March 29: School & Family Catechist – WSC Q. 91 & 92

by Rev. William Smith (1834)

Q. 91. How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?

A. 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.


The sacraments. –See Explic. Q. 88.

Virtue in them. –Sufficient power in the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s supper themselves.

Him that doth administer them. –The person who officiates, or the minister who baptizes, or distributes the bread and wine at the time of the sacrament of the Lord’s supper.

The blessing of Christ. –Christ’s powerful influence accompanying the sacraments for our good.

The working of his Spirit. –The power of the Holy Spirit exerted, not only in planting good and holy dispositions in the soul at first, but also in drawing them forth into exercise on sacramental occasions.


In this answer we are taught two things :

1.  That the sacraments become effectual means of salvation, neither by any power in themselves, nor by any virtue derived from the piety or intention of the person who administers them. -1 Cor. iii. 7. So then, neither is he that planteth any thing, neither is he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.

2. That the power or efficacy of the sacraments, as means of salvation, proceeds entirely from the blessing of Christ, and the working of the Holy Spirit, in the hearts of those who by faith receive them. ­-1 Cor. vi. 11. But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Q. 92. What is a sacrament?

A. A sacrament is an holy ordinance, instituted by Christ, wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.


Ordinance. –See Explic. Q. 54.

Holy ordinance. –A sacrament is so called, because it is designed, by Christ, for pious or holy persons, for the purposes of rendering them still more holy.

Instituted. –Established, appointed, or commanded to be observed.

Sensible signs. Something that can be seen, and felt, such as washing with water, eating bread, drinking wine, &c.

Benefits of the new covenant. –The blessings of the covenant of grace, or the Gospel. See Explic. Q. 20, 31, 32, 36 & 37.

Represented. –Set forth in a sensible or lively manner, as a picture is a representation or resemblance of the original, or person, or thing signified by it.

Sealed. –Made sure to us, in the same manner as a possession of houses or lands is confirmed to the owner, by a seal fixed to a writing.

Applied. –Given or bestowed.

Believers. ­–Those who trust in Christ, or who believe in his name as the only Saviour of sinners.


We are here taught three things respecting the nature of a sacrament :

1. That a sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ himself. –Matt. xxvi. 26. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples. (See also Q. 94, Analysis 2)

2. That in the sacraments, Christ, and the benefits of the near covenant, are represented by sensible signs. –Gen. xvii. 10. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep between me and you, and thy seed after thee; Every manchild among you shall be circumcised. 3. That in them, by the same means, these benefits are also sealed and applied to believers. –Rom. iv. 11, 16. And he (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had, yet being uncircumcised. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by Grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham.


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