What is baptism?
Baptism by water - a sign of the believer's repentance, a sign that he accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Redeemer - is participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Being baptized "with the Holy Spirit and with Fire" refers to the renewing and cleansing work of the Holy Spirit. The Worldwide Church of God practices baptism through immersion (Matthew 28,19:2,38; Acts 6,4:5; Romans 3,16: 1-12,13; Luke 1:1,3; 9 Corinthians 3,16; Peter; Matthew).
The evening before his crucifixion, Jesus took bread and wine and said: "... this is my body ... this is my blood of the covenant ..." Whenever we celebrate the Lord's Supper, we accept bread and wine in memory our Savior and announce his death until he comes. The sacrament is participation in the death and resurrection of our Lord, who gave his body and shed his blood so that we can be forgiven (1 Corinthians 11,23: 26-10,16; 26,26:28; Matthew.
The baptism and the Lord's Supper are the two ecclesiastical orders of Protestant Christianity. These orders are signs or symbols of God's grace working in the faithful. They visibly proclaim the grace of God by pointing to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
«Both ecclesiastical orders, the Lord's Supper and holy baptism ... stand together, shoulder to shoulder, and proclaim the reality of God's grace through which we are unconditionally accepted and through which we are unconditionally obliged to be so for others what Christ was for us » (Jinkins, 2001, p. 241).
It is important to understand that the Lord's baptism and sacrament are not human ideas. They reflect the grace of the father and were used by Christ. God specified in Scripture that men and women repent (turn to God - see Lesson No. 6) and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2,38), and that believers should "eat Jesus bread and wine in memory" (1 Corinthians 11,23: 26).
The New Testament ecclesiastical orders differ from the Old Testament rituals in that the latter were merely “a shadow of future goods” and “it is impossible to take away sins through the blood of bulls and goats” (Hebrews 10,1.4). These rituals were designed to separate Israel from the world and separate it as God's property, while the New Testament shows that all believers from all peoples are one with and in Christ.
The rituals and sacrifices did not lead to permanent sanctification and holiness. The first covenant, the old covenant under which they functioned, is no longer valid. God picks up the first so that he can use the second. According to this will we are sanctified once and for all by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ » (Hebrews 10,5: 10).
Symbols that reflect God's bestowal gift
In Philippians 2,6-8, we read that Jesus forsook his divine privileges for us. He was God, but became human for our salvation. The baptism and the Lord's Supper show what God has done for us, not what we have done for God. Baptism is an outward expression of inner commitment and devotion to the believer, but first and foremost it is a participation in God's love and devotion to humanity: we are baptized into Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension.
«Baptism is not something we do, but what has been done for us» (Dawn & Peterson 2000, p. 191). Paul explains: "Or do you not know that everyone we baptized into Christ Jesus was baptized into his death?" (Romans 6,3).
The water of baptism that covers the believer symbolizes the burial of Christ for him or her. The ascent out of the water symbolizes Jesus' resurrection and ascension: "... with how Christ is raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too can walk in a new life" (Romans 6,4b).
Because of the symbolism that we are completely covered by the water and thus represent "that we are buried with it by baptism into death" (Romans 6,4a), the Worldwide Church practices God's baptism through total immersion. At the same time, the Church recognizes other methods of baptism.
The symbolism of baptism shows us "that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would be destroyed so that we would no longer serve sin" (Romans 6,6). Baptism reminds us that just as Christ died and rose again, so we die spiritually with him and are raised with him (Romans 6,8). Baptism is a visible demonstration of God's self-giving to us and proves "that Christ died for us when we were sinners" (Romans 5,8).
The Lord's Supper also testifies to God's sacrificing love, the highest act of salvation. The symbols used represent the broken body (Bread) and the spilled blood (Wine) so that humanity can be saved.
When Christ instituted the Lord's Supper, he shared the bread with his disciples and said: "Take, eat, this is my body that will be given for you" (1 Corinthians 11,24). Jesus is the bread of life, "the living bread that came from heaven" (John 6,48: 58).
Jesus also handed the goblet and said: "Drink all of it, this is my blood of the covenant, which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26,26: 28). This is "the blood of the everlasting covenant" (Hebrews 13,20). Therefore, ignoring, disregarding, or rejecting the value of the blood of this New Covenant abuses the spirit of grace (Hebrews 10,29).
Just as baptism is another imitation and participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, so the Lord's Supper is another imitation and participation in the body and blood of Christ sacrificed for us.
Questions arise regarding the passport. The Passover is not the same as the Lord's Supper because the symbolism is different and because it does not represent the forgiveness of sins by the grace of God. The passover was also clearly an annual event, while the Lord's Supper "can be taken as often as you eat this bread and drink from the cup" (1 Corinthians 11,26).
The blood of the Passover Lamb was not shed to forgive sins because animal sacrifices can never take away sins (Hebrews 10,11). The custom of the Passover meal, a waking night held in Judaism, symbolized Israel's national liberation from Egypt (Exodus 2; Deut 12,42); it did not symbolize the forgiveness of sins.
The sins of the Israelites were not forgiven through the celebration of the Passover. Jesus was killed the same day the Passover lambs were slaughtered (John 19,14), which prompted Paul to state: "For we too have a Passover Lamb, that is Christ who was sacrificed" (1 Corinthians 5,7).
Togetherness and community
Baptism and the Lord's Supper also reflect unity among one another and with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
By "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4,5) believers were "connected to him and became like him in his death" (Romans 6,5). When a believer is baptized, the Church believes that he or she has received the Holy Spirit.
By receiving the Holy Spirit, Christians are baptized into the community of the Church. "Because we are all baptized into one body by one spirit, we are Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, and we are all soaked with one spirit" (1 Corinthians 12,13).
Jesus becomes the fellowship of the Church, which is his body (Romans 12,5: 1; 12,27 Corinthians 4,1:2; Ephesians) never leave or miss (Hebrews 13,5; Matthew 28,20). This active participation in the Christian community is reaffirmed by taking bread and wine at the Lord's table. Wine, the chalice of blessing, is not only "the community of the blood of Christ" and bread, "the community of the body of Christ", but they are also the participation in the common life of all believers. «So we are all one body because we all share a bread» (1 Corinthians 10,16: 17).
Both the Lord's Supper and baptism are visible contributions to God's forgiveness. When Jesus commanded his followers to baptize wherever they went, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28,19:2,38), this was an instruction to baptize believers into the community of those who receive forgiveness. Acts explains that baptism is "for the forgiveness of sins" and for receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.
When we are "risen with Christ" (that is, to rise from the water of baptism into a new life in Christ), we should forgive each other as the Lord forgave us (Colossians 3,1.13; Ephesians 4,32). Baptism means that we grant forgiveness as well as receive forgiveness.
The Lord's Supper is sometimes referred to as "communion." (The idea is emphasized that we have fellowship with Christ and other believers through the symbols). It is also known as the "Eucharist" (From the Greek "thanksgiving" because Christ gave thanks before handing out the bread and wine).
When we come together to take the wine and the bread, we gratefully announce the death of our Lord for our forgiveness until Jesus returns (1 Corinthians 11,26) and we participate in the communion of saints and with God. This reminds us that forgiveness means that we share in the meaning of Christ's sacrifice.
We are at risk if we judge other people to be unworthy of Christ's forgiveness or our own forgiveness. Christ said, "Do not judge so that you will not be judged." (Matthew 7,1). Is that what Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 11,27: 29? That if we don't forgive, we don't differentiate or understand that the Lord's body would be broken for the forgiveness of everyone? So if we come to the sacrament altar and have bitterness and have not forgiven, then we eat and drink the elements in an unworthy way. Authentic worship is linked to the setting of forgiveness (see also Matthew 5,23: 24).
May the forgiveness of God always be present in the way we take the sacrament.
Baptism and the Lord's Supper are ecclesial acts of personal and communal worship that visibly represent the gospel of grace. They are relevant to the believer because they were ordained in the Scriptures by Christ himself, and they are means of active participation in the death and resurrection of our Lord.
by James Henderson