On Faith and Sacraments
The book of Concord holds baptism, the Lord’s Supper and penance as sacraments because these are instituted by God for all and fitted with His promises (222, 250).
The sacraments are an external token of God’s promises. It is received in faith, but also helps strengthen our faith so that we may receive God’s promise (61). When I read those words, I see a kind of carousel before my mind‘s eye: we enter it, trusting ourselves to it, and then it starts spinning and won’t stop.
SKB brings my mind to Jesus’ words that He is the doctor for the needy when it states that the sacraments are like medicine for our disease of sin (72). They are also like faith in practice (224) which reminds me that practice makes perfect, again like a spinning carousel that goes faster and faster. But without faith the receiver cannot make good use of the sacrament, which is thus useless for him (224), like a man standing outside the carousel, it may be nice to watch, but he goes nowhere. This is because the sacraments are impotent unless the Word is the actor and our faith is the receiver (266f).
In Star Wars they say, “May the Force be with you”. Just like these words is a blessing and gives a Jedi power to be good, the Word is the Force of the sacraments, the Word and the sacrament has the same purpose and effect (222). Christ has laid down that purpose and therefore a sacrament like baptism is based more on the promise of Christ’s salvation than on the faith of the baptised (185). Thus we must believe, and be kept from doubt, not in and by the power of the sacraments, nor in our own power for that matter, I might add, but in and by the promise of God, our deliverer (267). God is the one active in the sacraments, neither us nor our faith is behind it, we are mere recipients (268).
SKB also states that Jesus says that it is the unfaithful who will be condemned, He doesn’t say the unbaptized (370), I agree of course, seeing as everyone who believes in God may not actually have the opportunity to be baptised. They may be living in a remote place, or start believing just before they die etc… The important thing is that we believe in God, and He will do the rest.
May the Force be with you!
Source: Svenska kyrkans bekännelseskrifter (The Book of Concord), Stockholm: Verbum 1997.