Summary: Preparing to observe the Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper
Tonight as we prepare to observe the Lord’s Supper, I want us to examine the Lord’s teaching as He directed Paul to write in 1 Corinthians 11. I want to draw your attention particularly to verses 27 & 29. Paul said,
"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…for he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body."
Paul indicates very clearly that an individual can observe the Lord’s Supper worthily, and also unworthily. Since we see that the consequences of participating unworthily are very grave, we want to examine the Lord’s requirements for observing the His Supper as they are given in this text. I want to make it very clear tonight that none of us are worthy of what Jesus has done for us. Romans 5:8 tells us that…
"God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet (while we were still) sinners, Christ died for us."
We were sinners – in fact, the book of Ephesians tells us that we were dead in our trespasses and sins, but here we find that Jesus made us worthy. If He is your Savior, then you have been justified, declared righteous in God’s sight because of the shed blood of Christ. However, we are not talking about whether you are worthy, but the manner in which you observe this Supper. You can be completely worthy because of your position with Christ, but participate in this church ordinance unworthily because of your present relationship, or fellowship with Christ. If you are going to participate in a worthy manner, then there are some qualifications that must be met in your life.
You must be a church member.
We read in verse 20,
“When ye come together therefore into one place, [this] is not to eat the Lord’s supper.”
We can see very clearly from this verse that Paul is speaking directly to the church members at Corinth. I think we understand what is necessary for one to be a church member. You must be saved, scripturally baptized, and you must be accepted into church fellowship by vote of the church. I have had people since moving here call me their pastor who are not members of this church. I understand what they are saying, but until they unite with us, they are not one of us.
There are three views of the Lord’s Supper I want to discuss here. The first is what is most commonly called open communion. This view says that so long as you are a believer in Christ, or so long as you are saved, you may partake of the Supper. This is the teaching of those who hold to a universal church. That simply means that they believe that when a person is saved, he becomes a part of “the” church: that invisible, universal church that is made up of all believers. The second view that is not nearly so common is called close communion. Those who hold to the close communion view believe that you must be saved, baptized, and be a member of a church of like faith and order. For instance, I know of one of our churches that practices close communion, and so long as you are a member of some ABA church, you are welcome to partake of the Lord’s Supper with them. I think this view is a little misleading. If you were to open a door and, rather than shutting it, you left if open only a little, is it still open or not? It is open. They call is close, but it is still open. The last view, and the view that we hold to is what is called closed communion. It is our view based on Scripture that you must be saved, Scripturally baptized, and be a member of this church in order to partake of the Lord’s Supper with us.
Why do we practice "closed" communion? We practice it because we believe the Lord commanded it. We practice it because we believe the Bible teaches it. We practice it because we believe that it is the only way for us to be true to the teachings of Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, which teaches us to hold accountable the members of our church and, and leave those who are on the outside to the Lord. We are responsible for our members – not for believers who are outside our fellowship. I realize that what I am about to say is a play on words, but I have made it a habit to teach our view as open communion – that is, it is open to anyone who meets our requirements – saved, Scripturally baptized, and be a member of our church. If you meet those requirements – our table is open to you.