Summary: A sermon that looks at what the Bible teaches about baptism and communion.
Engage with the Ordinances
Rev. Brian Bill
October 1-2, 2016
A symbol is something that stands for something else. I’m going to put some well-known symbols up on the screen and I’d like you to shout out what they represent.
• 3 Green Arrows Curved to Form a Triangle (Recycling)
• Bald Eagle (USA)
• Green Bay Packers (God’s Team)
• Fed Ex
I’d like you to stare at this last one for a bit. Do you see anything else as you look closely at the logo? Did you catch the arrow between the “E” and the “X”?
Today we’re going to address the two ordinances given to the church by Jesus Himself – Baptism and Communion. I’m hoping that we will see some things we’ve never seen before. I’m praying that the arrows from God’s Word will penetrate our lives as we go behind the symbols to see a deep spiritual reality. It’s interesting that Jesus began his official ministry with His baptism and the Lord’s Supper was celebrated at the end of His ministry.
We refer to them as “ordinances” rather than sacraments because they were especially “ordained” or ordered by Jesus. We don’t use the word “sacrament” because that word carries connotations that can lead to confusion. The Latin word sacramentum speaks of giving “grace” or the granting of some kind of special favor from God. While ordinances are important they are not in and of themselves grace-giving elements that contribute to our salvation. Our commitment is the same as the Reformers – The Scriptures alone, by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone (BTW, the sermon the last weekend in October will be on these five “solas”).
Baptism and Communion are symbols, or visual aids of the gospel as they retell the story of redemption. Ordinances are determined by three factors: they were instituted by Christ, taught by the apostles and practiced by the early church. And therefore we are called to engage in them today.
I’m reminded of the young pastor who was fresh out of seminary and was conducting his first baptism service. In his nervousness, he got his Scriptures confused concerning the two ordinances and declared: “I now baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” As he lowered the new convert into the water, he added, “And drink ye all of it.”
Let’s look first at baptism. I’m grateful for insights that I’ve gleaned over the years from Ray Pritchard and John MacArthur on this topic and some of what I will share reflects their influence.
One of the best ways to study a biblical theme is by simply doing a Scriptural survey. While my preaching preference is to study a book of the Bible verse-by-verse, or to focus on one primary passage, there is great merit in pulling together the various verses that have to do with a topic and then drawing some conclusions from them.
Baptism in the Gospels
Let’s begin by looking at the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark in verse 4: “John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Drop down to verses 7-8: “And he preached, saying, ‘After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
In Mark 1:9-10, we discover that baptism is important because Jesus Himself was baptized: “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.”
It’s likely that Jesus walked about 60 miles in order for John to baptize Him in the Jordan River. We also learn that the disciples were baptized and in John 4:2, they baptized others. Turn now to Matthew 28:19-20 where we see that baptism is a distinctive mark of discipleship: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Simply put, we believe in baptism, and we practice it, because Christ commanded it. Making disciples of all nations includes baptizing them.
BTW, I’m looking forward to having Manuel and Kim Contreras with us next weekend as we focus on how to engage Glocally. Manuel, a former gang member, will be speaking on courage at the Man-up Breakfast and Kim will be joining the women for the bonfire Saturday night.