Scripture: Matthew 26:26-30; I Corinthians 10 and 11, especially 11:21-30.
The Article reads: "The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that the Christians ought to have among themselves one to another, but rather is a Memorial of our redemption by Christs death; insomuch, that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ: and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ."
Transubstantiation, or the change of the substance of bread and wine in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Memorial, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.
The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the means whereby the body of Christ is received, and eaten, in the Supper is faith.
The Elements of the Lords Supper were not by Christs ordinance, reserved, carried about, lifted up, worshipped."
This Article has gone through many revisions and changes. These changes have completely transformed the character of the Article itself.
During the reign of Henry VIII, the doctrine of the real presence was asserted. But in the year 1545, Ridley came across a book written by Ratramm of Corbie (840) which greatly impressed him. From the reading of this book he realized the errors of transubstantiation. Ridley was able to influence his fellow Bishop Cranmer, and won him over to his argument against the doctrine of transubstantiation. Ridley, also came under the influence of a Polish refugee, John a Lasco who refuted the doctrine of transubstantiation.
Transubstantiation teaches that the bread and wine literally became the actual body and blood of Christ. The Swiss reformers, as well as Ratramm of Corbie and John a Lasco, declared that the words are figurative, who also denied the doctrine of consubstantiation believed by Luther. Luther claimed that, although it was only bread and wine when partaken of, it became the body and blood of Christ in us. The Swiss Reformers declared it to be exactly what Christ said it was, a Memorial.
The Article that is stated at the opening of this study stands as it is now since1563. It contains four paragraphs and we will deal with each paragraph separately. The paragraphs are as follows:
1. The Description of The Lords Supper
It is a sign of love that Christians ought to have among themselves one for another.
The ritual reads: "Ye that do truly and earnestly repent of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbors---." It is the symbol of our Redemption through His death. The Supper was instituted by Christ, Himself, as a continued remembrance of His sacrificial death, and the benefits we receive thereby, and by it we "proclaim the Lords death till he come." (I Corinthians 11:26).
To such as are worthy, taking the elements with faith, receive the Bread and the Cup of Blessing as the Body and Blood of
Christ. Paul in I Corinthians 10:16 says, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ?
This passage forms an inspired Commentary upon the whole institution, when our Lord "took bread; and when He had
given thanks He brake it, and said, "This is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me." In like
manner also, the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; this do, as oft as ye drink it, in
remembrance of Me." In a sense it is a recognition of the Presence already always with the believer. The unredeemed, not
having the witness of the indwelling Presence, would know nothing of the real blessing of the Communion. To the believer
He is as real as the bread and the wine. This is a remembrance of that.
This doctrine of transubstantiation was unknown during the first eight centuries of the Churchs history. The doctrine was first promoted during the eleventh century and was definitely adopted by Innocent III, at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. Pope Innocent decreed that the Body and Blood are truly contained in the Supper in the forms of bread and wine. The Western or Roman Church has always declare this to be their position in the matter.
The Roman Church declared: I fancy one shall deny that in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist are verily, really, and substantially contained the Body and Blood, together with the Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently whole Christ; but shall say that He is only therein as in a sign, or in a figure or virtue: let him be anathema" The Doctrine has been condemned by the Reformers for four reasons which we shall consider in this stud
(1) It cannot be proven by Holy Scriptures. The so-called transformation or change from bread and wine to the Body and Blood of Christ cannot possibly be read in the text nor can it be inferred from it.
(2) It is repugnant to the plain words of the Scriptures themselves. According to the teachings of those who hold the "transubstantiation view" the elements are no longer "bread and wine." Jesus declared that they were and Paul stated that they remained just bread and wine. We review I Corinthians 11:26, 28 again, 'As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye proclaim the Lords death till He come..,Let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
(3) The teaching of Transubstantiation overthrows and destroys the very nature of the Ordinance itself It is of the very essence of the Ordinances that there should be two parts, the "outward visible sign" and the "inward spiritual grace." If these two parts are not clearly distinct there is no memorial and the very nature of the Ordinance is destroyed and the words of both Jesus and Paul are rendered meaningless.
(4) Then the doctrine of Transubstantiation has given rise to many superstitions, beliefs. Neither time nor space would permit us to go into detail, but as examples, once it was said that the statue disappeared and the Infant Christ Himself appeared on the Altar. Another time blood was said to flow from the consecrated altar. Other examples could be given but these should suffice.
No other doctrine has been so perverted or abused as the Ordinance of Institution of the Lords Supper. Yet no other
doctrine is of such blessing as the Supper when rightly understood and received.
3. The Nature of His Presence
Let us remember that the Body and Blood are in no way carnally and corporally present after the manner of a body,
physically, and according to laws which govern a local and material presence. In the Supper, the body of Christ is given,
taken and eaten in the Supper only after an heavenly and spiritually manner. That is, the body of Christ is received and
eaten in the Supper as an act of faith. Faith receives but it cannot create or bestow. The Presence is already there indwelling
the believer. The Supper is a reminder of what took place on Calvary to make that indwelling Presence possible.
4. Concerning Practices Condemned
It has been the custom of the Roman Church over the centuries to promote great demonstrations and outdoor masses. In these demonstrations the host or the Cup is carried through the streets with great pomp and display. This article condemns that practice. The worship of the elements themselves is condemned as idolatry and confusing to the spiritual blessing obtained by participation in the fellowship of the Communion or Supper.
Reservations were made for the carrying of the elements to the sick or infirm who, otherwise, would be omitted from the fellowship.
I think that we might treat too lightly that which remains of the bread and wine after the Communion is completed. The Anglican Prayer Book, published in 1552, stressed that the remaining bread and wine, after the Supper, should be eaten by the officiating pastors. Some reverent means should be devised if we are to think back with reverence and joy upon the experienced blessing, for the disposing of left-over bread and wine after participating in the Supper.
It is only right and proper to adore Christ, but such an idolatrous distinct localizing upon these objects of Bread and Wine is not what our Lord intended. Like the worship of the Serpent of Brass, the elements become more important than the purpose intended and the fullness of the blessing is lost. The ritual reads: "You who intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in His holy ways: draw near with faith, and take this holy Ordinance to your comfort; and make your humble confession to Almighty God..." Remembering that Jesus "in the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, brake it, and gave it to His disciples saying, Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me. Likewise after supper He took the cup; and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them saying, Drink ye all of this: for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins; do this, as oft as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of me. Amen."
And so we feed on Christ in our hearts by faith with thanksgiving remembering Him until we shall see Him face to face.