The first wrong reason for a church member refusing of his or her own accord to partake in the communion supper is that they are annoyed with someone else in the church, and so, as a visible protest, they refuse to partake in the same communion supper with them. But that is both wrong, and childish. Scripture enjoins us to make things up first with the brother we are annoyed with, and then eat the communion supper together. Matthew 18:15-17

If necessary, the communion supper for the whole church should be delayed, by hours, days or even weeks until this reconciliation has been made. Of course, if a church cannot resolve the problem within a few minutes or hours, it is an indication of how poor, loveless, unscriptural, far from the Lord, and deeply rooted its problems really are. Nevertheless, the church cannot profitably go forward as a body while a root of bitterness festers in its members. Churches today who practice a classic open communion, sidestep this issue by neither turning away communicants, nor insisting that their members be present to assemble for communion or church services in general, and it can thus readily be concluded that an open communion church is riddled with factions and petty controversies which have no concord with the gospel of light, and no system for dealing with them, thus rendering the whole church vulnerable to our adversary the devil, who, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Open communion is thus a large part of why the church has become impotent in this age. The road to Hell is most effectively paved through an open communion table.

We are therefore, with all speed, to prioritise making peace with our adversaries, especially they of the household of faith, fellow members in our local body of Christ. “If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matthew 5:22-25). Note the prescribed order: First reconciliation, then bring the gift. “Then come and offer thy gift” in Matthew 5, precisely parallels “and so let him eat” in 1 Corinthians 11:28. Bringing the gift is mandatory, as is eating the communion supper, and the transaction of peace is not complete without it.

“So let him eat” is not a passive statement permitting some personal reservation to abstain, as the King James translation implies to those unfamiliar with 17th century grammar. On the contrary, the phrase means “and then (having examined himself and righted his wrongs) he should eat, (being now free to eat, having cleared all obstruction)”, just as the gift should be given in Matthew 5:24. A feud is not an excuse to skip the supper. Rather, the supper is the instigation to mend the feud.

The Lord’s Supper is designed as a crisis point, in the mathematical sense of the word, a parabola charting your impending progress upwards towards a crucial decisive moment of self examination and resolve, a time to focus on your spiritual position, to correct anything which needs correcting, and then prayerfully acknowledging and meditating afresh on the forgiveness that is always there at the foot of Calvary. God forgives us as we forgive those who trespass against us. (Matthew 6:14-15). Addressing ourselves afresh, and regularly, to the remembrance of Christ’s propitiary sacrifice for us, safeguards us from backsliding, and nurtures spiritual maturity.

The communion supper is thus a crunch that you come to, a regular, scheduled taking of your own spiritual temperature, an occasion which forces you to examine yourself, the opposite of sitting on the fence and avoiding an issue, because ‘a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8). The communion service should therefore be held monthly or even weekly in order to regularly bring church members to a point of self-examination, so that the body of Christ may be systematically purged of all evil or inexpedient behaviour, not by means of inquisition, punishment and ostracism by a draconian leadership, but in the first instance by our own individual self-examination of our service as a body-part of the church. 1 Corinthians 11:31 “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged”. The communion supper is that moment when we judge ourselves, that is to say, we examine ourselves and take steps to amend our failings during the communion service, if indeed we have not already done so (as we should) on a moment-by-moment basis every day of the month prior to the supper, knowing that Christ covers all our sins and leads us in the paths of righteousness.



Comments

Comments are closed.

Copyright © 2019, The Association of Historic Baptists