Church Ordinances and the Local NT Church

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by saturneptune, Apr 7, 2013.

  1. saturneptune

    saturneptune
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    We as Baptists have two ordinances (sacraments if you prefer), Baptism and the Lord's Supper. For Baptism, we believe in immersion as a sign of the death, burial and Ressurection of Jesus Christ after salvation. On the administration of communion, we are all over the map from closed to close to open depending on the local church.

    When you are thinking of the definition of a NT church that Jesus Christ promised to preserve, do you attach the ordinances to that definition, and if so, how do you think each should be defined?
     
  2. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    Of course, since we serve the same congregation as deacons, you already know my view. Both are local church ordinances, to be administered by a local congregation to members of that congregation.

    Most of us will agree on the mode (immersion), subject (a believer) and design (to picture the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus).

    Where we're all over the place is over the administrator. I believe the administrator is the local church, which designates the individual (usually the pastor) to perform the baptizing duties. Others may believe that the administrator is not important; it's the act itself which is important.

    I suggest that there are many faith groups out there which do not qualify as New Testament churches, which makes their baptism in-valid.

    Here'are some spinoff questions: Does the baptizer have to be ordained? Could a deacon designated by the church baptize? Could the church designate any member for that purpose? Could a woman baptize?

    Oh, sorry, SN, this may hijack the thread. Folks, ignore the questions if you'd like.
     
  3. preachinjesus

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    Well they aren't sacraments. Baptist don't believe in a sacramental theology.

    Absolutely I do. The ordinances are one of the key marks of a NT church. In defining a NT we should include them. :)
     
  4. saturneptune

    saturneptune
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    PIJ,
    You have a way with wording. Actually, to be more precise, Baptists believe as each local congregation dictates. Since you would include the two ordinances, I think we all agree that a local church baptism should be by immersion after salvation. You did not make it clear what kind of communion you would define in a NT church, closed, close or open. Does a NT local autonomous church have the right to practice any type they choose and still be a NT church?

    As far as the word sacrament, it does not necessarily mean one believes in sacramental theology. It is used as a synonym for ordinance at times. Kind of like an auditorium for a sanctuary, or a fellowship hall for a gluttony room, or a church parlor for gossip central.

    Oh, and by the way each time we have communion, the deacons lead the congregation in a cheer before the service:
    Two, four, six, eight,
    Time to transubstantiate
     
  5. Tom Butler

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    I realize that sometimes sacrament and ordinance are used interchangably, but in the interest of clarity, I don't think Baptists should use the word sacrament to describe the Lord's Supper.

    The word sacrament in and of itself carries with it the idea of saving efficacy.

    Obviously, most of us Baptists don't believe that, so let's not confuse the two.

    BTW, since SN has busted the thread with his poetry, let me refer everybody to a thread in the Humor section entitled The Vatican Rag. It's a song written by Tom Lehrer. Non-Catholics will see the humor, but Catholics will smile at it. Go over to that thread and look for it.
     
  6. saturneptune

    saturneptune
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    Actually a brilliant man. Anyway back to the thread. Here is a commentary from Mike Bergman on SBC Voices.

    http://sbcvoices.com/why-we-practice-open-communion/

    Why We Practice “Open” Communion
    by Mike Bergman on September 9, 2011 ·

    lI appreciate the Baptist Faith and Message as a general and systematic declaration of our faith, and I agree with the majority of what it states—that’s part of the reason why I am, have been, and plan to continue to be Southern Baptist. There is one aspect, however, that I and the church I pastor differ with—their statement on baptism in relationship to the Lord’s Supper.

    Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.

    In general, I agree with the theological heart of this statement. Baptism is immersion and an act of obedience symbolizing a person’s faith and new life in Jesus. Over and over the Bible presents baptism as the first step in the life of a disciple—the Bible, frankly, does not leave much room for a non-baptized Christian. Therefore baptism is a general prerequisite to the other activities of our Christian faith.

    Yet, if we practice the letter of the BF&M in regards to this statement, we must exclude any non-baptistic believers from joining us in the fellowship of the Lord’s Supper, and this is not a position I can hold.

    To use Dave Miller’s language of brick walls and picket fences, most believers would view the specific practices of baptism as a picket fence. We can look at our paedobaptist friends and say, “Brothers, you have this baptism thing all wrong,” yet still embrace them as fellow followers of Jesus.

    I believe those who practice paedobaptism fail to grasp the distinctions between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Certainly they are right to point to a continuity between circumcision and baptism as marks of the covenant, as Paul does this very thing in Colossians 2. They fail to realize, however, the more limited nature of the New Covenant as being with those who have God’s Law written on their hearts, who know the Lord, and who have their sins forever forgiven—in other words, how the New Covenant is solely with those who are regenerated and faithful believers.

    Likewise, those who practice baptism by means other than immersion fail to display the reality Paul describes in Romans 6 of how our baptism is a sign of our union with Christ in his death and resurrection. For all intents and purposes, when Jesus was placed into the tomb he was immersed into the ground. When Jesus walked out of the tomb, he came out of the ground. The only “mode” of baptism that captures the effect is immersion into and emersion out of the water.

    Yet even though I believe such non-baptistic types to be wrong in their understanding and practice of baptism, in the matter of their conscious and understanding (since they do have their reasons) they see themselves as baptized and practicing baptism. So, while by necessity of practice, we must belong to different local churches, is a difference in the understanding of baptism enough to warrant their exclusion from the “Lord’s Table” when they visit my church, especially when they do view themselves as properly baptized?

    I think not.

    The proclamation of the Gospel in the Lord’s Supper is the center piece of church worship (1 Corinthians 11). It is a meal of remembrance for Jesus’ sacrifice that brought us forgiveness from sins. As such it is solely a meal for disciples. And as much as it is a meal looking backwards to the cross, it is also a meal looking forwards to Jesus’ return. Jesus told his disciples to “do this in remembrance of me” and he told them he would neither eat again of the bread or drink again of the cup until he eats and drinks it new with them at the consummation of his kingdom (Luke 22:14-23, et al.). This points to the great marriage supper of the Lamb John briefly describes in Revelation 19.

    For me and my church, then, the question when fencing the table is not: “Have you been properly baptized according to my understanding?” But rather: “Will we be eating the supper together at the coming of Jesus?”

    Therefore our communion is open to all who profess to be followers and disciples of Christ.

    As a concluding note: this does not mean the openness of our communion is without bounds. The table is still fenced according to particular standards:

    You must be a disciple who follows Jesus in faith and repentance—as stated above, it is a meal for believers alone.
    You must be a faithful and active member in a truly Gospel-centered church. In other words, even if it is just a basic understanding, you must have a proper understanding of the Gospel and Jesus. This involves being a part of a church. First Corinthians 11 places an emphasis upon “discerning the body” in reference to properly partaking of the bread and cup. You must see the Supper through a selfless lens that understands self-sacrifice and the corporate nature of church. If you have actively removed yourself from fellowship except on rare occasions, then you need to seriously question your understanding of the Gospel and have no reason to partake in a corporate Supper.
    You must be in good standing with your church. If you are under discipline at or have been disfellowshiped from your church, then you have no business to partake in the Supper with mine before a process of repentance and restoration.

    This is one pastor's opinion from the SBC. Today closed communion is practiced by around 5% of SBC churches.

    http://blog.christianitytoday.com/c...ist-pastors-violate-sbc-communion-stance.html

    However, in the midsouth as a region, that percentage is higher. We as Baptists certainly have no unified position on the matter.

    So to rephrase the question, does a local church have the right to decide how they administer the Lord's Supper and still be called a NT church? The thing is, it is like any other issue on BB, if one is for open, then they will say closed is not the practice of a NT church, and vice versa.
     
  7. Yeshua1

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    Communion is a memorial/testimony to what the Lord did at the Cross on our behalf...

    water baptism to be done to believers only, and to be an external sign of the already done internal work!
     
  8. michael-acts17:11

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    Water baptism is a type of the true Spiritual baptism. It was performed by the person who leads an unbeliever to Christ at the time of conversion. The location is irrelevant. Scripture does not record a single instance of baptism within a religious institution or predicated by a vote of men.
     
  9. saturneptune

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    That is a good point. I do not know of anyone who believes it must be done at the physical location of the local church, but there are plenty of people out there who will hold that Baptism is done under the authority of the local church.

    Now, as far as communion goes, I know those who do believe it has to be performed in either the local church, or with the local church assembled. In other words, those who hold to this would be against a pastor going to a nursing home and administering communion. Not sure I agree with the idea the local church must be assembled. Since each local church is autonomous, they can decide things like that for themselves.
     
  10. Tom Butler

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    I advocate closed communion.

    The church I serve does not. It's pretty open.

    It is not a test of fellowship for me. And participating in the Lord 's Supper with those who see the issue differently from me is not a problem.

    Just an observation. The first Lord's Supper was closed. In fact, Judas was excluded, because Jesus knew he was lost, and would not let a lost man take part in something meant only for believers.
     
  11. saturneptune

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    Open vs closed will never be resolved except by a vote of the local churches. The question for this thread does it matter which way communion is administered to be a true NT church?
     
  12. michael-acts17:11

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    God gave NO direct commands concerning the administration of communion. All of the rules placed on communion are based on assumptions; not direct commands. Closed communion is as Scriptural as restricting communion to only twelve Christians & a heathen. The event was actually a family affair that would have had MANY other people present. Also, if we are going to base communion on the Passover meal, then we need to serve more than just a thimble of juice & a cracker. :rolleyes:
     
  13. Yeshua1

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    would say the big thing is NOT in how administered, but in how one views what it does!

    CANNOT take in in the sense of being a sacramental grace as catholics/Lutheryns do for example!
     
  14. saturneptune

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    I agree Yeshua believe it or not. I was a member of a PCA (Presbyterian Church of America) growing up for 25 years (now 36 as a Baptist). Our Lord's Suppers were almost identical to ours. There is only symbolic meaning in the wine (grape juice, whatever) and the bread as to what Christ did for us, his body and blood. This to me is the dividing line. Among the Catholic like Protestants and the Catholics there are varying degrees of going beyond being a symbol, from a presence of Christ to His actual blood and body. (and for my next trick) This is the type of nonsense that makes the Lord's Supper a mockery in those faiths. This particular issue unites Baptists and Presbyterians for the most part.

    Now, within the Bapstist faith, since we are talking about the definition of a NT church in relation to the ordinances, I think one will find the differences are mostly who can partake, not the meaning of the symbols. For example, I will use our church. We practice open, which I generally support to the degree that it should be given to those whose faith is in Jesus Christ. Tom Butler, a man I admire and respect for his leadership and doctrinal knowledge in our congregation, is for closed, and I understand his reasoning. It has never caused a moment of disunity in our church. I gave a detailed article above about one pastor's reasoning for open. If our church voted tomorrow to adopt a closed position, I really doubt I would leave for another church, as Tom Butler has not left while we are open. If one cannot live with what the local church votes, then there are many, many Baptist churches with either postion one may have. I am more of a move on person that being an instrument of disunity in a local church ordained to carry out the spreading of the Gospel.

    One thing that does suprise me is that I have seen on this board the opinion expressed that the more Calvinistic one is, the more likely one is to be for closed communion. I am not really sure about that as Presbyterians, who are almost 100% Calvinsts, all practice open communion.
     
  15. Yeshua1

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    Think that the issue of open/closed communion all depends upon how you view the NT church, is it Universal or local?

    IF Universal, as I view it, then ALL saved can partake if in right fellowship with God, if you see it local, only members of that local flock can!

    And if one sees the communion as being a means to receiev sacramental grace from god, THAT is not being 'baptist!"

    grey area are with reformed baptists, as they might see it as the reformed have at times, as Chrsit being spritual present with us as we partake!
     

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