The word "Sacrament" is a
combination of two Latin words: "sacra-" (meaning
"sacred" or "holy") and "-ment" (meaning "thing"). Thus a
"sacrament is a "holy or sacred thing."
is a "holy thing"? There are many things we could call
"holy things." It is a holy thing to give offerings, to
attend church, to pray, to share the Gospel with others and the
study God's Word.
Since the word "sacrament" is
not found in the Bible, Christians are free to designate whatever
they wish as a sacrament.
Catholic Church has seven sacraments. These include Confirmation,
Confession (that is, asking for forgiveness of sin), Ordination
(when a person becomes a priest), Marriage, Extreme Unction (that
is, anointing someone just before the time of their death), Holy
Baptism, and Holy Communion. Other Protestant Churches do not have
sacraments at all.
the teaching of Martin Luther, Lutherans recognize Sacraments as
something so holy and so special, that they deserve to be in a
special category. That is why Lutherans have just two
sacraments: Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.
Means Of Grace
Why are Holy Baptism
and Holy Communion so special? Because they, in addition to God's
Word itself, are the exclusive way that God gives His grace.
recognize that these sacraments are the "means" by which
God gives faith (Holy Baptism) and strengthens faith (Holy
Communion). For that reason they are placed in a very special
category called "Means of Grace."
Criterion For A Sacrament
to be called a "Sacrament," Lutherans insist that a
Sacrament meet these three criteria:
1) It Must Be Commanded By God.
What God has commanded us to do is especially
important for us to do. When Jesus said, "Baptize all
nations" He commanded us
to share His grace with everyone throughout the world. When Jesus
Holy Communion, He commanded, "This do...." For
Lutherans, Sacraments are
special because they have the very command of God. He directs us to
We respond with joy by respecting and observing His command.
2) It Must Have Visible Elements ("Means").
This criteria for sacraments further describes--
and limits--what can be considered a "sacrament." There
are many things in
the life of the church that are "holy", but very few have
something visible attached
to them. Prayer is holy, but is not a sacrament because there is
nothing visible. Holy
Baptism and Holy Communion both have visible elements (or
These are water (Baptism) and bread and wine (Holy Communion).
3) It Must Offer God's Grace (that is, Forgiveness). For
Lutherans, this is the most
distinctive thing about the Sacraments. Since they offer God's
grace, they are
called--and recognized--as "Means of Grace." Because God
has only promised
to give grace through His Word, Baptism, and Holy Communion, these
of grace are absolutely essential and foundation to Christian
Why Are Sacraments So Important?
Sacraments are so important not only because God commanded them, but
He has promised that through their use He will give us His grace. In
Holy Baptism, God gives His grace so that we can come to faith and
become children of God. In Holy Communion, God gives His grace so
that even our weak faith will be strengthened.
the Sacraments, God gives His grace in spite of our unworthiness to
receive it. Through the Sacraments, God gives His grace to all who
humbly receive His promised blessing.
Things Sacraments Do
Sacraments are also important to Christians because they do three
things for those who receive them. Sacraments...
1) Grant us forgiveness of sins;
2) Deliver us from death and the Devil; and
3) Give eternal salvation to all who believe this as the words and
promises of God
Why Should You Receive The Sacraments?
answer should be obvious. Without the Sacrament of Baptism, one
cannot come to Christian Faith. Without Holy Communion, one denies
the very real presence of Jesus in their lives to forgive and
strengthen you each day.
Word and Sacrament is the necessary basis for coming to faith--and
staying in Faith. After you are confirmed, will you read God's Word
and receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion often? Or will you turn
away from God's special means of grace?