What Are the Sacraments Celebrated in the Baptist Church?

by Jose Maldonado

The Baptist Church is a Christian denomination firmly based in the teachings of the New Testament. This branch of belief does not observe various interpretations of the Bible, therefore there is no "Baptist view" of scripture. There are no Baptist authorities who offer their own readings of the New Testament, rather, all authority lies in the Bible itself and believers are expected to adhere to it. In an effort to obey the commands issued by Jesus Christ and bring glory to God, Baptists fulfill holy mandates known as ordinances of which there are two: baptism and the Lord's Supper.

Difference Between Ordinances and Sacraments

Baptist ordinances are often mistakenly referred to as sacraments. Although similar in nature, Baptists distinguish their holy responsibilities mainly on the basis of the end to which certain rituals are performed. In the sacramental view, God has pledged his generosity to those who observe baptism and the Lord's Supper. For Baptists, baptisms and the Lord's Supper are seen as being ordained by God himself, thus these rites have everything to do with their devotion and commitment to the gospel's truth, not necessarily God's devotion to them. A sacrament, then, focuses on God's promise, whereas an ordinance turns the attention to the believers.

Lord's Supper

The Lord's Supper is a "visual sermon" that reminds worshipers of Jesus' death, writes R. Stanton Norman, author of "The Baptist Way." It is rooted in the gospel, which states in Corinthians 11:26, "whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death." As such, the Lord's Supper serves as a reenactment, a method of maintaining unity within the church, as well as a proclamation of allegiance with Christ since he asked his followers to perform this rite "in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19). While baptism is a symbol of the birth of a new life in Christ, the Lord's Supper is a form of sustenance on the path toward righteousness.

Baptize

The Baptist ordinance of baptism contains two elements, the first of which is a command to baptize others. This notion is founded on the words of Jesus Christ who stated, "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" Matthew 28:19). This is an instruction that Jesus exemplified by baptizing his disciples. By baptizing others, Baptists not only act in accordance with God's will but also expand his word while creating an everlasting bond with the newly converted.

Be Baptized

Baptism of Jesus Christ.

The second element to the Baptist ordinance of baptism regards being baptized oneself. The Baptist baptism, which involves being completely submerged in water, is a symbol of God's promise of our union with Jesus Christ as well as union with the church and an official seal of the covenant of God. This rite is also a reenactment of the death and resurrection of Christ. Baptists believe that worshipers (and their sins) die upon immersion and rise unto a new life as they emerge from the water, thus achieving salvation through Jesus while achieving a personal union with their savior.

About the Author

Jose Maldonado teaches literature at several colleges. He has contributed to various online publications and holds a master's degree in creative writing.

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