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The Doctrine of Christ

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    LESSON SEVENTY-SEVEN The Ordinances of the Church

    1. Among the leading ordinances of the ancient church were the day of Atonement, the Passover, and Pentecost. Leviticus 16:29, 30; 23:5, 15, 16.TDOC 231.2

    2. All these ordinances pointed forward to Christ and his work, and when he had come, baptism and the Lord’s Supper were appointed in their place to direct attention to Christ. Matthew 28:19; 26:26-28.TDOC 231.3

    3. Baptism is the outward sign of an inward experience a union with Christ in his death and resurrection. Romans 6:3, 4.TDOC 231.4

    4. This experience involves the death of the old man and the putting on of the new man. Romans 6:6; Galatians 3:27. Colossians 3:5-11.TDOC 231.5

    5. The Lord’s Supper is an expression of that intimate fellowship with Christ which means a sharing with him in his own life. 1 Corinthians 10:16, 17.TDOC 231.6

    6. The Lord’s Supper brings to mind the death of Christ in behalf of our sins, and has a forward look to his coming. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.TDOC 231.7

    7. In connection with the institution of the Lord’s Supper Jesus gave to his disciples a wonderful example of true humility in service. John 13:2-5.TDOC 232.1

    8. Having set the example, Jesus then instructed his followers that they should follow it, doing as he had done. John 13:12-17.TDOC 232.2

    Two monumental pillars

    “The ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper are two monumental pillars, one without and one within the church. Upon these ordinances Christ has inscribed the name of the true God.TDOC 232.3

    “Christ has made baptism the sign of entrance to his spiritual kingdom. He has made this a positive condition with which all must comply who wish to be acknowledged as under the authority of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Before man can find a home in the church, before passing the threshold of God’s spiritual kingdom, he is to receive the impress of the divine name, ‘the Lord our Righteousness.” Jeremiah 2:6.TDOC 232.4

    “Baptism is a most solemn renunciation of the world. Those who are baptized in the threefold name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, at the very entrance of their Christian life declare publicly that they have forsaken the service of Satan, and have become members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King.”-Testimonies for the Church 6:91.TDOC 232.5

    No efficacy in the form

    “It is the grace of Christ that gives life to the soul. Apart from Christ, baptism, like any other service, is a worthless form.”-The Desire of Ages, 202.TDOC 232.6

    The means of validity

    “The ‘word’ that makes Christian ordinances valid, is not the past utterance of God alone, which may remain a dead letter, preserved in the oracles of Scripture or the official forms of the church, but that word alive and active, respok6n and transmitted from soul to soul by the breath of the Holy Spirit.”TDOC 232.7

    The meaning of the baptismal vows

    “The vows which we take upon ourselves in baptism embrace much. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we are buried in the likeness of Christ’s death, and raised in the likeness of his resurrection, and we are to live a new life. Our life is to be bound up with the life of Christ. Henceforth the believer is to bear in mind that he is dedicated to God, to Christ, and to the Holy Spirit. He is to make all worldly considerations secondary to this new relation. Publicly he has declared that he will no longer live in pride and self-indulgence. He is no longer to live a careless, indifferent life. He has made a covenant with God. He has died to the world. He is to live to the Lord, to use for him all his entrusted capabilities, never losing the realization that he bears God’s signature, that he is a subject of Christ’s kingdom, a partaker of the divine nature.”-Testimonies for the Church 6:98, 99.TDOC 232.8

    A profession of death and resurrection

    “The water is a mystic grave: and we do not bury live things but dead things; and our old man is buried there in hope of resurrection. Therefore it is said again, ‘We are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised from the dead, even so we should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.’ Thus baptism is our profession of death and resurrection.” Baptism and faith—TDOC 233.1

    “Baptism manifestly presupposes faith. To imagine that the mechanical performance of the rite apart from faith present or anticipated in the subject, ‘clothes us with Christ,’ is to hark back to Judaism. It is to substitute baptism for circumcision a difference merely perform, so long as the doctrine of ritual regeneration remains the same. This passage is as clear a proof as could well be desired, that in the Pauline vocabulary ‘baptized’ is synonymous with ‘believing.”TDOC 233.2

    A symbol of regeneration

    “The cleansing and withal refreshing virtues of water made it an obvious symbol of regeneration. The emblem is twofold; it pictures at once the removal of guilt, and the imparting of new strength. One goes into the bath exhausted, and covered with dust; one comes out clean and fresh. Hence the baptism of the new believer in Christ had, in St. Paul’s view, a double aspect. It looked backward to the old life of sin abandoned, and forward to the new life of holiness combined. Thus it corresponded to the burial of Jesus (Romans 6:4), the point of juncture between death and resurrection. Baptism served as the visible and formal expression of the soul’s passage through the gate of forgiveness into the sanctified life.”TDOC 233.3

    The seal and the promise

    “Baptism is rather the initiatory rite into the Christian church, the body of Christ. Acts 2:41; 5:14. It gives the seal to all previous spiritual experiences, and is the promise of growth with the body of Christ, of which the baptized is an integral part; for, in the language of Paul, he that had ‘put on Christ’ was not only in a personal, but in an integral, relation to him as a member of his body, so that the church is one man in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:27, 28.TDOC 233.4

    “Baptism is a highly symbolical act. The washing of the body symbolizes the cleansing from sin, spoken of as forgiveness (Acts 2:38, cf. 22:16, and 1 Corinthians 6:11), as a cleansing by the word (Ephesians 5:26), as the restoration of a good conscience (Hebrews 10:22, 23).TDOC 233.5

    “The power, however, to effect these changes, lies not in the water, but in God. It also symbolizes the burial with Christ (Romans 6:3, 4; Colossians 2:12), by reason of which the recipient is bound to be unto sin. The same idea is brought out in the analogy between baptism and the circumcision of Christ: the ‘putting off of the body of the flesh.’ Colossians 2:11. It has also been considered by some a symbol of regeneration. John 3:5; Titus 3:5. There is no trace of infant baptism in the New Testament.”-Schaff Herzog “Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge,” Volume 1, p. 200.TDOC 234.1

    Baptism is Immersion

    “The uniform meaning of ‘dip’ for baptize and the use of the river Jordan as the place for baptizing by John the Baptist, makes inevitable the notion of immersion unless there is some direct contradictory testimony. It is a matter that should be lifted above verbal quibbling or any effort to disprove the obvious facts. The simple narrative in Matthew 3:6 is that ‘they were baptized of him in the river. Jordan.’ In Mark 1:9, 10, the baptism is sharpened a bit in the use of eis and ek. Jesus ‘was baptized of John in [eis] the Jordan. And straightway coming up out of [ek] the water, he saw.’ So in Acts 8:38 we read: ‘They both went down into [eis] the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they came up out of [ek] the water, the Spirit... caught away Philip.’ If one could still be in doubt about the matter, Paul sets it at rest by the symbolism used in Romans 6:4: ‘We wore buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.’ The submergence and emergence of immersion thus, according to Paul, symbolize the death and burial to sin on the one hand and the resurrection to the new life in Christ on the other. Sanday and Headlam (Church of England) put it thus in their commentary on Romans (p. 153): ‘It expresses symbolically a series of acts corresponding to, the redeeming acts of Christ. Immersion beneath. Submersion burial (the ratification of death). Emergence=Resurrection.’ In Colossians 2:12 Paul again says: ‘Having been buried with him in baptism, wherein you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.’ The same image is here presented. Lightfoot (Church of England) on Colossians (p. 182) says: ‘Baptism is the grave of the old man, and the birth of the new. As he sinks beneath the baptismal waters, the believer buries there all his corrupt affections and past sins; as he emerges thence, he rises regenerate, quickened to new hopes and new life. There is nothing in the New Testament to offset this obvious and inevitable interpretation.”-“The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,” Volume 1, p. 386, 387.TDOC 234.2

    The emblems of Christ’s sacrifice

    “Christ is still at the table on which the paschal supper has been spread. The unleavened cakes used at the Passover season are before him. The Passover wine, untouched by fermentation, is on the table. These emblems Christ employs to represent his own unblemished sacrifice. Nothing corrupted by fermentation, the symbol of sin and death, could represent the ‘Lamb without blemish and without spot.’ And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, cat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink you all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed f or many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”-The Desire of Ages, 781, 780.TDOC 234.3

    In union with Christ

    As faith contemplates our Lord’s great sacrifice, the soul assimilates the spiritual life of Christ. That soul will receive spiritual strength from every communion. The service forms a living connection by which the believer is bound up with Christ, and thus bound up with the Father. In a special sense it forms a connection between dependent human beings and God.TDOC 235.1

    “As we receive the bread and wine symbolizing Christ’s broken body and spilled blood, we in imagination join in the scene of communion in the upper chamber. We seem to be passing through the garden consecrated by the agony of him who bore the sins of the world. We witness the struggle by which our reconciliation with God was obtained. Christ is set forth crucified among us.TDOC 235.2

    “Looking upon the crucified Redeemer, we more fully comprehend the magnitude and meaning of the sacrifice made by the Majesty of heaven. The plan of salvation is glorified before us, and the thought of Calvary awakens living and sacred emotions in our hearts. Praise to God and the Lamb will be in our hearts and on our lips; for pride and self-worship cannot flourish in the soul that keeps fresh in memory the scenes of Calvary.”-Id., 790, 791.TDOC 235.3

    The presence of unworthy persons no excuse for absence

    “None should exclude themselves from the communion because some who are unworthy may be present. Every disciple is called upon to participate publicly, and thus bear witness that he accepts Christ as a personal Savior. It is at these, his own appointments, that Christ meets his people, and energizes them by his presence. Hearts and hands that are unworthy may even administer the ordinance, yet Christ is there to minister to his children. All who come with their faith fixed upon him will be greatly blessed. All who neglect these seasons of divine privilege will suffer loss.”-Id., 786, 797.TDOC 235.4

    Till he come

    “The communion service points to Christ’s second coming. It was designed to keep this hope vivid in the minds of the disciples. Whenever they met together to commemorate his death, they recounted how ‘he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink you all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’ In their tribulation they found comfort in the hope of their Lord’s return. Unspeakably precious to them was the thought, ‘As often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till he come.’TDOC 235.5

    “These are the things we are never to forget. The love of Jesus, with its constraining power, is to be kept fresh in our memory. Christ has instituted this service that it may speak to our senses of the love of God that has been expressed in our behalf. There can be no union between our souls and, God except through Christ. The union and love’ between brother and brother must be cemented and rendered eternal by the love of Jesus. And nothing less than the death of Christ could make his love efficacious f or us. It is only because of his death that we can look with joy to his second coming. His sacrifice is the center of our hope. Upon this we must fix our faith.”-Id., 788, 789.TDOC 236.1

    Exclusiveness forbidden

    “Christ’s example forbids exclusiveness at the Lord’s Supper. It is true that open sin excludes the guilty. This the Holy Spirit plainly teaches. But beyond this none are to passed judgment. God has not left it with men to say who shall present themselves on these occasions. For who can read the heart? Who can distinguish the tares from the wheat? ‘Let a man examine himself, and so, let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.’ For ‘whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.’ ‘He that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself not discerning the Lord’s body.’TDOC 236.2

    “When believers assemble to celebrate the ordinances, there are present messengers unseen by human eyes. There may be a Judas in the company, and if so, messengers from the prince of darkness are there, for they attend all who refuse to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Heavenly angels also are present. These unseen visitants are present on every such occasion. There may come into the company persons who are not in heart servants of truth and holiness, but who may wish to take part in the service. They should not be forbidden.” Id., 785, 786.TDOC 236.3

    The time for the foot washing

    “In order to account for what follows, the precise time is defined in the words ‘supper being served’ or ‘supper time having arrived;’ not, as in the Authorized Version, ‘supper being ended,’ which plainly was not the case; nor, as in the Revised Version, ‘during supper.’ The difficulty about washing the feet could not have arisen after or during supper, but only as the guests entered and reclined at, table.”-“The Gospel of Saint John,” Marcus Dods, D. D., Volume 2, pp. 75, 76.TDOC 236.4

    An example of humility

    “On ordinary occasions it is probable that the disciples would perform, this humble office by turns, where there was no slave to discharge it for all. But this evening, when they gathered for the last supper, all took their places at the table with a studied ignorance of the necessity, a feigned unconsciousness that any such attention was required. As a matter of course, the pitcher of cool water, the basin, and the towel had been set as part of the requisite furnishing of the upper chamber; but no one among the disciples betrayed the slightest consciousness that he understood that any such custom existed. Why was this? Because, as Luke tells us (22:24), ‘there had arisen among them a contention, which of them is accounted to be the greatest.’TDOC 237.1

    “For any one to wash the feet of the rest was to declare himself the servant of all; and that was precisely what each one was resolved he, for his part, would not do. No one of them had humor enough to see the absurdity of the situation. No one of them was sensitive enough to be ashamed of showing such a temper in Christ’s presence. There they sat, looking at the table, looking at the ceiling, arranging their dress, each resolved upon this that he would not be the man to own himself servant of all.TDOC 237.2

    “But this unhealthy heat quite unfits them to listen to what their Lord has to say to them that last evening. Occupied as they are, not with anxiety about him nor with absorbing desire for the prosperity of his kingdom, but with selfish ambitions that separate them alike from him and from one another, how can they receive what he has to say? But how is he to bring them into a state of mind in which they can listen wholly and devotedly to him 9 How is he to quench their heated passions and stir within them humility and love? He rises from the supper table, and laid aside his garments, and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he pours water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Each separate action is a fresh astonishment and a deeper shame to the bewildered and conscience stricken disciples.”-Id., 76, 77.TDOC 237.3

    Jesus at the feet of the traitor

    “Still another circumstance which seemed to John to accentuate the grace of the foot-washing was this-that Judas was among the guests, and that the devil had now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him.’ Instead of unmasking him, Jesus makes no difference between him and the others, kneels by his couch, takes his feet in his hands, washes and gently dries them. However difficult it is to understand why Jesus chose Judas at the first, there can be no question that throughout his acquaintance with him he had done all that was possible to win him. The kind of treatment Judas had received throughout may be inferred from the treatment he received now. Jesus knew him to be a man of a low type and impenitent; he knew him to be at that very time out of harmony with the little company, false, plotting, meaning to save himself by bringing ruin on the rest. Yet Jesus will not denounce him to the others. His sole weapon is love. Conquests which he cannot achieve with this he will not achieve at all. In the person of Judas the utmost of malignity the world can show is present to Him, and he meets it with kindness. Well may also exclaim: ‘Jesus at the feet of the traitor-What a picture! What lessons for us!”-The Desire of Ages, 81, 82.TDOC 237.4

    The preparation for the communion

    “Now, having washed the disciples’ feet, He said, ‘I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.’ In these words Christ was not merely enjoining the practice of hospitality. More was meant than the washing of the feet of, guests to remove the dust of travel. Christ was here instituting a religious service. By the act of our Lord this humiliating ceremony was made a consecrated ordinance. It was to be observed by the disciples, that they might ever keep in mind his lessons of humility and service.TDOC 238.1

    “This ordinance is Christ’s appointed preparation for the sacramental service. While pride, variance, and strife for supremacy are cherished, the heart cannot enter into fellowship with Christ. We are not prepared to receive the communion of his body and his blood. Therefore it was that Jesus appointed the memorial of his humiliation to be first observed.”-The Desire of Ages, 776, 777.TDOC 238.2

    An example to be followed

    “Our Lord was not content to let his action speak for itself; he expressly explains (John 13:12, 17) the meaning of what he had now done. He meant that they should learn to wash one another’s feet, to be humble and ready to be of service to one another, even when to serve seemed to compromise their dignity. No disciple of Christ need go far to find feet that need washing, feet that are stained or bleeding with the hard ways that have been trodden. To recover men from the difficulties into which sin or misfortune has brought them; to wipe off some of the soil from men’s lives; to make them purer, sweeter, readier to listen to Christ; even unostentatiously to do the small services which each hour calls for, is to follow him who girt himself with the slave’s apron. As often as we thus condescend we become like Christ. By putting himself in the servant’s place, our Lord has consecrated all service. The disciple who next washed the feet of the rest would feel that he was representing Christ, and Would suggest to the minds of the others the action of their Lord; and as often as we lay aside the conventional dignity in which we are clad, and gird ourselves to do what others despise, we feel that we are doing what Christ would do, and are truly representing him.”-“The Gospel of St. John,” Marcus Dods, D. D., Volume 2, p. 88.TDOC 238.3

    A pledge to service

    “To those who receive tie spirit of this service, it can never become a mere ceremonial. Its constant lesson will be, ‘By love serve one another.’ In washing the feet of his disciples, Christ gave evidence that he would do any service, however humble, that would make them heirs with him of the eternal wealth of heaven’s treasure. His disciples, in performing the same rite, pledge themselves in like manner to serve their brethren. Whenever this ordinance is rightly celebrated, the children of God are brought into a holy relationship, to help and bless each other. They covenant that the life shall be given to unselfish ministry. And this, not only for one another. Their field of labor is as wide as their Master’s was. The world is full of those who need our ministry. The poor, the helpless, the ignorant, are on every hand. Those who have communed with Christ in the upper chamber, will go forth to minister as he did.”-The Desire of Ages, 778, 779.TDOC 239.1

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