Christ’s resurrection & the sacraments

In the last few weeks during adult Sunday School (which follows our worship service), we have been working through sections of the Heidelberg Catechism that deal with corporate worship.  This past Sunday we looked at teachings (heads of doctrine) on the resurrection and ascension of Christ that help set the stage for understanding the nature of the sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper).  Because we share in the resurrection life of Christ by faith, we are enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit to receive God’s grace through the means of the sacraments.  Even though the incarnate Christ has ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God in heaven, we who are on earth are nevertheless united to Jesus and participate in all his saving benefits through the powerful working of his Spirit that indwells us.

An important distinctive of the Reformed tradition (as reflected in the Heidelberg Catechism, see Lord’s Days 25-30) is that we see Baptism and the Lord’s Day  Supper as more than signs or memorials, but actually means by which God gives grace to his people on the basis of Christ’s redeeming work and the operation of the Holy Spirit.

               Lord’s Day 17
             45. What benefit do we receive from the “resurrection” of Christ?
First, by His resurrection He has overcome death, that He might make us partakers of the righteousness which He has obtained for us by His death.1 Second, by His power we are also now raised up to a new life.2 Third, the resurrection of Christ is to us a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection.31 Rom 4:25; 1 Cor 15:15-20, 54-55; 1 Pt 1:3-5, 21; 2 Rom 6:5-11; Eph 2:4-6; Col 3:1-4; 3 Rom 8:11; 1 Cor 15:12-23; Php 3:20-21

               Lord’s Day 18

             46. What do you understand by the words “He ascended into heaven?”

That Christ, in the sight of His disciples, was taken up from the earth into heaven,1 and continues there in our behalf 2 until He shall come again to judge the living and the dead.3

1 Mt 26:64; Lk 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11; 2 Rom 8:34; Eph 4:10; Heb 4:14, 7:23-25, 9:11, 24; 3 Mt 24:30; Acts 1:11, 3:20-21

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