Closed Communion – What We Believe
I Corinthians 11:17-34:
Bible believers down through the ages, who go by the name of Baptists, Waldenses, Donatists and Albigenses and all those who held on to the word of God as the authority in their lives and practice, 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 insist 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.
A true seeker of bible truth and practice, need to earnestly seek to understand the practice of this closed communion. 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).
That the Lord’s Supper is rigidly restricted will appear 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 2:41: “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” 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 have the supper, and no non-immersed believer should have 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; 8:12,38; 10:47; 6:14-15; 18:8; 20:7; etc.). Baptism comes before communion, just as repentance and faith precede baptism”. (Hamilton)
It is interesting in Acts 2 :42 that they that believed were baptized and were added. It is the same as saying : I sign on the dotted line and as a result of my signing I become a member of the company with all its privileges. We are born again into the kingdom of GOD, into the family of GOD. But baptism admits into the local church. This is significant because to believe that baptism does not lead to being admitted to a local church is to believe that there is such a thing as a Universal church, an invisible body, that if I am not comfortable with this church, I can leave and go to another. This principle and concept does not encourage faithfulness in the believer and therefore it is not a teaching according to godliness.
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 (Acts 2:41-42).
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 (Acts 2:42-44; I Cor. 11:20-26; Matt 28:18-20 ). Again I want to quote Dr. W.W. Hamilton,
“The individual administration of the ordinance has no Bible warrant and is only 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 for these practices do 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.”).
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. Deep division in the local church is reason to hold off observing the Lord’s Supper.
B. At this point, I want to ask these questions: Are there not doctrinal divisions among the many denominations? It is 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).
B. Those who 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.
I John 1:3: “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
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.”
Friend, can we honestly say that when we have the same doctrine in unity when we have communion or the Lord’s Supper openly?
It Is Wrong For Us To Declare That Our Doctrinal Beliefs Are One At The Table And Then Continue In Our Separate Church Capacities To Maintain The Difference In Our Faith.
~ By Pastor Cecil Fayard
(Modified by Evangelist – Pastor Johnny Tan)