Monday, November 23, 2009

Consider them as if Christ were here present

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 17 - The Lord's Supper; what it brings to us
1-3 - It provides spiritual food
1. Taking us as His sons, God nourishes us at "a spiritual banquet." The bread and wine represent "the invisible food that we receive from the flesh and blood of Christ." Regeneration comes by means of baptism; He sustains us in this new life by Communion. "Christ is the only food of our soul." Our union with Christ is a mystery, so God gives this picture for us. As food feeds our bodies, so Christ feeds our souls. God "renews, or rather continues, the covenant which He once for all ratified with His blood... whenever He proffers that sacred blood for us to taste."

2. The supper witnesses our union with Christ, which makes posssible the great exchange: He takes our sin while we are "clothed with His righteousness.... By His descent to earth, He has prepared an ascent to heaven for us."

3. "Almost [the] entire force of the Sacrament lies in these words: 'which is given for you,' 'which is shed for you.'" Jesus Himself is offered in the Supper, as nourishment for us.

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