Ordinances and Sacraments

Published:
October 20, 2023 (8 months ago)

If you grew up in church, you have heard these words before. Some churches refer to Baptism and Communion as sacraments, we prefer to call them ordinances. Does it matter? Is there really a difference? Webster’s Dictionary defines sacraments as “rites ordained by Jesus and regarded as a means of grace.” The same Dictionary defines an ordinance as “a prescribed practice.” I trust you can see the difference. While Baptism and Communion are certainly celebrations of grace, to refer to them as a means of grace may imply that we are attempting to earn something by our participation. Jesus, did in fact, prescribe these two practices. Something does indeed happen when we are baptized and when we meet around the Table but not in a salvific sense. Jesus is present by His Spirit and He is pleased with any action that acknowledges with gratitude the sufficiency of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We should sense His pleasure in these times of remembrance. But remember, we are saved by faith, not by works. Jesus saves! Not Baptism and not Communion. Let’s not do anything that minimizes the sufficiency of what Jesus did. However, Jesus told us to observe these two practices so that we wouldn’t forget our immersion into life with Him and the nourishing life that comes from fellowship with Him. So, let’s also avoid the ditch on the other side of the road that fails to appreciate our glorious redemption available through Jesus Christ our Lord.