Through the years the Catholic Church has developed a series of Sacraments. Baptists, on the other hand, practice Ordinances. There are major differences between Ordinances and Sacraments.
Latin Word - "to consecrate" (a soldier's oath)
Means of Grace
7 in Catholicism
Picture of Grace
2 in New Testament
Memorials of Atonement (Foot washing is not a memorial of the atonement)
The very words tell us much of their meaning. "Sacrament" means to consecrate. When something is consecrated it is made more holy, it is set aside. Sacraments are works that the Church teaches are necessary for salvation. An "Ordinance" is an order. It is a commanded activity.
False Teachings Concerning Sacraments: Catholicism
The false teachings of Catholicism go back hundreds of years. At the Council of Trent (1545-1563), the Roman Catholic Church stated:
The Roman Catholic Church clearly teaches that Sacraments make us holy and give us eternal life. Note the "power received in the sacrament of Holy Orders" equips the priest and only the church's priest to change the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Therefore, the church decides who may be saved.
Roman Catholics and Episcopalians teach that the bread and wine actually bcome the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. This doctrine is called transubstantiation (meaning, a change of substance. In the Catholic theology, the supposed conversion of the bread and wine in the Eucharist, into the body and blood of Christ). In my conversations and correspondence with members of these churches, many today do not believe this miracle takes place. This common rejection of belief does not change the fact that the Roman Catholic Church and its devout members still believe this heresy.
The Lutheran Church changes the emphasis only slightly.
The Lutheran would not say that baptism saves, but rather that baptism gives the baby or convert the Holy Spirit, Who then draws the baptized to saving faith. They get this false doctrine by taking Ephesians 4:4-5 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 out of their context and then giving a forced meaning to the words present. In both of these texts, the topic of context is the Body of Christ. Paul is teaching in Ephesians 4 that the local church ought to be in unity, for we all have the same Lord jesus, we all believe the same gospel, and we have all been baptized by the same Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12:13, Paul plainly says that it is the Holy Spirit who immerses; places us into the Body of Christ. Immediately after both of these texts, Paul goes into the benefits of the body, the local church - gifts, offices, and purposes of the church.
Lutherans believe that the Holy Spirit baptism into the Body of Christ and water baptism are taught by these two passages to be one and the same. They teach that when a baby is baptized, the baby becomes indwelt by the Holy Spirit and then will be drawn by the Holy Spirit to saving faith.
In practicality there is no difference between what the average Lutheran and the average Catholic in America believe. Both churches teach that baptizing a baby ensures the child's salvation.
Although the Protestant Reformers, notably Calvin and Luther, gave much emphasis to sola fida (faith alone), they did not seperate themselves enough in practice or teaching from Catholicism.
We can see the error in A Short Exposition of Dr. Martin Luther's Small Catechism.
The Lutherans reject the "miracle" of transubstantiation. However, notice that Luther taught that the "true body" of Christ was "under the bread and wine." We call this teaching Consubstantiation (meaning the union of the body of our blessed Savior with the sacramental elements. The Lutherans maintain that after consecration of the elements, the body and blood of Christ are substantially present with the substance of the bread and wine, which is called Consubstantiation or impanation).
Some Lutheran theologians will reject the term consubstantiation, but then go on and teach that the body of Christ is indeed present at the Table and is "in and with" the elements.
Lutherans teach that the ministry of the Word (church attendance) and receiving Communion bring sanctification and holiness. They believe "holiness living" as preached by Baptists is works based and has no part in progressive sanctification.
Listen, even though the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) should be appreciated for their conservative, separatist positions, they too stand with other Lutherans in false doctrine concerning the Sacraments. The following are quotes from their doctrinal statement "This We Believe:"
VI. The Means Of Grace
The Missouri Lutherans have been considered to be evangelical by many, but their doctrinal statement is no better.
The Reformed and Presbyterian Churches are sisters to the Lutherans in their theology concerning Sacraments. In "Membership in the Reformed Church," they say of Sacraments:
This false doctrine of the Sacraments is truly what separates Protestants from Separatists. A Protestant is one who protested Rome. They have in their churches many traditions demonstrating their history with Rome. A Separatist is one who never was part of Rome, but rather remained separate from the Roman Catholic Church. Baptists descend from those who remained Separate from Rome. They are not Protestants. That they are not Protestants is seen most visibly in thier doctrine concering the autonomous, indigenous chruch and its ordinances.
Baptists (along with the Assemblies, Church of Christ, Pentecostals, and Nazarenes) practice immersion. Prior to A.D. 250 there was no other kind of baptism. By the end of the third century, the false doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration (Baptism is necessary for salvation) had begun to creep into many churches. The first to be baptized by means other than immersion were the very sick. Over the next several centuries, as the false doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration spread, babies began to be baptized. It was not until the thirteenth century that sprinkling became the most common form of baptism in professing Christendom.
The Greek word baptizo is transliterated "baptize" in the English Bible (To transliterate is to take the letters of one language and change them into the letters of another language. To translate is to change a word in one language into a word that means the same in another language). The word "baptize" had made its way into the English language before translation work was done. God's choice of this word is very significant. It means "to dip or plunge." The term was associated, among other things, with dying cloth. There are many other Greek words which could have been used. Hiscox, in his authoritative work on Baptist polity (The New Directory for Baptist Chruches), documents for over forty pages that the Bible and its language teach baptism is immersion.
Most of those who immerse believe baptism to be a picture of grace and not a means of grace. In the middle of the nineteenth century, salvation by baptism was taught by Alexander Campbell. Campbellism today is believed by some Pentecostals and by the Disciples of Christ (Church of Christ). This addition to the gospel is rejected by Baptists. Simon Menno, father of the Mennonites who much influenced early Baptists, tells of his struggle to separate church tradition and infant baptism from the teachings of Scripture.
Hiscox explained the place of ordinances in the local church.
Baptists take the emphasis off the physical elements. They do not consider baptismal water to be special or blessed. They do not consider the physical bread and juice to be holy or miraculous.
When Baptists speak of the ordinances they use words like "emblem, symbol, picture."
Rejecting Transubstantiation and Consubstantiation, Baptists teach the Lord's Supper, like baptism, is a symbol. It is a solemn sign post pointing out Jesus Christ and His wondrous work. We do not minimize or trivalize the Ordinances. Neither do we try to make them something God never intended them to be.
Baptists believe the practice of the Ordinances belongs to the local church. We do not teach that the Ordinances must happen within the physical building of a local church, but that they must happen under the authority of the local church (i.e. Bible Colleges ought not practice baptism. Scritpure-publishing organizations ought not have Lord's Supper. I will not serve Lord's Supper for the residents of a nursing home. Now, I would serve Lord's Supper in a nursing home to the believers present if my church determined to have a service there).
Sometimes the best way to teach something is to show what it is not. In the case of baptism, there is much false doctrine within Christendom, so I will show what baptism is not. Unbiblical doctrine concerning baptism can be summed up in the following points.
1. Wrong Procedure: anything other than immersion.
As stated earlier, the very word God used for baptism demands immersion, not sprinkling or pouring. Biblical accounts of baptisms also point to immersion.
In Paul's epistles as he teaches concerning Holy Spirit baptism into the body of Christ, the illustration seen in the mind of the reader is always that of immersion.
Baptism pictures the crucifixion, bruial, and resurrection of Christ.
There is absolutely no biblical evidence for any other kind of baptism. The Bible plainly teaches baptism by immersion. Challenge a pedo-baptist to show you in God's Word the practice of sprinkling babies.
On the subject of the Procedure of baptism, I'll bring up the discussion of whose name to use when baptizing. Some churches, not most Baptists, make a strong emphasis on the importance of baptizing in the name of Jesus, and Jesus alone (Acts 8:38-39). Jesus commanded us to baptize in the Name of the Trinity (Matthew 28:19-20). I believe an over-emphasis of the exact wording used in baptism can lead to false doctrine. I prefer to follow the directions given by the Lord.
2. Wrong Purpose - for salvation or Wrong Persons - anyone saved.
The Scripture plainly teaches salvation through faith alone (Romans 3:28). Jesus told the thief on the cross that he would be in heaven. There was no time for a baptism service, not even a sprinkling!
The thief called out to Christ and the Lord saved him.
Mark 16:16 is sometimes used by Campbellites to teach that baptism is required for salvation. Notice that damnation is to those who believe not, not to those who are not baptized (John 3:18).
In Scripture, baptism follows salvation and salvation requires acts of the human will.
It is impossible for the very young to confess, believe, or call. It is also impossible for these choices to be made by a group of people. Baptism is for individuals who have made a decision to receive Jesus Christ as Savior.
On the very first day of the Jerusalem church, a pattern of belief followed by baptism was established.
Phillip insisted on knowing of the Ethiopian Eunuch's belief prior to baptizinig him.
Pedo-baptists would argue that household baptisms in Scripture included babies. There are five cases of households being baptized in Scripture: Cornelius, Lydia, the Philippian jailer, Crispus the chief ruler, and the household of Stephanas in Corinth. In three of these cases, there is emphasis on hearing and belief before baptism. A baby cannot hear, understand and believe. In the other two cases, in order to prove infant baptism, and assumption of the presence of babies would have to be made, and an assumption of their inclusion in baptism, and, further, an assumption that they were sprinkled!
In the case of Cornelius and his house, there is an emphasis on hearing the Word and receiving the Holy Spirit before baptism.
There is an emphasis on all the house believing.
3. Wrong Persuasion - not for this age (dispensation)
There are those who I would call "hyper-dispensationalists" who would teach that baptism was an apostolic-church ordinance and is not for today's day of grace. They would teach that Paul's prison epistles make no mention of water baptism, and, therefore, Paul taught that baptism was not for the mystery - the Gentile church.
I give three arguments against this doctrine. First, Christ was baptized and we are to become like Him.
Second, Christ commanded us to baptize and this command was never altered by Christ or the Apostles.
Third, the Corinthian church practiced baptism.
Some of those who are hyper-dispensationalists would point out that Paul was glad he had not baptized many of the Corinthians. Let's look at this in the perspective of the context. In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul is rebuking the church for their divisive following of personalities. Paul is glad that he had not added to their divisiveness by administering the ordinance to those causing the disturbance. Note, Paul baptized Gentiles! These people would point out that Paul claimed his ministry was to preach, not baptize. I believe Paul, if given the opportunity, would say he was also called to baptize in fulfillment of the commands of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20), but that as a preacher of the gospel, preaching - not baptizing - was his primary work.
4. Wrong Place - anywhere but within the context of the local church.
A study of the first chapters of Acts reveals baptism as the doorway into the local congregation's membership.
Baptist traditionally require the vote of the congregation for baptism for the baptized become members as they are baptized.
Most Baptist churches will not Baptize an individual who does not desire to be a member of that congregation. We assume membership and baptism to go together. Baptized believers ought to be members of a local church. The New Testament is a local church document. I believe every Scriptural baptism happens under the authority of a local church. If there is not a church in the local area, begin one!
Life baptism, the Lord's Supper was commanded by Christ. He said the disciples were to do this. Southern Baptist scholar, A.T. Robertson says the verb tense used here indicates they were to "keep on doing this." [Robertson, A.T., Word Pictures in the New Testament - Luke, Nashville: Broadman Press, 1930, p.92]
The Lord's Supper, like Baptism is a symbol. As a symbol, the emphasis is not upon the physical bread and wine. Augustus Strong notes that in Greenland there was no bread, so dried fish was used.
Paul teaches us several things concerning The Lord's Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:
1. The Lord's Supper was to be observed during church meetings. Notice the repetition of "ye come together" and "among you" in these verses.
2. The Lord's Supper is to be held as often as the local church desires. There is no certain time frame established in Scripture. This passage simply says "when" (v. 18,20,33) and "as often as" (v. 26). The early church met daily and likely had Lord's Supper every Sunday as they celebrated the Lord's resurrection. Some churches today have Lord's Supper once a year. Most Baptist Churches today observe the Lord's Supper several times during the course of a year, once a month being very common.
3. The Lord's Supper ought to be a demonstration of church unity. Paul was agitated to think they had eaten the Lord's Supper with a divisive spirit (v. 19-22,33). The Lord's Supper ought to be a time of fellowship.
4. The Lord's Supper ought to be a solemn occasion (v. 20-22, 34). A Lord's Supper ought to be a joyous time, but not flippant or light-hearted.
5. The Lord's Supper is a Memorial Service. The Lord's Supper is a time for remembrance (v. 23-26). We ought to be reminded by the elements of the sacrifice of our Lord. Like Baptism, it is the gospel for the eye.