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Sacraments

Baptism

Article of Faith on Baptism

“We believe that Christian baptism, commanded by our Lord, is a sacrament signifying the acceptance of the benefits of the atonement of Jesus Christ, to be administered to believers and declarative of their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior, and full purpose of obedience in holiness and righteousness.

Baptism being a symbol of the new covenant, young children may be baptized, upon request of parents or guardians who shall give assurance for them of necessary Christian training.

Baptism may be administered by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion, according to the choice of the applicant.”     Article of Faith # 12, Nazarene Manual

Baptism was commanded by Christ in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20).  Jesus himself was baptized (Matt. 3:13ff) and from the earliest days of the Church, baptism has been the symbol of one’s initiation into the Church (see Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, I Cor. 6:11).  The Bible is rich with baptismal imagery, where baptism  has been connected with: the washing away of sin, the receiving of the Holy Spirit, death and resurrection with Christ, putting on new clothes, etc.  Baptism is both an act of obedience, and  an occasion for God’s grace to be given and proclaimed through a visible means.  Baptism is more than an affirmation of one’s personal faith and commitment to live for Jesus Christ. It is more than a testimony.   In baptism, God speaks as well. He speaks of His grace, acceptance and forgiveness.   In baptism not only do we say “We want to belong to God,” but God says “You now belong to me.” Consequently, our Wesleyan doctrine affirms infant baptism and believer’s baptism (for those who were not baptized as infants).  While an infant is not capable of choosing to love God, infant baptism says God has chosen to love the infant.  There will be a time when it will be necessary for the child to appropriate God’s gracious inclusion by a conscious embracing of a life of faith. This makes training and education imperative for the baptized child. Upon confessing a personal faith in Christ, the person who was baptized as an infant is encouraged to publically acknowledge and own the vows taken earlier on his/her behalf in an affirmation of their baptism. *Those who were baptized as infants, or who were baptized as adults but turned away from God, need not be re-baptized.  An affirmation (for those who were baptized as infants and have come to a personal relationship with God through Christ) or re-affirmation (for one returning to God after a period of rebellion) of baptism is the means for signifying the established or restored relationship with God.

Believers are encouraged to be baptized as soon as possible following their conversion (see Acts 2:38; 8 :26-38).

Modes of Baptism

While the mode of baptism most commonly practiced in Nazarene churches is immersion (symbolic of our death/resurrection with Christ, see Rom. 6:1-4), there are two other modes recognized and honored in the Church of the Nazarene. These are pouring (symbolic of the Holy Spirit being poured out on God’s people Acts 2), and sprinkling (symbolic of having our hearts sprinkled clean, Ez. 36:25, Heb. 10:22). The symbolism behind each mode of baptism is significant and each candidate can choose which mode they prefer.  John Wesley, our theological forefather preached, “Baptism is performed by washing, dipping, or sprinkling the person in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, who is hereby devoted to the ever-blessed Trinity.  I say, by washing, dipping, or sprinkling; because it is not determined in Scripture in which of these ways it shall be done, neither by any express precept, nor by any such example as clearly proves it; nor by the force or meaning of the word baptize.” (A Treatise on Baptism, Wesley’s Works, Vol. 10, 188.)

Communion

Article of Faith on Communion:

We believe that the Memorial and Communion Supper instituted by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is essentially a New Testament sacrament, declarative of His sacrificial death, through the merits of which believers have life and salvation and promise of all spiritual blessings in Christ. It is distinctively for those who are prepared for reverent appreciation of its significance, and by it they show forth the Lord’s death till He come again. It being the Communion feast, only those who have faith in Christ and love for the saints should be called to participate therein. Article of Faith # 13 Nazarene Manual

Also referred to as Eucharist (which means thanksgiving) or the Lord’s Supper, Communion is celebrated frequently at Grace.  This sacrament was instituted by Jesus on the night of His betrayal. After sharing the Passover meal with His disciples Jesus took bread, broke it, and said “This is my body which is broken for you.” He then held up a cup of wine and said, “This is my blood which is poured out for you.”  These sacred symbols of bread and cup are significant for every believer.  They point back – to the sacrifice Jesus made for our salvation.  In looking back, we are reminded of the immeasurable love God had for us, the kind of love that would give Himself completely so that we might know the joy of forgiveness and a restored relationship with Him.  The sacrament also points forward – to the wedding supper of the Lamb where we will feast in the very presence of Jesus.  In looking forward we affirm that we are a people of hope.  And in the present, God conveys His grace to us through these taste-able and tangible symbols.  We believe that at the Table of the Lord, there is great opportunity for meaningful and memorable encounters with Christ and with one another.  His grace comes to us there – grace that forgives, sustains, and strengthens us in the journey.