Understanding the Sacraments
1. There are two sacraments prescribed by Christ for the New Covenant community (i.e. the church): baptism and the Lord’s Table (Mat 28:19; Luk 22:19-20).
2. Sacraments are covenant signs which carry supernatural significance in that God gives what the sign signifies when observed by His covenant communities (Bap = Act 2:38, 22:16 – “calling on His name” w/Rom 10:8-13//LT = Luk 22:14-22 w/Joh 13:1-17, 21-22).
3. Like the OT sacraments, receiving the blessings associated w/NT sacraments requires a commitment to obedience – i.e. pursuing what is just/ justice in all things (Isa 1:11-20; 1Co 11:27-30 = We are committed to justice since this is what God expects to receive mercy/forgiveness).
4. The NT sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Table) communicate the gain and maintain principle.
4.1. Baptism = gain a justified [sin-clean] state before God.
4.2. Lord’s Table = maintain our justified (sin-clean) state before God.
As such, they replace the former covenant signs used to gain and maintain ones’ relationship with God (circumcision w/baptism = Col 2:11-12//Passover or sacrifice w/LT = 1Co 5:1-13).
5. The NT sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Table) communicate our full dependence upon Christ (Joh 15:1-10).
Though we are already clean [forgiven] thru our baptisms (3, 13:10), continuing to receive Christ’s forgiveness means continuing in obedience to [abiding in] Him) (10). We remain fully dependent on Christ (thru the sacrament of the LT) for continual cleansing. If this were not true, then hardly could Jesus say the disobedient wb “thrown into the fire, and burned” (6).
6. What matters in baptism is not the mode (full immersion or pouring, dipping, sprinkling, etc.).
The two most common (yet faulty) arguments made for full immersion are:
6.1. Full immersion is what the Greek word translated “baptize” refers to.
This however is not true. Rather, the word refers to a washing (full immersion or otherwise) that is spiritual/ceremonial in nature as demonstrated by the fact that this word is used to refer to other types of spiritual/ceremonial washing not involving full immersion of one’s body (e.g. Mar 7:3-4). The mode therefore we choose to use in giving this spiritual washing is irrelevant (since it is for spiritual/soul cleansing not physical cleansing).
6.2. Full immersion best symbolizes Jesus’ death and resurrection (Rom 6:1-4).
According to Paul, baptism represents the instrument of death not the action taken after death (3-4: “by baptism into [unto] His death”, “by baptism into [unto] death”). As such, baptism signifies us as crucified w/Christ not in a coffin w/Christ. This is why Paul speaks of his baptism this way in (Gal 2:20).
7. What matters in baptism and the Lord’s Table are the persons and place.
7.1. Regarding persons:
7.1.1. Person (1) = Someone agreeing to faithful obedience to Christ as Lord so as to receive Him as Savior [LBS] (Act 2:38 – “repent” = turn in committed obedience – see Luk 3:1-14; Act 11:23-24 – “exhorted to remain faithful to the Lord”).
7.1.2. Person (2) = Baby/small child of an existing covenant member (Act 2:39 w/Gen 17:7 = God’s special provision).
7.2. Regarding place = Christ est’d covenant community (Act 11:19-26; Exo 24:7-8; 1Pe 1:1-2; oversight by God’s qualified man/with people committed to faithful obedience/who are receiving the covenant signs).
8. What else matters for baptism is the names in which we are baptized. IOW: that we are baptized into the one true God (i.e. The Trinity – Mat 28:19; Deu 6:4-5 = Loyalty to the true God as the only God).
9. What else matters in the Lord’s Table are the elements and frequency.
9.1. Regarding elements: they are to be unleavened (which symbolizes w/o sin). As such, we are to use unleavened bread and wine (unleavened grape juice) (1Co 5:6-8; Gal 5:7-9; body = life for us//blood = death for us).
9.2. Regarding frequency: every Lord’s Day (Act 20:7).