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View Full Version : Communion Eligibility - have to be baptized first?


Andy T.
02-01-2010, 12:29 PM
I have a friend who thinks someone needs to be saved and baptized before they should take communion. He cited Acts 2 where the people were saved, baptized and then broke bread together. First, I'm not even sure if "breaking bread together" is referencing communion or not. Second, even if it is, Acts 2 is more descriptive than prescriptive; after breaking bread, the believers also held all things in common, and we don't practice that anymore.

My friend said that even if the person was saved and a he was scheduled to be baptized in a couple weeks and there was communion during that time, the person should not take it. My friend also clarified that he is not a proponent of "closed communion" - i.e., he does not believe you must be a member of the church serving communion. But they must be saved, baptized (immersed) and not living in disobedience.

I find that position to be too harsh. My thought on communion is the person needs to be saved and not be living a disobedient life (i.e., I Cor. 11 - examine yourself). If a person is saved and they have honest questions about baptism, then I think they are fine to take communion before they are baptized. Now if the person is rebelling against being Biblically baptized, then that would constitute living in disobedience, so in that case, they should not take communion.

What do you think?

Johnv
02-01-2010, 12:36 PM
Communion Eligibility - have to be baptized first?

There's no scriptural mandate for such. However, each church is permitted to decide for itself what the pprerequisites for its own serving of communion is. If a church wants to require its recipients to be baptized first, they're free to do so. However, if that church required that same standard for all churches, that church would be guilty of error.

That said, I agree that "baptism first" is a bit of an extreme.

annsni
02-01-2010, 12:37 PM
At our church, we say the same thing. It's not a hard and fast rule but when we give directions at the beginning of communion, we do say "If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and have followed Him in baptism, you are free to partake" or something along those lines. Of course you don't need to hold up your baptismal certificate to get the elements, but it is our practice.

Johnv
02-01-2010, 12:38 PM
Of course you don't need to hold up your baptismal certificate to get the elements, but it is our practice.
I just got a mental picture of that, and it gave me a chuckle!

Andy T.
02-01-2010, 12:52 PM
At our church, we say the same thing. It's not a hard and fast rule but when we give directions at the beginning of communion, we do say "If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and have followed Him in baptism, you are free to partake" or something along those lines. Of course you don't need to hold up your baptismal certificate to get the elements, but it is our practice.
Ann, out of curiosity, is your church SBC? Also, what Scripture does your church use to support the "baptized first" position?

OldRegular
02-01-2010, 12:57 PM
This is what the 2000 SBC Faith and Message states about Baptism and Communion.

VII. Baptism and the Lord's Supper

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper.

The Lord's Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming.

Matthew 3:13-17; 26:26-30; 28:19-20; Mark 1:9-11; 14:22-26; Luke 3:21-22; 22:19-20; John 3:23; Acts 2:41-42; 8:35-39; 16:30-33; 20:7; Romans 6:3-5; 1 Corinthians 10:16,21; 11:23-29; Colossians 2:12.

I agree that Baptism is a prerequisite to Communion. Communion is an ordinance of the church. Baptism is required for membership in a local church and is, therefore, a prerequisite to Communion. I personally lean toward closed Communion

annsni
02-01-2010, 01:11 PM
Ann, out of curiosity, is your church SBC? Also, what Scripture does your church use to support the "baptized first" position?

No. We're not SBC - we're independent (NOT IFB). The way our pastor explains it is that if you're a true believer, you will want to be obedient to the Lord and be baptized. We have baptism quite regularly. If someone refuses to be baptized, then that is a sign of disobedience so they would not be able to take communion anyway. However, as I said, there's no hard and fast rules. If someone were saved and was waiting for the next baptism, I don't see the issue in taking communion at that time.

Johnv
02-01-2010, 01:30 PM
Something the question doesn't address is members vs visitors. Yes, since our members are according to our faith and practice required to be baptized, it stands to reason that they must be baptized in order to receive communion.

However, that does no cover visitors. We extend an invitation to all our visitors who express a faith in Christ to partake of communion. We don't require of them baptism first to do so. I suspect that this is what most Baptist churches do with visitors, if not in policy, in practice.

Andy T.
02-01-2010, 01:38 PM
No. We're not SBC - we're independent (NOT IFB). The way our pastor explains it is that if you're a true believer, you will want to be obedient to the Lord and be baptized. We have baptism quite regularly. If someone refuses to be baptized, then that is a sign of disobedience so they would not be able to take communion anyway. However, as I said, there's no hard and fast rules. If someone were saved and was waiting for the next baptism, I don't see the issue in taking communion at that time.

What if someone has honest questions/struggles about baptism? For instance, what if they came from a tradition that practiced infant baptism and they have questions about believer's baptism by immersion? I agree that if they are openly rebelling against it, then they should not take communion. But my friend was adamant that even if the person was scheduled to be baptized, they should not partake, let alone if that person has questions and is not sure about believer's baptism/immersion.

Martin
02-01-2010, 01:54 PM
My thought on communion is the person needs to be saved and not be living a disobedient life (i.e., I Cor. 11 - examine yourself). If a person is saved and they have honest questions about baptism, then I think they are fine to take communion before they are baptized. Now if the person is rebelling against being Biblically baptized, then that would constitute living in disobedience, so in that case, they should not take communion.

==I agree they should not. However I don't see any Biblical justification to deny someone communion because they have not been baptized. I agree, I think your friend's position is too harsh. Then again, Baptist Churches are free to have such policies if they feel so lead.

annsni
02-01-2010, 02:12 PM
What if someone has honest questions/struggles about baptism? For instance, what if they came from a tradition that practiced infant baptism and they have questions about believer's baptism by immersion? I agree that if they are openly rebelling against it, then they should not take communion. But my friend was adamant that even if the person was scheduled to be baptized, they should not partake, let alone if that person has questions and is not sure about believer's baptism/immersion.

Well, we do not believe that infant baptism is a valid baptism so they would not be considered to have been baptized in our church and would be counseled as such. As I said, no one has to hold up their baptism certificates so I'm sure there are those who do partake without being "qualified" but that's not our job to police them, necessarily. If they are disfellowshipped, then they are not allowed in the church but if someone were to come and decide that they were taking communion, we wouldn't stop them because honestly, we don't keep track of every person in an 800 person church. :) But if they came to the new member's class or our "meet and greet" to get to know the pastors and ask questions, they would be told that we do feel that communion is for baptized believers and that if they have not had a believer's baptism, the next one would be ______.

Andy T.
02-01-2010, 02:28 PM
Well, we do not believe that infant baptism is a valid baptism so they would not be considered to have been baptized in our church and would be counseled as such. As I said, no one has to hold up their baptism certificates so I'm sure there are those who do partake without being "qualified" but that's not our job to police them, necessarily. If they are disfellowshipped, then they are not allowed in the church but if someone were to come and decide that they were taking communion, we wouldn't stop them because honestly, we don't keep track of every person in an 800 person church. :) But if they came to the new member's class or our "meet and greet" to get to know the pastors and ask questions, they would be told that we do feel that communion is for baptized believers and that if they have not had a believer's baptism, the next one would be ______.

As a Baptist, I agree that infant baptism is not valid. What I was trying to get at, is there are two basic reasons why a believer has not been Biblically baptized by immersion - one is disobedience (and we both agree that they should not take communion); the other is not necessarily disobedience, but the person may have questions or is struggling to understand its meaning or importance, etc. I believe the latter person is not necessarily living in disobedience and should still be permitted to take communion.

Also, I understand that most churches don't "police" this issue by checking who is taking and who is not, but I'm more curious as to what is officially taught on the matter.

annsni
02-01-2010, 02:36 PM
As a Baptist, I agree that infant baptism is not valid. What I was trying to get at, is there are two basic reasons why a believer has not been Biblically baptized by immersion - one is disobedience (and we both agree that they should not take communion); the other is not necessarily disobedience, but the person may have questions or is struggling to understand its meaning or importance, etc. I believe the latter person is not necessarily living in disobedience and should still be permitted to take communion.

Also, I understand that most churches don't "police" this issue by checking who is taking and who is not, but I'm more curious as to what is officially taught on the matter.

Well, if they have questions, they can speak to the pastors and they will be happy to sit down and discuss it with them. If they still question it, they will be counseled to not partake of communion until they have come to a point of decision with regards to baptism since it IS commanded of in Scripture.

This thread reminded me to tell my son that he can take communion this Sunday! He was baptized a few weeks ago and this will be the first communion since then. He was very happy. My 7 year old said immediately "I want to be baptized too!" and I told her we'd talk about it (I think she said it just to be able to take communion too - but we need to talk to her to see if she really understands it). :)

Johnv
02-01-2010, 02:42 PM
... my friend was adamant that even if the person was scheduled to be baptized, they should not partake, let alone if that person has questions and is not sure about believer's baptism/immersion.
I think when we start getting to that level of "who gets the wafer", we start treading the waters of legalism. At one point or another, we need to not worry about it, and let it be between the one taking communion and the Holy Spirit, lest we be guilty of splitting hairs.

Andy T.
02-01-2010, 02:55 PM
I think when we start getting to that level of "who gets the wafer", we start treading the waters of legalism. At one point or another, we need to not worry about it, and let it be between the one taking communion and the Holy Spirit, lest we be guilty of splitting hairs.
My friend doesn't think we should be physically refusing people of taking communion. Like Ann said, the church should teach what it believes and when the elements are passed around, it is up to each person to partake or not. While I may disagree with my friend's or Ann's position, I don't think their position is legalistic.

Johnv
02-01-2010, 02:58 PM
... the church should teach what it believes and when the elements are passed around, it is up to each person to partake or not...
I think that's a safe and reasonable place to operate from.

OldRegular
02-01-2010, 04:06 PM
Like Ann said, the church should teach what it believes and when the elements are passed around, it is up to each person to partake or not.

Scripture teaches:

1 Corinthians 14:40. Let all things be done decently and in order.

Allowing unbelievers or unBaptized believers to participate in communion is not decently and in order.

I will admit that in these super dooper congregations [Those who gather to hear Joel Osteen do whatever it is he does; for example.] that is not possible. Actually it is not possible in the church where I am a member.

annsni
02-01-2010, 04:25 PM
Scripture teaches:

1 Corinthians 14:40. Let all things be done decently and in order.

Allowing unbelievers or unBaptized believers to participate in communion is not decently and in order.

I will admit that in these super dooper congregations [Those who gather to hear Joel Osteen do whatever it is he does; for example.] that is not possible. Actually it is not possible in the church where I am a member.

See, we clearly give "directions" at the beginning of each and every communion. We go through what is communion, who is it for, when not to take it, etc. It's a very respectful about 30-45 second direction and then we move on. It clearly IS stated that we are not to take communion unworthily and even if we have an offense with a brother, we should take care of that before taking communion. If someone still decides to partake when they shouldn't? Honestly, that's on their head.

Tom Butler
02-02-2010, 10:34 AM
Here's my take:

The Lord's Supper is for church members only. My personal belief is that it's for local church members only, although that's a minority view in my own church.

Baptism and the Lord's Supper are church ordinances, not "Christian" ordinances. The local church was given the responsibility to guard them (Paul writing I Cor 11:2). The church at Corinth was abusing the Lord's Supper, and Paul reminded them of two things: guard the ordinances, and here's how to properly observe the Lord's supper.

When the Lord presided over the first Supper, only members of his fledgling church were present.

Johnv
02-02-2010, 10:42 AM
If they're church ordinances, and not "Christian" ordinances, then you would have to baptise every member, regardless of whether they've been baptized before. Sorry, I don't buy that argument.

annsni
02-02-2010, 11:25 AM
If they're church ordinances, and not "Christian" ordinances, then you would have to baptise every member, regardless of whether they've been baptized before. Sorry, I don't buy that argument.

Not if it was a valid baptism in another Bible church.

Johnv
02-02-2010, 11:30 AM
Not if it was a valid baptism in another Bible church.
Then a person from another church should be allowed communion as well. That negates the argument that communion and baptism are church ordinances, and not "Christian" ordinances.