Baptism, Communion, and Disciplines all picture Jesus on the cross.

12 03 2016

Since this pattern is central to our faith, we should not be surprised to find it embedded in various aspects of our corporate life in the church. Here are some key examples.

baptisiumWater baptism. The initial declaration of saving faith is water baptism. The immersion of the new believer into water, as practiced by Philip with the Ethiopian convert (Acts:38-39), pictures the death and burial of the believer only to be raised up into new life in the risen Christ. Water baptism is emblematic of the spiritual death, burial, and resurrection of the new disciple.

“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).

This verse speaks of the spiritual transformation that happens in the soul of every new believer at the moment of saving faith. This inner reality is wonderfully depicted physically in water baptism.

bread wineThe Lord’s Supper. Jesus instituted His table of covenant communion on the eve of His crucifixion. Only hours after He took the bread and cup, He was in Gethsemane wrestling with the calling of the cross. Notice that Jesus’ death and resurrection are embedded in the simple ceremony He gave to us:

“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, ‘This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Matt. 14:22-25).

Our continual participation in the Lord’s Table is a remembrance of His body which was willingly sacrificed on behalf of the sins of the whole world. It calls us to reflect on His blood which was shed for the pardon of sin (1 Cor. 11:23-26). Whether daily, weekly, or monthly, we are welcomed into the fellowship of the table established by Christ Himself and there remember the essence of our discipleship. It is a time to confess any sin that has dislodged us from following His pattern of obedience. And we would do well to celebrate the privilege we have of living out His example.

Spiritual disciplines.   Many of the spiritual disciplines given to disciples for maturation follow the pattern of surrender, sacrifice, abiding and manifestation. Among such disciplines are Sabbath, fasting, solitude, study, meditation, memorization, and acts of service. Each of them calls us back to the cross, that we may lay in wait as we abide with Christ, only to draw on His life for newness and abundance. We will explore these disciplines in the final section of the trail guide.

Try to keep this in mind next time you enjoy a communion service!

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