Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Marks of the Church (The Sacraments)

The Sacraments are the Second Mark of a True Church

For a host of reasons, much of British evangelicalism is often only primarily concerned about one mark of the church; that is preaching. However, the Lord Jesus Christ instituted two new covenant ordinances, which are baptism and the Lord's Supper. There are only two sacraments and this is contrary to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church who teach that there are seven.

In many ways, I think that the way that baptism and the Lord's Supper are administered in a church is a very good 'litmus test' for the theology of that church. For example baptism, which for all the reformers included the baptism of infants of believers. Today, many churches would refuse to baptise infants, on the basis of their accepting a different doctrine called 'believer's baptism'. However, the reformers would have contended that this doctrine does not administer the sacrament correctly. It is time for the baptistic doctrine of baptism to be challenged, especially in England and Wales.

What about the Lord's Supper? I have been in churches where it was hastily bolted on to the end of the service and the richness of this spiritual feast was not captured. Such a low view of the Lord's Supper is commonly held and practiced. Evangelical churches need to revisit this doctrine and evaluate whether they are administering it in a way that is true to the Bible and true to feeding the flock of God.

The sacraments are the second mark of a true church, can that be said to be true in your mind? Listen to the Lord Jesus Christ and the words of institution of the Lord's Supper and Baptism.

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Mt 26:26–29).

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:18–20).

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