July 18 – LD 29, Day 3: The Language of Scripture Regarding the Lord’s Supper
Thursday the 18th of July
in Heidelberg Catechism Meditations
Read: I Corinthians 11:23-29
The church of Rome tries to argue from the language of scripture to support its false teaching of transubstantiation. According to this teaching, the elements of the Lord’s Supper turn into the literal body and blood of the Lord and are literally and physically consumed by those who receive the sacrament.
This language is used in several places in scripture, including the one we asked you to read. Also, in I Cor. 10, Paul speaks of the cup of blessing which is received in the Lord’s Supper as the communion of the blood of Christ.
The Heidelberg Catechism answers the arguments of the church of Rome that the Bible uses sacramental language in which the sign is said to be the reality for good reasons. The first reason is that sign and seal of the sacrament bear a definite resemblance, otherwise it could hardly be a sacrament. As earthly bread and wine support this temporal life, so the crucified body and shed blood of Christ are the true spiritual meat and drink whereby our souls are nourished and fed to eternal life. This is simple comparison, and by no means implies a change of substance of the elements. According to the word of God, the physical creation is full of signs and symbols of spiritual truths of God. The sacrament is simple in its meaning, using the simple signs of bread and wine to impress upon us more clearly the truths of the cross of Christ.
Jesus intends that by these visible signs and seals, we can in a better way understand the invisible mysteries of our salvation. The purpose of the sacrament is the confirmation and strengthening of our faith. The Spirit of Christ in the sacraments uses these signs and pledges for this purpose. So, as surely as we by faith receive the outwards signs and pledge with our physical hands and mouths, so certainly by the Spirit of Christ, the spiritual realities of the sacrifice of Christ become ours. We appropriate the spiritual verities of the sacrifice of Christ through faith in Jesus Christ. We have through faith the assurance of the forgiveness of our sins and the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us as certainly as if we had in our own person suffered and made satisfaction for our sins to God.
In John 6, Jesus uses the kind of language referred to in the above mentioned debate. He speaks of the necessity of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. But when He has declared this, He immediately excludes any false carnal understanding when He says that the words He speaks are spirit and life, the flesh profiteth nothing.
The right understanding of the presence of Christ’s body and blood in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper will maintain the right understanding of the spiritual relation we have with Christ and the spiritual way in which we receive from Him the blessings of salvation. It is therefore very important to maintain the truth with respect to the Lord’s Supper. The false teaching of Rome has led to all sorts of superstition which leads away from true faith in Christ.