Restricted Communion; aka Closed Communion
Text: Matthew 16:18
Intro: There are two ordinances that Jesus gave to His church, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Both are abused by a majority of modern day churches who do not follow the Scripture, but substitute the ways of men so as not to offend those who don’t understand or hold a different view.
There are three ways the supper is observed in Baptist churches. 1. Open, meaning an array of things from allowing lost sinners to take it, to one must believe in Jesus, baptism or church membership not required; 2. Close, meaning all Baptists may receive it even though a member elsewhere; and 3. Closed, meaning only members of the local church observing the supper may take it.
JESUS established the institution of “the church.” The first one was local when it was organized. That has never changed. 1 Co 12:28 “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles…” Saved and baptized by John, Jesus chose twelve of them, named them Apostles and set them up as His church. Just before the day of Pentecost, His church numbered only about 120. Pentecost was not the start of His church; it was the empowering of it to do the work He sent them to do.
The Protestant reformation was to separate themselves from the errors of Roman Catholicism which taught that the Catholic church was the Universal and only Church of Christ in the world.
The reason for the invention of the Universal Invisible Church theory was the Protestant reformation’s way to accommodate all believers into an ethereal church which did not require baptism, only faith in Jesus, regardless of whether or not they had local church membership, baptism or not. It was a way to dispute the Catholic doctrine that they were the only true church and to satisfy the Protestants that membership in a Catholic church was nothing, so long as one was a member of that great universal invisible church, which incidentally was made up out of thin air and twisting scriptures. Such membership does not require local church faithfulness, giving or service.
The truth is that each local congregation of saints by itself is “a body of Jesus Christ” and temple of the Holy Ghost. 1 Cor 12:27 “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” 1 Cor 3:16 “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” To whom was this written? To a local church, I Cor 1:2 “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth…”
Until someone messes with your mind, it is unmistakable that this next passage is the church local, not universal or invisible. 1 Cor 12:12-27 “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”
Note: How we interpret this verse is important. Correct translation from the Greek is critical. Clarifying the meaning here, several translations therefore use “in” instead of “by: ”For in one Spirit (gr. also means “mind”) were we all baptized into one body,”) Water immersion which is the door into the local church, by the authority of a N.T. church is meant, not Holy Spirit baptism which happened on the day of Pentecost and is not repetitious.
“14 For the body is not one member, but many…… 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body. ….. 24 …. but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”
A universal body makes no sense! There is no way you here in Lexington, can suffer with someone on the other side of the world, but it is possible in the local assembly of baptized believers! No Schism had to be local.
Paul addressed the local church at Ephesus, Eph 2:19-22 “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” That describes the local functioning N.T. kind of Baptist church.
Eph 4:16 “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” This is possible only if the church is local. The local body grows, increases, feeds itself in love. See Eph 4:11-16. Only baptized believers by mutual consent are part of the local church body. Consent can come only by a church voting to receive a new member.
The Jerusalem church at first refused to allow Saul to join up with them. Acts 9:26 “And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.” He was obviously not a part of any so called universal invisible body church which made you a member of any local assembly you happened to attend.
Did you know that the denomination called “Church of God” believes that if you are a baptized believer and attend there, you are considered a member. No vote required to join.
Visitors at Corinth, no matter how godly or spiritual, were not considered members there by virtue of their presence in the assembly. They had not been placed by God in that particular church body until they felt God lead to become a part of it and the church voted to accept them, 1 Cor 12:18 “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.” When God sets one in a local body and it is approved and recognized by a vote of that church, he is no longer a visitor, but a member.
Church members have a relationship and responsibility one to another that exceeds any relationship with those outside the membership who are only visitors. Communion, one of the two ordinances given by Jesus to His church, is the focal point of this relationship as the body of Jesus Christ involving the membership.
1 Cor 10:15-17 ”I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. 16 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? 17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.”
Since a pure Lord's supper is the objective of church judgment, a local congregation can only commune with those over whom it has discipline. Each church is responsible to judge those within its membership and not to commune with known public sinners.
1 Cor 5:1-13 “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (a reference to the Lord’s Supper.) 9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. (defines a restricted communion in a local church) 12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”
This passage explains the right of a church to exclude, vote out members from its fellowship the same as they had the right to vote them in.
Paul wrote the same command to the church at Thessalonica, 2 Thess 3:6 “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us…. 14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”
The Bible teaches us that marriage between a believer and an unbeliever is prohibited. 2 Cor 6:14 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: (here’s the reasoning for it) for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”
Application of this principle prohibits allowing unbelievers to be members of a church along with its born again believer’s. This would be an “unequal yoke” church relationship. Applied to the Lord’s Supper observance, “what communion hath light with darkness?”
This is why the local church is to guard the Lord’s table and not invite non-members to receive it along with the members. Even in a small congregation, the church cannot know if those visiting are saved or lost; baptized or not; faithful members elsewhere or under the discipline of their own church. Unbelievers are welcome to attend church, but they cannot be welcomed to the Lord’s Table until they have been born again by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, baptized and thus received into the membership of the local church body.
If we extend participation beyond our own membership, we may invite the leaven of malice and wickedness to the table, for we do not know visitors as well as our own members, and we have no discipline authority over them (I Cor 5:8).
I. The Lord's supper is a congregational ordinance inviting the participation of the members of the local church to a specified place at a set apart time.
It is observed by a church in a public assembly, for it is a congregational ordinance. This precludes taking the supper to a member in a sick bed at home or hospital as some pastors do. This is not an individual ordinance, it is a congregational one. To observe it any other way is to go outside of the scriptural mandate given in our Bibles.
Those present, who are outside of the local congregation (church) membership, cannot partake of the ordinance when the local assembly observes it. Theories of a born again relationship, belonging to a universal church or denominational organization allowing worldwide communion, are false.
When a local church meets to sit at the Lord’s Table, it implies the involvement of its members only, and when the local church abuses the spiritual and scriptural observance of the supper, as we will see the church at Corinth did, it cannot take the supper in a way that pleases the Lord.
Paul addresses the proper procedures of the church at Corinth when coming together as a body, 1 Cor 14:23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place…” He specifically instructed young preacher Timothy with scriptural conduct at church, 1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave (conduct) thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
What Paul now instructs about the Lord’s Supper is made clear if we read the context of, 1 Cor 11:17-22:
“Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. 20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. (marginal ref. “ye cannot eat”) 21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. 22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.”
The Corinthian church was making a feast of the supper, and not courteous enough to wait on everyone to arrive before digging in. So, they abused what the Communion was meant to be about, by feasting rather than following a symbolic presentation of the body and blood of Christ with the unleavened bread and fruit of the vine. Instead those who arrived early ate to satisfy hunger, and nothing was left for the tardy members.
II. Since the Lord's supper follows the initial gospel teaching and baptism, it needs to be understood what is necessary for a person to have a valid baptism before partaking of the Lord's supper. Few understand or practice this scripturally. In our day just about anything someone calls “baptism” is accepted as valid in order for a person to unite with a church. Matt 28:19-20 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
We see in this that the church was to: 1. Make disciples, “teach” in Greek means to disciple them, make them followers of Jesus, and 2. Mark them by, “baptizing”, and 3. Mature them, “teach to observe all…”
Acts 2:41-42 shows the church functioning in this very manner, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, (the Lord’s supper) and in prayers.”
Baptism comes before communion, just as repentance and faith come before baptism. This is clearly understood by Acts 8:36-37 “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
Mark 16:16 “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Baptism follows belief, but is not itself a saving ordinance. The Bible is clear that it is faith which brings salvation to a trusting soul, Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” Acts 16:31 “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved...”
A valid baptism is essential to properly sit at the Lord’s Table. Baptism is a symbolic ordinance which pictures ones personal faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. To be baptized in order to literally wash away ones sins in NOT VALID baptism. Our church rejects as invalid any baptism not done by immersion, not by a genuine New Testament kind of church, not done to one who is already a believer, not done for the right purpose.
Four things are required for valid baptism: 1. The right candidate: a saved person; 2. The right purpose: in symbol to picture the death, burial & resurrection of Jesus; 3. The right mode: immersion in water, and 4. The right authority: a new testament sound in the faith Baptist church.
I know this is a very narrow position, but it is the only safe one to be assured that a person has scriptural baptism. Our church requires a baptism satisfying Scripture. It is estimated that about 95% of professing "Christians" have never been Scripturally baptized, so they must be kept out of the Lord's supper for this reason, if no other.
Communion, or common union, can only be had by those united in doctrine and practice around the Lord Jesus Christ. Visitors, besides not being members, no matter how orthodox or affectionate, have not been confirmed as being in common union with our convictions.
It is easily observed that the church at Jerusalem found their unity in apostolic doctrine. So did Corinth, 1 Cor 1:10 “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
Church members who come to the Lord’s table must keep themselves separated from the world, live a pure and holy life, because, 1 Cor 10:20-21 “But I say, …21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.”
Again consider 2 Cor 6:14-18, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
The Corinthian church was a temple in the sense that when the members were assembled, the Holy Spirit which lived in them, made them a temple, a church. The building was not the temple, but the people were. The building is just a shell when the church is not present. The church is local people meeting in their “church building.”
It is important that the members be in general agreement in doctrine. Amos 3:3 “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Paul said that if there were divisions in the body, that meant no communion supper was possible. They had to fix that before sitting at the Lords’ table.
A person can be a member of only one local congregation of saints at a time, and it is the Lord Who places them in that body (I Cor 12:18). There is no example of a person having multiple memberships in the New Testament. Visitors, no matter how well known and respected, are not members of the body they are visiting. We are called upon to be faithful to the church were we belong. There is no way a person could be a member of more than one church and be equally faithful to all of them.
12-12-12W Consider Paul's careful description of those who were with him helping in the work of the ministry, written to the church at Colosse about Onesimus and Epaphras and the body where they belonged. Col 4:9 “With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.” V. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”
We insist that it is the Lord's table, not ours (I Cor 10:21); and He alone has the right to say whom shall sit at His table, Matt 20:15 “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?...”
No amount of so called brotherly love, ecumenical spirit, or political pressure should cause us to invite to His table those who have not complied with the requirements laid down plainly in His inspired Word, Psalms 119:128 “Therefore I esteem all thy (God’s) precepts concerning all things to be right;...”
Partaking of the Lord's Supper is a serious matter. Those who partake unworthily bring judgment upon themselves, which could lead to illness or death, 1 Cor 11:29-30 “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”
We would not be doing visitors a favor, if we invite them to partake of something to which they are not entitled.
In the case of our own members, we generally know whether or not they are worthy to partake without bringing judgment upon themselves by sitting at the Lord’s table in a unworthy way; but with respect to visitors from other churches, we really do not know this about them; so they are not members and not invited.
The Lord's Supper is an important aspect of church fellowship, and we are bound by Holy Scripture to only have this level of fellowship with committed brethren whom we know.
Faith is essential to the supper, for it is a memorial based not on superstitious and sacramental reenactment, but rather upon believing and remembering Jesus Christ as pictured by the emblems, 1 Cor 11:26 “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.” Romans 14:23 “… whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Heb 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him..”
So any outside participation by visitors in a church's common union, which is what “communion” means, without full faith and baptism turns the supper into a displeasing act. And especially in a large church the faith or lack of it in visitors, their baptism or lack of it, cannot be known or judged by the church; therefore, they MUST NOT be invited. Here’s a what if. What if a visitor partakes of the supper even though the Pastor has made it known it is only for members of PRBC? The church is not to blame, but the mistake of the visitor might be judged by the Lord for his disrespectful act.
III. Logical Reasons to reject both “Open and Close Communion.”
Experience indicates that churches allowing open or close communion will not have the same level of spiritual zeal, holiness, and concern for the truth as those churches practicing closed/restricted communion. A liberal viewpoint on who is invited to the Lord’s Table would be indicative of other liberal and unscriptural practices. The most common would likely be a liberal view on what constitutes a valid baptism.
Closed communion is a perfect indicator that a church has more than the mere form of godliness, for they are protecting the integrity of the Lord's table by a restrictive communion policy.
It is not selfish or antichristian to deny communion to non members. It is not antichristian to follow the examples of Jesus and the letters to the churches. If a sincere believer wishes to commune around the Lord's table, then he should hasten to his local church and assemble together with his fellow members and fellowship there after the Scriptural pattern.
We might also ask, if it is antichristian to deny communion to someone who might want cookies and milk rather than unleavened bread and fruit of the vine? Or to use coconut meat and juice if stranded on a deserted island as Dr. DeHann once claimed was okay.
Closed Communion is the safest position for any church as it is a communion that is restricted to the members of the local church observing the ordinance. We believe that Closed (or restricted) Communion is the only scriptural way to observe The Lord's Supper. How we do the communion is not a “pick the kind you like best,” choice; or pick the one least offensive to those present. However a church determines observes the supper, there will be times someone present will be offended by the way its done. This is unavoidable. What if my godly grandma is visiting, does this mean she is not invited? Yes! It is not her godliness that prohibits, but her not being a member of the local assembly. This should not be offensive if grandma realizes the logic of restricted communion.
If I stop in at a local exercise gym and ask to use their equipment, should I be offended if I am told, I cannot unless I am a member of it? No.
Who were the recipients of the supper at its institution? They were Jesus' called out assembly, gathered together in one place. Not all the saved, not all the disciples who followed Him, but only His church was gathered together which was at that time composed of the Apostles. There were many disciples and followers of Christ in Jerusalem at that time, but only the eleven Apostles were present. Their membership had only reached 120 by the day of Pentecost.
A search of the scriptures will show that Jesus took care of a disciplinary matter before the Lord's Supper was instituted. Judas was discharged from the presence of the Apostles before the Supper began.
We must consider the records of all the Gospels to determine the chronology of events as they occurred. Matthew 26:20-30, Mark 14:17-26, and John 13:21-38 clearly set forth the order of events. So putting the accounts together, the following order is seen:
1-During the Passover, Jesus revealed the impending betrayal and denial. Matt 26:19-30 And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover. Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. 21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. 22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? 23 And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. 24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born. 25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said. (at this point neither Matthew nor Mark mentions that Judas left the table before Jesus continued instituting His supper. We learn that he did by the account in John’s gospel.) 26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom. 30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.”
2-Jesus partook of the sop and gave the sop to his betrayer, Judas. John 13:21-31 When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. 22 Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. 23 Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24 Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. 25 He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? 26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. 28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. 29 For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30 He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night. 31 Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.”
3-Judas partook of the sop and immediately left.
4-It was then upon the conclusion of the Passover Supper that Judas went out, then Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper. (Matthew and Mark)
5-When the Lord's Supper was completed and a hymn was sung, they left for the Mount of Olives. (Matthew and Mark)
Judas could not sit at the Lord’s Table because he was an unsaved member and Apostle. Jesus chose him knowing Judas’ heart and that he would betray him into the hands of the chief priests leading to Jesus arrest and crucifixion at Calvary.
Accepting the absence of Judas from the first Lord's Supper is in conformity with I Cor 11:16-20, had Judas partaken of it, it would have been in an unworthy manner and he would be a division of the body.
When Judas had been discharged from their presence, then and only then did they partake of the Lord's Supper. This is the manner in which churches are to take the Lord's Supper today. The Lord's Supper is confined to the membership, the disciplined membership, of a local church. No church is allowed by Bible example, by the illustration of that first Lord's Supper, nor by any precept, to throw open the table of the Lord's Supper to all the saved, not even to all Baptists.
In order to properly observe the Lord's Supper, the church is to be gathered together. There is no Bible authority to carry elements to the home of any sick and give it to them individually.
Even the participants of the Passover of the Old Testament were restricted. “There shall no stranger eat thereof: …A foreigner and a hired servant shall not eat thereof..." Comp.: Deut 11:32; 12:28,32
In First Corinthians 11:20, Paul states some restrictions to its observance. "…this is not to eat the Lord's Supper." Margin “ye cannot eat…”
This verse brings to mind another question, "When should a church not partake of the Lord's Supper?" We should not partake of the Lord's Supper when divisions exist in church causing general disruption of the enjoyable fellowship which normally prevails; when it is obvious that feelings have been hurt, a member was offended, or stubborn reactions are observed in otherwise congenial members, it would not be fitting to do so. This prohibits, makes it inappropriate to sit at Jesus table until unity is restored. To illustrate, it only takes one sharp tongue at a big family dinner at Thanksgiving or Christmas to ruin the whole day. Some families dread them because of rivalries and jealousies between extended family members.
To allow visitors, whom we know little or nothing about, to sit at the table with our church is not only a disservice to their home church and to them, but it also is a disservice to our local church observing the Lord's Supper by allowing the Lord's Table to be corrupted by a person who doesn’t believe the Bible as we do, heresy; or by an immoral lifestyle; or by division because of non membership; or by their profession of false doctrine.
We see an example of this negative sanction in the case of the man who committed fornication with his father's wife in 1 Corinthians 5. In discussing that case, the Apostle Paul instructed the Corinthians not to eat with such a person, (1 Cor. 5:11). Clearly Paul was not talking about the ordinary eating of meals with fornicators, since in 5:10 he states that it would be necessary to go out of the world to avoid all contact with such offenders.
In the context, Paul is talking about eating at the Lord's Supper, since in 5:8 he refers to "keeping the feast" with unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. It was necessary to deny the sinning member this fellowship with the Lord's church at the Lord's Supper, in order that he might feel himself to have been delivered unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, meaning some kind of Satanic affliction, examples, Job whom God allowed Satan to test Job’s faithfulness and Paul’s thorn (messenger of Satan to buffet his body) in the flesh, because of which he might repent of his evil deeds, that his spirit might be saved, 5:5, that is preserved and kept from further evil deeds like or similar to that for which he was excluded from the church.
Partaking of the Lord's Supper is serious business. Those who partake unworthily bring judgment on themselves, which in Corinth and possibly still today lead to illness or even death, (1 Cor. 11:29-30.) We are not doing visitors to our churches a favor if we invite them to partake of something to which they are not entitled. In the case of our own members, we normally know whether or not they are worthy to partake without bringing judgment on themselves, but with respect to visitors from other churches, we really don't know.
When we come together to celebrate the Lord's Supper "in the church," it is important that we do so in a spirit of unity, 1 Cor. 11:18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you;…”. This implies that a united spirit is a necessity among the members of the local church. In our own church we can be sure that there are no divisions or heresies of the type that the Apostle Paul forbids in his discussion of the divine plan for observing the ordinance of the Lord's Supper. But if we admit visitors from other churches, we do not really know if we have the scripturally mandated unity or not. We may be unwittingly admitting those who carry with them the leaven of malice and wickedness, whose presence at the Lord's Table is forbidden by Paul in 1 Cor. 5:8.
In 2 Thessalonians 3:6 we are commanded to withdraw ourselves from the brothers who conduct themselves in a disorderly manner, contrary to apostolic tradition. In 1 Cor. 10:17 Paul describes the oneness of the partakers of the Lord's Supper as "one body."
The one body, or body of Christ, is a reference to the Church at Corinth, 1 Cor. 12:27. The terms "body of Christ" or "one body" in the New Testament always refer to a local church, not to all Christians. When Paul refers to all Christians in all places, he uses the term "family,"
Paul never uses the terms "body" or "Church" to refer to all Christians. These terms refer to the local assembly only. This will help us to understand that the Lord's Supper was meant to be celebrated within the membership of the local church or body of Christ, not among Christians from other churches.
With due respect to good men and good churches who practice a different policy, our church from it’s organization determined that the best plan for observance of the Lord's Supper is that of Closed Communion for church members in good standing with the particular local assembly. It is a wise and scriptural policy.
A REVIEW of why Scriptural Baptist Churches Practice Closed Communion. According to the bible, it is restricted to:
1. The believers, saved, born again people -Matthew 26:20; Acts 2:41; no one else could be given it.
2. The baptized believers. There is no New Testament record showing anything contrary.
A Scriptural subject -a born-again person -Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:41; 8:36-38.
A Scriptural administrator - a New Testament church -Matthew 28:19; no man-made church/society originating later has any authority to perform a Lord’s Supper.
A Scriptural mode -immersion - Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:5; John 3:23; Acts 8:38,39; Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12; sprinkling or pouring of water over the subject are equivalent to no baptism at all!
A Scriptural design - to show that the person baptized has already professed to have been saved and is not trusting in the water to actually wash away his sins. It does however show pictorially, or symbolically a washing away of them. Matthew 3:15; 1 Peter 3:21.
3.Those in church capacity - Acts 2:41; 1 Corinthians 11:18,20; it is a church ordinance; man-made substitutes for a church not even considered; i.e. at a pastor’s conference; a ladies retreat; at revivals; chapel services at a bible college.
4. The sound in doctrine - Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 11:18-20; Makes inter-denominational communion impossible!; 2 Thessalonians 3:16.
5. The fellowship of a pure life and orderly walk -Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 5:11.
The most convincing logic of closed communion is 1 Corinthians 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.”
Visitors are present but they are not part of that body. The bread is the communion ("fellowship") of the body of Christ. Only the local body of Christ fellowships at the Lord's Table. This starts with the definition of the body of Christ. That was established to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 12:27 "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."
The church at Corinth was the local body of Christ. The Lord's Table is a communion within each church, not of all believers. The ordinances were delivered to the local church. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:2: "Keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you."
They belong to the institution of the church. If the church is local only, then the Table should be limited to only the local church members.
With the absence of any other discussion for communion, and if we follow the clear teaching and interpret the less plain in light of the plain, we will practice restricted/closed communion. We should excuse from the Lord's Table everyone except those in the membership of our own church.
When visitors are present the pastor should inform the congregation that the Communion service is for members only; or while the congregation is still standing following the invitation hymn, he could say something like,
“There will be a brief break while the deacons prepare the Lord’s table for our church; our visitors are welcome to stay as observers if they choose, but should feel free to leave as we believe the Scriptures teach a restricted communion to be partaken of only by the members of the local church observing it.”
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