Sunday, January 22, 2012

Part 3 Intro To Salvation (Sacraments & Works)

This is the continuation of a series I seem to be compiling.
Part 1 Intro to Salvation
Part 2 Intro to Salvation (Sacraments)

I suppose I could launch into a detailed exposition of what each sacrament means, but not just yet. I'm still interested in looking at the concept of the sacrament in Christian life. If Jesus instituted anything, it would have some proofs attached, that is, some way to be validated. The top proof would be the witness of God the Father. Jesus tells us with fair regularity in the Gospels that He speaks only what He hears the Father speaking & does only what He sees the Father doing. Here's where we ask ourselves: Do the sacraments glorify God? Do they point us to God & echo the things He might be saying or doing? The witness of the Holy Spirit also factors in. The Holy Spirit reveals Jesus & guides us into all Truth. Do the sacraments reveal Jesus & guide us into all Truth? I believe they can.

A well worn argument I've heard against the sacraments is that the whole concept is works based & works are not required for salvation. All we need is love. If we embrace Christ's perfect love, utter our confession of faith but once & believe in our hearts that we are saved forever, well, that's all that's required of us. But I'm not convinced.

The sacraments are not so much our works as they are the work of God Himself. Baptism is administered, not as a work of ours, but of God. He is the One Who confers grace upon us through the priest/pastor/presider. We are merely the recipients of this grace. The specific work of baptism is to cleanse us from our sins. We humble ourselves, repent with thanksgiving & "die" with Christ in the waters of baptism, only to be raised to life by the same. But have we actually done anything? It is God who does the work. That work is grace & that grace enables us to live out our salvation daily.

Baptism, Confirmation & Marriage are the one time sacraments. Events such as birth & death, a rite of passage (becoming an adult in the eyes of all) & marriage are typically understood as things that happen once in a lifetime. So it is with these three sacraments. The rest- Reconciliation, Eucharist, Holy Orders & Anointing of the Sick can be repeated. The sacraments are God's work. We are called to participate & when we do, we receive grace & "everything we need for life & Godliness" in that moment.

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