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    • By Jim_Alaska in Jim_Alaska's Sermons & Devotionals
         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.

God's House & dressing right


jvv

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Where is the verse in the bible that tells us we should respect God's house by the way we dress. I think there is a verse which states we are to respect His house by not wearing shorts & so forth

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I don't know of one. You have to frame that issue with biblical principles about giving God your best. The only passages I know of that speak of what to wear in church revolve around not doing it for show (1 Pet 3) or supplant your husband/authority (1 Cor 11). If you go the route of simply respecting God's house, you have to contend with the fact that your body is His temple (1 Cor 6:15-20) in which case you ought not wear anything outside of the church building that you wouldn't wear inside the church building and not many people want to make the argument that you shouldn't wear shorts at home.

That being said, I am of the opinion that one ought to wear their nice/best for the time dedicated to worshipping the Lord. What does it say when you spend more time and effort preparing yourself for a night out than you do to go for the express purpose of worshipping God? For example, I wear a coat and tie to work every day, and therefore I wear a coat and tie to church every Sunday because I'm not going to give God less than what I give my employer. However, if a man works in the oil field and wears coveralls  every day, I see no problem with him wearing jeans and a polo if nose are the best clothes he has. It's about respecting God and not a building and giving him the best of what you have. For those principles you can go all the way back to the Old Testament sacrificial system where God demands only the flawless animals for sacrifice or Acts 5 where Ananias and Sapphira tried to only give a portion of themselves to God and lied about it. 

I wouldn't really try to force this issue though because there is no express command about what to wear to a gathering of the church and forcing any requirement on it is approaching legalism. If you feel someone is not dressing appropriately at church, it's best to address their heart/attitude toward God rather than lay a chapter-verse requirement on them (unless it's about modesty, and that's a whole other question).

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Its also a basic modesty issue, which, while mostly addressing it to women in the NT, yet the basic issue applies to men and women.

Modesty is more attitude than dress, though the right attitude with bring about good dress.  Modesty is an attitude of not seeking to draw attention to one's self with excess of clothing, skin, decoration, hair and actions. The Bible also refers to 'shame-facedness', or a humble attitude. So a woman can wear a nice, loose-fitting dress down to the ankles and up to the neck, but still be immodest when she is loud and obnoxious, or seeking approval for her clothes or hair or whatever.

We can draw attention to ourselves by extreme styles in hair, jewelry, clothing, or lack thereof, speech, actions, etc. That's one of the issues I have with contemporary Christian music-it tends to be more about the performers and the entertainment than about God or the word.

A modest person will dress and act in a way that doesn't bring about undue attention to them. That's why a lot of IF Baptists tend to dress kind of alike, men in suits and ties, women in dresses-not seeking to stand out from the crowd, because that's what modesty is. The world says "The squeaky wheel gets the grease", but the Bible says that promotion cometh from the Lord-we let the Lord lift one up, as we humble ourselves.

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Interested in following.  Our church has changed its dress standard (from our pastor and youth pastors desire for the change), and I am seeking good advice as to when it has gone far enough to leave.  I know this may be offensive to some, but I view dress standards as not just a modesty issue, but personal separation from the world.  I feel with out them our church will become more worldly which it already plays with that line (CCM is common place in my sons friends homes, Bible version debates).  My children are at stake and I really am struggling with this issue.  If you are ok with wearing pants I also wonder this;  Why skirts only for church? How does dressing up for church mean only skirts and dresses?  It seems like a double standard to me. Thanks for the thoughtful advice. I will use it and honestly open my heart and mind up to Gods will in this area. 

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Interested in following.  Our church has changed its dress standard (from our pastor and youth pastors desire for the change), and I am seeking good advice as to when it has gone far enough to leave.  I know this may be offensive to some, but I view dress standards as not just a modesty issue, but personal separation from the world.  I feel with out them our church will become more worldly which it already plays with that line (CCM is common place in my sons friends homes, Bible version debates).  My children are at stake and I really am struggling with this issue.  If you are ok with wearing pants I also wonder this;  Why skirts only for church? How does dressing up for church mean only skirts and dresses?  It seems like a double standard to me. Thanks for the thoughtful advice. I will use it and honestly open my heart and mind up to Gods will in this area. 

I think what you have to ask yourself is, "What's the purpose of the standard? What's the purpose of the change?" Is it being relaxed to appeal to the world or because it makes practical sense? If the purpose is to make visitors feel more comfortable and like they haven't really stepped out of the secular world, then I'd say run away now because it is more than likely an indication of deeper issues and compromises (perhaps as indicated by the debate over Bible versions).

Here's the thing, I agree with everything Ukulelemike said above and all the issues about modesty and attitudes toward God; but I'm not sure how you apply that on a church-wide level with people that run the spectrum of spiritual maturity. Rather it should be a point of growth going from an new Christian that dresses for maximum comfort or to show how trendy and stylish they are to a mature Christian who's only concern for their attire is based on maximum respect and deference to a holy God and how he/she will reflect Him. I don't think you can levy a dress code for everyone who walks through the door, but you can exhort/encourage people to mature in their dressing habits just like any other aspect of Christian life.

 

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This verse, in the OT (Exodus 28:42) commands the priests to "cover their nakedness" by covering their thighs. I tend to infer from that, that if God wants a bunch of ugly, hairy-legged priests to cover their "nakedness" by covering their thighs, He must want pretty legged Christian women to cover theirs too, not only in the church house, but everywhere else as well. I briefly noticed last Sunday (and quickly turned my head) that the pastor's daughter-in-law was wearing what appeared to be nothing but a shirt. Not a dress, just a tapered bottom, button up SHIRT .....Nothing but "shirt" and legs. I would be totally embarassed to wear this without my pants!!folk_tapered_shirt_blue_dot_02.jpg  

I think if I had been preaching and saw that, someone would have gone home mad. If a man needs to wear blinders at church, it ain't modest and it sure isn't respectful. If a woman is already married and "caught her man" why advertise to others? I don't get it.  I'm so thankful my wife and daughter don't dress that way. I also believe it's immodest for men to wear shorts, tight pants, and go around with their shirt off or unbuttoned down their chest too.

Here are a couple more verses.

Pro 7:10

 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.

 

 

1 Timothy 2":9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

 

I don't know of a verse on shorts, but what is "modest apparel"? And what is "the attire of an harlot"? A harlot wears what advertises her "trade". 

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I saw a short video, which was just part of a video, so I don't know who or the circumstances around why this pastor did what he did, but there recently was a pastor of a contemporary church, who did the whole, dress in jeans and a t shirt, and prance around the stage, more like a motivational speaker than a pastor.

For some reason, he was challenged to put on a suit and tie and preach behind a pulpit, while changing nothing else, so he did. One Sunday he gets up behind the pulpit, in a suit, and preached exactly the same message he preached, same doctrines, same style, but standing behind a pulpit. He said, that day, three deacons left the church, declaring he was preaching heresy, and a fourth left shortly thereafter, and many of his church left quickly, declaring him to have begun to preach false doctrines. Except nothing else had changed.

The conclusion he came to was that before, they didn't see a preacher or pastor, one with authority, they saw one of them, a guy, a motivational speaker, making suggestions, which they could follow or not. Now he was a preacher, and has, in their eyes, authority, and when he spoke, they heard 'Thus saith the Lord', and their spirits balked against it. They wanted to feel good, not be led by an authority figure.

So when we dress down, when we try to be a 'speaker' and not a preacher, we lose much. A suit and tie may not be a requirement, but even Jesus wore an outfit recognized by the rough Roman soldiers as being so nice they didn't want to tear it up, and instead cast lots for it. Kind of the suit and tie version of a robe? 

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Today it's become common among many Christians for the women to declare they are free to dress however they want to and if any man doesn't like it that's his problem, not hers. The heart attitude it takes to make such a claim already places them in sin as they are being self-centered, they are not caring about others, they don't care if they may be a stumbling block, they are not interested in what the Word says about the matter, etc.

Some of the clothes church women wear today are not at all modest with their plunging necklines, open backs, off the shoulders, clingy outfits, short dresses or skirts. Yet these same women will declare they are dressed modest based upon the fact they aren't wearing even less modest clothing!

What's worse is running in to these women in the summer out in public, away from church, when they are wearing the same not much there outfits as the non-church women.

A church I was at one time had a casual dress for their night services and I remember a man in way too short cutoff blue jean shorts, tank top and flip-flops attending. I wouldn't have wore that outfit inside my house let alone anywhere outside and certainly never to church.

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This verse, in the OT (Exodus 28:42) commands the priests to "cover their nakedness" by covering their thighs. I tend to infer from that, that i I also believe it's immodest for men to wear shorts, tight pants, and go around with their shirt off or unbuttoned down their chest too.

 

Isaiah 47: 2  Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers. 3  Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man. 

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

Deuteronomy 22:5

1 Timothy 2:9

Exodus 28:1-4 The whole chapter shows that the priests dress a certain way. They were not to go into the holy place without these requirements. Who are the priests today? 1 Peter 2:5-9

 

Bottom line is conviction from God about how you dress outweighs any outside push to get you to dress right or wrong. By the way, if you do dress to fit your convictions people will give you a hard time. People that you never thought would say a bad word against you will make little smart remarks trying to discourage you. If you're asking this for yourself then I think God is already dealing with you in the matter. BUT if you're trying to get ammunition to get someone you love to dress different it WILL NOT work. God has to put that in them if it is going to stick.

You cannot control who wears what in the church BUT you can have standards for what people that serve in the church wear (choir, teachers, deacons, ushers, preacher, special singers, etc.)

I will tell you a secret in psychology so to speak. I guarantee that the women in the church notice what other women wear. If good Godly women dressed properly, it wouldn't be long before others started changing their dress code as well. Titus 2:3-4

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I will tell you a secret in psychology so to speak. I guarantee that the women in the church notice what other women wear. If good Godly women dressed properly, it wouldn't be long before others started changing their dress code as well. Titus 2:3-4

I believe this aspect is one of the major problems in many churches. The older and more mature members aren't training up the younger ones and they aren't always setting good examples either. Unfortunately, at this point in time many of the older women in churches were raised during "women's rights" era and some of the radical feminism of that time is a part of them. Even some of the more mature women in Christ are still tainted by the radical feminism that was instilled in them, and some were a part of before salvation. Some of these women see nothing wrong with chopping their hair short, wearing men's clothes, or even dressing however they feel comfortable.

Sadly, on some churches the women who do hold to high standards in this area are looked down upon or considered at least a bit odd.

As often as I overhear women talking about what they are wearing, and what other women at church are wearing, I know it's true the women pay a lot of attention to that. I've also noticed in most churches a core group of women are followed in their dress style by most (not all) of the other women, to an extent at least. The more modest that group of women, the more modest most of the other women. Likewise, the more immodest they dress, the more immodest others dress.

It's also a sad fact many men (pastors, husbands, fathers) either won't touch the subject or do so in a weak manner. Instead, they drop their role to lead in this area and say they are deferring to their wives or the leading women in the church. I don't understand that attitude. Myself, I wouldn't want my wife or daughter dressing in a way to show off her body and allow others to see what should be reserved for a husband. A man can set standards of dress without being a tyrant or forcing his wife or daughter to dress in some ugly fashion to achieve modesty.

It does come down to conviction, and if one woman believes she can wear loose feminine pants and is modest and another believes she should wear floor length, flowing dresses, that's between them and God. Hopefully they can share their view with one another in friendly fashion and love one another as sisters in Christ.

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