The communion supper is not an impartation of grace. It is not a ‘topping up’ of spirituality. It is not a bonus or a treat. It is not an ice cream. It is the prescribed solemn opportunity for self examination and judgment of your own performance as a member in your local church.

Churches who refuse communion to visiting believers, or even to visiting preachers, are not judging such visitors. But they are setting up and maintaining conditions which will encourage a visitor to make a more effective job of judging himself.

For as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:31, “if we would judge ourselves we would not be judged”. Verse 27 says that a man must be allowed to examine himself and then allowed to eat the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. This self-examination can only be done properly in the context of your Christian service as a member within the local assembly of Christ’s body, within the fellow members who God has been pleased to set you in, that is, within your own church. This self examination can only be done in the context of your relationships with fellow members of that local church that God has already placed you in. It is self-examination of your relationship to Christ as a member of His body, and your relationship to other members of that local body, and is therefore a pointless and heretical exercise to attempt such examination in a church of which you are not a member, for you have already transgressed by forsaking the assembly of your own church, and all you are doing is presuming upon Christ’s grace while in a state of recalcitrance.

Christ’s local church is not a ‘drop-in centre’ for Christians on the road. The world is full of ‘spiritual gypsies’ who claim to be so experienced and enrichened with wisdom because they have travelled from church to church, possibly all around the world, picking up what seems to them to be the cream of the teaching they want to hear, a little bit here and a little bit there. But in doing this, they become their own judge, and are in fact more likely to be immature, intractable and selfish Christians, refusing to be bound by any accountability to the body of Christ or to fellow Christians. They ‘encamp’ in a church just long enough to feel their conscience urging them to volunteer for something they don’t want to do… And then they move on without ever having conformed themselves to membership in Christ’s body. The closed communion table screens out this type of parasitical vagrant.

‘Members only’ communion ensures that members remain faithful, and that spiritual gypsies are left in no doubt as to the seriousness of their offence in refusing to commit themselves to one local church. It is a simple and easy to understand contract: No commitment – No communion.

In Romans 13, Paul says “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers”. And for Christians, that naturally includes the higher power of Christ and his church. ‘Subjugation’ is not a popular word these days, but it is a Biblical concept, for subjugation is the act of bringing someone into subjection and it is the command of Christ for church members to be subjected to each other in the local church (Gal 5:13). “Serve one another by love”. As church members we are to be under the control of each other, for the sake of love. A man and wife are under the control of each other for the sake of love. That is Biblical subjection. It is a good word, a positive word, and it describes what church membership between members is all about. The heart in subjection to the mind, the nose in subjection to the hand.

The closed communion table also screens out wolves who come into churches and steal sheep. Never let a wolf think that what he is doing is okay, and more importantly, never let the sheep think that what the wolf is doing is okay. Closed communion cannot stop wolves stealing sheep, but it can often make it easier to identify them sooner, because they will often be the first to object to closed communion, because an open communion table allows them an instant guise of respectability.


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