What are the ordinances of the church?

Jan 04, 2016

There are two church ordinances: water baptism and the Lord’s supper. Matthew 28:19 clearly indicates that only believers who have been taught are to be baptized. Baptism does not save by putting away our sin, but in the answer of a good conscience toward God (1 Peter 3:21). Baptism is a picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ on our behalf (Romans 6:3-6) and symbolizes the new life that we have been given and the new creature that we have become by Christ. Baptism also identifies us with the body of Christ and with Christianity as our faith.

Baptism, in the Greek, clearly means to dip, plunge, or immerse. Romans 6:3-6 and Colossians 2:12 clearly show that baptism is a burial. The Lord’s supper is taught in all three of the synoptic gospels, as well as by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. Luke 22:19-20, for instance, clearly shows that Jesus Christ himself instituted this sacred practice: it is to be done in remembrance of Christ’s death until he returns. It also symbolically speaks to the unity of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:17). 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 teaches us how serious it is to take the Lord’s supper and that we are only to partake of it soberly and sincerely.

Just like with water baptism, there has been some differences in the views of the Lord’s supper: 1) the Roman Catholic view of transubstantiation teaches that the literal body and blood of Christ are present in the elements of the bread and wine. 2) The Lutheran view of consubstantiation, which teaches the real presence of the body and blood of Christ, but without any change in the elements; the elements do not become Christ’s blood and body, but Christ is literally present in some way. 3) The Reformed view, which was held by John Calvin, teaches that there is no real bodily presence of Christ, yet somehow the body and blood of Christ is present through the Holy Spirit. 4) The memorial view, held by such men as Zwingli, holds that there is no real bodily presence of Christ; it is simply symbolic of Christ’s death on the cross. This view seems best to reflect the tone and wording of Christ himself, seeing the Lord's supper as a memorial in remembrance of Jesus' death, while looking forward to his second coming. Christ is spiritually present at the Lord’s supper, then, but not in any way that is different from any other worship service.

Resource: Q&A

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