Baptists > Distinctives > Two Ordinances
   Sacraments administered in a liturgical setting are totally foreign to the Baptist mind and, more importantly, to the teachings of the Scriptures.  In fact, the Word of God clearly teaches only two symbolic practices that Christians are to regard and both are directly connected with corporate worship in a local church.
   Water baptism plays absolutely no role in salvation.  Only after someone has been spiritually regenerated through the rebirth and professed their faith to a local body of believers, may that person quality to be Scripturally baptized.
    Baptism is symbolic.  It is an outward expression of the inward cleaning one has experienced having been born-again by the Spirit of God.  It is also a public demonstration of one testifying of his/her faith in Christ before the church.  By this means, a believer is accepted into the membership of the church.  Most Baptist churches use baptism by full immersion following salvation as a criterion for membership.
   Baptists practice baptism by full immersion, the mode used by John the Baptist.  This consists of the pastor asking the candidate for a verbal affirmation that they have trusted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, followed by lowering him/her in to the water backwards and then forward again to complete the symbolic imagery of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. 
   Also, Baptists reject the practice of baptizing infants (pedobaptism) because the Biblical symbolism of this ordinance cannot be applied to any non-believer; especially an infant.  Until an individual reaches the age of accountability, they are not held accountable for their sins.  This is based on whether or not the person is mentally capable of knowing right from wrong.  Thus, a person with severe mental retardation may never reach this age, and therefore would not be held accountable for sins.
   Recognition of baptisms by other Christian groups vary.  Some Baptist churches will recognize adult baptisms performed in other orthodox Christian churches, while others only recognize baptisms performed in Baptist churches. In rare instances, a church may recognize only its own baptisms as valid.
   This joyful ordinance of the church and it's symbolic meaning are retained when those who have trusted Christ as their Saviour are welcomed into the fellowship of the local church.
   "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."   ~ Act 2:41 
   "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."   ~ Romans 6:4 
   "One Lord, one faith, one baptism,"   ~ Ephesians 4:5 
   This ordinance of the church is also symbolic according to the Scriptures.  Unlike Roman Catholic "communion" (bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ - transubstantiation) or the Orthodox churches "eucharist" (bread and wine co-exist as His body and blood - consubstantiation), the Baptists see the elements of this ordinance as a Biblical metaphor.
   When Jesus presented these same two elements at the last supper, he said, “this is my body . . .this is my blood” (Matthew. 26:26-28), he could not have been speaking in literal terms.  He still possessed his literal body and blood.
   Being able to destinguish between language that is to be understood figuratively as opposed to literally is essential to accurate Biblical interpretation.  Metaphors have always been a common characteristic of language.
   For example, Jesus referred to Herod as a “fox” (Luke 13:31-32).  Who would attempt to make the case that he thought the king to be a four-legged animal with a bushy tail?   Christ once said: “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5).  Was He under the misconception that He was related to a plant and that we were physically connected to Him?  Likewise, when Jesus referred to the elements of the Lord's Supper as being His body and blood, he was using a metaphor; a symbolic likening of his sacrificial death on the cross to those thing that will remind us of what He did for us when we partake of them when God's people gather together to worship.
   How often are we to serve the Lord's Supper?  Every day?  Every Sunday?  Once a year?  The Scriptures state that "as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come (1 Corinthians 11:26)."  Therefore, no specific instructions are given as to the frequency that this ordinance is to be administered.  However, Baptists usually observe it once a month to once a quarter.  They are very hesitant to serve it more often due to their observation regarding Roman Catholocism have made it central to their worship and surrounded it with liturgies beyond the obvious intent of the Scriptures regarding it.
   This solemn ordinance of the church and it's symbolic meaning are retained when administered as a time of remembrance.  The poignant moments of meditation on what Jesus endured to accomplish our salvation truly places the correct emphasis on why He asked us to remember Him whenever we observe the Lord's Supper.
   "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:  And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.  After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me."  ~ 1Corinthians 11:23 to 25
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Slippage Questions: The Two Ordinances of the Church

   "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip."  ~ Hebrews 2:1

Believer Baptism
Does the church you attend baptize believers only by immersion?
If your church baptizes infants, can you prove from the Bible that the practice of doing so is correct?
If your church baptizes using sprinkling or pouring, can you prove from the Scriptures that any other method than immersion is Biblical?
Do you accept baptizing infants or using sprinkling and pouring just because you were told it is right or did you study the Bible yourself to make that determination?
The Lord's Supper
Which view (symbolic, consubstantiation, transubstantiation) is held by the church you attend? 
Can you prove using the Scriptures that it is the correct one?
Is your view of how the Lord's Supper is to be understood one that you have been told is true or have you studied the Bible for yourself to make that determination?
Do you understand the importance of the Lord's Supper as one who has truly been born-again or is it simply a nice religious ceremony instead of a time of soul searching, meditation, and remembering Jesus' suffering and sacrifice?
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