LESSON TWENTY-ONE 2009-2010
LAW, GOSPEL & THE MEANS OF GRACE
I. "Sacraments as Means of Grace" (S. 116; continued)
D. "Sacraments as Signs or Marks of the Church " (S. 129)
a. Hidden in Christ.
b. Known only to God.
c. Not seen in world.
d. Means of grace tell us where Church is.
e. Word and sacraments specifically called marks or signs of the Church.
2. Three actions involved in means of grace.
a. First: God uses ordinary words to give us the gospel.
(1) Applies first to inspired Scriptures.
(2) Then to translations, paraphrases, and sermons.
b. Second, He connects gospel's words to elements to make them sacraments.
c. Third, He works through gospel and sacraments to create and sustain faith.
d. Mt. 13: 13-16.
e. Inability to understand gospel apart from faith.
E. "Sacraments as Commanded Rites" (S. 130)
1. Among rites which can be means of grace, only baptism and the Supper specifically commanded by Jesus.
2. Therefore, church must administer them.
3. God's action in the means prior to faith they create and confirm.
4. But benefits of grace received only by the faith created by the Word.
5. God's pleasure derived from our believing Him.
6. Lk 15:7.
7. Gospel is remedy for sins against Law.
8. There is no remedy for sins against Gospel.
9. Heb. 10:28,29.
F. "Sacraments as Church Acts" (S. 131)
a. God's gracious activity (sola gratia)
b. Through elements among His people.
c. But they do involve the congregation's participation.
d. Preaching and sacraments are:
(1) things the church is commanded to do.
(2) things she in fact does.
2. Baptized believers who receive Lord's Supper.
a. Receive benefits through faith.
b. Identify themselves as members.
c. By participation, show Church is present.
3. 1Co. 12:13.
4. 1Co. 10:17.
5. Emergency baptism.
a. Under Church's authority, even if only implicit.
b. Should be ratified by Church.
6. Before earthly elements become sacraments:
a. Congregation makes sure elements are in place.
b. Participates in liturgy.
c. Makes itself available to receive the sacraments.
d. No longer simply listening to proclamation.
e. Are responding to Jesus' invitation to come to Him.
f. Mt. 11:28.
g. What church does with the sacrament is at least as important as what church says about them.
h. In every sacramental act, God is the only agent.
i. Ro. 6:3 (were baptized: passive voice)
j. Flesh sees elements.
k. Man's "spirit" must see Word of God, God in the elements.
G. "Sacraments and Biblical Interpretation" (S. 132)
1. Scriptures place sacraments before the Church; therefore, interrelated.
2. Number of passages commonly accepted re: institution of sacraments relatively few.
3. Many assign sacraments secondary role; correlates to view of importance of roles.
4. Passages recognized for clarity: sedes doctrinae
5. May lead to overlooking other passages.
6. Luther and "classical Lutheran dogmaticians" had a "sacramental hermeneutic" (S. 133)
7. Sacraments, for them:
a. not only certain New Testament rites.
b. but were ways in which God approached man since creation (S. 133)
8. Scriptures are sacramental in several senses:
a. The authoritative means of grace.
b. Provide the content of Church's proclamation.
c. In them are the institutions and mandates for sacraments.
d. Set forth the sacraments as means of grace.
e. Written for and arose in communities of faith whose liturgical character defined by sacraments.
f. In hearing Word, come face to face with God and know He is present.
9. Non-sacramental interpretation of Scriptures.
a. May account for lax sacramental practice in some Lutheran churches (S. 134)
b. Destroys fiber of Bible.
c. Limited number of passages re: command and institution lends support to:
(1) sacraments have limited role in public liturgy.
(2) as well as personal piety of people.
d. Attempts to counter have lead to accusation of intrusion of Roman Catholicism (from time of Luther on).
e. Lutherans distancing themselves from Rome:
(1) prone to follow Protestant/Reformed schema of putting higher value on faith than sacraments.
(2) reinforced by Lutherans who classify faith as primary fundamental doctrine and sacraments as secondary fundamental doctrine.
(3) may do more harm than good as if sacraments may be omitted without seriously hindering salvation. (S. 134)
f. But God choose to create faith only through the means of grace.
g. Luther found reference to sacraments everywhere in the Scriptures.
h. Use of translations and commentaries with Reformed "bent" adds to lack of appreciation. (S. 135)
i. Perhaps best argument for understanding New Testament "sacramentally is the origin of the documents within the worship of the church." (S. 135)
(1) Preaching: for the baptized and those to be baptized.
(2) And to convince others to be baptized.
(3) Sermons: anticipated the Lord's Supper, even if only for the baptized.
(4) Suggests that each pericope had a sacramental focus, at least within a context of Supper in which read.
(5) "Word and sacrament": description of what constitutes the Church - with intimate connection.