Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity – Thursday
They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. – Acts 2:42.
To the heterodox, that is, to those who deviate from the Word of God in any point of Christian doctrine and believe and profess false doctrine, hence, to people who on account of such false doctrines have separated from the orthodox church, or who want to hold and teach false doctrine in their church—to such heterodox persons we must deny the Lord’s Supper, nor must we partake of the Lord’s Supper in churches teaching false doctrines.
Is it because we must condemn to hell every person who holds any bit of false doctrine? By no means! We know and rejoice in the fact that, even among the heterodox, God still has dear children, souls that truly believe in Jesus Christ, but are not aware of the fact that they depart from, and contradict, the Word of God with their false doctrine. Why, then, must we not commune at the same altar with the heterodox? Because altar fellowship is an outward and visible manifestation of true unity of faith. Those who break the bread together, that is, who commune together, thereby confess before the whole world that they have one faith, one doctrine, one confession, or creed, in common, as did the first Christians, of whom our text speaks.
To practice altar-fellowship (or any church-fellowship) with the heterodox would mean to surrender the truth and purity of God’s Word, and to make a compromise with false doctrine, which we must heartily reject and condemn, because it opposes the truth of God’s Holy Word. And that truth of God’s Word, which motivates us again and again to do what is right and God-pleasing, is the wonderful, never-changing truth that “there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (( Timothy 2:5-6).
PRAYER – Ah, Lord Jesus Christ, how sadly Thy Christian Church is rent asunder by false doctrine! Lord Jesus, I thank Thee that, nevertheless, Thou dost sustain Thy Christians, Thy true disciples, who believe in Thee and are saved, even in the midst of error. I furthermore thank Thee that Thou hast granted me grace to know the truth. Give me, I implore Thee, Thy Holy Spirit, working through Thy Word, that, despite all contempt and calumny, I may hold fast to Thy Word and guard against every compromise with false doctrine. Amen.
Defend Thy truth, O God, and stay
This evil generation;
And from the error of its way Keep
Thine own congregation.
The wicked everywhere abound
And would Thy little flock confound;
But Thou art our Salvation.
Hymn 260, 6.