By Brannon Howse
The Scripture: Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
The Twist: This verse was used out of context by a Catholic man who called my live national radio program one day and declared that John 6:54 was proof that the Bible supports the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation. Transubstantiation is the belief of the Church of Rome that the communion bread becomes the literal body of Christ and the wine becomes the literal blood of Christ.
This strange Roman Catholic teaching—this heresy—is not confirmed by the Word of God. In John 6:54, Jesus is speaking spiritually. He is not talking about literally eating the flesh of the Lord or drinking His blood. It’s “spiritual talk.” Besides the metaphorical aspect of this teaching, Jesus is saying this before He established the Last Supper. John 6:54 is being spoken by Jesus to His disciples before they have even partaken of the Last Supper with Him. So communion, or the Last Supper, has not even been established. Therefore, it cannot be applied to communion because it has nothing to do with communion or the Lord’s Supper.
We also know that no one is saved by taking communion. Yet the Roman church teaches there is some kind of forgiveness of sins that can come through communion, and they misquote John 6:54 to arrive at this conclusion: “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life” (italics mine).
Communion is for true believers and has nothing to do with salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.” So it’s not by taking communion or being baptized that one is saved. In fact, communion is for those who are already saved. We see that clearly in the Scriptures. But look at what the website Catholic Answers says:
Fundamentalists insist that when Christ says, “This is My body,” He’s speaking figuratively. But this interpretation is precluded by Paul’s discussion of the Eucharist in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29, and by the whole tenor of John 6, the chapter where the Eucharist is promised.
Notice the website quotes 1 Corinthians 11:23-29, but these verses in no one way teach transubstantiation. Rather, they speak about the institution of the Last Supper:
For I received from the Lord that which I delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took the bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
This is the observance of the Lord’s Supper—remembering the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Catholic Encyclopedia, talking about the Eucharist says,
The quintessence of the doctrinal decisions consist in this: that in the Eucharist, the body and blood of the God-man are truly, really, and substantially present.
In other words, Catholics believe the wafer literally becomes the body of Christ and the wine they use literally becomes the blood of Christ. But that’s not the case. The Catholic Encyclopedia goes on to say:
For the nourishment of our souls, by reason of the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. And that in this change of substances, the unbloody sacrifice of the New Testament is also contained.
Roman Catholic theologian Ludwig Ott adds this explanation regarding the doctrine of transubstantiation:
The body and the blood of Christ, together with His soul and His divinity, and therefore the whole Christ, are truly present in the Eucharist.
Roman Catholics use this thinking to validate their worship of the Eucharistic wafer.
Jesus would not have commanded His disciples to eat the flesh of Christ or His blood because Old Testament law prohibited eating meat with blood in it. This is clear in the laws given in Leviticus, Genesis, Deuteronomy, and recounted in Acts.
Communion is not for the unsaved or the unbeliever, so the question also arises as to how communion could save anyone when it was established as a means for believers to remember the work of Christ on the cross. We know this from the instructions regarding the Lord’s Table in 1 Corinthians 11:18: “when you come together as a church.” What is the Church? It is a group of believers. So taking communion does not save you because people who take communion are those who are already saved.
Compare also the words of 1 Corinthians 11:33, which reads: “Therefore, my brethren.” Who are Paul’s brethren? Those who are believers. So, again, there are only two camps you can be in. One is the camp of God, and the other is the camp of Satan. The reference in 1 Corinthians 11:33 to “brethren” clearly points to those who are already saved. This confirms that here is no salvation in communion since it is for the believer.
So the bottom line is that John 6:54 does not teach transubstantiation and does not support the Roman Catholic doctrine that the wafer becomes the literal flesh of Christ and the wine becomes the literal blood of Christ. John 6:54 is metaphorical, spiritual talk, shared by Jesus even before He had ever instituted communion among His followers. Keep that straight.
Copyright 2014 ©Brannon Howse. This content is for Situation Room members and is not to be duplicated in any form or uploaded to other websites without the express written permission of Brannon Howse or his legally authorized representative.