Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 3, 1963
NUMBER 22, PAGE 4-5,12-13

The Lord's Supper --- Miracle Or Memorial?


Luther Blackmon

As the title of this tract suggests, it is a contrast between the New Testament teaching on the Lord's supper and the corruption of that supper — the Mass.

The Roman Catholic Church is an authoritarian religion. It makes its own rules. Both the Bible and Catholic tradition are subservient to "the living voice of the living church." However, Protestant denominations do but little better. They pay lip service to the Bible as their only rule of faith and practice, while they, at the same time, either rob it of its power by a modernistic denial of its inspiration, or by their human creeds, slant it to do service for their peculiar doctrines.

The Mass

From the introduction of a little book written by a secular priest, I quote the following: "The Mass is a great act — the act of sacrifice. By his death on the cross our Lord, Jesus Christ, offered a true sacrifice — the one great sacrifice of redemption. At the last Supper, that he might leave to his church a visible sacrifice, Christ offered to God the Father his body and blood under the appearance of bread and wine, and by the words, 'do this in commemoration of me,' he constituted the apostles priests, thereby establishing the way in which the sacrifice of the cross would be continued and its fruits continued to mankind until the end of the world." "The Mass is a real sacrifice, not a mere commemoration of the sacrifice of the cross, and in it the same Christ is contained and immolated In a bloodless way, who once offered himself in a bloodstained manner on the altar of the crass. The Mass is the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the cross, for there is the same victim and the same fruits, only the manner of the offering different." (Emp. mine, LB.) The name of the book: "A Simple Explanation of Low Mass," published by Burns, Oates and Washbourne Ltd of London, and bearing the Nihil Obstat: Thos. McLaughlin S.Th.D. Censor Deputatus, and the Imprimatur: Joseph Butt, Vicarius Generalis. There can be no question but that this is genuine Catholic doctrine.

Let us note some things about this quotation:

(1) Christ "constituted the apostles priests." But the Bible says that all Christians are priests." Jesus Christ.... hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father." (Rev. 1:5) Then Peter writes to the sojourners scattered abroad, calls them the "elect" and tells them that they are a "royal priesthood." (1 Pet. 2:9)

It is the function of priests to offer sacrifices. So the apostles were "constituted priests" that they might offer the sacrifice of the body of Christ in the "Mass." As priests, Christians offer sacrifices, but not the body of Christ. We offer our own bodies. "I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercy of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice...." (Rom. 12:1,2) Again, "Ye also as living stones are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices...." (1 Pet. 2:5) And again, "Let us offer the sacrifice of praise unto God continually, that is the fruit of our lips." (Heb. 13:15)

(2) The Body Of Christ Is Offered Repeatedly In The Mass.

In a letter to me, brother Luther W. Martin expresses quite well this dogma of the Catholic Church. He said, "transubstantiation is a development as a result of the idea that the body of Christ can be offered over and over in the sacrifice of the Mass."

But the writer of the Hebrew letter makes it quite clear that Christ was offered as a sacrifice only once. "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with the blood of others; 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. And as it is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment: 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." (Heb. 9:24-28)

Catholicism contends inasmuch as Jesus said with reference to the bread and wine, "This is my body and this is my blood" that these elements in a miraculous way became the actual body and blood of the Lord. But Jesus also said, "I am the door into the sheepfold." Did he mean that he was a literal door? He said, "I am the vine and my Father is the husbandman." Did he mean that he is a literal vine and that his Father was a literal farmer or keeper of the vineyard? He referred to Herod as "that fox." Did he intend for us to think that Herod was a small four-legged animal with a long bushy tail? These are all figures of speech, with which the language of the Bible abounds. Why then select one statement concerning his body and make it literal?

Miracles And The Mass

We would place no limits on the power of God. He can do whatever he chooses to do. But God has a purpose in what he does, and the Catholic Mass calls for miracles that not only have no purpose, but which contradict the word of God.

(1) According to their explanation of it, every Mass requires that the real sacrifice of Calvary be repeated; that the body of Christ be broken and immolated all over again. That wafer which they are given only "appears to be bread and wine." It tastes like bread; it looks like bread; but it is really the body and blood of Christ. Their very words are, "The Mass is a real sacrifice, not a mere commemoration of the sacrifice of the cross...."

(2) But more than this, the book from which we quoted says that Christ offered his body in sacrifice to God, and that the disciples ate his flesh and drank his blood before he died. Note the language: "At the last supper, that he might leave to his church a visible sacrifice, Christ offered to God the Father his body and blood under the appearance of bread and wine, and by the words, 'do this in commemoration of me'." (Emp. mine, LB) If this doesn't mean that he offered his body in sacrifice before he died, and that the disciples ate his actual body and drank his blood at the last supper, then the writer of this book didn't say what he meant and the Catholic Church erred in placing the Nihil Obstat and the Imprimatur upon it And if he meant to say and if Catholics believe, that what the disciples ate and drank at the last supper was only symbolic and representative of his body and blood, then I ask, why cannot these emblems bring to the minds of the participants the death of Christ now, just as they did then? But, that the disciples of Jesus ate his real body and drank his real blood, I am sure no informed Catholic will deny. That is their doctrine, however reprehensible and meaningless it may be.

Lord's Supper A Memorial

Man is prone to forget. Within less than ten generations from Adam; man had become so depraved that he had seemingly forgotten that he was a creature of God's Making. "Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil and that continually. After the destruction wrought by the flood, man once more turned to his own devices and said, "let US build US a city and a tower whose top may reach unto heaven; and let US make US a name lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." In less than a year after the seed of Abraham had been delivered from slavery by the miracle of the Red Sea, they fell down before a golden calf and heard Aaron say, "These be thy gods, oh Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt."

After their forty years of wandering were over, and on the eve of their entrance into Canaan, Moses, in a series of speeches (composing the book of Deuteronomy) recounts their past blessings and failures and warns them of the future. He said, "And it shall be, that when the Lord thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee great and goodly cities which thou buildest not and houses full of all good things which thou filledst not, and wells digged which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; then beware lest thou forget the Lord thy God which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt and from the house of bondage." They did forget. They adopted the heathen practices and were eventually carried to Babylon for their idolatry. And even after this, though they were never guilty of idolatry again they lost their piety, humanized the religion of their God and made necessary the coming of the Baptist to turn them back to God and prepare them for the advent of the Messiah. Human nature has not changed. We still forget God. The pages of our secular histories record the wreckage of nations be cause they forgot the principles of justice and righteousness upon which they were first formed. Because of our inclination to forget God, he has given us some memorials. One of which is

The Lord's Supper

As Jesus ate the last passover feast with his disciples on the eve of his death, "....He took bread and blessed it and brake it and gave it to the disciples and said, take, eat, this is my body. And he took the cup and gave thanks and gave it to them, saying, drink ye all of it; For this is the blood of the new testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:26-28) This is also recorded in Mark 14 and Luke 22. Then Paul, after he had rebuked the Corinthians for perverting the Lord's Supper into a common feast, telling them to do their eating and drinking at home, said this: "For I have received of the Lord (Paul was not at the last supper. LB.) that which I also delivered unto you. That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: and when he had given thanks he brake it and said, take, eat: this is my body which is broken for you, this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup ye do show the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore, whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh, unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." (1 Cor. 11:23-33)

Retrospective — Prospective - Introspective

In this simple memorial we are made to look back to the sacrifice that was made in our behalf. The faculty of memory is natural, common and universal. The savage, the civilized; the ignorant, the learned; the rich, the poor; the young, the old, all have their moments when the faculty of memory permits them to look again upon scenes of years gone forever.

Among our treasured mementos is a little trunk which contains a long black dress, a black bonnet and a little brown purse belonging to my grandmother. The purse doesn't match the dress and bonnet but that wasn't important to "Granny." She wore that dress and carried that purse with one dime in it, the last time she went to worship in the little church building at Bald Prairie, in Robertson County, Texas. When the contribution was made she couldn't find her dime. Shortly afterward she passed away. This was in 1917. That dime is still in Granny's purse. Now and then we open that old trunk and look at the things that remind us of a great lady. Those clothes would be worthless to anyone else. To us they are priceless. Pictures, locks of hair and faded flowers in some old book can stir memories long dormant. An inexpensive wedding ring reminds the grey-haired and aging wife of that day when she walked down the aisle to meet the man to whom she had given her heart.

Jesus said, when he brake the bread, "....this do in remembrance of me." By faith we see in this memorial the nail-scarred hands and the bleeding, thorn - crowned brow and the blood which flowed from his riven side; blood that would make us as clean as though we had never sinned.

(2) In this memorial supper we also have a forward look. He said, "For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, you do show the Lord's death till he come."

Quite often we are separated from those we love for long periods of time. Letters and pictures from them help the time to pass and in some measure relieve the loneliness. That is what the Lord's supper means or should mean, to the Christian. In the bread and in the cup we see him as he lived on earth and suffered for us. If we are sincere in our profession we look for him to come back for us "in the day of the Lord."

(3) But the supper also gives us occasion for an introspective view. Paul said, "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup." Self examination; this is one examination in which we find it hard not to cheat. The great poet of Scotland gave voice to this sentiment when he said, "0, that some power the gift would give us, to see ourselves as others see us." It is likely more difficult for one to examine himself with complete honesty than to judge his worst enemy. But before we eat the Lord's supper we should turn the searchlight of truth into our own hearts and ask ourselves in honest candor if we are living up to what we know he expects of those who are permitted to have this fellowship with him. When we do, we may not like ourselves very well. We may see that we are actually traitors to the cause we have espoused, and that we are making a mockery of the most sacred of all relationships. We may find that we have become victims of formality and routine in our worship. This was one of Israel's great sins. Isaiah said, "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks or of lambs or he goats.... bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me... It is iniquity, even the solemn meeting." (Isa. 1:11-13) Empty observation of the Lord's supper will bring the wrath of God upon us. Again we say, look inside your heart and be honest. You can't really deceive yourself, and certainly not God. Job justified himself with his friends, but when God spoke he was silent. David said, "0 Lord, thou hast searched me and known me....whither shall I go from thy Spirit and whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in sheol behold thou art there....if I say surely the darkness shall cover me, even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to thee." (Psa. 139) If the Lord's supper has become, or was never, more than a sip of fruit juice and a crumb of bread, then you are suffering from acute spiritual poverty.

Eating And Drinking Unworthily

"Wherefore, whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." "Unworthily" is an adverb, modifying "eateth" and "drinketh." Some have erroneously concluded that this word refers to the conduct of the person previous to his participation in the Supper. To be sure, we must strive to keep our lives clean, our hearts pure, and our hands busy all of the time. Nobody but a hypocrite will live like a child of the devil all the week and then come to worship on the Lord's day to partake of the sacred supper as though it were some kind of cure for his spiritual ills. Such a person does not commune with God. He only eats some unleavened bread and drinks some liquid.

But Paul did not refer to the previous conduct of the person when he said, "he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself." The balance of the verse explains what he meant: "Not discerning the Lord's body." The word translated "discerning," means to "separate" or to "discriminate."

The Corinthians had so perverted the Lord's supper by making it into a common feast, that it had lost its meaning to them. And in doing so stood under condemnation. They had not been able to "discern" between that which represents the body and blood of the Lord and the common disgraceful spectacle of a drunken feast.


It is on this point that there is the greatest divergence of ideas and practice in t h e religious world. Protestant denominations do not agree among themselves on the question of how often we are required to observe the Lord's supper. About the only thing they agree on is that it need not be observed every first day of the week. People have strange notions about how things are authorized by the Bible. How often have I heard it said, "but the Bible doesn't say every first day of the week." The Old Testament didn't say "every sabbath" either, but they stoned people to death who violated any seventh day of the week; the sabbath day!

Preachers have no trouble convincing themselves that the Bible authorizes us to meet every first day of the week, or to contribute our money every first day of the week. The same scriptures that authorize one will authorize the other. 1 Corinthians 16:2,3, shows that it was the practice of the New Testament church to meet on the first day of the week. Paul was coming to Corinth in connection with a contribution for the poor saints in Jerusalem. (See Rom. 15:25) He wanted them to have the money ready when he arrived and avoid the delay that would result from having to gather it after he arrived. So he wrote them to "....lay by in store upon the first day of the week...." This passage says nothing about the Lord's supper, but it does show that it was the practice of the church to meet on that day. Then, Acts 20:7 says they came together on the first day of the week to break bread. But how do we know that this breaking of bread was the Lord's supper? When Jesus instituted the supper, according to the gospel writers, "he took bread and brake it....saying this is my body."

When Paul reviews what God revealed to him about it, he uses the same words, "....the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks he brake it, and said, take, eat, this is my body which is broken for you...." (1 Cor. 11:2324) Again, in 1 Cor. 10:16, "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?" Again, the breaking of bread is listed with three other acts of worship in Acts 2:42: "They continued steadfastly in the apostles teaching, and fellowship, and breaking of bread and prayers." There are some expressions in the Bible where the breaking of bread has reference to a common meal, but there is no doubt that in the scriptures listed here it refers to the Lord's supper.

Lord's Day — Lord's Supper

The Lord's day and the Lord's supper are inseparable. We observe the first day of the week, because it was on this day that our Lord arose. We observe the Lord's supper on that day because it is a memorial of his death: (1) His broken body — the bread. (2) His shed blood — the cup. By what rule of scripture or logic do people meet on the first day of the week to worship and leave out the Lord's supper? Is not His death as important as His resurrection? And did he not the as often as he arose? The first day of the week is a memorial of his resurrection; the Lord's supper is a memorial of his death. Yet people who insist that it is right and scriptural to attend worship every first day of the week, observe the Lord's supper two or three times a year, or once a month.

Another thing, did you know that the only scripture that specifies meeting on the first day of the week, says "they came together on the first day of the week to break bread." (Acts 20:7) In public discussion with a Baptist preacher some years ago, I asked him for the scripture which gave him the right to tell people that they should go to church on Sunday rather than Saturday or Monday. He would not try to give one, and the reason was that when he finds a passage that specifies a meeting on the first day of the week, he will find in that same scripture that they observed the Lord's supper. 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2 implies that they met on the first day of the week, but Acts 20:7 says it and says it was to break bread.

We can show by secular history that it was the practice of the early church to meet and break bread on the first day of the week.

This can be shown from the writings of Pliny, Ignatius, Tertullian and many others, but we submit one short quotation from Neander, the noted German historian, "....the celebration of the Lord's supper was still held to constitute an essential part of the divine worship on every Sunday, as appears from Justin Martyr in the year 150, and the whole church partook of the communion after they had Joined in the amen of the preceding prayer." Vol. 1, page 332, "History of the Christian Religion."

Unless the Lord's supper was to be observed weekly, then there is no scripture regulating its observance, and it could be once a month or once in fifty years. And, if there is no instruction given regarding the frequency of the supper, then it is the only thing God has ever required his people to do repeatedly, without telling them how often. And the Bible shows that it was to be observed repeatedly, as Jesus said, "as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup." (1 Cor. 11:26) And no one, as far as I know, has ever contended that it would be wrong to observe it every week. This is a way about which there can be no doubt.