Of the Lord’s Supper.
Chapter 30, Paragraph 6.
“That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of Bread and Wine, into the substance of Christ’s body and blood (commonly called Transubstantiation) by consecration of a Priest, or by any other way, is repugnant not to Scripture alone, but even to common sense and reason; overthroweth the nature of the ordinance, and hath been and is,the cause of manifold superstitions, yea, of gross Idolatries.”
1 Corinthians 11:24,25
Transubstantiation: the teaching that the bread and wine consecrated by a priest really and truly become the substance of the body and blood of Jesus. Does it have any credibility in the life of a Christian? No. Such a doctrine fails to glorify God because it is not Biblical, reasonable, and is not in keeping with the nature of the Lord’s Supper.
A plain reading of Scripture demonstrates that Jesus was plainly using metaphorical language when He told His disciples that the bread and wine was His body and blood. After all, He was right before them as He said those words. When Jesus speaks of the necessity of eating His flesh and drinking His blood in John 6, it is apparent that He is again speaking in spiritual terms. As we see in Luke 23, the thief on the cross did not literally eat Jesus’ flesh, yet he received eternal life. Bread and wine turning into the body and blood has no biblical warrant.
Transubstantiation not only has no ground to stand on biblically, it also defies reason. How can Christ be in heaven, yet His body and blood be present in bread and wine? Not only is this body and blood supposed to be present in the bread and wine in one church, but when we consider the number of masses performed every day around the world, the amount of flesh and blood that adds up to is staggering. Not only that, but reducing Jesus to merely His physical humanity is to deny Jesus Himself. If only His body and blood are present, then His divinity is removed. Christ cannot be split like that.
Believing the bread and wine are transformed overthrows the nature of the ordinance because it negates the work of faith. If the elements truly become the substance of Christ’s body and blood, there is no reason why anyone, believing or not, cannot receive the blessing those elements would supposedly impart. Simply feeding on the flesh of Christ, however, cannot do anyone any good. This is why the confession calls transubstantiation superstition and idolatry. Communion becomes a sort of rabbit’s foot – if I have it, it will protect me. Why else would it be so important for it to be given to the sick and dying?
The nature of the Lord’s Supper, however, is a spiritual one. John Gill wrote, “…the acts of eating and drinking do not give the right to eternal life, but the flesh, blood, and righteousness of Christ, which faith lays hold, and feeds upon; yet it is by faith the right is claimed; and between these acts of faith, and eternal life, there is an inseparable connection.” By remembering Christ’s mediatorial work, we are nourished spiritually. The Lord’s Supper aids in that nourishment, but not through transubstantiation.
Catholicism, with its emphasis on works to merit salvation, fails to recognize the all-sufficient work of Christ. Any benefit received by the believer in the Lord’s Supper is through Christ by faith. This faith is not of ourselves, it is a gift of God. The bread and wine do not have to literally become the body and blood of Christ for us to receive those benefits. Indeed, for them to become so negates the nature of the Lord’s Supper, and thus transubstantiation is no Lord’s Supper at all.
Questions to Consider
- Have you ever used the Lord’s Supper in a superstitious way?