The Ordinances of the Church

Matthew 28:8 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Adam and Eve had free will. In the Garden they could have chosen not to sin. Could God have kept them from sinning? Sure he could, but then he’d have robots. We have that same choice. After choosing God and being saved, we teach three ordinances: baptism, communion, and washing the saints feet. They are considered ordinance, not sacraments. A sacrament is presented to the senses with intent to give grace. Catholics do this.  If you look up sacraments, you will see seven of them. An ordinance is a symbol that sets forth truths of faith. Water baptism will not save. If a person is not saved, he’ll go down a dry sinner and come up a wet one. It symbolizes what happened when we got saved. It shows the world what took place: death to sin and resurrection to a new life. We’re dead to our old life. Our sins are buried and forgotten by the Lord. Baptism shows submission to Christ to live his way.  We are a new creation in Christ Jesus. If salvation didn’t change your walk, my talk, my actions and dress, you may not have gotten saved. 

Baptism:  In Matthew 28 Jesus gave his last words to go teach and baptize.  Some teach you can’t be saved without baptism. Jesus told the thief on the cross he’d go to paradise that day. He was not baptized. Others baptize in the name of Jesus only instead of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Some teach it is not important.  Jesus commanded it and none of his commandments is unimportant. As soon after salvation as you can, do it. It’s a symbol of burying self and being raised to Jesus Christ.  Jesus was talking to his disciples; you know what we are?  Disciples, followers of Christ. We are then to win people to Christ.  Be baptized. Teach others to be disciples. A person just saved is a babe in Christ and needs to grow. The Word tells us that no one was ever baptized without salvation. Small children are covered, protected, until they reach an age of accountability–they know they are lost. They have not received Jesus Christ, so we do not baptize them. The word comes from baptisma, a noun, that means to dip or dip under. Be buried in water.  In Matthew 3:16 we see Jesus being baptized.  Did he need to be baptized? No. He did it as an example to us. In Acts 8 Philip was in revival, but God called him to go preach to one man. God cares about the one. After receiving Jesus, he asked what prevented him from being baptized. Philip said if he believed with all his heart, he could be baptized. Baptism is a beautiful thing that we should observe as an ordinance of the church.

The Lord’s Supper (Communion): In Catholicism the priest blesses the bread and wine and they become the actual blood and body of Jesus. But they are a memorial of his broken body and the blood he shed.  Jesus gave his body, beaten and battered, to be crucified. In this condition he bore our sins on the cross. When we take the bread our minds should go to the hill where he gave his body. When we drink the cup we remember the blood he shed.  The Bible says that without the shedding blood there is no remission of sins. Jesus is not a good way; he’s the only way. You do not get saved by partaking of communion.  If I didn’t know what Paul meant in II Corinthians 11 I’d be worried about partaking. They were coming to the church and had a fellowship meal. The well-to-do brought lots of food for them to eat, but the poor had nothing.   Not only that, some of them got drunk. Leaving others out and getting drunk, Paul told them to leave the Lord’s Supper alone. Do we have to be perfect to participate? No. None of us are perfect. We’re saved, so we should participate. We are to walk orderly according to God’s commands and have no ill will toward others. These note our relationship with God and each other.  We do not believe that a person has to be a Free Will Baptist to partake. It’s open to believers saved by the grace of God. That’s the only biblical way.  We were not told how frequently to do it.  Early Christians assembled on the first day of the week and broke bread. It sounds like they did it every week. We tend to do it quarterly.  Some do it every week. And I’m not so sure they have it wrong.  But we need to partake of it.

Feet Washing: Of the three, this is the one least practiced. Many argue against it. Jesus never commanded it to be an ordinance.  In John 13 Jesus said we ought to do it. Ought is an obligation. He was an example in baptism and in foot washing. Some say it was cultural. In that day, when a guest arrived at a person’s home, they would bow to each other; they spoke peace to each other and kissed on the cheek. Aren’t you glad we just shake hands. The guest removed his shoes and was offered a basin of water. Sandals on a dusty road make for dirty feet. The water was offered to wash them. This was done first. Jesus did it after supper before they left for the Garden.  In First Timothy 5:10 the widow performed the act of washing the saints feet. Humility is set forth in this ordinance. Jesus, the Son of God, stooped as a servant and washed the feet of the disciples. He came to minister. Some people find it repulsive. They will not be used by God as they could be. If you get your hands dirty, you wash them. You don’t take a bath. The bath of conversion happens when we’re saved, but we need daily cleansing. Paul said he died daily. When we get dirty a shower is refreshing. When we sin a cleansing feels good. Jesus said do it. Do it with a proper attitude. Do you want to be happy? Jesus said If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. Do you want to be served or be a servant? Jesus came to be a servant. Why do we think we’re better than he is?

Baptism identifies us with Christ.  The Lord’s Supper teaches us to remember the price Jesus paid to give us salvation. Feet washing is an act of servant hood.  We practice these because they are in the Bible.

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