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Church Ordinances

We believe that there are two church ordinances - Baptism and the Lord's Supper. These are acts instituted by Jesus Christ and serve as an outward symbol or reminder of what Jesus did for the believer, and it is a testimony to others of identifying with Jesus Christ.

It is vital for an individual to understand that baptism and the Lord's supper do not have anything to do with salvation, and they are not sacraments (that is, formal Christian rites dispensed by the church as a means of obtaining God's grace). They are simply ordinances to serve as reminders of what has taken place already in an individual believer's life.

Baptism

The importance of baptism

Baptism serves as a picture or a symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the believer's identification with Him as a part of His body. Romans 6:3-5 teach us the significance of a believer's being baptized by stating that we are baptized "into" Jesus Christ. That is very plainly that we are connected to Him. Baptism, then, is a picture or a likeness of our identification, and our connection to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Baptism is a step of obedience in the life of the believer. Christ commanded His disciples to go into all the world, preach the Gospel, make disciples, and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19-20).

Who should be baptized? When should they be baptized?

Only those individuals who have accepted Jesus Christ for their salvation, having received God's free gift of eternal life through faith in the person and work of Christ should be baptized. Why? Because the New Testament teaches us that only those who believed in Jesus Christ were baptized, and that only a true believer can be identified with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Acts 8:35-39 reveals that baptism is to be administered only to those who have already believed the Gospel message. In this text, Philip preached the Gospel to an Ethiopian eunuch who asked, "What doth hinder me to be baptized?" Philip responded, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." The eunuch responded, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Philip then baptized this man on the basis of his profession of faith.

How is someone to be baptized?

Immersion - putting the entire body under water - is the only proper, Biblical mode of believer's baptism. Baptism is a picture or symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ by going under the water and rising out of it (Romans 6:1-6; Colossians 2:12). Complete immersion is the pattern set by the early church. (Acts 8:38-39). The Greek word baptizo, from which we get our English word "baptize" literally means "to immerse" and requires immersion by its very definition.

Any form of baptism other than single immersion cannot be considered valid baptism because it fails to accurately identify the individual with Christ's death, burial, and resurrection.

A believer should be baptized only once because this is the pattern set forth in the New Testament scriptures, and because baptism represents the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, which happened only once.

The Lord's Supper

The importance of the Lord's Supper

The Lord's Supper, or the Communion Service, is a reminder to the believer of Christ's substitutionary death on Calvary's cross (I Corinthians 11:23-25). The "bread" is a symbolic reminder of Christ's body, which was put to death for us. (Luke 22:19), and the "cup" is a symbolic reminder of Christ's blood which He shed on Calvary's cross in order to bear the sins of the world. (Luke 22:20).

Who can participate in the Lord's Supper?

Only true believers of Jesus Christ should partake of the Lord's Supper. This ordinance is to be observed by the local church, which should be comprised only of believers (I Corinthians 11:23).

Only those believers who are walking in a right relationship with Christ should partake of the Lord's Supper (I Corinthians 11:23-24). If we are harboring sin, ill-will, or hatred against another brother or sister in Christ, then we are not living in a right relationship with God (1 John 2:9-11). Therefore, when we partake, our conscience must be pure, and we must enjoy a proper relationship with God and with others as well.

Study Questions

1. What two ordinances are to be observed by the local church today?

2. What historic event does baptism symbolize according to Romans 6:4?

3. Who are the only individuals who are qualified to be baptized?

4. What is the proper mode of believer's baptism, and why is it the proper mode? Explain your answers
   using Scripture.

5. How many times should an individual be baptized? Why?

6. What is the purpose of the Lord's Supper according to 1 Corinthians 11:23-26?

7. In the Lord's Supper, what does the bread represent? The cup?

8. Who is permitted to partake of the Lord's Supper according to 1 Corinthians 11:27-29?

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