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The Holy Supper

Lord’s Day 28

75. How is it signified and sealed to you in the Holy Supper that you partake of the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross and all His benefits?

Thus: that Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat of this broken bread and to drink of this cup in remembrance of Him, and has joined therewith these promises:1 first, that His body was offered and broken on the cross for me and His blood shed for me, as certainly as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup communicated to me; and further, that with His crucified body and shed blood He Himself feeds and nourishes my soul to everlasting life, as certainly as I receive from the hand of the minister and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, which are given me as certain tokens of the body and blood of Christ.

1 Mt 26:26-28; Mk 14:22-24; Lk 22:19-20; 1 Cor 10:16-17, 11:23-25, 12:13

76. What does it mean to eat the crucified body and drink the shed blood of Christ?

It means not only to embrace with a believing heart all the sufferings and death of Christ, and thereby to obtain the forgiveness of sins and life eternal;1 but moreover, also, to be so united more and more to His sacred body by the Holy Spirit,2 who dwells both in Christ and in us, that, although He is in heaven3 and we on earth, we are nevertheless flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone,4 and live and are governed forever by one Spirit, as members of the same body are governed by one soul.5

1 Jn 6:35, 40, 47-48, 50-54; 2 Jn 6:55-56; 1 Cor 12:13; 3 Acts 1:9-11, 3:21; 1 Cor 11:26; Col 3:1; 4 1 Cor 6:15, 17, 19; Eph 3:16-19, 5:29-30, 32; 1 Jn 4:13; 5 Jn 6:56-58, 63, 14:23, 15:1-6; Eph 4:15-16; 1 Jn 3:24

77. Where has Christ promised that He will thus feed and nourish believers with His body and blood as certainly as they eat of this broken bread and drink of this cup?

In the institution of the Supper, which says: “The Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread: and when He had given thanks, He broke 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 eaten, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He come.”1 And this promise is also repeated by the Apostle Paul, where he says: “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? Because there is one bread, so we being many are one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread.”2

1 1 Cor 11:23-25; 2 1 Cor 10:16-17

Lord’s Day 29

78. Do, then, the bread and the wine become the real body and blood of Christ?

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,1so also in the Lord’s Supper the sacred bread2 does not become the body of Christ itself, though agreeably to the nature and usage of sacraments it is called the body of Christ.3

1 Mt 26:29; Eph 5:26; Tit 3:5; 2 Mt 26:26-29; 1 Cor 11:26-28; 3 Gen 17:10-11; Ex 12:11, 13, 26-27, 43, 48; 1 Cor 10:1-4, 16-17, 26-28

79. Why then does Christ call the bread His body, and the cup His blood, or the new covenant in His blood; and the apostle Paul, the communion of the body and the blood of Christ?

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;1 but much more, by this visible sign and pledge to assure us that we are as really partakers of His true body and blood by the working of the Holy Spirit, as we receive by the mouth of the body these holy tokens in remembrance of Him;2 and that all His sufferings and obedience are as certainly our own, as if we ourselves had suffered and done all in our own person.3

1 Jn 6:51-55; 2 1 Cor 5:16-17, 10:16-17, 11:26; 3 Rom 6:5-11

Lord’s Day 30

80. What difference is there between the Lord’s Supper and the Pope’s Mass?

The Lord’s Supper testifies to us that we have full forgiveness of all our sins by the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which He Himself once accomplished on the cross;1 and that by the Holy Spirit we are ingrafted into Christ,2 who, with His true body, is now in heaven at the right hand of the Father,3 and is there to be worshipped.4 But the Mass teaches that the living and the dead do not have forgiveness of sins through the sufferings of Christ, unless Christ is still daily offered for them by the priests, and that Christ is bodily under the form of bread and wine, and is therefore to be worshipped in them. And thus the Mass at bottom is nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice and suffering of Jesus Christ,5 and an accursed idolatry.

1 Mt 26:28; Jn 19:30; Heb 7:27, 9:12, 25-28, 10:10-12, 14; 2 1 Cor 6:17, 10:16-17; 3 Jn 20:17; Acts 7:55-56; Heb 1:3, 8:1; 4 Lk 24:52; Jn 4:21-24, 20:17; Acts 7:55; Php 3:20-21; Col 3:1; 1 Thes 1:9-10; 5 Mt 4:10; Heb 9, 10

81. Who are to come to the table of the Lord?

Those who are displeased with themselves for their sins, yet trust that these are forgiven them, and that their remaining infirmity is covered by the suffering and death of Christ; who also desire more and more to strengthen their faith and to amend their life. But the impenitent and hypocrites eat and drink judgment to themselves.1

1 Ps 51:3, 103:1-4; Mt 5:6; Jn 7:37-38; 1 Cor 10:19-22, 11:26-32

82. Are they, then, also to be admitted to this Supper who show themselves by their confession and life to be unbelieving and ungodly?

No, for thereby the covenant of God is profaned and His wrath provoked against the whole congregation;1 therefore, the Christian Church is bound, according to the order of Christ and His Apostles, to exclude such persons by the Office of the Keys until they amend their lives.

1 Ps 50:16-17; Isa 1:11-17, 66:3; Jer 7:21-23; Mt 7:6; 1 Cor 11:17-34; 2 Thes 3:6; Tit 3:10-11

Preaching and Discipline

Lord’s Day 31

83. What is the Office of the Keys?

The preaching of the Holy Gospel and Christian discipline; by these two the kingdom of heaven is opened to believers and shut against unbelievers.1

1 Mt 16:18-19, 18:18; Lk 24:46-47; Jn 20:21-23; 1 Cor 1:23-24

84. How is the kingdom of heaven opened and shut by the preaching of the Holy Gospel?

In this way: that, according to the command of Christ, it is proclaimed and openly witnessed to believers, one and all, that as often as they accept with true faith the promise of the Gospel, all their sins are really forgiven them of God for the sake of Christ’s merits; and on the contrary, to all unbelievers and hypocrites, that the wrath of God and eternal condemnation abide on them so long as they are not converted.1 According to this testimony of the Gospel, God will judge men both in this life and in that which is to come.

1 Isa 58:1; Mt 16:19; Jn 3:31-36, 8:24, 20:21-23; Acts 10:43; 2 Cor 2:15-16

85. How is the kingdom of heaven shut and opened by Christian discipline?

In this way: that, according to the command of Christ, if any under the Christian name show themselves unsound either in doctrine or in life, and after several brotherly admonitions do not turn from their errors or evil ways, they are complained of to the Church or to its proper officers; and, if they neglect to hear them also, are by them denied the holy sacraments and thereby excluded from the Christian communion, and by God Himself from the kingdom of Christ; and if they promise and show real amendment, they are again received as members of Christ and His Church.1

1 Mt 18:15-20; Lk 15:20-24; 1 Cor 5:3-5, 11-13; 2 Cor 2:6-11; 2 Thes 3:14-15; 2 Jn 10-11

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The Heidelberg Catechism