Saturday, September 15, 2007

Discipleship 2007 - Session 1

I had the opportunity to lead three sessions of discipleship in Venezuela this year. In the first session, I covered the Ordinances. For those of you who are not Baptists, these are often referred to elsewhere as sacraments. Roman Catholics believe in several sacraments, but Protestants typically only recognize two: Baptism and Communion. The reason that Baptists call these "ordinances" rather than "sacraments" is to make a distinction in the theology. The use of the word "sacrament" is rooted in the belief that participants in the activity somehow receive some sort of special grace from the activity. For example, there are those who believe that baptism actually saves the one being baptized. Others believe that the grace received through baptism is the reception of the new covenant. Baptists do not believe that God imparts anything special to us other than to provide an outward sign of an inward truth. Our desire as Christians should be to be obedient to that which Christ has ordained.

As such, I sought to teach only that which is explicit in the Bible and allow their questions to teach me what issues they need addressed. In this way I might go without sullying their learning by introducing muddled debates over questionable theology that they have no knowledge of. In accordance with this and as a Baptist teaching Baptists, I maintained only a basic hermeneutic recognized by Baptists and refined it only when they had questions or specific concerns. The reason for this was to build a solid hermeneutical foundation that can be refined.

The following constitutes the notes I passed out and from which I taught:


The Ordinances

Baptism

Greek word means “dip” or “immerse”. Often it was used in reference to cleaning something. There are those who dispute this meaning saying that the ancient usage of the word had a much broader meaning. This is true. There are cases where it is used figuratively for the baptism of the Holy Spirit or for ceremonial cleaning (Hebrew 9:10). However, this passage draws a distinction between ceremonial washing and Christian baptism. Furthermore, when the act of water baptism is described in the Bible, it is described in terms of full immersion (Matthew 3:16) and the meaning of Christian baptism with respect to the death burial and resurrection of Christ (Romans 6:3; Colossians 2:12) makes no sense outside of full immersion.

Institution: Matthew 28:19-20
Was administered by John the Baptist: Matthew 3:5-12; John 3:23
Was sanctioned by Christ through His baptism: Matthew 3:13-15; Luke 3:21
Christ baptized: John 3:22; 4:1-2

Historical Foundation for Baptism

Ceremonial washing Exodus 30:17-21

In the Old Testament, the Jews practiced a number of ceremonial washings and cleansings. A Gentile convert to Judaism had to undergo a baptism to complete his conversion. If a Gentile wanted to be identified with the Jews (become a proselyte), he had to undergo a three-part process: (These procedures are still mostly in effect today)

  1. Circumcision (Today, if already circumcised, a male must offer a drop of blood as symbolic circumcision)
  2. immersion, baptism (Still mandatory today, called a mikveh, must be witnessed by three)
  3. Corban – offer the blood sacrifice of animals to remind the Gentile that their forgiveness required the death of a substitute (Today, a convert can give money or gifts to the poor as an offering. An additional step is the choosing of a Hebrew name.)

By three things did Israel enter into the Covenant: by circumcision, and baptism and sacrifice. Circumcision was in Egypt, as it is written: ‘No uncircumcised person shall eat thereof’ (Exodus 12:48). Baptism was in the wilderness, just before giving of the Law, as it is written: ‘Sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes’ (Exodus 19:10). And sacrifice, as it is said: ‘And he sent young men of the children of Israel which offered burnt offerings’ (Exodus 24:5)...When a gentile is willing to enter the covenant...He must be circumcised and be baptized and bring a sacrifice...And at this time when there is no sacrifice, they must be circumcised and be baptized; and when the Temple shall be built, they are to bring a sacrifice...The gentile that is made a proselyte and the slave that is made free, behold he is like a child new born.

To this day, Gentiles who would embrace Judaism must undergo baptism in a mikveh ritual. The purpose of this ceremonial immersion is to portray spiritual cleansing, as Maimonides concluded in his codification of the laws of mikveh: “...uncleanness is not mud or filth which water can remove, but it is a matter of scriptural decree and dependent on the intention of the heart.


What the Bible teaches us about Baptism
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: Matthew 28:19
Inward truth:
Regeneration: Romans 6:3-11
Confession of sins necessary: Matthew 3:6
Marked by repentance of sins: Acts 2:38
Faith is necessary: Acts 8:37-38; 18:8
Remission of sins: Acts 2:38; 22:16
Water is the outward and visible sign: Acts 8:36; 10:47
It is the outward sign of an inward truth
Represents the influence of the Holy Spirit: Matthew 3:11
True baptism results in the gift of the Holy Spirit: Acts 2:38
Fruit of the Spirit: Galatians 5:22-26
Unity of the spirit: Ephesians 4:2-6
It is to be done once in the life of the believer. (Hebrew 6:2,6)


The Lord’s Supper

Institution: Matt 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:15-20; I Corinthians 11:23-25

The historical foundation for the Lord’s Supper
Feast of Unleavened Bread: Matthew 26:17-29; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-20
From the Law of Moses: Exodus 23:15
Passover before the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt: Exodus 12

What the Bible teaches about the Lord’s Supper
It is called “The Lord’s Supper” (I Corinthians 11:20)
It is called “Communion” (I Corinthians 10:16)
It commemorates the death of Christ (I Corinthians 11:26)
It must not be observed unworthily (I Corinthians 11:27-32)
It may be done throughout the life of the believer until Christ returns. I Corinthians11:26

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