The Lord's Supper in the Roman Catholic Church, is called "The Mass," a word which in itself has no significance, being merely a modification of the phrase, "Ite, missa est,"—"Go, the assembly is dismissed," which was uttered in the early assemblies of the church at the dismissing of the congregation, after which those who remained partook of the emblems in the Lord's Supper. By a strange use—or rather misuse—the words of dismissal uttered at the end of one service became in the word "Mass" the name for the service which followed.
But that which this word ["Mass"]—in itself so meaningless—represents has an overshadowing significance in Romanism—to which system it is distinctive and peculiar,—for there it goes far beyond any idea or conception that can be found in the New Testament.
The Christian sees in the Lord's Supper a memorial, a communion, a feast of thanksgiving, and some indeed regard it as a sacrament, but in Rome it is a "Sacrifice"!—a ceremony in which the celebrant boldly claims to offer for the living and the dead, a repetition of the atoning sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. That this involves not merely a difference in words, expressions and forms, but of vital faith and practice will at once be seen. It includes the belief that the officiating priest actually changes the elements of bread and wine into the real body and blood of Christ, the process by which this change is effected being called "Transubstantiation."
This is Rome's bold and fearless, yea uncompromising avowal, and as we look upon it, so clearly presented, we see the very heart of Romish error.
Rome has many superstitions, follies, misleading forms and erroneous doctrines such as Mariolatry, purgatory, confession, saint-worship, prayers for the dead, priestly absolution, spurious sacraments, etc., etc., but none of these can be compared in point of danger, to the blasting power of the Mass.
Let this doctrine be accepted, and there logically follows the belief that a priest can create God! And having created Him, that he can and does offer Him as a sacrifice for sin!
For the testing of such a claim, there can be only one tribunal, and that is the Word of God. But when tested here we find only, and everywhere, definite and conclusive contradiction. If there is one thing the Word of God does not teach, it is this. If there is one thing the Word of God opposes, it is this.
These assertions may be easily sustained, for—
First: The doctrine of the Mass denies the all-sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ,—the Atonement,—a truth which the Bible has safeguarded at every point, in language that cannot be misunderstood. For example, in Hebrews 9:12 we read, "...by His [Christ's] own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." If the believer's redemption is eternal is it not in itself sufficient? Again in Hebrews 9:28, "So Christ was once [not many times to be] offered to bear the sins of many." Again, Hebrews 10:10, "By the which [God's] will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." Again, Hebrews 10:12,14, "But this Man, [Jesus Christ] after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God. For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." And all this is corroborated by the Holy Spirit, for we read in Hebrews 10:15, "Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us." Added to these clear statements are the conclusive words found in the 17th and 18th verses of the tenth chapter. "And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin." How definitely do all these quotations harmonize with the dying testimony of our Lord, sealed with His own precious Blood, "It is finished!"
The truth is also at once brought to light by the simple question, where is our Lord Jesus Christ right now? Is He still a curse? Is He still forsaken as He was when He hung on the cross as a sacrifice for sin? The priest, in his claim of sacrificing (crucifying) Christ afresh answers, "Yes." Surely that is what the offering again of the body and blood of Christ means; that He is still a curse, still forsaken of God. But the Word of God answers, "No!" by telling us distinctly that Christ is now at the right hand of God, Himself the High Priest making intercession for His people. That is, the Bible tells us that Christ is now Himself performing the very office which the priest on earth claims to be fulfilling for those who resort to his ministry in the Mass.
The glorious fact is that the presence of the High Priest in heaven there performing His appropriate work of intercession, renders it altogether unnecessary that there be any priest on earth, and accordingly we find that in all the New Testament there is no such thing known to it, for this age, as a human priest. If any were needed we would certainly expect to find them among the apostles, but among them, there was not one who claimed priesthood! Peter himself never claimed to be a priest, and is never even referred to as such! The only priesthood recognized in the New Testament for this dispensation of grace is the spiritual priesthood of all believers, as we find it stated in 1 Peter 2:9, "But ye [all believers] are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into the His marvelous light."
Continuing our argument, we find the Word of God declaring in Hebrews 9:22, "Without shedding of blood is no remission." So then to remit sins by the sacrifice of the Mass the priest must shed blood. But does he shed blood when he offers the Mass? No, he eats the bread, and drinks the wine, after claiming to transform them into the flesh and blood of Christ. He does not even go through the form of shedding blood. How then can he remit? He cannot. The only way in which sins can be remitted is by faith in the Blood of Christ that was shed on Calvary.
We see further, that if the priest offers Christ upon the altar as a sacrifice, the Resurrection of Christ has no power or meaning. With Rome, Christ is ever upon the altar (i.e., the Cross). Here is a fatal defect, for the Word says, "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins." I Corinthians 15:17
The Mass tells only of Christ's death and nothing of His resurrection. But how sweet to the heart of the Gospel believer are the words of assurance in Romans 5:1, "Therefore—since Christ "was delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification"—Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Second: The second charge against the Mass is that it misrepresents the nature of the elements in the Lord's Supper. Against the doctrine of Transubstantiation, or the change of the bread and wine in the Lord's Supper into the real body and blood of Christ, some one has well written:
"The question is simply this: In John 6, when the Savior states "Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day; 'He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him,' is He speaking figuratively or literally?
"In answering this question, we would take this ground: In every instance in Scripture where a figure is intended, the words cannot be understood to be literal. 'Except a man be born again;' 'I am the vine, ye are the branches;' 'This rock was Christ;' and hundreds more, could not possibly be meant to be literal. The manna was evidently real food, as we learn in Exodus. But when Jesus says, 'I am the bread which came down from heaven,' it could not possibly mean that He was a loaf of bread from heaven. Was not bread used here as a figure of Jesus sent from heaven, as seen incarnate among men? He says, 'I am the bread of life.' This He says whilst He was here a living Man. No change into bread, or bread into Himself, but 'I am the bread of life.' Then He says, 'I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.' To take this literally, then, would be to say that Jesus was a piece of bread which might be eaten! and that bread would become flesh—His flesh—and be given for the life of the world. Would it not be just as true to say that He was literally a vine?
"As a figure of the incarnate Jesus, bread was very striking. As we receive bread for the nourishment of the body, so by faith we receive the Person of Christ as the incarnate Word. But, not only so, we must also receive Him offered on the cross for the life of the world. 'Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.' We will look at this literally, and what would follow? If eating the flesh and drinking the blood means eating the wafer, or the wafer turned into, or changed into, the body and blood of the Lord Jesus in the Eucharist, then what would the following words mean: 'Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day'? Mark, these words are absolute, without any condition whatever. 'Whoso' would teach that any wicked man, unrepentant, or unbelieving, living in sin, yet, if he only ate the Eucharist, had eternal life, and was sure to be raised up by the Lord; and that no Christian can believe.
"Taking these words spiritually, everything becomes clear and no Christian need have a shadow of difficulty indeed, this is in perfect harmony with all Scripture. 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life,' John 5:24. But we must not only by faith receive Him as the bread, but drink His blood. We must receive the solemn word of His atoning death—the shedding of His blood, for 'without shedding of blood is no remission.' Thus, the more we study this Scripture, the more we see the impossibility of, as in every other figure, applying the words in a carnal, or literal way. To put the Eucharist, then, in the place of receiving Christ Himself, by faith, would be a fatal mistake."
Third: The third charge against this stupendously wicked institution, is that by it Rome has held and is holding millions of souls in bondage, the end of which is eternal despair. All the blessings of the Gospel are withheld from those who accept the doctrine of the Mass, for it is in complete and deadly opposition to the Gospel. Believing in the Mass none can say, "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood," Revelation 1:5. The Mass practically says that the sacrifice of Christ is of no more value than the death of a goat under the old Dispensation. It says the work of Christ is not finished, but must be repeated and continued. It practically denies His resurrection and ascension to glory, for He is kept in the place of death. If so, He is still forsaken of God, made sin, then there is no Savior who has delivered us from the wrath to come and no salvation is possible, and thus the Mass entirely destroys Christianity.
What a scourge the Mass becomes in the hands of Rome to drive its votaries to obedience! Armed with it, Rome forces them to come continually to her shrines, and to pay unceasingly for the support of her vast ritualistic display, her temporal, material pomp and glory. And after all the gifts and fanatical devotion of her deluded followers what does she offer them at last? Heaven? No!—Purgatory! This awaits them all, from Pope to the humblest devotee. Purgatory! A place of pain and of uncertain release.
But purgatory is only one piece of the whole system of superstition, intimidation and deception. It is quite a logical attendant on what precedes it, for purgatory demands more masses, and consequently a continuance of bondage on the one hand and an inflow of receipts on the other.
By contrast how beautiful, comforting and sustaining is the Christian's belief! For him there are no attractions in the Mass. He realizes he is washed from his sins in the precious blood of Christ, that he is sealed by the Holy Spirit to the day of Redemption (the resurrection), that his name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, and that Heaven is his home. This is the Gospel—The glorious Gospel of the Blessed God, and enjoying it he can triumphantly exclaim—"Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable Gift." To him the Lord's Supper is indeed the Eucharist—the feast of Thanksgiving.
From Grace and Truth, vol. 3 (December 1912). Published by Grace and Truth, Kansas City, Missouri.
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