Posted by: pastortomvabeach | June 16, 2015

Thought For The Week June 21, 2015

The Sixth Fundamental Belief held by the Assemblies of God is called The Ordinances of the Church. These are religious practices that were started by Jesus Himself and that He said we should continue. These practices carry great significance for us as followers of Jesus. First, they remind us of an important work that has already taken place in our hearts because of what Jesus accomplished. In addition, they carry a profound spiritual benefit by connecting us in a spiritual sense to that completed work.

The Scriptures reveal only two practices that Jesus said we ought to do. The first is water baptism. Everyone who comes to Jesus, repents of sin, and chooses to believe in His death and resurrection is saved, as we saw last week. That happens “by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8) as soon as we believe. Once we have faith in Jesus, He commanded that we obediently receive water baptism (Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19). Mark recorded that Jesus said He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:16). Notice that Jesus does not say, one who does not believe and is not baptized will be condemned, only he who does not believe.

Water baptism does not make one a Christian nor carry any power to wash away sin. It declares to everyone that one has left the old sinful life (Paul says “buried by baptism“) and been raised up to a new life in Christ. I believe the act of obedience gives me a connecting point of reference where I buried the old man spiritually and literally in the water and where Jesus raised me to new life; we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). This helps me to reckon myself dead to sin and to live in resurrection power.

Some might say that if baptism doesn’t save us, why do we need it. Because Jesus said we need it. If I truly repent and desire to follow the Lord, then the first step of obedience is to obey His command and be baptized. We believe baptism ought to be by complete immersion in water since the original words meant to immerse or dip.

The second practice is Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper. The night He was betrayed, Jesus celebrated the Jewish Passover with His disciples. As they shared in that meal we are told that the Lord Jesus…took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do…in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes I Corinthians 11:23-26.

It’s pretty plain what Jesus commanded. We are to regularly take bread, a symbol of His body broken and crucified, and wine or grape juice, a symbol of His blood shed for us, and remember. We’re to remember what He did on our behalf so that it doesn’t fade from our present, to remember how great was His sacrifice, to remember that He has made us right with God through His death and resurrection. Jesus also said that this activity looks forward to His return which helps us to keep grounded in living for Him day to day.

A strong spiritual significance of this practice is the connection that it affords us with the body of Christ. In celebrating His sacrifice with other believers we are vitally connected to others who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, we understand that His body on earth is alive and active, and we take time to esteem one another as His children. Paul wrote, he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body (I Corinthians 11:29) and when you come together to eat, wait for one another (I Corinthians 11:33). This has a dual significance of recognizing that Jesus gave His body for us but also of preferring one another in our practices so the body of Christ has unity.

Taking the elements of Communion connects us again to the source of our salvation, the freely offered body and blood of Jesus. There is a vital spiritual blessing from honoring and remembering Jesus in a reverent way.

These ordinances embody the central message of the Christian faith. When we do them in public settings we can witness to the world about His grace and power. Next time you attend a water baptism, maybe your own, or a Communion service, set your heart to receive blessing from the Lord and you will! What do you think about that?

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