True and False Worship: The Cross and the Mass
by Richard Bennett
Worshiping God is that communion
that exists in true harmony between the Creator and the creature man.
A. Before the Fall,
1. There were no restraints on
relationship between God and Adam. God spoke to Adam, laying out for him hi
duties, instructing him concerning his environment (Genesis 1:28-30), created
a help meet for him (Genesis 2:21-22).
2. Adam had only external
restraint, "Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat
of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis
At the Fall, the relationship
between God and Adam was severed by Adamís sin (Genesis 3:6-8).
II. The Biblical Pattern for True Worship
God took the initiative in
restoring the Creator-creature relationship severed by Adamís single act of
rebellion Godís taking the initiative involves both the negative, by showing
them what is unacceptable, and the positive, by giving them a promise which He
will fulfill by means of the covenant of grace.
A. In initiating how
restoration between God and man will take place, God first addressees the sin,
metes out the punishment, promises restoration of relationship between Himself
and man, and then initiates action which thousands of years later will fulfill
1. The promise of restoration, or
salvation, is given in Genesis 3:15, "And I will put enmity between thee and
the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and
thou shalt bruise his heel."
2. Having made the promise, God
initiates the action which at the time of the resurrection of Jesus Christ
will fulfill perfectly the promise of restoration of the relationship between
the Creator and His creatures. Godís first action after the promise is to slay
animals to make covering for Adam and Eve, "Unto Adam also an to his wife did
the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them" (Genesis 3:21). In so
doing, God has set the pattern for how the restoration shall be accomplished,
for this action on Godís part foreshadows the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
"Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in
once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us" (Hebrews
In taking the initiative, God shows
that one cannot approach God in his own way; Adam with his fig leaf, Cain with
his grain offering, and Nadab and Abihu offering strange fire are examples.
God sets the pattern for how He
will fulfill His Promise of Salvation. Evident throughout the Scripture, God
develops acceptable worship for His people. Since the thoughts of man are only
evil from his youth (Genesis 6:5, 8:21), God always approaches man on covenantal
basis. In each step, it is God who takes the initiative.
III. The Basis for True Worship
A. Throughout the Old and
New Testaments, no communion between God and man is possible except on the basis
of conformity to Godís specific requirements. He is the perfect All Holy God,
and the one who has fellowship with Him must also be perfect in His sight with
Godís own perfection credited to him. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your
Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).
Godís imperative Word is that we
are to worship Him "in the beauty of holiness", "Give unto the LORD the glory
due unto his name...worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness" (I Chronicles
1. This command is never possible
in the believerís own holiness which, because of our nature, is always
imperfect. The constant theme of the Old Testament and the New Testament is
that God has provided His perfect One, Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is
credited to the believer. Therefore, Isaiah could declare, "Surely, shall one
say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength...(Isaiah 45:24), and
"...He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness" (Isaiah 61:10).
2. The praise of the Old
Testament saints is of Godís own righteousness in which they counted their
salvation and strength.
a. Psalm 71:15-17 "My mouth
shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day;....I will
go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy
righteousness, even of Thine only."
b. "The beauty of holiness" in which we approach God is best summarized by
the prophet Jeremiah, "And this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE
LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Jeremiah 23:6).
3. This basis of relationship
whereby we may communicate with the All Holy God, while understood and applied
under the Law and the prophets, is now made manifest in the New Testament.
"But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being
witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is
by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is
no difference: being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that
is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:21, 22, 24).
4. Once we stand before the All
Holy God accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6), clothed with the
righteousness of Christ, we have the basis of fellowship with God. In
sanctification as he writes His law on our hearts as believers, we strive to
be holy as He is. He is then our God and we are His people, and we are
privileged to call Him Abba Father. "I will put my law in their inward parts,
and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my
people" (Jeremiah 31:33).
IV. The Restrictions of True Worship
The law in summary is the Ten
Commandments, the first two of which deal explicitly with worship. Continued
fellowship with God includes the keeping of His restrictions in our worship of
A. Most important in the
First Commandment of the Decalogue, He sanctions Himself as the only object of
true worship. This is most important because what is excluded is all religious
veneration of beings not God, all objects not God and all superstition. "I am
the LORD thy God...Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:2-3).
B. The Second Commandment is
also of uttermost importance, for it forbids practices which negate oneís
worshiping God by faith. What is excluded from our communion with the true God
sanctioned in the First Commandment is the making and bowing down to any graven
images of Him, which includes the making or bowing to any likeness or art form
1. Thus, all divination is
forbidden. This includes all looking to material things (and the rituals by
which they must be attended) as if they were able to convey Godís favor (or
disfavor) to us, and conversely all looking to material things and rituals as
instruments able to convey our praise and worship to Him.
2. Even in the Old Testament,
worshiping God was by faith resting on Him and His promise and His
righteousness. The ceremonial law was merely of sign value to remind the
believer of the promise, the Passover meal was a memorial alone and a shadow
of what was to come in Christ. So the continued theme of worship in the midst
of the ceremonial details of the old Testament was God Himself and nothing of
the paraphernalia. "The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my
God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my
salvation, and my high tower" (Psalm 18:2).
V. The Wonder and Essence of True Worship
Our worship and service to God as
believers is as a spiritual house to offer spiritual sacrifices to God
acceptable only in the person of Jesus Christ "Ye also, as lively stones, are
built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual
sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:5). This is in fact
how the believers lived, "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles'
doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42).
The Gospel was always the spiritual message of repentance and faith, as were the
fellowship the breaking of bread and prayers. The continued theme is communion
with the Father in the Holy Spirit because the believer is accepted in Christ.
B. No hint is ever given of
trusting material signs to give life. The stress is always on the blessings in
Christ in the heavenly places. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in
Christ" (Ephesians 1:3).
VI. The Distinctive of New Testament Worship
A. In the New Testament, the
Lord Himself teaches that the worship of God must continue to be in spirit and
in truth. Christ Jesusí teaching on true worship is in the imperative form:
"true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth" John 4:23.
"they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" John 4:24.
B. Christ indicated to the
woman at the well that a great change in the form of worship was soon to happen.
When Christ died on the cross, He exclaimed, "It is finished" (John 19:30) and
the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51). The Old
Testament ceremonial rituals were fulfilled and finished. The distinctive is
that the fulfillment of the promise of redemption has been accomplished. There
are now no rituals to signify what is to come.
1. The truth has come in person
and is now manifest to us in the person of Christ in whom we worship by faith
alone. In the words of the Apostle Paul, the ceremonies were "a shadow of
things to come" (Colossians 2:17). The continued theme of the New Testament is
that the believer is by Godís grace in Christ. Ceremonies and rituals were
again in the words of Paul the schoolmaster of old, "But after that faith is
come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster".
2. We do indeed have two signs in
the New Testament to testify to what His person has done. The truth is, "ye
are complete in him" (Colossians 2:10 ), rather than in any sign or symbol.
"For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father" (Ephesians
VII. The One Sacrifice, Once Offered
Christís sacrifice marked the
fulfillment and end of the priestly ordinances of the Old Testament, "there is
no more offering for sin" (Hebrews 10:18). Through His priestly offering on the
cross, Christ "by Himself purged our sins" and "sat down on the right hand of
the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:3).
A. The Holy Spirit clearly
instructs us that Christís sacrifice was one, in contrast to the many sacrifices
of the Old Testament.
1. "But this man, after he had
offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God"
2. "For by one offering he hath
perfected for ever them that are sanctified" (Hebrews 10:14).
B. The unique oneness of
Christís sacrifice is in this very fact that it was one offering once made. The
concept "once" is deemed so important that it is asserted seven times by the
Holy Spirit in the New Testament. The perfection of Christís sacrifice is
contrasted to the daily repeated sacrifices of the Old Testament. The truth of
the excellence of Christís sacrifice is highlighted by the word "once".
1. "For in that he died, he died
unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God." Romans 6: 10
2. "Who needeth not daily, as
those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then
for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself." Hebrews
3. "Neither by the blood of goats
and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place,
having obtained eternal redemption for us." Hebrews 9:12
4. "For then must he often have
suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the
world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." Hebrews
5. "So Christ was once offered to
bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the
second time without sin unto salvation." Hebrews 9:28
6. "By the which will we are
sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all"
7. "For Christ also hath once
suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God,
being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit." 1 Peter 3:18
VIII. The One Sacrificial Priest
Clear as the midday sun also is the
contrast that the Holy Spirit presents to us in contrasting Christís priesthood
to the Old Testament priesthood. The Levitical priests were mortal and therefore
needed successors. Christ is an eternal priest and His priesthood is
untransferable, needing no successor. "And they truly were many priests, because
they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he
continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood" (Hebrews 7:23-24).
Most important is the fact that
Christ Jesus, having nothing more precious than Himself, offered Himself.
"Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take
it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to
lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received
of my Father" (John 10:17-18).
C. He alone had the
absolutely unique qualifications to offer Himself. "For such an high priest
became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made
higher than the heavens" (Hebrews 7:26).
D. Christ is the sole
sacrificial Priest of the New Testament. He finished the work of our salvation
by one sole offering. The Scriptures repeatedly establish this truth. The
substance of this is found in the Lordís declaration from the Cross, "It is
finished" (John 19:30).
1. For anyone to deem himself fit
to offer immortal Christ Jesus in His perfect sacrifice is blasphemous pride.
Were such a human offering of Christ possible, Christ would have suffered so
cruel a torment in vain, in His own oblation of Himself, "when he had by
himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high"
2. Measured by the biblical terms
of worship given to us by God, the idea that Christ ought to offer Himself
often is equally blasphemous. Such a concept attempts to reduce Christís
sacrifice to imperfection, since it assumes that His one offering made once
was not good enough to make complete atonement. What is absolutely perfect and
consummated cannot be repeated since repetition is a proof of imperfection.
Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for
his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered
up himself (Hebrews 7:27).
E. The summary of the
Scriptural truth regarding communion with God is:
1. He alone initiates the pattern
of such worship.
2. His own righteousness credited
to the believer by grace through faith alone is the only basis of true
3. His restrictions are to be
taken most seriously so that worship of Him remains spiritual, as He is
4. The wonder of the greatest
comfort we have in true worship is that we have Jesus Christ, our Lord and
Master in Whom we are accepted, as our intercessor. He is our High Priest,
"Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high
priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the
heavens" (Hebrews 8:1). This is the presence of God that we now have, and the
fulfillment of which we look forward to in celestial glory, "Behold, the
tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be
his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God" (Revelation
IX. False Worship in the Position of the Roman Catholic Church
A. Overview showing a lack
of the fear of the Lord.
1. The Church of Rome officially
teaches that in her Mass is the culmination of the worship men offer to Christ
and through Him to the Father. She declares that the Mass is also the source
and summit of her life.
2. The sacrifice of Calvary, she
claims, is in her control since she declares her Mass to be one and the same
sacrifice with that of the Lord Jesus Christís.
3. In contrast to the biblical
Christ, Who is now reigning King of Kings and Lord of Lords and sitting at the
right hand of God the Father, Rome consistently portrays the dying Christ,
"the sacred victim".
4. Using as her center of worship
the ritual of the Mass, which all the faithful on pain of mortal sin are
required to attend, Rome attempts to establish her own righteousness (grace
a. She teaches and dramatizes
this by having her faithful offer themselves, together with the dying
Christ, to Holy God of the Bible.
b. She teaches that in the round white wafer is contained the physical
Christ and His soul and divinity. This wafer is to receive worship due to
Holy God alone.
B. The Roman Catholic Church
Teaches that Christ is Immolated in the Mass.
1. Vatican Council II Documents,
"For in the sacrifice of the Mass Our Lord is immolated when Ďhe begins to be
present sacramentally as the spiritual food of the faithful under the
appearances of bread and wine.í It was for this purpose that Christ entrusted
this sacrifice to the [Roman Catholic] Church, that the faithful might share
in it both spiritually, by faith and charity, and sacramentally, through the
banquet of Holy Communion. Participation in the Lordís Supper is always
communion with Christ offering himself for us as a sacrifice to the Father."
2. The present day R. C. Church
that has officially ratified the Council of Trent continues to curse all who
do not hold that her Mass is indeed a propitiatory sacrifice. What she
presently ratifies is the following, "If anyone says that the sacrifice of the
mass is one only of praise and thanksgiving; or that it is a mere
commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross but not a propitiatory
one; or that it profits him only who receives, and ought not to be offered for
the living and the dead, for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other
necessities, let him be anathema."
3. The clarity of Christís
command stands diametrically opposed to such teaching. Christís words, "Take
and eat", were addressed not to His Father in heaven but rather to the
apostles. He did not command them to "offer and propitiate". Rather, such an
offering was His own unique office as the one Mediator.
C. The center of Roman
Catholic worship and life is the Mass. The Roman Church teaches her faithful
that they are to offer themselves with "the sacred victim", Jesus Christ, and to
receive the same "sacred victim".
1. In Vatican Council II
documents, Rome declares "Consequently the Eucharistic sacrifice is the source
and the summit of the whole of the [Roman Catholic] Churchís worship and of
the Christian life. The faithful participate more fully in this sacrament of
thanksgiving, propitiation, petition and praise, not only when they
wholeheartedly offer the sacred victim, and in it themselves, to the Father
with the priest, but also when they receive this same victim sacramentally."
2. Christ was never a victim and
the idea of His being victimized is nowhere in Scripture. Rather it was of His
own free will that He chose to go to the cross. This erroneous doctrinal base
is so highlighted by Rome that it focuses the mind on a tragic Christ as
victim and not the Victor as he now is Lord of Lords and King of Kings. An
example of the way this is worded in the worship of the Mass is the following
from Eucharistic Prayer No. 3, "Look with favor on your Churchís offering, and
see the Victim whose death has reconciled us to yourself." The whole idea of
offering this "Sacred victim" is sacrilegious.
3. As Rome repeats her commands,
the false gospel of offering oneís self to cooperate in oneís salvation is
dramatized in their worship. So Rome proclaims: "Therefore the Eucharistic
celebration is the center of the assembly of the faithful over which the
priest presides. Hence priests teach the faithful to offer the divine victim
[Jesus Christ] to God the Father in the sacrifice of the Mass and with the
victim to make an offering of their whole life..." The simple truth of
Scripture is "there is no more offering for sin" (Hebrews 10:18).
D. While purporting that she
is doing what the Lord commanded, Rome further claims that the sacrifice of
Calvary and the Mass are the same--"one single sacrifice".
1. Rome teaches, "The sacrifice
of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: ĎThe
victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of
priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is
different.í ĎThis divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same
Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross
is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner.í"
2. Three things are claimed: that
Christ is contained, that He is offered, and that the offering is in an
a. The claim that Christ is
contained in the bread is directly opposite to Scripture.
1) The New Testament stressed
the opposite as facts, "Christ is not entered into the holy places made
with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself"
(Hebrews 9:24). The Church of Rome in each Mass insists on saying that its
bread is that into which Christ is claimed to have changed. His substance
is claimed to be in what is "made with hands", Thus she states "we have
this bread to offer which earth has given and human hands have made."
2) Christ is ministering in heaven itself and "is not entered into the
holy places made with hands." Further He himself warned us, "Wherefore if
they shall say unto you,.. behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe
it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto
the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew
b. Rome claims that Christ is
offered in her Mass. We have seen that the Word declares, "Nor yet that he
should offer himself often...for then must he often have suffered since the
foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he
appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Hebrews 9:25-26).
c. Rome claims that that Christ "is offered in an unbloody manner."
1) Note that in the quotation
under discussion, Rome claims "Christ...is contained and is offered in an
unbloody manner." Scripture equates offering and suffering. In a
propitiatory sacrifice, to offer and to suffer are the same thing. This
truth is so important that it is given in Scripture as an absolute
principle, "without shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22).
2) Hence in this context to propose a bloodless sacrifice is to claim as
sacrifice that which cannot be a sacrifice, as defined by Scripture. A
bloodless sacrifice is a senseless contradiction that has no purpose other
than to deceive.
Rome claims that her Mass is a
continuation of Christís work of redemption.
1. Canon 904 "Remembering that the work of redemption is
continually accomplished in the mystery of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, priests
are to celebrate frequently; indeed daily celebration is strongly recommended,
since even if the faithful cannot be present, it is the act of Christ and the
[Roman Catholic] Church in which priests fulfill their principal function."
2. Godís truth is that the work
of redemption is already accomplished "having obtained eternal redemption for
us" (Hebrews 9:12). To teach redemption as presently continually being
accomplished is to teach a lie boldfacedly before the clarity of Godís Word:
"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us:
for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Galatians
3:13-14), "It is finished" (John 19:3).
F. The Roman Catholic Church
teaches that the communion bread is to be worshiped AS GOD.
1. Vatican Council II documents
state, "There should be no doubt in anyoneís mind Ďthat all the faithful ought
to show to this most holy sacrament the worship which is due to the true God,
as has always been the custom of the Catholic Church. Nor is it to be adored
[worshipped] any the less because it was instituted by Christ to be eaten. For
even in the reserved sacrament he is to be adored [worshipped] because he is
substantially present there through that conversion of bread and wine..."
2. The Lordís words are spoken to
us in precise and clear terms, "Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken
for you: this do in remembrance of me"(I Corinthians 11:24). "Take, eat" is
not "offer and adore"; "this do" is not "sacrifice this".
3. Most serious in the above
teaching of Rome is idolatry. The Lord Jesus Christ repeats the commandment of
old when He declares in His Word, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and
him only shalt thou serve" (Matthew 4:10). We must truly worship Him in spirit
and truth. To command worship of the communion bread is idolatry. It is an
absurd and impious doctrine that by necessity imposes worship of something
that is eaten and carried into the stomach. Not without the dreadful crime of
idolatry can the worship due to the true God alone be transferred to the
X. Roman Catholic concept of "transubstantiation" must be seen in the light of
A. The Roman Catholic Church
claims a change of substance in the communion elements.
1. The concept of
"transubstantiation" was officially introduced into the R.C. Church in 1215 AD
at the Lateran Council under Innocent III.
2. The roots of the concept can
be found from after the Second Council of Nicea when images of Christ were
officially sanctioned in AD 787. The physics behind it is that of the pagan
philosopher, Aristotle. Present day Rome continues to teach this medieval
tradition in the following, "..this holy Council now declares again, that by
the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole
substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and
of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This
change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called
3. This absurd conviction that
defies the truth of Scripture, the evidence of the senses, and even reason
itself is taught adamantly by the Church of Rome. So she summaries in Para.
1375, "It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christís body and
blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament...." Biblically this is a
denial of Christís words and the words of the Apostle Paul.
B. The actual words of
Scripture must be seen in context.
1. In the passages of Scripture
concerning the Last Supper, the elements retain the same name after the Lordís
words as before he spoke, "Take, eat; this..." The demonstrative pronoun
"this" means this bread. There is nothing else that it can mean. The Scripture
continually calls that which Christ gave to his disciples bread, "For as often
as ye eat this bread," "...whosoever shall eat this bread", "But let a man
examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread" (I Corinthians 11:26, 27,
28). The relative pronoun "this" limits the element spoken about to the same
that Christ took; no other explanation is possible.
2. Similarly Christ calls that
which he gave the disciples to drink "wine". "For this is my blood of the new
testament,...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"
(Matthew 26:28, 29). "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 that I drink it new in the kingdom of God" (Mark 14:24, 25).
C. Communion is through
1. There is indeed communion with
the body and the blood of Christ in a spiritual sense, so in a very real sense
both the bread and the wine point to Christ and is His finished work.
Communion with the Lord is the heart of the message in the biblical texts. Our
faith is focused on Him. "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? For we being many are one bread, and one
body: for we are all partakers of that one bread" (I Corinthians 10:16, 17).
2. What is definitively excluded
by all the texts give is the idea of looking to the element itself as if it
had life. In Christís words "the flesh profiteth nothing" John 6:63
D. True power is in
1. A consistent command of God is
that of not physically consuming blood
a. "But flesh with the life
thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat" (Genesis 9:4).
b. "Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life;
and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh" (Deuteronomy 12:23).
2. While this command not to eat
blood is very strong , the spiritual importance of the blood shed is
constantly given in Godís Word: " For the life of the flesh is in the blood:
and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls:
for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul" (Leviticus 17:11).
3. This same concept of
spiritually exalting and dignifying of blood finds its highest development in
the vicarious application of the shed blood of Christ to the believer. "The
blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (I John 1:7).
E. Command remains against
The command to abstain from
physically consuming blood is repeated in the New Testament. "That ye abstain
from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from
fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well" (Acts 15:29).
The concept of physically drinking Christís blood is both abhorrent and
forbidden in both the Old Testament and New Testament. The whole idea,
therefore, of an actual drinking of Christís blood is Biblically forbidden and
insulting to the Person and words of the Lord.
XI. Application of the Concept of Transubstantiation
A. In face of the clarity of
Scripture, Rome insists that the elements are actually the body and the blood of
Christ. On top of this, Rome claims a power effect from the elements. Thus the
Church of Rome declares, "Holy Communion separates us from sin. The body of
Christ we receive in Holy Communion is Ďgiven up for us,í and the blood we drink
Ďshed for the many for the forgiveness of sins.í For this reason the Eucharist
cannot unite us to Christ without at the same time cleansing us from past sins
and preserving us from future sins" In this the "Eucharist" is looked upon as
uniting us to Christ and at the same time cleansing from sin. To attempt to
claim causative effects for that which was given to testify to the Lordís grace
and His finished work is divination, as oneís hope centers on the physical
B. Likewise considering the
Eucharist again Rome teaches, "By the same charity that it enkindles in us, the
Eucharist preserves us from future mortal sins." Rome here teaches her people to
look to physical things as a means of conveying Godís grace, to look to the sign
as if it had power. This is exactly the Roman Catholic mindset as is declared,
"Sacraments are Ďpowers that comes forthí from the Body of Christ, which is ever
living and life-giving...."
Such teachings as these come under
the eternal curse of perverting the Gospel of Christ (Galatians 1:6-9). Christís
words are spirit and life, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth" (John 6:63). To
propose an oral ingesting
of Christís flesh is to hold out a
false message that perverts the Gospel.
The teaching of the Lord Jesus
Christ Himself in John Chapter Six confirms the spiritual union of Himself and
the believer and not "for the meat which perisheth" but rather "for that meat
which endureth unto everlasting life" (John 6:27).
1. When the Jews asked what they
were to do that they might partake of "the bread of life", Christ answered,
"This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent" (John
6:29). The whole theme of John Chapter Six is believing on Him the Christ as
the true means of allaying spiritual hunger and slaking spiritual thirst. "I
am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that
believeth on me shall never thirst." (John 6:35).
2. The Lordís words "For my flesh
is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed" (John 6:55) show how serious is
the command to believe on Him. The Lord Himself has commanded worship " in
spirit and in truth" It is the absurd to suggest that he might have been
advocating physical eating of flesh and drinking of blood. The clear principle
of interpretation that He gives of His own words are, "It is the spirit that
quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they
are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). Francis Turretin writes,
"Our opponents [the Roman
Catholic Church] can find nothing in this chapter [John Chapter Six] which
favors oral manducation. (1) Not what is said in v. 55: ĎMy flesh is meat
indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.í For He is the true food; but of the
mind, not of the stomach; of the heart and of faith, not of the mouth. Thus
it denotes the truth of the similitude between corporeal food and spiritual
and celestial food as to the efficacy of nutrition, but not as to the mode
of eating. As ĎWhy do you prepare teeth and stomach, [rather] believe and
thou has eaten.í as Augustine says on John Chapter Six."
XII. Summary: True and False Worship
A. The Christ in Whom we
spiritually worship is Biblically portrayed, "Who being the brightness of His
glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word
of His power, when he had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand
of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:3).
The finished Sacrifice on which we
rest our faith and which we commemorate in praise and thanksgiving is His
sacrifice alone: II Corinthians 5:21 states, "For He hath made Him to be sin for
us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."
This was Christís sacrifice and His alone. Yet in the sacrifice of the Mass,
Roman Catholic theology debases Christís finished and complete offering of
Himself on Calvaryís cross: Roman Catholic doctrine teaches people that they are
able to help in Christís offering of Himself by taking part in the so-called
sacramental representation of His offering (Mass) and to assist in propitiating
Godís wrath by also offering themselves at the same time. But such action by
people is not possible because Christ was the only one as God-man Who could make
such an offering for sin. In a strict sense it is blasphemy a showing of
contempt and lack of reverence for God. It is a violation of the Third
Commandment, which required that the name and reputation of the Lord be upheld,
"Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not
hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain" (Exodus 20:7).
C. Our praise in worship is
for the once offered Christ: Scripture teaches that Christís atonement--His own
blood having been shed and through that final act having obtained our eternal
redemption (Hebrews 9:12)--ended all sacrifices. Thus on the authority of Godís
word, what the Lord said on the cross must be held by the believer: "It is
finished." Believers glory only in Christís finished work of their redemption.
As believers we glorify God, with
Him as the object of our faith, as He has always commanded because "God is a
Spirit"(John 4:24). In worshipping the bread as if it were substantially the
Lord Himself, the Church of Rome commits gross idolatry.
E. Believers in remembrance
of the Lord take the elements of the Lordís Supper with great respect, to deepen
their spiritual union with Him. To confuse signification, which is a
remembrance, with identification, which holds that the elements have become the
actual body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, is serious sin against the Lord
in His First and Second Commandments.
XIII. Concern for Catholics:
Since the Mass is central to
Catholicism, Bible believers ought to have real compassion for Catholics who are
taught the doctrine documented here. To try to appease God with an ongoing
sacrifice is de facto an act of unbelief in the all-sufficiency of Christís work
on the cross.
"Communion with the flesh of the
risen Christ, a flesh Ďgiven life and giving life through the Holy Spirití
preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism..." Such
teachings come under the eternal curse of perverting the Gospel of Christ
(Galatians 1:6-9). Each week, millions of Catholics line up at the altars, each
time being promised "the source and summit of the whole Christian life" and
"Christ himself". They are required to worship the bread with "the cult of
Does all this matter before the All
Holy God? Most certainly it does, for the Scripture states emphatically,
"As we said before, so say I now
again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received,
let him be accursed." Galatians 1:9
"I am the LORD thy God...Thou shalt
have no other gods before Me." Exodus 20:2-3
"I am the LORD; that is My name:
and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images."
We have analyzed the Cross and the Mass in biblical light. Individual
Catholics also sin against the First Commandment in religious invocation and
veneration given by them to saints, angels, relics, and to the Pope himself. To
rationalize that such worship is of a lesser kind of worship than the worship
Holy God demands for Himself alone is pure sophistry, similar to calling
adultery a casual affair. The Lordís Word to such individual Catholics is "
repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). The All Holy God who hates
adultery in worship also commands, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not
partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Revelation
Permission is given
by the author to freely copy this article ďTrue and False
Worship: The Cross and the MassĒ if it is done in its
entirety without any changes and includes the following short
biography of its author.
Richard Bennett was
trained by the Jesuits all of his elementary and high school
years in Ireland, where he was born. He had eight years of
intense education and formation by the Dominican Order,
finishing at the Angelicum University in Rome, Italy, in 1964.
He spent twenty-one years as a Roman Catholic priest in
Trinidad, West Indies. In 1986, he was saved by Godís grace
alone and formally left the Roman Catholic Church and its
priesthood. He is married and settled in Portland, Oregon.
Since 1990, he has been director of the evangelistic outreach,
whose primary task is to evangelize the lost, particularly
Roman Catholics, and to inform evangelical Christians by
speaking and by distributing literature and tapes concerning
Roman Catholicism. In 1994, he published the book, Far from
Rome, Near to God: The Testimonies of Fifty Former Catholic
Priests, of which he and Martin Buckingham of England are
the editors. The book is presently in its second edition and is
published by The Banner of Truth Trust. It is also published in
Italian, and Polish, and will soon be available in Spanish,
Chinese, and Tagalog. He has also published The Truth Set us
Free: Twenty Former Nuns Tell Their Stories. He has written
several tracts for evangelizing Roman Catholics, available in
Spanish, English, and other languages.
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