The Mass Versus the Lord’s Supper
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The Pastor learned late in the previous week of the possibility of holding a great Protestant Rally in the Moody Church, with Mr. H.A. Ironside as speaker, on the Sunday following the Eucharistic Congress held in Chicago. The time was much too short for extensive advertising, but through announcement in the Saturday papers, and the co-operation of a large number of city ministers, many of whom were present at the Rally, the effort became known to a great many. Pastor John O’Hair and Pastor James Gray, very kindly mentioned the meeting to their radio audiences. The former presided at the Rally. More than 3,500 people attended.
It is possible, as I speak to you to-day, that I may use the word “Catholic” as opposed to “Protestant.” If I do, it is simply a slip of the tongue, for I maintain that every true Protestant is a real Catholic, that every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is a member of the one Holy Catholic Church, purchased by the precious blood of the Son of God. But I distinguish between a Catholic and a Romanist. When I was speaking, on one occasion, to a Roman Catholic priest whom I met in a train in California, he asked me what my profession was and I said, “I am a Catholic priest.”
He looked at my collar and said, “You are surely jesting with me.”
I said, “No, I never was more serious in my life. I am a priest in the Holy Catholic Church. I mean that I am a member of that holy and royal priesthood composed of all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and together forming the Holy Catholic Church.” So if I use the word “Catholic” when I mean “Romanist” you will understand me.
I am not here to say anything unkind against the Roman church. As my friend, Brother O’Hair, has reminded you, our Government guarantees to every man the right to full liberty of conscience in regard to religious privileges. As we wish to enjoy that liberty ourselves, we are glad to accord it to others. But I simply desire to examine some of the teachings of the Church of Rome and compare them with the teaching of the Word of God, particularly on the great central doctrine of that church, which is called the Sacrament of the Blessed Eucharist, or the Sacrament of the Mass.
THE CRUX OF THE MATTER
Every Roman Catholic priest will tell you that all the claims of the Church of Rome stand or fall with the doctrine of the real presence of Christ in the Mass. If the bread and wine used in the Sacrament of the Mass, when consecrated by the priest, are changed in some mysterious way into the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ so that the communicant receiving the bread actually takes into his mouth and eats and digests the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ-if this is true, then the Church of Rome is the true church of Christ and every one of us should be members of it. But if it is false, if it is absolutely opposed to the teaching of the Word of God, then the Church of Rome is an apostate church and every faithful believer should come out of her in order that he might not be held accountable for her sins.
It was because the great reformers of the sixteenth century saw this clearly and were assured in their own hearts that the doctrine of the Church of Rome in regard to the Eucharist or the Mass was absolutely opposed to the Word of God and was not only blasphemous but idolatrous, that they came out in protest against that apostate system and they won for us at tremendous cost of Christian blood the liberty that we now possess. And yet we, unworthy children of such worthy sires, are frittering away our liberty and we are allowing our children to be ensnared again by this evil system from which our fathers escaped with such tremendous effort.
I want to call your attention first of all to a passage in the 10th chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews which may not seem at first sight to have any reference to the subject in question, but I think we shall see that it not only has reference to it but presents the basic truth in regard to it. The 10th chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, beginning with verse 11:
“And every priest (the Apostle is referring to the Levitical priesthood) standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man (that is, the Lord Jesus Christ who as to the mystery of His person is both God and man in one blessed, glorious person never to be divided), after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God: from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that He had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”
Now here is the crucial text that I want you to get:
“Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”
CHRIST’S FINISHED WORK
In the Epistle to the Hebrews the apostolic writer contrasts the ritual system of the Old Testament dispensation with the glorious work achieved by Jesus Christ when He offered Himself on Calvary’s cross for our redemption. He draws our attention to the fact that under the old economy the priest’s work was never done because the sin question was never settled. No sacrifice had been found that was of sufficient value to atone for the sins of the world and so whenever men sinned afresh they had to come with a new sacrifice. One offering followed another constantly, therefore there was not even provision made for the priest to sit down in the tabernacle or in the temple of the Lord. The priest’s work was never done for sin was never put away. But he goes on to say that in those sacrifices there was an acknowledgment again made of sin from year to year. That is, the worshiper under the Old Testament dispensation came to God in faith, confessing his sin, and brought his animal sacrifice, whether a bullock from the herd, a sheep from the flock, or two birds. He confessed his sin and these sacrifices were offered for him. They did not cancel his guilt. They did not cleanse his heart. They were rather in the nature of a note that a man gives to his creditor for a debt. A man is owing a certain sum of money. He makes out a note for that sum. He is unable to pay when it is due, so he makes out another note, and in those notes there is an acknowledgment again made of the debt from year to year. So in the sacrifices of old there was simply an acknowledgment of sin made year after year. Sometimes when a man must give a note for a debt he has a wealthy friend who is good enough to endorse that note for him. By endorsing that note his friend says, “If you are not able to pay when the note becomes due, I pledge myself to pay for you.”
THE SIN QUESTION SETTLED
When these people of old gave their notes to God by bringing their sacrifices again and again, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son still ex-carnate, endorsed every note and He said,
“Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God.”
In the fulness of time He came, made of a woman, made under the law, and He went to Calvary’s cross and there, may I say, gathered up and settled for all those notes of the past, and undertook the full responsibility for every believer to the end of time and offered Himself a sacrifice for the sins of men. By that one all-sufficient offering of Himself upon the cross, He has settled the sin question to God’s satisfaction so that now God can be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.
The sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ had both a backward and a forward aspect. It put away all the sins of the past that had only been covered by the blood of the sacrifices and made ample provision to put away all the sins of the future for every one who would believe on Him. The means by which needy sinners avail themselves of an interest in the finished work of Christ is very simple. The sinner has to take his place before God as a lost. guilty man, owning his iniquity and putting his trust in the Man who died on the cross; for
“By Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by Moses’ law.”
In this New Testament economy Christ is the only sacrificing priest. He is the one all-sufficient victim. Christ having made atonement for sins, rose from the dead and God has manifested His righteous satisfaction in the work of the cross by seating Him in heaven at His own right hand.
A FEAST OF LOVE
Our Lord Jesus before He went away, foreseeing all this, gave to His disciples that feast of love which we commonly call “The Lord’s Supper.” In the Lord’s Supper this mystery of redemption is wonderfully and beautifully pictured. I want to read to you the various scriptures in the New Testament that refer to it. I am going to read each passage that speaks of this feast of love in order that you, hearing them, may compare them in your own mind with the celebration — the idolatrous celebration — which you have either seen or of which you have been reading during recent days, and I ask you to put the questions to yourself: Is there anything here that is remotely connected with this ceremony that myriads have been so occupied with during this past week? Is there in this a sin offering? Is there a sacrificing priest? Is there any provision here for incense, any provision for worshipping the Virgin Mary, any provision for a great hierarchy with their brilliant garments? I read the other day that $200,000.00 worth of priestly garments were ruined by the rain during the celebration at Mundelein. You could put all the apostles, and the 500 who saw the Lord after His resurrection, and all the Christians in the early days, out in the rain and hail and they would not ruin $10.00 worth of priestly vestments! Is there anything that compares with the ceremony that has been enacted in this city and its environs in the last few days and which is supposed to be the continuation of that of which our Lord speaks here?
In the 26th chapter of Matthew-our Lord had just eaten the Passover with His disciples — we read, beginning at verse 26:
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat: this is My body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it: for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 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. And when they had sung an hymn they went out into the mount of Olives.”
How beautiful in its simplicity is this first celebration of the Lord Supper! How different to this mysterious ceremony which is the very center of the Roman Catholic system!
Now turn to the Gospel of Mark and get his account of the same Supper. See if there is anything which Matthew left out which he has inserted which might give some ground, some basis, for the doctrines that have gathered round the so-called Sacrament of the Mass. St. Mark 14:22:
“And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And He said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.”
“And as they did eat.” I would draw your attention to that. Every Roman Catholic is instructed to take the Sacrament of the Mass fasting. Have you read that after “they did eat, Jesus took bread.” They were just concluding the Passover meal. And “Jesus took bread.” Mark you, not some special cake marked with the mystic letters “I.H.S.” which are supposed to mean “Iesus Hominum Salvator”, but that might just as wall mean the Egyptian deities “Isis”, “Horus”, “Seb”, as they did ages ago in a similar ceremony.
Now I turn you to the account given by our brother Luke, Doctor Luke, the beloved physician. Luke’s Gospel 22:19:
“And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.”
The Apostle John does not give us any account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper, but after Christ’s ascension and after the conversion of Saul of Tarsus when he became the Apostle Paul, a special revelation was given to him, and in the 11th chapter of 1st Corinthians we get the full account of it. Read from verse 20:
“When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What! have ye not houses to eat and drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. For I have received of the Lord (the risen, ascended, glorified Lord) that which also I delivered unto yen, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed (the night in which He was to know experimentally the untrustworthiness of the human heart) took bread: and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come.”
Observe how this feast links together the two great facts of Christianity, the death of Christ and His second coming. The Lord’s Supper is taken in remembrance of One who died, but as we take it we look forward and wait for His coming again.
TILL HE COME
A friend of mine, giving some lectures at a church not long ago, spoke of the second coming of the Lord and the pastor came up to him after the service and said, “I am sorry that you touched that subject. We don’t believe here in the second coming of Christ.”
“Oh, you don’t?”
“What is that table that you have down there in front of the pulpit?”
“That is the Lord’s Table.”
“What do you do with it?”
“We use it when we take the Lord’s Supper.”
“What do you take the Lord’s Supper for?”
“Because the Word of God tell us to.”
“How long are you going to take it?”
“As long as we are here, I suppose.”
“What does the Bible say?”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
” ‘As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup ye do show the Lord’s death till He come.’ If you don’t believe He is coming again you’d better cut that out. It is a witness that the Christ who died is coming again. He says, While you are waiting for Me, do this in remembrance of Me.”
“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shah be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.”
Then in the 10th chapter of the same Epistle we read in verse 16:
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” Verse 21: “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.”
THE TEACHING IS CLEAR
I have read all these passages because they give you every verse in the New Testament that definitely refers to the Lord’s Supper. You can see just what they teach. Our blessed Lord was going out to die and before He left His disciples He gave them this memorial feast. There is a striking passage in the book of the prophet Jeremiah in which he is predicting dire judgments coming upon Israel and he says that so many people will die that there will be none left to break bread for them (that is the marginal reading), nor to give them the cup of consolation. It evidently referred to an old custom that when somebody died loving friends gathered together with those who were left and they sat down and ate and drank in memory of the loved one, probably talked of his virtues and tried to comfort his loved ones.
Now our Lord Jesus Christ has come to the end of His thirty-three wonderful years here upon earth. He is about to go out to die. He came for that purpose. He said, “The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Now He has His little company of disciples gathered about Him. They have kept the Pascal feast, the last Passover that God ever recognized. Actually, they kept the Passover and Christ died on the same day, because the Jewish day began in the evening and went on until the next evening. So the Lord ate the Passover with His disciples on the first evening and before the next evening — between the two evenings — He died on the cross, Christ, our Passover, sacrificed for us.
A MEMORIAL FEAST
Our Lord, with all this before Him, takes a piece of bread — just common bread, the bread they were using at the Passover — probably unleavened bread, although there is no scripture that definitely indicates that it must be that. I don’t find that the Word of God has been careful to legislate whether the bread should be leavened or unleavened, whether the wine should be fermented or unfermented. I think we may see the wisdom of God in it, for there are circumstances under which, if there were such a rule, many of God’s children could not partake. But He took bread and held that bread in His hand and said to the disciples, “This is my body which is given for you,” Observe: There He sat at the table. He is not indicating that any change takes place in the bread. He is there in His perfectly human body and He holds this bread in His hand and He says, “This is my body.” Surely any one must be blind who cannot see what He is telling them is this: This bread, I want you to understand, is to bring before you the truth that my body is to be sacrificed for sin. He had not yet been sacrificed and yet He speaks as though it had already taken place. “This do in remembrance of Me.” And He passes the bread around to them. There is no mysterious priesthood; there are no costly vestments; there are no candles burning in a ceremonial manner; no smoking incense ascending. They have partaken of one meal and then He gives them this beautiful memorial feast. He does not even appoint a clergyman to preside there. He addresses them as brethren and He saps, “This do in remembrance of Me.”
SIMPLE AND BEAUTIFUL
I think, my brethren, the simpler we can be in our thoughts of the Lord’s Supper the better. I read some time ago of a Hindu who was living in a village when a missionary came for the first time and they said to him, “Come. You must see So-and-So.”
The missionary went to this man’s house. When he saw a white man coming with a Bible he rose to greet him and bowed at his feet. The missionary said, “Stand up. I am just a man like yourself.”
“Oh,” said the Hindu, “you have come with the Book. I have waited for it for twenty years.”
“How is that?”
“Well, twenty years ago I took a long journey. I heard a man in the market place (he looked like you) read from a book. He told the story of the Great God of Love who sent His Son to die for sinners. I bought a book.” He produced a copy of Matthew’s Gospel all worn so that hardly a leaf was whole. “I took it home. I have eaten that book. I have read it over and over. I have read it to all the people in the village. I have been praying that God would send somebody to tell me more.”
He asked him to eat with him. Now the host was a little embarrassed. He had a bowl of rice and he turned to the other man and said, “Before we eat, I always do as Jesus said.”
The missionary did not understand. But he said, “Go ahead. Don’t let me interfere.”
The Hindu closed his eyes, thanked God that Christ had died for him, and then he said, “I eat this rice because the body of my Lord Jesus was nailed on the cross for me.” Then he took the common drink of the land and said, “I drink of this because my Lord Jesus died for me,” and he gave some to the missionary, as he had given the rice, and they ate and drank together.
The missionary said, “How long have you been doing this?”
“For twenty years.”
“And how often!”
“Every time I eat a meal.”
He saw nothing in the Book that would tell him how often. So I repeat, the simpler we can be the better. It is a memorial– that is all.
WHAT DOES “EUCHARIST” MEAN?
You ask, Do you not believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist? Some may not know the meaning of the term Eucharist. It is “thanksgiving.” Oh yes, dear friends, every instructed Christian believes in the real presence in the Eucharist, but He does not believe that the bread ceases to be anything but bread and he does not believe that the wine ceases to be anything but wine. He does not believe in a strange, mysterious transformation of cereal bread and of wine into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. But he believes this: “Where two or three are gathered together in My name (as Jesus said) there am I in the midst.” Some of the sweetest moments of my life have been spent at the Table of the Lord, communing with the Blessed One who of old said, “Do this in remembrance of Me,” and faith’s eye could discern Him there standing in the midst, showing His wounds and spreading His hands.
A Roman Catholic layman in St. Louis who does much to put Protestants to shame because of his zeal in advertising his religion, recently put out an advertisement like this: “Catholics believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist; Protestants believe in the real absence.” But that is false. Protestants do not believe that the bread and wine undergo any mystic change, but they do believe that as you eat and drink in remembrance of Christ, Christ is present in His sweet and wonderful way, manifesting Himself to the hearts of His beloved people so that by faith they are enabled to feed upon Him. We feed upon Him in remembrance. We look back and think of the sorrows He bore. We contemplate His cross and bitter passion, and as we do, we eat of His flesh and drink of His blood, and as we feast on Christ we find our love for those things for which Christ died upon the cross becoming less, and our love for those blessed things into which He would lead us through the new and living way, through the veil into the holiest, becoming greater, for we become like that upon which we feed.
NO DISTINCTION BETWEEN CHRISTIANS
In this feast Christ gives the bread and then He gives the wine. He did not separate believers into a clergy and a laity and say to the clergy, “The wine is for you: the bread is simply for the laity.” There is no such distinction made in the Bible. For two centuries and a half after Christ’s gospel began to be preached in this world you will search reputable church history in vain to find such a distinction. There were officials in the church; there were elders and there were deacons; elders who had a special oversight, but no such distinction as the dividing of Christians into the laity and the clergy, the clergy having special access to God and special authority in dispensing divine mysteries. This was unknown in the early days of Christianity, and in those early days the Lord’s Supper was observed in simplicity. We have distinct records of it.
If you care to look it up you will find that the Younger Pliny, when Governor of Bythinia, wrote to the Emperor Trajan asking what offense the Christians had committed for which they should be exterminated. He said in substance, “I have been trying to get all the information I could regarding them. I have even hired spies to profess to be Christians and become baptized in order that they might get into the Christian services without suspicion. Contrary to what I had supposed, I find that the Christians meet at dead of night or at early morn, that they sing a hymn to Christ as God, that they read from their own sacred writings and partake of a very simple meal consisting of bread and wine and water (the water added to the wine to dilute it in order that there might be enough for all). This is all that I can find out, except that they exhort each other to be subject to the Government, and pray for all men.”
Pliny could not understand why they should be persecuted. He knew nothing of a gorgeous altar, of a sacrificing priest, nothing of a special cake upon the altar which the faithful were to fall down and worship as the Incarnate God, but his spies found Christians partaking together of a very simple meal of bread and wine and water.
Justin Martyr, who wrote about the same time, gives us a very clear account of the way in which the Lord’s Supper was observed. He knew of no priesthood, no altar, no mystic change. He certainly knew of no prayers to the Virgin Mary. He knew nothing of ascending incense or anything of the kind, but he describes just such an observance of the Lord’s Supper as you would find in any evangelical company of Christians to-day. He speaks of one of the elders presiding, of the people singing together, of giving thanks for the bread and wine, of distributing these elements among the faithful and sending portions to any who were not present because of illness-beautiful in its simplicity, as is the account given in the gospel.
WHEN THE CHANCE OCCURRED
But you go down through the Christian era a few centuries and you find everything is changed. You enter a Christian church. The Lord’s table is conspicuous by its absence. Instead of a table you have an altar. An altar in a Christian church! The altar belonged to Judaism. But the altar is typical of Christ Himself whose glorious person sanctifies the offering He gives, and second, it typifies the cross upon which He was uplifted. The Christian’s altar is the cross of Christ, but in these churches of the centuries after Constantine we find an altar again and, serving there, is a priest with special vestments, not such as were used by the Jewish priesthood, but vestments which were identical with those worn by the priests of Babylon centuries before. What had brought about the change? Simply this: As long as Christianity was persecuted, as long as the Christian company was under the ban of the Roman Government, simplicity and reality prevailed. But the day came when the state become the patron of Christianity and an effort was made to unite the ancient heathen religion and the Roman Empire with the new Christianity. The result was that little by little pagan forms and ceremonies were brought in and displaced the early Christian forms which were so simple, so beautiful and so scriptural. The altar was not even taken from Judaism, for no such altar as the altars of Judaism was ever found in so-called Christian churches.
A few years ago I had a company of Indian youths in Oakland, California, that I was educating. I was teaching these young men church history, and one day, to give them a practical lesson, I took them to San Francisco through three Chinese temples and then I took them through two Roman Catholic churches. After our visits I said to these youths, “Now tell me what you saw in each place,” And they wrote it all out. They said, “In each building we found holy water at the door. Each building had an altar. Each building had priests in costly vestments bowing below the altar. Each building had candles and incense. In each building a bell rang when the worshipers were to kneel down.” The Romanist and pagan temples were practically alike.
Any one who familiarizes himself with the history of the ancient heathen cults can see where all these forms and ceremonies came in that are now linked up with what is called the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The identical customs were practised by Babylonish priests over 500 years before Christ. There was in the Babylon temples and on the altars an image of a woman with a child in her arms. This woman was said to be the Queen of Heaven. Her child was called the Seed, which was evidently Satan’s imitation of the truth involved in the words, “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.” To this woman was sacrificed a bloodless offering consisting of round moon-shaped cakes, and these being presented to her were put upon the altar and the faithful bowed down in reverence before them.
In the 44th chapter of Jeremiah the people had read of the same cult transferred to Palestine and observed afterwards among the dispersed Jews in Egypt:
“Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger.”
In the 44th chapter of Jeremiah the people had turned from their idolatry, but they declare that they are going back to it. In verse 15 we read:
“Then all the men which knew that their wives had burnt incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying, As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee: but we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.”
This ancient custom of offering these round cakes was taken up by the apostate church. They said,
“The best way is to get all the different religions into one and we can take this heathen rite and turn it into a Christian ceremony. This round cake we will call the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ.” That is what is called the host. It must be absolutely round. It is taken into the church and the priest blesses it. If it has a piece broken off of it, anybody can eat it; it is just bread.
The Roman Catholic church will tell you that this is taught by our Lord when He said, “This is my body which is given for you.” But as He said that He was there with them. No part of it was broken for them. He handed them this bread and they partook of it, clearly giving us to understand that the bread was God’s wonderful way of illustrating the value of feeding upon Christ. We feed upon bread and we get physical strength. We feed upon Christ and we get spiritual strength.
But now they tell us that the bread is changed when the priest blesses it. We charge that to fall down and worship that piece of bread is an act of idolatry. The Roman Catholic church says that bread is actually Christ. We say, “Do you mean us to understand that – that bread is literally the body of Christ, literally the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ?”
“No, not literally, but mystically it becomes such.”
It is a well-know fact that Roman priests have been poisoned at the altar drinking wine that had been blessed and was supposed to be turned into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, when some enemy had poured poison into it. It has been known that the host has been poisoned. They understand that no such change as they declare, actually takes place. But they say that at the moment of consecration Christ comes and enters it.
Here is a man making images. You say, “Are these images actually gods?”
“No, not yet.”
“When will they become gods?”
“When the priest takes them and blesses them and consecrates them to the deity they represent. Then the deity will come and dwell within them so that when the worshiper bows down he is not worshipping the image but the soul of the divinity that dwells within.”
BLASPHEMY AGAINST CHRIST’S SACRIFICE
Is there any difference between that and the Romish doctrine? None whatever. The bread was bread until the priest blessed it, and then in some mystical way Christ’s body, blood, soul and divinity became identified with it. Worship in the New Testament is only given to God the Father and God the Son in the energy of the Holy Ghost. Then the Roman church tells us that this host is a continual unbloody sacrifice for the sins of the living and the dead. Christ died once on the cross, but Christ is offered daily upon the altars of the Roman church. This, we maintain, is a denial of the all-sufficiency of the one offering of our Lord Jesus Christ. As long as sacrifice had not been found that could put away sin, it was necessary for one offering to follow another, but when Christ came into the world and offered Himself without spot unto God, then the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, thus signifying that the way into the holies is made manifest and every believer is entitled to enter into the very presence of God, washed from every sin and justified from all things through the infinite value of the atoning work of the Son of God. Now, to talk of any man on earth offering a continual sacrifice for the sins of the living and the dead is not only blasphemy against the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, but if is absolute nonsense, for the Word of God says, “Without the shedding of blood is no remission of sins.” It is worthless because being bloodless it has no value to atone for sin and because it isn’t needed to atone for sin for Jesus’ atonement has already been made.
PROTESTANTS NEED REVIVAL
Therefore, I say, there is a tremendous chasm between the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Mass and the Bible doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is a memorial feast. Christians, members of the body of Christ, come together to remember the One who died for them and who put away their sins, and do this because their sins have been put away. No instructed Christian would approach the Lord’s Table to get forgiveness. I come because my sins have been forever put away by the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus and I desire gratefully to remember the One who offered that mighty sacrifice and so fitted me for the presence of a holy God.
There can be no compromise between the two systems. While Protestant churches have been sleeping Rome has been stealing the fruits of the Reformation. While they have been quarreling about the most trifling things Rome has been getting a great many week Protestants who have looked in vain for spiritual help because they have not been hearing the precious gospel of the grace of God.
But let there be a revival of doctrinal preaching; of the proclamation of the great truths of the Reformation; of the universal priesthood of all believers, doing away with anything like a special priesthood; of the membership in the body of Christ of all who have been washed in the blood of Jesus, justified from all things, by faith in the one offering that has forever settled the sin question; of the Lord’s Supper not as a sacrament but a memorial feast. Let these great truths be re-emphasized and wherever the Word is preached in faith and dependence upon the Holy Ghost God will use it to bring joy and peace and gladness to souls as in Reformation days.
LUTHER LIT THE TORCH
Let me just remind you of Luther. When he was still a monk of the Augustinian order he went to Rome to transact business for his Order. He was delighted to go. A restless, unhappy man, having tried everything the church had to offer and yet without peace with God, he said, “If I go to Rome, the holy city, I will find all I want.” So he went, earnestly counting on meeting God. Giving his testimony afterwards he says, “Rome living would have made me an infidel, but Rome dead kept me a Christian.”
When he arrived there and saw the simony of the priests and the corruption of the church his soul was filled with horror. He said, “In Rome they sell everything for money, forgiveness, the right to commit sin– everything. In Rome they would sell the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost!”
Then at last, as he wended his way through the city, he came to the church of St. John Lateran and he learned that in it there was supposed to be the very staircase down which Christ walked from Pilate’s judgment hall. It was said that if one would go up that staircase on his hands and knees he would get great spiritual blessing by the time he reached the top. So earnest was this German monk that he was ready to do anything that might give peace, and he started up that staircase, until suddenly in the midst of it all a passage of scripture came rushing down into the depths of his soul: “The just shall live by faith.”
He sprang to his feet and said, “What a fool I am. If ‘the just shall live by faith’ what am I doing climbing this staircase?”
He went back to Germany to light that torch which for hundreds of years has been the light of all our Protestant lands and which it is Rome’s persistent and determined effort to put out if it possibly can. Rome wants religious liberty and we gladly accord the liberty we want ourselves, but let Rome become supreme again in this country or any other Protestant country and we will no longer have an open Bible, or a public school, or any of the institutions that we have learned to value. God wake us up that we may not leave to our posterity a land of bondage out of which God mercifully delivered our forefathers.
[Dr. Harry Ironside (1876-1951), a godly Fundamentalist author and teacher for many years, served as pastor of Chicago’s Moody Memorial Church from 1930-1948]