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Doctrine Of the Sacraments: Conculsion

June 18, 2023 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Topic: Of the Sacraments


Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12, Gal. 3.26-28

Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 27, Article 1

Quote – Thomas Ridgley

In the preaching of the Word, there is a narration of what he did and suffered. And on this account, the apostle says, Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

But in the sacraments, there is a representation of the same thing by signs, on which account we may use in reference to them.

In the words of the Prophet, “Mine eye affecteth mine heart”. As there is the external symbol of Christ's dying love, which is an inducement to us to love him again.


We have talked about sacramental efficacy.

We talked about baptism and union with Christ.

  • Galatians 3.27-29

We talked about the Lord's Supper and union with Christ.

  • 1 Corinthians 10.1-10

We showed that these are covenantal actions uniting us to Christ by covenant.

We looked at Exodus 24

We saw a sprinkling and a meal

  • all as part of that covenantal ceremony

We said these are essentially the same kinds of things

  • that people stood
  • that people took vows
  • that people were, in a sense
    • identified, registered as the people of God.

Notice there is the book of the covenant- Exodus 24.7

  • a summary of the moral law 10 commandments

Book of the Covenant

Moses has read this book before the people

  • And what do they do?
  • They take their church vows
    • They say, “all that the Lord has commanded, we will do and be obedient”
  • Moses then takes that blood and sprinkles it on the book and on the people
  • There is a covenant ceremony where the entirety of the nation is sprinkled
    • they are baptized is a redemptive historical understanding.

We see this as a ceremony of membership to Yahweh

  • a covenant membership to God where they are set apart unto Him

In this covenant ceremony

  • we have foreshadowed for us baptism
  • we have the Lord's Supper brought together in this kind of covenant relationship

When we think of church membership today

  • we ought not think of signing on the dotted line
  • we ought to think of people being in covenant with Christ.

Covenant membership is seen in that they have been baptized

  • being sprinkled with the waters of separation
  • having eaten and drunk in the presence of God.

A Reflection Between the Heavenly and the Earthly

The reformed distinctive of church membership is that it is entering into covenant with Christ.

We have seen that there is baptism in the church

  • this speaks of a baptism that is beyond itself
    • a spiritual baptism
    • where one is where one has the Holy Ghost poured out upon him
    • where the grace of the sacrament, we pray, will be real, so that the Holy Ghost will be poured out in his due time
  • In other words, there is a relationship between the sign and the thing that is signified.

Baptism is a reflection, if you will, of what is taking place in the heavenly administration of the covenant where the Holy Ghost is poured out.

  • It is a reflection of what God is doing in the heavenly realms.

With respect to the Lord's Supper

  • we come and sit down at a table
  • we do so because we are professing to be in covenant with Christ.
  • we know that also reflects what God is doing in the heavenlies
    • that He is sending forth His son to feed us spiritually
    • that we are indeed, feeding upon Christ
      • not with just bread and wine
      • but with something beyond bread and wine
    • this, too, reflects what is going on in heaven

Hebrews 12.18-24

What is meant by the general assembly and church of the firstborn, written in heaven?

  • This speaks to a roll, a register in heaven.

Why does the church keep a roll, or a register?

  • Because we are reflecting, once again, what goes on in heaven.

God, from the beginning of time, before time existed, had a book, the book of life.

  • and your names were written in that book.
  • the names in that book in the heavenlies means that those names can never be blotted out.

When we have a church roll, similar to baptism and the Lord’s Supper:

  • we are reflecting what is going on in heaven.

Book of Life

Luke 10.17-20

The Lord sends out 70 of His disciples to preach.

  • he gives them authority over devils, to cast out devils, to heal the sick, and so on.

In verse 17, the 70 returned again with joy, saying, even the devils are subject to us through thy name.

  • Christ says -> in this rejoice, not that the spirits are subject unto you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.

Having their names written in heaven is a big honor.

  • That's better than being able to cast out devils.
  • That’s better than being able to heal the sick.

Jesus says, Don't rejoice in those things.

  • rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

W have talked about the invisible church

  • about what a great society it is to belong to.

Jesus is saying the same thing here.

  • Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Jesus here is talking not about an earthly roll.

  • He's talking about a heavenly roll

Jesus is speaking of a roll that is written in heaven.

  • He is speaking of having your name written on that roll is cause for rejoicing even more so than it would be to cast out devils and to heal the sick.

Philippians 4.1-3

This is a great encouragement that the apostle gives

  • Like that Jesus gives to the 70

There is such a thing as a register, a book of life

They are not speaking in a context that is never before heard of.

Revelations 13

In Luke we saw encouragement to the disciples

  • to consider the importance of heavenly things and not earthly

In Philippians we saw encouragement to the saints

  • to consider the importance of heavenly things and not earthly

Notice in Revelation 13.5-8

  • that having one's name registered in that book gives those a kind of security
  • that security of having been written in that book
  • that they will not be fooled by the beast
  • they will not follow Him
  • they will not worship Him
  • they will not lose faith in Christ
    • because they are written in the book of life.

There is a there is a perseverance that is ascribed to those whose names are written in the Book of Life.

There is indeed this heavenly register:

  • the apostle speaks of it in Hebrews 12
  • the Lord speaks of it in Luke 10
  • the apostle Paul speaks of it in Philippians 4
  • John speaks of it in Revelations a couple of times

Revelations 21

Notice also the further eschatological implications

  • talking about the heavenly Jerusalem
  • the new heaven and new earth
  • the holy city coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband

This is the same concept that we saw in Hebrews 12

  • the concept of a heavenly city.
  • the gates of it shall not be shut at all
  • there shall, in no wise enter into it anything that defileth neither whatsoever work with abomination, or maketh a lie.
  • But only they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Once again, we have that same kind of a concept that we saw in Hebrews 12, Philippian 4, Luke 10.

Revelation 3.1-6

It is interesting to note the difference of speech, as the Lord speaks to a visible church

  • it's no longer a heavenly administration
  • He is speaking to a particular visible church.

Notice the relationship in verse 5 with membership and the Book of Life

  • “thou hast a few names…”
  • the Lord Jesus Christ, confessing that person's name before the Father, and before the angels.

I think we are still talking about a heavenly roll

  • The Lord puts it in an earthly context by saying,
    • I will not blot him out.

We know those in the book of life can't be blotted out

  • But Jesus speaks by way of encouragement
    • By way of threatening
    • That we who are members of the visible church might not become complacent in thinking that our membership in the visible church is only what we require
    • because he has said here at the church of Sardis, that it is essentially dead.
      • It is really no church at all.
      • It's dead.

Notice that there are a few names who have not defiled themselves in the church of Sardis.

  • And what does the Lord say that he will do?
  • He will not blot them out of the book of life
    • rather, he confesses them before His Father

This is very important

  • the Lord confessing these folks before the Father
  • this ought to remind you of Matthew 10.32-33

The Lord Jesus is speaking to a visible church.

  • In Matthew 10, he says, If you confess me before men, I will confess you before my Father, which is in heaven

Our reforming fathers have seen Matthew 10

  • as that public confession of faith that folks make when they joined the church
  • this is indeed that public profession of faith that ties us if you will, unites us, binds us to Christ

Here there is that earthly part being reflected in heaven such that Christ Himself is confessing us before His Father which is in heaven.

  • Christ here says in Matthew 10, that we must confess Him before men.


These are heavenly concepts, a heavenly writing.

There is a particular security

  • those written in that book from the foundation of the world can't be deceived by the beast.
  • they can’t fall away.
  • they can't lose faith with Christ
  • they will always be within that heavenly covenant
  • they're written on that scroll.

Other Registries in the Scripture

Have you ever wondered why genealogies are in the scriptures?

Have you ever been tempted to pass over the genealogies in your Bible reading?

Some of the reasons we have genealogies in the scriptures, is because those are the registries.

  • they list who had rights to particular things.
  • they list who were God's people
  • they list who had a right to the land in Israel
  • they list who was part of that visible OT Church

Nehemiah 7.63-64

Until they could be verified

  • they were not going to minister
  • because they were not found on the roll

Ezekiel 13.1-9

The Lord Himself says that they will not be in the writing of the house of Israel

  • they shall not enter into the land of Israel.

Isaiah 4.1-4

When we talk about a public profession of faith:

  • we draw in partaking of the Lord's Supper
  • we draw in baptism
  • we draw those in when talking about the roll

We draw these things in, and they congeal in what we today call church membership

This is what the Apostle called membership in Christ

  • being baptized into Christ, becoming a member
  • partaking of the Lord's Supper as a member
  • being a part of his body, his flesh, his bones
  • being members with Christ

We are made members in the spiritual realms

  • by that gracious action of the Holy Ghost
    • who sprinkles us
    • who regenerates us
    • who unites us to Christ in effectual calling

There is a heavenly echo, here upon Earth.

  • there are ways in which we are made members of Christ here on Earth in the visible church

This is why the church keeps a membership roll.

  • because in that very same way that the rights and privileges that belonged to Israel
    • belong to those who are written on the rolls

This is how we separate the holy from the profane.

This is how we separate those who are invited to the table of the Lord to partake of the holy things

  • from those who are not invited
  • from those who do not have right to them

What is the Book of Life?

It is not a mystical book

It is the roll God keeps of those who belong to God.

  • He wrote it before the foundation of the world.
    • just as there is a heavenly book,
    • there is also an earthly book.

Let me ask you this:

  • Do you want to be in the book of life?

Then why would you not want to be in the earthly Book of Life?

We have seen the reflections in earthly and heavenly

  • that which is visible and administered earthly

This is what we have in the book of life

  • the rolls of the church

It corresponds to that book that was kept in the OT

  • where everyone was listed out
  • whom belonged to the Lord and who did not

This is why we read genealogies:

  • the Lord would impress upon us the importance of being in the book of life.
    • there is an earthly book

I admit there is not an exact 1:1 correspondence

  • But that earthly book is very important.


We talked a lot about the sacraments and their import

Today we talked about lists, privileges, and registries.

The registry of the church protects the privilege of the Lord's table, of the sacraments.

Why do we guard these privileges?

  • they prevent their misuse
  • they reinforce the importance and the precious nature of them.
  • they reinforce the understanding that they are a blessing to those that receive them.

There, if these are indeed privileges:

  • let us not fall into the temptation of defaulting to normalcy in such that we be that we forget them
  • let us not fall into the temptation of minimizing and neglecting the care with which they are to be treated

The sacraments and the church rolls are reinforcing that you are God’s people, and He is your God

The sacraments teach us who we are.

  • That we belong to Christ.
  • That we have covenanted with him

The doors to our church are open to visitors who would come and hear the preaching of the gospel

  • but not everyone may be admitted to the holy things of the Lord.

The sacraments separate us from the rest of the people upon the face of the earth.

The rolls tell us who has a right to those sacraments and who does not possess that right.

Isaiah 28.14-19

  • If we don't make a covenant with Christ, we make a covenant with death.
  • There is no other covenant to be made.

Isaiah makes it clear, and the Lord makes it clear.

So then, let us remember those privileges

  • how blessed they truly are, that we are able freely to partake of them, that we, as churchmen have kept the rolls to separate the profane from the holy, to open, and to invite and to receive those who are in covenant with Christ.

So that those who are in covenant with death, that they be not admitted to those things belonging to the people of God.


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