OceanSide church of Christ
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THE EUCHARIST (2)
Victor M. Eskew
In our previous article, we outlined the Catholic doctrine of The Eucharist. We will not repeat all of that information now. In this study, we want to show where the practice of The Eucharist is not in harmony with the Word of God.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church encourages all Catholics to take The Eucharist as often as possible. They even state that every day would be a healthy practice. When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He made an interesting comment after He used the fruit of the vine as the representation of His blood. “But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:29). Jesus’ mind was on a specific “day” when he established the Lord’s Supper. There is only one verse in the New Testament that reveals that day to us. It is Acts 20:7. “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” In this verse, the church in Troas comes together “to break bread.” This is figurative language for the Lord’s Supper. The day upon which it was taken was “the first day of the week.” Thus, the only day upon which to partake the Lord’s Supper that has Scriptural backing is Sunday, the first day of the week. There is no other day authorized. Therefore, doing it on Saturday night, or any week day, involves a practice that originated in the mind of man not in the mind of God.
When Catholics partake of The Eucharist, they acknowledge the hierarchal structure that exists within the Catholic Church. They acknowledge the Pope and the bishop who are over their congregation. Too, the priest of that congregation is the one authorized to carry out The Eucharist. In the New Testament, a hierarchy of priests cannot be found who rule over the church. What is found is the teaching that all Christians are priests of God. Peter refers to his readers as “a royal priesthood” two times (I Pet. 2:5, 9). In the Revelation, John writes: “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Rev. 1:6). The clergy-laity system is a fabrication of man. It is not something authorized in the law of Christ.
Another interesting concept connected to The Eucharist is that the Lord’s Table is also called an altar. It is called this because Catholics believe the Lord Jesus Christ is literally sacrificed upon this altar every time The Eucharist is performed. Let’s confront two things regarding this aspect of The Eucharist. First, the Lord’s Table is never referred to as an altar in the Scriptures. The reason for this is because it is not an altar. It is simply a table upon which two items are placed, unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine, that are used to remember the Lord’s death till He come (I Cor. 11:26). Some might counter this with Hebrews 13:10. The text states: “We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.” The word “altar” in this verse is a metonymy. The altar is put in the place of the sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross of Calvary. The word “eat” has reference to partaking and enjoying the blessings of the Lord’s sacrifice. The priests under the Old Law did not have these benefits because they had rejected Jesus as the Christ. Did you notice that the interpretation of this verse has nothing to do with the Lord’ Supper?
Second, we need to consider the concept of offering Jesus in a non-bloody sacrifice upon the altar of the Eucharist. Dear readers, there is no purpose for such a sacrifice. What the Lord Jesus Christ did on the cross of Calvary was sufficient for all time. It was a “once,” that is, “once for all time,” sacrifice. It never has to be offered again. “…but now once in the end of the world hath he (Jesus) appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26). And again: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many…” (Heb. 9:28). And Peter declares: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (I Pet. 3:18). Jesus’ physical body and blood cannot not be offered again. His old body was discarded. Now, Jesus has a spiritual body, an immortal body (Phil. 3:21).
The final point of The Eucharist we will confront regards the teaching that the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine become the actual body and blood of Jesus. First, scientifically this is not true. At any point during the observance of The Eucharist, the bread and fruit of the vine could be tested in a laboratory. At every point, the unleavened bread would continue to be bread. The grape juice would continue to be the fruit of the vine. It never changes into the actual body and blood of Jesus. Some would counter by saying that Catholics accept the change by faith. Faith, however, is ever based upon something that is fiction. Faith is substantiated by facts (Heb. 11:1). Just believing something to be true does not mean that it really is the truth.
Second, when Jesus said: “Take, eat; this is my body” (Matt. 26:26) and “For this is my blood of the new testament” (Matt. 26:38), He was using a figure of speech called a metaphor. The word “metaphor” comes from a Greek word meaning “a transference” or “carrying over.” Dictionary.com defines a metaphor as “a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance.” The color of the bread is flesh colored and
the fact that it is unleavened suggests the sinlessness of the Christ. The fruit of the vine is liquid and has a color somewhat similar to blood. There are beneficial qualities in the fruit of the vine just as there are beneficial qualities in Jesus’ blood. These two simple elements are adequate enough to enable the worshipper to remember that Jesus gave up His body and shed His blood for him on Calvary.
Third, if the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine become that “actual” body and blood of Jesus, what is the person called who eats it? “Cannibalism” is defined as “the eating of human flesh by another human being.” If it is not cannibalism, one needs to explain how it is not. Are we really to believe that this charge that was issued against the church during its early years was really true? Absolutely not! The unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine are elements the Lord chose to represent His body and blood that were offered up for mankind.
When man turns from the simple teachings of God’s Word and inserts his imaginations into the doctrines and practices of the church, one gets things like The Eucharist. Jesus did not want to be offered over and over again on an altar. He simply wanted His disciples to remember the once for all time sacrifice He made on Calvary. He wanted them to do this on the Lord’ Day, the first day of the week. And as they remember that precious death, they proclaim to the world their unity in Christ Jesus (I Cor. 10:16-17).