Resting in His Sacramental Love in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

Howdy!

As we considered the sacraments over the last month it is important as the catechism is going to do this week to think through why we only have two sacraments and how they work together in order to improve the Christian life. Sometimes we do religious stuff without really understanding its purpose. Blind tradition is dangerous in that way. Even the most aged saint needs reminding every now and then as to the reason behind why we do what we do in the religion we profess to be the hope we rest in. It does us no good to go through the motions. In fact God abhors and condemns hand religion that has no faith attached to it. (James 1:26-27).

Believers who have no interest in growing in knowledge of heart and soul bewilder me, in all honesty. We have been given by grace new life in Jesus Christ and so often we just want to leave it at that. Do we treat other matters with such frivolity? If we are a big hunter or fisher do we not desire to not only get better at the hunting and fishing but invest in the right tools to accomplish that joyful longing to reel in a big bass or take down a broad twelve point? The catechism question today in fact is particularly designed to help us reconsider why we baptize and why we eat the bread and drink the cup. Just like the ceremonial system of the law of Moses (which we have learned more about in our walk through Numbers on Wednesday evenings) the New Testament sacraments are just as pedagogical, that is they teach us stuff about Jesus.

If we say we love Jesus wouldn’t we then want to get deeper in that love so as to love Him better and better? Here’s the Q/A’s:

Q. 176. Wherein do the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper agree?

A. The sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper agree, in that the author of both is God; the spiritual part of both is Christ and his benefits; both are seals of the same covenant, are to be dispensed by ministers of the gospel, and by none other; and to be continued in the church of Christ until his second coming.

 Q. 177. Wherein do the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper differ?

A. The sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper differ, in that baptism is to be administered but once, with water, to be a sign and seal of our regeneration and ingrafting into Christ, and that even to infants; whereas the Lord’s supper is to be administered often, in the elements of bread and wine, to represent and exhibit Christ as spiritual nourishment to the soul, and to confirm our continuance and growth in him, and that only to such as are of years and ability to examine themselves.

Baptism and the Lord’s Supper sweetly comply in the most important way: they show Christ. They exhibit His grace and love, His promise and power. The seal, that is the assurance, how we know they work, is born out of the Father providing Jesus, and the Holy Spirit imparting to us all the benefits of that relationship with our Redeemer. Trinitarianism is wonderful. No one else has that ability, nor does any other thing we can make up (the church calendar, man-made holy days, etc… especially noted) ever have the right authority that the sacraments do because only they have Divine appointment and only they have the testimony of God attached. Our keeping of the first and second and third commandments are shown in how we trust and rest in what the Lord has provided. I’m sure you have heard the phrase, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”. That simply means that when someone does something nice for you, whether it’s literally the gift of a horse, or whatever the polite thing to do is not examine it in front of the giver as if you have the right to refuse it. Your momma taught you better, and when you take that illustration and apply it to the catechism questions it becomes even more ignorant. Who are you to doubt that God loves you and has granted to you the privilege of partaking of the covenant blessings? To reject the manner of the sacraments is to reject the God who has ordained them as His.

Israel did this all the time, and they most directly did it when the symbol that the old covenant feasts were pointing to came onto the scene in the first century A.D. Jesus Christ was staring them in the face and they refused His presence because they thought God’s sacrament should be different than it was. Sometimes it is good of us to actually learn from other’s mistakes. Baptism is for covenant children and for those who come to faith in Christ. To deny the sign to infants is SIN. I bolded it and capitalized it for a reason. Because these things are real and have real benefits if we simply just listen to what God has revealed in His word.

Baptism and the Lord’s Supper work together, as the catechism notes, to each in their own way testify to the one covenant of grace made in Genesis 3:15 and reconfirmed in circumcision and Passover, and then in the new covenant of Jeremiah 31 and stated by Christ in Mark 14 and Peter in Acts 2. Baptism for circumcision and the Table for Passover. New signs, the same seal.

Yet, they are not the same in some important respects as well, just like circumcision did not avail one of the Passover meal. Many circumcised Israelite men died when the Angel of the LORD appeared in Exodus 12. Why? Because they did celebrate the Passover in faith as God required. We’ve said before Baptism is the initiation into the Church, the covenant family. No baptized teen “joins the church” when they profess faith. Their public testimony is a confirmation of the promises of Baptism. It’s why we use the term non-communicant and communicant to describe the differences between one who has gained access to the home, but not the meal. The Lord’s Supper is only for those who are repentant, have asked Jesus into their heart, and witness to that gracious new birth by bearing fruit worthy of that repentance.

In closing, we are to use both of the sacraments wisely and judiciously. 1 Corinthians 7 declares that children of one or more believing parents are holy. They belong to God. 1 Corinthians 11 tells us that being outwardly holy is nothing in comparison to the bounty which comes from being circumcised of the heart, as Moses notes in Deuteronomy 10. Seek the later for life.

Last word:

https://www.ligonier.org/podcasts/things-unseen-with-sinclair-ferguson/a-consecrated-feast

Blessings in Christ,

Rev. Benjamin Glaser

Pastor, Bethany ARP Church

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