According to the Church of Rome, Christ instituted seven sacraments in His church as enduring "symbols and signs that man is blessed by God and saved by Christ's redeeming mercy" (The Teaching of Christ: A Catholic catechism for Adults, p. 403). These seven sacraments allegedly are: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, the Sacrament of the Sick (Extreme Unction or the Last Rites), Holy Orders and Matrimony. It must be remembered that Rome's concept of worship and of salvation is thoroughly sacramental. That is, she views the sacraments as the necessary vehicles of divine grace. She states that it is through the sacraments that "man clings in worship to Christ to share in the fruits of His paschal gift; they are instruments by which Christ, through the liturgical acts of His Church, in fact confers the graces symbolized by the sacraments."
Please pay close attention to this, for this is the pernicious system of dead legalism from which God delivered us as a result of the Protestant Reformation.
First, I should point out one glaring self-contradiction in the Romish claims. Rome claims that in the Eucharist bread and wine actually become the very body and blood, humanity and deity of Jesus Christ. If this were true, the Eucharist could no longer be a symbol or sign; it would be the real thing and anyone participating would be eating and drinking the actual body and blood of Christ. Even if the participant did not exercise either thought or faith he would still receive the very fullness of Christ's humanity and deity. There can be no escape from the conclusion that if Rome believes her own claims she teaches that anyone who partakes of her Eucharist is saved, even without faith in Christ, for can anyone actually receive the very humanity and deity of Christ without saving benefit?
Of course, Rome protects herself from this conclusion by her legalistic system of ritual observances. She teaches that the justified may increase or decrease their justification by their actions and may actually lose it altogether. The continuance and growth in justification that she imagines depends on a person's participation in the Church's sacramental system. It is noteworthy that Rome makes receiving Christ depend on receiving the sacraments and she makes receiving the sacraments depend on the ritual actions of the Church through her priests. Thus Rome effectively places herself between the sinner and the Saviour. He cannot reach Christ except through the "liturgical acts of His Church."This is not even remotely related to New Testament Christianity. Salvation is symbolized in the sacraments and our sanctification is strengthened by their faithful observance but we receive Christ directly and need no human intermediary. Later this week I'll show that Rome has invented five of her seven sacraments and perverted the two that have New Testament authority. For the moment I'll simply make the point that sacramentalism is the invention of a church that has usurped the place of Christ and that has replaced His gospel of free grace received directly through faith alone with one that makes its priest "lords over God's heritage" and brings its followers into spiritual bondage. Let us, therefore, "stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free."