From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments
In the Thirteenth Article the adversaries approve our statement that the sacraments are not only marks of profession among people, as some imagine, but are rather signs and testimonies of God’s will toward us, through which he moves hearts to believe. But here they ask us to also number seven sacraments.
We hold that the matters and ceremonies instituted in the Scriptures should be maintained and not be neglected, whatever the number. We do not think the quantity is of any consequence, if for the purpose of teaching, the number varies, provided what has been handed down in Scripture is properly preserved. The Fathers did not enumerate in the same manner either.
Pulling It Together: The sacraments are not merely indicators of who we are, in the sense of someone thinking that since a group baptizes in water, and ceremonially eats bread and drinks wine, they must be Christians. These sacraments are not so much what we do as they are what God does for us in the water, bread, and wine. We celebrate these sacraments because God commands it in his Word as ways through which he delivers his grace to those who believe in him, not merely because that is what a church does. This is what it means to be Christian, this celebration of the faith once handed down to us by Christ, and once and for all delivered to the Church in his gospel. Through the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion, God multiplies his mercy, peace, and love to those who are called to our common salvation.
Prayer: Help me, Lord, to faithfully follow what you have handed down to the Church in your Word. Amen.
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You Can Understand the Old Testament: Its Message and Its Meaning is an introduction to, and overview of, the Old Testament, exploring its meaning and its message for readers of today. Individual overviews and discussions of each book of the Old Testament are provided along with helpful maps, tables and charts as well as complete indexes of subject matter, biblical texts cited, and Hebrew words noted in the discussion. The book is aimed at students of the Bible, whether members of church congregations, pastors, or students in college or seminary.