Sermon #8†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Series: Public Worship

††††††††† Title:†††††††††† Three Gospel Ordinances

††††††††† Text:†††††††††† Acts 2:41-47

††††††††† Reading:†††

††††††††† Subject:†††† Baptism, Church Membership, and the Lordís Supper

††††††††† Date:††††††††† Tuesday Evening - January 10, 1989

††††††††† Tape #††††††

††††††††† Introduction:



The title of my message tonight is Three Gospel Ordinances. The subject may seem familiar to you; and it should. I preached a message to you, very similar to the message I am going to preach tonight, three years ago.


In Acts 2, Peter preached the gospel to a great multitude on the day of Pentecost. He simply told them the wondrous story of redemption and grace by Christ, and proclaimed the glorious exaltation of Christ as Lord and King of the universe. Peter preached with the power of God the Holy Spirit upon him. And three thousand people were converted by the grace of God, baptized, and united with the church in one day! In our text we read of three things that characterized this early church, three things which were tokens of Godís blessings upon his people at Jerusalem: Baptism, Church Membership, and the Lordís Supper.


Read and explain: Acts 2:41-47.


I want to preach to you about these three very practical things: Baptism, Church Membership, and the Lordís Supper. I trust that God the Holy Spirit will make this message a source of profitable instruction and edification to you. We are going to examine what the Word of God has to say about our responsibilities as believers to the ordinances of the gospel. These are things which should be of great interest and concern to every believer. They are matters about which every local church needs to be informed and well established.


We recognize the fact that the church of God is made up of all true believers in every age. Godís elect are his church. Some are in heaven, and some are on the earth. But we are all one body in Christ (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 1:22-23; 3:15-16; 5:25-27; Heb. 12:22-24).


We also recognize that the New Testament places great emphasis upon the importance of the local church (Matt. 18:20; 28:18-20; 1 Tim. 3:15).


1.    The great commission was given to and is carried out by local churches.

2.    Local churches support, maintain, and send out pastors, missionaries, and evangelists to preach the gospel.

3.    Local churches administer the ordinances of Christ.

4.    The local church is a family, a brotherhood, a body of believers, united together in Christ (1 Cor. 12:25-27).

5.    And every local church should be a miniature of the church universal (Eph. 2:20-22; 4:1-7).




††††††††† Our relationship to the church of Christ is a matter of obedience to Christ himself.


        It is a great privilege and blessing to be a part of a true gospel church.

        With this great privilege, we assume a great responsibility.

        Our relationship with the church of Christ, in great measure, reveals our relationship to Christ.


††††††††† Obviously, I cannot begin to explain all that the Bible teaches about Baptism, Church Membership, and the Lordís Supper in a single hour. But that is not my intention. I want to simply give you a brief definition of these three things and encourage you to honor our Lord by faithful obedience to him in these three areas. In the next few weeks, I will deal with each subject more fully.


I.      First, I want to show you that BAPTISM IS THE BELIEVERíS CONFESSION OF FAITH IN CHRIST(Rom. 6:1-11).


††††††††† NOTE: Let me give you a basic principle of biblical interpretation. If you want to know what the Bible teaches about a specific doctrine, go to that place in the Bible where that doctrine is taught and explained. Romans 6 explains the meaning of believerís baptism.


A. What is baptism?


1.   Baptism is the believerís public confession of faith in Christ. Baptism is a symbolic picture of the gospel (Acts 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).

2.   Baptism is a public identification with Christ and his people.

Illustration: Jews and Pagans.

1.   Baptism is a publicly avowed commitment to the glory of Christ.


B. Who should be baptized?

Believerís only! (Acts 2:38-41; 8:37).


C. How is baptism to be performed?


††††††††† Immersion only! Actually, immersion is not a mode of baptism. Immersion is baptism. Without immersion, there is no baptism (Matt. 3:13-17; Acts 8:38; Col. 2:12).


D. Why should all true believers be baptized?


1.    Our Lord commanded it (Mark 16:15-16).

2.    It is the answer of a good conscience to God (1 Pet. 3:21).


E. Can a person be saved without baptism?


1.    All of Godís people are saved without baptism.

2.    But anyone who refuses to be baptized is not saved. Godís people do not rebel against Godís commands.


F. Should believers ever be rebaptized?


††††††††† No! If I have been baptized since I believed the gospel, there is no reason for me to ever be baptized again. However, if I was immersed before I believed the gospel, in some profession of false religion, then I need to be baptized and confess Christ.


††††††††† Baptism in the New Testament is the believerís public confession of faith in and allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ.




††††††††† Many think little of church membership. Many who profess to be believers are not identified with or committed to any local church. Whatever their reason is, they are wrong. In the New Testament, men and women who followed Christ, by one means or another, applied for and obtained membership in local churches. They publicly identified themselves with and committed themselves to the church of God.


        Paul (Acts 9:26).

        Phoebe (Rom. 16:1).


††††††††† Church membership is for believerís only. A local church is a body of believerís, voluntarily united together in the name of Christ for the glory of Christ, the furtherance of the gospel, the salvation of Godís elect, and mutual edification.


††††††††† In many ways church membership is similar to baptism. Though I was baptized before I moved to Danville, when I joined Grace Baptist Church, I publicly identified myself with this congregation and its doctrine. I publicly committed myself to this church. I said, ďThy people shall be my people and thy God shall be my God.Ē


††††††††† And the fellowship of believers in a local church is vital to their spiritual welfare. Your spiritual growth in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ is in many ways dependent upon your relationship to and fellowship with the body of Christ. Believers need the fellowship of other believers. We need the encouragement of our brethren. We need the strength of our brethren. We need one another. The first signs of apostasy are usually seen in the neglect of the assembly of Godís saints (Heb. 10:24-29).


Illustration: The isolated piece of coal.


††††††††† Church membership basically involves these three things:


A. Church membership is an avowed commitment to the body of Christ (Phil. 2:1-4).


Illustration: The marriage ceremony.


††††††††† The church of Christ is my family. And I am committed to my family. I prefer my family to myself. I seek the welfare of my family above my own welfare. I seek the happiness of my family above my own happiness. I seek the comfort of my family above my own comfort.


††††††††† Godís people are a family. And the members of Godís family are committed to one another. But I see very little commitment in most men and women who profess to be believers. Commitment is dependability, faithfulness, and loyalty. It always requires a measure of self-denial and self-sacrifice. It always requires some effort. But most people know very little about commitment.


1.    I pray for my family.

2.    I support my family.

3.    I serve my family.

4.    I speak well of my family.

5.    I promote my family.

6.    I enjoy the company of my family.


††††††††† Church membership involves commitment to the family of God.


B. And church membership gives me the privilege of communion and fellowship with the body of Christ.


††††††††† ďBehold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unityĒ (Psa. 133:1).


††††††††† I love the fellowship of Godís people, because in the fellowship of Godís people I find fellowship with Christ (Matt. 18:20). My Savior still walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks and makes himself known in his churches.


††††††††† The Lord has greatly blessed this church with a blessed, sweet unity and fellowship in the gospel. I pray that he will ever cause us to zealously guard and promote that unity of the Spirit and bond of peace which he has given us in this place (Eph. 4:1-7).


††††††††† What is this unity of the Spirit?


1.    It is a unity of doctrine.

2.    It is an agreement of heart.

3.    It is a dedication to the pursuit of one thing - The glory of Christ.

4.    It is a willing submission to one another for Christís sake (Eph. 5:18-25).

5.    It is a fellowship of real, sincere love (Eph. 4:32-5:1).


C. Church membership is more than having your name on the same church register. It is commitment to the body of Christ and communion with Christ in his body. And it is care for the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:24-27).


††††††††† The people of God care for and take care of one another.


        The local church.

        The church universal.


Illustration: Our Mexican Brethren.




††††††††† One of the most blessed privileges we have in this world is the privilege of coming together at the Lordís Table to celebrate our redemption by eating the bread and drinking the wine.


††††††††† What is the meaning and significance of this ordinance? It is not shrouded in mystery. It is a very simple, but very precious, picture of our redemption by Christ. I want you all to understand what the Lordís Supper is, so that you may receive it, enjoy it, and profit by it to the fullest possible degree (1 Cor. 11:23-30).


A. Why was the Lordís Supper given?


1.   It is a symbolic remembrance of Christ and what he has done for us.

Illustration: The picture of Shelby.

2.   It is a vivid, pictorial proclamation of the gospel.


B. What are the elements to be used in the Lordís Supper?


††††††††† I know that this is a matter of great controversy with some. But it should not be controversial at all, if you know the meaning of the Lordís Supper. The Lordís Supper can be observed only by eating unleavened bread and drinking wine. Why? I will give you three reasons:


1.    When Melchizedek, who was a type of Christ, met Abraham, he brought forth bread and wine as the symbols of Godís blessing through a sacrifice (Gen. 14:18-20).

2.    In the original institution and in all the New Testament churches, the Lordís Supper was observed by the use of unleavened bread and wine.

3.    Only these elements, unleavened bread and wine, can properly portray our Savior and his work of redemption.


a.   The unleavened bread represents the spotless, sinless, holy body of our Lord Jesus Christ. The breaking of the bread represents the crushing of our Saviorís body in death to accomplish our redemption.

b.   The wine represents the pure, holy, sinless blood of Immanuel, by which our sins were washed away and the covenant of grace was ratified.

c.   The two, bread and wine, body and blood, separated implies the certain death of our Redeemer.


C. Who should observe the Lordís Supper?


††††††††† It is the Lordís Table. And the Lordís Table is open to all the Lordís children (Acts 20:1-7). Not only is the Lordís Table open to all his children, but all his children are commanded by him to receive it. This is not an optional thing!


D. When should the Lordís Table be observed?


††††††††† The Scriptures lay down no fixed time. Therefore, we must not insist upon any. But three things are obvious:


1.    In the New Testament it was observed on the Lordís Day.

2.    Because it is called the Lordís Supper, and because it was originally so, I think it should be observed in the evening.

3.    It is to be observed often. Throughout the Book of Acts it was observed every week.


E. What makes us worthy to observe this holy ordinance?


††††††††† The same thing that makes us worthy of baptism and church membership makes us worthy to receive the Lordís Supper. And that is faith in Christ! Christ is our worthiness. Those who are united to Christ are worthy to receive the bread and wine, for they discern the Lordís body. They know their need of a Substitute and understand how that Christ accomplished redemption by the sacrifice of himself. Those who do not believe are not worthy, they do not discern the Lordís body.


1.    They do not discern the need of the incarnation.

2.    They do not discern the righteousness established by Christís obedience.

3.    And they do not discern the satisfaction of justice by the sacrifice of Christís body upon the cursed tree.




1.   The basis of our faith is the Word of God alone. We must add nothing to it and take nothing from it.


        We must obey every precept of the Word.

        We must follow every precedent of the Word.

        We must reverence every ordinance of Christ given in the Word.


It is our responsibility to obey Christ and keep his ordinances, exactly as he gave them. We need never fear doing what our Lord commands us to do.


2.   I hope this message will help you to understand, obey, and rejoice in these Three Gospel Ordinances.


        Baptism is the believerís confession of faith in Christ.

        Church membership is fellowship and communion with Christ in his body.

        The Lordís Supper is the believerís blessed remembrance of Christ.