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Every Christian should recognize the importance of baptism.  It is clearly understood through the abundance of Scripture that baptism is an essential part of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Lord Himself said, "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemnedĒ (Mark 16:16).  With all authority from the Father, Christ commanded, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy SpiritĒ (Matt. 28:19).  When the apostles began to fulfill Christís commission to them, Peter preached, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy SpiritĒ (Acts 2:38).  The book of Acts demonstrates time and time again that baptism is a necessary part of conversion for every Christian (2:41; 8:12-13, 35-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:14-15, 30-33; 18:8; 19:4-5; 22:16).  A host of other passages (Rom. 6:3-4; 1Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27; Eph. 4:5; Col. 2:12) also present the truth about baptism, which we may summarize with 1Peter 3:21, which says "baptism now saves youónot the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscienceóthrough the resurrection of Jesus Christ.Ē

Likewise, every Christian should recognize the importance of observing the Lordís Supper.  The institution of the Lordís Supper is recorded in Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:19-20, and 1Corinthians 11:23-26.  In this last passage, the apostle Paul explained,

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took 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.Ē  In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.Ē  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lordís death until He comes.

On every first day of the week (Acts 20:7), Christians are blessed to gather together to observe this sacred memorial.  It is an obligation and a privilege of Godís people.

Furthermore, every Christian should know how important it is to be present for the assemblies of the church.  From the very beginning of the church, Christians have made it a priority to be together, especially for the purpose of worshiping God (Acts 2:42-47).  The need for attendance in these assemblies is emphasized in Hebrews 10:24-25, which says, "Ölet us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.Ē  It should be expected for every Christian to be present for every service of the local church whenever possible.

I have presented these three important necessities Ė baptism, the Lordís Supper, and church attendance Ė not to just repeat what we Christians already know but to make a point about important things.  These three things are important to us because the Lord has made them important, but He also has made other things important.  Everything that Christ has taught us through His word is vitally important because He is our Lord with all authority.  Do we give the proper emphasis to all of Christís will, or do emphasize some things while neglecting others?

If we are not careful in our attitudes, then we may become as guilty as the Pharisees.  They had taken certain parts of Godís law and elevated those parts above others.  They chose some requirements of Godís word to embellish with their own traditions and left others undone altogether.  Jesus condemned them for this, saying, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.  You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!Ē (Matt. 23:23-24)

For us Christians, baptism, the Lordís Supper, and church attendance are important things, but they are not the only important things.  Therefore, let us not go beyond what is written about them in Godís word or be negligent of other things God would have us to do.  On the topic of conversion to Christ, baptism is necessary, but so are belief (Mark 16:16), repentance (Acts 2:38), and confession (Acts 8:37).  Let us not neglect any of these or elevate one above the others.  On the topic of worship, the Lordís Supper is necessary, but it is not more necessary than prayer (1Cor. 14:15-15; Phil. 4:6; 1Thess. 5:17-18; 1Tim. 2:1-2, 8) or singing (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16).  Observing the Lordís Supper is not the only act of worship that matters on Sunday morning.  On the topic of Christian living, church attendance is necessary, but so is godly conduct (Tit. 2:1-15), godly speech (Eph. 4:29; 5:3-4), good works, (Eph. 2:10; Jas. 2:14-26), and many other requirements of Godís word.  "Going to churchĒ is not the end-all-be-all of Christianity.

My point in all of this is simply that we must be careful not to create a false standard for Christianity that Christ has not made.  Baptism, observance of the Lordís Supper, and church attendance do not necessarily make us faithful Christians.  Instead, we are faithful Christians when observe all that Christ commanded (Matt. 28:20).  All that Christ said matters, and His complete word must be our only standard.

Stacey E. Durham



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