Why do some Baptist churches practice closed communion? Because all of them should. Sometimes new believers do not understand what the Lord’s supper is all about, and so I want to spend a minute and give you a thumbnail picture of the sacred ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. This sacred ordinance was given to us by Jesus Himself the night before He was crucified.
WHO DOES THE LORD’S SUPPER PICTURE?
Very often the question that gets asked is the wrong question. The question isn’t “What” does the Lord’s supper picture, but rather “who”. The answer is simple, it’s a picture of Jesus. It is a formal memorial service, not just of His death, but of Him! The Lord’s Supper reminds us of three things:
1.) It reminds us of His birth and life!
The first part of the ordinance is to “take eat: this is my body”. The fact is that a body demands a birth, and a birth speaks of life. If we fail to remember He lived, then it does no good to remember that He died. So the first thing that the Supper pictures for us is the Life of Jesus. If Jesus was never born, then Jesus never died, and if Jesus never died, He never rose again, and our faith is in vain. Before we remember the death of Jesus, we must always remember the life of Jesus.
2.) It reminds us of His suffering and death!
The second part of the ordinance tells us that, “This cup is my blood”. The blood speaks not just of His death, but of His suffering and death. It is a mistake to think that Jesus just lived with us and died for us. The suffering of Christ is as important as the death of Christ. Isaiah told us in Isaiah 53:5 that He was “wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities.” His blood began to be spilled hours before His death occurred. When we miss the suffering of Christ, we miss much of what He did for us. When we partake of this supper, we are remembering His birth and life, and His suffering and death. But we are also seeing something else.
3.) It reminds us of His resurrection and return
“For as oft as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come.” – 1 Corinthians 11:26. The fact that He’s coming again demands that He rose again. The story of Jesus doesn’t end at the cross and the grave, but in the clouds and on the throne. Even then it doesn’t end, but will last for ever. These three things put together do not show us an event, they shows us a person. It shows us Jesus Himself. Just like when a bride holds dear a picture of her husband, the church is to hold dear this precious picture of her spouse, the Lord Jesus.
WHO IS THE LORD SUPPER FOR?
Who then can partake of the Lord’s Supper? Everyone who meets the conditions of the Lord. The invitation to the Lord’s supper is a universal invitation to all who will enter the Lord’s table through the Lord’s house, the Lord’s way.The Bible teaches that the Lord’s supper is a church ordinance of the closed kind. What does that mean? That means that only the members of a particular church can partake of the Supper when that church observes this ordinance. Why is that?
Jesus Gave Us An Example
When Christ instituted the supper He didn’t invite all of His followers, just those who made up His first church. (Luke 22:28-30) The first reason that we practice it that way is because Jesus did. There were many other believers around Him. However He only invited His first church to that sacred supper.
The First Church Gave us the Pattern
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 first church gave us a pattern to follow. The order of events in the life of the believer are very simple. After they were saved, they were baptized, then added to the membership of the church, then began to be discipled, and then allowed to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Some people have the idea that the Supper is a Sacrament, or that it plays some part in our salvation. The Bible makes it clear that only saved, and baptized people can take the supper. Why would someone be allowed to participate in a memorial service of a person they’ve yet to believe in? It’s for saved, and baptized people only.
The Bible Gives us a Warning
“Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and the table of devils.” 1 Corinthians 10:21
The church is responsible for who she takes the supper with. Lost people aren’t to take it. When communion is opened, there is no way for the church to govern who observes the supper. What happens when a lost church member takes it? To the church nothing. When someone is admitted membership into the church, they only do so based upon their testimony. If their testimony is false, they are a liar, and they will receive the consequences for partaking of the supper wrongfully. However, the church allowed them in good faith, receiving their testimony. If a church knowingly partakes of the supper with someone outside of her body, she is being unfaithful to her Husband, and disobedient to the scriptures.
The Lord’s Supper is one of the most intimate and beautiful practices that the King of Kings gave to His local assembly on earth. What a joy it would be if all men, women, boys and girls, would come to the King’s table through the front door of the King’s house, that would truly be a Change Worth Making.