What is the Holy Communion?
Transubstantiation? Consubstantiation? Sacramental union? Just a symbol?…
Do the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus Christ?
Are the body and blood of Christ really present with the bread and wine unchanged?
Are the body and blood of Christ present sacramentally with the bread and wine unchanged?
What does all this mean?
And why should we philosophize to present the simple biblical truth?…
The Holy Communion: a sacrament
We have seen the explanation of what a sacrament is in our article: What did the Church Fathers believe about baptism?
The biblical language is different from our modern ways of expression or the analytic and systematic ways that theology teachers use to explain biblical truths today. For example, you can’t find in the Bible any passage where baptism or the Lord’s Supper or the Trinity is explained in an analytic way. When the Bible talks about the signs that God gives as the seals of His promises, it doesn’t say “this sign is not the truth itself, but it only signifies the assurance of the promise”; it naturally links the promise to the sign, calling the sign by the name of the effect or the promise itself, because the sign is given by God for this very purpose, i.e. to make the sign truly express that promise and its unshakable and sure nature. For instance, after the Flood, God said to Noah: “I set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be for a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass when I bring clouds over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud, and I will remember my covenant which is between me and you and every living soul of all flesh; and the waters shall not henceforth become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living soul of all flesh that is upon the earth.” (Genesis 9:13-16) Here is an interesting passage where we see how the Bible expresses things that the modern man misunderstands. Skeptics, when reading this passage, conclude that the Bible presents a god who forgets and needs to be reminded of things… But that’s because they don’t know what the signs are according to the biblical language. Indeed, before God gave this sign to Noah, He already had the eternal purpose not to destroy all flesh anymore again as long as the earth remains: “And Jehovah said in his heart, I will no more henceforth curse the ground on account of Man, for the thought of Man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will no more smite every living thing, as I have done. Henceforth, all the days of the earth, seed [time] and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:21-22) So God would never smite every living thing as long as the earth remains, and that rainbow was not the reason why He would not do that. But why did He say those things to Noah while giving him the sign of the rainbow? It’s because the sign was given as an assurance for Noah that God would never forget His promise, and thus the promise was sure! In other words, the sign expressed the following truth, but without words: “Noah, later on some strong floods will still happen on earth. When they happen, and even if the weakness of your faith or of the faith of any believer may make you think that God may have forgotten His promise and that that flood will destroy the whole earth again as it did in the days of Noah, just look to the rainbow, and you will get assured that the flood will not destroy the whole earth, because God has given you that sign as an assurance of His promise not to destroy the whole earth again”. You see how a misunderstanding of the signs makes you understand the exact opposite of what is said. Indeed, in this passage God is saying that He may never forget His promise and that He has even given a sign of assurance, while the skeptic understands from it that God may forget… Actually, if God may forget, then how can we be sure that He will not even forget what the rainbow signifies?…
Another example is the lamb of the Passover. Well, look what Jesus said: “say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”‘” (Mark 14:14) To eat the Passover?? Well, the Passover is not something that can be eaten… The Passover is the fact that the Angel of the Lord passed over (and thus the name) the houses of the sons of Israel when He smote the Egyptians… So how could Jesus eat this Passover?… Here is how: “‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.” (Exodus 12:27) So Jesus ate the Passover sacrifice or lamb! But how did He call that sacrifice? He called it by the name of the thing signified by that sacrifice, and thus He simply said that He would eat the Passover. Does this mean that the Passover lamb could save the children of Israel if they didn’t believe the promise? Not at all! For indeed God said that if anyone of the sons of Israel didn’t stay at home and eat that lamb, he would be destroyed with the Egyptians. So one needs to believe what God expresses by the given sign, or else the sign does not help him in anything. But when someone believes the signified truth of the sign, then this sign becomes for him a visible Word of God and an assurance of the certainty of His promise. The sons of Israel who obeyed God and ate the Passover lamb and put of its blood a sign on their doors could be assured that their firstborn males would not die that night! This is how the sign helps the weakness of our faith. Further, it is a sign that expresses a covenant between God and His people, as it expresses a promise of God to His people. Note that all covenants are based on a promise.
Having clarified these important things, let’s pass to the subject of the Holy Communion or the Christian Eucharist. Indeed, the bread and wine are the sign similar to what we have seen above. God has given this sign to be received by faith as signifying the assurance of the death of Christ for all our sins (past, present and future). And just like the lamb of Passover, the bread and wine are called by the name of the fact that they signify: the bread is called the body of Christ, and the wine is called the blood of Christ. They are the sacramental body and blood of Jesus Christ. Now, faith receives the promise or the Word of God, and thus it is a living faith; and the sign of bread and wine in the Eucharist is a visible Word of God. This in fact is what we call a sacrament. During time, the Church has reached this common way of expressing this biblical truth of signs and the truth that they signify. This common expression is “sacrament”. A sacrament is a sign and a promise linked to it by God in order to give us the assurance of the thing signified by the sign, as we have seen above.
Brief: Sacrament = a sign from God + a promise from God linked to the sign.
So instead of philosophizing about whether the Eucharist is Transubstantiation or Consubstantiation, or sacramental union, or even a mere symbol, we should just accept the biblical conclusion that the Church has made a long time ago: The Eucharist is a sacrament, i.e. it is a sign with a promise linked to it, and the sign is called by the very name of the thing signified: the bread is called the body of Christ, and the wine is called the blood of Christ.
If it were easy to explain how God is, we would not invent the words Trinity and Person.
Those words represent each a biblical truth. The Church had to pass long years of study in the Word to find these human words that can explain the biblical truths in the best human way.
But those words are not mentioned in the Bible.
In the same way, the Church has invented the word Sacrament to explain something that is in the Bible but that cannot be explained plainly with any other single word.
But the error that many made was to try to explain it…
So some said it’s Transubstantiation;
others said it’s just a symbol;
others said it’s Consubstantiation;
others said they will make Consubstantiation more exact: they said it’s sacramental union…
And thus they got in trouble with God and with each other, and they kept fighting without understanding the truth of God’s Word…
The simple fact is: it’s a sacrament.
Why should we invent other expressions that make things more complicated and make the very sacrament that should be the symbol of the unity of believers (see 1 Corinthians 10:17) a cause of their divisions because of mutual misunderstandings (even when in fact they all say the same thing, but each with his own complicated vocabulary that the other side misunderstands)…
No, it’s simply a sacrament.
It’s a sign with a promise.
The sacrament is received by faith alone
When I receive the sign by faith in the promise which is linked to it, I have that promise.
How do I have the promise?
By faith alone!
So when I go to the Lord’s Table, I believe I am taking the body and blood of Christ;
and it’s this faith that receives the promise presented by that sign;
and thus I grow by faith.
Is the Eucharist a bloodless sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins?
Do we receive the forgiveness of our sins by receiving the bread and wine?
Is the Eucharist a bloodless sacrifice, as the Roman Catholics call it, by which we receive the forgiveness of our sins only to need that forgiveness again next time we come to the Eucharist?…
Is it the same Sacrifice of Jesus Christ offered again and again each time we do the Eucharist?…
Of course it’s not a resacrificing, because by faith we’re perfected by the once for all offering of Christ’s body (see Hebrews 10:10,14). The Old Covenant sacrifices needed to be offered again and again, because they could not assure an eternal forgiveness of sins and a once-for-all perfection of the saints, but Christ’s Sacrifice does not need to be repeated; it needs to be remembered in the sacrament. “Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10:18)
But yes, we receive the washing of our feet, yet NOT the cleansing of our bodies.
just as the Lord meant,
that we don’t receive the judicial forgiveness again;
and that’s once for all;
but we receive the filial forgiveness by faith alone,
i.e. daily sanctification.
Once again, this is not bound to the sign in a way that makes it impossible to be received without the sign,
but we receive it through the sign.
God has joined it to the sign in a way that the sacrament be respected and not neglected, yet He did not join it in a way to make the sign the whole fact.
This means: we’re forgiven every day (our feet are cleansed) as we walk in repentance, even though we do not eat the bread and we do not drink the wine each day.
Just as Jesus didn’t eat the Passover but the Passover lamb, we also do not receive the forgiveness of our sins by the mere eating of the bread and drinking of the blood, because we do not eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood if we do not have faith. We receive the forgiveness of our sins by receiving what the bread and wine signify, i.e. the Sacrifice of the Lord on the cross which is not only for our justification, but also for our sanctification. The forgiveness received in the Eucharist (or the Lord’s Supper) is the filial forgiveness, and not the judicial forgiveness (justification) without which no one can approach the Lord’s Table without deserving the divine judgment (see 1 Corinthians 11:29). More details about the link between justification and sanctification in our article: The relation between justification and sanctification. When you approach the Lord’s Table, you should have already eaten the body of Christ and drunk His blood (you should have been justified by faith), otherwise you will not have life in yourself (see John 6:53) and thus you will take the bread and wine for your condemnation! When you approach the Lord’s Table, you should be walking in light, as He is in light, as we have seen in our article A conversation with a Roman Catholic — Mainly about the new birth. So it’s not true, as Roman Catholics say, that when you take that bread and wine you are forgiven your sins… If you’re not justified, then the taking of that bread and that wine is for your judgment and not for the forgiveness of your sins! 1 John 1:7: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Roman Catholics believe a baptized person may be walking in sin, and then suddenly he decides to get forgiveness, so he repents and confesses his sins to a priest, then he goes and takes the Eucharist, and thus he is forgiven. Yet 1 John 1:7 puts a condition: that we walk in the light, as He is in the light… Only the saint who is cleansed once-for-all can keep cleansing his feet, and 1 John 1:7 is talking about this feet-cleansing; it is a cleansing that has as goal to keep us in the way of light, and not to turn us back from darkness to light. The Bible calls the Christians “saints” and not half saints and half sinners; “children of light”, and not half children of light and half children of darkness. Jesus called that which is born of the Spirit spirit, and not half spirit and half flesh (read John 3:6). We are either fleshly by nature or spiritual by nature; we can’t be both. We are either in the flesh or in the Spirit by nature. The Bible says that all true Christians are saints who are spiritual by nature and who are separated from the world to be Christ’s own possession. Yes, the Bible calls the Christians “saints”… We are justified sinners, and Justification is not separate from Sanctification. It’s because we are (now) sinners and we are justified (already) that we are saints. Being a saint is not opposite to the fact of being a sinner, on the condition that we are justified by faith in Christ. If we are not justified by faith in Christ, then yes, being a sinner is opposite to being a saint. The Bible calls true Christians “saints”: Read for example Romans 1:7, Philippians 1:1. We are saints, not in ourselves, but saints in Christ Jesus. The Bible calls true Christians “holy”: Read Hebrews 3:1. The Bible clearly says that only the pure in heart will see God (read Matthew 5:8), and that without holiness no one will see the Lord (read Hebrews 12:14). The Bible calls true Christians saints, a holy nation, a kingly priesthood, a people for God’s possession, i.e. a people separated or sanctified for God (saints): “But ye [are] a chosen race, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a people for a possession, that ye might set forth the excellencies of him who has called you out of darkness to his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). True Christians are children of light, people who are by nature light and who walk in light and not in darkness: “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light” (Ephesians 5:8). True Christians are people about whom the following words of the Lord are true: “but he that practises the truth comes to the light, that his works may be manifested that they have been wrought in God.” (John 3:21) “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not practise the truth.” (1 John 1:6) But this is where people will say I am a perfectionist, although I am saying the same things that all true Christians in all times always believed. But today easy-believism has become the rule as it seems…
We have seen that per 1 John 1:7, only those who walk in the light have their feet cleansed each day, as they keep the fellowship of the saints. The Lord said: “He that is washed all over needs not to wash save his feet, but is wholly clean; and ye are clean“ (John 13:10); “Ye are already clean by reason of the word which I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3) True Christians are already clean; they are purified by the blood of Jesus once for all. They don’t need to be washed all over again and again. They don’t need to be purified again and again. They only need to wash their feet, their walk, to be purified more and more in their walk, but not in their nature. Their new nature is pure once for all; it can’t be purified more; it can grow as they walk in sanctification. They are purified by the blood of Jesus once for all; they are perfected once for all. Their new nature does not need to be cleansed again and again, because it is pure from the very first moment of its birth in regeneration and it is always pure by the blood of Christ. We don’t need animal sacrifices that are offered again and again and that cannot purify the sinner; the once for all Sacrifice of Christ is enough to perfect once for all those who are sanctified: “by which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10); “For by one offering he has perfected in perpetuity the sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14) So in 1 John 1:7 John is not talking about the once-for-all repentance in which the sinner originally turns to God for the once-for-all cleansing, but about the continuous repentance that a saint keeps repenting in order not to fall in sin and worldliness. And the Eucharist is the sacrament of this feet-cleansing, and only the saints can approach the Lord’s Table without bringing judgment upon themselves. Remember that in the last night, when the Lord instituted the Holy Communion, He had in the same time washed the feet of the disciples and He had told them that the one who is cleansed all over only needs to have his feet washed. John later explains in 1 John 3:9 that a born again Christian will keep walking in light and in righteousness, so he cannot sin, i.e. he cannot continue in sin, as per 1 John 1:7 he will surely keep repenting and receiving the washing of his feet and thus continue in righteousness. We have detailed explanations of this truth in our articles: 1. A true Christian is a saint — Perfection in Christ, 2. Blameless in Christ… not legalists…, 3. The relation between justification and sanctification.
So only the saint who walks in the light and, based on the once-for-all Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, has the full forgiveness of all his sins (past, present and future), can approach the Lord’s Table. This is clear even in old liturgies of the Mass, when in the invitation to communion they say: “Holy things for the holy, with perfection, purity, and sanctity.” (See this here in the Maronite liturgy which is an Eastern Roman Catholic liturgy). This was a clear warning for the people that those who are not already saints (sanctified) by the once-for-all justification and forgiveness of their sins cannot approach the holy things, i.e. the Lord’s Table. But just two lines later they say: “Make us worthy, O Lord God, to sanctify our bodies with your holy body and to purify our souls with your forgiving blood. May our communion be for the forgiveness of our sins and for eternal life.” Here we see how this liturgy has included in it all the theological errors that came during the centuries and which turned the Eucharist to a sacrifice for sins. Indeed, you can see the clear contradiction: if no one can approach the Table without already being sanctified and forgiven all his sins, then how is it that the communion will bring him the forgiveness of his sins??! That’s why a reformation of the Eucharist was needed (i.e. a turning back to the original truth of the Eucharist), but Roman Catholics still refuse the Reformation. We have seen above how the already saint receives the filial forgiveness through the sacrament of the Eucharist: this is the reformed original biblical understanding of the sacrament.
Many Christians misunderstand the sacrament of the Lord’s Table
I wonder why people don’t know this, although the Bible says it…
Even many who call themselves Evangelical or Protestant do not know this truth of the sacrament.
Is it because of the many theories?
Or just ignorance?
Why don’t they want to study these things and know the truth from the Bible? Is it because they don’t have the love of God’s Word?…
Many people just know the Baptist version or another non-sacramental modern version of the Lord’s Supper, and they think that’s what the sign is: just an ordinance, just a symbol that should be done in obedience to a commandment… They think this is the only way to get separate from the errors of the Roman Catholics concerning the Lord’s Supper: by bringing a radical change to the understanding of the biblical signs (sacraments)…
Baptists call the Lord’s Supper an ordinance, a commandment to obey.
A sacrament is not a mere commandment to obey;
it’s a promise, a sign with a promise which we RECEIVE.
A sacrament is RECEIVED by obedient faith, and not DONE as an act of obedience.
As we receive it, THUS we obey.
It’s by faith that we obey;
faith means RECEIVING graces.
“for of his fulness we all have received, and grace upon grace.” (John 1:16)
We begin our walk with the Lord by receiving the grace of the new birth and justification,
and we keep receiving all the time the graces of sanctification,
and THUS we obey what God has commanded,
including the keeping of the Lord’s Supper.
If we keep the Lord’s Supper in any other way than by faith, then we keep it legalistically,
and that’s not faith.
If it’s just a symbol, and if we have to obey it as an ordinance, then it is not a sacrament that will nourish faith, as we have seen above. Such an obedience is without real faith and it’s legalism.
Faith is always dependent of PROMISES, i.e. of God’s Word.
How is the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist neglected?
How does one neglect the Lord’s Supper? Is it by not taking the bread and wine?
No, but by not walking in repentance, and thus by not taking.
A true Christian, i.e. a saint, never neglects the Lord’s Supper, because, as we have seen, the one who is born of God cannot continue in sin. The saint will always respect the Lord’s Supper, i.e. the sacrament (I remind you that this is not just the sign, but the sign AND the promise linked to it), even if he couldn’t take the Eucharist (i.e. the elements of bread and wine) for some reason. The true Christian always respects the thing signified by the sacrament. Even when he can’t take the bread and wine, he still respects the sacrament. He may fall in a doctrinal or practical error concerning the Eucharist, and that may happen because of immaturity in understanding the spiritual things, but the Lord will discipline him, and he will be kept in the way of light and will not fall: “But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.” (1 Corinthians 11:32) Read more about the discipline of God for His children in our article: God disciplines His children. But the false believers neglect the Lord’s Supper by not walking in repentance. Even if such a false believer takes the Eucharist, he will still be neglecting it, because he does not respect the promise or the Word linked to that sign. Such a person brings judgment on himself, i.e. condemnation, and not just correction or discipline as it is in the case we have seen above with the true believer: “For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.” (1 Corinthians 11:29)
What’s the real name of this sacrament?
In the history of the Church, Christians called this sacrament with some names according to what is said about it in the Bible; some were right, others were not so exact, and still others were heretical.
Is this sacrament the Holy Mass? The Sacrament of the Altar? Is it the Divine Liturgy? Is it the Eucharist? Is it the Holy Communion? The Lord’s Supper? The Lord’s Table? Breaking of the bread?…
When we want to call this sacrament by a name, we should care to be precise in order not to give a false doctrine about it through that name. By that name, we should present the biblical truth, and not invent a new meaning which is not found in the Bible and/or contradicts what the Bible teaches about this sacrament.
According to the biblical explanation that we have seen above, this sacrament is indeed the Eucharist. The word “Eucharist” is from the Greek “Echaristia” which means “thanksgiving”. When the Lord instituted this sacrament, He gave thanks:
“For I received from the Lord, that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus, in the night in which he was delivered up, took bread, and having given thanks broke [it], and said, This is my body, which [is] for you: this do in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24)
This verb “given thanks” is almost a synonym of “blessed” in other texts of the same fact:
“And as they were eating, Jesus, having taken [the] bread and blessed, broke [it] and gave [it] to the disciples, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26)
Thanksgiving is an act of faith by which we RECEIVE God’s blessing on the bread and wine. Indeed, the Greek word “Eucharistia” contains the root “charis” (grace, favor), and it means that we have received a grace; it’s the same in Armenian when we say “thank you” (“shnorhagal em”), and it literally means “I have received grace”. In the Eucharist, we receive the grace presented to us in the promise linked to that sign, as we have seen. In the Eucharist also, like in everything in our lives, we present the sacrifice of thankfulness: “By him therefore let us offer [the] sacrifice of praise continually to God, that is, [the] fruit of [the] lips confessing his name.” (Hebrews 13:15)
So the name Eucharist can be used, because it presents the biblical truth of what a sacrament is.
– Holy Communion:
Again, this sacrament is rightly called “Holy Communion”, because the Apostle Paul called it like that:
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not [the] communion of the blood of the Christ? The bread which we break, is it not [the] communion of the body of the Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16)
And immediately after this verse, the Apostle explains that this communion with the body and blood of Christ through the sacramental body and blood make us also be in communion with His body on earth, the Church:
“Because we, [being] many, are one loaf, one body; for we all partake of that one loaf.” (1 Corinthians 10:17)
So this sacrament is the communion with the body and blood of Christ and with the Church which is the one body of Christ. Thus this name “Holy Communion” also agrees with the definition of the sacrament as seen above.
– The Lord’s Supper:
Again, this sacrament is rightly called “the Lord’s Supper”, because the Apostle Paul called it like that:
“When ye come therefore together into one place, it is not to eat [the] Lord’s supper.” (1 Corinthians 11:20)
– The Lord’s Table:
Again, this sacrament is rightly called “the Lord’s Table”, because the Apostle Paul called it like that:
“Ye cannot drink [the] Lord’s cup, and [the] cup of demons: ye cannot partake of [the] Lord’s table, and of [the] table of demons.” (1 Corinthians 10:21)
To be more precise, the Lord’s Table is the Table on which the sacrament is presented to us by God.
– Breaking of the bread:
Again, this sacrament is rightly called “breaking of the bread”, because that’s how the Bible describes it:
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not [the] communion of the blood of the Christ? The bread which we break, is it not [the] communion of the body of the Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16)
– The Divine Liturgy
This name also can be used, but we should be careful with it, because some people can take it as formalism and legalism. We should understand this expression as meaning the holy service and worship in which we receive the sacrament of the Holy Communion. It is not wrong to have some form of worship which we follow in all services of this sacrament (even those who refuse this term “liturgy” have some form which they usually follow), but this should not go to the negative extreme of formalism; the regular gifts of the Spirit should be respected and the Holy Spirit should not be quenched. For an additional study of what it means to quench the Spirit, you can read the following article: Grieving the Holy Spirit/Quenching the Spirit.
All of the above explained names can be used, because they are biblical and/or agree with the biblical doctrine of this sacrament. Some expressions like “the Lord’s Supper” are preferred by Baptists and other denominations that deny the sacramental meaning, but we remind them that they cannot deny the fact that “communion” also is used in the Bible and it clearly gives the meaning of a sacrament, a sharing in the promise signified by the sign. We can’t take just one biblical expression used about this sacrament and leave others out.
But what we categorically cannot do (and we are clearly heretics if we do) is to call the sacrament a sacrifice or a Mass, and to call the Lord’s Table an Altar, as we will now see:
– The Mass:
Originally, the word Mass comes from the Latin Missa which means dismissal, and it is used after the words that were said at the end of the eucharistic service: “Ite, missa est” (“Go; it is the dismissal”). So if this term is used for the Eucharist in this original sense, then it is not theologically wrong, although it doesn’t express the sacramental meaning and it is not derived from a biblical text. But the sad fact is that during time, this word Mass has taken the Roman Catholic wrong definition given to the sacrament, i.e. sacrifice. This word today (with its equivalent words used in other traditions, such as Holy Qurban and Holy Badarak that all mean sacrifice) is used to mean “The Holy Sacrifice”. This is explained by the Roman Catholic Encyclopedia:
Popular speech gradually applied the ritual of dismissal, as it was expressed in both the Mass of the Catechumens and the Mass of the Faithful, by synecdoche to the entire Eucharistic Sacrifice, the whole being named after the part. The first certain trace of such an application is found in Ambrose (Ep. xx, 4, in P.L. XVI, 995). We will use the word in this sense in our consideration of the Mass in its existence, essence, and causality.
So the term Mass means today “Eucharistic Sacrifice”.
As we have seen above, the Lord’s Supper is a sacrament and not a sacrifice. The Sacrifice which the Lord Jesus offered, He offered it once for all, and there is no need to offer it again and again. It’s not a bloodless sacrifice either, as the Roman Catholics call it; God does not accept a bloodless sacrifice: “but into the second, the high priest only, once a year, not without blood, which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people” (Hebrews 9:7); “But Christ being come high priest of the good things to come, by the better and more perfect tabernacle not made with hand, (that is, not of this creation,) nor by blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, has entered in once for all into the [holy of] holies, having found an eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:11-12); “and without blood-shedding there is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22); “for the soul of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul.” (Leviticus 17:11) So the Lord Jesus had to offer His real blood, and an imaginary “bloodless sacrifice” cannot replace that Sacrifice. Roman Catholics contradict themselves when once they say the Mass is the same Sacrifice that the Lord offered on the cross and then they say it is a bloodless sacrifice; I wonder if they think the Lord did not really offer His blood on the cross… If He did, then how is it a bloodless sacrifice??! This is a clear evidence that Roman Catholics believe the Eucharist is a resacrificing of Jesus, which clearly contradicts the Scripture, and especially the passages from the Epistle to the Hebrews, as we have seen above.
So the term Mass in its present usage clearly contradicts the sacramental nature of the Lord’s Supper: If it were a sacrifice, then it would not be a sacrament; it would just be a sacrifice. If it were the sacrifice itself, then there would not be a need to speak of a sign and of a promise linked to it (i.e. sacrament); it would just be the real fact, the real sacrifice itself. But the fact is that it is a sacrament and not a sacrifice; this is what the Bible teaches.
– Sacrament of the Altar:
As we have seen in the previous paragraph, “Sacrament” and “Sacrifice” are two contradictory terms when used about the Lord’s Supper. If it is a sacrament, then it is not a sacrifice. So it is wrong to use the term “Altar” for the Lord’s Table, because the term “Altar” is used for that table where a sacrifice is offered, and we have seen that the sacrament is not a sacrifice. But if the word “Altar” is only used in a sacramental sense, i.e. if we mean by it that that table only represents the real Altar where the real Sacrifice was offered once for all (see Hebrews 9:11 and Hebrews 13:10), then it is acceptable, but we should always be careful not to mislead people to think that the Eucharist is a sacrifice, and it is preferable to avoid the term. It’s a sacrament; let us not tarnish this fact with terms like “Altar”.
– Sacrament of the Holy Sacrifice (Armenian: Սուրբ Պատարագի Խորհուրդ):
Just like the case of the word “Mass”, this expression can both be a contradiction or an acceptable name for this sacrament. If we mean by it that what is found on the Table is the sacrifice itself, then that’s a false doctrine: it can’t be both a sacrifice and a sacrament, as we have seen. If we mean by it that what is found on the Table itself is the sacrament of the Holy Sacrifice which was offered once for all on the cross, then we agree with the right definition of a sacrament.
I will close this article here, although I realize I have not covered all the aspects of the Holy Communion. But the purpose of this article was just to clarify what the Holy Communion is, and not to cover all the aspects.
Grace be with you!
Disciple of Jesus Christ