselves1 of their being in Christ2, of their sins and wants3; of the truth and measure of their knowledge4, faith5, repentance6; love to God and the brethren7, charity to all men8, forgiving those that have done them wrong9; of their desires after Christ10, and of their new obedience11; and by renewing the exercise of these graces12, by serious meditation13, and fervent prayer14.

1.  1Cor. 11:28
2.  2Cor. 13:5
3.  1Cor. 5:7; Exod. 12:15
4.  1Cor. 11:29
5.  1Cor. 13:5; Matt. 26:28
6.  Zech. 12:10; 1Cor. 11:31
7.  1Cor. 10:16-17; Acts 2:46-47
8.  1Cor. 5:8; 11:18, 20
9.  Matt. 5:23-24
10.  Isa .55:1; John 7:37
11.  1Cor. 5:7-8
12.  1Cor. 11:25-26, 28; Heb. 10:21-22, 24; Ps. 26:6
13.  1Cor. 11:24-25
14.  2Chr. 30:18-19; Matt. 26:26

Question 172: May one who doubts of his being in Christ, or of his due preparation, come to the Lord's Supper?

Answer:  One who doubts of his being in Christ, or of his due preparation to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, may have true interest in Christ, though he be not yet assured thereof1; and in God's account has it, if he be duly affected with the apprehension of the want of it2, and unfeignedly desires to be found in Christ3, and to depart from iniquity4: in which case (because promises are made, and this sacrament is appointed, for the relief even of weak and doubting Christians)5 he is to bewail his unbelief6, and labor to have his doubts resolved7; and, so doing, he may and ought to come to the Lord's Supper, that he may be further strengthened8.

1.  Isa. 1:10; 1John 5:13; Ps. 77:1-12; ch 88; Jonah 2:4, 7
2.  Isa. 54:7-10; Matt. 5:3-4; Ps. 31:22; 73:13, 22-23
3.  Phil 3:8-9; Ps. 10:17; 42:1-2, 5, 11
4.  2Tim. 2:19; Isa. 1:10; Ps. 66:18-20
5.  Isa. 4:11, 29, 31; Matt. 11:28; 12:20; 26:28
6.  Mark 9:24
7.  Acts 2:37, 16:30
8.  Rom. 4:11; 1Cor. 11:28

Question 173: May any who profess the faith, and desire to come to the Lord's Supper, be kept from it?

Answer:  Such as are found to be ignorant or scandalous, notwithstanding their profession of the faith, and desire to come to the Lord's Supper, may and ought to be kept from that sacrament, by the power which Christ has left in his church1, until they receive instruction, and manifest their reformation2.

1.  1Cor. ch. 5; 11:27-31; Matt. 7:6; Jude 1:23; 1Tim. 5:22
2.  2Cor. 2:7

Question 174: What is required of them that receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper in the time of the administration of it?

Answer:  It is required of them that receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, that, during the time of the administration of it, with all holy reverence and attention they wait upon God in that ordinance1, diligently observe the sacramental elements and actions2, heedfully discern the Lord's body3, and affectionately meditate on his death and sufferings4, and thereby stir up themselves to a vigorous exercise of their graces5; in judging themselves6, and sorrowing for sin7; in earnest hungering and thirsting after Christ8, feeding on him by faith9, receiving of his fulness10, trusting in his merits11, rejoicing in his love12, giving thanks for his grace13; in renewing of their covenant with God, and love to all the saints14.

1.  Lev. 10:3; Heb. 12:18; Ps. 5:7; 1Cor. 11:17, 26-27
2.  Exod. 24:8; Matt. 26:28
3.  1Cor. 11:29
4.  Luke 22:19
5.  1Cor. 10:3-5, 11, 14; 11:26
6.  1Cor. 11:31
7.  Zech. 12:10
8.  Rev. 22:17
9.  John 6:35
10.  John 1:16
11.  Phil. 1:16
12.  Ps. 63:4-5; 2Chr. 30:21
13.  Ps. 22:26
14.  Jer. 1:5; Ps. 1:5
15.  Acts 2:42

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Question 175: What is the duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord's Supper?

Answer:  The duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, is seriously to consider how they have behaved themselves therein, and with what success1; if they find quickening and comfort, to bless God for it2, beg the continuance of it3, watch against relapses4, fulfill their vows5, and encourage themselves to a frequent attendance on that ordinance6: but if they find no present benefit, more exactly to review their preparation to, and carriage at, the sacrament7; in both which, if they can approve themselves to God and their own consciences, they are to wait for the fruit of it in due time8: but, if they see they have failed in either, they are to be humbled9, and to attend upon it afterwards with more care and diligence10.

1.  Ps. 28:7, 85:8; 1Cor. 11:17, 30-31
2.  2Chr. 30:21-16; Acts 2:42, 46
3.  Ps. 36:10; Song of Sol. 3:4; 1Chr. 29:18
4.  1Cor. 10:3-5, 12
5.  Ps. 1:14
6.  1Cor. 11:25-26; Acts 2:42, 46
7.  Song of Sol. 5:1-6; Eccl. 5:1-6
8.  Ps. 42:5, 8; 43:3-5; 123:1-2
9.  2Chr. 30:18-19; Isa. 1:16, 18
10.  2Cor. 7:11; 1Chr. 15:12-14

Question 176: Wherein do the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper agree?

Answer:  The sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper agree, in that the author of both is God1; the spiritual part of both is Christ and his benefits2; both are seals of the same covenant3, are to be dispensed by ministers of the gospel, and by none other4; and to be continued in the church of Christ until his second coming5.

1.  Matt. 28:19; 1Cor. 11:23
2.  Rom. 6:3-4; 1Cor. 10:16
3.  Rom. 4:11; Col. 2:12; Matt. 26:27-28
4.  John 1:33; Matt. 28:19; 1Cor. 4:1; 11:23; Heb. 5:4
5.  Matt. 28:19-20; 1Cor. 11:26

Question 177: Wherein do the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper differ?

Answer:  The sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper differ, in that Baptism is to be administered but once, with water, to be a sign and seal of our regeneration and ingrafting into Christ1, and that even to infants2; whereas the Lord's Supper is to be administered often, in the elements of bread and wine, to represent and exhibit Christ as spiritual nourishment to the soul3, and to confirm our continuance and growth in him4, and that only to such as are of years and ability to examine themselves5.

1.  Matt. 3:11; Titus 3:5; Gal. 3:27
2.  Gen. 17:7, 9; Acts 2:38-39; 1Cor. 7:14
3.  1Cor. 11:23-26
4.  1Cor. 10:16
5.  1Cor. 11:28-29

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