Be a Christian first, before all other things!!! Those were the emphasized words of Ovr. Emmanuel Annor Twum as he walked the church through the topic: Life beyond Rituals on Sunday, May 6, 2018. The topic was proper for the season as the church is striving to remain in the basic message of Christ as well as walk in His will. The main scriptures were Heb 9:1-15 and John 3:16.
The Minister started by defining the concept “sacrament” as a formal religious act where actions and materials were used to communicate to God symbolically or actually. He further defined a church as a community of believers who share a common faith or belief system.
The Minister explained that in the Old Testament God called Abraham from his father’s home and that calling was by grace. However, after the call, God assigned him to two rituals namely; circumcision and altar (worship). While the circumcision made Israelites feel unique and different from all other people on earth, the altar was a place of worship where sacrifices were made to God for cleansing. He maintained that, these two rituals nevertheless had some problems, with the first being that the human who served as a mediator between men and God was imperfect and sinful. Second, the use of an animal for cleansing was not enough as it could not cleanse man wholly. For man to be cleansed wholly, the act must be moved from the physical to the spiritual where faith in Jesus became the focus.
Ovr. Emmanuel Annor Twum argued that contrary to the Old Testament – the New Testament, rituals were ordinances. This was because rituals in the New Testament were symbols of grace hence as we are saved it was necessary that we performed these acts. For the New Testament believer, Jesus introduced two ordinances namely; water baptism and Lord’s super.
Water baptism – The minister opined that water baptism was an act done in essence to carry out God’s command as an act of initiation into the body of Christ. In line with the topic, the minister said that life beyond rituals is not about the ritual (water baptism) but about the faith that comes before the ritual. Thus baptism establishes a relationship between the believer and the triune God. He again said that baptism is not about the immersion in water but rather the faith in Jesus who is able to save man through the spirit adding that the outward ritual never produces grace but through belief in Jesus, salvation and grace could be obtained. He again added that baptism is an act we follow because Jesus commanded it and moreover because he was baptized. The minister further gave reasons for baptism:
- Through baptism, the baptized is owned by God and vice versa
- It symbolizes an act of cleansing.
- It meant an act of clothing yourself with Christ
- It signifies the believer’s death to sin
- It also meant regenerating of the human spirit through repentance.
- It gives the believer access to the blessings on the cross
- It also signifies a transfer of one’s loyalty from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.
The second ordinance Jesus introduced was the Lord’s super. According the minister, Ovr. Emmanuel Annor Twum, the Lord’s super was sometimes referred to as the Lord’s Table, the Last super or Communion or Fellowship. He submitted that the Lord’s super had differing perspectives of which he introduced the church to three (3):
- Transubstantiation view – this was also the catholic view where it is believed that the bread and wine becomes the actual body and blood of Jesus only when the priest had prayed over it. Critics (Pentecostals) are of the view that the transubstantiation view meant nailing Jesus on the cross every time they partook in the Lord’s super.
- Symbolic view – believers of this view posit that the Lord’s super was only a symbol which meant simply remembering the death of Jesus.
- Dynamic view – this perspective opined that, every time believers partook in the Lord’s super, Jesus was present with them and that this cleansed them from sin. This was the position the Church of Pentecost stood.
The minister gave some reasons for the Lord’s super:
- It signified salvation by the blood
- It meant placement of the believer in the Lord, i.e. inclusion of the believer in God’s kingdom
- It was a symbol of spiritual nourishment
- It also had eschatological significance. He however said on this point that the Lord’s super is not the means to salvation but directs the believer to the cross and to the death of Jesus.
- It serves as a forum and as an act of our commitment to Jesus.
Ovr. Emmanuel Annor Twum in his closing remarks decried that the believer’s life goes beyond evangelism, prayer walks and attending Christian programmes rather it should be characterized by a life of worship; a life of adoration adding that believers must live in humility like Jesus and be holy not only in acts but also in the mind. He cautioned believers to desist from seeing others as less spiritual because when we do that it will only mean that we are falling from grace.