Worshiping God is that communion that exists in true harmony between the Creator and the creature man.
A. Before the Fall,
- 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).
- 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 2:17).
B. At the Fall, the relationship between God and Adam was severed by Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:6-8).
II. The Biblical Pattern for True Worship
God took the initiative in restoring the Creator-creature relationship severed by Adam’s single act of rebellion God’s 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 the promise.
- 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.”
- 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. God’s 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 God’s 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 9:12).
B. 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.
C. 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 God’s 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 God’s own perfection credited to him. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
B. God’s 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 16:29).
- This command is never possible in the believer’s 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).
- The praise of the Old Testament saints is of God’s own righteousness in which they counted their salvation and strength.
- 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.”
- “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).
- 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).
- 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 Him.
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 one’s 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 of God.
- 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 God’s 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.
- 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
A. 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 Jesus’ 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.
- 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 God’s 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”.
- 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 2:18).
VII. The One Sacrifice, Once Offered
Christ’s 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).
- The Holy Spirit clearly instructs us that Christ’s sacrifice was one, in contrast to the many sacrifices of the Old Testament.
- “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12).
- “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14).
- The unique oneness of Christ’s 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 Christ’s sacrifice is contrasted to the daily repeated sacrifices of the Old Testament. The truth of the excellence of Christ’s sacrifice is highlighted by the word “once”.
- “For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.” Romans 6: 10
- “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
- “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
- “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 9:26
- “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
- “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” Hebrews 10:10
- “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 Christ’s 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).
- 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).
- 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 Lord’s declaration from the Cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
- 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” (Hebrews 1:3).
- 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 Christ’s 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).
- The summary of the Scriptural truth regarding communion with God is:
- He alone initiates the pattern of such worship.
- His own righteousness credited to the believer by grace through faith alone is the only basis of true worship.
- His restrictions are to be taken most seriously so that worship of Him remains spiritual, as He is Spirit.
- 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 21:3).
- False Worship in the Position of the Roman Catholic Church
- Overview showing a lack of the fear of the Lord.
- 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.
- 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 Christ’s.
- 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”.
- 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 plus works).
- She teaches and dramatizes this by having her faithful offer themselves, together with the dying Christ, to Holy God of the Bible.
- 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.
- The Roman Catholic Church Teaches that Christ is Immolated in the Mass.
- Vatican Council II Documents, “For in the sacrifice of the Mass Our Lord is immolated when ‘he begins to be present sacramentally as the spiritual food of the faithful under the appearances of bread and wine.’ 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 Lord’s Supper is always communion with Christ offering himself for us as a sacrifice to the Father.” (Emphasis added)
- 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.”
- The clarity of Christ’s command stands diametrically opposed to such teaching. Christ’s 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.
- 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”.
- In Vatican Council II documents, Rome declares “Consequently the Eucharistic sacrifice is the source and the summit of the whole of the [Roman Catholic] Church’s 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.”
- 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 Church’s offering, and see the Victim whose death has reconciled us to yourself.” The whole idea of offering this “Sacred victim” is sacrilegious.
- As Rome repeats her commands, the false gospel of offering one’s self to cooperate in one’s 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).
- 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”.
- Rome teaches, “The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: ‘The 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.’ ‘This 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.’”
- Three things are claimed: that Christ is contained, that He is offered, and that the offering is in an unbloody mode.
- 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 24:26-27).
- 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).
- 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 Christ’s work of redemption.
- 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.”
- God’s 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 God’s 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).
- The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the communion bread is to be worshiped AS GOD.
- Vatican Council II documents state, “There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind ‘that 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…”
- The Lord’s 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”.
- 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 communion bread.
- Roman Catholic concept of “transubstantiation” must be seen in the light of Scripture.
- The Roman Catholic Church claims a change of substance in the communion elements.
- The concept of “transubstantiation” was officially introduced into the R.C. Church in 1215 AD at the Lateran Council under Innocent III.
- 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 transubstantiation.’”
- 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 Christ’s body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament….” Biblically this is a denial of Christ’s words and the words of the Apostle Paul.
- The actual words of Scripture must be seen in context.
- In the passages of Scripture concerning the Last Supper, the elements retain the same name after the Lord’s 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.
- 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).
- Communion is through faith.
- 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).
- What is definitively excluded by all the texts give is the idea of looking to the element itself as if it had life. In Christ’s words “the flesh profiteth nothing” John 6:63
- True power is in spiritual atonement.
- A consistent command of God is that of not physically consuming blood
- “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).
- While this command not to eat blood is very strong , the spiritual importance of the blood shed is constantly given in God’s 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).
- 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).
- Command remains against drinking blood.
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 Christ’s blood is both abhorrent and forbidden in both the Old Testament and New Testament. The whole idea, therefore, of an actual drinking of Christ’s blood is Biblically forbidden and insulting to the Person and words of the Lord.
- Application of the Concept of Transubstantiation
- 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 ‘given up for us,’ and the blood we drink ‘shed for the many for the forgiveness of sins.’ 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 Lord’s grace and His finished work is divination, as one’s hope centers on the physical object.
- 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 God’s grace, to look to the sign as if it had power. This is exactly the Roman Catholic mindset as is declared, “Sacraments are ‘powers that comes forth’ 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). Christ’s words are spirit and life, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth” (John 6:63). To propose an oral ingesting of Christ’s 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).
- 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).
- The Lord’s 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: ‘My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.’ 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 ‘Why do you prepare teeth and stomach, [rather] believe and thou has eaten.’ as Augustine says on John Chapter Six.”
XII. Summary: True and False Worship
- 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 Christ’s sacrifice and His alone. Yet in the sacrifice of the Mass, Roman Catholic theology debases Christ’s finished and complete offering of Himself on Calvary’s cross: Roman Catholic doctrine teaches people that they are able to help in Christ’s offering of Himself by taking part in the so-called sacramental representation of His offering (Mass) and to assist in propitiating God’s 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).
- Our praise in worship is for the once offered Christ: Scripture teaches that Christ’s 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 God’s word, what the Lord said on the cross must be held by the believer: “It is finished.” Believers glory only in Christ’s 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.
- Believers in remembrance of the Lord take the elements of the Lord’s 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 Christ’s work on the cross.
“Communion with the flesh of the risen Christ, a flesh ‘given life and giving life through the Holy Spirit’ 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 adoration”.
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.” Isaiah 42:8
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 Lord’s 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 18:4).
Permission is given by the author to freely copy this article “True and False Worship: The Cross and the Mass” 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 God’s 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, Berean Beacon, 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.