Should a believer be baptized before joining the fellowship of believers?

Why is it some assemblies will not admit believers to the Lord’s Table, until they have been baptized? Is this scriptural?

The question ought, I judge, to be reversed. Why do some assemblies admit believers who have not been baptized? It can hardly be questioned that baptism was ordained by Christ Himself as the initial rite in the Christian life. “Go, disciple the nations, baptizing them (i.e., the disciples when made), in (or into) the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19). “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:15-16). Accordingly, in the Acts a profession of faith in Christ in one form or another was always followed by baptism, e.g., “Many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8).

The twelve disciples of Ephesus, having been wrongly baptized, were re-baptized in (eis) the name of the Lord Jesus. There is not a single case mentioned of an infant being baptized. Baptism ought undoubtedly to be put before all candidates for fellowship. With young converts there is rarely any difficulty, but when we come to older Christians seeking fellowship, who have perhaps formed part of some evangelical denomination for a number of years, the case is more complicated. Many such firmly believe they have been truly baptized, either as children before faith, or by sprinkling after faith.

The question then arises whether it can be right altogether to refuse fellowship to such undoubted believers, who seem unable to see the need for “rebaptism.” I judge that such passages as 2 Chronicles 30:18; 1 Samuel 21:6; Numbers 28: 9, etc., with our Lord’s comment on the last two passages in Matthew 12:3-7, shew that there are cases where God’s strict order may be modified by special circumstances. “I will have mercy and not sacrifice.” Each case, however, must be judged by spiritual men, who will surely have wisdom from God how to act; but certainly there should be no reception into the local fellowship without this question being raised.

W.H.