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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Vantage Point: The Privilege of Communion

By Ken Horn
Mar. 23, 2014

I visited an evangelical church recently on a Sunday when Communion was served. It was a quick procedure; there was no Scripture read and little explanation. All present were invited to participate.

Sadly, I had seen this before.

As churches lean more toward seeker-sensitive models, strict standards of Scripture are increasingly becoming casualties.

One of the earliest seeker-sensitive pastors was Solomon Stoddard ... way back in the 1600s. Surprisingly, he was the grandfather of revivalist and staunch defender of the faith Jonathan Edwards.

Stoddard faced a dilemma in the Massachusetts colony of the late 17th century. Puritan tradition held a firm biblical standard: One must make a personal confession of his or her faith before being admitted to the Lord’s table. Now this embarrassed some folk who had to pass while others partook.

Stoddard’s solution was to open the table to all. If you were a decent sort of person living a relatively well-behaved life, you could partake.

That’s basically what churches do today if they don’t explain the Lord’s Supper.

The apostle Paul’s main Communion passage, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, is followed by an important warning and instruction. “So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves” (vv. 27-29, NIV).

Everyone should do a self-examination before partaking in Communion. Do I know Jesus? No? I must refrain. Do I have sin in my life? Yes? I must confess and repent before I partake.

Taking a brief time for examination and self-evaluation doesn’t seem like such a high price. “I don’t want them to feel left out” seems a pretty lame excuse for something so spiritually significant.

That’s what Edwards thought, so, when he succeeded his grandfather as pastor, he restored the biblical standard. It was not seeker-sensitive enough for the doctrinally diluted congregation. The issue got Edwards kicked out of his church.

The Lord’s Supper is a wondrous privilege for believers. Opening the table to unbelievers — or believers with unconfessed sin — even unintentionally, is harmful to the church and the individual.

Ken Horn

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