Church Rights & Church Wrongs at the Lord’s Table

Ephesians 2:11-13; Colossians 2:11, 12; Romans 2:28, 29; Galatians 3:29
       Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
       In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
       For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
       And if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The whole tragedy of the Jew at that time was that he’d missed the real point. He’d missed the real sense of values. He thought that it was circumcision in the flesh that mattered. What Paul and others had to teach him was that it was circumcision in the spirit that really matters―that the man who is right with God is a man who has been circumcised in his spirit…Isn’t that still the trouble?
      You notice the two things he emphasizes: “in the flesh,” and “made by hands.” What does he mean by the “flesh” here? Oh, well, he means an emphasis on externals, and that which is purely physical…Nothing causes so much division as concentration upon the mere externals of religion. The people who persecuted our Lord most of all, and who finally were responsible for His death, were the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Why? Because they were only interested in the externals, the forms, the ceremonies, and the rituals, and missed the spirit completely. And it’s still the same…What are the things that are causing division today? Why will not all meet together at the same communion table? “Ah,” says one, “you shan’t come to the table and take of the bread and wine, unless you’ve been confirmed, unless certain hands have been put on your head.”―Doesn’t matter that a person has been born again, and has got the Spirit of God in him, and is living the Christian life as a saint, he shall not come and partake―he hasn’t been confirmed! Others [say] you shan’t come to the table unless you’ve been baptized in a particular mode; it’s the way in which you are baptized that matters, and you are excluded from the table of the Lord simply because of the amount of the water with which you’ve been baptized.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): I own water baptism to be God’s ordinance, but I make no idol of it…Why should we make water baptism, which God never ordained to that end, a bar to shut out and let in to church communion?

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): The celebration of the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper should be the distinct expression of the unity of all believers, and not merely of the unity of a certain number gathered on certain principles, which distinguish them from others. If there be any term of communion proposed, save the all-important one of faith in the atonement of Christ, and a walk consistent with that faith, the table becomes the table of a sect, and possesses no claims upon the hearts of the faithful.

JOHN BUNYAN: Differences in judgment about water baptism are no bar to communion: All I say is, that the church of Christ hath not warrant to keep out of their communion the Christian that is discovered to be a visible saint by the Word, the Christian that walketh according to his light with God. Love, which above all other things we are commanded to put on, is much more worth, than to break about baptism, Colossians 3:14―It is love, not baptism, that discovereth us to the world to be Christ’s disciples, John 13:35―But I in the meantime call for proof, scripture proof, to convince me it is a duty to refuse communion with those the saints that differ from them about baptism…To make that the door to communion which God hath not; to make that the including, excluding charter, the bar, bounds, and rule of communion, is for want of love…For if you have not―as indeed you have not―one word of God that commands you to shut out your brethren for want of water baptism, from your communion; I say, if you have not one word of God to make this a duty to you, then unavoidably:
        1. You do it by a spirit of persecution.
        2. With more respect to a form, than the spirit and power of godliness.
        3. This also, makes laws, where God makes none; and is to be wise above what is written.
        4. It is a directing of the Spirit of the Lord.
        5. And bindeth all men’s consciences to your light and opinion.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: And there are other circles, which will not admit you to partake of the bread and wine because of [other] such details and minutia. It’s a repetition of the Pharisees and scribes, the Sadducees, and the doctors of the law. And we are prepared to admit that there are differences of opinion, but my friends, they should never come to the centre. They should never become barriers! They should never be “middle walls of partition.” You shouldn’t refuse to take communion with a man for any one of those reasons!

C. H. MACKINTOSH: But do not the numerous denominations at present existing in the professing Church altogether preclude the idea of ever being able to gather the whole body together? And, under such circumstances, is it not better for each denomination to have their own table? If there be any force in this question, it merely goes to prove that the people of God are no longer able to act upon God’s principles, but that they are left to the miserable alternative of acting on human expediency.

JOHN BUNYAN: It is strange to see at this day how, notwithstanding all the threatenings of God, men are wedded to their own opinions, beyond what the law of grace and love will admit. Here is a Presbyter, here is an Independent, and a Baptist, so joined each man to his own opinion, that they cannot have that communion one with another, as by the testament of the Lord Jesus they are commanded and enjoined. What is the cause? Is the truth? No. God is the author of no confusion in the church of God, I Corinthians 14:33. It is, then, because every man makes too much of his own opinion.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: You know there are people who are much more loyal to the tradition of their particular denomination than they are to the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s generally an accident that they belong to the denomination; it was simply that their parents did, and they were brought up in it, but they’ll fight for it, they’ll quarrel about it―this is the important thing! and Christ and His truth are somehow forgotten entirely and are not mentioned―made with hands, human traditions, loyalty to forms, traditionalism! These are the things, I say, that lead to these separations and disunity. Very well, there’s the cause, what of the cure?

C. H. MACKINTOSH: If we could only bear in mind that the Lord Himself presides at the table to dispense the bread and wine; if we could hear Him say, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves,” we should be better able to meet all our brethren on the only Christian ground of fellowship which God can own. In a word, the person of Christ is the centre of union.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: That the Lord Jesus Christ has been crucified for them, and that by Him they have been crucified unto the world, and the world has been crucified unto them. Beloved people, that is the only basis of unity, not organization, nor anything else, but the humility of the new man in Christ―a Christ-dominated, a Christ centred life. Every middle wall of partition is broken down by that.

HUGH MARTIN (1822-1885): In a word, those that are Christ’s are welcome.

JOHN BUNYAN: Whoso, therefore, you can by the Word, judge a visible saint, one that walketh with God; you may judge by the self-same word that God hath received him. Now him that God receiveth and holdeth communion with, him you should receive and hold communion with.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): All the disciples of Christ have a right to this ordinance.


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