The Sacrament Observing Church

, , , , ,

The fourth mark of a healthy church is a church filled with people who remember Jesus and remember they are united with Him through observing and practicing baptism and communion.

1 Corinthians(2), Acts(12), Luke(10), Matthew(17), Romans(5) (Part of the 8 Marks Of The Church(8) series)
by Stuart Johns(184) on February 6, 2022 (Sunday Morning(259))

Baptism(1), Communion(1)

8 Marks Of The Church

The Sacrament Observing Church

 

INTRODUCTION

Urban Legends

 

“There are bodies buried in Hoover Dam.

 

This is one urban legend that just won’t die. While there were many fatalities involved in the making of Hoover Dam, zero involved workers slipping into the mix and being covered up with concrete. It’s not hard to see its prominence in the human consciousness though, with six bodies buried in Montana’s Fort Peck Dam.”

 

[https://stacker.com/stories/577/25-popular-urban-legends-explained]

 

“The dam was built in interlocking blocks. Each block was five feet high. The smallest blocks were about 25 feet by 25 feet square, and the largest blocks were about 25 feet by 60 feet. Concrete was delivered to each block in buckets, eight cubic yards at a time. After each bucket was delivered, five or six men called ‘puddlers’ would stamp and vibrate the concrete into place, packing it down to ensure there were no air pockets in it. Each time a bucket was emptied, the level of concrete would raise from two inches up to six inches, depending on the size of the block. With only a slight increase in the level at any one time, and the presence of several men watching the placement, it would have been virtually impossible for anyone to be buried in the concrete. So, there are no bodies buried in Hoover Dam.

 

The ‘official’ number of fatalities involved in building Hoover Dam is 96. These were men who died at the dam site (classified as ‘industrial fatalities’) from such causes as drowning, blasting, falling rocks or slides, falls from the canyon walls, being struck by heavy equipment, truck accidents, etc. Industrial fatalities do not include deaths from heat, pneumonia, heart trouble, etc.”

 

[https://www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam/history/essays/fatal.html]

 

There are many common myths about the church that are misguided at best and dangerous at worst

 

BODY

  • Myth

    • You can emphasize the sacraments as much as you want and be a healthy church

    • This myth, if believed, can be dangerous because:

        • It neglects the two main ways Jesus desired for us to identify with Him and His Gospel, together

        • It robs us of the two most compelling and consistent reminders of what Jesus has done for us and our union with him

    • We know this is a myth because Jesus said a clear mark of a healthy church would be a church filled with people who remember Him and remember they are united with Him through observing and practicing baptism and communion

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD

    • MARK: ​​ The Sacrament Observing Church

        • The Sacrament Observing Church and the Teaching of Jesus (Luke 22:14-20; Matthew 28:19-20)

          • Communion (Luke 22:14-20)

            • This is Luke’s retelling of the Last Supper

            • Jesus and His disciples are enjoying the Passover meal together

            • This will be the last time that Jesus eats the Passover with them until it finds its fulfillment in the kingdom of God

            • Jesus was not going to drink wine with them again until God establishes His kingdom on earth

            • Jesus then explains the significance of the bread and wine as it pertains to His death

              • The bread represented His body that He was giving for them

                • Jesus experienced a scourging that actually killed other men

                • He had a crown of thorns embedded in his head

                • Nails were hammered through His wrists and feet

                • A spear was thrust into His side

                • Jesus’ body was given for us!

                • That’s what He was helping His disciples understand through the Last Supper

              • The wine symbolized His blood that would be poured out for all humanity

                • The lacerations that were opened up on Jesus’ back during the scourging caused His blood to flow

                • The crown of thorns being embedded in his scalp created open wounds that allowed His blood to be poured out

                • The nail holes in Has hands and feet created openings for blood to flow

                • The spear, thrust into His side, allowed the blood and water that had accumulated in His torso to pour out

              • Perhaps the disciples did not understand the significance of what Jesus was saying at this point, but within a day they would understand completely

            • Jesus was modeling for the disciples what they were supposed to do – it was not just emphasizing the importance of the Last Supper, but it was actually participating in and observing the Last Supper again and again

            • Jesus also instructed His disciples about baptism

          • Baptism (Matthew 28:19-20)

            • Matthew 28:16-20 has the heading, Jesus Gives the Great Commission

              • This is the mission of every church

              • It is our mission – Pursue, Grow, and Multiple Disciples

                • It is a the top of our bulletin

                • We have banners at the front of the sanctuary

                • We are now including it at the bottom of our weekly email updates

                • It’s included on page 3 of the Yearbook

                • It is part of the message on the inside cover of the Spiritual Life Journal

                • It is on the back of all three Challenge Coins

              • Growth

                • Part of the growth process of a new believer is recognizing the need to go through believers baptism

                • Believers baptism is an outward expression of an inward decision

                • The believer is letting others know they have given their lives wholly to Jesus Christ – He is their Lord and Savior

            • Jesus modeled baptism

              • In Matthew 3:13-17 we find Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist

              • John is reluctant to baptize Jesus, because He knows who He is

              • He feels like he should be baptized by Jesus

              • Jesus tells him that His baptism is to fulfill all righteousness, which appeases John and he consents to do it

              • As Jesus comes up out of the water we see the Holy Spirit descend in the form of a dove and we hear the voice of God the Father approving of Jesus

          • Jesus modeled the importance of observing the sacrament of baptism and He commissioned us to continue to observe it

        • The Sacrament Observing Church and the Teaching of the Early Church (Acts 2:38, 42)

          • Baptism (Acts 2:38)

            • Background

              • As we have mentioned over the past few weeks, Acts 2 is talking about Pentecost

              • This is the time when God poured out His Spirit on the Apostles and they preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ with boldness

              • Peter is the primary Apostle who addresses the crowd and at the end of his address we see the crowd’s reaction

              • When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do.” ​​ (Acts 2:37)

            • Peter’s response (Acts 2:38-39)

              • Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. ​​ And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ​​ The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)

              • We see that the early church not only needed to repent (180 degree turn), but also needed to be baptized

              • Peter is not saying that baptism forgives our sins – repentance is what does that

                • Baptism aligns us with Christ and other disciples of Christ

                • “Acts 2:38 should not be used to teach salvation by baptism. If baptism is essential for salvation, it seems strange that Peter said nothing about baptism in his other sermons (Acts 3:12–26; 5:29–32; 10:34–43). In fact, the people in the home of Cornelius received the Holy Spirit before they were baptized (Acts 10:44–48)! Since believers are commanded to be baptized, it is important that we have a clean conscience by obeying (1 Peter 3:21), but we must not think that baptism is a part of salvation. If so, then nobody in Hebrews 11 was saved, because none of them was ever baptized.” ​​ [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Dynamic, BE Series Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2010), 42.]

                • Peter is making it clear that baptism is an important part of being a disciple of Christ

                • He encouraged the crowd to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ

                  • This was significant, because John the Baptist was already baptizing people with water for repentance

                  • “John baptized people as a sign that they had asked God to forgive their sins and had decided to live as he wanted them to live.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, footnote for Matthew 3:11, pg. 1646]

                  • This was before Jesus had died on the cross, was buried, and came alive again to take the punishment for humanity’s sins

                  • From that point on, those who believed in Jesus and repented of their sins, would be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ – identifying with His saving power through His death, burial, and resurrection

              • Peter used many other words to warn the crowd and he pleaded with them (Acts 2:40)

              • The result was that about 3,000 accepted the message, repented, and were baptized in one day! (Acts 2:41)

            • The early church not only taught about the importance of baptism, it also taught about the importance of communion

          • Communion (Acts 2:42)

            • The new believers devoted themselves to four things:

              • The Apostles’ teaching

              • Fellowship – koinōnia

                • It certainly can have the idea of sharing everything – having in common, which we see in Acts 2:44-45

                • “Here the believers fulfilled the words the Lord gave his disciples just before the crucifixion: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35).” ​​ [Kenneth O. Gangel, Acts, ed. Max Anders, vol. 5 of Holman New Testament Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 1998), 31.]

              • Breaking of bread

                • This is referring to the Lord’s Supper/Communion

                • It was probably part of a regular meal

                • They would conclude the meal by remembering the body and blood of Christ, until He returns

              • Prayer – corporate prayer

            • It is noteworthy that these new believers were participating in these four things on a daily basis (it was a unique feature around Pentecost, but was not maintained or practical in later New Testament settings) – we don’t practice that today, but perhaps we should

          • The early church not only taught about baptism and communion, they also observed and practiced it

        • The Sacrament Observing Church and the Teaching of the Apostles (Romans 6:1-4; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

          • Baptism (Romans 6:1-4)

            • The Apostle Paul makes it clear how baptism connects us to Christ

            • “The picture in baptism points two ways, backwards to Christ’s death and burial and to our death to sin (verse 1), forwards to Christ’s resurrection from the dead and to our new life pledged by the coming out of the watery grave to walk on the other side of the baptismal grave (F. B. Meyer).” [A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Accordance electronic ed. (Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2001), paragraph 4711.]

            • Paul also taught about communion

          • Communion (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

            • This is one of the passages that I use when we observe communion together

            • Paul received this message from the Lord when he was in Arabia for three years (Galatians 1:15-18)

            • Jesus enlightened Paul to what happened at the very first Lord’s Supper

            • Paul is then passing this message on to the Corinthian believers as something they should be observing and practicing

        • The Apostle Paul not only taught the importance of baptism and communion, he observed and practiced them

    • METAPHOR: ​​ The Body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23)

        • “As the body of Christ, we’re the locus of Jesus activity now, just as His physical body was during His earthly ministry.” ​​ [Matt Kyser]

        • “Through baptism, we are not only united with Christ in His body, but picture His death and resurrection to the world around us.” ​​ [Matt Kyser]

          • Greg Laurie talks about how they observe baptism at a cove on the beach in Orange County California – inevitably there will be people walking along the beach who stop to ask what is happening (sometimes those individuals believe in Jesus and are also baptized)

          • Wade and Seth were baptized in the Pacific Ocean when the church we attended in Southern California had their own beach baptism – there were people who stopped and asked what was happening

          • In 2019 I had the privilege of baptizing Wyatt and Alayna Derr at Fuller Lake with other individuals we didn’t know watching

          • Also in 2019 Alger Melton and I baptized Randy Bouder at a boat ramp in the Susquehanna River and a another family arrived while we were doing it

        • “As the Body of Christ, we are nourished and directed by Him as the Head of His Body, and are reminded about this every time we take communion.” ​​ [Matt Kyser]

    • APPLICATION (how will we know if this mark of The Church marks Our Church?)

        • We will see regular baptisms (Acts 2:38)

          • In 2021 we had seven people who were baptized

          • In 2020 we had one person baptized

          • In 2019 there were eight people baptized

        • We will share communion on a regular basis (1 Corinthians 11:25)

          • Our normal practice has been to observe communion at the beginning of each quarter (January, April, July, & October)

          • We also observe communion during the Maundy-Thursday and Good Friday services

        • We will see baptism as:

          • A sacred act (Acts 2:36-41) [the early church]

          • A sign & symbol (Romans 6:1-14) [Apostles]

          • A sacred initiation (1 Corinthians 12:12-27)

            • Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-27

            • We are all connected to the Body of Christ as disciples of Christ

            • We are one unit made up of many parts

            • We all have different areas of giftedness that the Lord uses in cooperation to allow the body to function correctly

        • We will see communion as an opportunity to:

          • Remember Jesus (Read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

          • Remember to repent of sin (Read 1 Corinthians 11:27-32)

            • We are going to observe communion following the message

            • I don’t know how it works, but we see here that many among the Corinthian believers were weak and sick and some had died

            • It appears that the weakness, sickness, and even death were a result of not recognizing the body of the Lord when they practiced the Lord’s Supper

            • It is a serious thing to come to the Communion with an unprepared heart. It is also a serious thing to receive the Supper in a careless manner. Because the Corinthians had been sinning in their observing of the Lord’s Supper, God had disciplined them. ‘For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep [have died]’ (1 Cor. 11:30).” [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Wise, BE Series Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2010), 129.]

            • Warren Wiersbe says that the Lord’s Supper can be a blessing and provide spiritual growth if we come with the right attitude

            • How can it be a blessing? ​​ Wiersbe gives us four ways:

              • We should look back (vv. 23-26a) – broken bread reminds us of Jesus’ body and the cup reminds us of Jesus blood shed for us

              • We should look ahead (v. 26b) – we observe the Lord’s Supper until he returns

              • We should look within (vv. 27-28, 31-32) – we do not have to be worthy to take communion, but we do have to do it in a worthy manner (“we have to examine our own hearts, judge our sins, and confess them to the Lord”) [Wiersbe]

              • We should look around (vv. 33-34) – we have to discern the Lord’s body (the church) and be unified and loving (love one another)

          • Remember to reconcile with other believers (Read 1 Corinthians 11:17-22, 33-34)

            • The Corinthian believers had tainted the Lord’s Supper by allowing cliques to develop and selfishness to prevail

            • The rich brought a lot of food and ate together, while the poor had little to no food and were not included with the rich

            • The agape feast was supposed to be a meal that included everyone and provided for all

          • Remember to rejoice at His return (Read 1 Corinthians 11:26)

        • Our desire is to have a church filled with people who remember Jesus and remember they are united with Jesus through observing and practicing baptism and communion

 

  • YOU

    • Idaville Member Survey from RESTOR Renewal Ministries

        • There was one of the five survey questions that was in the top ten of least difficult for us as a church

          • “Our church provides regular, consistent opportunities to receive communion.” ​​ (9 out of 10).

          • Once a quarter and around Easter

          • Communion is for disciples of Jesus Christ – those who have believed in Him and repented of their sins

            • It does not have any significance for someone who is not a disciple of Jesus Christ

            • They are not remembering the broken body of Jesus or that His blood was poured out for the forgiveness of their sins

            • We will be observing communion at the end of the message today

            • Today could be the first time you observe communion as a disciple of Jesus Christ

            • Gospel

              • Romans 3:23 (all have sinned)

              • Romans 6:23 (wages of sin is death)

              • Romans 5:8 (God demonstrated His love for you)

              • 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (Jesus fulfilled Scripture through His death, burial, and resurrection)

              • Romans 10:9-10, That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ​​ For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Be saved today by confessing with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing in my heart that God raised Him from the dead.

          • Where did the other survey questions fall?

        • Three of the remaining four questions were in the top 15 of most difficult for us

          • “There is regular teaching in our church on the meaning and purpose of baptism and communion.” ​​ (11 out of 15)

            • I hope that today was helpful in understanding the meaning and purpose of baptism and communion

            • I will strive to provide regular teaching about the meaning and purpose of baptism and communion, especially when they come up in Scripture and when we observe these two sacraments

          • “Our church provides regular opportunities for people to be baptized, and I can remember the last person who was baptized in our church.” ​​ (13 out of 15)

            • Most of us know that we usually provide one baptismal service a year, which is right after church and right before the VBS picnic in August

              • We are not limited to just this one baptismal service each year or to one location (the parsonage pool)

              • There are local churches that have a baptismal in their sanctuary that would welcome us

              • There are portable baptismal units that can be used indoors

            • Here are the names of the people who were baptized in the past three years

              • 2021 – Stewart Gebhart, Silas Brown, and Joe, Marsie, Alister, & Josephine Wynn

              • 2020 – Keith Strine

              • 2019 – Willow Toney, Christopher Sauble, Jennifer Sauble, Brenda Wible, Jeremy Melton, Randy Bouder, Wyatt Derr, Alayna Derr

            • We are committed to observing baptism whenever individuals are ready to take that step of faith

          • “The people in our church know what baptism is, why it is important to their life and the life of the church, and have been baptized.” ​​ (14 out of 15)

            • I hope that today’s message has helped everyone to understand what baptism is and why it is important to your life and the life of the church

            • If you have not participated in believers baptism, I would like to encourage you to take that step of spiritual growth

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Indicate my desire to participate in believer’s baptism.

        • The fifth question is in the middle as it pertains to most or least difficult for our church

          • “The people in our church know what communion is and why it is important to their life and the life of the church, and look forward to receiving communion.”

 

  • WE

    • Vision

        • Core Values

          • We are a family that is loving, caring, and welcoming

            • This includes times around the Lord’s Table (communion)

            • It also includes helping new believers take the growth step into baptism

          • Our leadership strives to be led more by Jesus, to lead more like Jesus, so we can lead more to Jesus

            • We want to follow the lead of Jesus, the early church, and the Apostles as it pertains to observing baptism and communion

            • As we lead more to Jesus, they will participate in baptism and communion

        • Core Focus

          • Pursue, Grow, and Multiply Disciples

          • This comes from Jesus commission in Matthew 28:19-20, which includes baptism

    • Traction

        • Have a 10% increase in the pursuit of holiness as evidenced through salvations, baptisms, and accountability

 

CONCLUSION

As we prepare for communion this morning, I would like to open up the altar for remembrance, repentance, reconciliation, and rejoicing.

11