Doctrine of the Sacraments - Connection to Church Membership II
May 21, 2023 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith
Topic: Of the Sacraments Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:17–34, Acts 7:38, Exodus 16:15, John 6:31–35, Galatians 3:26–27, 1 Corinthians 12:12–27
- 1 Corinthians 11-17-34
Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 27, Article 1
Sacraments speak to both believer and unbeliever
Circumcision for the believer says
- the shedding of blood for the remission of sins.
Circumcision for the unbeliever says
- no forgiveness of sins and death
Baptism for the believer says
- the cleansing from sin by water
Baptism for the unbeliever says
- the overwhelming flood of judgment
That there is safety within the church
Sacraments communicate membership/ joining
Discipleship begin with the sacrament
This baptizing, joining, and receiving instruction reflects that memberhip, that unity with teacher.
- It is the way one becomes a disciple of Christ
Sacraments define discipleship and are part of the Covenant
A disciple is one who is joined to Christ
- to learn from him
- to be identified with him
- to come under his authority
- formal membership with Christ in covenant
The Lord identifies his people as a flock and Himself as the one who gathers them.
- How does He call them to Himself?
- How does He make them a flock?
He does it by baptism
Galatians 3.26-27 → Baptism define 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
We have over-spiritualized the Christian religion
- we think we can be in close communion with God without ever being baptized with water
- outside the church on our own terms
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
Lord’s Supper communicates membership
Remember last week we spoke about Noah and his family -> that they 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
As baptism is the antitype, Noah’s flood as the type
So also, the Lord’s supper is the antitype to the feeding/ drinking of the Isrealites in the wilderness.
(1 Corinthians 10, John 6)
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)
- 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 led them to 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
1 Cor 12.12-27 → Sacraments are married to membership
v.13 → For by 1 Spirit are we all baptized into 1 body
- 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.
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.
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