Baptism and Fellowship


H. A. Ironside

Baptism and Fellowship

Scripture never intimates that like views of baptism are required to fit saints for communion at the Lord's table. The rule is given in 1 Cor.10:16,17: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of .that one bread." Membership in the body of Christ is the only church membership known in the New Testament. This is the basis of communion. All who have been saved through the precious blood of Christ, who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and members of the one body, have a place at the Lord's table unless grave moral or doctrinal evil is practiced or held by them, or tolerated by association (1 Cor.5; 1 Tim.1:19,20; 2 John 10,11).

Baptized every communicant should be; the order of Acts 2:41, 42 is clear enough as to that; but there is no Scriptural warrant for insisting that only those who see and practice the immersion of professed believers are to be received at the Lord's table. This would be to make a new communion of baptism, as, alas, has been done, and hence a narrower fellowship than that recognized in God's word."*

((* I heartily endorse the following, written by a brother beloved in the Lord (now deceased), though one who would have differed from me as to much I have penned in this paper:
"It is a great truth that the Lord is teaching many over again in the present day, after it had been buried in the rubbish of ecclesiastical traditions for centuries, that God has a Church upon earth. It is our part, then, not to be making churches, but to acknowledge what He has already made. The various 'churches spoken of in the New Testament are but severally the 'church of God' in such or such a place. Nothing is owned but this-- the church of God. Membership is in this, not in local bodies. 'Ye are the body of Christ and members in particular.' It was thus .body openly manifested and recognized, to which an apostle could write epistles, and of which, if one member suffered, all the members suffered with it, or if one member were honored, all the members rejoiced with it; where each had its place and service from God Himself, one Spirit animating it, and the eye could not say to the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again, the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
"Into this membership man cannot admit, but the Lord only. 'The Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved.' Our part is only to bow to what He has done, and to 'receive one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.' Now all making terms of admission is plainly out of the question, for we do not admit at all. It is only, "receive ye one another,' where any one within the Church (that is, any believer) has as much title to receive me as I him. It is true that we are to 'judge those that are within' (1 Cor.5:12), and if 'any one that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, with such an one, no, not to eat' (v.11). So also, if one come and 'bring not the doctrine of Christ,' the word is, 'Receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds' (2 John 9,10). But this is only the maintenance of the discipline of God's dense, and is quite another thing from making terms of admission into the body. Here it is simply 'judging those that are within,' not admitting them within. Will it be contended that error as to baptism is a thing equally liable to discipline? or that Baptists may not walk with Paedo-Baptists, in equal purity of life, and equal zeal for God's glory? I find the rule here: 'Him that is weak in the faith, receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations' (Rom.14:1). And, 'whereunto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing' (Phil.3:16). And so walking, not as making light of truth, but respecting others' consciences, we may hope and pray for that to be fulfilled to us, which is further written: 'And if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this to you'"(v.15).
[From "Baptism: Its Scriptural Place and Use", by F.W.Grant. Now out of print.] ))

A brother who believes quite differently to me on baptism may have far more fervent love for the Lord Jesus than I. Together we can enjoy sweetest fellowship, while respecting each other's conscience as to a question that has provoked much strife in the church; nor need I hold any the less tenaciously to what I believe to be the truth as to it, because I refrain from judging him as walking wilfully when he sees it not?