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THE ORDINANCES OF BAPTISM
A sermon preached on Lord's Day Morning, September 12, 2004
The word "ordinance" means a practice established by authority. The authority for the practices of baptism and the Lord's Supper is Jesus Christ. Jesus authorized the local church to baptize and to serve the Lord's Supper. These are the two ordinances of the local church, established by Christ Himself.
I. First, the ordinance of baptism.
Please turn in your Bible to Matthew 28:19-20. Here Christ ordered the practice of baptism. Let us stand and read these two verses aloud.
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matthew 28:19-20).
You may be seated.
This is the great commission. It was directed to the Lord's church. It makes clear that the church has three duties to perform - (1) to make disciples, that is, to make certain they are converted to Christ, (2) to baptize those who are converted, and (3) to then teach them "to observe all things whatsoever" Christ commands (Matthew 28:19-20).
The English word "baptize" is a transliteration of the Greek word "baptizo." This Greek word means "to dip, immerse, or plunge." Dr. Albert Garner says,
The Greeks had original words which meant "sprinkle," and "pour," and our Lord and His apostles used the original words; but never did they use the words with reference to baptism. First, the two Greek words "rhantizo" and "proschusis" both mean sprinkle or pour on or upon. But neither our Lord nor His apostles ever used either of these words when speaking of baptism. Second, the Greeks had two words which meant solely to pour out on or upon. Those words are "ekcheo" and "epicheo." Of the more than fifty times our Lord and His apostles used the word "baptize" with reference to an individual person they never one time used any form of the Greek word which meant to sprinkle or to pour upon. More than fifty times they did use the word "baptizo" which meant to our Lord and His apostles, solely immersion beneath water (Dr. Albert Garner, Defense of the Faith, Bogard Press, 1997, pages 139-140).
Everyone who was baptized in the New Testament was baptized by immersion under the water. When Jesus Himself was baptized, He was put under the water, and came "up straightway out of the water" (Matthew 3:16). When the eunuch was baptized by Philip,
"They went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he [Philip] baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water…" (Acts 8:38-39).
Dr. John R. Rice quoted from the official Catholic Encyclopedia,which said,
The most ancient form usually employed [in baptism] was unquestionably immersion…In the Latin Church, immersion seems to have prevailed until the twelfth century. After that time it is found in some places even as late as the sixteenth century. Infusion and aspersion [sprinkling and pouring], however… gradually prevailed in the Western Church (quoted by Dr. John R. Rice, in Bible Baptism, Sword of the Lord, 1943, p. 49).
Thus, Dr. Rice pointed out that even the Roman Catholic Church baptized only by immersion for a thousand years before sprinkling or pouring gradually became their new method.
Then Dr. Rice showed from the Catholic Encyclopedia that "infant baptism" gradually replaced adult baptism of new converts (ibid., pp. 50-51). Dr. Rice also correctly pointed out that Martin Luther broke from Roman Catholicism but kept sprinkling as the Lutheran form of baptism (ibid., pp. 51-52). Dr. Rice went on to show that Episcopalians came out from Catholicism, but kept sprinkling infants instead of going back to the old Bible practice of baptizing converts by immersion (ibid., pp. 52-54). Dr. Rice also quoted John Wesley, who said, "The ancient manner of baptizing was by immersion" (ibid., pp. 55-56). And Dr. Rice said, "John Calvin, founder of Presbyterianism, admitted immersion was [the] original mode of baptism" (ibid., pages 57-58).
Dr. Rice said, "Study the proof carefully: then away from tradition, back to the Bible!" (ibid., p. 59). He said,
Sprinkling used for baptism in every case came from following the example and tradition of Catholics who first began them, as they themselves plainly admit. No group of people ever began sprinkling or "infant baptism" because of any Scripture on the subject, since not a single case of either, as baptism, nor a command for either is found in the entire Bible! (ibid., page 59).
As Baptists, we believe that the Bible alone is our standard for belief and practice. Since the Bible teaches nothing but baptism of converts by immersion, that is what we believe and practice. We do not baptize infants because they have not yet been converted. We practice baptism only of those who are converted, and we practice baptism only by immersion, under the water, because that is what the Bible teaches.
Now turn with me in your Bible to Colossians 2:12. Let us stand and read this verse aloud.
"Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead" (Colossians 2:12).
You may be seated.
Colossians 2:12 says, "Buried with him [Christ] in baptism…" This verse shows that Bible Baptism is always to be done by immersion, "Buried with him [in the water] in baptism," raised from the water to live for Christ as a member of the local church.
Who should be baptized? Acts 2:41 tells us. Turn to it. Stand and read it aloud.
"Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them [the local church in Jerusalem] about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41).
You may be seated.
They gladly heard Peter's preaching. They were converted. They were then baptized, and were added as members to the local church at Jerusalem. That is the Scriptural method - first you hear the gospel, second you are converted, third you are baptized, fourth you become a member of the local church.
The Ethiopian Eunuch said to Philip,
"See, here is water; what doth hinder [what prevents] me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest" (Acts 8:36-37).
Again, as in Acts 2:41, these verses show that a person must be converted before he is baptized by immersion, under the water.
What does baptism do for a person's sins? Nothing whatever. His sins must already be cleansed by the Blood of Christ, in conversion, before he is baptized. I John 1:7 says,
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (I John 1:7).
I John 1:7 shows plainly that "all" sin is cleansed by the Blood of Christ. Not even one sin is washed away by baptism. Every sin is washed away in the Blood of Jesus when a person is converted by believing fully on Jesus.
What then does baptism accomplish? What does it do? Baptism identifies the new convert with Jesus Christ and the local church. Turn to Romans 6:3-4. Please stand and read these two verses aloud.
"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:3-4).
You may be seated. Baptism shows that you are identified with Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection. You are put under the water, as Christ was put into a tomb. You rise out of the water, as Christ rose from the dead, to live the Christian life.
II. Second, the ordinance of the Lord's Supper.
Turn to I Corinthians 11:23-26. Here is a clear description of the Lord's Supper.
"For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come"
(I Corinthians 11:23-26).
The Lord's Supper is the second ordinance Christ gave to the church. Christ said, "This do," and "this do ye" (I Corinthians 11:24, 25). He told us to take the bread and take the cup.
The meaning of the Lord's Supper is in verse 26,
"For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come" (I Corinthians 11:26).
The Lord's Supper was not given as a means of securing grace. It does not help you receive saving grace. The Lord's Supper is, rather, a memorial of the death of Jesus for our sins. The bread reminds us of His body, broken for us on the Cross. The cup reminds us of His Blood, shed for the forgiveness of our sins. The bread and the cup do not become the body and Blood of Christ, as the Catholics teach. They remain bread and juice. They were given to remind us of what He did to save us. We are not saved by eating and drinking them. We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ.
Dr. Albert Garner says,
Only members of the Jerusalem church took the Lord's Supper following the Pentecostal revival. Baptism and church membership are requisites to the Lord's Supper. None except those who have been baptized by the authority of the Lord's churches has any right to the Lord's table (Dr. Albert Garner, ibid., p. 151).
Baptism and the Lord's Supper are the two ordinances of the local church. Both of them remind us of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation comes, not by these ordinances, but by faith in the resurrected Christ. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).
The Prayer Before the Sermon: Dr. Kreighton L. Chan.
The Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
"There Is a Fountain" (by William Cowper, 1731-1800).
THE OUTLINE OF
THE ORDINANCES OF BAPTISM
I. The ordinance of baptism, Matthew 28:19-20; 3:16;
II. The ordinance of the Lord's Supper,
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