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The Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 29


78   Q.    Are the bread and wine changed into the real body and blood of Christ?


       A.    No.

Just as the water of baptism

is not changed into Christ's blood

and does not itself wash away sins

but is simply God's sign and assurance,1

so too the bread of the Lord's Supper

is not changed into the actual body of Christ2

even though it is called the body of Christ3

     in keeping with the nature and language of sacraments.4


1 Eph. 5:26; Tit. 3:5

2 Matt. 26:26-29

3 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 11:26-28

4 Gen. 17:10-11; Ex. 12:11, 13; 1 Cor. 10:1-4


79   Q.    Why then does Christ call the bread his body and the cup his blood, or the new covenant in his blood? (Paul uses the words, a participation in Christ's body and blood.)


       A.    Christ has good reason for these words.

He wants to teach us that

as bread and wine nourish our temporal life,

so too his crucified body and poured-out blood

truly nourish our souls for eternal life.1


But more important,

he wants to assure us, by this visible sign and pledge,

     that we, through the Holy Spirit's work,

share in his true body and blood

as surely as our mouths

receive these holy signs in his remembrance,2

     and that all of his suffering and obedience

are as definitely ours

as if we personally

had suffered and paid for our sins.3


1 John 6:51, 55

2 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 11:26

3 Rom. 6:5-11  



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