1Cor 11:29                            Closed Communion                                  1/31/2010      ßà   

  • This Do in Remembrance of Me (1Cor 11:23-32)

 

 

 

 

#1.       The New Covenant in My Blood (1Cor 11:24-25, Gal 3:15,17-18, Heb 9:15-20, Col 1:16-17)

 

 

 

 

  • Who Is Worthy to Partake? (1Cor 11:27-29, Jer 17:9)

 

 

 

 

#2.       The Law of Love (1Cor 8:1-13, 2Cor 5:14, Prov 21:1)

 

 

 

 

#3.       An Open Invitation to Eat of Christ (John 6:47-59)

 

 

 

 

  • This Is True Partaking of Christ (John 6:39, 44-45, 60-63, 35, Eph 1:4-5)

 

 

 

 

  • An Accursed Idolatry (Heb 9:11-12, 25-26, 28)

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 11:23 (2X). The sermon of today is titled, Closed Communion (2X). Let me simplify the subject matter by stating: there are churches that practice “Open Communion”, and there are churches that practice “Closed Communion”. With open communion the church allows anyone who desires to partake of the bread and the wine. With closed communion the church restricts the partaking of bread and wine to those who have become members of that local church. To complicate matters there are those who practice communion services anywhere in between these extremes. In our church we practice “Closed Communion”. But the question that I always hear is: “Where is closed communion found in the Bible?” Today I want to answer this question. And so, from here on let no one ask, “Where is closed communion found in the Bible?” for I will answer this question once and for all. Let us begin to read in our Bibles from 1Cor 11:23-32,

  • This Do in Remembrance of Me (1Cor 11:23-32)

1Co 11:23-32  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 shew 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.

The words that still ring in our ears are the words of verse 26: “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” Till He come means that we must continue this practice of celebrating the Lord’s Supper until the last day has arrived. Let no man on the radio lead you astray claiming that the end of the Lord’s Supper celebrations has come. Also we find that the Lord’s Supper is a memorial to His atonement on the cross. He said, “Do this in remembrance of Me”. We also find in verses 27-29 that God regards the symbol of the blood of Christ so precious that God pronounces a curse on anyone who partakes of the Lord’s Supper unworthily. What does it mean “unworthily?” It means that anyone unsaved should not partake of the Lord’s Supper, for that person is unworthy to partake of even the symbols of the body and blood of Christ. Is that a matter of concern for the church, or is that a matter we must leave in the hands of the individual? This is actually the focus of this sermon. And so, let us read verses 24-25 again, very carefully.

#1.       The New Covenant in My Blood (1Cor 11:24-25, Gal 3:15,17-18, Heb 9:15-20, Col 1:16-17)

1Co 11:24  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.

1Co 11:25  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.

Six words jump out of this passage. Look at “The new testament in My blood”. The word “testament” is the same word as “covenant”. Literally the Lord said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood”. The cup has not become the new covenant. The cup is only a symbol of the new covenant, for the new covenant was confirmed by His blood. In the past we have seen that the covenant of grace was identical to “the last will and testament” of Almighty God, and that last will and testament was confirmed when the Maker of that will died. We saw this in Gal 3:15, and 17-18, and in Heb 9:15-20. Put a sticker here in 1Cor 11, and please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Colossians, Col 1:16 (2X). Christ was the Maker of that last will and testament, which was written in the mind of God before He created the foundation of the world. Even though the man Christ Jesus did not exist yet, God the Son existed, who united Himself with the man Christ Jesus at the time of the Incarnation, about 2000 years ago. Before the Incarnation God the Son is called Christ. Therefore we read in Col 1:16-17,

Col 1:16-17  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

And so, when Christ died on Friday, April 3, in the year AD 33, the maker of the last will of God died, and the testament was confirmed. All the beneficiaries of that testament are all the elect of God, whose inheritance was confirmed by the death of Christ. Therefore the covenant of God is special, and is holy, and it contains the names of all those for whom Christ suffered and died. The Lord Jesus said that the cup of the Lord’s Supper was the symbol of the covenant of grace, for by His blood, referring to His death, He had confirmed the covenant of grace in all its details. This is the only place in the NT where the sign of the covenant of grace is specifically mentioned. We would not want to defile the sign of this covenant with anything. And yet, what are the churches doing when they practice open communion? They are defiling the sign of the covenant of grace. They are allowing those who are still in the clutches of Satan to partake of the sign of the covenant of grace, and that is an abomination in God’s sight. What does God say? Who is worthy to partake of the Lord’s Supper? Nobody is worthy. But by God’s grace He has allowed those whose sins have been covered by the blood of Christ to partake. Please turn again to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 11:27, (2X), and let us now consider:

  • Who Is Worthy to Partake? (1Cor 11:27-29, Jer 17:9)

All those whose names have been written in the covenant of grace may partake. We read in V.27-29

1Co 11:27-29  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.

And so, we must first examine ourselves to see if we have been saved. Is it possible that we fail in our examination? Perhaps you remember that the Preparatory Exhortation which I read last week states: “Those who do not feel this testimony of salvation in their hearts may be eating and drinking judgment to themselves if they do partake.” Is this judgment based on a feeling? But can we trust our feelings? God says in Jer 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Is the person who has such a deceiving heart going to examine himself honestly? I doubt it. And thus, we see that if we leave the decision to partake or not to partake up to the individual, then certainly there will be many who do partake even though they are not worthy to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Personally I came from a church where in their doctrinal statements they held on to supervised communion, but in reality open communion was practiced. And I witnessed that they served communion to a Jehovah’s Witness. This should not be tolerated in our church. We cannot allow open communion to profane the covenant of God. But what is the big deal? The unsaved individual already goes to Hell. Yes, but in partaking of the Lord’s Supper the unsaved individual digs himself a deeper hole in Hell. This is a grievous sin on the part of the unsaved individual, and the church should not be a co-contributor to this sin. For example: If someone wants to commit suicide, would you give him a gun and say, “Go ahead, put it to your head and pull the trigger; it happens so fast, you do not feel anything; but don’t miss, it makes a terrible mess”. Another example: You are standing with other tourists on top of the Empire State building in New York, and the person next to you wants to commit suicide by jumping from the building, which is 1250 feet high. Are you going to say, “Here, stand on my shoulders, then you can climb over the railing, and then you can jump”. You know, that is not a nice thing to say. This person is going to wake up before the judgment throne of God and he will be cast into Hell, for the last action he committed in this life was murder, and it was a crime with no repentance. Likewise, we should not give someone a helping hand to commit an abomination before God. That is not a nice thing to do. But that is what open communion does. It allows individuals to profane the covenant of God by using the church during a Lord’s Supper service. And so, the church must provide certain safeguards around partaking of the Lord’s Table. What kinds of safeguards does this church have? We have “closed communion”, which means, “members only”. We are not able to discriminate between those who are saved and those who have not been saved. We cannot see that even by your actions, for salvation is entirely by grace, and not of works. God does the saving. We can only make a distinction between those who have been taught, and those who have not been taught the truths of the Gospel. For example, some churches teach that the Lord’s Supper is also a seal. But it cannot be a seal, for it is something that we do. Therefore it is a work, and as such it cannot be a co-contributor to our salvation. The Lord’s Supper is only a sign pointing to the Lord’s death. It is only a shadow of the cross. The sign is pointing to the full atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, which means it is pointing to His death and resurrection. But it is a special shadow, so precious in the sight of God that He does not allow anyone to eat the blood of animals, for that blood bears a remembrance to the blood of animals killed in the OT time, and those animals were all signs and shadows pointing to the death of Christ on the cross. Therefore, just like blood is a special shadow of the cross, so the Lord’s Supper is a special shadow and a memorial to the Lord’s death and resurrection. It should be kept special and holy. The word holy means “set apart”. We should cherish it as a precious gift, and should have safeguards that no one will defile it.

#2.       The Law of Love (1Cor 8:1-13, 2Cor 5:14, Prov 21:1)

Please turn now to chapter 8 in this First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 8:1 (2X). We have here a chapter that is dedicated to the sin of meat offered to idols. You might wonder, “What has this to do with the Lord’s Supper?” But everything is connected with everything else in the Bible. We read i 1Cor 8:1-13

1Co 8:1-13 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him. As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend

How do I apply this passage to my daily life? Notice the bottom line. We read in the last verse, “if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh.” This is “The Law of Love”. It means that I must do all I can to prevent that my fellow man will insult God by committing sin. I cannot totally keep my fellow man away from sin, but in my love for him I do not want to be the instrument through which he will sin against God. The principle that God lays before us is this: “The love of Christ constrains us” from 2Cor 5:14. Christ not only loves us; He also lives within us, and He constrains us to love our fellow man, so that our fellow man will not use the church to blaspheme God. The love of Christ constrains us each step of the way in this life, for we are surrounded by difficulties and problems and sinful situations. That is why God says in Prov 21:1, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will.” This is why “The Law of Love” is in our heart, for before our salvation we did not have such a love for our fellow man; we left everyone to his own devisings. This is why we have “closed communion”, for we do not want to be the instrument by which our fellow man will sin.

#3.       An Open Invitation to Eat of Christ (John 6:47-59)

Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to John, John 6:47 (2X). This is a long chapter which is widely misunderstood. At first glance it is a chapter where there are three different themes woven into each other. But when we study this chapter again we see that all three themes boil down to only one: “The Bread of Life for the Elect”. At first glance this seems to be a chapter dedicated to the Lord’s Supper from the “open communion” point of view. But when we study this chapter more carefully we see that it is indeed an open invitation, but not regarding the Lord’s Supper. We read in John 6:47-59

Joh 6:47-59  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

Now, is this not an open invitation to partake of the elements in the Lord’s Supper? And does this not refer to the doctrine of transubstantiation as preached by the Roman Catholic Church? The answer is NO! Let us focus for a moment on verse 53, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” That is strong language. Can this refer to salvation? No, it cannot refer to salvation, for salvation is not obtained by doing a work. Two sorts of bread are in view in this passage: Manna, the bread from heaven, and Christ, the bread of life. Both the manna and Christ were despised. People did not become saved by eating the loaves in the beginning of this chapter, just like they did not become saved by eating the manna. How many people will become saved by eating the Lord’s Supper? None! In the OT people did not become saved by obeying the ceremonial law of the Passover. Likewise in the NT people do not become saved by obeying the ceremony of the Lord’s Supper. Was the Lord Jesus speaking of the Lord’s Supper here in John 6? Absolutely Not! What is partaking of Christ?

  • This Is True Partaking of Christ (John 6:39, 44-45, 60-63, 35, Eph 1:4-5)

Let us first look at verse 39. This is referring to the Father’s will before the foundation of the world.

Joh 6:39  And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

It was in the Father’s will that the names of all the elect of God were inscribed into the mind of God the Son. This actually took place according to Eph 1:4-5. And when the Lord Jesus said in verse 39, “of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing”, the Lord indicated thereby that these were all those who were going to come to Him. None shall be added to this list, and none shall be taken away. No one else shall want this Gospel or believe it. The Lord Jesus stressed this fact again in verses 44-45,

Joh 6:44-45  No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

And so, the open invitation we have read in verses 47-59 could not refer to salvation, for salvation is restricted to the list referred to in verse 44. Also, the open invitation of verses 47-59 could not refer to the Lord’s Supper, for the Lord’s Supper is reserved only for those listed in verse 44. Therefore, what does the open invitation of verses 47-59 refer to? Does it sound like cannibalism? We read in V.60-63,

Joh 6:60-63  Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

These last words in verse 63 are the key to the understanding of this entire chapter. “The flesh profiteth nothing”. Eating His flesh and drinking His blood must be understood spiritually. Throughout the Bible God uses various metaphors, or shadows, or spiritual pictures. Indeed Christ gave His flesh and shed His blood to atone for our sins. But these were only shadows of the fact that He gave His life. The substance that caused these shadows was His atonement on the cross. And the fact that the Lord Jesus used His flesh and His blood as the metaphors indicates that He suffered the entire atonement in His humanity, not in His Divinity, for God cannot die. And thus partaking of Christ means that we believe that His atonement was a complete remission of our sins. Moreover, we read in verse 35 more information:

Joh 6:35  And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

Christ is the Word of God, and Christ is also the Bread of Life. Therefore, when we read and study the Word of God, we are partaking of Christ by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. That is why it was an open invitation to partake of His flesh and blood, for it is an open invitation to all mankind to read and study the Bible, and to learn firsthand what the Lord has said. This is a privilege for many, but only the elect shall believe the whole counsel of God. Many others shall pick and choose from the Bible, but they shall arrive at a false gospel, for if they pick and choose from the Bible they shall worship a god of their own making. This then is the danger of taking John 6:47-59 literally and out of context. It leads to:

  • An Accursed Idolatry (Heb 9:11-12, 25-26, 28)

Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb 9:11 (2X). The Roman Catholic Church has taken John 6:47-59 literally, even though the literal interpretation is in conflict with almost everything else in the Bible. Every time they celebrate the Lord’s Supper they believe that Christ is crucified again and again, and they believe that hey are partaking of the literal flesh and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. But what does God say? God says that Christ has suffered and died only once. We read in Heb 9:11-12,

Heb 9:11-12  But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

Unmistakably, Christ completed the atonement in one time, in AD 33 on the cross. Please drop down to Heb 9:25 (2X). We read then in Heb 9:25-26,

Heb 9:25-26  Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Again, only once did Christ suffer and die on behalf of those whom the Father had given Him. Please drop down now to Heb 9:28 (2X), the last verse in this chapter.

Heb 9:28  So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Again, the Lord Jesus suffered and died only once to bear the sins of many. We do not find that the bread and the cup are miraculously changed into the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. This is based on superstition, and superstition is a doctrine of devils. We are on earth and the Lord Jesus is in heaven in His glorified body, which might not contain any blood, for blood is a characteristic of this universe. In the Heidelberg Catechism the Roman Catholic Mass is called an accursed idolatry.

And so, in summary, when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we have “closed communion”, because the Bible commands that we must love our fellow man, and in our love for our fellow man we protect him from gross sin as much as we can. The church has this obligation toward our fellow man, who has not been instructed of the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is not a NT ceremonial law, like some people claim it to be. There is no special grace given to those who partake of the Lord’s Supper. Your salvation does not depend on whether you partake or not partake of the Lord’s Supper. It is simply a memorial to the Lord’s death and resurrection, but it is a very precious memorial that we do not want to defile. This ceremony is not for those who are sinless, but for those who know that they have been forgiven. And thus it becomes a celebration, for we rejoice in the fact that Christ suffered and died on behalf of us, and that He has been successful in paying the full price for the guilt of our sins. In this we rejoice exceedingly.      AMEN                        Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.

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