A sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ in which, by visible signs, the grace of God in Christ and the benefits of the covenant of grace are represented, sealed and applied to believers, and these, in turn, give expression to their faith and allegiance to God.
Word and Sacrament
The word of God is complete as a means of grace, but the sacraments are not complete without the Word. The Word and the sacraments differ in the following particulars:
- The Word is absolutely necessary, while the sacraments are not
- The Word serves to beget and to strengthen faith, while the sacraments can only strengthen it
- The Word is for all the world, but the sacraments are only for believers and their children
Three Parts of a Sacrament
- Outward/Visible Sign - Each of the sacraments contain an outward or external element. This consists of water in baptism and of bread and wine in the Lord's Supper.
- Inward/Spiritual Sign - The inward sign points to something that is signified, which is the internal matter of the sacrament (i.e. righteousness, forgiveness of sins, faith).
- Union of Sign and What is Signified - The union constitutes the essence of the sacrament, which is received in faith, and the grace of God accompanies it.
The Lord's Supper/Communion
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's Kingdom." - Matthew 26:26-29
How to Receive Communion
Repentance - Faith - Thanksgiving
What this Signifies
- The Lord's death
- The believers' participation in His death
- The giving of life, strength and joy
- The union of believers
The Presence of Christ
At Orchard Hill Church we hold to the consubstantiation view of the Lord's Supper. Luther maintained that the body and blood of Christ are somehow present in, under and through the elements of bread and wine. Zwingli taught the memorial view of the Lord's Supper that represents the body of Christ.
Calvin denied the physical presence of Christ at the Lord's Supper, but affirmed the real presence of Christ. He taught that although Christ's body and blood remain in heaven, they are spiritually made present to us by Jesus' omnipresent divine nature.
Throughout history, people have tended to either elevate the importance of baptism or devalue it. It is commonly understood to be a sacrament of the church. Some call it an ordinance. So why do we practice the sacrament or ordinance of baptism? We baptize because Jesus instructed us to do so.
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." - Matthew 28: 18-20
Three Views on Baptism
Over the years, the church has practiced baptism in different ways. There are three primary views that have been adopted.
- Baptism is a Means of Salvation
- Baptism is a Sign and Seal of Covenant Relationship
- Baptism is a Symbol of the Relationship between God and a Person
At Orchard Hill, we recognize the debate has taken place around this issue and we practice both views #2 and #3. While this may seem incongruous to some, we believe that we can practice both views. We reject view #1. We consider this position to be unbiblical. This is significant because view #1 deceives many into thinking that they have a right standing with God, when in fact, the only way to have a right standing with God is through personal faith.
We believe that these practices demonstrate grace and genuine Christian community. It allows us to demonstrate the acceptance of differing opinions on matters of practice, while holding firmly to the essential precept of our faith - that salvation is by grace alone through faith.
Authority in the Church
Christ - The Head of the Church
Christ is the Head of the Church, which is His body. He is the source of all that the Church is and does. His glory is the objective of every action and function of His body. His recognized as the head over all things including His Church.
And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
The Word of God - The Guide of the Church
God has provided His Word to guide and direct His Church. It contains everything necessary to lead the Church, including His words, counsel and purpose for the Church and every believer.
All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work
2 Timothy 3:16-17
The Holy Spirit - The Power of the Church
The Holy Spirit is the source of all power in the Church. The Holy Spirit interprets God's teaching to the Church and to each individual believer.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Government of the Church
Role - Elders have ultimate responsibility for overseeing and governing church affairs including maintenance of doctrine, financial oversight, stewardship of resources, church discipline and protection of the church and its members. The Elders, as led by the Holy Spirit, seek God's purpose, mission, vision and values for the church to function. According to the Bible, this is a shepherding role performed with loving pastoral care and a humble servant attitude.
Qualifications - The Elder position is filled by male individuals, 25 years of age or older, who have been a member of Orchard Hill Church for at least two years. Each Elder will satisfy the requirements of and be held accountable to the biblical standards applicable to Elders as described in the New Testament and adopted by the Board. The Senior Pastor is also a member of the Board of Elders.
Terms of Office - The Board consists of six to nine elected positions. Elders serve for a term of three years and no Elder serves for more than two consecutive terms. An individual who has served two consecutive terms must remain off the Board of Elders and Board of Servant Leaders for at least one year before being eligible to serve again as an Elder or Servant Leaders.
Role - Servant Leaders advise and assist the Elders in the management of church affairs, share specific talents and represent the breadth of the ministries of the church. They meet regularly with the Elders to provide input, support, wisdom and expertise in nearly every facet of church functions.
Qualifications - The Board of Servant Leaders is comprised of at least three male or female members of Orchard Hill Church. Each Servant Leader must satisfy the requirements and standards established by the Board of Elders.
Terms of Office - The number of Servant Leaders is determined by the Board of Elders. Each member of the Board of Servant Leaders shall be elected for a term of three years.
Nomination and Election
A Nominating Committee comprised of at least three members, no more than one-third of whom may be current elders, of Orchard Hill Church will recommend at least one qualified person for each Elder/Servant Leader position, which is due to expire. The Board reviews the recommendations and selects one candidate for each Elder/Servant Leader, which is due to expire.
The slate of candidates approved by the Board is posted at Orchard Hill Connect for two consecutive weekends immediately preceding the Annual Meeting of the members of Orchard Hill Church. During the congregational Annual Meeting, the attending members of Orchard Hill Church will elect or refuse each person presented by the Nominating Committee.
Elders are chosen on the basis of clearly defined spiritual qualifications of leadership that have been previously exhibited in their lives. These qualifications are described in the Scriptures. Two passages that clearly define these qualifications are:
1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9.
These verses teach the following guidelines of personal and spiritual characteristics to be identified in the life of the Elders and Servant Leaders.
- Above Reproach
- Husband of One Wife
- Able to Teach
- Not Addicted to Wine
- Not Violent or Quick-tempered
- Not Quarrelsome
- Free from the Love of Money
- Manage own Household Well
- Not a New Christian
- Good Reputation with Outsiders
- Not Self-willed
- Love what is Good
- Holding Fast to God's Word