Article on the Necessity of Baptism before Communion?

Pastor Tim Bayly has mentioned the necessity of getting baptized before coming to communion in a lot of sermons, but I’m wondering if there’s a good article that he, or someone else has written on the subject?

I did some perusal over in the archives on BaylyBlog but didn’t find any articles to this effect over there (and I’ve read everything on Warhorn and don’t remember any articles on this).

I have a friend looking for a good article on the subject.

Thanks and God bless!


Sorry, the footnotes and formatting are all messed up, but really chapter 2 of Church Reformed is best. Love,

Chapter 2

Baptism: How We Enter the Church

So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

Acts 2:41

From the first preaching of the Gospel on the Day of Pentecost, the New Testament records the apostles’ work fulfilling the Great Commission by planting churches.

It all started in Jerusalem. At the conclusion of the Apostle Peter’s sermon, we read the people were “pierced to the heart” and cried out, “Brethren, what shall we do?”

Peter responded, “Be saved from this perverse generation!”

What step did they take?

Those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

Note carefully: those who believed were “baptized” and “added” to the Church.

The New Testament Pattern

The sacrament of baptism is the first step a new believer takes in obedience to his Savior, and by that step he is united to the Church. We see it in our Lord’s Great Commission:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

We see it with the Ethiopian eunuch:

As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?”

And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”

And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.

We see it with Lydia and her household:

A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household had been baptized . . .

Jesus commanded the apostles to make disciples, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” and they obeyed.

Skipping to the present, in his book The Great Good Thing , Jewish convert Andrew Klavan tells this story about his own baptism. He had come to faith and was praying:

Thank you God. I don’t know how to respond to this abundance. You have given me so much. You’ve given me everything I wanted since I was a child. Presence of mind and love and a voice and meaning and beauty. You’ve just handed them to me, gifts, like on Christmas. I don’t know how to repay you. I don’t know how to begin. You’re God and I’m nothing. I can’t think of a single thing I can offer you that would matter to you. If there’s something I’m missing, tell me. Please. Tell me what you want me to do.

He goes on to say:

The answer came back to me on the instant, so clear in my heart it might have been spoken out loud: Now you should be baptized .

Really, no one needs any special revelation from on high. Scripture records both Jesus’ command and the apostles’ consistent obedience to that command to initiate souls into His Church through baptism.

Those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

Men and women believed the Gospel, were baptized, and that very day were added to the Church. Being joined to the Church through baptism, those three thousand souls gave themselves to the four devotions of the Church—the teaching of the apostles, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer.

Our Present Disorder

After two thousand years of this order, the Church is falling into disorder. Men and women who have never been baptized nevertheless commune with the family of God around the Lord’s Table, claiming for themselves every benefit of God’s covenant household. Yet they have never been granted entry to that household by the elders of the Church.

You ask, What gives the elders the right to say who can and can’t come to the table? And, Why should elders have authority over baptism and the Lord’s Supper?

Note in the biblical examples above that baptism was not self-administered, nor was it administered by family members. In the New Testament and ever since, baptism into Christ’s Church has been administered by church officers. These officers are called elders, pastors, deacons, or bishops, but only officers of Christ’s Church should baptize souls into the Church and administer the family meal at the Lord’s Table.

Christ had chosen the apostles to lead His sheep and guard His sheepfold, and they in turn appointed elders over the church in each city.

It is the duty of these officers to protect the Church from those who try to enter without going through the door of Jesus Christ:

Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

In the Book of Acts, only those who believed on Jesus were granted baptism. And only those who believe on Jesus should be baptized into the Church today. Following the biblical order further, only those united to the Church through baptism by the Church’s officers should be allowed by those officers to eat and drink at the Lord’s Table.

Our Lord Jesus gave the administration of His sacraments to the officers of His Church—His undershepherds—and it is the obligation of those officers to guard baptism and the Lord’s Supper from being profaned by notorious sinners, hypocrites, and worldlings.

Some time ago, elders of our congregation reported to their fellow elders that the young children of one of our more mature Christian couples were taking the Lord’s Supper without having been baptized. The parents did not believe in infant baptism and were waiting to have their children baptized until they made a profession of faith. Meanwhile, their children were taking the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

This is so common that now, when I administer the Lord’s Table, I’m careful to warn those who have never been baptized that they must be united to the household of faith by baptism before they may eat at the family table.

Because of this warning, we have lost some from our congregation and many visitors have been angered. After all, in most congregations no one will restrain them from giving the bread and wine to their unbaptized children.

Yet baptism is a sacrament, and sacraments make human submission to divine authority—and the blessing God pours out on such submission—visible. That’s the beauty of sacraments.

The Old Testament Pattern

In both Old and New Testaments, God commanded His people to observe an external, physical rite of entry to His covenant community. In the Old Testament, the entry rite was circumcision. When God established His covenant with Abraham and his descendants, He instructed Abraham,

This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations. . . . But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.

Entry into the Old Covenant required circumcision and those not circumcised were “cut off.” Whether servants or sons, even though they were members of Abraham’s household, without circumcision they were cut off from the people of God.

Both Circumcision and Baptism Are Matters of the Heart

Of course, true faith is not born of baptism. The sacraments are always administered on the basis of prior faith, whether that faith is the faith of the individual or (in the case of infant baptism) his parents.

In the Old Testament, Abraham was justified prior to circumcision, but God commanded that those not circumcised be expelled from His people. God Himself says “no” to those seeking entry to His family without circumcision. He commands that the uncircumcised man “shall be cut off from his people,” because “he has broken My covenant.”

Now, at this point some people claim a radical separation between the Old and New Covenants. They admit the necessity of circumcision in the Old Covenant, but claim this was because God created the Old Covenant to be a covenant of flesh, whereas with the New Covenant it is now a matter of the spirit and heart. In the Old Covenant, flesh and physical marks, sacrifices, and land were the way of salvation, but in the New Covenant it’s all spiritual. They conclude that baptism as a physical rite actually isn’t that important.

This is wrong—in both directions.

First, it’s wrong in making the Old Covenant a matter of flesh rather than spirit and heart. Second, it’s wrong in making the New Covenant a matter of spirit and heart rather than flesh.

While it’s true that the Old and New Covenants differ in a number of ways, they don’t differ here. Both Old and New Covenants are founded on faith in God and both command a physical rite of initiation by which those who live by faith are marked and welcomed into God’s covenant household, the Church.

God’s Covenant Household

Many texts in Scripture demonstrate that circumcision was a matter of the heart. Speaking of the way Abraham, our father in faith, was saved, the Apostle Paul warns against the false doctrine that the work in the flesh of circumcision saved him.

Not at all:

He received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.

It’s clear: circumcision was a physical seal of the righteousness of spiritual faith which Abraham had before he was circumcised. So in both the Old and New Covenants, God alone gives the gift of faith which is the instrument by which a man is transferred from death to life. Faith is not claimed by any human act. It is a gift of God.

Thus circumcision saved no one and baptism saves no one—the baptism of the flesh, that is; the washing of water. Marks of the flesh never save anyone. What God seeks is the heart. The naked sign without the presence of the thing signified angers Him.

Consider this command given through the prophet Jeremiah:

Circumcise yourselves to the Lord

And remove the foreskins of your heart,

Men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,

Or else My wrath will go forth like fire

And burn with none to quench it,

Because of the evil of your deeds.

Jeremiah was addressing men who had been circumcised in their bodies, yet whose hearts were far from God. Thus the circumcision of their bodies brought on them the wrath of God. A man is justified by faith, alone—never by works of the Law such as circumcision:

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

Still, pleased to stoop to our weakness, God has bound saving faith to these physical signs. As in the Old Testament, today God is still pleased to mark members of His household with a physical sign by which we are set apart, by which we are distinguished from those who are not members of His household.

In the New Covenant God has given us two physical signs at the heart of our life together as Christians, and we neglect them to our peril.

What? Our peril? If God has my heart, what difference does it make whether I’m baptized?

The difference it makes is that God commanded us to be marked with baptism as the sign and seal of our entry into His covenant family.

That’s all we need to know—and obey.

If we claim to have faith but rebel against that faith’s first fruits everywhere recorded in Scripture, what good is our faith? Make no mistake: the man who trusts in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of his sins but refuses to submit to officers of Christ’s Church by receiving baptism from them under their authority is a rebel against God. He may be rebelling out of ignorance, but the rebellion of ignorance is, nonetheless, rebellion.

Faith alone saves, but true faith is never alone. True faith is always accompanied by obedience, and this obedience starts with the obedience of baptism.

Again, there are things that have changed from the Old to the New Covenants. In the Old Covenant, only males were circumcised, whereas in the New both males and females are baptized. Also, the physical mark itself is different.

Yet baptism and the Lord’s Supper are more similar than dissimilar to their Old Covenant counterparts of circumcision and the Passover meal. Both demonstrate continuity rather than discontinuity with their Old Testament parallels—starting with both being commanded by God.

What about Infant Baptism?

Now at this point, some of our Protestant brothers might object, claiming that a further difference between the initiation rites of the two Covenants is that the rite of the New Covenant, baptism, is only to be given to those who themselves believe, and not to their children.

Look through church history and it’s apparent this is a longstanding debate with men of great godliness and knowledge of Scripture on both sides. Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Calvin are on one side while John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones are on the other. Can we solve the debate here?

No. It’s enough to note the difference and to call every man to study Scripture with the fathers of the Church in order to come to a conviction concerning truth in this matter, recognizing that both sides are agreed that baptism is the necessary path of entry into Christ’s Church.

No Baptism, No Church

Putting aside the matter of whether or not children born to believing parents should be baptized in their infancy, what all must agree on is that baptism is commanded by God, and that membership in Christ’s Church and eating and drinking at our Lord’s Table must follow it.

Here is the biblical pattern:

• First, a man is given faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

• Second, that man obeys His Lord Jesus and requests that the officers of the Church bring him into the Church through baptism.

• Third, through his baptism, that man enters the Church and is welcomed to the family table where we eat and drink in remembrance of our Lord Jesus.

This is not complicated. So why have we turned away from baptism?

When Reforming the Church Becomes Deforming the Church

The answer is that we make a habit of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Some years back I had taken a call to a new church and, soon after beginning there, I had noticed there were some in the church who were coming to the Lord’s Table without having been baptized. At the time I’d never heard of such a thing and I couldn’t figure out how it had started. So I began teaching the congregation that baptism is God’s command and must precede communion.

After a few months, at our invitation the founding pastor returned for a visit. A kind man, he agreed to spend some time with me, and that Saturday afternoon we spent several hours talking in our living room. He was a faithful shepherd, a man of great heart who had loved his sheep, and he had good advice for me in many areas.

On one matter, though, I saw I’d have to take a different direction.

Near the end of our conversation, I mentioned that I’d noticed a lack of conviction concerning the biblical basis of baptism among the people of the church, and I wondered why.

He responded by pointing out how common the belief in baptismal regeneration was in the area, particularly among Protestants of the Christian Church denomination so predominant in our part of the country. In order to oppose that error, he said he had avoided putting much emphasis on baptism in his teaching and preaching ministry.

This is common today. Upon coming to faith in Jesus, many who have grown up in churches which teach that the act of baptism removes sin react by neglecting baptism entirely.

This is no way to reform the Church.

The improper use of a thing doesn’t invalidate its proper use.

It’s no reform to deform the Church. It’s no reform to stop obeying biblical commands in order to protect ourselves from unbiblical practices. In Scripture, God has given us everything we need to live a godly life in Christ Jesus and we must follow the pattern of church life the Bible reveals.


So what happens after baptism?

If we look at the wording used on the Day of Pentecost, we see that the response of those who believed was, first, that they were baptized; then second, they were “added” to the Jerusalem church:

So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

“There were added . . .” We might pass over this seemingly insignificant phrase, but in this day when men want more than anything else to be autonomous individuals under no authority, we must not miss it. The modern American church has moved away from church membership, but read it again: every one of those baptized was “added” to the Jerusalem church. It was a great day when 3,000 souls joined the home church of the Christian faith there in Jerusalem.

The apostles didn’t baptize these new believers into some ethereal entity known as “Christendom.” They weren’t marked as new members of some wholly spiritual and non-intrusive mystical body known as “the church universal” or “the church invisible.”

Rather, they were baptized and became family members of the Jerusalem church. They each became subject to that church’s officers. They sat under their leaders’ (apostolic) preaching and lived in loving organic fellowship with their brothers and sisters in Christ. They broke bread together at the Lord’s Table and gave themselves to prayer. Each person baptized was “added to their number,” and from that time on held membership in that specific household of faith which was the Church of the Living God.

Taken as a fabric, initiation into and life within the church of Jerusalem was the direct fulfillment of the Great Commission given this church’s apostles by Jesus right before He ascended into Heaven:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.

Fulfilling the Great Commission through the church was about as flesh-and-blood as anything can be. It involved time and food and money and sin and righteousness and submission and forgiveness. It was as real as our own families are, only this was the family of God with every brother and sister a member by adoption, washed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and baptized into that family. Yes, a spiritual family, but one with an exceedingly earthly, fleshly, organic life.

Today in the household of God, we must recover authority and submission to authority, and the most certain path to recovery is reinstituting the practice of the sacraments laid down for us in the New Testament. This is the practice we see in the first church in Jerusalem. This is the practice we see across the Apostolic Age. This is the practice restored to the Church five centuries ago by the Genevan Reformers. This is the practice which has been honored by five centuries of Protestant Christians since the Reformation.

The Great Commission is only fulfilled when souls are baptized into Christ’s Church and remain there being fed and cleaned and admonished and instructed until the day they receive their promotion into the presence of the Lord.

Acts 2:37–41.

Matthew 28:19.

Acts 8:36–38

Acts 16:14–15.

Andrew Klavan, The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ (Nelson Books, 2016), 242–43.

Acts 2:42.

Acts 14:23.

John 10:7–9.

Genesis 17:10–12, 14.

Romans 4:11–12.

See 1 Peter 3:21.

Jeremiah 4:4.

Romans 3:28.

Romans 4:11.

1 Timothy 3:15.

Matthew 28:19–20.


Thanks much, Pastor Bayly!


Hope it’s helpful, dear brother.

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Quite helpful! I’m so thankful for Church Reformed.

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