Baptism And Reception
I have been in the assembly for years and believed one should be baptized before he could partake of the emblems. A young brother has come into our assembly teaching that this is not so. If one confesses the name of Christ as Saviour, he can partake. Also the Lord’s table should be open to any one that confesses the name of Christ no matter what denomination he may come from.
I am confused on this matter, would you please explain?
Yours in Christ,
Dear I. R.:
We regret that confusion has arisen from differences of thought in regard to believer’s baptism and reception into the assembly. One dislikes anything that mars the peace of mind and fellowship of the saints. Consequently, it behoves all of us to be careful lest we disrupt the spiritual quietness of God’s people. This should be the attitude of all, particularly younger brethren (1 Pet. 5:5-6).
Frequently we should examine our church practices in the light of the principles taught in the New Testament. The Word of God is our final authority, not tradition or custom. It is difficult to break from a course of long use, but the honour of the Lord and obedience to His Word are of paramount importance (1 Sam. 2:30).
The Conference of Brethren recently held at Guelph, Canada, prayerfully and in the fear of God considered both of these subjects. Shall copy here some of the recorded questions and answers hoping that they may guide your thinking and exercise.
Baptism is connected with evangelism (Matt. 28:16-20); whereas, the Lord’s supper is linked to the fellowship of saints (1 Cor. 11:23-34). If these are maintained in their proper perspectives confusion will be avoided.
1. Is a believer received only to the Lord’s supper? Unless only a visitor, he is received into all the activities, responsibilities, and privileges of the assembly.
2. Should there be a difference between a visitor and one who wishes to remain in the assembly? Yes, a visitor should be received if he complies with scriptural qualifications regardless of his affiliations. It is as serious a matter to refuse fellowship to one who meets scriptural requirements as it is to receive one who contravenes these.
3. Must a person be baptized before he is received into the assembly? Baptism is not a bar to reception under certain circumstances; however, refusal to be baptized is contrary to Scripture. The early Church baptized on conversion, therefore before reception.
4. What should be done with the visitor, say from a denomination, who continues to attend indefinitely; in other words, how long is a visitor a visitor? It is the responsibility of the elders to interview him regarding the fuller and more permanent fellowship of the assembly.
5. Who receives into fellowship, the elders or the church? The whole church. Uusually two or three elders interview the Christian to be received, and then make public their recommendations. Should there be no valid objection, under this guidance, the assembly welcomes the person.
There is nothing new or novel in these answers; they represent the thinking not only of the present but of the earliest days of the assembly movement.
Sincerely in Christ,