Help Understanding Sacraments in Scripture



This is mainly addressed to my Catholic brothers and sisters. As some of you know, I attend a Baptist church (as well as Mass on Saturdays) and at my Baptist church our high school pastor and I got into a discussion concerning the Sacraments. Of course, Baptists hold that Baptism and Communion are but ordinances, unnecessary for salvation. I have actually written a short paper on the subject to our youth pastor at his request (it called for Baptism’s necessity but at the time I was more skeptical about its sacramental value). Anyway, he asked me why I thought the Eucharist was so very important to Catholics. I responded, “Because it is the source and summit of their faith.” He smiled. *“Deeper …” *I thought. “Because of its sacramental value?” “Bingo, man!” He continued speaking to me about how if Christ’s redemptive work was sufficient, then why would we need his grace channeled through the Sacraments? “What’s more,” he asked, “where in Scripture to you see these rites presented as media for the bestowal of grace?” I quoted 1 Peter 3:21 since it speaks of the salvific grace of God being bestowed upon the participant, and we went on from there.

He asked if an old man on his deathbed who had just realized he was a sinner, repented, and believed in Christ was considered saved, even if he was incapable of receiving baptism and then perished. I said, “Yes.” “Then there’s an exception to the rule,” he said, “and that causes me to be skeptical.” As we went on and on, I brought up the point that James called for faith to be worked out in active obedience and I openly questioned the genuineness of one’s faith who knew of the baptismal ordinance but refused (was not incapable, but outright refused). It was at this point our conversation was interrupted.

He told me he liked the way my mind worked and we’d talk later. He’s an incredibly intelligent person (who could out-debate me any day), a genuine Christ Follower, and I don’t doubt these things about him in the least. However, I think he is misled here.

**Can someone give me some examples from the Scriptures of instances where we see the Sacramental value of Baptism and Communion in particular, **as these are the rites he acknowledges? I’d like to expand my understanding on these subjects now. In highschool I hope to go to a very good (excellent, really) Catholic school, and of course the theology curriculum there covers the Sacraments, but for now I must admit here my ignorance.



My insight on baptism. In Acts, Peter said, "Repent, and Be baptized in the Name of Jesus.

Jesus commanded us, "Baptize then In the Name of the Father, And of the Son, and Of the Holy Spirit.

Peter in his epistles states baptism saves you. So they are necessary. In certain situation, God can work outside the sacrament since the sacraments of the Catholic come from him, and He can do with it as He pleases. For example, the thief at the cross who repented and was not baptized, but saved.

Communion -

Communion, Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” So we break the bread during common as a memorial. This is a commandment granted to us all Christians. Jesus also said, in John 6 in the bread discourse, “Whoever eats the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood shall have eternal life.”


John 6:54, 56, 57, 58 - He uses an even more literal verb, translated as “trogo,” which means to gnaw or chew or crunch. He increases the literalness and drives his message home. Jesus will literally give us His flesh and blood to eat. The word “trogo” is only used two other times in the New Testament (in Matt. 24:38 and John 13:18) and it always means to literally gnaw or chew meat. While “phago” might also have a spiritual application, “trogo” is never used metaphorically in Greek. So Protestants cannot find one verse in Scripture where “trogo” is used symbolically, and yet this must be their argument if they are going to deny the Catholic understanding of Jesus’ words. Moreover, the Jews already knew Jesus was speaking literally even before Jesus used the word “trogo” when they said “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”

John 6:55 - to clarify further, Jesus says “For My Flesh is food indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed.” This phrase can only be understood as being responsive to those who do not believe that Jesus’ flesh is food indeed, and His blood is drink indeed. Further, Jesus uses the word which is translated as “sarx.” “Sarx” means flesh (not “soma” which means body). See, for example, John 1:13,14; 3:6; 8:15; 17:2; Matt. 16:17; 19:5; 24:22; 26:41; Mark 10:8; 13:20; 14:38; and Luke 3:6; 24:39 which provides other examples in Scripture where “sarx” means flesh. It is always literal.


I’ve always sort of held that John 6, nevertheless, was taken out of context. How, then, do you deal with verses like verses 27-29 and 33-35?


You have to look at the entire chapter of Jesus bread discourse not just verses 27-29, and 33-35.

John 6:27-29 states

“Do not labor for food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on Him has God the Father set His seal.” For they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

Jesus takes into account that these Jews want to receive food because they were apparently hungry. When Jesus said about a food that gives life, they wanted it. Of course Jesus said, that he is the Bread of Life.

33-35 states,

“For the bread of God is that which come down from heaven, and give life to the world.” Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.” In addition Jesus said in the next verse. “But I said to you that you have seen me and yet you do not believe.”

In the later verses, the Jews were puzzled and ask Jesus, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat.” Jesus explains more that they have to eat his flesh and drink his blood. They find it difficult to believe. It only proves Jesus remark when he said, “But I said to you that you have seen me and yet you do not believe.”

They did not believe that they have to eat his flesh. As a Jew, it was a violation of the Mosaic Law to eat a flesh of another human being. For this reason, the 70 Jewish disciples left and were no longer with Jesus. The only ones who remain are his Twelve Apostles, and the women who love Him.

In the Catholic Mass, Holy Communion is taken seriously. For you know, Catholics believe in the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. No one unworthy should approached to received him, especially if he has a mortal sin. Only baptized Catholics can received him. It is therefore necessary for a Communicant to examine himself first and then received the Body and Blood of the Lord.

St. Paul advises the same to the Christians in Corinths. In 1 Cor Chapter 11. Paul that anyone should examine himself first before receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord.

Let’s take a look at this Epistle shall we.

1 Cor 11:27-30

“Whoever, therefore, eat the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner shall be guilty of profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats, and drinks judgement upon himself. THat is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”

Here is where you will find biblical evidence of the Catholic faith

The Biblical Church
Primacy of Peter
Apostolic Succession
Scripture Alone
Oral Tradition
The Eucharist
Holy Matrimony
Divorce & Remarriage
Husband’s Headship
Holy Orders
Anointing of the Sick
Second Coming / Rapture
Jesus Christ’s Divinity
The Holy Spirit
Messianic Prophecies
Tongue Speaking
Sunday Worship
Vain & Repetitious Prayer
Modesty in Dress
Just War


I always thought that the disciples meeting Christ on the road to Emmaus (sp?) way pretty significant. It is “in Scripture” that they recognized Him “in the breaking of the Bread”.
If we cannot fully recognize Christ, and therefore His Church and His Will, without the breaking of the Bread, then it must have some supernatural effect.


You might find St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lecture on Baptism helpful:

God bless you!


This is all helpful. Thank you guys so much!

What’s more, I am becoming more skeptical about the Baptist position on the Eucharist (as a mere memorial) but I do not know quite where I stand on this subject. I would appreciate prayers asking for my being led into Truth. This has always been the most confusing area of my Faith for whatever reason.


You might be interested in a story I read just yesterday, which I found interesting.

"Why did Matt Enloe Leave the Baptist Tradition to Become a Catholic?"

Also, another former conservative Baptist’s story about “Why I am Catholic”


The Sacraments (visible signs instituted by Christ to give grace) are the normal means of salvation. This is the Catholic perspective.

I believe the most important distinction here of salvation is “imputed” versus “infused” righteousness. Most Protestants (or Non-Catholic Christians) believe once they accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, they are instantly righteous in the sight of God, based on faith alone.

This is a good way of looking at “infused” righteousness:

“Are you saved?” asks the Fundamentalist. The Catholic should reply: “As the Bible says, I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), but I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:8, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13).”

Finally, you must understand our perspective concerning Jesus death on the cross. We believe that the graces He merited through the cross are applied to us primarily through the Sacraments, that we will actually be made holy. We believe the good work the Lord started in our souls will be completed and perfected, to prepare us for His Kingdom of Love for all eternity. (This also ties into our understanding of purgatory - which of course is a different issue.)

Thanks for the honest question(s). I pray that helps. God bless!


You’re on the right track.

Your pastor believes that this exception disproves the rule about baptism being necessary for salvation since the old man (or the repentant thief on the cross) could be saved even though they were not baptized.

There is also the case of those who willingly undergo martyrdom for their faith in Christ prior to being baptized. This was more common in ancient times when catechumens were killed as Christians by the Romans even though they had not yet entered the Church formally through baptism.

The former is known as “baptism of desire”; the latter is called “baptism of blood”.

Here are five paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church from the section, “The Necessity of Baptism”:

1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation.60 He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them.61 Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.62 The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are “reborn of water and the Spirit.” God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.

1258 The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.

1259 For *catechumens *who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.

1260 "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery."63 Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.
1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,"64 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

By the way, you might invite your pastor to join our discussions here!

Hope this helps. :tiphat:

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