Adopted 12/3/2009. Baptism & Communion

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1 Position Paper Adopted 12/3/2009 Grace Church Roseville Baptism & Communion We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has committed two ordinances to the local church: baptism and the Lord's Supper. We believe that Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the triune God. We believe that the Lord's Supper was instituted by Christ for commemoration of His death. We believe that these two ordinances should be observed and administered until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace Church Roseville Statement of Faith An ordinance is an established rite or ceremony or a sacrament 1 of the church. Grace Church Roseville holds, as described in our Statement of Faith 2, that there are two ordinances which have been given to the church universal to practice until Christ Jesus returns again to earth: baptism and the Lord s Supper (or communion.) Baptism Baptism is an act of identification. Through a believer s baptism, one who believes in Christ Jesus identifies publicly with Him and His church 3. The act of baptism is an outward witness of an inward faith in Christ Jesus alone for salvation. 4 When believers are baptized, they are committing publicly to follow Jesus and to acknowledge His lordship over them. Baptism also signifies identification with Jesus death and resurrection; when a believer is baptized, he or she is baptized into [Christ s] death. 5 Symbolically, baptism also reminds the believer of the washing away of sin 6. At Grace Church Roseville, we affirm that baptism is commanded of all believers 7. While baptism is not required for one to be saved 8, all believers should be baptized as soon as practically possible following their acceptance of Christ Jesus as savior as a matter of obedience Acts 2:38, 10:48, 19:5, Rom. 6:3, Gal. 3:27, 4 Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears Vintage Church (p.114). Crossway Books, Rom. 6:3-4. See also Col. 2:12 6 Acts 2:38, 22:16, I Cor. 6:11, Eph. 5:26 7 Matt. 28:19, Acts 2:38, 8 Cf: Luke 23:43 the thief on the cross was saved through grace accepted by faith; he certainly was saved but not baptized. See also Acts 16:31. 9 Scriptural descriptions of baptism universally place baptism in immediate succession to accepting the grace offered through Christ Jesus - Acts 2:41, 8:12-13, 8:15-16, 8:35-39, 9:18, 10:44-48, 16:14-15, 16:32-33, 18:8, 19:5, 22:15-16

2 It is our practice to baptize believers upon a confession of faith and a testimony of Jesus work in the believer s life. Candidates for believer s baptism at Grace Church Roseville must also submit to an interview with the leadership of the church in order to ensure that the candidate understands the seriousness of the commitment being made 10, and the believer s understanding of the Gospel of Christ 11. We baptize by immersion as that is the example set forth in scripture 12. By practice, baptism is led and performed by pastors and elders, although this is not demanded by scripture. There are no scriptural guidelines as to who can baptize another. As this is the case, we hold that members of the church may be permitted to baptize another as long as they have been properly trained in the meaning and method of the baptism service. By requiring membership, we know that the one baptizing another has already demonstrated obedience in being baptized. By requiring training, we ensure the dignity and testimony of the baptismal service, as well as (practically speaking) the safety of the participants. Exceptions to this requirement may be permitted by the Senior/Lead pastor of Grace Church Roseville 13. Communion Communion (the Lord s Supper) is the celebration of the Lord s last Passover meal shared with His disciples 14. By partaking in the two elements, bread and wine (or grape juice), we remember and proclaim in community the death and resurrection of Jesus 15. In the bread we are reminded of Jesus body, which was broken in sacrifice for us 16. In the wine we are reminded of Jesus blood, which was shed so that our sins may be washed away 17. Communion is to be celebrated by the church until Jesus Christ returns to earth 18. It must be performed in a manner worthy of the sacrifice made by Jesus 19. Each person coming to communion must take care to examine his or her heart before God. Each must also be reconciled in relationship with anyone the partaker has offended as communion is a community (i.e., relational) act 20. At Grace Church Roseville, we practice open communion. By this we mean that any believing Christian is welcome to join our community in participating in the communion service by partaking of the two elements. There is no requirement of membership attached to receiving communion. All that is required is that believing Christians examine themselves in light of 10 Matt 8:18-22, Luke 9:57-62, 14: John 3:16, Rom. 10:9, I Tim. 6:12, I Peter 3:15 12 All scriptural references to baptism refer to immersion. The Greek term βαπτίζω (baptizo) also usually and typically refers to immersion. Jesus was baptized by immersion (Matt. 3:13-16, Mark 1:9-11), as was the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:36-39), in the two most detailed episodes of baptism in the New Testament. 13 See Common Questions at the end of this document for more related to who can perform baptisms. 14 Matt. 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26, Luke 22: I Cor. 11: Mark 14:22 17 Mark 14:24 18 I Cor. 11:26 19 I Cor. 11: Matt. 5:23; although this passage speaks of offerings, the principle applies to any act of worship which communion certainly is. If worship depends on our horizontal relationships even in something as individual as giving of one s offerings, how much more so is the condition of our relationships in something so communal in nature as communion!

3 Paul s teaching in I Corinthians 11. This is for the benefit of those participating in the service as dishonoring the Lord s Table invites judgment 21. Although we practice open communion in regards to who may partake of communion, we do require membership of those who lead a communion service under the authority of Grace Church Roseville. We also require training of those who wish to lead a communion service for the sake of the propriety of the communion service, and to assist those who may be hesitant about leading a communion service in an unworthy manner 22. Common Questions 1. Why do you require believer s baptism for membership? Membership in the church universal is granted to any believing Christian at the moment he or she first accepts on faith the grace offered by Christ Jesus death and resurrection. There is much to be said for being a member of the worldwide, global body of Christ. And certainly, as a matter of obedience, anyone who makes a choice to follow Christ should be baptized. So what of the local church? The local church is an expression of the universal church. To say one is a member of the worldwide church, but that one is not willing to be a member of a local church is akin to saying one is a member of the extended family, yet chooses to not be a part of one s immediate family. While there may be cases this is appropriate, those would be rare cases indeed. Therefore we encourage membership in a local church as a step closer to loving other believers in joining with them in pursuing a common mission and vision within the context of the local church community. If we deem membership in the local church important, then, it seems that those joining the local community we call Grace Church Roseville should demonstrate both a testimony of faith and obedience to our Savior Jesus Christ. If one is not willing to be obedient in such a matter, we need to question the seriousness one s desire to be a part of the church at all. It is the seriousness with which we take local church membership that causes us to require obedience in baptism. 2. What is your position on infant baptism? At Grace Church Roseville, we practice a believer s baptism. The order of steps in scripture is always faith then baptism ; nobody is baptized before making a conscious decision to follow Jesus Christ. While it is true that there is no literal and specific commandment, per se, that baptism must proceed only in this way, the examples in scripture are clear enough to justify this practice. As infants have not yet understood the Gospel, or are able to make a decision for Christ, we do not baptize infants. 21 I Cor. 11: See Common Questions at the end of this document for more related to who can lead communion services

4 This is not to minimize the heart and intent of parents who have baptized their young children. We wholly and confidently affirm and respect the intent of the parents to identify their child with the body of Christ. Infant baptism is performed with love and a desire to ensure the child s spiritual benefit. In many ways, a believer s baptism can be seen as the completion of the original intent of the infant s baptism. We do, though, believe that believer s baptism is a command given to each believer individually, and each believer should obediently choose believer s baptism on his or her own. Infants are not able to comprehend or testify (yet!) to God s Gospel, nor can they choose to obey in this matter. At Grace Church Roseville we practice child dedication, wherein the parents of a child commit to raising that child in a Godly manner. This is an honorable commitment, and one we take seriously, but it is not baptism. 3. Who do you permit to serve or lead in believer s baptism? There is no scriptural dictate as to who is, or is not, permitted to lead a believer s baptism service. Considering the scripture is silent on this matter, then, we hold loosely our practice in regards to who may perform a believer s baptism. Traditionally, it has been only pastors who have performed believer s baptisms at Grace Church Roseville. Recently, elders have also performed believer s baptisms in their roles of shepherds of the church. This has been a matter of tradition rather than of any biblical command. In reality, it seems to us that any believer in Jesus Christ has the right to baptize another believer. It also seems that there is something special and honoring in permitting the one who led another to Christ to perform the new believer s baptism. This leads us to permit our members to also perform a believer s baptism, although this is always under the authority of the church and its leaders. We do require that the members do receive training. This is to ensure the integrity and witness of the baptism ceremony, as well as to ensure the safety of the participants. Additionally, in certain circumstances, we may permit a believing, baptized Christian from outside our local church membership to perform a believer s baptism at Grace Church Roseville. Permission for such an arrangement needs to be received from the Senior/Lead Pastor of Grace Church Roseville. 4. Who do you permit to serve or officiate at The Lord s Supper? The Lord s Supper at Grace Church Roseville has been led, historically, by pastors. As with baptism, though, there is no requirement about who may officiate

5 the Lord s Supper, or serve the communion elements. The Bible is very clear about the heart and attitude of those participating in the Lord s Supper 23. Beyond that requirement, which applies to anyone participating in the service, nothing more is said about the participants in scripture. We therefore hold that any member may serve communion to others under the authority of the church and its leaders at any Grace Church Roseville function where communion is appropriate. Likewise, any member of Grace Church Roseville may officiate at the Lord s Supper, although in practice communion in large church events will be led by a pastor or elder. Circumstances where a member may lead communion would include small group meetings, ABF meetings or retreats. In all cases basic care should be taken to keep the dignity and integrity of the service. As with believer s baptism, any member officiating at or serving the Lord s Supper must receive training to ensure the service conforms to the dignity Paul speaks of in I Corinthians I Cor. 11:20-34

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