Monday, November 2, 2009

As painted in a picture

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 14 - The Sacraments
1-6 - Signs of God's covenants
1. Sacraments are outward signs to seal God's promises to us, "to sustain the weakness of our faith."
2. Sacrament is Latin for the Greek "mystery," found in Eph 3:2-3; Col 1:26-27; 1 Tim 3:16.
3. God's promise in the Word always precedes the sacrament. The sacrament is "a sort of appendix" to it, not needed for the Word's inadequacy, but for our weakness. God gives us sacraments to firm up our wavering, tottering faith.
4. The Word with the sacrament "must make us understand" the sacrament. Just saying certain words doesn't "do it;" they must be believed - Rom 10:8; Acts 15:9; 1 Pet 3:21. So "the sacrament requires preaching to beget faith."
5. Rom 4:11 calls circumcision a seal, so sacraments are seals, for circumcision was an Old Testament kind of sacrament. Believers don't stop at the physical sign of the sacrament but see through it to the spiritual mystery.
6. Sacraments are signs of God's covenants. His promises are covenants - Gen 6:18; 9:9; 17:2. His sacraments are given to make His promises more certain to us.

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