Study 7 Objective:
What are Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and why are they relevant to the believer?
Back to Bible Study 7:
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the two sacraments of Protestant Christianity. These sacraments, which mean simply ‘holy things’, are used as signs or symbols of God’s grace at work in believers. They
proclaim the grace of God visibly by signifying the saving work of Jesus Christ.
“Both sacraments, the Lord’s Supper and holy baptism…stand together, shoulder to shoulder, announcing the reality of the grace of God through which we are accepted without condition and by which we are
under the unconditional obligation to be to others what Christ has been to us” (Jinkins 2001:241).
It is important to realize that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are God’s ideas, not human ideas. They reflect the Father’s grace and were instituted by Christ. God stipulated through Scripture that men and women should repent (meaning turning to God - see Study 6) and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), and that believers should
partake of the bread and the wine “in remembrance” of Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
New Testament sacraments differ from Old Testament rituals in that the rituals cast only “a shadow of the good things to come”, and “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:1,4).
The rituals were designed to mark out Israel as separate from the world and belonging to God, while the New Testament sacraments show that all believers of all ethnic backgrounds are one in Christ and one with Christ.
The rituals and sacrifices did not lead to lasting sanctification and holiness. The first covenant, or Old Covenant, under which they functioned, is no longer valid. God “takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:5-10).
What are the implications of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as being ideas that emanate from God?
Can you think of ways in which to distinguish between sacraments and rituals?
Symbols that reflect God’s self-giving
Philippians 2:6-8 tells us that Jesus emptied Himself of his divine prerogatives for us. He was God, and yet He became human for our
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper illustrate what God has done for us, not what we have done for God. Baptism is for the believer an outward expression of an inward commitment, yet it is first and foremost a
participation in God’s love and commitment to humanity: we are baptized into Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension.
“Baptism is not something we do, but something that is done to us” (Dawn & Peterson 2000:191). Paul explains, “do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into
His death?” (Romans 6:3).