top of page
Search
  • Writer's pictureElijah Blalock

Baptists and the Ordinances

Communion cup and wafer

Baptists are often guilty of spending too much time saying what they think baptism and the Lord's Supper don't mean and too little time saying what they do mean. As such, Baptists have a bad reputation for holding to a shallow view of the sacraments or ordinances, believing them to be little more than sentimental rituals that are basically optional for salvation. I am a dedicated Baptist. I love Baptists, and I think we have a rich heritage that has much to say if we would listen. So below, I will share some quotes about the ordinances from historic Baptist works. I will link to the sources. I hope this will inspire you to read them for yourself and allow our forefathers to be a part of our conversation. Feel free to comment and discuss below, or to message me directly.


Article XXXIX: "That Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, given by Christ, to be dispensed only upon persons professing faith, or that are Disciples, or taught, who upon a profession of faith, ought to be baptized"


Article XL: "The way and manner of the dispensing of this ordinance the Scripture holds out to be dipping or plunging the whole body under water: it being a sign, must answer the thing signified, which are these: first, the washing the whole soul in the blood of Christ; secondly, that interest the saints have in death, burial, and resurrection (of Christ) ; thirdly, together with a confirmation of our faith, that as certainly as the body is buried under water, and rises again, so certainly shall the bodies of the saints by raised by the power of Christ, in the day of the resurrection, to reign with Christ."


Baptism

Article XXVIII: "Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ to be unto the Party Baptized, or Dipped, a Sign of our entrance into the Covenant of Grace, and ingrafting into Christ, and into the Body of Christ, which is his Church: and of Remission of Sin in the Blood of Christ, and of our Fellowship with Christ, in his Death and Resurrection, and of our living, or rising to newness of Life. [...]"


The Lord's Supper

Article XXXIII: "The Supper of the Lord Jesus, was instituted by him the same Night wherein he was betrayed; To be observed in his Church, to the end of the World, for the perpetual Remembrance, and shewing forth the Sacrifice of himself in his Death; and for the Confirmation of the Faithful Believers in all the Benefits of his Death and Resurrection, and Spiritual Nourishment and growth in him; sealing unto them their continuance in the Covenant of Grace, and to be a Band and Pledge of Communion with him, and an Obligation of Obedience to Christ, both passively and actively, as also of our Communion and Union each with other, in the participation of this holy Sacrament. And the outward Elements of Bread and Wine, after they are set apart by the Hand of the Minister, from common Use, and Blessed, or Consecrated, by the Word of God and Prayer, the Bread being broken, and Wine poured forth, signifie to the Faithful, the Body and Blood of Christ, or holdeth forth Christ and him Crucified; [...] Neither is that Popish Doctrine of Transubstantiation to be admitted of, nor Adoration of the unbloody Sacrifice of the Mass [...] Neither may we admit of Consubstantiation, it being not consonant to God's Word. [...]"


The Sacraments

Q. 65 "It is by faith alone that we share in Christ and all his blessings: where then does that faith come from?"

A. "The Holy Spirit produces it in our hearts by the preaching of the holy gospel, and confirms it through our use of the holy sacraments.


Q. 66 "What are sacraments?"

A. "Sacraments are holy signs and seals for us to see. They were instituted by God so that by our use of them he might make us understand more clearly the promise of the gospel, and might put his seal on that promise. And this is God's gospel promise: to forgive our sins and give us eternal life by grace alone because of Christ's one sacrifice finished on the cross."


Q. 67 "Are both the word and the sacraments then intended to focus our faith on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross as the only ground of our salvation?"

A. "Right! In the gospel the Holy Spirit teaches us and through the holy sacraments he assures us that our entire salvation rests on Christ's one sacrifice for us on the cross."


Baptism

[It's too long to copy here, but see questions 71-74 for a stellar defense of believer's baptism]


Q. 75 "How does baptism remind you and assure you that Christ's one sacrifice on the cross is for you personally?"

A. "In this way: Christ instituted this outward washing and with it gave the promise that, as surely as water washes away the dirt from the body, so certainly his blood and his Spirit wash away my soul's impurity, in other words, all my sins."


Q. 78 "Does this outward washing with water itself wash away sins?"

A. "No, only Jesus Christ's blood and the Holy Spirit cleanse us from all sins."


Q. 79 "Why then does the Holy Spirit call baptism the washing of rebirth and the washing away of sins?"

A. God has good reason for these words. He wants to teach us that the blood and Spirit of Christ wash away our sins just as water washes away dirt from our bodies. But more important, he wants to assure us, by this divine pledge and sign, that the washing away of our sins spiritually is as real as physical washing with water."


The Lord's Supper

Q. 80 "How does the Lord's Supper remind you and assure you that you share in Christ's one sacrifice on the cross and in all his gifts?"

A. In this way: Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat this broken bread and to drink this cup. With this command he gave this promise: First, as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup given to me, so surely his body was offered and broken for me and his blood poured out for me on the cross. Second, as surely as I receive from the hand of the one who serves, and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, given me as sure signs of Christ's body and blood, so surely he nourishes and refreshes my soul for eternal life with his crucified body and poured-out blood."


Q. 81 "What does it mean to eat the crucified body of Christ and to drink his poured-out blood?" A. "It means to accept with a believing heart the entire suffering and death of Christ and by believing to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life. But it means more. Through the Holy Spirit, who lives both in Christ and in us, we are united more and more to Christ's blessed body. And so, although he is in heaven and we are on earth, we are flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone. And we forever live on and are governed by one Spirit, as members of our body are by one soul."


Q. 83 "Are the bread and wine changed into the real body and blood of Christ?

A. "No. Just as the water of baptism is not changed into Christ's blood and does not itself wash away sins but is simply God's sign and assurance, so too the bread of the Lord's Supper is not changed into the actual body of Christ even though it is called the body of Christ in keeping with the nature and language of sacraments."


Q. 84 "Why then does Christ call the bread his body and the cup his blood, or the new covenant in his blood? And Paul uses the words, a participation in Christ's body and blood."

A. "Christ has good reason for these words. He wants to teach us that as bread and wine nourish our temporal life, so too his crucified body and poured-out blood truly nourish our souls for eternal life. But more important, he wants to assure us, by this visible sign and pledge, that we, through the Holy Spirit's work, share in his true body and blood as surely as our mouths receive these holy signs in his remembrance, and that all of his suffering and obedience are as definitely ours as if we personally had suffered and paid for our sins"


Baptism (chapter 29)

Paragraph 1: "Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be unto the party baptized, a sign of his fellowship with him, in his death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into him; of remission of sins; and of giving up into God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life."


The Lord's Supper (chapter 30)

Paragraph 1: "The supper of the Lord Jesus was instituted by him the same night wherein he was betrayed, to be observed in his churches, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance, and showing to all the world the sacrifice of himself in his death, confirmation of the faith of believers in all the benefits thereof, their spiritual nourishment, and growth in him, their further engagement in, and to all duties which they owe to him; and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other."


Paragraph 2: "In this ordinance Christ is not offered up to his Father, nor any real sacrifice made at all for remission of sin of the quick or dead, but only a memorial of that one offering up of himself by himself upon the cross, once for all; and a spiritual oblation of all possible praise unto God for the same. So that the popish sacrifice of the mass, as they call it, is most abominable, injurious to Christ's own sacrifice the alone propitiation for all the sins of the elect."


Paragraph 5: "The outward elements in this ordinance, duly set apart to the use ordained by Christ, have such relation to him crucified, as that truly, although in terms used figuratively, they are sometimes called by the names of the things they represent, in other words, the body and blood of Christ, albeit, in substance and nature, they still remain truly and only bread and wine, as they were before."


Paragraph 6: "That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine, into the substance of Christ's body and blood, commonly called transubstantiation, by consecration of a priest, or by any other way, is repugnant not to Scripture alone, but even to common sense and reason, overthrows the nature of the ordinance, and has been, and is, the cause of manifold superstitions, yea, of gross idolatries."


Paragraph 7: "Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements in this ordinance, do then also inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually receive, and feed upon Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death; the body and blood of Christ being then not corporally or carnally, but spiritually present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses."


Note: this is commonly called "Keach's Catechism," but it is uncertain whether Benjamin Keach was the author.


The Ordinances

Q. 95. "What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption?"

A. "The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are His ordinances, especially the Word, Baptism, the Lord's Supper and Prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation."


Q. 98. "How do Baptism and the Lord's Supper become effectual means of salvation?

A. Baptism and the Lord's Supper become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them or in him that administers them, but only by the blessing of Christ and the working of His Spirit in them that by faith receive them."

Q. 99. Wherein do Baptism and the Lord's Supper differ from the other ordinances of God?

A. Baptism and the Lord's Supper differ from the other ordinances of God in that they were specially instituted by Christ to represent and apply to believers the benefits of the new covenant by visible and outward signs.


Q. 100. "What is Baptism?"

A. "Baptism is an holy ordinance, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, signifies our ingrafting into Christ and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord's."


Q. 107. "What is the Lord's Supper?"

A. "The Lord's Supper is a holy ordinance, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ's appointment, His death is showed forth, and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporeal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of His body and blood, with all His benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace."


The Baptist Catechism (as printed by the Philadelphia Association in 1795)

Note: this is a reprinting of the Baptist Catechism with a few editions. Compare to 95 and 98 above. See Tom J. Nettles, Teaching Truth, Training Hearts: the Study of Catechisms in Baptist Life (Amityville, NY: Calvary Press Publishing, 1998), 57-58.


Q. 93 "What are the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption?

A. "The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption, are the reading, but especially the preaching of the word, which the Spirit of God maketh an effectual means of convincing and converting the sinner, and the ordinances as additional means of building up believers in holiness and comfort, through faith unto salvation."


Q. 96 "What is the use of Baptism and the Lord's Supper?"

A. "Baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of Jesus Christ, and are of use to set forth our faith and every grace in us, through the blessing of Christ and the operation of the Spirit."


Article XIV, of Baptism and the Lord's Supper

We believe that the Christian baptism is the immersion in water of a believer, into the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost; to show forth in a solemn and beautiful emblem, our faith in the crucified, buried and risen Saviour, with its effect, in our death to sin and resurrection to a new life; that it is prerequisite to the privileges of a church relation, and to the Lord's Supper; in which the members of the church by the sacred use of bread and wine, are to commemorate together the dying love of Christ; preceded always by solemn self-examination.


Note: Spurgeon closely follows the Baptist Catechism above.


Q. 71 "What are the outward means by which the Holy Spirit communicates to us the benefits of redemption?"

A. "The outward and ordinary means by which the Holy Spirit communicates to us the benefits of Christ’s redemption, are: the Word, by which souls are begotten to spiritual life, Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Prayer and Meditation, by all of which believers are further edified in their most holy faith"


Q. 74 "How do Baptism and the Lord’s Supper become spiritually helpful?"

A. "Baptism and the Lord’s Supper become spiritually helpful, not from any virtue in them, or in him who administers them, but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of the Spirit in those who by faith receive them."


Q. 75 "What is Baptism?"

A. "Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, instituted by Jesus Christ to be to the person baptised a sign of his fellowship with Him in His death, and burial, and resurrection, of his being engrafted into Him of remission of sins, and of his giving up himself to God through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life."


Q. 80 "What is the Lord's Supper?"

A. "The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of the New Testament, instituted by Jesus Christ; in which, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to His appointment, His death is shown forth, and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporeal and earthly manner, but by faith, made partakers of His body and blood with all His benefits, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace."


Q. 81"What is required of the worthy receiving of the Lord’s Supper?" A. "It is required of those who would worthily partake of the Lord’s Supper, that they examine themselves of their knowledge to discern the Lord’s body, of their faith to feed upon him, of their repentance, love, and new obedience, lest coming unworthy, they eat and drink judgment to themselves."


Baptism

Q. 3. "Why is it done in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost?"

A. "To denote that the person baptized thus professes to believe these three to be God, and to devote himself to His service."


Q. 4. "What does the use of water in Baptism represent?"

A. "The washing away of our sins by the cleansing influences of the Holy Spirit."


Q. 5. "What does the act of immersion represent?"

A. "The union of the believer with Christ in His death."


Q. 6. "Do the Scriptures assign this union as a reason why we are to profess Christ by immersion?"

A. "They do; they tell us that it is on this account that we are buried with Christ by baptism unto death."


The Lord's Supper

Q. 6. "What does the Lord's Supper represent?"

A. "The death and sufferings of Christ."


Q. 7. "Does the mere partaking, either of Baptism or the Lord's Supper confer spiritual blessings?"

A. "No; they are worthless, if not injurious, to those who do not exercise faith."


Q. 8. "But how is it when they are partaken of by those who do exercise faith?"

A. "The Spirit of God makes them, to such persons, precious means of grace."


Lesson 11: Baptism and the Lord's Supper

Q. 1. "Who ought to be baptized?"

A. "Every believer in Christ ought to be baptized."


Q. 2. "Why ought every believer in Christ to be baptized?"

A. "Because Christ has commanded us to declare our faith in Him by being baptized."


Q. 4. "What does this signify?"

A. "The water signifies purification from sin, and the immersion signifies that we are dead to sin, and like Christ have been buried and risen again."


Q. 5. "Does baptism procure forgiveness or the new birth?"

A. "No, baptism only represents regeneration and forgiveness like a picture."


Q. 6. "What is meant by our being baptized "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"?"

A. "It means that we take God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit as our Sovereign and Savior."


Q. 7. "What is the solemn duty of all who have been baptized?"

A. "It is the duty of all who have been baptized to live that new life of purity and obedience which their baptism signifies."


Q. 8. "What is the Lord's Supper?"

A. "A church observes the Lord's Supper by eating bread and drinking wine to represent the body and blood of our Savior."


Q. 9. "Why ought the bread and wine to be thus taken?"

A. "Because Christ has commanded us to eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of Him."


Q. 10. "Who ought to partake of the Lord's Supper"

A. "Those ought to partake of the Lord's Supper who have believed in Christ, and have been baptized, and are trying to live in obedience of Christ's commands."


Article XIII, Baptism and the Lord's Supper

"Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The act is a symbol of our faith in a crucified, buried and risen Saviour. It is prerequisite to the privileges of a church relation and to the Lord's Supper, in which the members of the church, by the use of bread and wine, commemorate the dying love of Christ."

61 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page