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Transforming Encounters

Baptism, Assembly, and the Lord's Supper

What does the Bible teach about baptism, the Lord’s Day assembly, and the Lord’s Supper? Are they mere commands to be obeyed, or are they more? How should we fulfill them? And how does God work through these practices of the church to bestow his grace?

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.

John Mark Hicks, Transforming Encounters: Baptism, Assembly, and the Lord's Supper, available on Amazon and in our online store!

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 Jordan

Texts: Luke 3:1-21; Matthew 3:13-17


6.  Jesus: Participant in and Fulfillment of the Assembly

Texts: 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

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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

Meet The Author

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John Mark Hicks


John Mark Hicks has taught full time in higher education among Churches of Christ since 1982 and is retired Professor of Theology at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. He has taught in over 40 states and 20 countries around the world. He has authored, co-authored, edited, or contributed to over 40 books as well as contributing to both academic and popular journals.

He received his B.A. in Bible from Freed-Hardeman University (1977), his M.A.R. in Theological Studies from Westminster Theological Seminary (1980), his M.A. in Humanities from Western Kentucky University (1981) and his Ph.D. in Reformation and Post-Reformation Studies from Westminster Theological Seminary (1985). He has taught theology since 1982, including nine years at Harding University Graduate School of Religion (1991–2000), and 23 years at Lipscomb University (2000–2023). He has ministered with churches in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Alabama, and Tennessee. He has published nine books and thirteen journal articles as well as contributed to nineteen other books. He has spoken in thirty-eight states and nineteen countries. He and his wife, Jennifer, share five living children and six grandchildren.

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