[Juba, South Sudan, TCT] At the time of the Reformation, questions about the nature of Christ’s presence in the Supper and the relation of the Supper to his atoning death were centers of stormy controversy. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Christ is present by transubstantiation, as defined by the Forth Lateran Council in 1215. ‘Transubstantiation’ means that the substance of the bread and wine is miraculously transformed into Christ’s body and blood. The bread and wine are no longer bread and wine, though they appear to be.he Lord’s Supper is an act of worship taking the form of a ceremonial meal, in which we share bread and wine to commemorate Christ’s death and to celebrate the new covenant relationship we enjoy with God.
Luther’s doctrine, later called ‘consubstantiation,’ was that Christ’s body and blood are present “in, with, and under” the form of the bread and wine. The Eastern Orthodox and some Anglicans have a similar belief. Calvin taught that while the bread and wine remained unchanged, the Spirit raises the believer through faith to enjoy the presence of Christ in a way that is glorious and real, though indescribable.
All the Reformers insisted that at the table we give thanks to Christ for a finished and accepted work of atonement. They denounced the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Mass because in it the sacrifice of the cross were believed to be repeated, renewed, or presented in a way that obscures its sufficiency.
The Lord’s Supper has a past reference to Christ’s death. It has a present reference to our corporate participation in him through faith. It has a future reference, in that; it is a pledge of his return. It encourages us in our daily walk and in our expectation. This service of worship in which we remember the suffering that Christ endured for us is a distinctive mark of the Christian faith all over the world. Thank God we are part of the global family.
The Westminster Confession 29.1:“Our Lord Jesus, in the night wherein he was betrayed, instituted the sacrament of his body and blood, called the Lord’s Supper, to be observed in his Church, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of himself in his death; the sealing of all benefits thereof unto true believers, their spiritual nourishment and growth in him, their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto him, to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other, as members of his mystical body.”
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