Today is a special day for all church members, because we are observing both church ordinances: BAPTISM and the LORD’S SUPPER.
This morning, you’re both a witness and a participant in baptism. You witness the ones being baptized, but you also participate in their growth.
When Jesus gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18, he said, “All POWER is given unto me…” What power?
Authority power (as opposed to strong-man power.)
What did the Pharisees ask Jesus about his ministry? “By what authority doest thou these things?” They were astonished that “he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”
When he ministered, he ministered with the authority of God.
So did the Old Testament prophets. So did John the Baptist. So did the apostles in the period of transition as the church was just being started.
Yet, that Great Commission authority was given not to individuals nor to the apostles, or else Jesus would have been lying when he said, “and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
This job was for the church: Go. Teach. Baptize. Make Disciples.
When baptism happens, it must happen within the context of a church. No other institution has God’s power (authority) to conduct legitimate ministry.
We wouldn’t trust the Boy Scouts to baptize believers, would we? How about Costco or Disney? No! None of these organizations carry the authority of God on them, nor do they claim to. So, being baptized by their authority would just get you wet… it wouldn’t mean anything.
What about the ministries that DO claim God’s authority?
Well, Baptists got their name (Ana-baptists or “re-baptizers”) because they vehemently rejected the previous baptisms of their new converts. People would hear the Gospel—that Jesus Christ alone can save men from sin—and repent and be saved according to the Scriptures. Many of the converts had been previously baptized in the Roman Catholic church by immersion and in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
But our Baptist forefathers rejected their baptism because they rejected the Roman Catholic Church’s authority to conduct ministry.
On what basis?
When the doctrines of one church go against the doctrines of another, the question is not, “Were you baptized by immersion in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?”
The question is the same as the one in Acts 19:3, “Unto what then were ye baptized?”
The example in that text is that when the believers heard of the doctrine of the Holy Ghost—previously unknown to them—they were re-baptized:
Acts 19:5 “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
What we see in Acts and in the epistles is churches of baptized believers, unified in doctrine and edifying one another as spiritual families. They were responsible for one another and held each other accountable, and baptism was always the first step in a new believer’s life. They received the word, were baptized, and added unto the church.
You are baptized into a church, and a church is made up of its doctrines. Baptists have always been those who have said, “Everyone here is Baptist, which includes a very particular set of doctrines that might conflict with how you were raised. It’s God’s church, and we’re trying to keep its doctrine pure as found in Scripture, so we reject any false teaching of man. If you were baptized by them, you were baptized ‘unto’ them.”
Boy, that made a lot of religious people mad back in the day, so many of our forefathers gave their lives at the stake. But they refused to cave to accommodate man, choosing to obey Christ, instead.
It’s the spirit of Hebrews 11 that lives on:
“Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”
THE LORD’S SUPPER
Tonight is the Lord’s Supper (or Lord’s Table or Communion,) the second church ordinance. If baptism is the “front door” of the church, and helps purify it from the outside, the Lord’s Supper purifies it from the inside.
By each member examining himself, and partaking only once known sin is repented of.
Church, I humbly request as your pastor that you refrain from taking the Lord’s Supper if you’re in unrepentant sin. Confess and forsake it! Bring it to God right now and be cleared and forgiven! Do not harbor your sin, or coddle it, or excuse it. Repent, and be right with God.
The Lord’s Supper is a time of remembrance; a time to reflect on Jesus’s sacrifice for us. His broken body and shed blood were sacrificed on the cross for us—for you—and we gather together as a body to remember that.
The church at Corinth apparently had membership roles, because they knew who was in and who was not, who was sinning and who was to be removed. They met together as an assembly for preaching and Communion, and they apprently had a way to know who was a part of the body and who wasn’t.
Church membership was assumed in the epistles, which is why it is never taught on directly. It was a given, and when the body met, they would also observe the Lord’s Communion.
In trying to be biblical, we practice closed communion, which means that since it is a church ordinance, those who are members of the church participate.
This is both an inclusive and an exclusive statement.
It’s INCLUSIVE in that all members should participate. This is serious, and I believe every member should be at the Lord’s Table every time it is offered.
“Hey, didn’t you just say NOT to come?” No! I said to not partake if you’re in unrepentant sin. That’s partaking “unworthily”:
1 Corinthians 11:27-28 “Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.”
I’d love every member to be here tonight.
However, the statement above is also EXCLUSIVE in that it’s for members of a body (see the many times 1 Cor. 11 says “together.”)
Tonight, I’ll preach a sermon that you’ve heard before and will hear again, but since it deals with Communion, we’ve got to hear it!
See you tonight for an exciting time in church.