The Presence of Christ in Communion

Albert Ngu Dec 14, 2019

Communion: Baptist view (memorialism) Reformed view (spiritual presence), Lutheran view (consubstantiation), and Roman Catholic view (transubstantiation).

Catholic’s transubstantiation view teaches that the bread and wine we offer at the Lord’s Supper today is transfigured into the actual body and blood of Christ, which is a heresy.  Lutheran’s consubstantiation says that Christ is present in the Lord’s Supper in, with, and under the signs of bread and wine. Luther teaches the doctrine of ubiquity in order to show how Christ’s bodily presence is possible and actual. Luther and Calvin rejected transubstantiation with the real presence of Christ, but they both confess the real presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper.

I hold to the Reformed view of a spiritual presence of Christ in the communion. I believe that the typical evangelical view of memorial only falls short of the spiritual presence of Christ in communion. The Lord’s Supper was a meal in which bread and women were used as food and drink for strengthening o the body, and served above all as signs and seals for the exercise of communion with the crucified Christ. It is both an ordinary natural meal and an extraordinary spiritual meal, in which the host, Christ, offers his own crucified body and shed blood as nourishment for our souls. Christ has to offer up his body into death in order that it may be food of our souls. John 6: 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.

The table of the Supper being about true communion between Christ and believers, a communion not just with the benefits but above all with the person of Christ, both in his human nature and in his divine nature. Problem with Catholics and Lutheran view on communion is that in communion Christ comes down physically form heaven to earth and they can eat his body and drink his blood, not just spiritually but physically, with their mouths. By contrast, Calvin emphasized that communion of believers with Christ, also according to his human nature, is spiritual in nature, and this comes about, not because Christ comes down physically, but because we lift up our hearts spiritually to heaven, where Jesus Christ, our advocate, is at the right hand of his heavenly Father.

The communion between Christ and believers is so intimate and unbreakable. There is no transference of substance, no consubstantial oneness; like that of the three persons in the Trinity, nor a personal union like that of the two natures in Christ.

A physical union by transubstantiation and consubstantiation with the associated is totally groundless and useless because communion is brought about by the Holy Spirit, who dwells in Christ as the head and in believers as his members. Only the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ, can so unite people with Christ that they share in his person and benefits and cannot be separated from him by death to the grave, by the world or by Satan. For that reason, this communion is always spiritual in nature. It also embraces the human nature of Christ and believers in their physical existence for Christ cannot be conceived apart from human nature, and he purchased not only believer’s souls, but also their bodies.

Catholics and Lutherans, grace is something material and passive that is physically even by an unbeliever, received by believers, but for the Reformed it is the personal living Christ himself who imparts himself in the Supper as spiritual food to those who believe in him. According to the Reformed, therefore, he is not less present, but more present, much more vigorously and authentically, than according to Rome and Lutherans, for he is not physically and locally present in the sins but spiritually, as the acting Christ himself, in the hearts of believers. It is one thing to be the bread that makes us alive, but another the flesh of Christ to be life giving because from its substance life flows forth into our souls.

The Lords Supper is the sacrament of maturating in communion with Christ. The Lords’ supper remains a communion with his crucified body and with his shed blood.  Impossible with trans & Con-substantiation, as the deceased Christ recedes behind the glorified Christ. Eating Christ’s body and drinking his blood amounts to our closest possible union with Christ.

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