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Closed Communion

Jim_Alaska

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Closed Communion
James Foley
 

I Corinthians 11:17-34: "Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's Supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. 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. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come."

INTRODUCTION

Historic Baptists, true Baptists, have believed in and still believe in closed communion. Baptists impose upon themselves the same restrictions that they impose on others concerning the Lord’s Supper. Baptists have always insisted that it is the Lord’s Table, not theirs; and He alone has the right to say who shall sit at His table. No amount of so called brotherly love, or ecumenical spirit, should cause us to invite to His table those who have not complied with the requirements laid down plainly in His inspired Word. With respect to Bible doctrines we must always use the scripture as our guide and practice. For Baptists, two of the most important doctrines are Baptism and The Lord’s Supper. These are the only two doctrines we recognize as Church Ordinances. The Bible is very clear in teaching how these doctrines are to be practiced and by whom.

We only have two ordinances that we must never compromise or we risk our very existence, they are Baptism and The Lord’s Supper.

The moment we deviate from the precise method God has prescribed we have started down the slippery slope of error. True Baptists have held fast to the original doctrine of The Lord’s Supper from the time of Christ and the Apostles.

Unfortunately, in this day of what the Bible describes as the age of luke warmness, Baptists are becoming careless in regard to strictly following the pattern laid out for us in Scripture. Many of our Bible colleges are graduating otherwise sincere, Godly and dedicated pastors and teachers who have not been taught the very strict, biblical requirements that surround the Lord’s Supper. Any Bible college that neglects to teach its students the differences surrounding Closed Communion, Close Communion and Open Communion is not simply short changing its students; it is also not equipping their students to carry on sound Bible traditions. The result is men of God and churches that fall into error. And as we will see, this is serious error.

Should we as Baptists ignore the restrictions made by our Lord and Master? NO! When we hold to the restrictions placed upon the Lord’s Supper by our Master, we are defending the "faith which was once delivered to the saints" Jude 3.

The Lord’s Supper is rigidly restricted and I will show this in the following facts:

IT IS RESTRICTED AS TO PLACE

A. I Corinthians 11:18 says, "When ye come together in the church." This does not mean the church building; they had none. In other words, when the church assembles. The supper is to be observed by the church, in church capacity. Again this does not mean the church house. Ekklesia, the Greek word for church, means assembly. "When ye come together in the church," is when the church assembles.

B. When we say church we mean an assembly of properly baptized believers. Acts 2:41-42: "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."

The church is made up of saved people who are baptized by immersion. In the Bible, belief precedes baptism. That’s the Bible way.

Acts 8:12-13, "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done."

When we say properly baptized, we mean immersed. No unbeliever should take the Lord’s supper, and no non-immersed believer should take the supper. Those who are sprinkled are not baptized and cannot receive the supper. The Greek word for baptize is baptizo, and it always means to immerse.

"In every case where communion is referred to, or where it may possibly have been administered, the believers had been baptized Acts 2:42; 8:12; 8:38; 10:47; 6:14-15; 18:8; 20:7. Baptism comes before communion, just as repentance and faith precede baptism".

C. The Lord’s Supper is for baptized believers in church capacity: "When ye come together in the church," again not a building, but the assembly of the properly baptized believers.

D. The fact that the Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance, to be observed in church capacity, is pointed out by the fact that it is for those who have been immersed and added to the fellowship of the church.

E. The Lord’s Supper is never spoken of in connection with individuals. When it is referred to, it is only referred to in reference to baptized believers in local church capacity I Cor. 11:20-26).

I want to quote Dr. W.W. Hamilton,

"The individual administration of the ordinance has no Bible warrant and is a relic of Romanism. The Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance, and anything which goes beyond or comes short of this fails for want of scriptural example or command".

“The practice of taking a little communion kit to hospitals, nursing homes, etc. is unscriptural and does not follow the scriptural example.”

IT IS RESTRICTED TO A UNITED CHURCH

A. The Bible in I Cor. 11:18 is very strong in condemning divisions around the Lord’s table. 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.


There were no less than four divisions in the Corinthian church.
I Cor. 1:12: "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ."

Because of these divisions, it was impossible for them to scripturally eat the Lord’s Supper. Division in the local church is reason to hold off observing the Lord’s Supper. But there are also other reasons to forego taking the Lord’s Supper. If there is gross sin in the membership we do not take it. Here is scriptural evidence for this: 1Co 5:7 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. 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.

B. At this point, I want to ask these questions: Are there not doctrinal divisions among the many denominations? Is it not our doctrinal differences that cause us to be separate religious bodies?

IT IS RESTRICTED BY DOCTRINE

A. Those in the early church at Jerusalem who partook "continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine" Acts 2:42. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

B. Those that do not hold to apostolic truth are not to partake. This means there is to be discipline in the local body. How can you discipline those who do not belong to the local body? You can’t. The clear command of scripture is to withdraw fellowship from those who are not doctrinally sound.

II Thes 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."
Rom. 16:17: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."
To commune together means to have the same doctrine.
II Thes. 2:15: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."
II John 10-11: "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."

C. Some Baptists in our day have watered down this doctrine by practicing what they call “Close Communion.” By this they mean that they believe that members of another Baptist church may take communion with us because they are of the same beliefs. Once again, this is unscriptural.

The welcome to the Lord's Table should not be extended beyond the discipline of the local church. When we take the Lord’s Supper there is supposed to be no gross sin among us and no divisions among us. We have no idea of the spiritual condition of another church’s members. If there is sin or division in the case of this other church’s members, we have no way of knowing it. We cannot discipline them because they are not members of our church. This is why we practice “Closed” communion, meaning it is restricted solely to our church membership. 

So then, in closing I would like to reiterate the three different ideas concerning the Lord’s Supper and who is to take it. 

Closed Communion = Only members of a single local church. 

Close Communion = Members of like faith and order may partake. 

Open Communion = If you claim to be a Christian, or simply attending the service, you may partake. 

It is no small thing to attempt to change that which was implemented by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

Mt. 28:20 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. 

Many of our Baptist churches have a real need to consider the gravity of the act of observing The Lord’s Supper. It is not a light thing that is to be taken casually or without regard to the spiritual condition of ourselves or our church.
1Co. 11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

 29 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.



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An old preacher once wrote that if they have the Lord's Supper wrong, the doctrine of Baptism is usually wrong too.  And if they have those two wrong, then dress, separation and especially music will be major problems as well.

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I received Christ's salvation only a few months ago while traveling with my wife, a devout Christian, in a three-week Christian themed tour of the near East.  Shortly after, I was baptized with full immersion in the Jordan River by a retired pastor who was also in the group.  For the past four months, I have spent many hours, every day, studying the bible, attending every gathering of the Baptist church, where my wife is a member, praying often, paying tithes, and giving other offerings.  I am even listed in the church directory as "family".  The articles of the church that I attend require baptism by a "local church"  for membership...and by extension, the Lord's Supper.  Although, I do not feel ready to declare allegiance to every word in the KJV, nor allegiance to this or any particular local church, I do believe that I am a member of Christ's church and believe that His ordinance applies to me as well, as I am part of the congregation, even without the formal membership.  

How would you suggest that I obey my Lord and solemnly remember his sacrifice in a formal  "call to assembly" for that purpose, if the "church" only allows its family to attend, if they have been "properly baptized" and vetted for inclusion in their formal membership?   Is there not a conflict with encouraging  someone to attend and participate in every other church activity, yet deny him the opportunity to participate in honoring our Lord in the most reverent of all assemblies?   Formal membership for conducting the organizational activities, assigning leadership, and financial affairs is understandable as it only applies to the church; but, how does "do this in the remembrance of me" apply only to one particular church?

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Praise God that you were saved!  However well meaning and cool it was to be baptized in the Jordan River, it was not biblical as it was not done under the authority of a New Testament Church of the kind that Christ built and died for during his earthly ministry.  As the scriptures teach, only saved members in good standing of a local New Testament Church can partake in the Lord's Supper.  Swallow your pride and get with your pastor and get baptized!  You are not a member of the body/bride until a local NT church votes you in.  There is no such thing as the universal, invisible church.

There is no conflict at all.  The table is restricted to members of a local church in good standing.  See 1 Corinthians, chapters 5 and 11.  As for the King James Bible, well if you are reading anything else it's not pure but tainted and poisonous.  Get rid of it.  ALL modern bible versions are based on the manuscripts discovered in EGYPT in the 1840s and have proven themselves to be fraudulent, and therefore, not of God.  God promised to preserve His Word and He did so with the King James Bible.  It is perfect and inerrant and you can trust every word in it.

While we like talking bible here, it sounds to me as if your better half is united with a sound New Testament Church of the kind that Christ built and died for during his earthly ministry.  Talk to the men and allow them to teach and mentor you.  Doubtless your wife and the members of her church have been praying for your salvation for longer than you may realize, get scripturally baptized and join, it's a command from God and the first step of a new believer.  You've just begun an exciting journey, don't diminish it with foolish pride; I wasted three years and an untold number of blessings by not having God's preserved Word in my hands early on.

Edited by swathdiver

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14 hours ago, swathdiver said:

Praise God that you were saved!  However well meaning and cool it was to be baptized in the Jordan River, it was not biblical as it was not done under the authority of a New Testament Church of the kind that Christ built and died for during his earthly ministry.  As the scriptures teach, only saved members in good standing of a local New Testament Church can partake in the Lord's Supper.  Swallow your pride and get with your pastor and get baptized!  You are not a member of the body/bride until a local NT church votes you in.  There is no such thing as the universal, invisible church.

There is no conflict at all.  The table is restricted to members of a local church in good standing.  See 1 Corinthians, chapters 5 and 11.  As for the King James Bible, well if you are reading anything else it's not pure but tainted and poisonous.  Get rid of it.  ALL modern bible versions are based on the manuscripts discovered in EGYPT in the 1840s and have proven themselves to be fraudulent, and therefore, not of God.  God promised to preserve His Word and He did so with the King James Bible.  It is perfect and inerrant and you can trust every word in it.

While we like talking bible here, it sounds to me as if your better half is united with a sound New Testament Church of the kind that Christ built and died for during his earthly ministry.  Talk to the men and allow them to teach and mentor you.  Doubtless your wife and the members of her church have been praying for your salvation for longer than you may realize, get scripturally baptized and join, it's a command from God and the first step of a new believer.  You've just begun an exciting journey, don't diminish it with foolish pride; I wasted three years and an untold number of blessings by not having God's preserved Word in my hands early on.

Thank you for your response.  After two days of prayer, bible reading (KJV) and fasting, I came to the same conclusion.  I have contacted the pastor, advised him that my sinful pride of being baptized where Jesus was baptized had been a sticking point which prevented me from asking to join the membership.  I also asked to be baptized and offered to destroy the Jordan baptismal certificate, if he believed I should.  He accepted me for local baptism and scheduled it for the 13th.  He also advised me to keep the certificate and pride of that baptism,  but to recognize that it's was meaningful to Christ, but lacked the scriptural requirements for a local church.  

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13 hours ago, Believer (ish?) said:

Thank you for your response.  After two days of prayer, bible reading (KJV) and fasting, I came to the same conclusion.  I have contacted the pastor, advised him that my sinful pride of being baptized where Jesus was baptized had been a sticking point which prevented me from asking to join the membership.  I also asked to be baptized and offered to destroy the Jordan baptismal certificate, if he believed I should.  He accepted me for local baptism and scheduled it for the 13th.  He also advised me to keep the certificate and pride of that baptism,  but to recognize that it's was meaningful to Christ, but lacked the scriptural requirements for a local church.  

Glory to God!  That is good, sound advice coming again from your pastor!  

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Praise the Lord for his patience with me and for providing a wise pastor.  But back to the communion issue.  I guess I still need to pray and read a lot more before God grants me enough wisdom that I can see any scripture requiring "membership".    I cannot even find a passage that references ANY type of restriction to someone who believes and follows, to the best of their abilities, the teachings of Christ..----UNLESS, the church has a doctrine or following a tradition of exclusion.  It seems that this is a perfect example of Matthew 1:1-10, where Jesus teaches about strictly following a rule that overlooks the purpose of the rule.  In the cited Cor passages, nothing is said about a formal "litmus test" for any participant., nor any effects to the Church for a false Christian's participation in communion,  Only the individual determines his worthiness and is punished if partaking unworthily.  Does not a "vetted" membership requirement create a "litmus test" of determining worthiness?  Does not having a guard, sometimes, even armed, at the door to prevent a non-vetted person's entry ,send the wrong message?    If one is part of the "family" of the Church and allowed to participate in all other activities, hase not an unofficial vetting already occurred?   Lots more prayer and bible is definitely needed!

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You need not pray so much as read your bible.  1st Corinthians 5:6-13 deals with the unrepentant in the Lord's house.  Remember that Matthew 18:15-17 tells the Christian how to deal with other Christians within his local church.  Finally, re-read 1 Corinthians 11 very carefully paying attention also to the context and who Paul was addressing.  He is addressing the local church at Corinth.  

Now as for membership, we find that again in 1st Corinthians 5 in the matter of church discipline.  How can you discipline a non-member, someone who comes and goes?  How can the Lord's table be safeguarded from an unrepentant sinner if the congregation knows not that person?  What if they are a wine bibbler or fornicator or baby sprinkler?  Don't the scriptures teach that the church is responsible for who it allows to partake in the Lord's Supper?  Wouldn't God hold them to account for knowingly allowing an extortioner to the table?  How can you apply Matthew 18 to someone who is not united with your group?

Let me address a thought forming in your mind right now.  That is, the member who is sinning and nobody knows about it.  Well, then if I heard that so and so cheated on his taxes, I should approach him in the manner of Matthew 18.  If he tells me that he's repented, then that's it, it's between the Lord and him now.  

What is the meaning of the word church in the bible?  In short, it's a local, visible assembly of saved believers, covenanted together to serve God.  If you have no membership, you have no biblical assembly or church.  The universal, invisible church is heresy and only exists in the minds of the Catholic and her harlots for that is the only way they can claim legitimacy.

Finally, membership is found in the book of Acts.  Acts 2:41, three thousand souls were "added unto them".  Added to what?  To the local, visible, church in Jerusalem.  Can you add to an invisible assembly, that does not unite, that has no rolls?  Of course not!  Elsewhere in Acts you'll find the biblical example of voting people into the local, visible church for membership.

Please reread Jim's excellent post , particularly "It Is Restricted By Doctrine".

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I just wanted to add to this.

This is the record of the first Lord's table, and it is intersting to note who was invited.

Matt 26

20  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.

 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. note

 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.

 

If you notice, Jesus sat down "with the twelve". It is very specific: not just "the disciples", but the twelve. 

There was certainly a restriction on the first one.

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