Jesus Christ is the head of the Church, His Body, which is composed of all men, living and dead, who have joined to Him through saving faith. God admonishes His people to assemble together regularly for worship, for participation in ordinances, for edification throughout the Scriptures, and for mutual encouragement. The two ordinances of the Church are water baptism and the Lord’s Supper. (1 Cor. 12:12-13; Col. 1:18; Acts 2:42-47; Hebrews 10:24-25)
God, by His Word and Spirit, creates the Church, calling sinful men out of the whole human race into the fellowship of Christ’s body. By the same Word and Spirit, He guides and preserves that new redeemed humanity. The Church is not a religious institution or denomination. Rather, the Church is made up of those who have become genuine followers of Jesus Christ and have personally appropriated the gospel. The Church exists to worship and glorify God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It also exists to serve Him by faithfully doing His will on earth. This involves a commitment to see the gospel preached and churches planted in the entire world for a testimony. The ultimate mission of the Church is worship, and the means by which this is accomplished is the making of disciples through the preaching and embracing of the gospel. When God transforms human nature, this becomes the chief means of society’s transformation. Upon conversion, newly redeemed men and women are added to a local church in which they devote themselves to teaching, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper and prayer.
All members of the Church are to be a vital and committed part of a local church. In this context, they are called to walk out the New Covenant as the people of God and demonstrate the reality of the kingdom of God. The ascended Christ has given gift ministries to the Church (including prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) for the equipping of Christ’s body so that it might mature and grow. Through the gift ministries, all members of the Church are to be nurtured and equipped for the work of the ministry. In the context of the local church, God’s people receive pastoral care and leadership and the opportunity to employ their God-given gifts in His service in relation to one another and to the world.
Ordinances of the Church
Water baptism is only intended for the individual who has received the saving benefits of Christ’s atoning work and become His disciple. Therefore, in obedience to Christ’s command and as a testimony to God, the church, oneself and the world, a believer should be immersed in water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Water baptism is a visual and symbolic demonstration of a person’s union with Christ in the likeness of His death and resurrection. It signifies that his former way of life has been put to death and vividly depicts a person’s release from the mastery of sin.
As with water baptism, the Lord’s Supper is to be observed only by those who have become genuine followers of Christ. This ordinance symbolizes the breaking of Christ’s body and the shedding of His blood on our behalf, and is to be observed repeatedly throughout the Christian life as a sign of continued participation in the atoning benefits of Christ’s death. As we partake of the Lord’s Supper with an attitude of faith and self-examination, we remember and proclaim the death of Christ, receive spiritual nourishment for our souls, and signify our unity with other members of Christ’s body.