Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11 "For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.
For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? what shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.
And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come."
In this passage, Paul rebukes the Corinthian church because they had made a feast out of the what supposed to be a memorial. They were filling their bellies and leaving drunken. Paul said, "Have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?" The Lord's Supper was to be a memorial (11:24-25), a time of personal examination (11:28), a testimony to others what we have believed in (11:26), and a symbol of what it took for our salvation (11:23).
I believe it needs to be remembered that it is the LORD'S SUPPER. It's not mine, not yours, it's our Lord's. We don't need to improve it, revise it, or update it...it is perfect as He instituted it.
He instituted it and set the guidelines. The Lord gave the ordinance to the local church. He gave the ordinance of baptism to the local church. We baptized and added one to the church yesterday...did anyone else out there vote or even know that who is not a member of our church? No? It is because the ordinance was given to the local church and not some made up 'invisible church.' So is the Lord's Supper.
It is to be observed by the local church and by the members of that local church. Notice the references in our text to "when ye come together." The book was written to the church at Corinth.
The Lord limits who the participants are. Even when He instituted the Supper, we know there were near 120 believers, yet He instituted it with only the 12. 1 Cor. 12:28 teaches that the apostles were the 'first church.' So why were the other believers not invited? They were not members of that first church, and the Supper is only for members of the church.
Furthermore, none would argue that church discipline is to be administered by the local church. It is a ludicrous and impossible suggestion that "all believers of like faith" or "some universal church" discipline its members. There is a wonderful church in Mongolia right now, and have never met the transgressing believer that is facing discipline at your church. How could they have a part in this? Of course they cannot, for church discipline is a local church matter. The Lord gave the instructions for discipline again to the first church (Matt. 18). I mention this because 1 Cor. 5:9-13 reads
I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
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 idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
We are to judge them that are within. Within what? The local church. And those that are involved in an unconfessed, unrepented sin such as fornication we are 'not to eat' with. They cannot observe the Lord's supper with the church. Now, it stands to reason that if we are to judge within and not to eat with those who are facing church discipline, how can we allow anyone to partake with us that is not a member of our local body? We cannot. If that believer from Mongolia visits our church this Sunday, I have no idea whether he is facing church discipline or not there in his local church. Thus, I cannot allow him to partake with us.
Simply, the Bible only teaches CLOSED communion; and to be a true Baptist, you will believe in only Closed communion. To do otherwise is ecumenical in thought and foundation and will always lead to a weak stand on alien baptism.
It is the Lord's Supper, and I believe this foundation was crucial to understanding my thought as follows. Many have made the observance of the supper a show, a performance, and/or ritual.
I have sat in churches that when the observance time drew near, the lights were dimmed, the organ plays softly, everyone sits and watches a 'priestly pastor' bless and pass out the elements. When did this performance begin? The observance should be done reverently, but not as a show. We don't play music, don't dim the lights to set the mood, and we don't even allow our nursery workers that evening to observe (The nursery is next week's topic). How can a nursery worker be examining, remembering, thanking, and praising God in that environment? How can the organist watching her notes be doing the same? (and should she miss a note...well there goes everyone thoughts).
Fact is, like many other areas that we have been looking at, we have "Catholicized" our services. We want to appear religious like them; but this is nothing new. Why a pure virgin envies and desires to appear like the whore (Rev. 17) is truly a mystery, and a battle today.