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Transubstantiation

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Question:  I would greatly appreciate your insight on the meaning of Ain remembrance of me@ in the communion ceremony in 1st Corinthians 11, and, more specifically on  transubstantiation.   Thanks.

Response:  The communion ceremony, instituted by our Lord (Matt.26:26-30; Mk.14:22-25; Lk.22:17-22; cf. Jn.6:25-66) and confirmed by the apostle Paul (1Cor.11:17-34) is a memorial of Jesus' Person and work on the cross for us ("do this in remembrance of Me": 1Cor.11:25).  It is typical of denominations and groups which begin to emphasize ritual over the reality of the Word of God and the true spiritual blessings we enjoy to begin to invest in such rituals  -  whether these be legitimate, like communion, or only of their own making  -  significance that is not really there in scripture or reality.  In very general terms, according to Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox doctrine, "transubstantiation" is the transforming of the substance of the bread and wine into the substance of the true "body of Christ" and "blood of Christ".  There are different levels of doctrinal understanding of this "transformation" both inside and outside of these denominations. In truth, however, no such thing happens.   Communion is not an "avenue of grace", whereby we actually eat the literal body and blood of our Lord, nor is the bread and wine/juice of the grape which symbolize Jesus' Person and His work respectively ever meant by scripture to be something other than a symbol - an extremely important symbol, but a symbol nonetheless.  We believers have indeed "eaten His body and drunk His blood", but this means that we have put our faith in Him - who He is, and in His work - what He has done for us in giving up all that He had in order to die on behalf of our sins so that we might never die.  

The essential meaning of the symbols of communion are, it seems to me, pretty clear just from reading John 6:25-66 where Jesus is obviously talking about a total, living, committed faith in Him - not some mystical, supernatural ritual.  We can easily confirm that this is the case when we consider that our Lord did not bleed to death (Matt.27:50), so that "the blood of Christ" must be a symbol for His work on the cross (i.e., the blood of sacrificial animals represented symbolically the true death of Christ for us on the cross), rather than actual blood.  The following is from Peter#9 where this issue is discussed:

The "blood of Christ", on the other hand, is a symbol only, not literal blood.  Moses used literal blood to represent the suffering and sacrifice of the coming Messiah, but the Lord Jesus Christ provided salvation for you and me by going to the cross and by dying for our sins.  When He had finished this work, He exhaled and expired (Lk.23:46).  He did not, in fact, bleed to death (Jn.19:33-35).  So it is important for us to focus our attention upon the sacrifice and suffering of Christ as He was judged in our place for our sins, and not on the Old Testament symbol which foreshadowed that suffering and sacrifice.  So when the Bible says that we are saved "by the blood of Christ", it refers to His awesome sacrifice on our behalf, His death on the cross in our place, and not to His literal, physical blood (as John explains in chapter 19 of his gospel).

And from Coming Tribulation part 2B:

Jesus, of course, offered up His life, not literally His blood, and in the book of Hebrews great care is taken to avoid giving this misleading impression (cf. Heb.8:3: "something to offer").  For "the blood of Christ" is a symbol of Jesus' sacrifice just as "the Lamb of God" is a title symbolic of His sacrifice.  The analogy is of sacrificial animals as types of Jesus, and animal blood as types of His death on the cross.  We are not to take Jesus' "blood" in this figure as literal anymore than we are to consider Him a literal "lamb" (i.e., animals represent Christ; animal blood represents Christ's physical death for us; cf. Jn.1:29; 1Cor.11:23-26).  The aim of avoiding such  heresy is one reason why John takes such great pains to show that Jesus did not bleed to death, but "gave up His spirit" while the blood was yet in His body (Jn.19:33-35; cf. Matt.27:50; Mk.15:37; Lk.23:46; Jn.19:30; 1Jn.5:6-8).  See also Peter's Epistles #9:  "Salvation through Faith, and the Blood of Christ".

True communion is a ritual of remembrance, remembering who our Lord is and what He has done for us, and for appreciation of the same.  Transubstantiation is, therefore, a non-biblical, mystical imposition on the true meaning and the true nature of communion.  It not only distorts what communion is, our remembrance of our redemption by the Lord we love and of our willing partaking of His sacrifice, but it also tends to make the "communicants" dependent upon those who "dispense" this "miraculous grace", rather than acknowledging their dependence upon the Lord who bought them and His truth contained in the Word of God.

For more on all this, please see the following links:

The Blood of Christ (in BB 4A)

Communion and the Blood of Christ.

The Leftover Baskets of Bread and Fish in John 6.

Church: The Biblical Ideal versus the Contemporary Reality.

The Last Supper.

The Lord's Supper and Confession of Sins.

The Meaning of the Communion Memorial.

The Communion Ceremony outside of the local church.

Hope this helps with your question.

In Him who is our true provision, the Bread of life, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.


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