Communion (Part 2) - Closed CommunionSubmitted by Pastor Chad Wagner on Sunday, May 17, 2015.
III. Who should participate in it? 1. There are three main positions which different churches and "churches" take concerning who should receive communion. A. Open communion or free communion i. Open or free communion means that anyone who walks into the church can take communion. ii. Most churches will at least say that the person should be a "believer" in order to take it. iii. This is the position of many Protestant and Baptist churches. B. Close or strict communion i. Close or strict communion means that only baptized believers can take communion. ii. A person who is a baptized member of a church of like-faith can take communion with any church of like-faith. iii. This is the position of many Baptist (Strict, Particular, Primitive, etc.) churches and also of the Lutheran and Catholic "churches". C. Closed communion i. Closed communion means that only baptized members of an individual local church can take communion with that church, and only that church. ii. This is the position of the Minneapolis Church and of the other churches of like-faith. 2. Communion is a local church ordinance (a defense of closed communion). A. Communion is the NT counterpart to the OT Passover feast (1Co 5:7-8) (See Section I,7). i. The Passover was only to be eaten by the children of Israel who were circumcised and were members of the congregation (Exo 12:42-48). a. No stranger or foreigner was to eat of it (v. 43,45). b. If a stranger sojourning in Israel wanted to eat the Passover he had to first be circumcised (v. 44,48). ii. Circumcision was the means by which a person became a member of the congregation/church (Act 7:38 c/w Exo 16:2) of Israel (Gen 17:9-14; Eze 44:7,9). iii. Therefore, only members of the congregation/church of Israel could eat the Passover. iv. So it is with communion in the NT church. v. The difference is that a person becomes a member of a NT church through baptism, not circumcision (Act 2:41-42). 3. The apostle Paul dealt much with the issue of communion with the church at Corinth. A. The first epistle to the Corinthians was addressed specifically "unto the church of God which is at Corinth" (1Co 1:2). B. Paul tells them that "ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular" (1Co 12:27). i. The body and members under consideration is the local church and the members of it (1Co 12:12-26). ii. The description of the body of Christ in 1Co 12:12-26 could not be said of the church of all of God's elect, "the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven" (Heb 12:23), as they do not all suffer when one member suffers (1Co 12:26), etc. iii. Nor could it be referring to the "church in America", or any other such man-made term or organization. iv. Paul was clearly writing this epistle to the members of the local church at Corinth. C. Paul gave them (the members of the local church at Corinth) instruction on how they should observe communion (1Co 11:20-34). i. He said "when YE come together therefore into one place..." (1Co 11:20). ii. And again, "my brethren, when YE come together to eat, tarry one for another" (1Co 11:33). D. The communion service is a communion of the blood and body of Christ (1Co 10:16). i. Communion - 1. Sharing or holding in common with others; participation; the condition of things so held, community, combination, union. ii. The bread represents the body of Christ (1Co 10:17). a. It represents the physical body of Christ that was broken for us (1Co 11:24). b. It also represents the spiritual body of Christ, which is the membership of the local church (1Co 10:17 c/w 1Co 12:27). c. The members of the local church are represented as one bread and one body and they are partakers of that one bread (1Co 10:17). d. Partaker - 1. One who takes a part or share, a partner, participator, sharer. E. Communion and church discipline are intricately connected and cannot be separated. i. The bread used for communion was the bread that was used at the Passover which was unleavened bread (Mat 26:17-19 c/w Mat 26:26 c/w Exo 12:8). ii. Leaven represents evil and sin (Mat 16:6,12; Mar 8:15; Luk 12:1; Gal 5:7-9). iii. Since the local church is "one bread and one body" (1Co 10:17), the church should purge out leaven from among them so as to be unleavened (1Co 5:6-8). a. This purging of leaven out of the church is done by delivering commonly known sinners out of the church unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh (1Co 5:1-5). b. Delivering a person unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh is done by "put[ting] away from among yourselves that wicked person" (1Co 5:13). c. Putting away a wicked person from among the church is done by not keeping company with him (1Co 5:9). (i) Company - v. 1. trans. To go in company with, to accompany; to keep company with, have society with. 3. intr. To keep company, associate, or consort. (ii) Company - n. 1. a. Companionship, fellowship, society; †also transf. of things. in company: in the society of others, amidst other people, as opposed to alone; †also, altogether, in all. c. to keep company (with): to associate with, frequent the society of (iii) Associate - v. 1. trans. To join (persons, or one person with (to arch.) another), in (to obs.) common purpose, action, or condition; to link together, unite, combine, ally, confederate. d. Not keeping company with a person is not eating at the communion table with him (1Co 5:11 c/w 1Co 5:8). e. Paul's instruction about not keeping company and eating the Lord's Supper with a commonly known sinner was only in reference to "a brother" (1Co 5:11), not every sinner in the world (1Co 5:10). f. The local church only judges those who are members within their church, not them that are without the membership of their church (1Co 5:12-13). iv. How could a local church withhold communion from a commonly known sinner in their membership, and at the same time serve communion to a stranger off the street, or even to a member of another church of like faith whom they knew little or nothing about and had no authority over? 4. When Paul and Luke went to visit the church at Troas, Paul communed with them, but Luke did not. A. Luke wrote the book of Acts (Act 1:1 c/w Luk 1:1-4). B. Luke was with Paul when they sailed to Troas (notice the use of "us" and "we") (Act 20:5-6). C. When the disciples at Troas came together to break bread (communion), Paul preached unto "them" and "they" were gathered together (Act 20:7-8). D. Notice how Luke switched from using "we" and "us" in verses 5-6 before the disciples at Troas came together to break bread, to then referring to the event by using "them" and "they" in verses 7-12. E. After Eutychus fell asleep and fell out of the loft due to Paul's long preaching, Paul went down to check on him (Act 20:9-10). F. When Paul came up again, Luke writes that "he", not "we", broke bread and ate with them (communion) (Act 20:11). G. When they left Troas, Luke reverts back to saying "we" (Act 20:13). H. Luke was not a member of the church at Troas and clearly did not take communion with them. I. Paul was a minister and had preached the gospel at Troas before (Act 16:8-11 c/w 2Co 2:12). i. It is quite likely that Paul started the church in Troas like he did many other churches in Asia. ii. If that was the case, then it is also quite possible that he was still their itinerant pastor before he had ordained a pastor for that church, which would fit since we don't read about there being a pastor at Troas when Paul and Luke got there in Acts 20. iii. Therefore it is clear from Act 20:5-13 that at a minimum an ordained minister who is the itinerant pastor of a church can serve communion to that church. iv. This is why Paul could commune with them, but Luke could not.