Sacraments in the Standards

Heidelberg Catechism

Q&A 66
Q. What are sacraments?
A.  Sacraments are visible, holy signs and seals. They were instituted by God so that by our use of them he might make us understand more clearly the promise of the gospel, and seal that promise.1

And this is God’s gospel promise: to grant us the forgiveness of sins and eternal life by grace because of Christ’s one sacrifice accomplished on the cross.2

1Gen. 17:11; Deut. 30:6; Rom. 4:11
2Matt. 26:27–28; Acts 2:38; Heb. 10:10

Q&A 68
Q.  How many sacraments did Christ institute in the New Testament?
A.  Two: baptism and the holy supper.1

1Matt. 28:19– 20; 1 Cor. 11:23– 26

Q&A 69
Q. How does holy baptism remind and assure you that Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross benefits you personally?
A.  In this way: Christ instituted this outward washing1 and with it promised that as surely as water washes away the dirt from the body, so certainly his blood and his Spirit wash away my soul’s impurity, that is, all my sins.2

1Acts 2:38
2Matt. 3:11; Rom. 6:3– 10; 1 Pet. 3:21

Q&A 70
Q. What does it mean to be washed with Christ’s blood and Spirit?
A.  To be washed with Christ’s blood means that God, by grace, has forgiven our sins because of Christ’s blood poured out for us in his sacrifice on the cross.1

To be washed with Christ’s Spirit means that the Holy Spirit has renewed and sanctified us to be members of Christ, so that more and more we become dead to sin and live holy and blameless lives.2

1Zech. 13:1; Eph. 1:7– 8; Heb. 12:24; 1 Pet. 1:2; Rev. 1:5
2Ezek. 36:25– 27; John 3:5– 8; Rom. 6:4; 1 Cor. 6:11; Col. 2:11– 12

Q&A 71
Q. Where does Christ promise that we are washed with his blood and Spirit as surely as we are washed with the water of baptism?
A.  In the institution of baptism, where he says:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”1

“The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.”2

This promise is repeated when Scripture calls baptism “the water of rebirth”3 and the washing away of sins.4

1Matt. 28:19
2Mark 16:16
3Titus 3:5
4Acts 22:16

Q&A 72
Q. Does this outward washing with water itself wash away sins?
A. No, only Jesus Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit cleanse us from all sins.1

1Matt. 3:11; 1 Pet. 3:21; 1 John 1:7

Q&A 73
Q. Why then does the Holy Spirit call baptism the washing of rebirth and the washing away of sins?
A. God has good reason for these words. To begin with, God wants to teach us that the blood and Spirit of Christ take away our sins just as water removes dirt from the body.1

But more important, God wants to assure us, by this divine pledge and sign, that we are truly washed of our sins spiritually as our bodies are washed with water physically.2

11 Cor. 6:11; Rev. 1:5, 7:14
2Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3– 4; Gal. 3:27

Q&A 74
Q.  Should infants also be baptized?
A.  Yes, Infants as well as adults are included in God’s covenant and people,and they, no less than adults, are promised deliverance from sin through Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit who produces faith.2

Therefore, by baptism, the sign of the covenant, they too should be incorporated into the Christian church and distinguished from the children of unbelievers.This was done in the Old Testament by circumcision,which was replaced in the New Testament by baptism.5

1Gen. 17:7; Matt. 19:14
2Isa. 44:1– 3; Acts. 2:38– 39, 16:31
3Acts 10:47; 1 Cor. 7:14
4Gen. 17:9– 14
5Col. 2:11– 13

Q&A 75
Q. How does the holy supper remind and assure you that you share in Christ's one sacrifice on the cross and in all his benefits? 
A. In this way: Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat this broken bread and to drink this cup in remembrance of him. With this command come these promises:1

First, as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup shared with me, so surely his body was offered and broken for me and his blood poured out for me on the cross.

Second, as surely as I receive from the hand of the one who serves, and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, given me as sure signs of Christ's body and blood, so surely he nourishes and refreshes my soul for eternal life with his crucified body and poured-out blood.

1 Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-25

Belgic Confession

Article 34: The Sacrament of Baptism

. . . Therefore Christ has commanded
that all those who belong to him
be baptized with pure water
"in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit."1

In this way God signifies to us
that just as water washes away the dirt of the body
when it is poured on us
and also is seen on the bodies of those who are baptized
when it is sprinkled on them,
so too the blood of Christ does the same thing internally,
in the soul,
by the Holy Spirit.
It washes and cleanses it from its sins
and transforms us from being the children of wrath
into the children of God.

1Matt. 28:19

Article 35: The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper

We believe and confess
that our Savior Jesus Christ
has ordained and instituted the sacrament of the Holy Supper
to nourish and sustain those
who are already regenerated and ingrafted
into his family,
which is his church . . . 

Our Song of Hope

18. Christ places baptism in the world
as a seal of God's covenant people,
placing them in ministry,
assuring them of the forgiveness of sins.
God knows those who are baptized in Jesus' name,
guiding the church gently to lead us,
calling us back when we go astray,
promising life amid trials and death.

19. Christ places the Lord's table in this world.
Jesus takes up our bread and wine
to represent His sacrifice,
to bind His ministry to our daily work,
to unite us in His righteousness.
Here Christ is present in His world
proclaiming salvation until He comes,
a symbol of hope for a troubled age.