Just inclusion in Lord's Supper?

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by thistle93, Jun 6, 2018.

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  1. thistle93

    thistle93 Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi! Recently I administered the Lord's Supper and was told by someone afterwards that I had really offended someone becasue I said that unbelievers were to please refrain from participating since the Lord's Supper is for believers (those who trust Jesus as Savior and Lord). This was a Chrisitan but they said they thought it would make people feel like outsiders and not welcome. Ironically after I told unbelievers to please refrain from taking the Lord's Supper I said that this does not mean they are not welcome to come to Jesus as Savior and Lord and encouraged them to do so they could come to the Table. I think unbelievers should feel like outsiders during worship but that does not mean they are not welcome to observe and hopefully be converted by God.

    Should I have only said believers are welcome at the Table and left it at that (as people would logically conclude that would exclude unbeleivers)? I do feel that at times we need to be explicit about the functioning of the Lord's Supper and not just assume that people connect the dots. I feel that Paul voiced both the invitation and warning the the Lord's Table. Thought?
     
  2. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Someone #1 told you that someone #2 was offended?
     
  3. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    Pastor Wilson,

    It appears you gave some instruction immediately prior to the feast.

    The PCA BCO advises:
    58-3. It is proper that public notice should be given to the congregation, at
    least the Sabbath before the administration of this ordinance, and that, eitherthen, or on some day of the week, the people be instructed in its nature, and a due preparation for it, that all may come in a suitable manner to this holy feast

    58-4. On the day of the observance of the Lord's Supper, when the sermon
    is ended, the minister shall show:
    a. That this is an ordinance of Christ; by reading the words of
    institution, either from one of the Evangelists, or from 1 Corinthians 11, which, as to him may appear expedient, he may explain and apply;
    b. That it is to be observed in remembrance of Christ, to show forth
    His death till He come; that it is of inestimable benefit, to
    strengthen His people against sin; to support them under
    troubles; to encourage and quicken them in duty; to inspire them
    with love and zeal; to increase their faith, and holy resolution;
    and to beget peace of conscience, and comfortable hopes of
    eternal life.​

    Since, by our Lord's appointment, this Sacrament sets forth the
    Communion of Saints, the minister, at the discretion of the Session, before
    the observance begins, may either invite all those who profess the true
    religion, and are communicants in good standing in any evangelical church,
    to participate in the ordinance; or may invite those who have been approved
    by the Session, after having given indication of their desire to participate. It
    is proper also to give a special invitation to non-communicants to remain
    during the service.​

    I do not know what if anything, the SBC has that would be similar to the above. If there is nothing, then perhaps something along the lines above might prove useful in the future. I realize that this might not catch someone attending on the Sabbath day alone, but it might alleviate an actual member's quibbles afterwards.
     
  4. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Agreed.

    1 Cor.14:24-25, "24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: 25 and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth."

    This is the current OPC DPW http://opc.org/BCO/DPW.html on fencing the table:
    An older version is posted in this thread: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/fencing-the-table.29402/#post-358152
     
  5. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    It is to be expected that Baptists would have a low view of the sacraments (indeed, to the point of calling them ordinances) so such a reaction to properly fencing the table would also be more likely to be found in a Presbyterian Church than in a Baptist one.

    Just one of the Presbyterian / Baptist distinctions.
     
  6. Guido's Brother

    Guido's Brother Puritan Board Junior

    Bruce, can I ask if you think this lines up with the agreement made between the OPC and Canadian Reformed Churches on fencing the Lord's Table? You can find it here.
     
  7. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    We dismiss all the attendees after the service, leaving only those able to partake of the Lord's Supper in the building when we are administering the Supper. We tell those dismissed that if they are unhappy being dismissed to repent and believe and then they can also partake.
     
  8. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    It seems in conformity to me (for what little that's worth). Our congregations, if obedient to the DPW exercise supervision over the Table when it is served. The DPW is fully constitutional and binding; though there are distinctions on those pages between terms like "may" and "should/ought" and "suggested" forms of words.

    Some kind of fencing is mandatory, even if that exercise is simply verbal. I have never experienced a serving of communion that was essentially "open." It is the case that the OPC will typically commune those who are enrolled members of "evangelical" churches, even apart from a Reformed Confession, because we do not require a subscription of our members (only office bearers). So, we are using some notion of a "credible profession of faith" as judged by the leaders of that church the professor calls home.

    There are OPC congregations (such as the one I serve) which follows a slightly stricter rule than others. We ask visitors to consult with our elders prior, and we ask them to fill out a form that we plan to send to their home congregation, informing of their communing here. This, to us, adds a level of accountability that deliberately includes those for whom we are proxy supervisors on the occasion. But our session's habit is probably exceptional.
     
  9. E.R. CROSS

    E.R. CROSS Puritan Board Freshman

    What a sweeping, broad-brushed statement. It's expected that Baptists have a low view of baptism and the Lord's Supper?

    You seem to be throwing us all (including Particular Baptists of yesterday and today) into the same group as mega-church, American "cultural Christianity".

    Is there more to your argument than the 'ordinance' part? If so, I'm not following you.
     
  10. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Compare LBC 28 "Of Baptism and the Lord's Supper" to WCF 27 "Of the Sacraments".

    Particularly compare the 5th Paragraph of each chapter.
     
  11. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    I think it can help if sometimes, while asking unbelievers to refrain, we own up to the fact that this might make some people feel excluded. Just address it directly. I once had a pastor who, having issued a warning, liked to speak to the unbelievers present by making a three-part comment:

    1. Maybe you feel uncomfortable being asked to refrain. It is not our desire to make you feel unwelcome; we're very glad you're here. But consider that being left out of this part of our worship might be good for you because...

    2. It will remind you how critical it is that you respond to Jesus. Instead of seeing this as a moment when Jesus is rejecting you, see it instead as a moment when he is lovingly calling you to come to him, to join his family and become a child of God, with a seat at his table. Through this meal God speaks to everyone here, and he may be speaking most compellingly of all to you.

    3. Also, by refraining you avoid being a hypocrite before God, which is a matter we all need to take seriously. You can't be half-way in with Jesus; he calls you to commit. So if you sit out the meal because you haven't yet made that commitment, we admire your honesty and see it as a good sign that you are taking Jesus seriously.
     
  12. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    I go to a CRC and even we 'fence' the table. It is clearly set out that this is for those who trust in Christ as their saviour and desire to live a holy life. The last time we took communion the pastor also advised us to be reconciled to our brothers before partaking.

    This is funny because I used to go to an evangelical church and I happen to know for a fact that the pastor there wanted to eliminate LS from the morning service because it would make possible unbelieving visitors uncomfortable. He tried to move it solely to the evening prayer services when only the members would be present.

    I found that to be appalling, to be honest. But this is to be expected given the state of evangelicalism in North America.
     
  13. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    You were just describing the qualifications that the scriptures themselves give to us, as the one participating needs to be saved, and to be walking in a way honoring to the Lord.
    People who are unsaved will be much more offended by the Gospel message itself being preached unto them anyways.
     
  14. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    I think it is essential to make unbelievers feel like outsiders when it comes to worship in general. However, there are two kinds of "outsiders." One is the kind that does not feel welcome to be there, and the other that does. We need to encourage the latter, and not the former. I usually phrase it in these terms: "if you do not have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, then stay and watch Christ feed His lambs, and see what you are missing out on. You don't have to miss out in future, because you can join with the company of those who believe, by coming to faith in Christ yourself." It is quite possible (and I would argue desirable), therefore, to turn the "outsider" status into a gospel point and invitation. But Paul's instructions in 1 Corinthians 11 make it quite plain that we have to fence the table. Criticism from a congregant is a far smaller price to pay than the knowledge that we had accidentally encouraged (by omission of the fencing) a non-believer to eat and drink judgment on himself. And how would such allowance be in the least loving towards non-believers? We would be saying, "Here is some poison for your soul, eat and drink judgment to yourself, and I am not even going to warn you about it." So, your congregant has an inappropriate view of the Lord's Supper. Stick to your guns on this one, though finding a pastoral way of fencing the table is a wonderful thing to do.
     
  15. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    Every Reformed Baptist church I've visited, as well as where I'm a member, fences the table, forbidding those who are not members in good standing of an evangelical church from partaking. It's pretty normal in our circles.
     
  16. Guido's Brother

    Guido's Brother Puritan Board Junior

    Do such churches forbid Christians who are not baptized (according to your belief) from participating? Curious, not being facetious or anything else.
     
  17. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Senior

    Even the decidedly non-reformed Baptist Faith and Message explicitly states that baptism is a prerequisite for taking the Lord’s Supper.
     
  18. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    They should feel like outsiders because, as unbelievers, they are outsiders. The worship service is meant for Christians. Unbelievers are, of course, welcome, as the Holy Spirit might work in their hearts to convert them through what they see and hear (especially from the pulpit). But, it is right to exclude them from communion as it is not meant for them.

    This is the whole problem with Bill Hybels and his ilk, who think that Christian worship services should be built around what might lure unbelievers to church - services built around their desires and preferences. Which is the exact opposite of what a worship service is - believers worshipping their Lord and hearing Him speak to them from the pulpit.
     
  19. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    I've often wondered, since at our church we often have Presbyterian and Reformed guest speakers, not to mention visitors, but I've never looked to see whether they're partaking or not. I'd have to ask the pastors what our policy is.
    Personally, I would gladly share the Table with Presbyterians, even if their baptism is irregular, since they are my brethren in Christ. I suspect our elders feel the same way, given our close relations with so many paedobaptist groups.
     
  20. Natan Cerqueira

    Natan Cerqueira Puritan Board Freshman

    I don't know why people took issue with what you said.

    Here in the Presbyterian Church of Brazil, the minister will usually say that all are welcome to the table of Our Lord who have been baptised, have made a public profession of their faith, is a member in good standing of a church who affirms salvation through Christ alone, and whose conscience does not inhibit them from partaking of the supper on that occasion.

    I don't remember ever hearing that unbelievers should not participate, but that is clearly implied.
     
  21. chuckd

    chuckd Puritan Board Sophomore

    What is an evangelical church? I've heard this phrase when serving the Lord's Supper in both the PCA and OPC. Is there a definition in the book of church order?
     
  22. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    I would add that any Baptist Church, reformed or not in its theology, would require any who partakes of the Supper to be saved and also not walking in known and unconfessed sin.
     
  23. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    My church would require those who are receiving who are members to be baptized, but those who are not, would still be required to be saved and walking in the Lord as they should be at this time.
     
  24. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    The key would be if the person is saved and walking in a way pleasing to the Lord now, if yes, welcome to partake of the fellowship of the Body observing Lord's Supper.
     
  25. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    My Baptist church does not say that, since "saved" is not a good way to phrase it. Only God knows for sure who is saved. Criteria for admittance to the Supper needs to be something the church can discern (or in the case of a church that puts the burden on the partaker, at least something the individual can discern). So phrasing like "has made a credible profession of faith in Christ" works better than "is saved."
     
  26. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    Better way to phrase it, as basically, the same profession of faith in Jesus that allows Baptists to water Baptize allows the person to enter into the Lord's Supper .
     
  27. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    That phrasing is old, and has had several lives. It has been glossed in recent times as "Bible-believing," but that's not too clear either. It's a mushy word.

    There was a moment in time when I think it was mostly regarded as a word that meant "not liberal like those mainliners." There was an older expectation of what submitting one's self to the Bible meant, and that lots of mainline pastors and leaders and consequently church members were not willing to do that unqualifiedly. So, if you were mainline perhaps you had some apologizing to do?

    But once the hard core was driven out, the old distinctions only mattered to those who were now outside, or who had never been inside (independents, sideliners). "Evangelical" was taken up as a term broader than "fundamentalist," but still narrower than "Protestant," and thrown around a group larger than a denomination or confession.

    And now, the same challenge: "I'm Bible-believing and you aren't," is is suited to the "evangelical" church. AndyStanley is just mouthing the liberal bromides of 100yrs ago. "How dare you say I'm not Bible-believing; I'm a member in good standing of the Presbyterian/Methodist/etc. church and have been all my life," has now become, "How dare you say I'm not Bible-believing; I've been a card-carrying evangelical since before you were born."

    So, we still mean something distinguishing by "evangelical," but what the speaker means and what the hearer interprets has already become a matter of different languages. Pastors can be men of habit; and the older we are, the more dangerous our assumptions may be about how our use of out-of-style phrasing is likely to be heard.
     
  28. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    My understanding of that term would be that it was meant to describe one have theology like the Fundamentalists, but who was also open to modern and critical views and scholarship, who did not practice separation from the culture and society.
     
  29. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    I wouldn't even use the term evangelical without defining it first. It means different things to different people.

    For example, there is a local non-denominational baptist church in my area that is considering planting a church in an area where there "aren't any evangelical churches". To them, 'evangelical' means reaching the community is the primary focus.
     
  30. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    This is the definition that we use:

    "To say that we are evangelical means that we take our stand with all those who believe in what used to be called “the fundamentals”: the existence of the triune God, the deity of Jesus, the virgin birth, and substitutionary and vicarious atonement of Christ, the physical resurrection of Christ, the sure return of Christ, and the infallibility and divine authority of the Bible which is a faithful and true guide to what we are to believe and how we are to live. We joyfully affirm our unity with those from every tradition and denomination who hold to these fundamentals including those true believers in Christ who, for whatever reasons, find themselves members of denominations or churches with which we might have certain disagreements."
     
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