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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.

Six Steps To Kill A Church


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I recently came across a powerful quote from an 18th century English pastor named JOB Orton. Ironically, he wrote to the ministers of his day about doctrinal compromise. The struggles of churches nearly 300 years ago are the struggles of churches today. Read what he says:

“I have long since found (and every year that I live increases my conviction of it), that when ministers e
nt
ertain their people with lively and pretty things, confine themselves to general harangues, insist principally on moral duties, without enforcing them warmly and affectionately by evangelical m
ot
ives; while they neglect the peculiars of the gospel, never or seldom display the grace of God, and the love of Christ in our redemption; the necessity of regeneration and sanctification by a consta
nt
dependence on the Holy Spirit of God for assistance and strength in the duties of the Christian life, their congregations are in a wretched state; some are dwindling to n
ot
hing, as is the case with several in this neighbourhood, where there are now n
ot
as many scores as there were hundreds in their meeting-places, fifty years ago. . . . There is a fatal deadness spread over the congregation. They run in ‘the course of this world,’ follow every fashionable folly, and family and personal godliness seems in general to be lost among them. There is scarcely any appearance of life and zeal.”

It seems that Satan was neutralizing local churches three hundred years ago in the same way he is today. Notice the ways churches decline, according to Orton:

1. Create an Entertainment-Driven Ministry—Orton writes, “…when ministers entertain their people with lively and pretty things….” I’ve seen two extremes in entertainment-driven ministry. Both are simply different manifestations of the same false assumptions and bad values.

The first bad model I saw was a contest-driven, circus-style, promotion-based ministry model. It was a model that bribed people to attend church, entertained them once they came, and attempted to “sneak up” on them with the gospel. It worked to get people to church, but it was weak in producing devoted disciples and rooted believers.

The second bad model I’ve seen is a concert-style, party-atmosphere ministry complete with loud rock music, smoke machines, laser lights, and a lot of entertainment. Again, it works to get people to attend, but it lulls them into non-participation, non-worship, and lethargic, carnal Christianity.

Both models fail because of two false assumptions. The first false assumption is that Jesus and His Word are boring and unattractive. The second false assumption is that people won’t respond to simple, biblical love and grace. These methods attempt to DISGUISE the gospel to “make it attractive.” The false assumption being, it’s not attractive unless we disguise it! This is REALLY BAD theology! Entertainment-driven ministry is a broken road.

2. Focus on “General Harangues”—Orton mentions leaders who “confine themselves to general harangues.” This is a church-family focused on debate and theological inspection over Spirit-led OBedience and unified practice. The Word of God is like a window, and some people prefer to spend more time looking AT the window rather than looking THROUGH the window. Paul wrote to Titus, “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.” (Titus 3:9)

An honest Bible student is comfortable accepting God’s Word where it is clear, and where it is unclear. An unhealthy church is content to “look AT the window”—to inspect and debate foolish questions that generate strife and contention. A healthy church is only content to practice what IS clear in God’s Word.

Unbelievers rarely come to these churches, and when they do, they rarely come back. Focusing on pointless debates, personal disputes, and biblical conjecture is a broken road.

3. Teach Behaviorism Absent Love and Worship—Orton writes, “…insist principally on moral duties, without enforcing them warmly and affectionately by evangelical motives…”—external duty without internal love as a motive. External conformity or performance-based acceptance generates a church family that looks good, but that is not motivated by true love and worship of Jesus. Enough badgering from the pulpit will manipulate many Christians into a manmade mold. But eventually those same Christians become disillusioned and hurt by man-centered leadership tactics.

The only biblical, viable, sustainable motivation for doing anything as a Christian is the pure love of Jesus Christ. Being pushed into a set of standards, a weekly structure, or an outward appearance always leads to resentment of those who pushed or manipulated me. That Christianity eventually falls apart. Being led by the Spirit and motivated by love will produce a pure hearted, sustainable, joyful, non-oppressive Christian walk.

4. Neglect the Pure Gospel—Orton writes, “…while they neglect the peculiars of the gospel….” The gospel of Jesus Christ is not only how we are saved, it is also how we grow, how we live, how we endure, and how we enjoy our walk with Jesus. The more you study and examine the gospel, the bigger it becomes. It’s inexhaustible.

Healthy churches always keep the gospel front and center. Their message is hopeful. They magnify Jesus. They preach Christ crucified. They reveal Jesus to be more than a free ticket to Heaven, but in truth a Saviour in every aspect of life. If a church family KNOWS their unsaved guest will hear the gospel, and not just a “general harangue” on Sunday morning—they are EAGER, EXCITED, and HAPPY to invite their lost friends and family.

Something tells me, that’s exactly what happened in the books of Acts!

5. Neglect the Display of Love and Grace—Again Orton says, “…never or seldom display the grace of God, and the love of Christ in our redemption….” How do we miss this? How do churches become so “ungracious” and “unloving”? How do churches melt down into factious, divisive communities of self-focus? How do they become so inward and unwelcoming? They lost sight of the massive volume of New Testament teaching on love, unity, forgiveness, forbearance, and grace toward others.

If you’re gospel message is clear, but your dispositional display of the gospel is carnal, you are doing the gospel a grave disservice. Churches die because love and grace died in their midst. Ever more, in a darkened, hopeless secular America, a loving church stands in huge contrast to anything else in culture.

6. Neglect a Strong Emphasis on Dependence upon the Holy Spirit—Orton goes on, “…the necessity of regeneration and sanctification by a constant dependence on the Holy Spirit of God for assistance and strength in the duties of the Christian life….” Dying churches, somewhere along the way, began to subtly and perhaps imperceptibly quench, grieve, or usurp the Holy Spirit of God. They took matters into their own hands.

How often a pastor is tempted to usurp the work of God’s Spirit—we all want our church family to manifest spiritual maturity, so we attempt to manufacture a quick conformity to outward appearances, rather than patiently allowing God’s Spirit to cultivate an internal, organic growth.

It’s easy to set up outward, measurable standards of appearance and performance. We like to do this because it validates us, makes us feel successful as Christians and leaders. Yet the outward conformity COULD be merely a cover for the absence of inward dependence. Healthy churches emphasize the gradual, growing work of God’s Spirit within the believer, over the work of quick, manmade, external conformity.

Orton describes these six things as a “fatal deadness” that spreads over the entire congregation. I think he was hitting the target—for the 1700s and for today! The local church of Jesus Christ is designed to flourish with life, health, and joy. While dying or dead churches are a dime a dozen, may God stir up a new generation of churches that defy death and embrace the life and health that only His grace and His Spirit can produce!



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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

who wrote the article? how are these RSS rOBot posting chosen?


The bloke's name is Cary Schmidt (from the full article).
I think he was (is?) an assistant pastor in Chappel's church.
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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

The point of the article is "what not to do" if you want a sound, healthy church.

 

The author is correct that those six things mentioned ruin churches. Whether it's a church focusing on the letter of the law rather than the spirit (outward appearance being hammered at while the heart is left unchanged) or a church becomes entertainment centered rather than Christ-centered, that church is moving away from Christ.

 

We so very much need to be on guard. Guarding our own hearts (as Scripture says we need to keep heart for out of it are the issues of life!), guarding over our pastors and church leadership, guarding our congregations. Are we spending a good amount of time in prayer over these, or just a little, or maybe not at all? To my shame and sadness, I find that I will be diligent in prayer over these for a good while but then it seems I look about and my prayers in this area have diminished or I've even gone a day or days without even realizing I never lifted any of this before the Lord. Being diligent in prayer requires much diligence!

 

Praise God for those of us who still have biblically sound pastors and churches! May the Lord bless and keep them, protect and preserve them, for His glory and honour!

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  • Administrators

who wrote the article? how are these RSS rOBot posting chosen?

The article is by Cary Schmidt, he a pastor in Newington, Ct.
The articles are posted automatically from different blogs that members have suggested.
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