The Enduring Signs of Christ's New Covenant

"And Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'"

Acts 2:38

"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 also he took the cup, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.'"

1 Corinthians 11:24-25

Why Signs are Important to Covenants

"I give you this ring as a symbol of my love and faithfulness."

The ring exchange is such a beautiful part of the marriage ceremony because the ring is a physical symbol of the deeper reality and commitment or covenant between man and wife.

Similar to the meaning of a wedding band in a marriage, Jesus gives us two signs of his New Covenant—baptism and communion (AKA the Lord's Supper, the Eucharist, the Lord's Table).

Baptism and communion serve as vital, visible symbols of God's promises and our faith and participation in Christ's redemptive work. They are divinely instituted symbols that point beyond themselves to the spiritual realities they represent - the grace of God in Christ.

What's more, covenant signs encouragingly remind believers of their inclusion in the covenant and the promises attached to them.

The Meaning behind the Sign of Baptism

That said, just as a wedding band is not the marriage itself but a public declaration of a deep, binding covenant between spouses, so baptism and communion are what actually saves us nor are they mere rituals. They publicly mark our union with Christ as the church, His bride.

Paul beautifully explains the meaning of baptism:

"...having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead." ~Colossians 2:12

Baptism signifies our union with Christ both in his death (washed or immersed under water) and being raised to life (being brought up).  This symbolizes death to sin as we are in union with Christ who died for our sin and new life in Christ.

Baptism is a Command

As a final thought, baptism is no less a command of Jesus to his followers. If you're a believer, then you should get baptized! If you're a follower of Christ and haven't been baptized, then what are you waiting for? Fill out a Connect Card and take steps to getting baptized. What a joy it will be!

The Meaning behind the Sign of Communion

Communion, or the Lord's Supper, is also a sign of Jesus' new covenant of grace. The signs of the bread and cup at the Lord's Table cause us to remember Jesus and His sacrifice and God's unconditional, steadfast love and fidelity toward Christ's Bride, the church.

Let that truth of God's unconditional, steadfast love and fidelity wash over your performance driven, tired, weary, tainted soul! O to be God's beloved in Christ!

Communion is a sign to remind believers of that saving, sustaining, sanctifying, and uplifting love of God.

So Jesus taught:

"And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, 'This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.'" ~Luke 22:19-20

What are the blessings and benefits of communion?

To paraphrase the Westminster Catechism:
"The Lord's Supper is a sign that, as we give and receive the bread and wine according to Christ's instructions, shows forth his death. When we receive communion in a worthy manner by faith,  we're made partakers of Jesus' body and blood, with all his benefits, for our spiritual nourishment and growth in grace."

The Lord's Supper, in particular, causes us to remember Christ’s death and resurrection until He comes again. It is a proclamation of the Lord's death, preaching the gospel visibly. Through the bread and cup, the story of God’s redemption is retold and reenacted, keeping the memory of his saving deeds alive in the community of faith.

The bread and cup are not mere symbols, however. They are also means of grace to mature and sanctify our faith. Through these signs, the Holy Spirit encouragingly reminds us of the benefits of Christ’s redemptive work. So let us receive the bread and cup by faith to be spiritually nourished by God's covenantal love. The bread and cup visibly proclaim the gospel, reminding us of God's faithfulness to his people.

But we must partake reverentially. Scripture instructs us to examine ourselves as we approach the Lord's Table.

The apostle Paul writes:

"Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself." ~1 Corinthians 11:29

The Westminster Catechism words it this way:
"It is required of them that would worthily partake of the Lord's Supper, that they examine themselves of their knowledge to discern the Lord's body, of their faith to feed upon him, of their repentance, love, and new obedience; lest, coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves."