For an introduction to the series, read this.
This week we continue working through my church’s statement of faith, based on the Baptist Faith and Message.
Statement of Faith Article for the Week
VII. BAPTISM AND THE LORD’S SUPPER
Christian baptism, being the believer’s profession of faith, is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer’s cleansing from sin and death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is to be done in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and it should be done by immersion. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership. The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the cup, remember the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming.
Thoughts for Discussion with Children
Imagine that one day you become such a great basketball player that you make it to the NBA. If that happened, there would come a day when you would first put on your team’s jersey and play in your first game as a member of that team. Putting on that jersey for the first time would no doubt be an amazing experience; it would be the moment when you could say, “I made it. I’m part of this team.”
But of course, you wouldn’t just put on your jersey for the first game, take it off, and never put it on again. No, you would put it on for every game after that, as long as you were on that team. The jersey would mark you out every time you wore it as a member of your basketball team. If you ever left that team, you wouldn’t wear their jersey anymore. Perhaps you would wear the jersey of another team, or you would stop wearing jerseys altogether because you had retired from basketball. Team jerseys show who belongs to a team and who doesn’t when that team gathers to play basketball.
The ordinances that Jesus gave to the church are similar to jerseys. Getting baptized is like putting on your jersey for the first time. It is what marks you publicly as a disciple of Jesus, as part of his church, and therefore it is a very important step of obedience in the Christian life. In baptism, we are put under the water to show that we have died with Christ to sin (in other words, sin is not master of us anymore, even though it still affects us as long as we are in this world); then we are raised up out of the water to show that we have been raised to spiritual life with Christ, and that spiritual life will one day blossom into new life of resurrection from the dead, just as Jesus himself was raised. When a person is baptized, he is declaring publicly that he has trusted in Jesus and has been through a death and resurrection, marking a change from serving sin to serving Jesus.
But is baptism the only way we show that we belong to Jesus? No, it isn’t. Just as a basketball player keeps putting on his jersey for game after game after game, Christians also are commanded by Jesus to do something that shows over and over and over that we are still trusting in Jesus alone to save us and still following him as disciples. But unlike putting on a jersey, baptism is not something that should be done more than once. Baptism marks the beginning of our life in Christ, but Jesus gave us something else to do over and over and over to show our ongoing life in Christ: the Lord’s Supper.
So, after we have been baptized into the church, we eat and drink the Lord’s Supper as often as the church serves it to us in order to show that we are still following Jesus and trusting in him alone to save us. The bread, representing his broken body, and the cup, representing his spilled blood, are things we take into our bodies by eating and drinking to show that we don’t trust in what we have done, but in his death for us.
Both baptism and the Lord’s Supper are acts of obedience for us as followers of Jesus. But they are also acts of obedience for the church who baptizes and serves us the bread and cup. By giving these signs (or “jerseys”) only to those who show they are believers in Jesus, the church shows the difference between Christians and the world. Christians get to wear the jersey, but non-Christians don’t. That is why these two acts are so special and important.
Suggested readings for the week: Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 6; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34