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         14
      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.

Conservatism versus hyper-conservatism?


farouk
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I like to think that from a theological point of view and even a cultural point of view I'm rather conservative in my outlook. ('What saith the Scriptures?' is a healthy yardstick.) But what might be called hyper-conservatism is sometimes quite different in tone and content.

To be honest, I must admit that I am baffled by some of the other threads which seem to be based on the premise that some cultural customs (whether about certain sports, attire, etc.) being supposedly wrong inherently, thus supposedly rendering people suspect theologically if they don't share the same vehement opposition to them. Put another way, conservatism seems to be vastly different from hyper-conservatism.

Is it just me? or does anyone else feel this way, too?

(Thoughts?)

Edited by farouk
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I think there's a natural tendency to use our own opinions as the yardstick by which we measure the ideas and opinions of others. All of us think we are "balanced," and tend to think of people who seem to be a few "standard deviations" to the right or left of us on any given issue as "hyper-something." For example, I'm sure some people on here think of me as "a liberal" since I don't see anything wrong with women participating in sports, or wearing modest pants, and am not KJVO. However, others might view me as "a conservative" because I believe that certain art forms (styles of music, for example) demean the gospel, and I wouldn't allow my kids to get tats or pierce their tongues, and I wouldn't send them to public school.

I've found that these terms (hyper-conservative, hyper-liberal, etc.) aren't at all useful in most discussions, because none of us see ourselves as others see us. Assigning labels doesn't aid the free exchange of ideas; it hampers it.

It doesn't bother me that others apply Scripture differently than I do; on the contrary, I rejoice that people are using scripture as their guide to faith and practice. The applications of others aren't my business, although it's fun to throw ideas around in a friendly manner. The thing that bothers me sometimes is when people throw out accusations (or at least negative insinuations) simply because another person is applying scripture differently than they would. It behooves us all to remember that we are not responsible for others, but only for ourselves. We all think differently, and shouldn't be surprised when someone disagrees with us in matters of practice.

Edited by Annie
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I think there's a natural tendency to use our own opinions as the yardstick by which we measure the ideas and opinions of others. All of us think we are "balanced," and tend to think of people who seem to be a few "standard deviations" to the right or left of us on any given issue as "hyper-something." For example, I'm sure some people on here think of me as "a liberal" since I don't see anything wrong with women participating in sports, or wearing modest pants, and am not KJVO. However, others might view me as "a conservative" because I believe that certain art forms (styles of music, for example) demean the gospel.

I've found that these terms (hyper-conservative, hyper-liberal, etc.) aren't at all useful in most discussions, because none of us see ourselves as others see us. Assigning labels doesn't aid the free exchange of ideas; it hampers it.


I see, yes, ty.

It's a case of defining where what is 'extreme' begins, I suppose, without using the label 'extreme' too often.

I guess my starting point is, the Scriptures offer a perfect balance, although my understanding of them may be far from perfect, so I need to strive for that balance, constantly.

(Anyway, my wife wears pants and I don't make it some sort of issue of theology.)

Blessings.
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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

I think there's a natural tendency to use our own opinions as the yardstick by which we measure the ideas and opinions of others. All of us think we are "balanced," and tend to think of people who seem to be a few "standard deviations" to the right or left of us on any given issue as "hyper-something." For example, I'm sure some people on here think of me as "a liberal" since I don't see anything wrong with women participating in sports, or wearing modest pants, and am not KJVO. However, others might view me as "a conservative" because I believe that certain art forms (styles of music, for example) demean the gospel, and I wouldn't allow my kids to get tats or pierce their tongues, and I wouldn't send them to public school.

I've found that these terms (hyper-conservative, hyper-liberal, etc.) aren't at all useful in most discussions, because none of us see ourselves as others see us. Assigning labels doesn't aid the free exchange of ideas; it hampers it.

It doesn't bother me that others apply Scripture differently than I do; on the contrary, I rejoice that people are using scripture as their guide to faith and practice. The applications of others aren't my business, although it's fun to throw ideas around in a friendly manner. The thing that bothers me sometimes is when people throw out accusations (or at least negative insinuations) simply because another person is applying scripture differently than they would. It behooves us all to remember that we are not responsible for others, but only for ourselves. We all think differently, and shouldn't be surprised when someone disagrees with us in matters of practice.


I don't think I'm "balanced". I'm hyper conservative. :clapping:
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I see, yes, ty.

It's a case of defining where what is 'extreme' begins, I suppose, without using the label 'extreme' too often.

I guess my starting point is, the Scriptures offer a perfect balance, although my understanding of them may be far from perfect, so I need to strive for that balance, constantly.

(Anyway, my wife wears pants and I don't make it some sort of issue of theology.)

Blessings.

Right...Since Scripture doesn't spell out every issue of practice, it is up to us as individuals and local churches to read what Scripture says, evaluate other factors (like culture), and make informed, thought-through, discerning decisions about how we should live. When it comes to particulars, we shouldn't expect everyone else to reach the same conclusions we do, or even to understand why we've arrived at the conclusions we have. It's not a stranger's business to critique that sort of thing. That's the Holy Spirit's job. However, if we are willing to discuss various issues in a friendly way, we put ourselves in the place of at least understanding where our Christian brothers and sisters are coming from, which can be beneficial on all sides. Marginalizing someone as "hyper-conservative" creates a barrier where unity should reign.

I respect the opinions of Miss Linda, even though I don't agree with her on certain issues. Same with John and LuAnne and others I've interacted with in this forum. As a fellow believer in Christ, I can be edified by their insights, even if I don't agree with them completely. It would be prideful to imagine that I have all the answers about everything, and that everyone else (even those I might think of as "hyper conservative") is dead wrong. I'm sure I'm wrong about many things, and it's great to be able to participate in a forum where ideas can be challenged and informed some more.

I think it's a mistake to get so caught up in "issues-driven" debates that we fail to see how very similar we all are as children of God. Edited by Annie
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Right...Since Scripture doesn't spell out every issue of practice, it is up to us as individuals and local churches to read what Scripture says, evaluate other factors (like culture), and make informed, thought-through, discerning decisions about how we should live. When it comes to particulars, we shouldn't expect everyone else to reach the same conclusions we do, or even to understand why we've arrived at the conclusions we have. It's not a stranger's business to critique that sort of thing. That's the Holy Spirit's job. However, if we are willing to discuss various issues in a friendly way, we put ourselves in the place of at least understanding where our Christian brothers and sisters are coming from, which can be beneficial on all sides. Marginalizing someone as "hyper-conservative" creates a barrier where unity should reign.

I respect the opinions of Miss Linda, even though I don't agree with her on certain issues. Same with John and LuAnne and others I've interacted with in this forum. As a fellow believer in Christ, I can be edified by their insights, even if I don't agree with them completely. It would be prideful to imagine that I have all the answers about everything, and that everyone else (even those I might think of as "hyper conservative") is dead wrong.

I think it's a mistake to get so caught up in "issues-driven" debates that we fail to see how very similar we all are as children of God.


Some good and helpful thoughts there, thank-you.

Such input is helpful and maybe there is also a better term than 'hyper-conservative'.

In any case, rather than being ad hominem, it's more about mindsets, and we can all continuously benefit from having our own individual mindsets informed and fashioned by Scripture's broad scope of revelation.

(If this makes sense.)
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Some good and helpful thoughts there, thank-you.

Such input is helpful and maybe there is also a better term than 'hyper-conservative'.

In any case, rather than being ad hominem, it's more about mindsets, and we can all continuously benefit from having our own individual mindsets informed and fashioned by Scripture's broad scope of revelation.

(If this makes sense.)

It does make sense, and I agree. Focusing on Scripture and living by it (rather than worrying about how others might apply Scripture differently than I do, and coming up with labels for them) is what it's all about. Edited by Annie
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It does make sense, and I agree. Focusing on Scripture and living by it (rather than worrying about how others might apply Scripture differently than I do, and coming up with labels for them) is what it's all about.


Ms Annie:

Yes, 'worrying' is wrong. Like you say, we will all interpret some things differently. But then this is part of the mindset in question (or whatever one calls it) whereby only those who interpret it as I do, can really be sound theologically, supposedly. Anyway, I shouldn't worry about what ppl think of my wife's pants, etc. or young ppl's earrings etc., or sports, etc., and, like you say, focus on Scripture and living by it, right.

Blessings. Edited by farouk
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I like to think that from a theological point of view and even a cultural point of view I'm rather conservative in my outlook. ('What saith the Scriptures?' is a healthy yardstick.) But what might be called hyper-conservatism is sometimes quite different in tone and content.

To be honest, I must admit that I am baffled by some of the other threads which seem to be based on the premise that some cultural customs (whether about certain sports, attire, etc.) being supposedly wrong inherently, thus supposedly rendering people suspect theologically if they don't share the same vehement opposition to them. Put another way, conservatism seems to be vastly different from hyper-conservatism.

Is it just me? or does anyone else feel this way, too?

(Thoughts?)

I've never heard of a hyper-conservative. I've heard of conservatives, neo-conservatives and paleo-conservatives.

In any event, if one is using Scripture as the yardstick they will be viewed as extreme if they actually believe and follow the Scriptures.

Scripture is not unclear with regards to things such as attire and pertains to all cultures. Modesty is clearly taught for all. Not conforming to the way of the world is clearly taught. It doesn't matter what culture one is in, most of the body is to be covered in a modest manner when in public or the company of those not ones spouse.

Even where Scripture doesn't give a direct command or statement, Scripture provides an abundance of principles for us to apply to everything in life.

What we see today is most Christians wanting to have a Burger King Christianity, they want to have it their way. Scripture is clear on dressing modestly yet most Christians dress the same or nearly the same as the immodest world dresses.

Look at the many Christians today who call themselves Christians yet they don't follow Christ; they follow their own lusts, the ways of the world, their own will. Professing Christians flock to the R-rated movies where they hear the name of Jesus profaned continuously, where sinful sex is seen in detail and in an approving manner, where the "morals" of the world are promoted and other ungodly things are put into the hearts and minds of those viewing.

What does Jesus say? If you love me you will keep my commandments. If we want to follow Christ we are called to deny self, live for Christ, even to the point of it being Christ living in us and not ourselves. How many professing Christians even attempt this let alone actually strive for this? Most professing Christians want to have the security they feel in saying they are Christian while refusing or outright rejecting following Christ.

Jesus asked why so many call Him Lord yet don't do as He commands. Jesus warned the day will come when many will stand before Him declaring they are His yet He will tell them plainly He never knew them and cast them away.

Scripture doesn't call folks to profess to be Christian and follow the world, Scripture calls for actual disciples who follow Christ. We are warned to examine our faith to be sure of our salvation.
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If one looks worldly (inappropriate jewelry, immodest clothing, etc), walks worldly (doing worldly things), and talks worldly, then one must be worldly (and not walking right with God). A child walking/striving to walk with The Lord should not be anything like this. We are called to be separate. We should look different, act different (when compared to the world).

Call me conservative, call me narrow-minded....I'm as narrow minded as God's word.

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If one looks worldly (inappropriate jewelry, immodest clothing, etc), walks worldly (doing worldly things), and talks worldly, then one must be worldly (and not walking right with God). A child walking/striving to walk with The Lord should not be anything like this. We are called to be separate. We should look different, act different (when compared to the world).

Call me conservative, call me narrow-minded....I'm as narrow minded as God's word.

I think every Christian would agree with you on this...It's not "hyper-conservative" to think this way; it's biblical. Where Christians differ (and where labels begin to be thrown out) is on what practices/behaviors/ways of thinking are considered "worldly." I don't think pants on women are "worldly"; others do. I enjoy reading the Narnia books and the LOTR books and the Harry Potter books; others would call that "wordly." I wouldn't put my kids into a public school; others would. swim?
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I agree with what various ppl have said, and the truth of separation is very important: separation from the world and separation to God.

Romans 14, about Christian liberty, is important, too.

(I guess the label part of it is rather subjective; their meaning can differ from one person to another.)

We will all interpret some things differently. But as mentioned in response to Annie's good post, I shouldn't worry about what ppl think, e.g., of my wife's pants, etc. or young ppl's earrings etc., or sports, etc., because it's best to focus on Scripture and living by it.

Edited by farouk
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I like to think that from a theological point of view and even a cultural point of view I'm rather conservative in my outlook. ('What saith the Scriptures?' is a healthy yardstick.) But what might be called hyper-conservatism is sometimes quite different in tone and content.

To be honest, I must admit that I am baffled by some of the other threads which seem to be based on the premise that some cultural customs (whether about certain sports, attire, etc.) being supposedly wrong inherently, thus supposedly rendering people suspect theologically if they don't share the same vehement opposition to them. Put another way, conservatism seems to be vastly different from hyper-conservatism.

Is it just me? or does anyone else feel this way, too?

(Thoughts?)


My pastor preached a very good message a few weeks back. He preached on the liberty of Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. He preached that there is an even balance of living in liberty and puting oneself under bondage and subjecting oneself to rules that don't exist. While I have seen many people do this including myself when I was growing up, I am thankful that God brought me out of the bondage I put myself in. As I have said before, Christianity isn't about a set of rules that says do this, don't do that and living in fear of judgment. These rules may exist, but it is about the relationship with Christ. As a person grows closer to Christ, he/she will want to follow Christ and be Christ-like. I generally can have fellowship with people who put themselves under bondage, but it can be quite difficult when they start accusing me and judging me of not following Scriptures even though Scripture may not be clear on the matter (ex. playing cards).
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My pastor preached a very good message a few weeks back. He preached on the liberty of Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. He preached that there is an even balance of living in liberty and puting oneself under bondage and subjecting oneself to rules that don't exist. While I have seen many people do this including myself when I was growing up, I am thankful that God brought me out of the bondage I put myself in. As I have said before, Christianity isn't about a set of rules that says do this, don't do that and living in fear of judgment. These rules may exist, but it is about the relationship with Christ. As a person grows closer to Christ, he/she will want to follow Christ and be Christ-like. I generally can have fellowship with people who put themselves under bondage, but it can be quite difficult when they start accusing me and judging me of not following Scriptures even though Scripture may not be clear on the matter (ex. playing cards).


amblivion:

Good post, ty.

Sounds like a good sermon that you heard. Edited by farouk
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Good posts! Christians do indeed have liberty (btw - the liberty in 2 Cor 3:17 is talking about freedom from sin, not the right to do whatever we want - amblivion, I know you're not promoting that...I just wanted to clarify myself). And many people seem to forget that, painting invisible arrows on the foreheads of people who don't do exactly as they do. But.......

We have to be careful that we understand liberty. We are to "stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free..." Gal. 5 is an outstanding chapter on liberty. But there is a verse so many Christians ignore..."For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion for the flesh, but by love serve one another." Verse 13.

Using liberty for occasion for the flesh is called license, or licentiousness. So-called "Christian liberty" (I put it in quotes and said so-called because that is not actually a biblical term) does not free us up to live a free thinking lifestyle. We are still to obey scripture - commands, precepts, principles and patterns are all there for us to follow.

In 1 Pet. 2:16, we're told to not use our liberty for a cloak of maliciousness - wrongdoing, trouble, living any way we feel like and proclaiming liberty...

2 Pet. 2:19 tells us of false teachers who promise liberty but actually bring bondage...because when we convince ourselves that our liberty as Christians okays us to do certain things that might be questionable - we put ourselves back under the bondage of sin from which Christ freed us.

Liberty is the fence around our Christian yard: If we stay within the bounds of that fence (God's Word), we will not get entangled again with the affairs of the world (that doesn't mean we won't live....we are still in the world, just not of it) and sin. We have the freedom to roam all over our Christian yard, but not to go outside it.

Jude talks about those wolves who come in and turn God's grace into licensiousness...we aren't to follow them. That is one of the reasons for standards in churches, whether it be music, dress, etc. The Bible says a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. It doesn't take long for sin to spread. So, if someone appears hyper-conservative, mayhap they are just concerned with making sure their liberty doesn't turn the grace of God into laciviousness.

Following the fads of the world is just that. That doesn't mean we shouldn't look nice, won't have a decent car or a nice house. It means we won't actively pursue that which the world holds in such high esteem - and we won't try to reason our way into causing others to lower their standards just because we believe that our liberty allows us to do things. Again, remember, liberty is not license. We are liberated from sin. We are liberated from the law. But we are not liberated from doing what is right. We are not liberated to do as we please and claim Christian liberty.

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Right...I think the "issues" discussions arise more because we don't understand Romans 14 properly. We tend to condemn when others view various issues (pants, literature choices, public school, etc.) differently than we do, even though their choices are being informed by Scripture just as much as ours are. "Worldly" is a handy (but misused) term to throw at others' practices in these discussions. This term supposedly trumps whatever the other person is saying, but it really doesn't advance the discussion any, or prove anything.

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

Our liberty is not to be used as an occasion to sin. We are to represent Christ in all we say and do. Our appearance should honour Christ. Dressing immodestly, participating in worldly endeavors, entertaining ourselves with what Scripture says is sin, and all such matters cannot be done to the glory of God and are something Christians are commanded not to be a part of.

Christ gave His life for us yet some of us think we have some right or liberty to do as we please. For the glory of God should we not be willing to wear modest clothing rather than what we might prefer? Should we not be more than willing to forsake the ways of the world to give our all for Christ just as He did for us?

Professing Christians are to be growing in spritiual maturity, becoming more Christlike, pursuing holiness. Remaining childish, demanding our own way is rebuked in Scripture. We are to deny self, that means we are to put away selfishness and do ALL for the glory of God.

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Our liberty is not to be used as an occasion to sin. We are to represent Christ in all we say and do. Our appearance should honour Christ. Dressing immodestly, participating in worldly endeavors, entertaining ourselves with what Scripture says is sin, and all such matters cannot be done to the glory of God and are something Christians are commanded not to be a part of.

Christ gave His life for us yet some of us think we have some right or liberty to do as we please. For the glory of God should we not be willing to wear modest clothing rather than what we might prefer? Should we not be more than willing to forsake the ways of the world to give our all for Christ just as He did for us?

Professing Christians are to be growing in spritiual maturity, becoming more Christlike, pursuing holiness. Remaining childish, demanding our own way is rebuked in Scripture. We are to deny self, that means we are to put away selfishness and do ALL for the glory of God.

I agree completely...and so would every Christian seeking to follow Christ with devotion. But that doesn't mean that there won't be disagreement when it comes to practical issues...and I think that's what the OP is talking about. People are so quick to label another Christian as "worldly" without explaining why, as if this word trumps everything else the other person is saying. We shouldn't be so prideful as to write someone else off just because they apply Scripture differently than we do.
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