Baptism by Immersion is often thought to be all we require as a prerequisite to the Lord’s Supper – some inadequate Confessions of our Faith countenancing the idea. Our real conviction is, that not Baptism only, but Membership with a Baptised Church, and what this expresses and involves, should always precede and be conjoined with this act of devotion.

This Position we prove, firstly from plain and positive teachings of Scripture:

The Threefold Commission, Matthew 28:19,20:

The Apostles, as the Founders of Christ’s Church, on earth, were – Firstly: to evangelise men and women of all nations. Secondly, when any became disciples – the earliest name for Christians, Acts 11:26, to baptise them. Thirdly, to “teach” these disciples or Christians “to observe all things whatsoever they had learned of the Master;” and, among these, the Lord’s Supper must have been included. With these precepts, their practice coincided.

This appears in Acts 2:37,42. Through God’s blessing on Peter’s Pentecostal Sermon, several “were pricked in the heart,” or ravingly impressed; and thus became “disciples,” or Christians. On their seeking guidance, Peter enjoined them to “repent” – perhaps with special reference to their Nation’s murder of Jesus – “and be baptised.” “Then they that received his word were baptised; and in that day about three thousand souls were added unto them,” – that is, to the Church. (verse 47) Then, in accordance with their Commission, the Apostles proceeded to instruct them. Nor in vain. “They continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ teaching, and in the fellowship” – namely, Church fellowship – “and in breaking of bread” and (public and united) “prayers.”

Acts 8:6, 14-17. “A great persecution” of the Church at Jerusalem followed Stephen’s death, and all but the Apostles were scattered, many fleeing to Samaria. These were joined by Philip, who preached Christ to them. Many of “the people” (of Samaria) impressed by his discourses and miracles, (verse 6) believed; and thus became “disciples.” Their Baptism followed. Peter and John subsequently visited them; instructed them; formed them into a Church; prayed that they might receive the (miraculous gifts of the) Holy Ghost: and laid their hands on them. The privilege was granted. The Lord’s Supper is not indeed mentioned, but it is clear that their Church life was made paramount to all else.

That they were, as we state, formed into an organised Assembly before these supernatural favours were bestowed appears from the fact that such powers were reserved for Members of Churches. Consult 1 Corinthians 12:28, and 14:4,5,19,23,28,34,35, where the word “church” occurs no fewer than eight times.

Acts 10:48. Here again, Peter’s obedience to the Master’s Commission appears. Summoned by Cornelius, he firstly so preached as to make disciples of him and his household – and as they already “feared, and prayed to God alway,” the Holy Ghost, who was the Author of the Grace they previously possessed – now fell on them with miraculous demonstration and power. Peter at once commanded some un-named saint (doubtless one of the six, 11:12) who was present, to baptise them – and then he formed them into the first Gentile Church.

The Communion certainly followed, for Peter was charged with “eating with them,” (11:3); not, of course, at common meals, but at the Supper of his and their Lord.

Paul’s conversion also exemplifies the carrying out of the great Commission, though his case was exceptional, as he became a Disciple or Christian, “not from men, neither through a man.” (Galatians 1:1) Then he was baptised by Ananias (Acts 9:18.) He subsequently remained “certain days with the Disciples at Damascus,” not as the guest of one, but in fellowship with all – namely, he here first joined a Christian Church, worshipping “with its members at the Supper of the Lord. – From “Strict Communion Vindicated,” by J. C. Philpot.


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