Almost Closed the Door

It’s been a very busy week. I had a pastor’s meeting in North August on Tuesday, and a presbytery meeting over in Sumter yesterday. The meeting yesterday was long and disappointing because we had two candidates come before the floor who were voted in even though they had views contrary to the Westminster Confession of Faith. No, they don’t hold to ordaining homosexuals, or ordaining women, or for removing the requirement that we believe in the Trinity and the essentials of the faith. What they believe that was controversial is called paedocommunion, or the practice of allowing children to partake in communion before they are old enough to express faith in Christ. This may not seem like that big of a deal. And if you feel that way, then you don’t understand communion. Most people do not. They think it is nothing more than a religious rite that all who show up should be allowed to join.

But it is not. It is far more important than that. Communion is a sacrament that the Lord has given to His believers, His followers, His children so that they can feast spiritually on Christ and be fed spiritually by Christ. Communion is not for everyone. It is for the believer in good standing only. One of my responsibilities as a pastor is to fence the table. That means that I’m to place a symbolic fence around it by expressing these things every time we partake of it. Does this mean that there will be those who are left out of this practice? Yes it does. And they should as long as they don’t understand what is taking place with communion. We do not allow anyone to the table because coming to the table in an unworthy manner will bring judgment on the head of he/she who comes to it.

Paul, in his instructions on communion, writes Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body an blood of the Lord. It is for this reason that we fence the table. We do not want those who are not believers, or who are believers but living in gross sin, or are under church discipline, to drink the cup and partake of the bread. A person must be able to discern the bread and wine and understand what it means. As one man on the floor of presybery said, a young girl in his church asked her mother when she would be able to have some bread and grape juice too. Her mother replied, when you see it as more than bread and grape juice.

This is why we do not allow children to partake of communion. They are too young to understand it. They are not able to examine themselves and prepare for communion as we all should. The men we allowed into our presbytery do believe that children should be allowed to partake. They did agree not to teach this view or to practice it, but letting them come into our presbytery is a bad precedent. How long before the entire presbytery feels the way they do, and decides to go against our confession of faith? How long till they decide to go ahead and practice it and teach it at presbytery’s diapproval? I hope they never do that. Both men seemed to be men of intergrity and worthy to call brothers in the Lord. But I know my heart. If their heart is anything like mine, they will be teaching that which they strongly believe, regardless of our confession.

We should have lovingly said no to both men. But we didn’t. And now, I have ot lovingly submit to the decision of my brothers in the presbytery. While I don’t like our decision at all, I have to agree to work with these men I disagree with. Again, not major if you see communion is some silly rite. But it’s not silly at all. It’s an element of worship that Christ gave us to feed us spiritually. And He gave us instructions about abusing it. It is serious because it is from Him.