sundays at 9:00 AM, 10:30 AM, & 4:30 PM

Doctrine of the Sacraments - Connection to Church Membership

May 14, 2023 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Topic: Of the Sacraments Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:17–34



  • 1 Corinthians 11-17-34

Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 27, Article 1

Review: The Nature of a Sacrament

Key Elements of a Sacrament

  • They are holy ordinances
  • They are commanded by Christ
  • They have been established as perpetual things
  • They point away from to something Greater

The Sacraments Carry with them a Promise

  • a covenantal arrangement
  • a sacramental covenantal arrangement

The sacraments are instituted in the church.

  • they are to be practiced in the church
  • they are to be set forth in the church
  • They are part/ parcel covenantal, signs and seals.



We're going to walk through scriptures that talk about the sacraments being undertaken in the church

  • they are those things which unite us to Christ

Sacraments belong in the church

Baptism and the Lord's Supper are a sign and a seal of the covenant of grace.

That's why they belong in the church

  • it is where the covenant is administered

Our catechism talks about these things being taken up in the church

  • churchly actions with churchly ramifications.

In order rightly understand the sacraments

  • the discussion must turn on church membership

The sacraments are tied up with church membership

  • the sacraments are really those things which define church membership.

False practices regarding the sacraments

Today there are other kinds of ways that have removed sacraments/ membership from the church

This presses to adopting the practices of Quakerism

  • it is what the Quakers have done
    • o which is what we don't need sacraments or membership at all
      • there is an inner light
      • there is an inner communion with the Holy Ghost - individually.

This is really the consistent end of that position.


Scripture: Matthew 28.18-20

The command in the original is to disciple the nations.

  • that is the only imperative

There are 3 ways to make disciples

  • They must go
  • They must baptize
  • They much teach

What does it mean to be a disciple?

In the first century there were a lot of teachers.

  • These teachers had disciples

The teachers would walk through the streets with their disciples following them

  • the disciples learned to do what they did
  • the disciples joined themself to that teacher

Joining – that is what it means to be a disciple.

Baptized in the name of the Father, Son, Holy Ghost

  • into union with the Triune God

Then by teaching “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”

1. Discipleship communicates membership/ joining

Baptism is given to the apostles who are going and baptizing and teaching.

  • by baptizing they bring a formal union
  • by teaching they finish out the discipling process

This baptizing, joining, and receiving instruction reflects that memberhip, that unity with teacher.

2. Discipleship begins with baptism

The discipling process begins with baptism

  • It doesn't end with baptism

The mission to disciple the nations involves

  • baptism as a part of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Then, for someone to become a member of a church

  • having never been baptized would be abnormal, out of accord with what the Bible teaches

Baptism is the way one becomes a disciple of Christ

  • it is not the other way around.
  • It is not that first you are a disciple
    • o and then you you get baptized

3. Baptism defines discipleship.

The church is commissioned

  • to teach
  • to preach
  • to baptize
  • and, in this, to make disciples.

4. Discipleship is part of the Covenant

It is in this sense that membership formally establishes the relationship with Christ by way of covenant.

A disciple is one who is joined to Christ

  • to learn from him
  • to be identified with his life
  • to come under his authority.

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 11.28-29

What is a yoke?

  • A yoke is a burden

The yoke means that you are under his authority.

Then it says, “Learn of Me”

Literally the Greek → Take my yoke upon you and become my disciple.

What does it mean then to to become Christ's disciple?

  • it means to come under His yoke
  • it means to come under his authority
  • it meanst to come under the covenant
    • but the yoke is easy
    • but the burden is light

Scriptural Explanation

Col 2.10-12 → Baptism connected to visible church

Paul is speaking to those who are faithful:

  • baptism is their entering into Christ
  • baptism is their becoming members of Him

This is what we church membership today.

The idea of church membership has devolved.

We have made it more akin to signing up for a club

  • But it is not like that at all

Rather, it is becoming a member of Jesus Christ

Rather, it the New Testament manifestation of Zion where Christ reigns

  • to be a member of that society
    • is to be a member of the body of Christ
  • it is His body that we know as the visible church

Isaiah 44.1-8 → Baptism is a sign of the covenant

The prophet writes about a day that is coming

Remember chapter 40 to the end of the book speaks largely of the kingdom of Messiah

What does that mean that “the Lord is going to pour water upon him that is thirsty”?

What is the significance of that pouring out of water?

  • He follows with: “I'm going to pour out my spirit”
  • He is talking about New Testament baptism

What will be the outcome of that pouring out?

  • one shall say “I am the Lord's”
  • one shall say “I am of the God of Jacob”

The Lord is showing what separates people unto God

  • this baptism, this sprinkling
  • this pouring out of His Spirit
  • this pouring out of water

Baptism is not something ancillary to membership

  • It is a pillar defining church membership

We've separated this out heavily in our day

  • The understanding of the sacraments is stunted.
    • It's truncated
    • It's drawn back from its full understanding
Baptism reminds us of the covenant

The Lord has given baptism to His people to remind them of those commitments and promises.

We are to remember the promises and vows:

  • every time we see baptism administered
  • when we stood before the Lord with our parents
  • when we stood as professors as adults

We are to remember when those waters of baptism were placed upon us, that the Lord promised those who call upon Him by faith

  • would have their sins washed away
  • would be drawn to Him
  • would be separated out from the world
  • would belong to him.

Once the waters of baptism are passed upon you:

  • you belong to Christ
  • you have given up your name to him
  • you have become his member.

To be baptized is to become a member of the church in covenant with God

  • they are so very united together

Ezekiel 36.24-38 → Baptism is the visible administration of the covenant

The Lord identifies his people as a flock and Himself as the one who gathers them.

  • How does He do it?
  • How does He bring them in that gathering?
  • How does He call them to Himself?
  • How does He make them a flock?

The beginning of that passage makes that clear.

  • He does it by baptism
  • He does it by sprinkling clean water upon them
    • and they shall be clean
  • He does it by ministering His Spirit to their hearts
    • putting a new spirit within them.

Do you see what is going on?

Baptism and the thing signified are brought together.

How is it that the Lord saves his people?

  • by bringing them into membership with Christ
  • by the visible administration of the covenant of grace

The entrance into this covevant is through baptism.

That is what it means to become a member of visible church of Jesus Christ

  • it is to be baptized into Christ.

1 Peter 3.18-22 → Baptism communicates salvation

There was a baptism that took place with Noah

Noah and his family were united to Christ through the baptism in the ark

  • That is what is meant by “the like figure”

This is the antitype of which baptism is the type

  • Noah and his family were joined with Christ

Noah was a preacher of righteousness

  • notice that it was Christ in the Spirit who was preaching through Him → verse 20

As Christ was preaching through Noah, in the spirit:

  • 8 souls were saved by water (a figure of baptism)
  • 8 souls were united to Christ in that baptism

The water said something to the rest of the world

The water said something to Noah

  • that he was kept safe

The water said something to the rest of the people

  • it said judgment to them; they were not safe
Sacraments speak to both believer and unbeliever

Circumcision for the believer says

  • the cutting of the foreskin of the flesh/ heart
  • the shedding of blood for the remission of sins.

Circumcision for the unbeliever says

  • the cutting of the life of who sinned against God

Baptism for the believer says

  • the cleansing from sin by water

Baptism for the unbeliever says

  • the overwhelming flood of judgment

There is safety within the ark/ within the church

Through baptism and the ark

  • there is a picture of the Church of Jesus Christ

Those who are united to him and inside the ark:

  • are kept safe from the deluge.

Those who are outside the ark/ outside the church:

  • are out there in the deluge, where there is no safety.

They were indeed in a very real sense baptized unto Jesus Christ.

This is why Apostle calls is “the like figure”

  • that is the Greek word “antitypos”
  • this is where we get the word antitype

Peter is teaching the waters of the ark were the type, pointing to baptism, which is the antitype.

Type / Anti-type Clarified

What the relationship is between type and anti-type?

  • A type is a historical circumstance that has a particular object lesson
  • A type points to a future event that has some salvific importance.
  • An anti-type is the fulfillment of the type

Peter tells us the flood is a type of what?

  • It is a type of baptism.

Noah and his family were united to Christ in the ark

It was the Spirit of Christ that preached through Noah to those spirits that were disobedient in his time

  • It was Noah and his family that were kept safe
  • It was Noah and his family that were drawn inside
  • It was the rest of the world that died in the flood


Do you see that the sacraments are not just ceremonies, not just merely ordinances?

  • they are the very pillars of partaking of the covenanant with God

The sacrament of baptism is directly connected with membership in the visible church.

  • Baptism is not something we dismiss
  • Baptism is not something we do over and over

It is a sign of entrance into the visible church and the promises attached to it.

Galatians 3.26-27 → Baptism defines membership

The apostle is not speaking only of Spirit baptism.

  • only something that happens invisibly in man

We cannot separate the baptism of the Spirit of God from water baptism

  • because baptism of the Spirit of God is exactly what water baptism points to

Our difficulty is that we have over-spiritualized the Christian religion

  • such that we think we can be in close communion with God without ever being baptized with water

An example of inconsistent application:

water baptism is an important act of obedience but what you really want is baptism in the Spirit

When the Bible talks about baptism

  • it is speaking to both the sign/ the thing signified

To be baptized into Jesus Christ with water

  • signifies (points to) baptism with the Holy Ghost

We are forgetting that baptism into Jesus Christ defines membership when we say things like:

  • membership in the visible church isn’t important
  • baptism is not important
  • it doesn't matter into church you're baptized
  • it doesn't matter which church you go to
  • it doesn’t matter if you are a member at all.

Membership is not merely signing on the dotted line.

To be baptized, to have the name of God put on you

  • means that you have given up your name to God
  • means that you have become a member of Jesus

It means you are to be a member of the visible church

1 Cor 12.12-27 → Baptism is married to membership

v.13 → For by 1 Spirit are we all baptized into 1 body

  1. 27→ Now you are the body of Christ and members
  • How are you made members of the Church of Jesus Christ?
    • by baptism
    • 13-27 describe this unity of the body
  • How do you enter the visible church?
    • Paul not only tells us how
    • Paul also tells us who we are once entered

Notice that he is talking to the Corinthian church

  • not necessarily to the universal/ invisible church

Notice Paul is talking to a visible church

  • teaching them about baptism
  • teaching them about entering into that church

We must be careful not to divorce the concept of the sacraments from membership.

Inward/ Outward Administrations

Inwardly, according to the operation of faith:

  • The Spirit of God unites us to Christ.

Outwardly water baptism:

  • unites the one baptized to the visible church
  • unites the one baptized to house/ family of God

Paul isn’t really talking about what's going on invisibly

  • but what's going on visibly

How do we know that?

  • because of Canaan and because of Ham
  • we know that they were faithless
    • yet they were in the ark
    • yet they were in the visible “church”
Membership is not limited only to the invisible church.

Canaan and Ham were not saved by water

  • in the sense of eternal salvation.

Canaan and Ham were saved outwardly from the flood

  • and yet they were still united to Christ
  • and yet they were still united in that visible and outward circumstance

They were still partakers of the type of which baptism is the anti-type.

  • but they were not regenerated

They were baptized into and made members of the visible church – as it existed at that time – in the ark.

Lord’s Supper communicates membership

As baptism is the antitype, Noah’s flood as the type

  • o So also, the Lord’s supper is the antitype to the feeding/ drinking of the Isrealites in the wilderness. (1 Corinthians 10, John 6)
  • The manna
  • The water flowing from the rock

Reflect on those members of Israel, of the church in that day, in the wilderness (Acts 7.38)

  • What did they eat? (Exodus 16.15)
    • Manna
    • in Hebrew, manna means:
      • What is that? ( I don't know what it is.)
    • What did they drink?
      • sometimes from a well or an oasis
      • other times they drank from a rock.

The Lord fed them and gave them drink from Himself

  • the Lord Jesus says this in John 6.31-35
  • he draws that connection.

Now consider this from Exodus 15 to Joshua 1:

  • when someone did something such that they were cut off from Israel…
    • What happened to them spiritually?
    • What happened to them physically?
    • Where did they get food?

If they were outside of Israel

  • there was no manna.

If they were outside of Israel

  • there was no water flowing from a rock

Do you see what their church membership did for them in those days?

Once they were cut off from the covenant community and were thrust outside of Israel

  • they lost all supply
  • they were sent forth into the howling wilderness
    • where there was no food
    • where there was no water.

It is the apostle Paul and the Lord Jesus Christ drawing that particular scenario to the Lord's Supper.

As we think about the Lord's Supper as membership in Christ, let us remember that it is not

  • just coming to a table
  • just look and say, we’ve got bread and wine

It is spiritual sustenance that the Lord Himself offers

  • to those who partake by faith
  • to keep us alive spiritually
  • to feed us
  • to nourish us.

And if we're not partaking of that nourishment, if we are excommunicated

  • we are cut off from Christ
  • we are cut off from the covenant community
  • we are cut off from life

There are people out there today that have either

  • been excommunicated
  • have excommunicated themselves
    • And they think nothing of it.

They think nothing of it because the sacraments mean nothing to them.

They go along for years:

  • and never partake of the Lord's Supper
  • and think nothing of being outside the covenant community
  • and think nothing of being out in the wilderness

Do you know how long someone would last in the wilderness?

  • they would last about 3 days

Remember, three is the number of death, right?

  • Three minutes, no air
  • three hours, severe weather
  • three days, no water
  • three weeks, no food
  • three days and the body starts decomposing

We have here, in the administration of the manna, and the water that flowed from the rock:

  • symbols given by Christ
  • types and anti-types

To be a part of Israel in good standing

  • is to be a member of the visible church
  • is to be invited to the Lord’s Supper
  • is safety and noursishment and life

To be cut of from Israel

  • is to be outside the visible church
  • is to be left to the howling wilderness.
  • Is to be left to the overwhelming flood and death


Do you see that the sacraments are not just ceremonies, not just merely ordinances?

  • they are the very pillars of church membership
  • they are the very definition of church membership

When one becomes recalcitrant to the point of being excommunicated, put outside the visible church:

  • The ministers of the gospel must shut the door
  • The ministers of the gospel must shut the cabinet
  • The ministers must lock it with the key of David
    • the key that Christ has given to them

These are the keys of King

These are the keys of the kingdom of heaven

  • The kingdom is shut up against the impenitent
    • until their hunger drives them to repentance

Membership and sacraments are so closely tied together in Scripture

  • that it is indeed the definition of membership

Let us not forget that these things the Lord has ordered for our membership is for our very lives

To cherish preaching

  • is to cherish your spiritual life.

To cherish the administration of the sacraments

  • is to cherish your spiritual life.

To cherish the fellowship of the saints

  • is to cherish your own spiritual life.

To cherish your membership in the visible church

  • is to cherish your own life

The sacraments communicate membership in the visible church.

  • outside the visible church → is the overwhelming flood of judgment
  • outside church membership → is the expectation of death and condemnation

Inside the visible church → is life and salvation.

We should recognize that outside is a howling wilderness

Without the nourishment that the Lord sets out on His holy day

  • our spirits will starve
  • and they will starve sometimes into perdition.


We need weekly preaching

We need regular observances on the sacraments

We also need to handle them rightly.

How do we do that?

We prepare and set our minds rightly

  • if we're not preparing
  • if we're not considering them with the proper kind of importance

You are writing a recipe for the hardness of your heart.

Do you understand?

  • If we are not preparing
  • If we're not looking forward
  • If we're not reviewing the last sermon
  • If we're not spending time in the Catechism

If we’re not making use of these things during the week

  • you're writing a recipe for the hardening of your heart.

We should be considering these sacrments and membership in the visible church as some of the best things of the world.

More in Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

September 17, 2023

Doctrine of the Last Judgment - The Finality of Judgment

September 10, 2023

Doctrine of the Last Judgement - The Great White Throne

September 3, 2023

Doctrine of the Last Judgment