This morning FBC Farmersville is observing the Lord's Supper.
When someone asks you, "Who ought to partake of the Lord's Supper?" you probably will take that question to mean, "Of those attending today who are not members, which, if any, ought to partake of the Lord's Supper?" The latter question is an important one and worthy of serious study. I do not belittle the work that has gone into seeking to answer that question biblically. However, I fear that our noble and worthwhile efforts to answer that question have distracted us from what may be a larger and more important question.
How often do you ask yourself, "Of those attending today who ARE members, which, if any, ought to partake of the Lord's Supper?"
The Bible presumes the Lord's Supper as (at least) a predominantly local-church activity. Nowhere does the Bible explicitly address the question of people other than members of or apostles to the local congregation participating in the Supper. What it DOES contain in spades are careful instructions regarding the participation of local church members in the Lord's Supper. The congregation is to "celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth," (1 Corinthians 5:8) by maintaining redemptive church discipline that removes from the table those Christian believers caught in unrepentant profligate sin (1 Corinthians 5:1-13). Clearly the New Testament presumes that the Lord's Supper will take place (at least) predominantly among a group of people who have voluntarily subjected themselves to the judgment of "those who are within the church" (1 Corinthians 5:12).
The loss of redemptive church discipline and regenerate church membership therefore corrupts a church's observance of the Lord's Supper, regardless of whether that church practices open, close, closed, strict, or whatever they wish to label their policy regarding non-members who attend. The local church has an obligation to remove grossly errant members from the table before observing the Lord's Supper.
The Bible commands that every believer is to "examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup" (1 Corinthians 11:28). Clearly, the danger of "[eating] the bread and [drinking] the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner" (1 Corinthians 11:27) is one that threatens members of the local church to whom Paul's warning was delivered.
Let us who are preachers beware the miscommunication to our members that, so long as they are members of this congregation, they may consume with wanton abandon. Each of us has been charged by our Lord to come to His table in circumspection, contrition, and confession. Apart from that, we are in peril of sickness and death (1 Corinthians 11:30). And now that we have passed a resolution about regenerate church membership, let us press on all the more to recover it and thereby to redeem our celebrations of the Lord's Supper.