What do United Methodist Christians believe? Sacraments

Matthew 26:26-30 Acts 2:37-42

You have decided to follow Jesus. What activities do you do to express your faith in Jesus and to grow in your faith in Jesus? There are two activities in which to participate. The first activity is to get baptized. This activity is done only once in a lifetime. The second activity is to take Holy Communion. This activity is done often throughout your life.

In the United Methodist Church, we call these activities “sacraments.” We understand “sacraments” to be an outward and visible sign of the grace of God working in us. These activities are given to us by God so that we may live our faith in Jesus Christ. We call the baptism, “Holy Baptism.” For by being baptized we are being claimed by God, we receive forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit comes upon us as a sign of our new life. We call it Holy Communion because it is a reminder that we become holy by the body and blood of Jesus Christ offered upon the cross.

These sacraments are commands of Jesus which help us live the rest of his commands. At the last Supper, Jesus told his disciples to eat his body and drink his blood. This command is the reason we have the sacrament of Holy Communion. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told the disciples to make disciples and to baptize them. This command is the reason we have the sacrament of Holy Baptism.

A. Why do we get baptized? (Acts 2:37-42)
+++1. Peter preached about Jesus Christ
+++2. The crowd wanted to know what to do
+++3. Peter’s response
++===+a. Repent
++===+b. Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (the Father, & Holy Spirit)
+======++– Even infants can be baptized!
++======+– It is right for infants to be baptized – they need Jesus
++======+– We have the responsibility to teach the infants and adults about living a baptized life
++===+c. Promise – for you, your children, & all who God calls to him
++======+– We cannot keep God’s promises from anyone
++======+– We can live as forgiven, Holy Spirit-filled people
+++4. Baptism is needed so we can publicly acknowledge God’s work in our lives. Our being changed from living as sinners to living as believers takes place because of God’s grace working in us. The transformation which takes place when we realize God has forgiven us in Christ is powerful. Being washed by God in a public setting is the way to express this transformation. Since baptism is a sign of God working in us, we only get baptized once in our lifetime. We spend the rest of our lives understanding what it means to belong to God. This is where our second sacrament helps us.

B. Why do we receive Holy Communion often? (Matthew 26:26-30)
+++1. Jesus was doing the final steps of preparing his disciples for his death
+++2. Jesus was focused on obeying His Father
++===+– His command to us is to be obeyed
++===+– We actually repent of our sins since the last time we received Jesus’ body and blood
++===+– We forgive those who have sinned against us so we may know forgiveness
++===+3. Two parts
+===++– Bread – broken as Jesus’ body was in his death
+===++– Cup/wine – poured out as Jesus’ blood was poured at his death
+++4. Jesus will share this meal with us when his Father’s kingdom arrives fully
+++5. Paul encourages us to receive Holy Communion often so each of us may proclaim Jesus’ death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
+++6. We receive Holy Communion often so we can continually remember Jesus’ death for us. We receive Holy Communion often so we can recognize Christ’s body among us. We receive Holy Communion often so we can be prepared for the next thing in life. We receive the bread and the cup so we can remain humble before God. We receive the bread and the cup so we can be aware of how much grace God has for us. We receive the bread and the cup so we can be obedient to Jesus.

God is working in this world. God is bringing people to repentance. God is calling people to himself. As we live our baptism, we are showing God to the world. As we obey Jesus, we are telling the world about Jesus.

When we see God working in our lives, we get baptized. We place our faith in God in a public washing. To continue to live as baptized people of God we receive Holy Communion. We take Jesus’ body and blood into ourselves so we live holy lives.

God’s grace is working in us invisibly. It is through the sacraments of Holy baptism and Holy communion that God’s work comes to the surface of our lives. Then people can see what God is doing in us.

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