Ordinance, Not Sacrament

September 5, 2019 at 11:17 am | Posted in John | 3 Comments
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The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:52-54

This language about eating flesh and drinking blood is not sacramental language. It is metaphorical language, alhtough Roman Catholic theologians say that, as early as Ignatius of Antioch, Christians believed that Jesus was in fact instituting the so-called sacrament of the Eucharist. They believe that the observation of the Lord’s Supper is sacramental or sacerdotal – that it infuses grace ex opere operato – but it’s not. Jesus is not – nor does He ever become – intermingled with, or substituted for, literal bread or wine or grape juice, any more than He – as the Living Water – becomes literal water, or – as the Door – becomes a literal Door, or – as the True Vine – becomes a literal grapevine. The theme of the Gospel of John is “that ye might believe” – not believe that you must participate in the so-called Eucharist, but that you might BELIEVE that Jesus is the Son of God and that in Him alone – by His grace alone – through faith alone – you might have eternal life.

The Lord’s Supper and Baptism are the only ordinances – not sacraments – of the Church, and they are important ordinances, but, being “works” they do not infuse or impart supernatural grace, and they can not save souls. Christians reading John 6 during the time when it was first written, even if they were already practicing the observation without a full understanding of why they were doing it, would see what the Lord’s Supper represents, not that it is commanded as a so-called means of grace.


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