Part Two: Practice

Chapter Fourteen: Close Communion (pg 22 of 29)

[Contents][Home]

Chapter 14. CLOSE COMMUNION

The true church does not practice what is called "open communion" which allows anyone desiring to do so to take part in the communion service. Rather, communion within the true church is "close" communion in which only baptized and orderly believers in Christ are allowed to participate.

When Christ instituted the Lord's supper and gave the example for communion, he did not open it to everyone that desired to participate, but rather it was close in that it was limited to the twelve apostles that had walked in fellowship with the Lord. See Luke 22:7-20. Such close communion within the true church is taught throughout the scriptures, including in the following example of the early church at Jerusalem:

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.
Note the conditions met by those that participated in the fellowship of communion or "breaking of bread":

a. They gladly received and accepted the gospel truths, which would include living according to those truths;

b. They were baptized by those that declared and held to the gospel truths; and

c. They continued in the true doctrine and fellowship of the church.

It was these that participated in the communion service; and that is the same standard applied by the true church. Even though a person may have been "baptized" and considers themselves to be a believer, they are entitled to participate in the communion of the true church only if they have been baptized by one teaching the truths held by the true church, and if they have accepted and are walking in accordance with those truths within the fellowship of the true church. Because of these requirements, the true church must not allow participation in communion by those who consider themselves to be believers, but who have not been baptized by one holding to the beliefs of the true church, and themselves accepting and following those beliefs.

Communion was never intended to be open to everyone, as is the obvious teaching of the following scriptures:

1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

Close communion is required in order to maintain church discipline, for if there were no close communion then there would be no form of church discipline simply because any person, regardless of their circumstances, could participate in the communion service. The instruction of the Bible is that discipline is to be maintained, and that includes exclusion from the communion for an erring brother or sister:
2 Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

The goal of close communion is the recovery of God's children from error. Close communion teaches that there is only one acceptable way, and that is the way as taught by Jesus Christ.

In summary, close communion is required for the true church that follows the example of Jesus Christ.

[Contents][Home]