Confessing Christ Bloggers
Oct 14

Written by: Richard L. Floyd
10/14/2008 2:13 PM

“The Word and the Sacraments are the two great expressions of the Gospel in worship. The Sacraments are the acted Word — variants of the preached Word. They are signs, but they are more than signs. They are the Word, the Gospel itself, visible, as in preaching the Word is audible. But in either case it is an act. It is Christ in a real presence giving us anew His Redemption. The Sacraments used to be called seals. A seal is something distinctive of the person who uses it, and of an act of his. Being dead he yet speaks. It is not simply a sign or relic of him, which might be unconscious, unmeant, like his footprint or the smoke of his fire. It means an act in which he intends to convey himself, his mind, his will, his act.

“The Sacraments are not only signs or symptoms, but deliberate seals of the loving will and work of Christ for us. They bring Him to the spot in His crucial significance. They are love-tokens to the Church — but love-tokens different, for instance, from a ring. The same ring might serve for a token between any lovers. It has nothing characteristic of either. But if it has a name and a motto on it, or if a lover compose a poem or a piece of music to his mistress, that conveys his inmost self, and is both a sign of love and a seal. It is much more a sign of love as a seal of it, and a means of deepening it. In this sense the Sacraments are Christ's love-tokens to His Body, the Church. They not only suggest Him, but they convey Himself to the Church. They deepen the relation between them. They have a positive meaning which He intended. They are not accidental suggestions. They are connected with Him by much more than association. They are more than souvenirs, keepsakes. They are bequests. They are conveyances. And what they mean and bring is of the very essence of what He was and is and willed to be to the Church — its Redeemer and Sanctifier.

“These love-tokens, these heirlooms, the Church has to guard and use. She has to keep them bright, and not by care only but by use. She must so use them that they shine with their message and not merely by a polish. Like rails, they gleam with traffic which carries value to the soul. (P. T. Forsyth, The Church and the Sacraments. London: Independent Press, 1953, pp. 176–178).


Re: The Relationship between Word and Sacrament

Thanks Richard. I am always so encouraged when I read of people reading and citing Forsyth. Regards, Jason.

By Jason Goroncy on   10/14/2008 3:41 PM
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