The second promise of my ministry duties is to faithfully serve using the instruments God has given to disciple the church.
Will you always faithfully minister the doctrine and sacraments, and the discipline of Christ, as the Lord has commanded, and as this Church has received them, according to the commandments of God? Will you teach the people committed to your charge to keep and observe them diligently? (AAPB)
In each church, the elders have the task of teaching from the scriptures, and thereby establishing the doctrine of that church. Of course, the Bible contains all the doctrine that God has communicated, but ‘on the ground’ if only some portions of the Bible are preached and taught or if it is mistaught, that teaching becomes the de facto doctrine for that church. My responsibility is that the breadth of the scriptures and its doctrines are taught faithfully so that what we believe is truly from the Lord.
The sacraments as established by Christ for the church are baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These are outward signs of an inward reality. Or you could say, a physical pointer to a spiritual reality. They are signs of what God has done for Christians. Baptism points to (1) the spiritual reality of dying to a worldly sinful life and instead living new holy life in Christ (Romans 6:3-4); and (2) the washing away of sins (1 Peter 3:21). It is therefore a once-off and the sign of entry into the church; the beginning of discipleship in Christ (Matthew 28:19). The Lord’s Supper is a regular reminder (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) and participation (1 Corinthians 10:14-16) in Christ’s death on the cross for our sins (Matthew 26:28). When we are reminded of what Christ did for us by the words spoken, and think ‘yes’ in our hearts in faith to God, our physical eating and drinking strengthens us spiritually in Christ.
The purpose of discipline is to call a Christian in significant unrepentant public sin to reflect, repent and return (Matthew 18:15-17). We all make mistakes and fail Jesus, and ongoing forgiveness is open to the repentant. But in love and in proportionality, discipline shows sin’s seriousness, and yet also always offers salvation and deep forgiveness if that person turns back (Matthew 18:21-35, James 5:19-20).