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Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Michael Wrenn, Jan 3, 2002.
Should water baptism be a prerequisite to partaking of the Lord's Supper?
The preacher of my church asks, in most respectful tones, that only those who know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior should partake of the Lord's Supper. Baptism and church membership are not required.
Regardless of how you answer please elaborate. To me Baptism is something we do in obedience to our Lord. So is communion and I see no reason for someone who has accepted Christ but not yet followed in Baptism to be prevented from it.
I became a Christian when I was almost 11, and was baptized about nine months later. During this time, I partook in the Lord's
Supper with much reverence and remembrance, doing what the Bible said about being prepared for the Lord's Supper.
Though I believe believers should be baptized as an act of obedience, I do not hold that they necessarily have to be baptized prior to the Lord's supper participation.
Baptism is our profession of faith. If one is disobedient in Baptism that person has no right to call themselves a Christian because those who refuse Baptism are in rebellion and must be presumed by these actions to either not be converted or out of fellowship.
If a person has not identified and united himself or herself with the Church they cannot rightly partake and commune with Christ and His body in the Holy Supper.
On this, I disagree with Kiffin and agree with everyone else who has responded so far.
Yes, water baptism should always be a prerequisite before taking communion because when Paul wrote to the Corinthian church about communion (1 Corinthians 11:17), he addressed them as the church. Only members of the body of Christ make up the church membership. In order to be a member of the church of God, baptism is a requirement (Matthew 3:15).
God Be With You
very well said Jamal
Yes, water baptism is a prerequisite to communion. Baptism is the first command to the believer and the believer's public consent and commitment to follow Christ. Baptism is prerequisite to church membership and church membership is prerequisite to communion. There is a New Testament church order to contend with - baptism, church membership, communion. The precept, command, and example of communion in the New Testament is that it was partaken by baptized believers.
Actually, a person becomes a member of the church when he/she comes to faith in Christ.
Michael, although we probably have several disagreements on the nature of the church, I still would assume (unless you state otherwise) that you believe a person is not automatically a member of a particular local church body when he comes to faith in Christ.
The Lord's Supper is a rememberance/memorial to the atoning sacrifice of Christ, partaken by a person who can properly memorialize that because they have repented of sins and trusted Christ to save them. Baptism is not salvific, and therefore, not a requirement to partake of a memorial to the atoning sacrifice of Christ.
I think some perspective from some Historic Anabaptist and Baptist confessions would be helpful.
The Schleitheim Confession of Faith (1527 Anabaptist Confession)
In the breaking of bread we are of one mind and are agreed [as follows]:All those who wish to break one bread in remembrance of the broken body of Christ,and all who wish
to drink of one drink as a remembrance of the shed blood of Christ,shall be united
beforehand by baptism in one body of Christ which is the church of God and whose Head
Ridemann’s Rechenschaft (1540 Anabaptist Confessiom)
Therefore it is and must be [thus]: Whoever has not been called by one God to one faith, to one baptism, to one Spirit, to one body, with all the children of God's church, cannot be made [into] one bread with them, as indeed must be done if one is truly to break bread according to the command of Christ.
Thomas Helwys Confession 1611
Baptism means the entrance into the covenant of grace of God and the incorporation into the Church of Christ.... The Supper is a sign of the community of Christ's body, in that each member thereby declares himself to be of the one mind, heart, and Spirit of Christ. It is an act of remembrance at which God's children become aware again of the grace which they have received. Only a true member of Christ may participate. The unity of the fellowship of the Lord's Table must already exist prior to the celebrating.
That in the outward supper which only baptized persons must partake, there is presented and figured, before the eys of the penitent and faithful, that spiritual supper, which Christ maketh of His flesh and blood which is crucified and shed for the remission of sins (as the bread is broken and the wine poured forth), and which is eaten and drunken (as is the bread and wine bodily) only by those which are flesh of His flesh, and bone of His bone: in the communion of the same spirit
1646 London Baptist Confession
Jesus Christ hath here on earth a [manifestation of His] spiritual kingdom, which is His Church, whom He hath purchased and redeemed to Himself as a peculiar inheritance; which Church is a company of
visible saints, called and separated from the world by the word and Spirit of God, to the visible profession of faith of the gospel, being baptized into that faith, and joined to the Lord, and each other, by mutual agreement in the practical enjoyment of the ordinances commanded by Christ their head and king. ..Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, given by Christ, to be dispensed upon persons professing faith, or that are made disciples; who upon profession of faith, ought to be baptized, and after to partake of the Lord's Supper.
Keach’s Baptist Catechism
Q. 98. How do Baptism and the Lord's Supper become effectual means of salvation?
A. Baptism and the Lord's Supper become effectual means of salvation, not from
any virtue in them or in him that administers them, but only by the blessing of
Christ and the working of His Spirit in them that by faith receive them. (1 Peter
3:21; 1 Cor. 3:6,7; 1 Cor. 12:13)
Q. 99. Wherein do Baptism and the Lord's Supper differ from the other ordinances of
A. Baptism and the Lord's Supper differ from the other ordinances of God in that
they were specially instituted by Christ to represent and apply to believers the
benefits of the new covenant by visible and outward signs. (Matt. 28:19; Acts
22:16; Matt. 26:26-28; Rom. 6:4)
1813 Charleston Baptist Catechism (On the question who is qualified to take the supper?)
Q.Who are the proper subjects of this ordinance?
A. They who have been baptized upon a personal profession of their faith in Jesus
Christ, and repentance from dead works (Acts 2:41, 42).
Boyce’s Baptist Catechism
5. Is there any established order in which these ordinances are to be observed?
Yes; the believer must be baptized before he partakes of the Lord's Supper.
Neither the Reformation Anabaptists nor the early Baptists could perceive of unbaptized "Christians" partaking of the supper. Is not this just only one step away from Baptists receiving unbaptized people as members into the Church?
[ January 03, 2002: Message edited by: Kiffin ]
I believe that the Lord's Supper should be reserved for those who have followed the command to be baptized.
That said, this is a difficult topic for large churches with hundreds or thousands of members. How do we determine who has been baptized? And whether it was by immersion, as Baptists hold?
The early Baptist churches, I am sure, were small and organic -- strangers didn't just show up and expect to take communion.
How do large churches handle this? Are we to deny communion to unbaptized people who have experienced saving grace, or to -- say Methodists and Congregationalists -- who have come in search of God?
I think most Southern Baptist churches have decided to partake of the Lord's Supper on Sunday night or special events when non-members are not likely to be in attendance.
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> Neither the Reformation Anabaptists nor the early Baptists could perceive of unbaptized "Christians" partaking of the supper. Is not this just only one step away from Baptists receiving unbaptized people as members into the Church <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
No, it isn't. Has anyone said that? Besides, most of the confessions speak of people being baptized into Christ. Water baptism doesn't do that. Do not equate water baptism as a salvific act with water baptism as a symbolic act.
I love the Baptist catechisms and confessions, especially by Boyce, and other of our reformed baptist fathers. But they are not infallable. Do you have any Scriptural proof for your assertion? By the way, three of your posted confessions do not make reference to water baptism, nor prove your point.
[ January 03, 2002: Message edited by: TomVols ]
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Neither the Reformation Anabaptists nor the early Baptists could perceive of unbaptized "Christians" partaking of the supper.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>Though I'm sure none of us would think of determining our practice on communion (or anything else) based on historical precedent, I think Baptists need to understand more of the history of their theology, and read more works by our Baptist forefathers. Though open communion seems to have made great gains in our day, in the past it was the oddball idea. Sure some half-Baptists like Bunyan promoted it, but it is rare to find many early Baptists arguing in favor of open communion.
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Kiffin: Is not this just only one step away from Baptists receiving unbaptized people as members into the Church<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>TomVols: No, it isn't. Has anyone said that?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>If one regards those sprinkled or poured on as unbaptized (as I do), some Baptists have begun to practice it. In 1972/73 the North Carolina Baptist State Convention had a controversy over churches receiving members who had not been baptized by immersion as believers. It can be seen in the churches' defenses of their practice that they definitely had made the connection between open communion and open membership. This is documented in Perspectives in Religious Studies 1977 - Documents Concerning Baptism and Church Membership: A Controversy among North Carolina Baptists (c. 1977 by Association of Baptist Professors of Religion). Unfortunately this may be hard to find outside of Baptist seminary libraries.
Yes all of them do refer to water baptism if you read them all in context. Read them at http://www.reformedreader.org/ and you will see that. Only the Bunyan wing of Baptists believed as you do and they were in opposition to the Baptist confessions. No one should say, "I have faith but I don't have or need baptism." Baptism is a seal of the faith one already has. One receives the sign of obedience, water baptism, as proof before God and his Church that they firmly believe in the remission of sins through Jesus Christ as it was preached and taught to them from the Word of God. Baptism is the outward sign one has received Salvation (1 Peter 3:21) much like Israel offering up animal sacrifices demonstrated their faith.
The Scriptural proof is upon modern Baptists who abandon historic Anabaptist and Baptist confessions to explain why unbaptized people can take communion. The New Testament while not teaching baptismal regeneration does closely connect conversion with Baptism (Mt. 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, Acts 2:38, Romans 6:1-4) in that Water baptism, declares one is in covenant with God (I Peter 3:21), a pledge to live a righteous life in God’s sight. Our forefathers saw it as a covenant with God to continue living a holy life that they have now begun. They viewed so called converts who refused baptism as reprobates.
Those who partake of the Lord's Supper but who have refused baptism by their own actions demonstrate a refusal to follow Christ. Should rebels be allowed at the Lord's table (1 Cor. 11:27-29)? If we give them the Lord's Supper we are saying Baptism is not important and the next step is to say, "Since there is no Salvitic grace in Baptism why not allow the unbaptized to be members?"
John Bunyan may not have been the only early Particular "Baptist" who advocated open communion, but he is the only leader whom I know that did. Not wanting to belabor the Bunyan case, nor belittle a great man, it is still worthy of noting that Bunyan's church was not recognized as Baptist by most of the Particular Baptists of his day, and that it was an open membership church. Even the early General Baptists (who have historically favored open communion more than Particular Baptists) were not open communionists [see statement 72 in Thomas Helwys' confession linked in the Baptist History forum].
Another Bible fact that I perceive to be important is this - <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Kiffin:The New Testament while not teaching baptismal regeneration does closely connect conversion with Baptism<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>The accounts of conversion and baptism in the book of Acts link the two almost inseparably. When a person was converted, he was baptized. A possible exception to this rule was Saul of Tarsus, but when he arrived to Ananias and was commanded to be baptized, he immediately was. This does not make baptism salvific, but it certainly shows its importance - an importance that seems to be greatly lost on our generation.