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Grace Life Baptist Church Blog

Must Baptism Precede Membership?

Due to recent experiences in counseling with baptismal candidates, I found this article by Jonathan Leeman to be helpful and insightful.  Does it really matter whether or not a person is baptized before or after church membership?  Check it out and feel free to discuss.

Must Baptism Precede Membership? Of course!

Soli Deo Gloria,
Jeremy Vanatta
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The Ephesians 4 Project: Article VII

Article VII: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper.
The Lord's Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming.

Unifying Principles from Article VII
Again, the Baptist Faith & Message has established a unifying statement for Southern Baptists to embrace.  All Southern Baptist agree that baptism is the post-salvation immersion of a believer that is symbolic of the believer’s faith, death to sin, and his having been raised to walk in the righteousness of Christ Jesus.  If churches and individuals can conscientiously sign the BF & M, then they are saying that they agree with this doctrine.  They agree that baptism is scripturally administered post-salvation.  This is important for today because there are some in the SBC who have suggested that Southern Baptists who hold to a more Reformed understanding of soteriology are toying with paedo-baptism (baptism of babies). Regarding this issue, I would like to make three statements.

First, we must understand that a person’s consideration (study of the practice) of baby-baptism is far different than their believing it, teaching it, or actually performing it.  Second, we must understand that a person who is teaching baby-baptism and performing it is no longer signing the BF & M in good faith, and therefore should remove themselves from the SBC.  Third, we must understand that it is unlikely that someone who has adopted the practice of paedo-baptism would bother to remain in a denomination that is whole-heartedly committed to believer baptism. Therefore, it is unkind and slanderous to suggest that a Baptist who is adhering to a Reformed understanding of salvation is threatening the entire SBC with paedo-baptism.  The fact remains that one of the major defining marks of being a Baptist is post-conversion, believer baptism.

Regarding the Lord’s Supper, all Southern Baptists agree that this is a “symbolic act of obedience” for the purpose of remembering the death of Christ and encouraging us to await His second coming with joyful expectation.

Having reviewed Article VII, we can again declare that the BF & M is a unifying document for those that can conscientiously sign it.

For His Glory,
Jeremy Vanatta
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