Question 53. How do you enter into communion with Christ and so with one another?
By the power of the Holy Spirit as it works through Word and sacrament. The Scriptures acknowledge two sacraments as instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ—baptism and the Lord's Supper.
Question 54. What is a sacrament?
A sacrament is a special act of Christian worship, instituted by Christ, which uses a visible sign to proclaim the promise of the gospel for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. In baptism the sign is that of water; in the Lord's Supper, that of bread and wine.
Question 55. What is baptism?
Baptism is the sign and seal through which we are joined to Christ.
Question 56. What does it mean to be baptized?
My baptism means that I am joined to Jesus Christ forever. As I am baptized with water, he baptizes me with his Spirit, washing away all my sins and freeing me from their control. My baptism is a sign that one day I will rise with him in glory, and may walk with him even now in newness of life.
Question 57. Are infants also to be baptized?
Yes. Along with their believing parents, they are included in the great hope of the gospel and belong to the people of God. Forgiveness and faith are both promised to them through Christ's covenant with his people.
Question 58. Why are you baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit?
Because of the command Jesus gave his disciples. After he was raised from the dead, he appeared to them and said, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19).
Question 59. What is the meaning of this name?
It is the name of the Holy Trinity. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And yet they are not three gods, but one God in three persons. We worship God in this mystery.
Question 60. What is the Lord's Supper?
The Lord's Supper is the sign and seal by which our communion with Christ is renewed.
Question 61. What does it mean to share in the Lord's Supper?
When we celebrate the Lord's Supper, the Lord Jesus Christ is truly present, pouring out his Spirit upon us. By his Spirit, the bread that we break and the cup that we bless share in his body and blood. As I receive the bread and the cup, remembering that Christ died even for me, I feed on him in my heart by faith with thanksgiving. His life becomes mine, and my life becomes his, to all eternity.
Question 62. What do you mean when you speak of "the forgiveness of sins"?
Because of Jesus Christ, God no longer holds my sins against me. Christ alone is my righteousness and my life. Grace alone is the basis on which God has forgiven me in him. Faith alone is the means by which I receive Christ into my heart, and with him the forgiveness that makes me whole.
Question 63. Does forgiveness mean that God excuses sin?
No. God does not cease to be God. Although God is merciful to the sinner, God does not excuse the evil of sin. For to forgive is not to excuse.
Question 64. Does your forgiveness of those who have harmed you depend on their repentance?
No. I am to forgive as I have been forgiven. Just as God's forgiveness of me does not depend on my first confessing and repenting of my sins, so my forgiveness of those who harm me does not depend on their doing so. However, when I forgive the person who has harmed me, I do not deny or excuse the harm that was done.
Question 65. What do you mean when you speak of "the resurrection of the body"?
Because Christ lives, we will live also. Death is not the end of human life. The whole person, body and soul, will be raised from death to eternal life with God.
Question 66. What do you affirm when you speak of "the life everlasting"?
God does not will to be God without us, but instead grants to us creatures—fallen and mortal as we are—eternal life. Communion with Jesus Christ is eternal life itself.
Question 67. Won't heaven be a boring place?
No. Heaven is our true home, a world of love. There we shall at last see face to face what we now only glimpse as through a distant mirror. Our deepest, truest delights in this life are only a dim foreshadowing of the delights that await us in heaven.