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What are the ordinances of the church?

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“What are the ordinances of the church?”

Series: The Church [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

August 25, 2019

Introductory Comments:

In my office, I have some different pictures of my family. I don’t have those pictures because I forget what my family looks like. I can identify them in a lineup at any time. I have pictures of them because I love them and I want to focus on them. 

We’re continuing our series on the Church where we are learning what it means to be the church of Jesus Christ. 

Today, we will learn about the ordinances of the church. We’re going to learn that the ordinances of the church help us remember and focus upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Before we get into this, let’s pray together and ask God’s Spirit to lead us. 


At First Baptist Church Bartow we believe that there are two ordinances of the church, and we will look at both of those this morning. 

Before we get into the two specific ordinances, let’s talk about what ordinances are. 

Our first area of concentration is this:

I. The ordinances of the church are opportunities to focus on the Gospel. [on screen]

Many of you may not know what an ordinance is when it comes to the church. You may hear the word “ordinance” and think of a city ordinance. 

Well, that’s not what we’re talking about this morning. 

We call these ordinances because they were ordained, decreed, or commanded by our Lord Jesus Christ. These two ordinances are clear from the lips of Jesus Himself, as we’ll see later in the sermon. Anytime Jesus says to do something we must pay attention. 

These two ordinances, or sacraments as they are sometimes called, are not only ordained by Jesus Himself but they are also beautiful reminders of the Gospel and they are opportunities for us to focus on the Gospel. Listen to what the Bible says about this: 

Speaking of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus says in Luke 22:19 “ . . . Do this in remembrance of me.” [on screen]

Also, we’ll talk about this more later, but Paul says of baptism in Romans 6:5, “For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection.” [on screen]

The ordinances help us focus on Jesus and His work. 

We’ll see this even more as we explore the ordinances in just a moment. 

The early Protestant Reformers used to say that the ordinances were visible words of the Gospel. I like that. We hear the Gospel preached with audible words and see the Gospel displayed with visible words through the ordinances. 

So, we hear the Gospel preached through sermon and Bible study, we sing about the Gospel through musical worship, we fellowship because of the Gospel, we give for the sake of the Gospel, and we see the Gospel displayed in the ordinances of the church. 

Let’s look now at the ordinances. 

First, . . .

II. We remember the Gospel in the Lord’s Supper. [on screen]

The beginnings of the Lord’s Supper go back to the last meal that Jesus and His apostles would share before His crucifixion. 

Jesus and the apostles were all Jewish and they were preparing to celebrate the Passover meal: the meal which remembered God’s grace in passing over the people of Israel when all the first-born of Egypt died, and they remembered God’s deliverance of them from Egyptian slavery. 

The apostles did not fully understand that they would soon celebrate a greater Passover found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

So, they gathered together and Jesus spoke of what was to come in His crucifixion. Listen to the account of this in Matthew 26:26-30. 

26 As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take and eat it; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks, he gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 But I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. [on screen]

We see from the Bible that Jesus brought attention to two elements at the Supper which are significant: the bread and the cup.

The bread represented the body of Jesus, which would be beaten and killed at Jesus’ crucifixion.

The cup (juice/wine) represented the blood of Jesus, which would be poured out when Jesus was killed on the cross. 

When we take the bread and juice we remember the work of Jesus because we remember that His body was beaten and crucified, and that His blood was spilled.

One may ask why we focus on Jesus’ death. Well, it’s important that we remember the death of Jesus because His death on the cross pays the penalty for our sins! It’s because of Jesus’ death that we can be saved from the curse of sin!

The Lord’s Supper helps us remember the work of Jesus!

The apostle Paul speaks of the Lord’s Supper as well. Listen to what he says in 1 Corinthians 11:23-30:

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself; in this way let him eat the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For whoever eats and drinks without recognizing the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 This is why many are sick and ill among you, and many have fallen asleep. [on screen]

I preached a sermon on this passage back in December, so I won’t spend too much time on it, but here’s what we can learn from it. Listen to these four points. 

At the Lord’s Supper we . . . [on screen]

1. . . . take a past look at the Lord’s crucifixion [on screen]

We remember the work of Jesus on the cross. The Lord’s Supper helps us do that. 

After all, Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

2. . . . take a present look at the Lord’s covenant [on screen]

Jesus said, “This is the new covenant.” We have been set free by the blood of Jesus and we now have a new covenant with God through the death and resurrection of Jesus. 

3. . . . take a future look at the Lord’s coming [on screen]

Paul said in verse 26, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

Additionally, Jesus said in Matthew 26:29 (which we read earlier), “But I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Jesus and Paul are both pointing us to a future meal with Jesus  in heaven that will be a celebration of all that Jesus has done and all that He will be doing when all things are made new. We look forward to that!

4. . . . take an inward look at our conscience [on screen]

Paul speaks of not taking the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner. We are to examine ourselves and see that we are in good fellowship with the Lord and with our brothers and sisters in Christ before we take the Lord’s Supper. 

The is why we believe at First Baptist Church that only faithful baptized believers should take the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is not for everyone; it’s for faithful followers of Jesus. 

We are to take this ordinance seriously and with reverence. 

We remember the Gospel at the Lord’s Supper. 

The second ordinance is baptism.

III. We see the Gospel in baptism. [on screen]

Baptism is a picture of the work of Jesus in the life of a person. 

We see this in several different ways:

First, Jesus was baptized Himself before He began His ministry. 

You can reference Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3, and John 1 to read about Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist. 

When we are baptized we are like Jesus. 

Second, our sins are washed away by Jesus and baptism is like a picture of being washed with water. 

Third, at baptism, someone goes underwater and comes back up. This is like a picture of when Jesus was buried and then rose from the dead. 

Listen again to the words of Paul from Romans 6:3-5:

3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection. [on screen]

We weren’t literally buried with Jesus and we didn’t literally rise with Jesus.  However, baptism is a physical picture of the spiritual reality.

When someone goes into the water, it’s a picture of the literal death of Jesus and our spiritual death to sin. When someone comes up out of the water, it’s a picture of the literal resurrection of Jesus and our spiritual resurrection to a new life. 

Baptism pictures the work of Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. 

Finally, at baptism, we are being baptized like other people who follow Jesus in our church. 

To be a member of First Baptist Church Bartow you must be a baptized follower of Jesus. 

In baptism, we are showing a picture of the Gospel by saying that we are like others in our church: we follow Jesus too!

Before we leave this I want to answer a few more questions regarding baptism.

It’s important to realize that baptism is not what makes someone a Christian. It’s not what saves someone from their sins. 

Remember, when the thief on the cross next to Jesus asked for Jesus to remember Him, Jesus said to Him “today you will be with me in paradise.” That thief was certainly not baptized. 

You see, baptism is a symbol of the work of Jesus in a Christian’s life. It’s a picture of the forgiveness of sins, not the actual forgiveness of sins. It’s a sign to everyone that you follow Jesus. 

Illustration: Baptism can be thought of like a wedding ring. Someone who is married wears a wedding ring as a symbol that he or she is married. The wedding ring does not make the person married, but it shows people that he or she is married. So also, baptism does not make you a Christian, but it is an important symbol that you are a Christian. 

So, baptism is a picture to everyone that the person being baptized loves Jesus, wants to identify with Jesus and other Christians, and wants to obey Jesus.

Also, we believe that only followers of Jesus should be baptized. If baptism is a picture of the work of Jesus in someone’s life then that someone must have experienced the work of Jesus. Therefore, we don’t believe that infants or young children should be baptized. Further, we don’t believe that non-Christian older children or adults should be baptized. Baptism is only for followers of Jesus. 

Additionally, we believe that baptism should be by immersion. We believe this for three main reasons:

1. The Greek word baptizō usually means to immerse, not to sprinkle, pour, or dip, but to immerse. 

2. Most of the examples that we have of baptism in the New Testament seem to be by immersion. See for instance Jesus’ baptism and the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:36-39.

3. Baptism by immersion is what most closely pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. 

So, we see the Gospel in baptism. 

We see the work of Jesus in the life of a follower of Jesus when he or she is baptized.

Concluding Thoughts:

Here’s what it all boils down to. This is our bottom line:

Bottom Line: The ordinances of the church are Godgiven reminders of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  [on screen]


When a church practices the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, they are obeying the command of Jesus and they are focusing on the work of Jesus. 

What a gift from God to help us remember the work of Jesus!

Here’s how we can put this into action in our lives:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Take opportunity to remind yourself of the Gospel.  [on screen]

Take every opportunity. 

The ordinances remind us that we must focus on the work of Jesus. 

So, take every opportunity. Talk to your family about the Gospel. Pray about the Gospel. Sing about the Gospel. Focus on the Gospel.  

  1. Celebrate the ordinances of the church.  [on screen]

Participate in the ordinances at our church. 

Encourage others in baptism and the Lord’s Supper. 

Teach your children and grandchildren about the ordinances. 

Show reverence and excitement towards the ordinances. 


In addition to preaching, giving, praying, singing, and more, the ordinances help us focus on the Gospel. They are all are about the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

We’re going to celebrate one of the ordinances now. We’re going to take the Lord’s Supper together. At this time, I’d like to ask our deacons to come as we prepare to serve the supper. 


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