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A/The love of God has made visible, objectified, materialized. Most of them provide common experience of worship. They play a significant role in the life of Christians or believers .Sacraments use signs and acts to convey certain meanings , such as words, acts and objects .Sacrament is like a vehicle which physical object carries believers of the means of spiritual as the sign causes believers to experience the love of God . The main goal of this paper is to explain the theological message of sacraments to the community of believers.
I am going to explain the theological message of sacraments in two main points will cover this paper which are sacrament of Eucharist and the sacrament of baptism. Before going any further let us define the key term ‘’Sacrament ‘’. The term sacrament originates from the Latin word sacramentum, which means an oath .Sacraments are rite that exist in the Christian community and are taken with a particular importance and consideration , there are many different views on the existence and meaning of such rites .Believers consider the sacraments to be visible sign of the reality of God .According to Augustine of Hippo ‘’ Sacrament is an external sign of an inner grace, that has been introduced by Jesus Christ’’. Sacraments symbolize the grace of God in a way that is externally observable to the member. And also, sacrament is public service done.
Therefore, theological message of sacrament relied on reflection on the liturgical celebration of the Christian rites. Christianity has many rites to follow and all of them are meaningful. It means when a pagan or an unbeliever wants to join Christianity the person has to be baptized first, because baptism is the rite of passing from one stage to another or from paganism to Christianity. And the meaning is that when someone is pagan is being consider as a sinner and baptism will allow the person to be separated with their sins and become a new creation. In line with the book of 2corinthians 5:17 ‘’so if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation the old things have come an end, they have truly become new.
’When a person is born again, he becomes a new creation. The new creation is a term used in the bible to explain and describe a saved person. It very important to understand what it means to be a new creation in Christ .Theological concept of being a new creation is simply attractive .God in his great wisdom has changed our hearts and made us new on inside .This is very different from the experience of other religions .Most other religions simply have a set of rules they have to follow .We have more than that ,we have the wonderful experience of being recreated in the spirit from the baptism ,because when someone is baptized they are convinced that they are living a new life of the spirit with love for God and the neighbor .
In addition ,Eucharist is also one of the sacraments in the Christian worship and it has got different appellations such holy communion ,holy supper and many more .The Eucharist is the message of the church .For whenever we do it , we do it in remembrance of me that said the lord .By taking the wine or juice in reality it is wine and juice but theologically speaking this symbolize the blood of Christ and the bread which symbolize the body of Christ .Although there two different school of thoughts on the Eucharist .
The first school argued that the wine and the bread that people take during the Eucharist it just a symbolic way of remembering Jesus Christ and it makes us in communion with him and it is not a real blood and flesh. In contrary with the second school of thought that argued the wine and bread people take during the Eucharist are real blood and flesh of Jesus Christ .This view raised many debate in the early church and some scholars wrote on cannibalism practice .Theologically speaking Eucharist is a message to the Christian community , because when Christians are partaking to the holy communion it brings us together in relationship with God and also it helps Christians to be in Good relationship with one another .In other word it remind the body for Christ that relationship that exists between Christ and human beings .
B/Baptism plays important role in the Christian community ,because you cannot do anything in the church if you are not baptized .Jesus recommended us to be baptize ,for baptism is a sign of being born again although know that baptism is a sign of what has happened on the inside .This is because when someone is born again ,nothing actually happens physically for those around to see .so being baptized becomes a physical sign of what happened inside .In this discussion I am going to explain the relationship between the theology of baptism and the celebration of sacrament .
Therefore , explaining the theological message on sacrament of baptism in the community of believers , I can say baptism According to the New Testament baptism started with John the Baptist at the Jordan river in the book of Mark 1:4 we see a new baptism which was introduced by John the Baptist and this baptism seemed to be new to the Jews. Because John was talking about a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins . And this surprised the jews because they new that the baptism was only for the gentiles but John extended the same rite even to the Jews.
Whereas the Old Testament argued that baptism did not start with John the Baptist , because baptism was part of Israelite culture it means it started long ago In the Old testament .The Jews were using baptism to proselytized gentiles . It means it was the rite of passing the Judaism . In addition, in the old covenant there were three methods or stages of doing baptism .Sacrifice and baptism of water were part of it .For example in the old covenant if a woman gave birth to a boy child the woman is considered as unclean and she has to stay at home 40 days but is she gave birth to girl she will stay 80 days at home and she will come for cleansing , she will bring sheep or pigeon for her cleansing .
Moreover , in the New Testament , we see John the Baptist talking about the baptism of the holy spirit .Christian baptism is celebrated in the name of Jesus it is baptism not just by water , but baptism of the holy spirit as John was preaching .And even Jesus mentioned the baptism of the holy spirit to his disciples and it was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost . According to Christian understanding baptism should be done in the name of the father , son and the holy spirit .And baptism is a public event , it means people should see it .Baptism is a way of dying and resurrect with Christ .There are three ways of baptism which are baptism by immersion ,sprinkling and pouring baptism .
To point out that all three ways of baptism mean the same thing .The theological of sacrament of baptism is that when we are baptized we become new creature and new people in the body of Christ , it is by baptism we are initiating people to Christianity .All in all , baptism symbols the admission of the individual into the community of the church of Jesus Christ on earth .Baptism is for both adults and children that is individuals can associate the Christian community either through believer’s baptism or infant baptism .As Christian we have to know that baptism is the initiation sacrament .And once you are baptized you are free to partake in every Christian celebration sacrament it means you can take holy communion as anyone in the church and you can even lead a church service because now part of the believers .
Therefore ,the sacrament of baptism in the Christianity is used as a rite where water is apply as symbol of religious purification ,sacrament of baptism it is an invitation into the Christian community .This practice dated longtime with the people of Israel ,when a gentile wants to join Judaism in this case baptism was a way of proselytizing them. Baptism is the act of self-dedication to God in Jesus Christ; it involves both spiritual and physical sacrament. In Jesus time baptism was a rite with of water linking it a revelation and the reception of the holy spirit. I would like my church members to understand that baptism is a unique consciousness of sonship to God, for Christ it is sign of entering in Christian community which is the church or the body of Christ.
In line with the book of Acts 2:38 baptism is done in the name of Jesus Christ .But according to the book of Matthew28: 19 Jesus Christ tells us the baptism should also be done in the name of the father , son and the holy spirit .According to Paul baptism is only into the holy spirit it means water is symbol ,it is a symbol of dying and resurrect with Christ .And baptism sets the believers free and empowers them with boldness to live witness and with necessary to die for Christ like the disciples of Christ .
Is it important for every believer to be baptized ?,Many people in the church ask this question ,baptism one of the Christian rites and it is important for every believer in the church to be baptized that is why in some denomination the baptismal pool is place at the entry of the church building. And before the baptism the person should be taught first and then they will baptism. In light with the word God, we see Jesus commanded his disciples to go and make another disciple and baptizing them. Because baptism is the substance rite, the rite of prevenient grace.
Celebration of the sacrament of baptism in Christian community, is very important because baptism is used as a method of initiating people to a new doctrine and it has an impact in the life of the new believer .For example apostle Paul when he was baptized he changed completely .And there are three ways of baptizing people , because many people think that immersion is the only way of baptizing people which is not correct .One who was baptizing by pouring method or sprinkling and immersion are all of them equal . In baptism God uses a pastor to put water on the believer and say some words of blessing on the new believer to welcome them.