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Faith Related Q and A
Our practice of closed communion was recently questioned by a friend of mine who wanted to know why she couldn't commune with us, seeing how she believes in Jesus. My question is, can you explain in layman's terms the reasoning behind closed communion?

It is wonderful to hear that your friend believes in Jesus as her Savior. Such faith establishes membership in the Holy Christian Church. Membership in that Church is known only to God (1 Samuel 16:7; 2 Timothy 2:19). For that reason, we sometimes call the Holy Christian Church “the invisible Church.” Without the ability to look into anyone’s heart, you and I need to operate on the basis of what a person confesses. People make confessions of their faith by what they say. They also make a confession of their faith by their membership in a visible church. Their membership commits them to the doctrine and practice of their church. In practical terms, they represent their church and church body. If we keep in mind that the reception of the Lord’s Supper is an expression of fellowship (1 Corinthians 10:17), we will to present an accurate picture of fellowship. While your friend is a fellow member of the Holy Christian Church, it sounds like she belongs to a church that is not in doctrinal agreement with our church. As she represents her church, it would not be an accurate picture of fellowship if she were to receive the Lord’s Supper in your church. Scripture instructs us not to participate in spiritual activities like worship and the Lord’s Supper with those are not united with us in faith (Romans 16:17). Additionally, if your friend were to receive the Lord’s Supper in your church, she would be saying by her actions that she believes what your church believes and practices (1 Corinthians 11:26). You would have to ask her if she knows, understands and accepts the beliefs and practices of your church. One of the purposes of closed communion, then, has the purpose of presenting, as far as humanly possible, an accurate picture of unity in the faith. Another purpose of closed communion is to ensure that, as far as humanly possible, those receiving the Lord’s Supper are receiving it worthily and to their benefit, not their harm (1 Corinthians 11:27). If your friend is not able to receive the Lord’s Supper with you in your church, she can certainly attend a worship service with you and be fed through God’s word. Through the gospel in word and sacrament, God brings the same blessings into the hearts of people. I hope this information is helpful for you. Your pastor may have other resources to help you. As in all our conversations, this one too is one in which we want to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

I have a question. There is a passage in Matthew 18:3 - And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." To the best of my knowledge God wants the sinner's whole soul to change to be converted. Does humbleness make a difference in salvation? And according to John 1:13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will but born of God. Meaning it's God's work from beginning to end, since one can't choose to believe in him and Jesus gives the salvation itself. How does one go to heaven if someone believes it's all of God yet one must be humble to enter it? I believe the blood of Jesus saves souls. How does one trust the Lord when I'm so focused on trusting if I am humble or not?

The context of Matthew 18:3 describes Jesus’ disciples coming to him with the question “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus’ answer included the example of a little child and the instruction to have childlike humility. Jesus’ answer to the disciples’ question warns against sinful pride. Sinful pride certainly can “make a difference in salvation.” When “self” becomes more important than God, the very first of God’s ten commandments is broken. When “self” becomes more important than God, then “self” becomes a god. If life continues that way, then salvation can be forfeited. This is reason why the Bible states: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). So, how do Christians address sinful pride? They confess it to God. Then, they rejoice in the forgiveness of their sins of pride (1 John 1:9). This is not a one-time occurrence in the lives of Christians. Luther’s Catechism reminds us that “Baptism means that the old Adam in us should be drowned by daily contrition and repentance, and that all its evil deeds and desires be put to death. It also means that a new person should daily arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.” Bible passages that reinforce that quotation include Psalm 38:18; Acts 20:21; 2 Corinthians 7:10; Ephesians 4:22-24; and, Colossians 2:11-12. Along with confessing sins, Christians trust in Christ as their Savior from sin. Faith in Jesus means that he, and not “self,” occupies the throne of the sinner’s heart. I hope you can see that confessing our sins and confessing faith in Jesus Christ will address the subject of humility. While confessing our sins means that we need to take an honest look at ourselves, I would encourage you to look more to Jesus in faith as your Savior. Focus your attention on him (Hebrews 12:2). As your Lord comes to you in word and sacrament, the Holy Spirit will nurture and strengthen you with his gifts of “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Those attitudes and actions are the opposite of the “acts of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-21). God’s blessings to you!