What do the Sacraments do?

In and of themselves the sacraments do nothing. God the Holy Spirit works through the preaching of the Word and the Administration of the sacraments.

WSC 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.

God is the active agent in the sacraments themselves, it is what God is doing. It doesn’t become a sacrament because the person administering the elements is ordained or because they have become something they are not. But it is a work of God.

1 Cor 3:7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.


1 Cor 1:12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”
1 Cor 1:13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
1 Cor 1:14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,
1 Cor 1:15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name.
1 Cor 1:16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)
1 Cor 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Along with Scripture I concur with the confessional interpretation of the Scriptures to say that the Scriptures promise to us all that is contained in Christ (Christ and all his benefits) are actually exhibited and conferred and given to us.

It goes back to the language when Paul talks about circumcision and baptism as a sign and seal. That language is covenantal language. It’s like a wax seal attached to a certificate to a covenantal document. That’s why we believe that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are not only signs but seals of the covenant of grace.

Galatians 3:27. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:16-17. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.