the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15)
In this seventh lesson of our study on the Lord’s church, we will be looking at the second responsibility given to the church in the Great Commission. This is the responsibility to baptize those who profess faith in Christ into the membership of the assembly….
The Second Responsibility Found In The Great Commission: Baptize Into the Assembly.
1. What Is Baptism?: A public profession of faith in Christ and His Work
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto [even] baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.” (1 Peter 3:18-22)
Peter now speaks of an OT event which is a picture of the ordinance of baptism. Christ spoke to the wicked men of Noah’s day through the ministry of Noah as he built the ark. It was a public testimony of Noah’s faith in Christ and his belief in the message that his Lord had given to him through the inspiration and illumination of the Holy Spirit.
Just as the salvation of the individuals in the ark during the flood was a living symbolic picture of salvation found in Christ. The ark pictured Christ, those in the ark pictures the believers and the judgment of sin pictured by the flood. Baptism symbolically pictures the same truth… salvation through the work of Christ from sin and its results.
Baptism as a picture of salvation from sins:
Baptism is immersion in water…
The word “baptize” is used several times in the New Testament and is translated from a Greek word that means “to be immersed, submerged, or soaked”. Biblical baptism is when an individual is actually immersed (picturing a burial) in water.
The steps of an individuals baptism are as follows…
1. The individual stands in the body of water.
2. The individual is lowered (until totally covered) into the water
3. The individual is raised from the water into a standing position.
These steps proclaim what Christ has done on his behalf:
1. When, first standing in the water, it is a picture of Christ standing on the earth working on behalf of his people. His teaching, His healing, and most importantly, his arrest, abuse and crucifixion are all symbolized by this standing.
2. When lowered under the water, it is a picture of the death and burial of Christ, done on behalf of those who are saved.
3. When brought up out of the water, it is a picture of the resurrection of Christ, the proof that He paid the price necessary to secure salvation for His people and He is now victorious over death.
These steps of baptism also proclaim what God has done in the life of the new believer:
1. When, first standing in the water, it is a picture of the believer’s walk on earth prior to his salvation experience. It is a sinful walk based upon selfish desires and the lusts of his flesh.
2. When lowered under the water, it is a picture of the believer who is spiritually dead and under the bondage of sin.
3. When brought up out of the water, it is a picture of the believers release from sins bondage, spiritual life being given to him and a new life of service to Christ beginning.
Baptism is to proclaim to all that an individual, through salvation, has a good conscience towards God:
“baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,)”
Peter makes it plain that baptism is not observed to gain salvation for an individual.. “not putting away the filth of the flesh”. On the contrary, Peter tells us that it is “the answer of a good conscience towards God”, it is observed once the recipient recognizes his sins have been forgiven and he is now right with God. This is why he no longer has a guilty conscience before God and makes him the ideal candidate for baptism.
2. Baptism Is A Part Of The Great Commission Given To The Lord’s Churches:
To Baptize Into The Assembly Those Who Have Made Professions Of Faith:
Matthew: baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
The “them” referred to are those who have been made followers of Christ through receipt of the gospel message.
Mark: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Here Christ confirms that baptism is one PROOF of a genuine salvation experience. If someone claims belief in Christ, but is not willing to publically confess Christ is their Savior, the authenticity of their experience must be questioned.
Not only is baptism a public declaration of our faith in Christ, but it is also the prerequisite to church membership…
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)
Although a local church is made up of many members, the local church is still one, unified body. Under the leadership of the indwelling Spirit, the new believer is led of God to partake of water baptism and join into the membership of the local assembly.
The only prerequisite of water baptism is faith in Christ. Jew or Gentile, slave or free may receive this ordinance and become members of His local assembly, as long as they have trusted in Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Along with Baptism, although not a part of the great commission, the local assembly is given the responsibility to observe the Lord’s Supper.
1. What Is The Lord’s Supper?: It is a public profession and remembrance of Christ, His work and His second coming.
“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. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
The Apostle Paul, as he instructs the local church at Corinth, explains to them the purpose of the Lord’s Supper observance, as taught by Christ Himself. It is to commemorate the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Eating the bread reminds us of Christ’s body that was bruised and abused on our behalf. Drinking the fruit of the vine reminds us of His shed blood on our behalf. The Lord also commanded the church to observe this ordinance until He comes again.
2. How do we know that the responsibilities for the Lord’s Supper observance was given to the local church?
Paul, as he writes to the Corinth church says that For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you. Paul clearly said that he was delivering the instructions for this ordinance to the local assembly, the addressee of his letter.
Also, when Christ observed the supper it was with the local church at Jerusalem made up of His Apostles. There were eleven of His Apostles present for the observance of the supper (Judas left prior to the observance following his accusation) …
“Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve… And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed [it], and brake [it], and gave [it] to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave [it] to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:20-28)
“And in the evening he cometh with the twelve… And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake [it], and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave [it] to them: and they all drank of it.
And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (Mark 14:17-25)
“And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide [it] among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake [it], and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup [is] the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
As we studied the local churches commission we have seen:
1. That great commission was always given to the assembled Apostles that made up the first local church (church at Jerusalem). (Please note the exception: In John, we saw that Thomas was missing but the rest of the eleven were present.)
2. There are three basic responsibilities involved with the Great Commission:
To evangelize the lost; to baptize into the assembly those who profess faith in Christ; to indoctrinate church members to equip them for the service of Christ.
As we studied the first part of the Great Commission that is given to His assemblies we have seen:
1. The content of the gospel message: Christ’s Death; Christ’s Burial; Christ’s Resurrection; The Witnesses To The Resurrection
2. The Responsibility to take the gospel to the lost is given to the Lord’s local assemblies is described as: To make students Of Christ; To declare the good news of Christ; To reveal man’s responsibility to receive the gospel message; To be sent as Jesus was sent; To share our experience of Christ with others
3. The priority of taking the Gospel into the world
Jerusalem, the CITY where the church is located; Judaea, equivalent to the state in which the church is located; Samaria, the other states that make up the nation where the church is located; uttermost parts of the world, the other nations of the world.
As we studied the second part of the Great Commission we have seen that the Lord has given to His assemblies the responsibility to observe both Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
1. Baptism is a public profession of faith in Christ and His Work
2. Baptism pictures the work of Christ on our behalf
3. Baptism is a picture of our salvation from sins
4. Baptism Is A Part Of The Great Commission Given To The Lord’s Churches:
5. Baptism is a prerequisite to church membership
6. The Lord’s Supper observance is also the responsibility of a local assembly.
7. The Lord’s Supper is to commemorate the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
Why should we should attend, join and support the ministries of a local church? It is the ONLY organization that has been given the responsibility to observe the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. To properly partake of these, they must be regulated, supplied and observed by a local assembly of the Lord.
May the Lord bless us as we seek His truth.
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