Baptism and the Lord's Supper

The two things commanded by Christ as a sign and seal of his work are Baptism and the Lord's Supper. They are each termed an ordinance (something commanded by Christ), or sacrament (oath or pledge).


- An outward sign of an inward change.

The water does not itself accomplish anything; it merely symbolises what has already taken place.

The word baptism is an anglicised form of the Greek (i.e. a Greek word carried over into English without being translated). It means to dip or immerse.

A person is immersed in water and baptised in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Matthew 28:18-20. It symbolises what has already taken place and seals or confirms it.

Baptism symbolises:

(a) Union with Christ.

Romans 6:1-6 [Colossians 2:9-13]

(b) Washing away of sins.

Acts 22:16

(c) Initiation.

Acts 2:37-41

(d) Reception of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:37-38

(e) Sealing one's relationship to Christ.

Ephesians 1:13-14 [1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:4-6]

Who are suitable candidates for baptism?

Believers in Christ.


All the illustrations in the N.T. are of those who have believed. Where the household is mentioned there is no reason to believe it didn't indicate believers,

e.g. Acts 16:14-15, 31-33.

If it symbolises union, washing, initiation and reception of the Spirit, etc. it is difficult to see how it could apply to non-believers ( a symbol symbolising what has not yet taken place.

Why then do some people believe in infant baptism?

They link the ordinance with O.T. circumcision. This was the initiatory rite for male children indicating they belonged to the covenant people of God and therefore it is assumed it is right to baptise believers' children, male and female. Some link the rite with what it symbolises and believe it makes them Christians.

[Colossians 2:11-12]

The covenant people of God are not now a race or nation but people from every tribe and nation who believe in Christ. Now regeneration incorporates people into the people of God and this shows by faith in Christ and is demonstrated by baptism.

How are believers to be baptised?

Immersion. Jesus was immersed.

Matthew 3:13-17

Why was Jesus baptised?

He wanted to fulfil all righteousness.

He identified with sinners in his redemptive work.

It signified his own death, burial and resurrection.

What responsibility is involved in baptism?

It symbolises union with Christ, incorporation into his body. Therefore we should play our full part in the body.

Ephesians 4:4,5,15,16 [1 Corinthians 6:15-20]

Do you have to be baptised to be saved?

No! But if you are saved you will want to be.

Luke 23:43 [Mark 16:16]

The Lord's Supper

The Biblical basis

1 Corinthians 11:17-26

[Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:17-25].

The Lord commanded us to remember him until he comes.

What does it signify?

(a) A sign symbolizing the Lord's death.

1 Corinthians 11:26

(b) It is a seal or pledge. Believers who participate have that assurance that they are loved by Christ and are reminded of the evidence of that love. Participation means communion, fellowship, sharing.

1 Corinthians 10:14-17

(c) It is a communal activity. We are remembering our individual relationship with Christ and also expressing our union and fellowship with our fellow believers.

1 Corinthians 10:14-17; 1 Corinthians 11:17-32

Where can the Lord's Supper be held?

In the setting of church fellowship.

1 Corinthians 11:18,20,22

Who can take the Lord's Supper?

Repentant believers

1 Corinthians 11:23-25; Acts 2:38-42

Note the sequence in Acts:

Conversion => Baptism => Belonging to the church (added to their number) => Lord's Supper.

Why not keep that sequence now?