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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.

Confidence or Humility?


Confidence vs. Humility  

2 members have voted

  1. 1. Which opportunity do you pursue?

    • Confidence
      0
    • Humility
      2


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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

All other things being equal and God's hand appears to be in both...

You have two ministry opportunities in front of you. In one, you feel supreme confidence that you can handle the new responsibilities and feel empowered to do so. In other other, you feel completely humbled by everything surrounding the opportunity and truly wonder if you're up to the task.

Which path do you take? Confidence or Humility?

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

Ok, sure. That sounds nice and spiritual, but let's assume you haven't gotten any clear direction and perhaps He will bless either option because He has genuinely set both before you. Even if that's not the case, how would you discern which way He is telling you to take?

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

I don’t see how this question can be answered by anyone other than the actual person faced with the two opportunities.

  1.       We do not specifically know your capabilities and limitations
  2.       We do not know what each opportunity is or how you do or do not qualify for each.

The most obvious thing that should be done is to earnestly pray about the situation. Ask to be provided godly counsel through God’s word and God’s people.

Following and along with prayer, get in the word. It’s amazing how God can grant an answer through scripture we’ve read countless times before.

Seek counsel through your pastor(s), and true Christian friends and family.

Proverbs 11:14 Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellers there is safety.

Proverbs 15:22 Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellers they are established.

I don't think any of these three things should be left out. I have reaped there benefits many times.

As for the "still small voice", I don’t put much stock in listening for that. As you said, that all sounds nice and spiritual, but I believe that Satan is just as capable of using a still small voice. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14)

People fail to remember that before Elijah heard that still small voice he fully experienced “a great and strong wind”, “an earthquake”, and “a fire”. I suppose if you were to experience all three of those things and a “still small voice” were to follow, you may then be able to attribute that to God.

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

All good inputs. In response to your #1 & #2, let's say qualifications are not an issue for either and both opportunities are ultimately similar in the function. Truly, the only difference between the two are the immediate scope; potential is relatively equal. I will tell you that I was confronted with this choice a couple of days ago, pastors and counselors of several sorts have been consulted, prayer and fasting has been done, and a decision has been made. I don't really want to make the thread about my particular situation, but rather see how others approach such a choice.

I know details would seem to help, but I hesitate to give any because the crux of the question is which path (confidence or humility) would you lean toward and why? What drives you one direction over the other? Do you go with "confidence" because it might be divine empowerment to do the work God has set before you? Do you go with "humility" because it will force you to rely on God all the more?

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

The previous responses sum it up pretty well. If there are two options set before you look to determine which one, i some way, is the best. Sometimes there are two directions we can go. Typically, one is good but the other is best. Which leads us back to where you began: how to determine which is which.

I've been there before and I still can't prescribe a sure formula or even fully recall or grasp the process that finally resulted in an answer. The things mentioned above, much prayer (possibly also with fasting), seeking godly counsel, listening for the leading of the Lord whether through that "still small voice", that sense of peace for one option more than the other.

The Lord does speak to us, we can't just dismiss listening for His response, otherwise why bother praying. Sometimes His answer may come in an "inner voice", sense of overwhelming peace, the clear counsel of a godly man, a sudden realization that one option stands out as the one now, etc.

Most often, and this is just from observation, reading and personal experience, it seems the Lord leads us into something which we can't do in our own strength. That way, when we accomplish what He's called us to we know it was through Him and not of ourselves the task was accomplished.

It seems it's usually more dangerous to enter something thinking, "I go this", than it is to enter something that we wonder how we can manage to "get this". Again, just observational, not something set in stone as it were.

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  • Lady Administrators

As a woman, of course, I would need to get input from my hubby on any decision of a ministry participation. But I know he would also take my thoughts into account. I have always been the type of person that likes to learn things. Were I to face a choice of 2 ministries, one of which I felt confident about and one not so much, I think I might lean toward the one that would make me wonder if I'm up to the task. I would be fearful somewhat, for sure. But at the same time, as I said, I would look forward to learning new things about serving the Lord.

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  • Moderators

Well, based on only the information given in the question, I'd probably choose the first option. If I have to choose between doing two things, one which I know I can do and one which I am not certain I have the skills to do, I'd go for the one I could do. Mostly cause I wouldn't want to mess things up. That is what I would choose in secular areas (such as my job), and I have a tendency to view ministries as more jobs to get done (which is not quite right, I know). Course, it might depend what the ministries are, too.

 

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

Ok, sure. That sounds nice and spiritual, but let's assume you haven't gotten any clear direction and perhaps He will bless either option because He has genuinely set both before you. Even if that's not the case, how would you discern which way He is telling you to take?

You discern through much prayer and fasting, and through acknowledging him in all your ways. As to him genuinely setting both before you, that rarely ever happens.

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

You discern through much prayer and fasting, and through acknowledging him in all your ways. As to him genuinely setting both before you, that rarely ever happens.

Agreed on both counts, but that discernment doesn't usually come through a written letter, divine phone call, or booming voice and rarely does not mean never. Additionally, discernment can, and often does, come through the way the Spirit presses you and how He makes you feel about one direction or another. If you don't want to answer the question directly, that's perfectly ok; but we don't need to over-analyze this one. This simple question is about how you approach discerning God's direction is such cases.

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Agreed on both counts, but that discernment doesn't usually come through a written letter, divine phone call, or booming voice and rarely does not mean never. Additionally, discernment can, and often does, come through the way the Spirit presses you and how He makes you feel about one direction or another. If you don't want to answer the question directly, that's perfectly ok; but we don't need to over-analyze this one. This simple question is how about you approach discerning God's direction is such cases.

I like what you said about the way the Spirit makes you feel about one direction or another. That's kind of how I choose summer ministries now. I've found that, when thinking about what to do with my off time in the summer, there will be one ministry that I will get a real desire to help with. I've come to believe that, when choosing between two 'good' things like that, God just gives us the desire of what we want to do. We don't need to hem or haw over whether or not we should. I do think that special outreaches by my local church deserve my help and attendance first, but once that is done, I'll just choose by what God has given me an interest in or burden for. It might be a particular ministry year after year (like our church's youth camp), or change every year (there are 3 kids camps and a couple of revival meeting circuits I'll switch between attending). There might even be a sub-benefit of a place or person I want to visit (last year I helped at a couple camps up north - with the side benefit of finally being able to visit Yellowknife!). This year I've been saving time to help with a new church plant I'm terribly interested in - I don't know if they need help, and they haven't finalized a schedule yet, but I want to be there! 

I think that seeing God work things out - making the travel arrangements work, or providing needed funds - are also good confirmations that you're heading in the right direction. 

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