Approved on May 28, 2008
Revised on June 9, 2010
I – Definition
1) Sacraments, also known as ordinances, are worship ceremonies created and commanded by the Lord Jesus for His church. They proclaim through physical signs (such as water, bread and wine) the divine promise of forgiveness through the good news of Jesus Christ.
2) There are only two sacraments in the New Testament church, baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
a) Baptism is the sacrament of admission into the visible church.
b) The Lord’s Supper is the sacrament of spiritual nourishment and continuance in the visible church.
3) Such Old Testament ceremonies as circumcision and Passover point to, and have their fulfillment, in baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
II – Description
1) The sacraments, when coupled with the Word (i.e. the verbal proclamation of the Gospel), represent . . .
a) The Gospel to our senses, through hearing, tasting and washing.
b) Christ’s sacrificial death and the salvation and hope that it brings.
c) God’s authority and His guarantee of favor because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
d) The benefits of being in the new covenant of grace, united with Christ, heirs of His Kingdom, and belonging to His church.
2) By partaking in the sacraments, in faith alone, Christians . . .
a) Are reminded of what Christ has done for them and are strengthened in their faith.
b) Publicly proclaim, and submit, to Christ as their Lord, Savior and God.
c) Are reminded that just as Christ came to serve, we are called to serve God and our neighbor.
3) The sacraments are not . . .
a) Magical. Any benefit by partaking in them is received by grace alone in Jesus Christ.
b) Required for salvation, though it is a sin to neglect them.
4) The act of partaking in the sacraments by themselves offers no certainty of salvation, however, the sacraments point to the certainty of the promises we have in Christ through faith alone.
III – Administration
1) The sacraments shall only be administered by those appointed by the church.
2) The usual time of administering the sacraments is during public worship on the Lord’s Day.
3) The sacraments can be administered outside of public worship with the permission of the Pastor and the Diaconate.
4) Since the sacraments are only for Christians, the Diaconate should guard their administration with much charity.