Essentials of Discipleship: Seminar 11 - The Lord's Supper and Baptism
Last Sunday, Senior Pastor Arnold Wong preached on the hugely important topic of the ordinances (sometimes called sacraments) that our church practises, namely Lord's Supper and baptism. We learnt, first of all, that the ordinances are visual aids of understanding, remembering and commemorating what Christ accomplished for us in redeeming us from the punishment we deserved for our sin. We should be careful not to think that the practice of the ordinances can grant salvation.
Baptism is a symbol of the believer's identification with Christ's death, resurrection and ascenscion, and is a way for a Christian to publicly confess his or her faith in Christ for salvation. However, the Bible does not teach that baptism is necessary or required for salvation. Rather, baptism in water symbolises the Holy Spirit's work in spriitually washing or purifying the soul of the believer at the time of salvation.
Hence, question 44 of the New City Catechism asks: "What is baptism?", the answer to which is: "Baptism is the washing with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; it signifies and seals our adoption into Christ, our cleansing from sin, and our commitment to belong to the Lord and to his church."
Question 45 then asks: "Is baptism with water the washing away of sin itself?", the answer to which is emphatically: "No, only the blood of Christ and the renewal of the Holy Spirit can cleanse us from sin."
Likewise, the Lord's Supper does not effect salvation in a person. Importantly, the Lord's Supper, is for those who have accepted God's offer of salvation through Christ; this is evidenced by Christ giving this ordinance to His disciples, who then accepted the offer of salvation and followed Him. Also, the elements of the Lord's Supper should not be taken as if they are literally the body and blood of Christ. Rather, it is probably best to see the Lord's Supper as a symbol, while consciously recognising Christ's presence in our midst whenever we practice the Lord's Supper as a church.
Question 46 of the New City Catechism, in response to the question "What is the Lord's Supper?", writes: "Christ commanded all Christians to eat bread and to drink from the cup in thankful remembrance of him and his death. The Lord’s Supper is a celebration of the presence of God in our midst; bringing us into communion with God and with one another; feeding and nourishing our souls. It also anticipates the day when we will eat and drink with Christ in his Father’s kingdom."
Questions 43 to 47 of the New City Catechism all deal with the topic of the ordinances, and we encourage you to use the resources found therein for your own devotionals and learning. These resources include teaching videos, including the following video by Dr. Tim Keller on the question of what the ordinances are:
Today, from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Elder Tan Chong Tien and Matthew Koh will be teaching on the topic of biblical leadership and submission. Do join us then!
The Discipleship Seminars Committee