The sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper were instituted by Jesus Christ as signs and seals of the covenant. They explain the basis of this covenant and apply its benefits to believers. They replace circumcision and the Passover which were the sacraments of the old covenant.
The sacraments as signs of the new covenant
The sacraments as a participation in the body of Christ
The Lord’s Supper 1Co 10:16-17 The “body of Christ” is a term which goes beyond Jesus Christ to the church. Those who partake of the bread in this way are declaring their membership of the church. See also Mt 26:26 pp Mk 14:22 pp Lk 22:19 pp 1Co 11:24; Jn 6:32-35,48 Jesus Christ likens himself to bread as he is the source of spiritual life and nourishment; Jn 6:50-58 The believer who eats the bread of the Lord’s Supper is renewing his or her dependence on Jesus Christ for spiritual life.
The sacraments as a participation in the death of Christ
Baptism Ro 6:3-4 Through baptism individuals declare that they have applied to themselves the death of Jesus Christ which atones for sin. See also Ac 2:38; Ac 22:16 Baptism does not accomplish the cleansing from sin but it is the outward sign that this has taken place by faith; Ro 6:5-7; Col 2:12; Tit 3:5; 1Pe 3:21
The Lord’s Supper 1Co 11:26 In taking the emblems of Jesus Christ’s broken body and shed blood individuals perpetually apply the merits of Christ’s death (i.e., forgiveness of sins) to themselves. See also Mt 26:27-28 pp Mk 14:23-24 pp Lk 22:20 pp 1Co 11:25; Jn 6:53-56; 1Co 10:16
The sacraments of the old covenant
Circumcision Ac 7:8 Circumcision was the initiation rite under the old covenant. See also Ge 17:10-14; Ro 2:28-29 Circumcision was never meant as merely an outward rite. To be effective it required a right attitude of heart; Ro 4:10-11 Circumcision was the seal of Abraham’s righteousness imputed to him by his faith; Col 2:11-12 Circumcision has now been superseded by baptism for the Christian as the rite of initiation.
The Passover Ex 12:25-27 The Passover meal was instituted as a regular commemoration of Israel’s redemption from slavery in Egypt. See also Lk 22:15-16 The death of Jesus Christ is closely associated with the Passover by its timing and meaning. The Lord’s Supper has superseded the Passover as the corporate meal commemorating the act of redemption; 1Co 5:7
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