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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.

Day 6 - The Nine Cares Of A Shepherd


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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

Numbers In The Bible Series
06 - The Nine Cares Of A Shepherd

Day 6 - The Nine Cares Of A Shepherd

Psalm 23, [A Psalm of David.] The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. (1) He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. (2) He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. (3) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (4) Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. (5) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (6)

Why would Christ liken Himself to a Shepherd? I've often wondered why He would pick a "role" such as this one. As I researched the role of a shepherd, I noticed that the shepherd's job was to: provide food and water, find them a place to rest, discipline them when needed, protect them against foes, speak to them and give them companionship, direct them in their travels, provide them a peaceful journey, and literally provide them with a worry-free life. The sheep have everything - all they need to do is to follow their shepherd and make more sheep, when you stop to think about it! The sheep never have to hunt their own food or find their own water. The sheep recognize only their shepherd's voice. They do not respond to or follow another shepherd. Isn't that amazing? The sheep are helpless without their shepherd to protect them from going in the wrong direction or from their enemies. I saw that this shepherd's job description had nine areas of care for his sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. (John 10:14) Do you think it's a coincidence that the Lord Himself used this occupation to describe Himself with us? I surely don't.

The most famous passage in Scriptures dealing with the shepherd is Psalm 23. When I went to it, I saw that it outlines nine areas of care as well! I got on shouting grounds! The number nine is the number for "completeness, finality, and fullness." How complete we are once we are saved! We are made full with the benefits Christ provides for us! Our salvation is final - there is nothing else needed. Praise God that the Shepherd of the Old Testament is also the Gentiles' Shepherd! And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (John 10:16) No longer was salvation only for the Jew. Praise God! Salvation is complete - salvation is for all!

The blessing that came with searching out the nine cares of the Shepherd were more than I could take today. My heart was stirred and the tears flowed because of just how much Christ cares for us! Let me share with you just how He cares for you!

Notice that Christ is a personal Saviour. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1) (emphasis mine.) We lack nothing because of our position as Christ's sheep. He will provide for every aspect of our lives. All our needs are in His care! He is so personal that even the very hairs on our head are numbered! But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (Matthew 10:30) He knows us better than anyone. The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, (Psalm 94:11a) He is our own personal Shepherd. Our personal Shepherd has nine beautiful ways He shows us He cares for us!

(1) He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: Christ provides us with rest. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28) When I was first saved, I felt as though a hundred pounds had been lifted from my shoulders! The burden of sin had been removed and I felt so "free"! After I read this verse for the first time, I was in tears! My Saviour had freed me from this heavy burden and had given me peaceful rest! I can see why David used the word picture of laying down in a green field, can't you? What a beautiful depiction of the rest that Christ provides through salvation!

(2) He leadeth me beside the still waters: Christ refreshes the soul. Each day, our time in the Word provides a time of refreshing. But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:14) Notice that the waters were not turbulent or even stirred. These waters were still! The Word of God does not produce confusion or conflict. It provides us with peaceful waters - still waters. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Corinthians 14:33) The devil has managed to cause much confusion through the many versions of the Bible. He has God's children arguing amongst themselves - confused about what the Holy Spirit was "really" communicating. God is not the author of confusion, according to 1 Corinthians 14:33, so why would He provide 100 plus versions to confuse us? This is a contradiction, my friend. My Bible says that my Shepherd leads me to still waters. It stands to reason that the devil leads us to turbulent waters since he is the very antithesis of Christ. Christ is the Word of God - the devil will attack the Word to get even with Christ. But our Shepherd promises us that while we are in our blessed King James Bible, we will have still waters - peaceful waters - and no confusion can be found within its pages!

(3) He restoreth my soul: Christ provides reconciliation to the saved. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17) When we are trodden down with the cares of this world, He is able to lead His sheep away from that temptation. The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: (2 Peter 2:9) Notice this verse says that Christ specifically delivers the "godly" out of temptation. Not only has He reconciled us to the Father by redeeming us, He provides a way to deliver us from temptation! However, if we have succumbed to temptation, He restores us to a right relationship with Him. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (1 John 2:1) Thank You, Lord!

(4) He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. The Bible says that Jesus is the Word (John 1:1) - He is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). He left us His Word, through the power of the Holy Spirit, so that we may learn to walk in righteousness as He walked in righteousness. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Timothy 3:16) The Shepherd is constantly watching out for us and is ready to help. Everything we need is in the blessed Word of God and provides us with light and direction along the way. NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105) He is ever watchful in His leading, making sure that we do not stumble. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble. (Proverbs 3:23)

(5) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; The Shepherd is always with us, my friend. There is no need to fear the trials of this life. He promises us that: I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13:5b) God is not a man that He should lie (Numbers 23:19). He says He will never leave me or forsake me. Never! Period! As He protects us from stumbling, He protects us during those difficult trials in life - even the most difficult trial of all, our physical death. There is no need to even fear death because He will be right there with us. 1 Corinthians 15:54-55, So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. (54) O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (55)

A Youth Pastor I once knew, Pastor Mike Ray, told us of a trip he took his teens on to an actual funeral home. The mortician was a born-again Christian who shared how he was always able to tell when the deceased who was brought to him was a Christian. The Christian's countenance never showed fear or dismay, but had a peaceful look. However, the unsaved person's face was not so. Some would even come in with a horrible look of fear! This story impacted me greatly. It proved to me that my Shepherd's promise of walking with me through the valley of the shadow of death was true!

(6) Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. The Hebrew word used for rod here is:

H7626
שׁבט
shêbet

Meaning: a scion, that is, (literally) a stick (for punishing, writing, fighting, ruling, walking, etc.)

Our Shepherd not only wants to be our Lord, but He will punish us so that we get back on track. The punishment is not so that we become hard with rebellion against Him. His punishment, according to David, brings comfort. If the shepherd had a sheep that continuously ran away from the herd, he would break one of its legs so it would learn to stay close. When we yield to Christ's will as He trains us, the results bring comfort. We draw nigh to Him. As a result, God promises to draw nigh to us. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. (James 4:8) When you punish your child for doing wrong, you don't punish him with the intent to cause him to rebel further, do you? Of course not! Your goal is to draw him close to you so you can teach him and mold him into a responsible adult. Christ's goal is to be so close to us that He can teach us and mold us into His image. What a wonderful picture!

(7) Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. The staff had a different meaning in this beautiful passage.

H4938
משׁענת משׁענה
mish‛ênâh mish‛eneth

Meaning: walking stick: - staff

Our Shepherd will direct us in our path. If there's a bump in the road, He will alert us through the preaching. Not only does Christ alert us, but He shows us how to deal with that bump in the road through His Word. The Holy Spirit is right there, teaching us, directing us and providing that comfort. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: (John 15:26) Just as the shepherd uses a walking stick to help him along the way, we have the ultimate walking stick, the Bible, which our Shepherd uses to help us along our pilgrim's journey! This stick is not one of discipline but more a stick used for assistance. What a blessed picture of the Word of God assisting us!

( 8 ) Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Notice that the Shepherd prepares the table while our enemies are right there at the door. He is laying out the table cloth, setting the place mats, putting out the cloth napkins, laying the cutlery just right, putting out the fine china and rightly placing a glass of cold water beside the plate. Jesus is preparing our table while we have struggles with the enemy. He lets us know that despite the turmoil around us, He is in control - nothing bothers Him. He continues to provide for us and He will give us peace. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27) A good depiction of this was when He stilled the storm at sea. And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. (Mark 4:39) What comfort this brings the believer. No matter what is going on around us, the Shepherd is busy preparing a table to sup with us - despite the turmoil. He is always there ready to nourish us and encourage us with His Word.

(9) Thou anointest my head with oil; The oil of the Bible usually refers to the Holy Spirit. The oil here was anointed on the head showing me that the Holy Spirit will reveal to our hearts (our minds) what the Shepherd (the Word) is trying to communicate. I looked up Noah Webster's definition of anointing and the definition in this verse was:

communicate the consolations of the Holy Spirit.

I wondered what "consolations of the Holy Spirit" meant here. Noah defines it as:

Comfort; alleviation of misery, or distress of mind

Does this not totally bless you? The Shepherd alleviates our misery and distresses, my friend!

No wonder David was able to pen, "my cup runneth over" in verse 5! You've been there at some point in your Christian walk where you feel that God has just "over blessed" you, haven't you? David was bragging on his God here - Lord, stop! Stop! I can't take any more blessings! My cup is over flowing - any more and I'll burst!

Lastly, David speaks of how his Shepherd's goodness and mercy will follow him, not only in his walk on this earth, but throughout all eternity. He says that he will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever in verse 6. What another beautiful depiction of eternal security. The Shepherd does not leave His sheep - ever! But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. (John 10:12) (emphasis mine.) Jesus said that He is the Good Shepherd, not a hireling. The devil would love nothing better than to convince you that you can lose your position in Christ after you have been saved. After all, again he is the very antithesis of Christ. Christ won't leave us when that wolf comes attacking. Thank You, Lord, for this blessing today!

My cup runneth over!

Dear God...
The Shepherd guides those in His care.
He leads them along life's way.
He protects us from the enemy,
And He keeps those wolves at bay.

Devotional by Kate Plourde

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