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Summary: John the Baptiser preached repentance and Jesus who had no sin was baptised by John, and the first Christians were baptised. The church should be united with regard to this Sacrament or Ordinance but is sadly divided over belief and practice.

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Text: Luke 3: 21 and 22 ‘After all the people had been baptised, Jesus also was baptised

and a voice came down from heaven,

“You are my own dear Son, I am pleased with you”.’

Baptism sadly divides but it should unite God's people

Within Christianity there are few topics more debated or argued about

than the sacraments of the church.

Each major church group has its own view,

and recognizes only those sacraments that support their beliefs.

Today there are four different types of baptism:

pouring water on a baby’s head;

making the sign of the cross on a baby’s head with water;

immersing a baby in water three times, as the Orthodox do;

and immersing an adult after they have professed their faith.

All four can find support for what they do in both the Bible

and in church history and tradition,

and no one can say for sure which of the methods is definitely the most correct,

or the most wrong.

At the end of the day, whatever mode of baptism is carried out is effective,

providing it is done sincerely,

and the ancient Trinitarian formula:

‘In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ is said,

and ordinary water is used.

If and when this is done, then grace is imparted to the person being baptised,

or taking the bread and the wine,

which is why ‘sacraments’ are described as ‘means of grace’.

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The English word ‘Sacrament’ comes from the Latin word ‘sacramentum’

which roughly means ‘promise’ in Latin.

This word was used to refer to an initiation rite for Roman soldiers

when they promised their fidelity and loyalty to their Legionary commanders.

When the early church started teaching and baptising Gentiles

they used this word to explain the rite of Christian initiation.

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Saint Augustine referred to a ‘sacramentum’

as anything that was “a sign of sacred reality”.

Another term often used to define a ‘sacrament’ by the early church

was the Greek word ‘Mysterium’,

which means ‘Mystery’ or ‘Wonder’.

Thus the sacraments of baptism and holy communion

are both viewed as holy mysteries or wonders of the church.

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A common definition of a ‘Sacrament’


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