The church, as established by Jesus Christ, is a divine institution. Through His teachings, He mandated only two ordinances -- authoritative commands or orders -- for the New Testament church, which replace the laws of the Old Testament. We observe these ordinances in obedience to Christ's instructions.
Baptism symbolizes the burial of one's old self and life before the acceptance of Christ, and one's symbolic rebirth as a member of the body of Christ. Those believers from the Baptist/Congregational tradition typically believe in 'believers' baptism' -- that is, one must be of an age and understanding to confess his or her belief in Jesus Christ as the risen Savior.
Did you know that there are three forms of baptism? They are:
- Immersion (total submersion)
We believe in and practice immersion (total submersion). This is based upon biblical accounts of Jesus' own baptism by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13-17), and on the historical understanding that primitive churches baptized in this manner, as indicated by the use of the Greek word baptizo (meaning 'to dip or submerge').
There are also several baptism ‘formulas’ -- baptizing in the name of Jesus only, as espoused by the apostles, but churches with a congregational polity usually baptize 'in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost' (Matthew 28:17-20). The pastor performs baptism, assisted by the deacons (spiritual officers) and other ministers of the church. Anyone who has not been baptized in this manner is a candidate for baptism at Mt. Vernon Christian Church.
Now, do you know what the other ordinance is? It is the...
THE LORD'S SUPPER or HOLY COMMUNION
The Lord's Supper is a reminder of the sustaining new life in Christ. The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) recount Jesus' last meal on the night that He was betrayed, which was a celebration of Passover with His 12 disciples.
After giving thanks for the bread, He broke it and instructed them to eat, explaining that it was His body broken for them, and to do so in remembrance of Him. He also took a cup of wine, tasted it, explained that it was the New Testament in His blood, and as often as it was consumed, it should be in remembrance of Him (I Corinthian 11:23-34).
Christians really observe a modified form of the Passover Seder when celebrating the Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper should be taken after careful examination of one's personal actions, with reverence and sincere forgiveness for sins. Only ordained clergy and deacons are able to administer this ordinance. At this church, it is observed on the fourth Sunday of each month and on special occasions
Now, do you know what the other ordinance is? It is...