by David J. Stewart
I am confident that most Presbyterians are born again believers. However, there are some dangerous Biblical heresies within the Presbyterian church. I would like to address two big issues in this article: Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
Sacraments are Unbiblical
First, the teaching of "sacraments" is NOT found in the Bible. A search of the Word of God will not find any mention of the word "sacrament." Jesus never instituted any sacraments. A sacrament is defined as "A formal religious act conferring a specific grace on those who receive it." In simpler words, you get something by doing it. The Word of God does NOT teach this. The Presbyterians in their small catechism define a sacrament as...
Q92: What is a sacrament?
A92: A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ, wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.
That words "sealed" and "applied" are very dangerous words. The moment that a lost sinner acknowledges his sinful condition and turns to Christ for forgiveness, he is regenerated Ephesians 4:30 declares that it is God's Holy Spirit that "seals" the believer, NOT baptism, "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Baptism DOESN'T "apply" anything. We should be extremely alarmed when the Presbyterians (or anyone) teaches that Christ is applied by baptism. Just as the Lutherans, Presbyterians speak double-talk. Any Lutheran will say that salvation is only by grace through faith, yet they claim to follow the teachings of Martin Luther. In his catechisms, Martin Luther clearly taught baptismal regeneration. Martin Luther was a heretic and NO believer in Christ. Although the constitution of the Presbyterian church doesn't teach baptismal regeneration, it certainly comes VERY CLOSE!!! Presbyterians are teaching heresy when they teach that baptism and the Lord's supper are sacraments by which grace is imparted to the believer. It is very important for anyone reading this article to realize that there are NO mystical or magical powers in baptism or the Lord's supper. The Presbyterians are teaching heresy...
The Constitution of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, Chapter 27 - "Of The Sacraments,"
TESTIMONY 3: "We reject the view that sacraments are mere symbols and not means of grace."
That is heresy!!!
Baptism and the Lord's Supper are Only Symbolic
Jesus clearly said in Luke 22:19 concerning the Lord's supper, "And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me." Thus, the Lord's Supper is simply an ordinance (a command) for believers to REMEMBER His work of atonement. Remembering is NOT a means of grace. Likewise, baptism is only symbolic of the Lord's death, burial, and resurrection. Romans 6:4 reads, "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Notice the word "like." In baptism, the believer identifies with Christ. Just as Christ died, was buried, and rose again, so should we crucify the old man unto life anew. Jesus was baptized to identify Himself with a rejected people, whereas the believer is baptized to identify with a rejected Christ.
The Word of God does NOT teach sacraments. There is no mention of being sealed or having anything applied to us by baptism. Baptism will get you wet my friend, that's all.
Baptism and Repentance
There is a great misunderstanding about "repentance." Such verses as Mark 1:4 confuse many people because they do not take into account the rest of the Bible. Mark 1:4 reads, "John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." By itself, this verse seems like It is teaching baptismal regeneration, but it certainly is NOT. This verse is referenced in Acts 11:16, "Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost." And a few verses later in Acts 11:21 we read, "And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord." This is Biblical repentance...turning to the Lord. Please note that NO mention of baptism is found in Acts 11 other than the one reference to John the Baptist in verse 16. Clearly, baptism was not required for their salvation in Acts 16, just is it has never been required. John preached the same gospel of Jesus Christ as we preached today, salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Presbyterians are correct in their church constitution to admit that Baptism is NOT necessary to become a Christian. Heretics such as Martin Luther and John Calvin taught "baptismal regeneration" (the damnable heresy that a person must be baptized to be saved). The Bible often mentions faith without baptism, but never mentions baptism without faith. Faith is all that God requires to be saved. Unfortunately, Presbyterians are wrong in their understanding of baptism...
The Constitution of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, Chapter 27 - "Of Baptism,"
CONFESSION 1: "Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible church; but also, to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ,
That is heresy!
The Lord's Supper Perverted
According to the Larger Catechism, as Received by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church...
Q168: What is the Lord's Supper?
A168: The Lord's Supper is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine according to the appointment of Jesus Christ, his death is showed forth; and they that worthily communicate feed upon his body and blood, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace; have their union and communion with him confirmed; testify and renew their thankfulness, and engagement to God, and their mutual love and fellowship each with other, as members of the same mystical body.
To their "spiritual nourishment and growth?" Show me that in the Bible. When Jesus said "...Take, eat; this is my body" in Matthew 26:26, He wasn't literally saying that the disciples were eating Jesus. This is obvious from Scriptures such as 1st Peter 2:7, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." It is the Word of God that nourishes us to grow in grace, NOT the Lord's supper. The Bible never mentions anything about the Lord's supper and growing in grace. It is dangerous to add to the Scriptures what it does NOT say.