What Is It?
Objections and difficulties to non-intercommunion noticed —Some pastors could not commune with the churches they serve, and administer the Supper to—"Paul communed with the church at Troas"—Not established—Testimony of Alford, Barnes—The false teachers whose doctrine Paul called "leaven" and commanded the church at Corinth to purge away from the Lords Supper, were members of Baptist Churches— Conclusion.
"Objections are not arguments unless insuperable."—Logic.
It is objected—
1. That "should the churches return to the strict practice, many ministers who are now ‘pastoring’ four or five churches could not commune with the churches they serve and for which they administer the supper."
This is not the fault of the theory, but of those churches that have no pastors. Christ ordained that each church should have a bishop, as he ordained that each wife should have one husband, and each flock a shepherd, and he also ordained that each church should support its own pastor; and, if unable to do so, it should not assume church form and prerogatives. In this case the pastor can participate with his church, for he will he a member of, and under its jurisdiction. Still there is no real difficulty in the case, when the minister is willing to act scripturally. He can administer this ordinance to the church, without exercising the rights of a member, as well as receive members into the church, and administering the other ordinance, without voting on the qualifications of the subject. He has the same right to vote, as he has to eat, with a church of which he is not a member. We often administer the supper for churches at their request, but participate only with our own.
Christ made no exceptions to meet difficulties arising from departures from His order, and we have no right to do it. We can not divide a principle; we must take the whole or none at all; for unless we observe the ordinances as He commanded, we do not observe them at all—they are null and void, and worse—perverted and profaned.
The only Scripture we have seen quoted to sustain the practice of intercommunion among Baptists, is Acts 20:7. The brethren who quote this should never smile in pity upon Pedobaptists for quoting Mark 10:14 to prove Infant Baptism. All that passage lacks of being a proof text for the practice, is the substitution of the one word baptized, for "blessed;’ and all this passage lacks to be of any service to our brethren, is the statement that Paul and Luke did eat the Lord’s Supper with the Baptist Church at Troas, but it does not say it, or even intimate it. And let me here state that the practice of the apostles and first ministers, divinely commissioned to promulgate the gospel and establish churches in foreign lands, certainly should not be quoted to justify ministers, or private members, in doing the same thing. No one is warranted to preach, and to baptize now, without having received baptism or the ordination of some church, because John the Baptist did so. No deacon can claim the right to preach and baptize, by virtue of his office, when traveling in a strange country, should a stranger demand baptism at his hands, because Philip, once a deacon, baptized the eunuch. I insist that, could a score of passages be produced to prove that Paul, or any other apostle did commune with the churches he planted, it would prove nothing in support of denominational communion, so long as Paul’s letters to the church at Corinth are allowed to be the law to all our churches of this age, and in which the supper is still to be observed with "one loaf," and by one church, one body. and the church required to purge out the leaven that she may observe a pure feast.
But this serviceable proof-text is confidently quoted to prove opposite theories! It is the sole reliance of those who would establish weekly communion, and of those who favor inter-communion, and of the advocates of social communion! In the first edition I conceded to claimants that there was a church at Troas, though not necessarily a communion service; but a critical examination convinces me there was no church at Troas in the first century, and consequently all these theories are utterly groundless.
I can only indicate the conclusions here, and refer the reader to a little volume designed to be the companion of this—"Intercommunion, Unscriptural and Inconsistent," etc. for the scriptural and historical facts.
1. Paul did not even preach in Troas, at his first visit, when all say this church was planted, for the Holy Ghost strictly forbade him to do so in any part of Asia Minor at this visit (See Acts 16:6,7).
2. No door was opened at that time to preach in Troas or Asia, but a door was opened for Paul to preach in Greece, and he immediately entered the door. (See how opened, v. 9.)
It is not supposable that the Holy Spirit forbade him to preach in Asia, and yet opened a door in Troas for him to disobey, and then blessed his disobedience! Or, that when the door was opened, Paul refused to enter, but went to Asia, where no door was opened!
3. There is not the slightest evidence that there was a church at Troas at Paul’s last visit, according to Luke’s record; but contrariwise, for none is mentioned—no meeting, no address to it, and no parting, as at Ephesus (17th verse to the end)—and no allusion to it in the New Testament.
4. There is no intimation that any were assembled on Sunday evening to "break bread" save Paul, Luke and the seven brethren mentioned.
5. There is no evidence that the Lord’s Supper was celebrated by Paul and his company, but contrariwise. In the original, whenever the Lord’s Supper is indicated, the expression is "to break the loaf"—the definite article is before artos—never "to break bread."
6. The company assembled to partake of the evening meal together, when Paul commenced reasoning with these brethren, instructing them out of the Scriptures, which he had there with him, and left there (2 Tim. 4:13). The verb translated preach here, is nowhere else so translated, but "to discourse," "to reason with," "to dispute."
7. The meal (v. 11) was either the delayed supper or a special repast prepared for Paul after discoursing to them over six hours, and the restoration of the young man; since he was going to leave at daybreak, he continued on "talking" (See Alford and Barnes, in loco.).
8. John was banished to Patmos A.D. 64-68, ten years after this, and his address to "the seven churches of Asia," and not to seven of the churches of Asia, implies there were only these seven in existence when John wrote.
9. History corroborates the position that there was no church at Troas in the first century, and that there were seven, and only the seven mentioned by John, A.D. 68.
10. If brethren, to sustain an unscriptural practice, will dogmatically infer that the Lord’s Supper was observed at Troas by Paul and these eight brethren with a church, they must maintain that it was in direct contravention of Paul’s own instructions given to the church at Corinth. (Chap. 11.)
If they will hold and affirm that the Supper was observed without a church, then, to be consistent, they should maintain that it is a social and not a church ordinance. Which horn will they take?
Direct Scriptural Proof Against Inter-Church Communion.
There were certain teachers that belonged to the church at Jerusalem who had a great zeal for the law, and they seemed to have made it a point to visit all the churches planted by Paul, to antagonize the doctrine he taught, and these, everywhere they went, introduced confusion into the churches, and bewitched the brethren with their Judaistic teachings. The elders and brethren at Jerusalem admitted this fact:
"Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us, have troubled you with words, subverting your soul, etc." (Acts 15:24).
How did Paul regard these brethren?
"I marvel that you are so soon removed from him who called you into another gospel, which is not another: but there be some who trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
"Behold, I, Paul, say unto you, that if ye be circumcised Christ shall profit you nothing. . . Christ is become of none effect unto you . . . A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump."
The false doctrine taught by those teachers Paul called "leaven."
In warning the church at Corinth of these, and such like, he says:
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ; and no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end," etc. (2 Cor. 11:13-16).
Again he says: "For many walk, of whom I have told you before, and now tell you, even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction" (Phil. 3:18).
How did Paul instruct the churches to treat these brethren? Associate and "commune" with them, or to avoid and withdraw, and purge them as leaven, away from their tables? Hear him: "Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach another gospel unto you than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." "I would they were cut off who trouble you."—"Turn away from them." "Withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly." —"Note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed." How about communing with such? "Purge out the old leaven"—i.e., all these false teachers and those who hold with them.
This to my mind settles this question of intercommunion in Paul’s day. The church at Corinth could not invite all the members of the church at Jerusalem to partake of the supper, without violating the positive instructions of Paul; for there were thousands of members, if not the majority of that church, who held with these false teachers, and supported them. (See Acts 21:22.) But not a few of such like brethren had crept into all the churches Paul had planted among the Gentiles, into the churches of Galatia; and if the church at Corinth did as our churches are wont to do, invite all members in good standing in sister churches; then all the Judaized brethren at Jerusalem, and all the false apostles—impostors—all the false and corrupt teachers, and false brethren of all Asia, might have come and sat down with their loads of leaven!
No thinking man can believe, with Paul’s instructions before his eyes, that the church at Corinth did practice intercommunion with the church at Jerusalem or the churches of Galatia, and very many of the other churches of Asia. The reader will see this more fully presented in Chapter XIII.
As late as the thirteenth century the practice of each church limiting its supper to its own membership seems to be established. This was called the aphorism of Ignatius—one altar and one bishop in each church. But not into the histories of the apostate churches, which, unfortunately, most of our histories are, may we look for primitive purity; and little do we know of those that kept the faith, save through their enemies, who generally misrepresented them. The instructions given to the New Testament churches must be our "Landmarks."
1. Intercommunion between opposing denominations holding diverse faiths, is a profanation of the Lord’s Supper.
2. The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of each local church, to be observed by its own members qualified to receive it and by none else. Therefore,
3. Intercommunion between Baptist churches is unscriptural.