The only ordinances given by Jesus to the church are Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
They are both symbolic acts that are performed in the context of the church for the express purpose of conveying what is a reality for those who participate for the purpose of giving testimony and of being edified. Any sense in which the ordinances actually do something to the participant is totally rejected. Baptism does not sanctify the recipient or cause him or her to be born of the Spirit. The Lord’s Supper is not in any sense an eating of the actual flesh or drinking of the actual blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is entirely symbolic and is only possessed of any meaning to those who have personalised the truth that is in Jesus.
- Baptism symbolises a believer’s death, burial, and resurrection, in Jesus
- Only those who are believers in Jesus are to be baptised
- Only baptism by a whole and singular immersion, in the triune name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit [Matthew 28:19], is to be practiced and to be acknowledged as a Christian baptism
- Those seeking membership must be baptised by immersion and with the triune name, if not already done so by an evangelical Christian church
- The Lord’s Supper is a remembrance to those who are members of His body that Jesus’ righteousness and life is our only source of life
- The table is open to all those who profess that they are united to Christ by faith and that Jesus is their only hope of salvation
Regarding the Lord’s Supper there is a common error in reference to the apostle Paul’s exhortation in 1 Corinthians 11.
1 Corinthians 11:27-29 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.
The context of this passage provides for us the essential understanding of what Paul meant when he said that some were drinking the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner. It says in 1 Cor. 11:20-22 that the Corinthians were abusing the use of the Lord’s Table. It was because they were getting drunk and essentially not appreciating it for what it meant.
Many Christians have misinterpreted the warning in 1 Cor. 11:27-29, as though it addressed their imperfect sanctification. The Christian reasons to himself, “Oh, I haven’t prayed as I ought to have prayed this week” or “I’m just not the Christian I ought to be.” Consequently, many Christians and those presiding over the table have made the Lord’s Table a burden in that they have imported into it their own merit and sense of self-worth and righteousness.
The injunction by Paul is that a man is to ‘examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup’. In other words, his examining of himself, is that he is to rightly appreciate the importance of the Lord’s Table and then, in so doing, he is to eat and drink. Paul is addressing the brethren. He is not at all wanting the people of God to look introspectively at their own imperfections, but to do as the table requires, to look outside of themselves, even upon that very One to whom they are to remember, the Lord Jesus Christ, their righteousness.