WHAT WE BELIEVE – BAPTISM AND THE LORD’S SUPPER
Martin Luther, the great Protestant Reformer, said, “There is on earth no greater comfort than baptism.” Luther was well-known for fighting against sin and Satan by saying to himself, “I am baptized! I am baptized!”
Luther was not saying he was saved because he was baptized. What he proclaimed with that statement was that his baptism was a picture of a greater reality, the reality of salvation, the reality of faith in Christ to save us. Luther is rightly remembered as the great champion of justification by faith, which is why he was so aware of the power and grace of baptism.
Baptism is one of two ordinances that Jesus has given to the church to picture our salvation. As Baptists we are too often known for what we say baptism isn’t instead of what we say that it is (although we do rightly insist that baptism does not save us, only Jesus saves us). Yet baptism is one of the most meaningful things that we are commanded to do as believers. It is our confession of faith, an act that symbolizes the experience of salvation, it pictures how, at the moment we believe in Jesus, we pass through the waters of judgment safely, we die and rise with Christ, we come into the church, and we have our sins washed away (Rom 6:1-11; Col 2:12).
Likewise, the Lord’s Supper, the other ordinance that Jesus gave to us, is one of the most meaningful things we are commanded to do as believers. It is an act of faith, that like baptism only benefits us through our faith in Christ. Yet again, however, as Baptists we are often known more for what we say the Lord’s Supper isn’t than what it is (although we do rightly understand that the bread and the juice are not the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ, but only symbols of his broken body and shed blood).
The Lord’s Supper pictures our ongoing dependence upon Jesus for our salvation, how we need to be spiritually nourished by him constantly, just as we need to eat and drink constantly for physical life (John 6:53-57). When we take the Lord’s Supper, we remember Christ’s death, his sacrifice for our sins (1 Cor 11:24-26), we look forward to our great banquet with our Jesus in his kingdom (Matt 26:29; 1 Cor 11:26), we celebrate our unity as believers in Christ (1 Cor 10:17), and we give thanks for Christ’s sacrifice. Our church invites all believers in Christ to share in the Lord’s Supper by faith.
Our church’s statement of faith says this about what we believe concerning baptism and the Lord’s Supper: “We believe there are two ordinances: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We believe that water baptism is an act of obedience to the command of Christ and is by immersion after salvation. We believe that the Lord’s Supper is for believers to proclaim Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death and future return.”
The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 states this concerning our understanding of the ordinances, filling our faith statement a little more fully: “Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.
“The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming.”
Much more important than knowing about the ordinances, however, is participating in them. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ and have not been baptized, make it a priority to get baptized sooner rather than later (we would love to talk with you about that, e-mail us at email@example.com). If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, strive to make observing the Lord’s Supper at our church a priority (the next time we observe the Lord’s Supper is December 4).
Praise God for his ordinances! As Romans 6:3-5 states, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.”