Christian Growth VII – Church Ordinances

Baptism & The Lord’s Supper CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO

This is the seventh lesson in Christian Growth.  This lesson deals with water baptism and the Lord’s supper.

The first ordinance is water baptism – Water baptism is an ordinance that Jesus gave the church.  In Matt 28:19, Jesus commanded us to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

However, water baptism has no saving power.  It is simply a matter of obeying the Lord’s commandment.  Notice that Jesus was baptized “to fulfill all righteousness,” [Matt 3:15].  He certainly had no need to be saved.  Rather, he did something that was right to do even though he was perfectly sinless [Heb 4:15; 2 Cor 5:21].  Likewise, following our Savior’s example [1 Pet 2:21], though we don’t need water baptism to be saved, we should be baptized because he commanded it.

The Ethiopian eunuch was baptized in water after he believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and confessed him [Acts 8:36-38].  Similarly, Cornelius and his household were baptized in water after they believed [Acts 10:43-48].  Hence, if you were baptized in water before you were saved, then you should be baptized again, properly, after you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Water baptism outwardly pictures your spiritual baptism, which you undergo the moment you receive Jesus Christ.  According to Rom 6:3-5, 1 Cor 12:13 and Col 2:11-12, you were baptized by the Holy Ghost into the body of Christ when you got saved.  You became a member of his literal body [Eph 5:30-32].  Since the literal body of Christ was crucified, was buried, and rose from the dead, you go through his literal death, burial and resurrection at salvation.  Therefore, your immersion in water pictures your death on the cross with Christ [your body “crosses” the plane of the water before you are baptized], your burial with him [as you are completely immersed in the water] and your resurrection with him [when you come back up out of the water].

The second ordinance is the Lord’s supper – The Lord’s Supper is patterned after the “Last Supper” which was being observed as part of the Passover memorial before the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ [Matt 26:26-29].  At supper, Jesus took bread and said, “this is my body” and he took the cup and said, “this is my blood of the new testament.”  He thus showed his disciples that this memorial they had been keeping since Israel’s exodus from Egypt 1400-1500 years before was prophetic of his sacrifice for their sins that day.

Some people are inclined to believe that when they observe this supper today as a sacrament they are actually eating the body and blood of Jesus and that these have some saving power.  However, it is important to remember that Judas ate the supper and is burning today.

In fact, Jesus did not transubstantiate the bread and cup into his body and blood.  Furthermore, he did not drink wine.  In every place that you read about this supper in the gospels and in 1 Cor 11:23-26, the contents of the cup are always referred to as “the fruit of the vine” which is “new” [Matt 26:29].  And new wine is found in the cluster [Is 65:8] not in a bottle in a liquor store.  It’s grape juice.

Some would have you to believe that the bread and “wine” must be his flesh and blood to fulfill Jn 6:51-54.  However, there are a couple of problems with this.  First, eating blood is absolutely prohibited in the Bible [Gen 9:4, Lev 17:10 and Acts 15:20].  That would be cannibalism.  Jesus would never command his disciples to do anything contrary to the words of God.  Second, if you read the context of John 6:35-71, you will find that salvation is in “coning to” and “believing on” Jesus [Jn 6:35, 47, 69].  There is no profit in the flesh; there is spirit and life in the “words” of Jesus [Jn 6:63, 68].  And you are saved when you are quickened by the spirit [Jn 6:63] after believing his words [Eph 1:13].

The Lord’s supper, therefore, is a “memorial” in remembrance of the Lord Jesus Christ which is observed often by the church [1 Cor 11:23-26].  The breaking of the bread testifies to us that we are one body in Christ after we are saved by Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection [1 Cor 10:16-17].  It is not a “sacrifice” of Jesus’ body again or an “offering” [Heb 10:10-14]; Jesus already took care of that at Calvary once and for all.  And we he did, he became our Passover [1 Cor 5:7].  The observance of this memorial shows the Lord’s death till he comes [1 Cor 11:26].