Study 7 Objective: What are Baptism and the Lord's Supper, and why are they relevant to the believer?
The baptismal waters that cover the believer symbolize the burial of Christ on his or her behalf. The act of coming out of the water
symbolizes Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. “Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life” (6:4).
It is due to the symbolism of being covered completely with water, representing that “we were buried with Him through baptism into death” (6:4), that the Worldwide Church of God practices total immersion.
At the same time the church recognizes other baptism methods.
The imagery of baptism shows us that “our old man (that is, our former, sinful self) was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (6:6). Baptism
reminds us that just as Christ died and rose, so spiritually we die and rise with Him (6:8).
Thus baptism is a visible demonstration of God’s giving of Himself for us, “in that while we still sinners, Christ died for us” (5:8).
The Lord’s Supper also witnesses to the sacrificial love of God, the supreme act of salvation. The symbols used represent the broken body (the bread) and the shed blood (the wine) so that humankind may be saved.
When Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper He shared the bread with the disciples saying, “Take, eat: this is My body which is broken for you” (1 Corinthians 11:24). Jesus is the bread of life, “the living bread which came
down from heaven” (John 6:48-58).
Jesus also passed the cup of wine saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:26-28). This is “the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Hebrews 13:20). It is by ignoring or underestimating or rejecting the value of the blood of this New Covenant
that the Spirit of grace is insulted (Hebrews 10:29).
Therefore just as baptism is a re-enactment of and participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Lord’s Supper is also a re-enactment of and participation in the body and blood of Christ sacrificed for us.
Questions arise regarding the Passover. The Passover is not the same as the Lord’s Supper because the symbolism is different, and because it does not signify the remission of sins through God’s grace.
The Passover was also clearly an annual event, whereas the Lord’s Supper is “as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
The blood of the Passover Lamb was not shed for the forgiveness of sins because animal sacrifices can never take away sin (Hebrews 10:11). The custom of the Passover meal, a night much observed in Judaism, symbolized the national deliverance of Israel from Egypt (Exodus 12:42; Deuteronomy 16:1); it did not symbolize the forgiveness of sins.
The sins of the Israelites were not forgiven through the ceremony of the Passover. Jesus was killed on the same day as the Paschal lambs were slaughtered (John 19:14), which led Paul to state that “Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us” (1Corinthians 5:7).
In what ways is God’s love made visible through the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper?
How do Baptism and the Lord’s Supper witness to God’s saving grace to the church and to the greater community?