(Kersten, Heidelberg Catechism, Vol.1. part 26)

Of the Author of Faith and the Means of Grace Appointed by Him

Lord's Day 25

Psalter No. 322 st. 3, 4
Read Romans 10
Psalter No. 102 st. 2, 3
Psalter No. 278 st. 1, 2
Psalter No. 290 st. 3, 4


    In John 3:36 the Lord Himself distinguishes between those who
will be saved and those who will be lost by saying, "He that
believeth on the Son has everlasting life, and he that believeth not
on the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him."
Here the Lord declares in the first place the deep state of man's
misery, viz., the wrath of God rests upon him. Because of their deep
fall in Adam all people are children of wrath by nature and lie
under the righteous judgment of the threefold death. They are lost.
Even of the elect Paul tells us that by nature they are children of
wrath even as all others. The wrath of God abides upon everyone who
is not incorporated in Christ by a true faith. Throughout all the
ages of eternity the wrath of God shall burn upon them as a fire
that shall not be quenched. Out of that state of misery, however,
the Lord Jesus redeems His own according to the pleasure of the Lord
which shall prosper in His hand. To that end He gave Himself as a
sacrifice for their sins. He has pacified the wrath of God for them,
and by a true communion with Him He places them in a state of actual
reconciliation with God. However great their sins may be, however
terrible their enmity against God and His people, although with Paul
they breathe out threatening and slaughter, the blood of Christ is
abundantly sufficient to atone for their sins and for the sins of
the whole world.
    Yet the whole world will not be saved by Him. "For this was the
sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the
Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious
death of His Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon
them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them
infallibly to salvation" (Canons of Dordt: 2nd Head, Art. 8). And
that faith, being the gift of God, is faith in the Son of God which
makes us inherit eternal life in Him. "He that believeth on the Son
has eternal life." God's own and natural Son has life in Himself. He
merited eternal life for His own in our human nature by bearing the
wrath of God for His elect, and He grants them that life because by
faith they are incorporated in Christ and receive all His benefits.
That is why it is called saving grace, although Christ alone is a
complete Savior and faith adds nothing at all to Him, as we heard in
the previous Lord's Day. God's people are not justified because of
their faith, but only because of the perfect satisfaction,
righteousness and holiness of Christ which is imputed to them by
free grace. Without faith, however, we can have no portion in Him,
and no man can be saved. Eternal life can be obtained only by faith.
"He that believeth in Me has everlasting life. In Me, not only
historically, acknowledging that I am come according to the
Scriptures, but in Me savingly, to seek and find salvation in Me,
and in Me alone."
    But if everlasting life depends on faith in Christ, how can we
obtain that faith? The twenty-fifth Lord's Day of our Heidelberg
Catechism gives us an answer to that question as it speaks of the
means of grace.
Q. 65: Since then we are made partakers of Christ and all His
    benefits by faith only, whence does this faith proceed?

A. From the Holy Ghost, who works faith in our hearts by the
    preaching of the gospel, and confirms it by the use of the

Q. 66: What are the sacraments?

A. The sacraments are holy visible signs and seals, appointed of God
    for this end, that by the use thereof, He may the more fully
    declare and seal to us the promise of the gospel, viz., that He
    grants us freely the remission of sin, and life eternal, for
    the sake of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the

Q. 67: Are both word and sacraments, then, ordained and appointed
    for this end, that they may direct our faith to the sacrifice
    of Jesus Christ on the cross, as the only ground of our

A. Yes, indeed: for the Holy Ghost teaches us in the gospel, and
    assures us by the sacraments, that the whole of our salvation
    depends upon that one sacrifice of Christ which He offered for
    us on the cross.

Q. 68: How many sacraments has Christ instituted in the new
    covenant, or testament?

A. Two: namely, holy baptism, and the holy supper.

    This Lord's Day discusses the Author of faith and the means of
grace appointed by Him and it draws our attention
      I. to the preaching of the holy gospel by which the Holy Ghost
         works faith in the heart;
     II. to the power of the sacraments which are instituted;
    III. to the purpose of the means of grace.
    When the Lord Jesus was ready to ascend to heaven and had
gathered His disciples upon a mountain in Galilee to which He had
directed them, He gave them this commandment: "Go ye, therefore, and
teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of
the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." During the Old Testament
dispensation the oracles of God were committed to the Jews while the
blind heathen were allowed by God to continue in their idolatry. But
now, not only to the Jews, but also to these strangers of the Gospel
the word must be preached, because the ceremonies were fulfilled in
Christ and Israel as a specially privileged nation had had its day.
Yes, the natural branches were broken off and the heathens were
grafted into the olive tree in order that the entrance of the
heathens might eventually provoke Israel to jealousy, and the full
number of the elect out of all peoples, tongues and nations should
be saved.
    To that end all peoples must be taught, and the disciples must
reach all. For the Lord works faith by means of the preaching of the
gospel, and He strengthens it by the same Word as well as by the use
of the sacraments, as the Catechism speaks in accordance with
Scripture. The Word and the sacraments are therefore called the
means of grace. The Lord, according to His sovereign good pleasure
has ordained these means to work and strengthen faith. The Word has
a two-fold operation while the sacraments have only one. The
preaching of the gospel serves both to work and to strengthen faith,
but the sacraments only to strengthen faith. Baptism does not
regenerate and one does not go to the Lord's Supper to be converted.
Only those who are partakers of the new life are invited to the
Lord's table.
    And how is faith strengthened by holy baptism? Since God by
baptism establishes His Covenant and promises, He reassures His
believing people that He remembers His Covenant forever, so that
they may be more and more assured for themselves and for the coming
of God's Kingdom that the Lord will fulfill what He has promised.
Since the working and strengthening of faith is accomplished by
these means, it is evident that we as well as God's people are bound
to the use of the means. You cannot say, "God can convert me in a
tavern or at a circus," while you despise the means of grace, but
for the salvation of your soul you are obligated to go with your
children to the preaching of God's Word and to meditate on that
Word. God's people are also bound to the means of grace, that they
may be built up in their most holy faith, and may not go astray in
their own light, nor float upon feelings that mislead.
    How clearly the Lord Himself tells us by His servant Paul,
"Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." When the
Word of God is lacking, the means are lacking by which God the Holy
Spirit works faith in the hearts of lost sinners. If there is one
reason why the gospel must be brought to the heathens it is this. In
the words which the Lord spoke to His disciples: "Go ye, therefore,
and teach all nations," lies the missionary command, and when the
church of God is unfaithful to this calling, it gives the thousands
of blind heathens over to themselves, and deprives them of the means
which God the Holy Spirit uses to work true saving faith in their
hearts. All objections to this commandment are futile. There are
indeed hundreds of "heathens" in our own country; but whoever uses
this argument against mission work, not only disregards the fact
that all those estranged from God and His service are in the
possibility of hearing the Word of God, but is also guilty of an
inconsistency, since he makes no attempt to help those "heathens."
He sets up an argument which he does not wish to use himself. Should
not our souls be grieved because of the guilt that rests upon us?
Should not our debt to the heathens weigh heavily upon us, when we
consider that thousands die without ever having had the possibility
of being saved? "How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not
heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Rom. 10:14)
    The Holy Spirit works faith by the Word that is heard. He opened
the heart of Lydia during the preaching of Paul so that she attended
unto the things which were spoken by Paul. The Word is the seed of
regeneration. Does not Peter say clearly, "Being born again, not of
corruptible seed, but of incorruptible by the Word of God, which
liveth and abideth forever"? Also James serves as proof when he
writes, "Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth." By the
preaching of the Word to the Galatians Paul sought to travail again
in birth until Christ was formed in them. (Gal. 4:19) He had
begotten the Corinthians in Christ through the gospel. (1 Cor. 4:15)
    Thus it cannot be contradicted what the instructor tells us in
this Lord's Day, that God by His Spirit and His Word works faith in
the hearts of God's elect. It is by His Spirit and His Word, for the
preached Word alone, however earnestly and sincerely it is
presented, cannot change our hearts. Therefore we distinguish
between an internal and external calling through God's Word. In
contradistinction to the Lutherans and others, we hold that in
nature there is no calling to salvation. Only by His Word God makes
the way of salvation known to all those to whom the gospel is
preached. Yea, by His servants He urges them, as Paul says, "Now
then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by
us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God."
    However seriously the judgment of condemnation is presented and
the invitation is laid at our heart's door by the gospel, yet that
Word does not bring forth fruits of conversion in all men. The Lord
Jesus Himself tells us in the parable of the laborers in the
vineyards, "Many are called, but few are chosen." Only in the elect
does the Holy Spirit prepare a soil in which the Word shall bear
fruit. And yet no one can lay the blame upon God if He hardens the
heart under the preaching of the gospel. The fault lies with us, for
the Word contains the complete revelation of God for our salvation.
Our fathers of Dordt confessed, "The cause or guilt of this unbelief
as well as of all other sins, is no wise in God, but in man himself;
whereas faith in Jesus Christ and salvation through Him is the free
gift of God, as it is written: 'By grace ye are saved through faith,
and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God,' Eph. 2:8 'And
unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on
Him,' etc. Phil. 1:29" (Canons of Dordt 1st Head, Art. 5)
    This is the preciousness of the true Reformed doctrine, while
maintaining man's responsibility it gloriously displays the free
grace of God in saving sinners. Everyone that lives under the
preaching of the Word is externally called to salvation by God, and
only by willfully rejecting it and hardening his heart will he
deprive himself of it; and the Word that was brought to him will
testify against him. Unbelief, which prevents him from bowing in the
dust before the Word is his own fault. Oh, how that Word shall
eternally burn upon his soul; it shall be a savor of death to death.
    Nevertheless, true faith proceeds from the Holy Ghost, Who works
it in our hearts. To believe in Christ is therefore not a work of
our own. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of
God for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them,
because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual
judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man." (1 Cor.
2:14, 15) In order to understand the things of the Spirit of God, in
other words, to believe them, to delight in them and to rest upon
them, we must become regenerated, spiritual persons. In regeneration
God the Holy Ghost plants faith in the souls of the elect. In
opposition to those who make of the sovereign work of God a duty by
urging men to believe, and who in reality lay the foundation of
salvation in a historical assent to the truth, this answer of the
instructor cannot be emphasized sufficiently. Urging people to go to
Jesus with their sins, to accept Him and to believe in Him have
become common place in our days. But how shall we go to Him if our
sins have not been discovered to us, if our enmity has not been
broken, if our own righteousness has not become as a filthy rag
before God. "No man can come unto Me," said Christ, "except the
Father which has sent Me, draw him." And lest we should seek to hide
behind our inability, He said plainly, "Ye will not come to Me, that
ye might have life."
    To come to Jesus by faith must be given to the sinner by the
Father, and wrought in him by the Holy Spirit, Who works faith. All
education, instruction, understanding of the truth, orthodox
confession, or whatever else, are insufficient, because all, however
good and necessary they may be, are unable to break our enmity.
Because of the hardness of our hearts it is impossible for us to
believe. We are in a state of unbelief, and it is our own fault that
we can expect nothing but the terrible reproof uttered to the city
of the great King, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the
prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would
I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth her
chickens under her wings, and ye would not." Unbelief comes from us;
faith comes from the Holy Spirit.
    How then can the Lord by the preaching of the gospel offer
Christ to the reprobate whom He has foreordained to condemnation
according to His inflexible justice? Is such an offer sincere?
Indeed it is, since God first of all seeks His honour as well in the
just retribution of the disobedient, as in the glorification of His
mercies in those who by His Word and Spirit shall become heirs of
salvation The Lord will be more glorified in those that are lost
according as He by His Word showed them the way of life, and it is
the joy and comfort of God's servants that the Lord is glorified as
well in those that are lost, as in those that are saved. Although
the preaching bears little fruit, although few or no people are
converted under their ministry, although they must cry out with
Isaiah, "Who has believed our report and unto whom is the arm of the
Lord revealed?" let it not hinder them in their faithful labors,
since Paul has planted and Apollo has watered, but God gives the
increase. According to His good pleasure that fruit tends to the
glory of God. Thus they are only servants of God to fulfill the task
laid upon them by the Lord. Neither he that plants is anything, nor
he that waters. God does what He pleases with His Word, and in the
unconditional surrender to the good pleasure of God, the minister
finds his happiness and courage and comfort. If he lacks that
surrender he will be in great danger of trying to convert men
himself and glorying in it instead of seeking that God might be
glorified in him.
    However, God wants to draw His elect by the preaching of the
gospel and to grant them faith. The reason why God grants faith to
some and not to others lies in His eternal decree, according to
which He graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however hard
they may be, and convinces them to believe. Thus the preaching of
the Word becomes the power of God unto salvation. The gospel, which
is the entire Word, the full counsel of God for the salvation of His
elect, abases the sinner. As a hammer it breaks the stony heart to
pieces. God works irresistibly. Although we breathe out threatening
and slaughter against the Anointed of the Lord, although we shout
with all our might, "Let us break their bands asunder and cast away
their cords from us", the Word has an all conquering power.
    Oh, what contrition does the Word produce when it is preached to
us; what a powerful conviction that we are worthy of death before
God. But when faith comes into exercise as wrought by God in the
heart, what a blessed happiness does the Word produce as Christ is
preached Who is the way, the truth, and the life and Who reveals
Himself to the wretched sinner as the cause of his eternal
salvation. Now let God's people testify what draws their souls to
the preaching of the gospel, other than the revelation of Christ.
What gladdens their hearts more than when their faith in Him is
stirred up by and under the preaching of God's testimony. For it is
the Holy Spirit that strengthens and increases the faith once
wrought in the heart, using as means to that end not only that same
Word, but also the sacraments. Thus the Word has a double use, but
the sacraments have only a single use. The Word as preached is the
milk of babes and the strong meat for adults. No one is too little
in faith to receive benefit from the preaching for the strengthening
of his faith, nor is anyone too far advanced in grace to hear the
preaching and receive from it an increase in Christ Jesus. If the
Holy Spirit makes the Word fruitful it will serve for the salvation
of the unconverted and it will be meat for God's people who sing,
        "Sweeter are Thy words to me
        Than all other good can be."
    Now let us in the second place consider
the power of the sacraments that are instituted.
    The word sacrament does not appear in the Bible. The Catholic
Church asserts that it does, and to prove it refers not to God's
Word as given in the original but to the Vulgate, a translation of
the New Testament from the Greek into the Latin, in which Ephesians
5:32 is translated to read, "This is a great sacrament." From this
translation Rome concludes that the word sacrament is indeed in the
Bible, and therefore that marriage is also a sacrament. This is all
beside the point, for Ephesians 5 does not say "this sacrament," but
"This is a great mystery." A mystery is not a sacrament. You do not
find the word sacrament in the Bible. This does not mean that we may
not use the word sacrament, but we must understand what sacraments
are according to the Scriptures: "holy, visible signs and seals,
appointed of God for this end, that by the use thereof, he may more
fully declare and seal to us the promise of the gospel."
    The sacraments therefore have something visible; they can be
perceived by the eye, as it is with the water in baptism and the
bread and wine in the Lord's Supper. The sacraments are not only
spiritual, they have also a material side. Therefore it is not to
hold the Lord's Supper when children of God may in their solitude
enjoy blessed communion with God in Christ alone, and the Lord
grants them to experience, "I will sup with him, and he with Me."
However great that privilege may be the sacrament must be
administered in the midst of the congregation. When Christ
prescribed that the administration of it is to continue until His
return upon the clouds, He taught us at the same time that the
church will also have a visible manifestation until the end of time,
however sad her condition may become. The visible signs portray the
spiritual reality represented in the sacrament, in which there is a
striking resemblance. What can signify purification better than
water? What can signify nourishment better than bread and wine? How
fitting it is then that the water in baptism signifies the cleansing
from sin by the blood and Spirit of Jesus, and that the bread and
wine point to Christ as the nourishment of His people and the
refreshment of their souls by His crucified body and shed blood.
    The sacrament is, however, more than a sign. They who see in it
no more than a sign make the sacrament superficial, as did Zwingli
and the Arminians. The Catechism teaches us clearly that the
sacraments are signs and seals, and it is not hard to prove this
assertion with God's Word. Has not Abraham according to Romans 4:11
received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness of
faith? Thus Abraham was assured that he had been justified by faith.
Circumcision did not justify Abraham but served to confirm the faith
by which he had obtained the righteousness in Christ. Thus for
Abraham the sacrament of circumcision was not only a sign, but also
a seal of his justification in Christ. By this example, the
superficial view which underestimates the value of the sacraments is
condemned, as well as the Catholic view (and partly also the
Lutheran) which overestimates their value. For Rome links grace to
the sacrament. It asserts that by administering the sacrament it
confers grace to him who receives the sacrament. So the doctrine of
the sacraments is darkened on both sides.
    Sacraments can give nothing, but are signs and seals instituted
by God. How could any sign have a sealing power if it had not been
instituted by God? Rome may speak of so many sacraments, and exalt
confirmation, penance, extreme unction, orders and marriage to
sacraments, but they have no value, since God has instituted none
other than Baptism and the Lord's Supper for the church of the New
Testament, as Circumcision and the Passover were for the Old
Testament. The Old Testament bloody sacraments pointed to Christ who
was to come, while both of the non-bloody sacraments of the New
Covenant seal the grace and salvation merited by Christ. Their value
depends on the divine institution. Without that no mystery has any
sacramental power, but with it the sacraments are signs and seals to
more fully declare and seal unto us the promise of the gospel.
    Thus the sacraments instruct and seal. The sign makes us
understand the promise of the gospel more clearly. In the preaching
of the Word the promises of God are presented to us, being in Christ
yea and Amen to the glory of God. That preaching testifies of the
reconciliation and cleansing by the blood of Christ: It cries to
God's people, "Ye are bought with a price, forasmuch as ye know that
ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold,
from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
but with the precious blood of Christ." It says that for Christ's
sake God will not be angry with them nor rebuke them. But our
susceptibility for these promises, and for Christ's mediatorial work
is so slight, the knowledge of faith is so dim, and the mystery of
which the church shall sing forever is so incomprehensible that we
will need again and again a clear revelation and plain instruction.
    The Lord gave the sacraments in order that we might better
understand the promises of the gospel. By the operation of the Holy
Spirit during the administration of the sacrament one may be
favoured with a deep insight into what Christ has become for lost
sinners, and into the promises of God which proclaim salvation to
those who are tossed with tempest and not comforted. Moreover, in
addition to the instruction of the Spirit there is in the sacrament
a sealing power. The want of clear, spiritual instruction causes us
to lack so much the sealing power of the sacrament. Often the cause
of the doubts in which many souls frequently are subjects of, is due
to the scanty spiritual knowledge of Christ and His promises. But as
soon as light is shed upon them, the heart is enlarged and given
liberty to believe. Although there have always been only a few (as
was also the opinion of Rev. Comrie) who come to a full assurance of
their interest in Christ, nevertheless in the fruit of faith it
becomes evident to them that assurance follows faith. It is
especially by means of the sacrament that it pleases God to seal His
grace and promises. He calls as it were to the soul, "I am thy
salvation." Often in this effectual opening and sealing (of the
promise) lies Christ's answer to the cry of the bride, "Set me as a
seal upon Thine heart, as a seal upon Thine arm." For in the
sacrament God opens and seals to His people "That He grants us
freely the remission of sins, and life eternal for the sake of that
one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross." So powerful is
the language of God in the sacrament. Oh how our heart should be
drawn to it to rest by faith in Christ alone, and by His one
sacrifice accomplished on the cross, to find reconciliation with the
    Consider the water of baptism, or the bread and wine of the
Lord's Supper. In them we find represented not only the cleansing,
reconciling, and nourishing power of the sacrifice of Christ, but
also the path which Christ trod in order to be the Author of
salvation for His people. He broke His body, as the bread is broken.
He shed His blood as the wine is poured out. He did it for the lost
children of Adam to save them from eternal perdition. Those are the
wounds with which He was wounded in the house of His friends. Your
sins, Oh people of God, could not rest until Christ entered into
death. Behind the Jew's demand, "Crucify Him, crucify Him", was the
guilt of your sins, which made you worthy of death before God. Now
by means of the sacrament, Christ wants to seal to your heart that
He entered into death for you, in order that you may taste the fruit
of reconciliation with the Father. How precious the sacraments will
become if we may understand something of their significance, and
something of the purpose for which God has instituted them, "that by
the use thereof, He may the more fully declare and seal to us the
promise of the gospel."
    The sacraments are therefore closely connected with the
preaching of the Word. They clarify and confirm the promises of the
gospel for God's people. The preaching of the gospel and the
administration of the sacraments serve the same purpose.
    That is our third main point. Question 67 speaks of the purpose
of the means of grace.
    The question reads, "Are both Word and sacraments, then,
ordained and appointed for this end, that they may direct our faith
to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, as the only ground of
our salvation? Yes indeed."
    The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the only ground of salvation.
There is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must
be saved, and it is the function of Word and sacrament to direct us
to that sacrifice. Neither Word nor sacrament can of itself give
anything. The church of Rome, which does not understand this truth,
is satisfied with outward things. For Rome, the outward
administration of the sacrament is the important thing upon which
everything depends, and in which saving power resides. This is
contrary to Scripture. The sacrament is only a means ordained by God
to strengthen our faith as it points to Christ, the only ground of
our salvation, to which the Word directs us according to God's own
    Let us note this carefully. There is much preaching that does
not point to Christ. I do not mean the preaching of the modernists,
liberals, and others who deny Christ, but I have in mind especially
an administration of the Word (if indeed it may be called that) in
which more stress is laid on experience than on Christ. Do not
misunderstand me. Would I contend for a superficial preaching that
talks about Jesus but says nothing about the way in which the sinner
learns to know Him? Would I advocate the kind of preaching that
offers Jesus indiscriminately to all? God forbid! Objective
preaching alone bears bitter fruit, and it is one-sided, while it
fails to make the minister free from the blood of his hearers. No
less objectionable is the doctrine which has become so common in our
days, that the promises of the gospel are given to all men. No,
beloved, the promises of salvation are given to God's elect, and God
fulfills them at His time.
    But as serious as our objections are to this false preaching of
the gospel, no less serious are our objections to the preaching that
does not point to Christ, but builds souls upon innumerable
conditions, and visions, and emotions, and experiences in the
warfare against sin. Can anyone lay another foundation than that
which is laid? Who would dare to show another way than Jesus Christ
and Him crucified? May experience ever become the foundation? Will
not experiences which lack the impress of the Spirit fail? Therefore
God's people must examine themselves very closely whether their work
is true. Moreover, no preaching is evangelical if it does not direct
to Christ. The minister of the Word must lead the soul to Christ. It
must allure those whose sins have been discovered to them, by
presenting the Mediator in His preciousness as the All sufficient
Savior, Who calls to lost sinners, "Come unto Me, all ye that labor
and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," Who never rejects
anyone who comes to Him in truth, although his sins are scarlet and
crimson. A faithful minister will not conceal how indispensable it
is for our salvation to be a partaker of Christ in truth, and he
will insist as a pastor ought to, that we must be found in Christ,
not having our own righteousness but the righteousness that is in
Jesus Christ. In this way our reliance upon our experiences will be
taken away and we shall see Jesus only in the preaching of the Word.

The Word is directed, and what is more, it is ordained by God to
direct our faith to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the only ground
of our salvation. He who in his preaching does not comply with that
ordinance of God, is unfaithful in the service to which he was
ordained. He does not understand his ministry.
    The same holds true of the sacraments. They point to the
sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The water in baptism refers to that
sacrifice for the cleansing of our souls. Only the blood of Jesus
Christ, God's Son, cleanses us from our sins. The bread and wine of
the Lord's Supper direct us to the only sacrifice accomplished on
the cross. The bread is broken and the wine is poured out to show us
more clearly that Christ broke His body and shed His blood on the
cross in order that He might be the only meat for our empty souls.
He that seeks any other shall hunger eternally. This is God's
message to us in the Lord's Supper. Those who hunger and thirst
after righteousness the Lord wishes to direct to the salvation that
is in Him, and to assure them of it, in order that they shall never
more thirst. The Word and the sacraments have the same purpose to
teach, comfort, and establish His people.
    In the New Covenant or Testament the Lord has instituted two
sacraments, holy baptism and the Lord's Supper. What the church of
Rome has added are her own inventions, as we have already pointed
out. Those Romish sacraments are not of divine institution and
therefore lack the sacramental power. Oh, let us notice how Rome is
a total stranger to the true doctrine. We do not share a common root
of faith with Rome. If that were true our (Dutch) fathers would not
have had to shed their blood in the 80 Years War. The pretensions of
Rome in our country today also are so great that we must arm
ourselves lest we be delivered entirely into their hands. The main
issue is not the scaffold and the stake but true liberty, and the
authority of the gospel which is violated when Romish influence is
supreme. Or will the Lord smite us with our own rod and chastise our
Protestant country for its foolishness in making an alliance with
Rome? Is not what is called a coalition resulting in strengthening
the power of Rome, so that other nations were amazed at what Rome is
able to do in our country, and is not our sending a delegate to the
Pope, which is a denial of the puritan character of our nation, a
slap in the face of the God of our fathers, Who once delivered us
from Rome? Let us place the truth of God against the soul-destroying
doctrine of the Roman Catholics and make that truth more and more
familiar to ourselves and our children.
    The Lord in the New Testament gave us two sacraments, non bloody
ones, that refer us to the sacrifice already accomplished by Christ
on the cross, as the bloody sacraments of the Old Testament referred
to Christ Who was to come in the fulness of time. It is the nature
and the character of both the Word and the sacraments to point to
Christ, to the perfect redemption by His blood, and the cleansing by
His Spirit, to Him Who is the spiritual food for His people and
their continual refreshment and joy. He is the Surety and Mediator,
the only Savior of His people. He pacified the wrath of God and
restored them into communion with God, so that God Himself loves
them. Let us sing of that love out of Psalm 103.
         "The tender love a father has
         For all his children dear,
         Such love the Lord bestows on them
         Who worship Him in fear."
                   Psalter No. 278 stanzas 1 and 2
    Thus the minister must preach Christ and Him alone as the way of
salvation. With Paul he must say, "I determined not to know anything
among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." But, oh, my fellow
traveler to eternity, how severe will your condemnation be if you
should be lost under such preaching. Why? Must not God work faith in
us? We cannot convert ourselves, can we? No, we cannot, and they who
preach an offer of salvation which you have only to accept, are
misleading you. Nevertheless God does not deal with man as with a
stock or stone. In our fall we became neither devils, nor irrational
animals. God let us remain rational creatures, and will work in us
through His Word. Oh, may it please him to enlighten our dark
understandings and to renew our corrupt wills in order that the Word
may be of saving benefit to you. I pray you, use the means God has
given you. Do not despise the impressions that you sometimes feel in
your conscience. Do not stifle them. May the Lord humble you before
Him and grant that you may find salvation in the blood of the Lamb.
    Oh what precious moments are oftentimes experienced by God's
people under the preaching of the Word. No persons or things can
disturb them when a word is spoken to their hearts, and their souls
may admire the beauty of the Lord. May the necessity of winning
Christ be your most pressing concern. For your comfort look to the
fulness of His grace and the greatness of His love, that you may
embrace Him as your own by that faith which the Holy Spirit not only
works, but also strengthens through the means which He has ordained.
May the Lord bless those means and accompany them with His presence
in order that our walk and conversation may be with Him Whom we
expect from heaven for our complete salvation.

(continued in part 27...)

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