Here at Christ Church, our practice with regard to the Lord’s Supper, which we observe weekly, is called open communion. What does this mean, and what does it not mean? How do we fence the Table? Why do we fence the Table?
As you have probably noticed, we have a statement in our bulletin that warmly invites participation from any baptized disciples of the Lord Jesus who are under the authority of the Lord’s body, the Church. By such participation as a visitor among us, you are telling us that you acknowledge that you are a sinner, and that you are trusting Jesus Christ alone for your salvation.
If we expected absolute sinlessness from all partakers, then you visitors couldn’t come. But then again, neither could we. But is the sin being dealt with? Is it being addressed? I therefore want to emphasize and note our use of the word disciples. A disciple is someone who is self-consciously under the authority of Jesus Christ, intending to live in the way He instructs His disciples to live. Excluded is the option of saying Lord, Lord, and then refusing to do what He says. If there is good reason for thinking that the Lord will say depart from me at the last day, then that should not be heard as somehow meaning come to me here. But because the Lord is objectively saying come to me here, this means that He is also saying depart from sin.
So if someone is living a disordered life, and they belong to a church that permits such disorder, what should they do about it? They should come to this Table this morning, resolving to address the issues in a definitive way, which means changing churches if necessary, and asking God to strengthen them for what they know they need to do. This broken body and shed blood are all gospel, and should therefore be received in a spirit of true evangelical repentance and faith.
If you are a member of a church, you are not in charge of whether you partake of communion here or not. You must come. Even if your home church should have disciplined you and didn’t, you still must come. But you must come in a way that is consistent with a true response to the gospel. The same thing goes for members of our church. You don’t have the authority to excommunicate yourself because you had a bad week, or because of some hidden sin. Come while asking God for the strength to put it right.
As we pray, sing, and confess we are cleansing our hearts in preparation for the entire worship service, including the culmination of the service in the Lord’s Supper. Let us do that now.