Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 29

Question 78: Do the bread and wine become the real body and blood of Christ?

No. Just as the water of baptism is not changed into Christ’s blood and does not itself wash away sins but is simply a divine sign and assurance (1) of these things, so too the holy bread of the Lord’s Supper does not become the actual body of Christ (2), even though it is called the body of Christ (3) in keeping with the nature and language of sacraments (4).

1 – Eph. 5:26; Titus 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


Question 79: Why then does Christ call the bread His body and the cup His blood, or the new covenant in His blood, and Paul use the words, a participation in Christ’s body and blood?

Christ has good reason for these words. He wants to teach us that just as bread and wine nourish the temporal life, so too His crucified body and poured-out blood are the true food and drink of 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 made satisfaction 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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