Members Only

Q. I have learned a great deal from your website over the last few months. Thank you for the job you are doing! My question pertains to the Lord’s Supper. At the church I currently attend, non-members of the local church are denied participation. Is there any scriptural reason for this? I have prayed for guidance and searched the Word and have found no concrete reasoning behind this concept. There are a small group of us in our local body who believe that the Church includes all believers and that it is the Lord’s job to judge those who are partaking, and the Holy Spirit’s job to convict someone of not partaking based on the condition of their heart, not a fallible man/denomination who base their reasoning on whether that person has his/her name on the roll sheet of the local church body. Can you help prove either position based on scripture?

A. The Body of Christ is one body, no matter what the name on the church door says. All members of the Body of Christ are welcome at His table. But some denominations teach that salvation only comes through membership in a church from their denomination. By denying non-members participation in communion they believe they’re excluding non-believers.

In 1 Cor. 3:1-9 Paul criticized the church for allowing such divisions to develop. A denomination or local congregation that permits only its own members to participate in communion violates this admonition and also risks condoning the unauthorized participation of the unsaved among its members. It’s like they’re saying, “In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter whether or not you’re saved, but whether or not you belong to this denomination.” And that’s not Biblical.

In truth everyone who is born again is a member of the Church and is qualified to participate in communion no matter what local congregation they attend, whether as a member or not.

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