“…in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark,… eight persons, were brought safely through the water. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you – not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”
There are two sacraments in the Reformed Church tradition: Baptism and Communion. A sacrament may be defined as an outward display of an inward truth. Baptism itself saves no one. However, a person who has truly encountered the risen Christ enters the waters of baptism or partakes in the Lord’s Supper as an outward and public demonstration of their inward faith. Jesus is alive and that makes all the difference!
Because He is alive my participation in the sacraments transcends mere ritualism. I do not ‘(robotically) go through the (rote) motions (of meaningless tradition)’. I am proclaiming before ‘God and all these witnesses’ my belief in a Savior who lives!
Roman Catholic theology includes seven sacraments: Baptism, Communion (Eucharist), Reconciliation (Penance, Confession), Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders (Ordination for the Priesthood), and Anointing of the Sick (Last Rites, Extreme Unction). Is it possible to take sacramental theology even a step beyond the Catholics? Could any faith-inspired action be considered a sacrament?
Clearly, it is not the sacramental act that saves you. That “baptism now saves you” means so much more than the outward “removal of dirt”. A sacrament does not carry magical powers to create inward change. It has meaning only because of the operative power of God’s grace through the sacrament. Getting baptized, saying confession, being married in the church, becoming a celibate priest, or any good deed at all… none of that guarantees a home for me in heaven. Only the death and resurrection of Jesus makes eternal salvation and Christ-like behavior possible for me. When I walk into the waters of baptism (as I did about forty years ago) or take the communion bread and cup (as I do weekly), I receive an impartation of the grace of God to do the work of God through faith in the Son of God.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves,
it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”
Ephesians 2.8-9 NASB
While I do not plan to partake of an ‘official’ sacrament today, I hope to exhibit outwardly the truth of Christ in me. When I look back on this day sixteen hours from now, I will want to know I lived it sacramentally.