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I Believe In The Ordinances

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
May 28, 2023 1:00 am

I Believe In The Ordinances

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer

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May 28, 2023 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 reflect on the meaning of these sacred acts. Why are these practices important for those saved by faith in Christ alone?

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Line of Fire
Dr. Michael Brown

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. From Chicago, this is The Moody Church Hour, a weekly service of worship and teaching with Pastor 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. Lutzer speaks on I Believe in the Ordinances. Pastor Lutzer comes now to open our time of worship. I just want you to know that as you came here this morning that you have 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 in affirmation of our faith. And we also hope that you've spent some time in prayer, thinking about this morning, praying about this morning, and asking the Lord God to be glorified. In a moment we're 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 we'll have a brief scripture reading by Pastor Gerald Edmonds, and then we'll sing the two choruses 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 says 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 cornerstone. 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 together the Apostles' Creed. I 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 a hymnal, our hymnal, and is a summary, we might say, of the Apostles' Creed.

It's an updated version. But as we go through it, I want you to notice that the seminal doctrines of what constitutes orthodoxy are mentioned within this Creed. After we read the Creed, I shall pray and then we shall sing two hundred and seventy seven.

Let's read together. He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

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. Amen. And our 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 and 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. Oh Father today, make us a people who are pleasing in your sight. We ask in his name.

Amen. This is the religion, and the word and the word. The bread, the bread, and the soul. The bread is only life.

There is no love in your heart, and you will not be found. We lack from every nation in the glory of the earth, pleasure of salvation, one Lord, one faith, one word. One holy age she blesseth, but praise the Holy Spirit, as do the hosts she blesseth, with every praise still new. With joy and grace she blesseth, the heart of the world. She raised the voice to give it to God, with soul and glory. With joy and grace she blesseth, the heart of the world. She gave it to God, with soul and glory. Blessed are the people, and blessed are the people. With joy and grace she blesseth, the heart of the world. She gave it to God, with soul and glory.

With joy and grace she blesseth, the heart of the world. This church is being built over 2,000 years, and we're part of that church. That's why we've asked you to read the scripture. Why don't we read it together? It's in your bulletin, 1 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 builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds, for no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. And of course, let's 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 and strength.

Let's sing it together. In your church, be glorified. Be glorified. In your church, be glorified.

Be glorified. Let's sing it together, okay? In the Lord, the Lord alone, our righteousness and strength. Oh, height and breadth and length, the love is come, we bring. In the Lord, the Lord alone, our life and health and peace, his mercy and his loving kindness never cease. In the Lord, the Lord alone, our life and health and peace. In the Lord, in the Lord alone. In the Lord, the Lord alone, is everything I need. In the Lord, the Lord alone, is everything I need. In the Lord, in the Lord alone. In the Lord, in the Lord alone. In the Lord, in the Lord alone.

Please be seated. We believe in the Lord, who creates with all their grace. And we believe in the universe and all their peace.

As a loving Heavenly Father, he earns to save us all, to lift us from the hole. We believe. We believe in Jesus, the Father's only Son. Existing, uncreated, before time and beyond, a sacrifice for sin.

He died and rose again to ransom sin for men. We believe. We believe in Jesus, the Father's only Son. Our hearts are filled with praise, our comfort's warmest home. His kingdom come, His blood of victory won once again. His Church, our prayer by His hand. We believe. On the earth He withdrew, and time He no more. His truths are secure, God's worship adored.

Whatever the shame, He's here for sure. We believe. So in the darkness of time, drown into the pain. When kingdoms all crumble, this one remains.

All things are so gentle, seasons of death. Our hearts we proclaim. We believe, our Lord, we'll come as He said.

The land of the sick will be of their death. His children will reign with Him. We believe. We believe. We believe. 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 and song, and a reminder of all those things that have changed our lives, the content of the Christian faith. Philip Melanchthon, who 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, and I do so being well aware that we come from very diverse backgrounds. As a matter of fact, if you're here today and you're Roman Catholic, you're in good company because probably 25 to 30 percent of the people who are sitting around you have had a similar upbringing. We always, when we have new members here at the church, we discover that perhaps 25 to 30 percent Roman Catholic, maybe 20 percent 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, say 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 surely 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, why then indeed 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 and 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 sacramentum, 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 they will have to be few, I wish they were longer, but I'm going to try to make them few, is to talk about why we believe in the ordinances of the church, and we're going to discuss briefly baptism and the Lord's Supper.

How I wish as I was going through this yesterday that I had an entire message for each, but as it is, we'll 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 a 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 through baptism that they were born again and regenerated. That came through faith in Christ, but baptism followed. Now 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 1 Corinthians 1, he said, I have been sent to preach the gospel. In fact, he says, I baptized no one except Christus and Gaius, he names the two, 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. As a matter of fact, about a hundred times in the New Testament, faith in Christ alone is mentioned as the way of salvation, and therefore it would be very strange indeed if baptism would be a part of that.

As a matter of fact, let me ask you this question. Since it says the blood of Jesus Christ, God's 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 2 38, repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and people say, haha, there it is, repent and be baptized. Well, I'd like to say flat out that just because the word baptize occurs in the same command as 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. Now, the 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. Now, 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'd read it like this, you'll repent, okay? You'll repent and notice it says, for the forgiveness of your sins.

See, that's plural. We could read it, repent for the 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. Whereas 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 to receive the forgiveness of your sins. And while baptism was always assumed, because in the early church, when you got saved, you were 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. And he's 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, period. Nothing is said about baptism. What do 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. Could 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, and 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. You know, there are some cultures today where there's no persecution of you if you become a Christian until you're baptized. And after you're 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 says they were baptized onto Moses. Now, no water got on the Israelites who went through the Red Sea.

They went on through dry ground. It's the Egyptians that drowned. Why then is the word baptized used? It's because it's a form of identification. They were cutting off the life of Egypt and going into the promised land, and the break was clear, and it's called baptism because that word not only means to immerse, but it means to have identity with. And when you're being baptized, it's an outward sign of the inner cleansing.

It is a right of initiation, if we can put it that way, 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 are some who use formulas like this. With this water, as they sprinkle an 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.

It's a terrible mistake. I want you to know today that that act did not make you a Christian. Of course, if I had time, I'd explain that not everyone interprets infant baptism the same way. But it arose with the idea that this was a communication of special grace.

Let 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 are saved and you've never been baptized. That is to say, you have never been immersed as a believer.

Why not? I've heard things like this. People say, well, I was baptized as an infant. Well, you were baptized as an infant. But were you baptized as a believer upon profession of your faith, making your personal declaration that your heart has 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 who say, well, you know, I might offend my family if I were baptized. Well, let me tell you that maybe your family needs to understand that a radical transformation has happened to you, that you are breaking with your past life and your past understandings. It's been my privilege on numerous occasions, lecturing on the Reformation, to go to Zurich, Switzerland, and there to stand at the Lamont River, right at the Rathaus, where it happened, where Felix Montz 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 re-baptized 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. And the Zurich 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 Montz and Konrad Grebel baptized one another, Felix Montz's hands were tied, he was pushed out on the river in a little boat, and then they capsized it, and he was drowned in those dark waters on January 5, 1527, 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, as you should know, was a Protestant dying, 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 believed 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. Now let me ask you again, why are you not baptized?

Let me put it this way. It's possible to be married without having a wedding ring. It's 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. 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 as a genuine believer in Christ and have never been baptized, we are members of Christ.

We are his bride. Would 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've said is, and then you fill in the blank, and then you work it out with him. I don't like it when people leave Moody Church and say, over brunch, the pastor was unclear. 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 sacramentalism came into being, again, we're talking about 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 through 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 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 the 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 of very God, the flesh of Christ, the blood of Christ. Now mind you, when you looked at it, it was still wine. It tasted like wine. It smelled like it.

It was still bread. But the essence, it was believed, was changed somehow miraculously. What also happened as this began to grow, you know the Latin word missa is to dismiss. And because at the end people were dismissed, the word missa became applied to the entire feast and therefore we get the word mass. But as this began to grow, 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 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 did believe that there was a literalness even though the elements remained the same.

It's very mysterious to me as to exactly what he meant, but it was called consubstantiation. That is to say that Christ is there in, along with, alongside of the elements somehow. So it's literal without a change. Calvin in Geneva believed that Christ was spiritually present and another Reformer in Zurich, Swingly, believed 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 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. It's like a photograph.

I've not seen my oldest grandson for over five or six weeks. And so my wife saw him 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 he used to be, but I didn't see him literally. It wasn't as if those words were literal.

This is he. No, 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. So even within the context of his words himself, there is a great deal of symbolism that 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 1 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 1 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. Paul says, first of all, that when we come to communion, this symbol, he says, 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 and 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. First of all, you 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 you're never sure.

It's like trying to mop up the floor with a faucet running. Tomorrow is another day with more sins and more lack of assurance. I'll 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 perfected forever 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 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, as Pastor Schwartz frequently helps us understand within the context of the Passover is Jesus Christ shows himself as a continuation and 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. What we're not only saying is we're saying he came once, but we're also saying he's going to come again.

And we're 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 are not.

And we can't maybe figure all that out. But we do love his appearing, don't we? As a matter of 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 and you love his appearing. Peter said in his letter, he said, whom having not seen, we love. And though we see him not, yet 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 him 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 we're glad he's on his way because we look forward to the marriage supper of the lamb when we'll 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, we're saying that. We're saying, Lord, thank you for the past. You came back then, but I'm looking forward to your coming in the future.

And I'm proclaiming that faith in your coming. What else do we do? We look behind us. We look to the past. We look forward. We look to the past. We look forward. But we also look inward.

We look inward. Notice what Paul says. 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'd know that the Corinthians were using the Lord's table as an opportunity to have potluck dinners at their church. And many people were overeating.

They were not taking care of the poor among them. Some of them were drinking wine to the point of getting drunk. That's part of it.

So Paul says that's no way to remember the Lord's death, to come with such irreverence and so many wrong attitudes and behaviors. The other thing 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't 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 did exist. I would have no right to communion because I would be, in effect, dividing 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 we're doing is we're coming together and we're saying, I discern the Lord's body as being one, as united. And if there's division within the body and we pretend that everything's 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. Well, you say, what's the judgment? I mean, this is terrifying, folks.

We take this all for granted, don't we? He said, that is why many among you are weak and sick and 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, then we would not fall under his disciplinary hand because he wouldn't have to judge us because we've judged ourselves. So I have to ask you today, what is it that you've brought with you today in your heart that might prevent you from participating? Now, I encourage your participation, but 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't bring you closer to the Lord as if within these ordinances there is some inherent power. That's not what they are. They're 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's not in the Bible. The way God works in the human heart is directly. Through faith in him, we experience his love, we experience his forgiveness, and then these become symbols of the inner working of God.

But they themselves cannot help us. 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.

They're marks of obedience. That's why I urge 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 we'll explain, you have the opportunity to be baptized, follow through in obedience. This is Jesus said, go into all the world and preach the gospel. Baptize people in the name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, set them apart in this outward way as part of the new community. So it's marks of obedience. But at 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, who does not in his 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 Christ is enough. Would 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. And as we participate today, we thank you that Jesus died.

We remember the cross, but we also remember his return. When we do examine ourselves, we ask today for that great sense of unity and honesty and 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. That we ask in Jesus' name, amen. Let's sing together today 188. On today's Moody Church Hour, Pastor Lutzer brought 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. It's because of the investment of many people that The Moody Church Hour is heard around the country. We'd like to ask you to consider becoming an endurance partner, someone who stands with us on a regular basis with your prayers and gifts. For full information, go to our website at and click on the endurance partner button. That's Or call us at 1-800-215-5001.

That's 1-800-215-5001. Or you can write to us at Moody Church Media, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60614. Join us next week for another Moody Church Hour with Pastor Erwin Lutzer and the Congregation of Historic Moody Church in Chicago. This broadcast is a ministry of The Moody Church.
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