Fighting Fundamentalist

Monday, March 05, 2007

Two Ordinances: Baptism and Comunion

For our study about the biblical distinctives of Baptists, the acrostic
has been employed for our outline.
We now come to the letter “T” which stands for Two ordinances: Baptism and Communion.

What is an Ordinance?
It is important at the start, to point out that there is a difference between what is meant by an ordinance and what is meant by a sacrament. Biblical Baptists hold that baptism and communion are ordinances, NOT sacraments. In fact, this blogger is unaware of any biblical or Baptist “sacrament.” An ordinance is an authoritative rule, law, decree, or command. In the Christian context, an ordinance is a symbolic act or ceremony. The two ordinances (and only two) that biblical Baptists practice, have their separate meanings. In contrast, a sacrament is that which symbolizes and/or confers inward grace.
Some religious institutions sprinkle water on a baby’s head and teach that this act, when performed by a duly appointed “priest” removes original sin and regenerates the baby (the baby is said to be born-again) into a possible position of not having to go to hell if he or she should die before being conscience of personal sin. Others are immersed into water and believe that this is an act of salvation. These beliefs/practices are both referred to as “regenerational baptism.” To other groups, the sacrament of infant baptism indicates that the child is a part of the “Christian” family. This is said to be a counterpart to the circumcision of eight day old males in the Jewish nation, and allows Christian participation in the covenant nation of God, Israel. For an example of this I will refer to the baptismal certificate I received, March 1961, at Rosewood Presbyterian Church. It says:

“God the father, who has redeemed us by the sacrifice of Christ, is also the God and Father of our children. They belong, with us who believe, to the membership of the church through the covenant made in Christ, and confirmed to us by God in this Sacrament, which is a sign and seal of our cleansing, of our engrafting into Christ… This sacrament marks the reception of a new member into Christ’s Church. As a child of the covenant, he has been born into the household of God;”

According to this certificate, by virtue of my parents “Christianity”, I too became a member of this "covenant community", but… God does not have any grandchildren! One can not be born again by the will of one’s parents (cf. John 1:13).

There are all kinds of ideas about baptism and communion, but what does the Bible say? Remember, for the biblical Baptist, it is the Bible that is to be our rule and authority in every matter for which it speaks!

The first ordinance we will consider is baptism. This is the initiation into a local church. Then, we will put communion under the spotlight of God’s Word.

Thanks for reading,
Brother John


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