God gave the Jews many religious laws, but He has commanded Christians two things: we should (1) practice Baptism and (2) keep the Lord's Supper. These are called the Ordinances. Both are only for believers and both remind us of Christ's death on the cross. God intended that these things should draw His people together, especially the Lord's Supper, 1 Corinthians 10:17, but Satan has succeeded in dividing us about these things.
Both Baptism and the Lord's Supper are very simple, but they are also very important because they speak of the Lord's death for us.
Let us think about what Baptism means, how people should be baptized, and who should be baptized.
The Scriptures teach that we died with Christ when He died on the cross, Romans 6:6. The only way a person can get out of any family is by death; we got out of Adam's family when we died with Christ. Now we are members of God's family.
But how did we die? In the Person of our perfect Representative, the Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism is a picture of this truth, a picture of a person dying, and being buried. See Romans 6:1-4 and Colossians 2:12.
These things show very plainly that only true believers should be baptized as they are the only people who have died with Christ.
The Scripture teaches that a person's body should be put completely under the water when he is baptized. Why do we believe this?
1. The meaning of the word "baptize" in the language of the New Testament. In this language, the word means to put something completely into the water or to draw water by putting a pot into the water to fill it.
2. Baptism is a picture of someone being buried. We do not drop a little earth on a dead body, but we put it completely into the ground so that we cannot see it any more.
3. The examples we have in the New Testament. Philip told an official how to be saved, and the official wanted at once to be baptized. Both men went down into the water and Philip baptized him, Acts 8:38,39. They did not need to do this if Philip could have baptized the official by just putting a few drops of water on his head.
John the Baptist baptized people in Aenon because there was plenty of water there, John 3:23. He would not need much water if he were putting only a little on each person's head!
Here are some other verses which tell us about people who were baptized. Can you find verses in each chapter which say that they were believers?
Read the following Scriptures carefully: Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:19,20; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 10:16,17; 11:23-30. These are all the verses in the New Testament which teach us about the Lord's Supper. Let us ask three questions about this feast:
The answer to this question is very simple: we should break bread because the Lord asked us to do so. It was the last thing He requested on that night when Judas turned Him over to His enemies. We do not think of it as a command, but rather as a request. The Lord Jesus said that those who love Him would obey His words, and do anything He suggested they might do, and not only keep His commands, John 14:23. When He was back in heaven, He again asked the believers (through Paul) to remember Him in this way, 1 Corinthians 11:23,24. So, we break bread because our Lord asked us to do so, and because we want to please Him.
Only those who know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord. We break bread in order to remember our Lord, but we cannot remember someone we have never known. The Lord Jesus gave this feast only to believers, and in New Testament times, only believers kept it. It is a very serious thing for a person to eat the bread and drink from the cup without really knowing what he is doing, 1 Corinthians 11:29.
Some Christians live in sin, others teach wrong doctrine. We must add that these Christians should not keep this feast. See 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 and 2 John 1:10,11.
We should do it together with other Christians, not alone. The church comes together from time to time (1 Corinthians 11:26) in the Lord's Name alone (Matthew 18:20) to keep the feast of remembrance. Any person can remember the Lord at the Lord's Supper, if he has been born again, and is therefore a member of the Body of Christ, 1 Corinthians 12:12. The one loaf of bread on the table is a picture of this Body, 1 Corinthians 10:17, and all believers are members of the Body of Christ. We see in the bread a picture of the Lord's human body on the cross, and in the cup we see a picture of His precious blood which He poured out.
So, we eat a little of the bread and drink from the cup and associate ourselves with the sacrifice which the Lord made on the cross. Our hearts will be full of worship as we think of our Lord and of all that He suffered there for us. In this gathering, we do not meet to pray or to study the Word of God, but to worship our Lord. No one person is in charge of this meeting, but any man should be able to lead the others in worship when the Holy Spirit guides him to do so.