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Question and Answer

Elements in the Lord's Supper

Question:

What do you believe concerning the elements in the Lord's Supper? I see the wine and the bread as symbolical of Christ's body and blood.

Answer:

For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. (1 Cor. 11:26, New International Version)

I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom." (Matt. 26:29, NIV)

The Bible clearly teaches that the bread and wine are symbols, not actual blood and flesh. That would have been obvious to those present when the Lord's Supper was instituted, because Jesus Christ, flesh and blood, was standing there before them, separate from the bread and wine. More Bible verses could be given to support this point.

This is the historic position for which so many Reformed Christians in the 1500's were burned to death by the Roman Catholic Church. Note well the support for the symbolic position on the bread and wine in the Bible and in the Heidelberg Catechism, 1563, and the Westminster Confession of Faith, 1647:

HEIDELBERG CATECHISM

Q78: Do, then, the bread and the wine become the real body and blood of Christ?

A78: No, but as the water in Baptism is not changed into the blood of Christ, nor becomes the washing away of sins itself, being only the divine token and assurance thereof, so also in the Lord's Supper the sacred bread does not become the body of Christ itself, though agreeably to the nature and usage of sacraments it is called the body of Christ.

Q79: Why then does Christ call the bread His body, and the cup His blood, or the new testament in His blood; and the apostle Paul, the communion of the body and blood of Christ?

A79: Christ speaks thus with great cause, namely, not only to teach us thereby, that like as the bread and wine sustain this temporal life, so also His crucified body and shed blood are the true meat and drink of our souls unto life eternal....

WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH, chapter 29:

II. In this sacrament, Christ is not offered up to his Father; nor any real sacrifice made at all, for remission of sins of the quick or dead; but only a commemoration of that one offering up of himself, by himself, upon the cross, once for all:...

III. The Lord Jesus hath, in this ordinance, appointed his ministers to declare his word of institution to the people; to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to set them apart from a common to an holy use; and to take and break the bread, to take the cup,...

VII. Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements, in this sacrament, do then also, inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally but spiritually, receive, and feed upon, Christ crucified, and all benefits of his death: the body and blood of Christ being then, not corporally or carnally, in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet, as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.

VIII. Although ignorant and wicked men receive the outward elements in this sacrament; yet, they receive not the thing signified thereby....

Permit me to counsel you a bit. Do not reduce the symbolic status of the bread and wine to a mere memorial of Jesus' death. The Lord's Supper is indeed a memorial of Jesus sacrificial death for our sins. But it is also a covenant renewal time and a time of making vows to the Lord respecting the full redemption of sinners pictured for us. And as guests at the Lord's table we are involved in communion with the host who commanded the table be set. If we have no communion with the Lord, if our souls are not lifted up to heaven at this time, we are ungrateful urchins grabbing food off his table without facing him, and giving thanks.

Please use this answer to build up the Lord's people through faithful teaching, and not to strengthen pride.


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