What is the Relationship Between Baptism and the Lord’s Supper?

The following are some brief notes for a sermon that I recently preached on the relationship between Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  This is not meant to be an exhaustive approach to either of the ordinances.  I believe more about each of them.  This is a Baptist perspective.  Non-Baptists, don’t be surprised. Audio here.

Similarities:

  • Both are commanded by Christ.
  • Both symbolize the death of Christ.
  • Both are individual, but with communal aspects.
Differences:
Obviously, the physical components are different (water vs. bread and juice).  But perhaps not equally as obvious a difference initially, but hopefully obvious when stated:  Baptism is a beginning ordinance, and the Lord’s Supper is a continuing ordinance.  In other words, Baptism is experienced once by the believer at the beginning of their Christian life.  The Lord’s Supper is experienced repeatedly throughout the Christian life.

What is the Relationship between the two?
Article VII of The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 states that Baptism “is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.”   Why? . . .
  1. Baptism is commanded by Christ.
  2. Baptism is to occur at the beginning of the Christian life.
  3. The Lord’s Supper is to be received by repentant sinners.
  4. You have either obeyed Christ or not in regard to your baptism.
In other words, the only people eligible to receive the Lord’s Supper are believers in Christ Jesus who are repentant sinners.  The way that one repents of not being baptized is simply to be baptized in obedience to Christ.  A believer has either done this or not.  If not, unless physically hindered, the believer is in rebellion against Christ and should not take the Lord’s Supper in this unrepentant state.

Should I Take the Lord’s Supper?
  1. Are you trusting in Christ alone?  If yes, then proceed to question #2.
  2. Have you been Scripturally (as a believer by immersion) baptized?  If yes, then proceed to question #3.
  3. Do you have other areas of unconfessed and unrepented of sin in your life?  If no, then you are eligible to take the Lord’s Supper.

9 comments

  1. Steve while I don’t disagree with those three questions I must ask why don’t you have a fourth one and that would be are you a member of the congregation? Should we not fence the table to those that have not committed themselves to membership in the local body?

  2. Peter,

    I would add that the participant must be a member in good standing (i.e., not under discipline) at his or her local church. I don’t think that they have to be members of the particular local congregation that is administering the Supper. In other words, if you were visiting our church, and you met the other requirements, you would be welcome to the Lord’s Table.

  3. But you are saying that you wouldn’t invite a Presbyterian who’s a member in good standing of his or her church to partake at your church, correct?

  4. I hear that there is a good book on Communion from a Baptist perspective coming out soon, a follow up from the B&H book on Baptism. I think that it might contain a view some what different from yours that is proposed and defended. :)

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