This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, November 19, 2017.
If you hear on Sunday morning that Sunday evening there will be a baptism or we will be observing the Lord’s Supper, does that make any difference to you? If you had not planned on coming Sunday evening would that cause you to change your plans? How important is it to attend the ordinances of the church?
Would it make a difference if you knew the person being baptized? You see I think there is a danger in Baptist life. Because we do not view baptism and the Lord’s Supper as sacraments we tend to view them as optional or not that important. A sacrament dispenses grace. We do not hold that grace is dispensed but rather that they are symbols or memorials of God’s gracious acts in Christ. It is a mistake however to think of them as “mere” symbol. As if that is all they are. Yes, they are symbols but not merely symbols.
We, as Baptist, refer to baptism and Lord’s Supper as ordinances. What are ordinances and how many are there?
A Christian ordinance is a ceremony that the Lord Jesus has commanded to be permanently practiced by the church. In the New Testament we find two ordinances given to the church, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These were ordained by the Lord himself, they are not the result of a church council or traditions handed down through the history of the church.
Ordinances are distinct ceremonies not just general actions or attitudes. Christ commands us to love. Love in fact is to be a hallmark of the church but love is not an ordinance.
Some groups add “foot washing” as an ordinance based on what happened on the night when our Lord instituted the Supper. However we do not find it indicated as a practice in the New Testament and there are no direct commands to practice it.
It is also important to recognize that the ordinances are given to the church not to individual Christians. That is why we don’t encourage people to baptize their children in the bathtub or to take the Lord’s Supper in small groups apart from the rest of the church.
Why should I attend the ordinances of the church?
I. Why should I attend the ordinance of baptism?
Let me give you some reasons for why you should make it a point to be present every time there is a baptism.
- By being present at baptism you demonstrate your commitment to the Great Commission.
- By being present at baptism you show commitment to the importance of baptism.
- By being present at baptism you accept a new member into the family.
II. Why should I attend the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper?
Why should you make an extra effort to be present at the table of the Lord?
- You should be present at the Lord’s Supper because it is commanded by Jesus.
- You should be present at the Lord’s Supper because it is loved by Jesus.
- You should be present at the Lord’s Supper because it is a spiritual participation in the body and blood of Jesus.
- You should be present at the Lord’s Supper because it is a memorial to Jesus.
- You should be present at the Lord’s Supper because it is a proclamation of the death of Jesus.
Both baptism and Lord’s Supper are treasured ordinances of the church. Both proclaim the gospel. Both celebrate the saving work of our gracious God. Both are necessary for our spiritual growth and development. Whenever given opportunity we ought to joyfully participate.