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Transforming Encounters: Baptism, Assembly, and the Lord's Supper by John Mark Hicks

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As God’s chosen people, the ancient Israelites regularly encountered God in rituals rooted in the memories of Passover, the exodus, and Mount Sinai. These practices of remembering God’s deliverance and presence were ultimately fulfilled in Jesus and passed on to the church. In Transforming Encounters, John Mark Hicks examines ancient Israel’s practices to show how God met and transformed Israel in these encounters. Today, through baptism, the worship assembly, and the Lord’s Supper, the church experiences God’s transforming power as she looks backward to her spiritual ancestors and forward as she awaits Jesus’s return.

This widely accessible, biblically-grounded study of baptism, the worship assembly, and the Lord’s Supper is ideal for Bible class settings, small groups, and personal study.

165 pages

Table of Contents:



  1.  What Do We Call These Commandments? Texts: Matthew 3:13-17; 16:16-18; 18:15-20; 26:26-29; 28:18-20
  2.  Israel: Baptized into Moses in the Cloud and in the Sea Texts: 1 Corinthians 10:1-3; Leviticus 15; Hebrews 10:22
  3.  Israel: Assembled at the Mountain and throughout their Calendar Texts: Exodus 19:1-11; Leviticus 23
  4.  Israel: Eating with God at the Table  Texts: Exodus 24:1-11; 2 Chronicles 30:21-27; Psalm 116
  5. Jesus: Baptized with Sinners in the JordanTexts: Luke 3:1-21; Matthew 3:13-17
  6. Jesus: Participant in and Fulfillment of the AssemblyTexts: Luke 4:16; Matthew 18:19-20
  7. Jesus: The Table in the Ministry of Jesus. Texts: Luke 5:27-32; 22:14-30
  8.  Church: Baptized in Water and Spirit. Texts: Acts 2:37-41; 10:44-48
  9. Church: Assembled Around Word and Table. Text: Hebrews 12:18-24; Acts 2:42-47
  10. Church: Eating with Jesus at Table. Texts: Luke 24:13-35; Acts 20:7-12; Revelation 1:10, 17-18
  11. Theology of Baptism: God Works Through Baptism. Texts: Romans 6:1-11; Colossians 2:11-15; Galatians 3:26-29
  12. Theology of Assembly: Enjoying God and Encouraging Each Other. Texts: Hebrews 10:19-25; Hebrews 12:18-24
  13. Theology of the Lord’s Supper: Communing with God and Each Other. Texts: 1 Corinthians 10:14-22; 11:17-34

Praise for Transforming Encounters:

As one who sat at the feet of Dr. Hicks during his teaching career, this book reminded me of many things I appreciated about his classes. Transforming Encounters is a study of Scripture that engages the trajectories of both testaments along with historical theology. Readers will be challenged to be better disciples when prompted to think about God’s activity in the assembly, in baptism, and at the Lord’s Table. Even as the contrast between “altar/table” or the definition of certain terms (sacrament, worship) might challenge some, this study serves as a gentle and helpful correction for those who have underestimated the blessing of our encounters with God.

Doug Burleson, PhD, Lectureship Director, Assistant Dean of College of Biblical Studies, Freed-Hardeman University, Henderson, Tennessee

Drawing on the author’s expertise in historical theology, the Bible, and congregational life, this accessible manual invites disciples at all experience levels to deepen their understandings of fundamental moments of transformation and to enrich their practices in three key areas: the Christian assembly, baptism, and communion. With steady attention to the ways that God has revealed himself and shaped people in these encounters, and continues to do so, the book’s structure, content, and study aids insightfully apply the material to the life of the disciple and the communal experience of the church.

Jeff Childers, DPhil, Professor of Biblical Studies, Graduate School of Theology; Director, Center for the Study of Ancient Religious Texts, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas

Encountering the triune God. Proclaiming and experiencing the gospel. Committing to lives of authentic discipleship. For Hicks, this is what baptism, the worship assembly, and the Lord’s Supper are all about. This is the kind of study that, combined with prayerful application, can deepen faith and transform the local church.

Mark E. Powell, PhD, Dean and Professor of Theology, Harding School of Theology, Memphis, Tennessee

After a lifetime of teaching, preaching, writing about, and practicing baptism, assembly, and the Lord’s Supper, John Mark Hicks offers yet another gift to the church in this book. He skillfully explores these sacramental practices through Scripture’s story of redemption—in the life of Israel, Jesus Christ, and the church. Biblical, approachable, and readable, this book is a call to return to the basics of church life, to elevate our understanding of these means of grace, and to expect a transformative encounter with the God who has called us into his eternal fellowship. Every Christian congregation and believer will benefit from this study.

Keith Stanglin, PhD, Director, Center for Christian Studies, Austin, Texas; Professor of Historical Theology, Harding School of Theology, Memphis, Tennessee

Scripturally rich and pastorally insightful, this book provides accessible yet profound insights into baptism, the Lord's Supper, and church assembly as tangible means of grace in believers’ lives. Its contents will intrigue those who were initially drawn to these practices as commands, yet want to understand their import beyond a transactional register; it will equally tantalize those who embrace these acts as sacramental mysteries of the faith, but long to press further into their biblical and practical significance. Best of all, Hicks’ study of these “transforming encounters” offers an analogous opportunity to its readers, inviting us deeper into the story, love, and life of the Triune God.

Lauren Smelser White, PhD, Assistant Professor of Theology, College of Bible and Ministry, Lipscomb University, Nashville, Tennessee