Sacraments are a visible tangible means by which God makes himself known to mankind. When God reaches out to us, he reaches out with his love and grace and reveals himself and his salvation to his people. The sacraments are given to us to enable us to better understand the gospel and to strengthen us in our faith. There is general agreement within the church of Jesus Christ that baptism and the Lord's Supper are the sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ.
The Lord's Supper (Communion)
"On the night he was betrayed, Jesus took the bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink in remembrance of me.' For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." I Corinthians 11:23-26
The Lord's Supper is a remembrance of, and participation in, the death of Jesus. It is a means by which we realize that we ourselves are the body of Christ made alive by his flesh and blood. In the Lord’s Supper we profess the saving death of Jesus, and the continued saving presence of the risen Jesus. It is a time to take our sin, failure, and brokenness to God. It is a time to receive his forgiveness, healing, mercy, and grace. It is a time of profound thankfulness.
The Lord’s Supper not only looks back, but looks forward. In the Supper we look forward to the feast in the new earth. And therefore, at this table, everyone is equal, everyone has enough, everyone is loved. Through the gift of the Spirit, the church receives a taste of this future in the present, and our hope is that the regular celebration of this table, will shape us into people who live this way everyday.
The Bridge Church, along with other Christian Reformed Churches, welcomes children to the Lord’s Supper table. We believe children are members of the church, participants in the covenant community, and therefore belong at the table. Our hope is that the Lord’s Supper table powerfully nurtures and shapes them as they grow - as it is nurturing and shaping adults as well!
Jesus commanded his disciples to "Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." Matthew 28:19.
Our desire is to be obedient to this command - The Bridge Community Church practices both adult baptism and infant baptism.
God has always included the children of believers in his plans to redeem the world. In Genesis 17:7 when God established a relationship with Abraham and promised to be his God, he also promised that “I shall be your God and the God of your children.” Circumcision was the sign of God’s intention to keep his promise. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14). The apostle Paul made clear that children of believers are holy in the eyes of God (I Corinthians 7:14). In Acts 2:38-39 God once again includes the children of believers in his plan of salvation. The church from its earliest records has practiced infant baptism.
When children of believers are born they become part of a family, but they also become part of the family of God. Members of the church family make a commitment to love them, encourage them, train them and help them grow to be fully devoted followers of Jesus. God himself takes them under his wing and shepherds them. They are literally “Immersed” or “baptized” into the body of Christ and the love of their heavenly Father. They become part of the family even before they are able to repent of their sin and turn to Jesus. We understand this as a beautiful sign of God’s grace. Baptism is the symbol of their inclusion or immersion into the family of God. In short, we baptize babies because we believe that they fully belong to this community that follows Christ.
Bridge Church encourages believing parents to bring their children forward publicly for baptism. These children are encouraged as they grow to acknowledge Jesus personally as their Lord and Saviour. When they reach an age where they are capable of making a personal and informed decision to follow Jesus and have done that, they too are encouraged to make a public profession of their faith.
In Acts 2:38-39 Peter was asked in response to the gospel message what people should do to be saved. He stated, “Repent and be baptized, every one of your in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Peter’s first command was to repent. The Bible teaches that we are sinners from birth. Sin alienates us from our heavenly Father and leaves us spiritually dead. Our sin has made us so impure that we must undergo a cleansing, which only God can accomplish. When we believe and trust Jesus Christ as the only answer to our sin problem and look to the cross and his blood as our cleansing from sin, we receive forgiveness. We get a fresh start. We are born again. We become dead to our sin and alive to Jesus Christ. We receive his resurrection life into our lives. In many ways the sinful self dies and Christ becomes alive in us. Repentance mean to change – to change from our way, which leads to the death of God’s way. The Holy Spirit is given by Jesus to help us build a God-honoring life. Over time we become more and more dead to sin and increasingly live a holy life.
Adult baptism is a powerful symbol of this reality. It is the outward symbol of this inner change. As surely as water washes away dirt from the body, so certainly Christ’s blood and his Spirit wash away my soul’s impurity. Romans 6:3-4 state this succinctly: “All of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death. We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead,…we too my walk in newness of life.” Colossians 2:12 states: “For you were baptized, you were buried with Christ, and in baptism you were also raised with Christ.” Going under the water symbolizes death and coming out of the water symbolizes life.
Adult baptism is also a symbol of our baptism (immersion) into the family of God. The new believer is no longer alienated from God, but becomes immersed in his family – the church. “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body.” I Corinthians 12:13
Bridge Church encourages people who have found life in Jesus Christ and repented to publicly acknowledge this through profession of faith and believers baptism.
What if you do not want to baptize your baby?
We realize that many Christians believe that their child ought not be baptized until they are old enough to publicly profess their faith. Believing such, will not be a hindrance in becoming a member. Upon birth of your child, we publicly welcome them into our body with thankfulness and prayer, and we will always be ready to baptize them when they come forward professing Christ to be their Saviour. We do this realizing there are differences in interpreting Scripture - and Christians worldwide witness to the reality that faithful Christians disagree on this. We do this while continuing to teach and encourage our belief that infants fully belong to the body of Christ, and therefore ought to be baptized. We wish to be accepting, without blurring our distinctives.