God likes altars. All through the Old Testament, altars are frequently mentioned as being something God commands for His people to build when there has been a spiritual victory. These altars serve as constant reminders, sometimes long after the original builders has passed on, of what God has done for His people. Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and David all built altars as reminders of what God had done.

But does at carry over in any way to the New Covenant? Are we supposed to go outside and pile up some rocks and burn animals in sacrifice? No, in spite of what my barbecue may look like, burnt offerings are not for today. But I believe there is an “Altar Principle” in place that we would do well to remember. We already practice the Altar Principle when couples marry. The wedding rings serve as visual reminders of a spiritual covenant that was entered into, and in that way function as a kind of altar. The brides ring may even include a rock!

I’m not sure of the precise accuracy of these numbers but they are at least directionally correct. It has been said that students remember 25% of what they hear, 50% of what they hear and see, and 75% of what they hear, see, and participate in. This is especially true when repetition is added into the equation. I that way, the Lords Supper, or Communion Feast, exemplifies that principle. On a weekly basis we hear about what Jesus did, see the elements that represent the body and blood of Christ, and eat and drink together, the salvation message is reinforced in the hearts of believers. That is how the altar principle works.

When a married couple is being counseled, they can be told to look at their rings and remember the promises they once made to each other and to God. They serve as a point of reference for them and help them to focus on what is important. One huge danger sign is when either partner removes their wedding ring in public, so as not to be noticed. They are attempting to hide the sign of their covenant from sight so they will not be reminded that they are bound to another.

Baptism also has a altar principle attached to it. Paul would refer to the fact that believers had been baptized and remind them of what that meant.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4 NASB)

Paul is saying that when Christians are tempted to willfully sin, that baptism serves as a reminder that they have a new life in Christ and have been freed from sin, so with that in mind, how can we walk anymore in it? For that reason, we need to think back and remember our baptism and what it symbolized. We need to remember that we, too, have died, been buried, and risen with Christ.

I would recommend to anyone that they think back often of their conversion experience, and specifically their baptism. Use it as an altar, or a reference point in your life that you can point back to and remember what great things The Lord has done for you when He saved you from darkness and translated you into the Kingdom of the Son of His love.