Summary: Jesus promised to continue with his Church: he is really present in Word and SAcrament and in the life of the Church through the indwelling Spirit.


Matthew 28:18-20

The word sacrament comes into English from a Latin word meaning oath.

Christians, in using this word, are saying in this act we acknowledge God is

keeping his promise.

In the English Church (Anglican) Tradition, there are 7 sacraments: Baptism,

Confirmation, Penance, Holy Communion, Marriage, Anointing, and Holy Orders.

It is not my purpose here to discuss whether any or all of these seven

sacraments leave an “indelible mark” on the soul, or to discuss in detail

all of the sacraments.

This paper will deal only with the two sacraments explicitly given to us by

Jesus Christ: Baptism and Holy Communion.

To give a little background on sacraments in general, it is necessary to

look into Church history.

While Holy Communion (the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper) and Baptism were

observed from the earliest days of the Church, centuries elapsed before the

rites of Christian burial, penance (confession of sin), marriage and the

others were given regular forms and counted as sacraments. The exact number

of sacraments were disputed for centuries.

The Council of Lyons, 1274 AD stated clearly the number of sacraments.

Since this was more than a century before the Protestant Reformation, this

definition was passed on to the whole Church. The counting of seven

sacraments has been accepted by some, though not all Protestants, as well as

by the Anglican, Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Communions. The next

paragraph comes from that council.

The same Holy Roman Church also teaches that there are seven sacraments of

the Church: one is baptism, which has been mentioned above; another is the

sacrament of confirmation which bishops confer by the laying on of hands

while they anoint the reborn; then penance, the Eucharist, the sacrament of

order, matrimony and extreme unction which, according to the doctrine of the

Blessed James, [James 5:14-15] is administered to the sick. The same Roman

Church performs (conficit) the sacrament of the Eucharist with unleavened

bread; she holds and teaches that in this sacrament the bread is truly

transubstantiated into the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the wine into

His blood. As regards matrimony, she holds that neither is a man allowed to

have several wives at the same time nor a woman several husbands. But, when

a legitimate marriage is dissolved by the death of one of the spouses, she

declares that a second and afterwards a third wedding are successively

licit, if no other canonical impediment goes against it for any reason nst

it for any reason.

Source: The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic

Church, rev ed., ed. J. Neusner and J Dupuis, (New York: Alba House, 1982),

no. 28 (p. 19) [ Denzinger-Schönmetzer, Enchiridion, 860]

Now that I have quoted from what is perceived by those from Protestant

backgrounds as a Roman Catholic document, though it was accepted by the

whole church before the Reformation, we have our work cut out for us. We

should attempt to define terms, not only as we understand them today, but as

they were understood by the Church in the Middle Ages, by the Church in the

time of the Early Church Fathers, and more importantly, by Jesus Christ and

the Apostles.

The English derived the word sacrament from the Latin word sacramentum. A

sacrament is an oath. The word sacramentum was early applied to Baptism in

connection with its establishing of a Anew covenant” between a human being

and God.

Where did this idea come from, that baptism, a sacrament, is somehow a

covenant between God and his creature, man?

Among the last words of Jesus after his resurrection and before his

ascension to God the Father were these: “Go, make disciples of all nations,

baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy

Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And

remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19-20

The oath, the promise of Jesus Christ is AI am with you always.” He had

promised, “When two or three are gathered in my name, I am in the midst.”

Those words of promise led to the concept of sacrament. Jesus had said, “I

am going away, but I will send the Comforter, the Spirit.” He also said,

“I will come to you.” The book of Acts records how the Spirit came as

Jesus had promised, on Pentecost Day. Those who were baptized, according to

the book of Acts, did receive this gift of the Spirit. In the New

Testament, sometimes the Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of Christ. So,

the abiding presence, the real presence of Christ in the Church is the

principle meaning of sacrament. From the first days of the Church, baptism

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