Many Lutherans are not dogmatic about the number of sacraments. A sacrament is a rite, commanded by God Himself, in which He makes Himself especially present. It is taught that Holy Baptism and Holy Communion are sacraments. Often, Confession and Absolution is referred to as the "third sacrament." The other four rites ( confirmation, marriage, holy orders, anointing of the sick) are viewed as sacramental in nature, while not necessarily, or so clearly definable as, sacraments.
Conservative Lutherans hold to a stricter understanding of a two-sacrament system, using the following three part definition: 1) a sacred act which Christ instituted, 2) which uses an earthly element together with God's Word, 3) to offer, give, and seal the forgiveness of sins for the recipient. This view rules out man-made rites and focuses on the free grace of God given through the sacraments of Baptism and Communion. They are not simply ordinances that a Christian must obey, but through them God gives the Holy Spirit to create and strengthen faith.