When you think about what it means to preach the Gospel to yourself, what comes to mind? Do you have specific passages that you go to, like John 3:16 or Romans 8? Perhaps you like to read passages from a favorite book that focus on the gospel, such as Milton Vincent’s “The Gospel Primmer.” Maybe you are musical, and so there are hymns or modern worship songs that bring you deep into the truths of the cross. These things are great, and they are certainly life-giving. Personally, I use those techniques to refresh myself in the gospel, regularly. However, I would like us to consider if that is the most critical thing that scripture highlights for us? Consider these well-known words from 1 Corinthians and Matthew 28 in the light of what Jesus commanded His followers to do for His glory, and their joy!
“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:23–26,)
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19–20)
Communion and Baptisms are Gospel Pictures
Think of all the various pictures that point you to the gospel. There are so many that are found in scripture, but the ones that you are commanded to adhere to, to participate in, and to witness regularly, are the Lord’s Table and the Baptism of Believers. When you think about these two ordinances, do you think about them as the most gospel-centered things that you might do on a given Sunday? Do you see them as not only clear commands but life-giving actions that will draw you nearer to Christ?
There may be a lot that we do not understand that God commanded us to do. However, when we look at the Lord’s Table and Baptism of new believers, hopefully, it is crystal clear why these things are such powerful tools in our fight for the gospel. What could be more refreshing to your spirit than hearing how God delivered men and women who were formally enslaved in darkness and transferred them to the kingdom of light? What could be better than sitting with your brothers and sisters in Christ and considering the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ—and proclaiming it with them (see 1 Cor. 11:26).
No Greater Joy
I have had the opportunity to baptize persons over the years, and participate in the administration of the Lord’s table, as well as sitting with a new believer as they participate in the Lord’s table for the first time. I can tell you that there is no joy quite like these!
You probably even remember the joy (and possible anxiety) associated with your first communion, or your baptism. Think of how much pleasure you should get out of doing that over and over, watching more and more persons saved! Yet, often we find this repetitive and not miraculous. This should not be the case, because it is miraculous!
If you see these things as uninteresting, consider if you need to figure out why you hold that view. Perhaps one of the issues is that you have not brought anyone to baptism or to the Lord’s Table in a long time (or ever.) Christ commanded all of us (not just the pastors) to make disciples. Perhaps the reason you do not love baptism is you have not brought someone to the baptismal waters in a very long time. Whatever it is, let’s move to a position where we cherish it.
Do you Move Mountains for Them?
In my particular church context, we observe these two ordinances at our Sunday evening Service. This was done (and is still done) very intentionally by our church leadership. One of the pushbacks to doing this on a Sunday evening, and not Sunday morning, is that it is hard to attend the service or people don’t want to go to a Sunday evening church anymore and, therefore, we should change this to be something we do on Sunday morning. This post is not the place for that conversation. However, the Lord’s day should be less about what is convenient and more about what is Biblical and best for the souls of the congregation. If we are cherishing the Lord’s Table and Baptism, then that means we will move mountains.
I do not know how your church organizes the administration of these ordinances. Regardless of how your church structures this, would you at least agree that it is so vital that you do them that, even if your churches’ leadership scheduled them on Friday evening at 7pm, you would move mountains to be there? Would you agree that observing the ordinances is less about what time your leaders plan them and more about what you value?
If you are to skip out on baptisms and the Lord’s table regularly, you are saying that you value something more than these things. If you decided to skip the service that your church does, and you can be there, then you are saying you love something else more.
For example, you might long for “rest” in the sense that you are lounging in your pajamas on the couch while watching TV (but true rest will be found at the church house). You might value all kinds of other things more than observing baptisms and the Lord’s table, but the Christian who wants to bathe in the gospel needs to see that the ordinances are a great way to do that.
Come to the Service
The call is simple. If you are going to live a life that is pleasing to the Father (2 Cor. 5:9) by becoming like the Son (Romans 8:29), then you need to do all that He commands for His glory, and your good! Consider if you need to change your heart around baptism and the Lord’s table, and see it as essential and life giving—something you will move mountains to be a part of.