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         14
      Closed Communion
      James Foley
       
      I Corinthians 11:17-34: "Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's Supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come."

      INTRODUCTION

      Historic Baptists, true Baptists, have believed in and still believe in closed communion. Baptists impose upon themselves the same restrictions that they impose on others concerning the Lord’s Supper. Baptists have always insisted that it is the Lord’s Table, not theirs; and He alone has the right to say who shall sit at His table. No amount of so called brotherly love, or ecumenical spirit, should cause us to invite to His table those who have not complied with the requirements laid down plainly in His inspired Word. With respect to Bible doctrines we must always use the scripture as our guide and practice. For Baptists, two of the most important doctrines are Baptism and The Lord’s Supper. These are the only two doctrines we recognize as Church Ordinances. The Bible is very clear in teaching how these doctrines are to be practiced and by whom.

      We only have two ordinances that we must never compromise or we risk our very existence, they are Baptism and The Lord’s Supper.

      The moment we deviate from the precise method God has prescribed we have started down the slippery slope of error. True Baptists have held fast to the original doctrine of The Lord’s Supper from the time of Christ and the Apostles.

      Unfortunately, in this day of what the Bible describes as the age of luke warmness, Baptists are becoming careless in regard to strictly following the pattern laid out for us in Scripture. Many of our Bible colleges are graduating otherwise sincere, Godly and dedicated pastors and teachers who have not been taught the very strict, biblical requirements that surround the Lord’s Supper. Any Bible college that neglects to teach its students the differences surrounding Closed Communion, Close Communion and Open Communion is not simply short changing its students; it is also not equipping their students to carry on sound Bible traditions. The result is men of God and churches that fall into error. And as we will see, this is serious error.

      Should we as Baptists ignore the restrictions made by our Lord and Master? NO! When we hold to the restrictions placed upon the Lord’s Supper by our Master, we are defending the "faith which was once delivered to the saints" Jude 3.

      The Lord’s Supper is rigidly restricted and I will show this in the following facts:

      IT IS RESTRICTED AS TO PLACE

      A. I Corinthians 11:18 says, "When ye come together in the church." This does not mean the church building; they had none. In other words, when the church assembles. The supper is to be observed by the church, in church capacity. Again this does not mean the church house. Ekklesia, the Greek word for church, means assembly. "When ye come together in the church," is when the church assembles.

      B. When we say church we mean an assembly of properly baptized believers. Acts 2:41-42: "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."

      The church is made up of saved people who are baptized by immersion. In the Bible, belief precedes baptism. That’s the Bible way.

      Acts 8:12-13, "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done."

      When we say properly baptized, we mean immersed. No unbeliever should take the Lord’s supper, and no non-immersed believer should take the supper. Those who are sprinkled are not baptized and cannot receive the supper. The Greek word for baptize is baptizo, and it always means to immerse.

      "In every case where communion is referred to, or where it may possibly have been administered, the believers had been baptized Acts 2:42; 8:12; 8:38; 10:47; 6:14-15; 18:8; 20:7. Baptism comes before communion, just as repentance and faith precede baptism".

      C. The Lord’s Supper is for baptized believers in church capacity: "When ye come together in the church," again not a building, but the assembly of the properly baptized believers.

      D. The fact that the Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance, to be observed in church capacity, is pointed out by the fact that it is for those who have been immersed and added to the fellowship of the church.

      E. The Lord’s Supper is never spoken of in connection with individuals. When it is referred to, it is only referred to in reference to baptized believers in local church capacity I Cor. 11:20-26).

      I want to quote Dr. W.W. Hamilton,

      "The individual administration of the ordinance has no Bible warrant and is a relic of Romanism. The Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance, and anything which goes beyond or comes short of this fails for want of scriptural example or command".

      “The practice of taking a little communion kit to hospitals, nursing homes, etc. is unscriptural and does not follow the scriptural example.”

      IT IS RESTRICTED TO A UNITED CHURCH

      A. The Bible in I Cor. 11:18 is very strong in condemning divisions around the Lord’s table. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
      19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
      20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.

      There were no less than four divisions in the Corinthian church.
      I Cor. 1:12: "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ."

      Because of these divisions, it was impossible for them to scripturally eat the Lord’s Supper. Division in the local church is reason to hold off observing the Lord’s Supper. But there are also other reasons to forego taking the Lord’s Supper. If there is gross sin in the membership we do not take it. Here is scriptural evidence for this: 1Co 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:
      8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
      10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

      B. At this point, I want to ask these questions: Are there not doctrinal divisions among the many denominations? Is it not our doctrinal differences that cause us to be separate religious bodies?

      IT IS RESTRICTED BY DOCTRINE

      A. Those in the early church at Jerusalem who partook "continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine" Acts 2:42. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

      B. Those that do not hold to apostolic truth are not to partake. This means there is to be discipline in the local body. How can you discipline those who do not belong to the local body? You can’t. The clear command of scripture is to withdraw fellowship from those who are not doctrinally sound.

      II Thes 3:6: "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us."
      Rom. 16:17: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."
      To commune together means to have the same doctrine.
      II Thes. 2:15: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."
      II John 10-11: "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."

      C. Some Baptists in our day have watered down this doctrine by practicing what they call “Close Communion.” By this they mean that they believe that members of another Baptist church may take communion with us because they are of the same beliefs. Once again, this is unscriptural.

      The welcome to the Lord's Table should not be extended beyond the discipline of the local church. When we take the Lord’s Supper there is supposed to be no gross sin among us and no divisions among us. We have no idea of the spiritual condition of another church’s members. If there is sin or division in the case of this other church’s members, we have no way of knowing it. We cannot discipline them because they are not members of our church. This is why we practice “Closed” communion, meaning it is restricted solely to our church membership. 
      So then, in closing I would like to reiterate the three different ideas concerning the Lord’s Supper and who is to take it. 
      Closed Communion = Only members of a single local church. 
      Close Communion = Members of like faith and order may partake. 
      Open Communion = If you claim to be a Christian, or simply attending the service, you may partake. 
      It is no small thing to attempt to change that which was implemented by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
      Mt. 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. 
      Many of our Baptist churches have a real need to consider the gravity of the act of observing The Lord’s Supper. It is not a light thing that is to be taken casually or without regard to the spiritual condition of ourselves or our church.
      1Co. 11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

       28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

       29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

       30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

Day 12 - Seven Reasons God Wrote To Believers


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Numbers In The Bible Series
12 - Seven Reasons God Wrote To Believers

Day 12 - Seven Reasons God Wrote To Believers

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1) Jesus Christ has many names: Alpha and Omega, King of Kings, Saviour, Messiah, etc. My favorite of His names is "the Word." The very words of God are given through Jesus Christ, the Word! There are seven times (meaning perfection) Jesus is called the Word in the New Testament.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

Revelation 19:13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

I also found it very exciting that the perfect Word would state seven times the phrase "I have written unto you"! None of these verses were written to unbelievers. God had seven specific areas He wanted the Christian to focus on.

(1) To warn us to stay away from certain Christians who continue in specific sins. 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. (1 Corinthians 5:11) We are to stay away from anyone who is called a "brother." Paul used the word "brother" here instead of "unbeliever" like in 2 Corinthians 6:14. Apparently, there was an issue with believers continuing in certain sins. The Lord wants us to separate ourselves from those believers who are not living separated lives. The sins specified here are:

fornicators;

covetous (Noah Webster defines it as: "Inordinately desirous; excessively eager to obtain and possess; directed to money or goods, avaricious.");

idolater (Noah Webster defines it as: "A worshiper of idols; one who pays divine honors to images, statues, or representations of any thing made by hands; one who worships as a deity that which is not God; a pagan");

railer (Noah Webster defines it as: "One who scoffs, insults, censures or reproaches with opprobrious language.");

drunkard;

extortioner (Noah Webster defines it as: "The act of extorting; the act or practice of wresting any thing from a person by force, duress, menaces, authority, or by any undue exercise of power; illegal exaction; illegal compulsion to pay money, or to do some other act. Extortion is an offense punishable at common law.").

We are to separate ourselves from those believers who do not walk in righteousness. Don't let them contaminate you, my friend. Just because they are members of your church, it does not mean you should fellowship with them. This does not mean you are not to be nice, but it does mean you are not to have close fellowship with them. It is very easy to fall into the same sin. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. (Galatians 5:9)

(2) To warn us of those who add to salvation and promote false doctrine. Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. (Galatians 6:11) Why would Paul throw this verse in the midst of this chapter? Despite his infirmity, Paul was compelled to write. What was so important? I believe the answer can be found in the next two verses: Galatians 6:12-13, As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. (12) For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. (13) Paul was so concerned about false doctrine getting into their church, he had to warn them. Those believers who were not Jewish were being told that they had to be circumcised to be saved. It must have been a common heresy because Paul had to teach this to the Romans as well. For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: (Romans 2:28) But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. (Romans 2:29)

(3) To warn us of false teachers. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; (2 Peter 3:15) As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16) Peter warns us against false doctrine and false teachers - changing the Scriptures and wrestling with what they don't understand and twisting it into another gospel. There are many false teachers in our world today. All one has to do is turn on the television set and the stations are filled with false doctrine. Are you able to recognize them? Or do you simply take for granted that they are speaking the truth?

(4) To teach us stand firm on the Word of God. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. (1 John 2:14) John writes to us and gave us instructions on how to stand firm as Christians so we can glorify the Lord, Jesus Christ. The Word (Jesus Christ) left us His Word so that we would not be deceived. We have a firm foundation in the Word of God. It is through this Word that we can overcome Satan and his darts in our lives. When the Word of God is firmly planted in our hearts, we cannot be easily deceived.

(5) To teach us to recognize the truth and not believe lies. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. (1 John 2:21) God does not want His children to live in darkness but in light. God gave us His Word so that we could recognize a lie when we hear one. His Word is truth so we can rest assured that if we are in the Word, we won't be deceived. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:17) There are believers among us who are deceived by charlatans. These charlatans speak just enough truth but the rest is all lies. How can you recognize lies if you are not in the Word of God? God does not leave us defenseless, my friend. Nothing says it better than: Ephesians 6:14-17, Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; (14) And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; (15) Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. (16) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (17) 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)

(6) To warn us against those who can seduce us away from the truth. These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. (1 John 2:26) A Christian who is in the Word will be able to recognize what is a lie. However, what about lies which are spoken by those who are found in the midst of us? Are we so comfortable with our brothers and sisters in Christ that we could be seduced? Are you so strong in the Word that even a close family member cannot seduce you away from your beliefs? I believe this is where John was going with this statement. I have seen it happen time and time again where a Christian who did not have a definite and solid stand was seduced into contemporary "Christian" music, the tongues movement, etc. What about the desperate Christian with cancer who is looking for a miraculous healing? If that Christian is not solid in the Word, he will be easily drawn into believing someone who tells him that a certain man has the gift of healing. There are some right in our midst who can deceive the spiritually weak in our own churches. Satan is not stupid - he knows exactly who to attack and he will attack those within the church to divide it.

(7) To teach us that we have eternal life and we do not need to worry about losing it. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:13) How many Christians have you known in your lifetime who have questioned his or her salvation? There are so many who doubt. The devil knows if he can get you to doubt your salvation, your testimony will be powerless - you will be ineffective for the cause of Christ. Do your children question whether or not they are in your family whenever they have done wrong? Of course not! They feel secure knowing that they will remain your child whether they are good or bad. How much more your Heavenly Father?

In these seven writings, we see the Lord speaking to us on:

1. Separation from ungodly Christians
2. Adding to salvation
3. False teachers
4. Standing firm in the Word
5. Recognizing truth
6. Those who can seduce us away from truth
7. Our eternal life is secure

Perfection is found in Jesus - Perfection is found in the Word.

How appropriately named is Jesus Christ when He is referred to as "the Word"! It is the Son of God, the Word, who has left us with an instruction manual, the Bible, so we can live Godly Christian lives.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. (1 John 5:7)

Dear God...
How wonderful is Your Word
Each jot and tittle is pure
So Your child is well equipped
Our foundation strong and sure

Devotional by Kate Plourde

Edited by Jerry
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I hope you are blessed by this series of devotional studies!

Edited by Jerry
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