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September 27, 2020 1:00 am
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the two most meaningful observances in the life of the church. Christ commanded that we practice them as outward symbols of His inner working in our lives. In this message we examine the ordinances of the church.Click here to listen (Duration 54:30)
Baptism and the Lord's supper are the two most meaningful observances in the life of the church Christ commanded that we practice them as outward symbols of his interworking in our lives from Chicago. This is The Moody Church. Our weekly service of worship and teaching under the ministry of Dr. Erwin Lutzer today we bring you the last in a four-part series of messages on the topic.
I believe in the church. Stay with us as Dr. Luther speaks on. I believe in the ordinances. Pastor looks or comes down to open our time of worship.
I just want you to know that as you came here this morning that you had been prayed for. We have asked God to meet with us to open our hearts to him that we might be able to sing with the voices of the Lord right from our hearts in gratitude and praise to him and an affirmation of our faith and we also hope that you spend some time in prayer thinking about this morning praying about this morning and asking the Lord to God to be glorified in a moment were going to be saying the apostles Creed together reading it in the bulletin and then I want you to be ready now for 277. The church's one foundation. Following that will have a brief Scripture reading by Pastor Gerald Edmonds and then will sing the two courses that are listed here in the bulletin. As you look this morning you'll notice that our emphasis is Christ, the sure foundation. The apostle Paul said is that Christ is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and he himself is the chief cornerstone. In those days, the cornerstone actually determined not only the strength of the building and the size of the building, but the accuracy of the building. It was a corner stone and Jesus Christ stands in the center and at a time when it seems as if many things beneath us might be slipping. We come back to him, even as you can see in our sanctuary today. Behind me, Jesus Christ the same yesterday today and forever. I'm going to ask now that all of us stand as we read it together. The apostles Creed want to remind you that the apostles Creed came to us from the sixth century. No one knows exactly who the author was.
But it was a compilation of the beliefs of the early church. What you have before us is taken from the hymnal. Our hymnal and is a summary we might say of the apostles Creed. It's an up dated version, but as we go through it. I want you to notice that the Sentinel doctrines of what constitutes orthodoxy are mentioned within this Creed after we read the creative I shall pray and then we shall sing 277 let's read together. I believe in God the father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ his only son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried. He descended into Hades. The third day he rose again from the dead he ascended into heaven and the Senate on the right hand of God the father Almighty. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the day I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting on then, and her father as we open our lives, in your presence today we pray that these truths might grip us. We ask that you shall take us from all of the pushes and pulls of our existence in life and may these moments be wholly devoted to you. We thank you today that the church's foundation is Christ as we sing of him as we affirm our love for him.
As we yield to him and as we listen to him all father today make us a people who are pleasing in your sight.
We ask in his name. Amen.
2000 years. That's what we've asked you to read the Scripture. When we read it together. It's in your bulletin.
First Corinthians 3, Paul said be careful how you build your life. Let's read it together by the grace God has given me. I laid a foundation as an expert build and someone else's building, but each one should be careful for no one can lay any foundation other than the one already lay which is Jesus Christ.
And of course that sing together in my life, Lord, be glorified in your church be glorified and then the next chorus says it's in the Lord alone that we have righteousness with sing it together. Well thank you choir and orchestra, and I just want you all to know. We believe we believe so thank you very very much for that ministry in song and a reminder of all those things that have changed our lives.
The content of the Christian faith. Philip Melanchthon was an associate of Martin Luther said that it was deserving of tears that the Lord's supper, which was to be a means to unify his people had become a means of great division. It is deserving of tears. It's also deserving of tears that baptism which was to unite the people of God has been used as a means of division. Today I'm going to speak on the topic of those two ordinances of the church. Baptism and communion. I do so being well aware that we come from very diverse background. As a matter fact, if you're here today in your Roman Catholic you're in good company because probably 25 to 30% of the people were sitting around you that a similar upbringing.
We always when we have new members here at the church we discover that perhaps 25 to 30% Roman Catholic may be 20% Baptist and beyond that, then we have evangelical free and Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, and I'm sure I left out many many others.
So what I'm going to be saying to you today is probably contrary to what some of you were taught, but I want you to listen carefully and if you disagree with me that's fine I just want to make sure that your disagreement is based on the Scriptures so check it out in the early centuries of the church site by the third century. The view began to develop that baptism and communion had the ability to actually convey grace to those who participated. The whole idea was that this grace was really saving grace. Can you imagine the awesome power of the church in those centuries because what that meant is that the church had the ability to keep you from heaven because it could keep you from receiving these ordinances along with the idea that they conveyed grace. The idea also arose and you can see why the idea arose that infants should be baptized even though infant baptism is not practiced or mentioned in the New Testament. The idea was that Shirley, we should not withhold from infants the grace that comes through what was called the sacraments. Surely they too should be baptized, and they were and in those early centuries. They were not only baptized but they were also given the wine and the bread because the belief was that if grace is communicated through these ordinances quite and indeed in the children. The infants should also participate and therefore if a child was born, sickly, and perhaps expected to die.
The priest would hurry there quickly so that the water would be given to the child in the bread and the wine would be given as well. Sometimes these ordinances are referred to as sacraments and many of you come from a background where they are called that it's a perfectly good word. The word sacraments comes from Sacramento him which means sacred in Latin, and these ordinances are sacred. The reason that we prefer the name ordinances that word rather than sacraments is because in the minds of many people sacraments exactly are the means of grace the way of salvation so we prefer the word ordinance, though the word sacrament is also a good word. What I'd like to do in the next few moments and that they will have to be few. I wish they were longer, but I'm not try to make them feel is to talk about why we believe in the ordinances of the church and were going to discuss briefly baptism and the Lord's supper. How I wishes I was going through this yesterday that I had an entire message for each, but as it is will do both today and you'll get the Reader's Digest version regarding baptism. When John came baptizing.
He was asking people to repent and when they were baptized in the Jordan River. They were baptized as a sign of inward repentance. In a sense even back then baptism the outer washing was a sign of the transformation of the heart the cleansing of the heart. It was the symbol of that right from the beginning in the early church we discover that the early Christians were baptized but it was not the means of salvation, it was not true baptism that they were born again and regenerated that came to faith in Christ.
But baptism followed at the reason we know that baptism was not considered as necessary for salvation. It was, not the means of salvation is that the apostle Paul said in first Corinthians 1. He said that I have been sent to preach the gospel and practices. I baptize no one except Crispus and Gaius.
He names the tube and he says because Christ did not send me to baptize, he sent me to preach the gospel so notice Paul is distinguishing the two. There is a matter fact about 100 times in the New Testament faith in Christ alone is mentioned is the way of salvation, and that therefore it would be very strange indeed if baptism would be a part of that matter fact, let me ask you this question since it says the blood of Jesus Christ to God the son cleanses us from all sin. How many sins are left for the water to wash away the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin.
But there is one text that is debated and I'm going to ask you to turn to it. It's in acts chapter 2, verse 38 and this is the text that is sometimes used by those who think that baptism is the means or a part of the salvation process. Peter is preaching and he says in acts 238 repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And people say there.
Is repent and be baptized will I like to say flat out that just because the word baptize occurs in the same command is repent. That in itself does not mean that baptism is necessary for the remission of sins. For example, I might say to you, take the keys and put on your coat and start the car. Now, having the keys is necessary, but not taking your coat, but that is something that is thrown in. Another reason that I think that Peter meant that is for two reasons. First of all the text itself suggests it. In Greek the word repent is plural that we can't indicate that in English. The best that we can do is to take a lesson from the Southerners and say let's read it like they would down where some of us went to seminary in the South. They greeted like this. You'll repent okay.
You'll repent and notice it says for the forgiveness of your souls sins. See that's plural.
We could read it. Repent for they forgiveness of your sins and the reason that we know the reason that we know that and be baptized is like a parenthesis is because it is in the singular.
Where is the repent and the forgiveness of your sins is in the plural, so that helps us set it off and realize that it is possible to repent and receive the forgiveness of your sins. And while baptism was always assumed because in the early church when you got saved your baptized that baptism itself is not necessary for the process. Now there's a second reason and that is that the same author Peter the same writer the same preacher is preaching in acts chapter 10 verse 43 is explaining to a Gentile, how to be saved. And this is what he says all the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. Nothing is said about baptism, what we believe that baptism teaches what is its message. It's an outward sign of inner cleansing you are saying that you have personally repented and it's also a right of entry into the new group called the church that I simply say that in the New Testament in the book of acts. There's no such thing as an unbaptized believer. They were saved. They believed on Christ. As a result of that faith in Christ. They were baptized. It was assumed it was a point of identity. A very important point of identity in order some cultures today when there is no persecution of you if you become a Christian until your baptized after your baptized. They know that the break is final and in the New Testament it speaks about those who came with Moses across the Red Sea and it's as they were baptized unto Moses now know what her daughter on the Israelites who went through the Red Sea. They went on through dry ground, the Egyptians, the ground. Why then is the word baptized used it's because it's a form of identification it was cutting off the life of Egypt and going into the promised land and the break was clear.
And it's cold baptism because that word not only means to immerse but it needs to have identity with and when you are being baptized. It's an outward sign of the inner cleansing. It is a rite of initiation. If we can put that weight into the believing community identifying yourself with Jesus Christ.
Why do we as a church not baptize infants.
First of all, as I mentioned, it's not mentioned in the New Testament.
It was not done in the New Testament, but there's a second reason and that is that infant baptism.
As I mentioned arose under the premise that somehow grace is communicated and so there is some who use formulas like this with this water as they sprinkle in infant with this water. I make you a child of God and so some people grow up thinking that they are Christians because they were baptized as infants. The terrible mistake want you to know today that that act did not make you a Christian. Of course, if I had time at explain that not everyone interprets infant baptism the same way, but it arose with the idea that this was a communication of special grace me ask you a question today.
We do not require baptism to become a member of Moody Church. Some people criticize us for that because in the book of acts. The two were always linked, but I want to speak to those of you today who were saved and you've never been baptized. That is to say you have never been immersed as a believer. Why not. I heard things like this, people say well I was baptized as an infant. Well, you were baptized as an infant, but where you baptized as a believer.
Upon profession of your faith making your personal declaration that your heart is been cleansed by Christ and that you belong to God and are identifying yourself with the people of God have you done that then there are those that say well you know I might offend my family if I were baptized will let me tell you that maybe your family needs to understand that a radical transformation is happened to you that you are breaking with your past life in your past. Understanding been my privilege on numerous occasions lecturing on the Reformation to go to Zürich, Switzerland, and there to stand at the Lamont River right at that house where it happened, where Felix months was drowned. Now folks, you have to understand that his crime was believing that even though he was baptized as an infant, that he should be rebaptized as a believer. Upon profession of faith that was his crime.
In those days. Infant baptism was believed to be so important because it held church and state together. It was a symbol of the regional church and not even the reformers would give it up for love nor money in the Zürich city Council said that whoever is baptized as an adult upon profession of faith must be put to death by burning fire or sword when Felix Monson Conrad Grable baptized one another.
His hands were tied.
He was pushed out on the river in a little boat and they capsized it and he was drowned in those dark waters. On January 5 fifth 1827 and his mother was shouting across the waves, urging her son to remain true to the faith. His crime was to be baptized to be re-baptized as one who had been baptized as an infant and that of course is you should know was a Protestant dieting being martyred by other Protestants and that began a persecution of the Anabaptists throughout Europe. Because the movement had spread tremendously and whole villages of men, women and children were massacred with the sword because they believe that one should be baptized as an adult and today there are some people who say I wouldn't be because I might offend somebody you might offend them but you probably won't die thank God that we have freedom here in America. So there are those who say I was baptized as an infant, I might offend my family. Some people say it's embarrassing to go into the water. Repentance is always embarrassing. And that's a symbol of it. It's a symbol of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Romans chapter 6 where it says we have been baptized in his death, and we have been raised again to newness of life. What you're saying is I'm leaving the past behind and I'm trusting Christ, raised to new life identified with him as his disciple. Let me ask you again, why are you not baptized me put it this way. It's possible to be married without having a wedding ring is also possible to wear a wedding ring without being married, you could find one somewhere and slip it on, but that doesn't make you married.
Does it now folks I want you to know. It's possible to be genuinely saved without having been baptized because salvation is the marriage the wedding ring so to speak is the baptism. But why would any bride not want to wear a wedding ring. If she were to come to me.
I'd say hey, don't argue with me about it.
II why don't you talk to your husband and tell him why you want to be without a wedding ring and so I say to you today very lovingly, though I hope pointedly. If you are here is a genuine believer in Christ and have never been baptized. We are members of Christ we are his bride which you explain to Christ why it is that you're so confident that you should disobey him. In fact, why don't you begin a sentence like this and say Lord Jesus. The reason that I want to disobey what you said is and then you fill in the blank and then you work it out with him and II don't like it when people leave Moody Church and say over brunch. The pastor was unclear. Okay, now let's speak about the Lord's supper. It occupied always a central place in the history of the church because the cross is central but when Sacramento Liz and came into being again were talking about, you know, the third century and especially after Constantine the fourth and fifth centuries where it was believed now that this was something that actually became the body and the blood of Christ what you found is two things. First, awesome power given to the priests.
I mean, just imagine truth saying the right words wine could become blood and bread could become literal flesh that was believed by the 10th century. 1000 years after the time of Christ that was finally a believed to be the correct tradition. So what you had is not only the priests having awesome power, but people were told that they could worship the wine and bread with the same worship given to God himself because it was God. I have a book that was used by priests in which the priests say we can lock God in the cupboard overnight because this is God all very God the flesh of Christ. The blood of Christ. Mind you, when you looked at it, it was still wine tasted like wine. It smelled like it was still bread, but the essence, it was believed was changed somehow miraculously.
What also happened as as this began to grow in of the Latin word missa is to dismiss and because at the end people were dismissed. The word missa became applied to the entire the entire feast and therefore we get the word mass but is this began to grow up people.
The ordinary person was told you can't even drink the cup because you might spill the blood of Jesus Christ on the floor. We can't trust you with his actual blood. You can imagine. Again, this distinction that came between laity and clergy as the clergy had the awesome power to be able to make the concentration and be able to make the change. When you have the time of the Reformation, when there was a rigorous examination as to what the Bible would say you find that after the reformers had their own disagreements, I might take a moment and emphasize that Luther did not believe in transubstantiation that the elements were actually literally changed, but he didn't believe that there was a literalness even though the elements remain the same, very mysterious to me as to exactly what he meant, but it was cold calling the substantiation that is to say that Christ is there in along with along side of the elements somehow, so it's literal without a change. Calvin in Geneva believe that Christ was spiritually present and another reformer in Zürich sweetly believe that Christ is symbolically present here at The Moody Church.
I'm sure that we hold probably the symbolism. Certainly most assuredly, that Christ is symbolically present, Christ is also spiritually present. We could say but that it's not. It's not literal what you have in your hand is still bread what you are drinking is the cup but it has not been transformed into anything other than what it is. It is a symbol I like to think of it this way is like a photograph. I've not seen my oldest grandson for over five or six weeks and so my wife saw last week and brought some pictures back and she gave them to me and she said this is Jack. Now I can see that he's a lot bigger than it used to be that I didn't see him literally. It wasn't as if those words were literal. This is he now it's it's a picture. And when Jesus was here on earth he was saying I'm giving you a picture. The whole idea of eating flesh literal flesh and drinking literal blood would be contrary to some of the other teachings of the Old Testament. Furthermore, when Jesus said this is my cup this cup. This cup he said is the covenant of my blood. Well, we wouldn't say that the cup is a covenant. Even within the context of this is words himself as a great deal of symbolism.
But we were to understand but what is it really that communion is a picture of. For this I want you to take your Bibles and turn to first Corinthians chapter 11 where the apostle Paul gives the clearest explanation of what it is, of which we participate and its meaning. I'm going to pick up first Corinthians chapter 11 verse 23.
That's where I'm going to begin to read, though I may make references to other verses here in the text. For I received from the Lord what I passed on to you. The Lord Jesus, on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said this is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying the cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me, for whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes pulses.
First of all, but when we come to communion. This symbol pieces when we come to it.
First of all, we look backward. We do it, in remembrance of Christ, we remember that he died on the cross we remember that his cross is sufficient.
You know it's possible for you to confess your sins every single day. Trying to remember every one of them personally can't remember all of your sins. Number two. There are all kinds of things that God might call sin that you don't.
So if you think that confession is the way of salvation. You have no assurance because your ever sure.
It's like trying to mop up the floor with the faucet running tomorrow is another day with more sins and more lack of assurance tell you what you need you need one act of God by which your eternal destiny is forever sealed and it says in the book of Hebrews that by one sacrifice.
This is what we remember when we come to communion by one sacrifice he has perfect bid for ever. Those who are sanctified at last we recognize that Christ's death on the cross was sufficient for every one of us who are willing to believe in him and receive it.
That gift and so we remember that and we remember it with a great deal of gratitude because we know we could never possibly trust ourselves we come.
Remembering the covenant.
What is the covenant. It is the promise of Christ. All of this of course is pastor Schwartz frequently helps us understand within the context of the Passover is Jesus Christ shows himself as a continuation in the completion of Old Testament promises so we remember the past.
We also remember the future.
We look forward to it. You'll notice it says whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes were not only saying is Henry saying he came once were also saying is going to come again and were proclaiming it, we are saying that we believe in the return of Jesus. Now we may not know exactly when he's coming back or how he's coming back.
Lots of disputes as to exactly what are signs of his coming and what or not we can maybe figure all that out, but we do love his appearing. Don't wait. As a matter fact, maybe you're sitting there today and saying I wonder if I am a born again Christian. One way that you might be able to determine it is whether or not you love Christ you love his appearing.
Peters said in his letter he said whom having not seen. We love, and though we see him not that we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
I want you to know that on your own. It's not possible to love someone whom you haven't seen and we don't see Christ but we love them and we look forward to his appearing and when we begin to see signs as we interpret them that the appearing of Jesus Christ is near. We may have some faint hearts, believing that there may be some trouble before he comes but were glad he's on his way because we look forward to the marriage supper of the Lamb will be able to sit down with him and our fellowship with him will be eternal and will be sweet. And when we gather together today for communion were saying that were saying, Lord, thank you for the past you came back then but I'm looking forward to your coming in the future time proclaiming that faith in your coming.
What else do we do we look behind us.
We look to the past. We look forward, look to the past. We look forward but we also look inward. We look inward notice what Paul says in verse 27 therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and the blood of the Lord.
What does an unworthy manner mean well for one thing, if we read the earlier verses in the chapter we know that the Corinthians were using the Lord's table is an opportunity to have pot luck dinners at their church, and many people were over eating up they were not taking care of the poor among them. Some of them were drinking wine and to the point of getting drunk. That's part of it so pulses that has no way to remember the Lord's death to come with such irreverence and so many wrong attitudes and behaviors. Anything that he's talking about though is this sense of division within the body. If I eat or drink unworthily what it means is that there may be some disunity in my heart with another brother.
Let's suppose for example that here this morning at the church.
There was someone with whom I had disagreements that were unresolved.
That could be resolved. It may be my fault. It may be the other person's fault. He may be angry with me. I may be angry with him. Perhaps we've done some things.
Thankfully, I can give this illustration because today I stand before you with a clear conscience. Maybe I can say that every Sunday, but today I can more seriously, I want you to know that God has worked in my life so that whenever possible. I want to be fully right with God and with other people.
But let us suppose that a set of circumstances like that didn't exist, I would have no right to communion because I would be in effect finding the Lord's body. When the whole purpose of communion is to unify us. My sister was a missionary in Africa and she said that before communion. They always had a break after the service, before communion so that people could go to one another and make things right before they participated.
I don't think that's a bad idea really because what were doing is work coming together and were saying. I discern the Lord's body as being one as United to and if there's division within the body and we pretend that everything is okay when it's not. We are eating in an unworthy way. In fact, Paul goes on to say in verse 28 a man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup for anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord. That is, without recognizing its unity eats and drinks judgment on himself. When you say what's the judgment… Terrifying folks we take this all for granted.
Don't wait. He said that is why many among you are weak and sick in a number of you have fallen asleep. That's a euphemism for saying you've died. If you don't think this is serious business. Just listen to this text and then he says, but if we judged ourselves. That's what I'm asking you to do this morning my dear Christian friend if we judged ourselves we would not come under judgment. What he means is that if we judged ourselves within our hearts and then made sure that we were right with the Lord that then we would not fall under his disciplinary hand because he wouldn't have to judge us because we judged ourselves so have to ask you today. What is it that you brought with you today in your heart that might prevent you from participating. I encourage your participation. Not if not if you're not discerning the Lord's body.
Not if there's division. Not if there's unresolved conflict with someone else who is a part of the same body.
Let me give you the bottom line number one no ordinance can save you baptism can't do it.
Communion can't do it. They can't take away your sin, they can't reconcile you to God, they can bring you closer to the Lord as if within these ordinances. There is some inherent power is not what they are there symbols and the way God works is not because someone has the power to be able to make these so sacred that suddenly they have within themselves some kind of power that that's not that's not in the Bible the way God works in the human heart is directly through faith in him we we experience his love. We experience his forgiveness and and then these become symbols of the interworking of God, but they themselves cannot help us and I say to those of you who think that you're a Christian because you were baptized. If that's the focus of your faith you will be lost.
You will be lost.
No ordinance can save anybody.
Secondly, ordinances are marks of obedience are marks of obedience. That's why I encourage those of you who know Christ as Savior.
Even if you're visiting with us, participate with us today, but also say to those of you who have not been baptized. When you have opportunity as is will explain you have the opportunity to be baptized follow-through in obedience. This is Jesus said, going all the world and preach the gospel, baptized people in the name of the father the son and the Holy Spirit set them apart in this outward way as part of the new community so it's marks of obedience. But the end of the day.
What we must do is to realize that faith alone saves. It really does. I suppose there is no one listening to me here today or over the radio wherever it is not in his or her heart believe that Jesus Christ is somehow necessary for salvation.
I would think that everybody believes that what there may be many people who do not understand or believe, is that not just that he is necessary, but that he is enough. He is enough. We sing Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe. Sin has left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow. I say to you today in your distress. Jesus cries is enough when you join me as we pray our father, we do want to thank you today that you've given us the opportunity to gather together in your name to show our unity as we participate. Today we thank you that Jesus died we remember the cross but we also remember his return. And we do examine ourselves we ask today for that great sense of unity and honesty cleansing that comes through faith in Jesus Christ and then may we participate with hearts filled with joy because we've come in obedience to your holy word grant that we ask in Jesus name on them, but sing together today 188 on today's Moody Church. Our Dr. Erwin Lutzer up the last of four messages in his series. I believe in the church we learned about the importance of observing the ordinances established by Christ for his church down through the ages gambling, pornography, greed and lust there. All pathways to addictions that can cripple any of us. We need to understand the devil's tactics. Dr. Luther's book 7 snares of the enemy is our gift to you in return for your gift to support The Moody Church. Our call 1-800-215-5001 and ask for your copy. That's 1-800-215-5001 or you can write to us at The Moody Church 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 online go to moodyoffer.com that's moodyoffer.com join us next week for another Moody Church. Our with Dr. Erwin Lutzer in the congregation of historic Moody Church in Chicago