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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism
of the Westminster Assembly
Explained and Proved
from Scripture

by
Thomas Vincent


XCI. Ques. How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?
Ans.
The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him that doth administer them, but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of his Spirit in them that by faith receive them.

Q. 1. How, negatively, are the sacraments not effectual means of salvation?
A. The sacraments, negatively — 1. Are not effectual means of salvation, by any virtue in themselves, to confer grace and salvation upon all the receivers, and by the work done, or bare receiving of them; for many may and do partake of the sacraments who are vithout true grace, and have no share in the salvation of the gospel. "And Simon himself was baptized. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee: thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter; for thy heart is not right in the sight of God; for I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity."— Acts 8:13, 20, 21, 23. "Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord "— 1 Cor. 11:27. 2. The sacraments are not effectual means of salvation through the intention of, or by any virtue in them that do administer them, there being no power in the most holy ministers themselves to give grace and to bring salvation unto any by their administration of the sacraments, or any other ordinance. "So, then, neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase."— 1 Cor. 3:7.

Q. 2. How, positively, are the sacraments effectual means of salvation?
A. The sacraments positively are effectual means of salvation— 1. By the blessing and presence of Christ, which do accompany the sacraments and other ordinances of his own institution. "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." — Matt. 18:20. "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, lam with you aiway, even unto the end of the world."— Matt. 228:20 2. By the working of the Spirit (the effect and evidence of Christ's blessing and presence), whereby Christ doth put life, and virtue, and efficacy into his sacraments and ordinances, without which they would be wholly dead, and altogether ineffectual. "For by one Spirit are we all haptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."— 1 Cor. 12:13.

Q. 3. In whom doth the Spirit by the sacraments work effectually unto salvation?
A. The Spirit by the sacraments doth not work effectually unto the salvanon of all that receive them, but of all that by faith receive them.

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