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Is Communion Symbolic or Is It Really the Body and Blood of Christ?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
February 3, 2023 4:27 pm

Is Communion Symbolic or Is It Really the Body and Blood of Christ?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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February 3, 2023 4:27 pm

Episode 1156 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

Show Notes


Questions in this Episode


1. What did Jesus give up for my salvation?

2. Is it important to become an official member of a church?

3. Is it OK to go to Catholic Mass on Saturday and a Protestant church on Sunday?

4. In communion, do the bread and wine turn into the body and blood of Christ?

5. If God is real, why would he allow me to be sexually abused?

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Core Question – How Can Christianity Be True if God Allows Evil and Suffering?

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Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
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Is communion really the body and blood of Christ? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Well, hi, this is Bill Meyer along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. You can call us right now and our phone lines will be open for the next 25 minutes or so at this number.

That's 1-833-843-2673. Of course, you can post your question on one of our social media sites, and you can always email us at questions at First up today, here's a voicemail from one of our listeners named Chris.

I really appreciate what you guys do. Thank you for hearing my question. I've often heard it said, Jesus gave it all or Jesus gave everything so I could have everything. My question is, what did Jesus give up? I feel like if someone were to hear that and ask me as a believer, I don't know that I could provide an answer.

Thank you. Well, if ever you get asked that question, I would recommend going to Philippians 2, a wonderful exhortation that the Apostle Paul gives to the church at Philippi regarding humility. He's calling them to be humble, to care for one another. He says in verse 5, have this mind among yourselves which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men, and being found in human form. He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Here we have the humiliation of Jesus Christ being discussed, being explained. And again, Paul is saying, look, he's calling the Philippian church, he's calling us to humility in light of what God the Son has done for us.

What did he give up? Well, he emptied himself by taking the form of a servant that is assuming our humanity so that he might redeem us, the eternal Son of God who doesn't need anything. The King of glory took flesh and blood and came in a low condition for us and for our salvation, so that he might redeem us, embracing even the cursed death of the cross. He became poor, if you will, so that we might become rich in grace and mercy and salvation.

And so what did the eternal Son of God give up? It's described right there, Philippians chapter two, it's the great redemptive work for us so that we might be saved. God bless you and thank you for giving us a call, Chris.

Great explanation. Thank you so much for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. If you have a question about the Bible, the Christian life, doctrine, theology, you name it, we would love to hear from you. You can call us at 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. Tim called in and he had this question. He said, I'm active in my church. I lead a Bible study, but I'm not a member. Would the Bible recommend that I become a member of the church?

Tim, thank you for that question. I do think that church membership is very important. I know that a lot of people just say, well, where in the Bible does it say that I need to become a member of the church? I think it's presupposed even in the idea of holy baptism. We're baptized into the body of Christ as members, as participants in the life of the church. And when you're in a local church, I think it's important for you to be committed to that local church.

For the building up of the body with the gifts that God has given to you. Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians chapter 12, how each of us are gifted in unique ways, knit together, as he uses that language in Ephesians 4, in the body of Christ so that we might edify one another, build each other up. And it sounds to me like you're seeking to do that, teaching a Bible study there in your church. But membership is, again, really important. It helps the leadership in the church know who they're charged with caring for. There are a lot of people who are members of our church, and then there are people who are just sort of visiting, kind of checking things out. And for us as elders in the church, what I often tell people is, look, when you become a member, it's helpful for us as pastor and elders in the church to know these are the people that we're entrusted with caring for. Now, it doesn't mean we don't care for nonmembers and seek to encourage them in their walk with the Lord. But the fact of the matter is, is I'm not charged with every single Christian on the face of the earth or every single Christian in Southern California, where I'm charged with a particular group of people in a local church who are committed to the local body. And so it's good for the leadership in your church, and I think it's good for you also to be committed to the church in that way. Remember what the author of the Hebrews said in Hebrews chapter 13, verse 17, obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will have to give an account.

Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. And so, Tim, I want to encourage you, become a member of the church where you're already serving and get more plugged in and continue to serve there and encourage others in their walk with the Lord. Now, if there's something in particular that's causing you to be unsure about membership and you want to give us a call and follow up and go a little bit deeper, be happy to take your question and would love to talk further. So God bless. And Adriel, we have a kind of a related question from Jim, who's calling in from St. Louis, Missouri. Jim, what's your question for Adriel? Oh, hi, Pastor Adrian.

Thanks for taking my call. I was just wondering, I go to church on Saturday evening, Catholic Church with my wife. And then on Sunday, I go to a non-denominational church. And I was wondering what your thoughts on that is?

Am I doing okay with that? Or is it against the Bible? What do you think? Does your wife go with you as well on Sunday? Are you guys just sort of both visiting each other's churches? I'm guessing she's Roman Catholic and you feel like you align more with the non-denominational church? She does not go to church with me on Sunday. She doesn't like the church. She claims it's a gym. Well, right now we're building a new church, but we're currently in a kind of like a gym setting.

Okay. Well, there's a couple of things. Jim, I'm really grateful because our audience here at Core Christianity is quite broad. I mean, we have people calling in from all different backgrounds, Presbyterian, Baptist, Church of Christ, Roman Catholic.

I mean, just about everything. I'm grateful for each and every one of our listeners. Now, I'm a minister in a Protestant denomination. I believe in the doctrines of the Reformation. And so while I'm grateful for friends in different traditions, I have strong convictions about what the Bible teaches related to salvation, related to the church, related to the sacraments. And so there are significant differences, obviously, between the Roman Catholic doctrine and the doctrine that you'll find in Protestant churches, Reformed churches, Evangelical churches.

And so I think here's the thing. I mean, it sounds to me like the two of you are on different pages here, maybe digging deeper into the scriptures together and seeing if your wife would be open to thinking through some of the doctrines that the Roman Catholic Church teaches, some of the critiques that came out of the Protestant Reformation. And it could be an opportunity for the two of you to grow deeper in your faith. And there are, of course, resources that we would want to put in your hands to encourage you in that. If you stay on the line, I'm sure we could send you a copy of the book Core Christianity by Dr. Michael Horton, a lot of the basic sort of fundamental doctrines of the faith. Many of those doctrines, I think your wife could say, wow, I agree with that right on.

And then other things maybe that might be a little bit of a challenge. I appreciate the fact that you're wanting to go with your wife on Saturday and obviously encourage her and be a part of what's going on there just as a husband in the family. I think, though, that continuing to have these conversations and hopefully coming to a place where the two of you are in church together and in a church that values the teaching of the word of God, where God's word is going to be faithfully taught and Christ is going to be honored through the ministry that takes place there. And so I think ultimately, you know, the prayer should be, Lord, help us to grow in your word and bring us together so that we might worship fellowship together in a church that that prioritizes the pure preaching of your word and worship that's done in accordance with your word as well. Jim, God bless.

Just a follow up question for you, Adriel. Sounds like Jim's wife does not want to go to his church on Sundays because it meets, as he said, in a gym or a community center. And I'm just wondering, I know of a lot of people who maybe grew up in the Catholic church or grew up in a very strict Lutheran background. And they say, I could never go to a church building that's not a holy sanctuary. And I'm just curious, how would you respond to that? I know that your church meets in an official sanctuary, but there are many churches that don't, for whatever reason.

Is that something that should turn off a person that would keep them from attending a church? You know, it's an excellent question. I think there are a couple of ditches that we could reckon. One is just to say that the space doesn't matter at all. And I don't think that that's the case. I think that even with worship spaces, quote unquote, we want it to reflect the beauty, the goodness, the seriousness of what's happening when we gather together as the people of God.

But the fact of the matter is, those are, you know, externals. I mean, during the pandemic, there was one point where our church was meeting in a large parking lot. We still had the preaching of God's word. We still had the sacraments. We still had singing and prayer. I mean, it was a Christian worship service, even though, circumstantially, we were outside under the beautiful San Diego sun.

It actually wasn't that bad. But differentiating between the elements, we might say, of worship and the circumstances of worship. You know, the space that you meet in, what it looks like, it's not that it doesn't matter, but it's circumstantial. It's not of the essence of what worship is. What's up the essence of what worship is, is that pure preaching of God's word and the worship that's done in accordance with the word of God. And so, look, if I had to choose between a church that had all of the beauty, right, maybe let me picture a cathedral with all of the stained glass and, you know, gorgeous wooden pews and all of that, where the word of God was not being clearly and faithfully taught. And my other option was, we're meeting in a gym, but the word of God is going out powerfully, and people are coming under the conviction of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of God's word and being encouraged in the gospel of grace. Christ is being placarded before them. There, you know, through the preaching, I would say, man, give me the church at the gym every single time where I'm going to hear the pure preaching of God's word, because that's at the center of Christian worship.

Hmm. That is so well said. Thanks for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez.

Our phone lines are open. If you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, you've got about 10 minutes to give us a call. Here's the number. It's 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. A reminder that Core Christianity is listener supported, and we count on people just like you to help us support our mission, pursue our mission of sharing the gospel, equipping believers and answering the questions of non-believers. And if you'd like to make a gift to this ministry, you can easily do that online by going to and clicking on the donate link. Now, when you go there, you can also learn more about becoming one of our ongoing supporters by joining what we call our inner core.

Yeah. I hope if you've been blessed by the broadcast that you'll consider joining the inner core. It's a monthly donation of $25 or more, and it's one of the ways you can partner with us in the work that we're doing, especially, as I said, if you've been encouraged by our work. You're getting answers to the questions that you have about the Christian faith, or you're just encouraged by the way in which we answer questions, as people call in. Consider joining the inner core, and as a thank you, we'll send you a copy of the book, Core Christianity, by Dr. Michael Horton. You can learn more again about joining the inner core by going to forward slash inner core, just all one word forward slash inner core, a great group of people that we really appreciate. And we'd love to have you join that wonderful group of folks. Well, we do receive voicemails here at the core.

And here's one that came in from one of our listeners named Bill. I have the bright and committed son who absolutely does not believe I should participate in communion in the Catholic Church unless I believe that the bread and the fruit of the vine are changed into the blood and the body of Christ, as opposed to being symbols and I always think of these as symbols. I'd love explanation. He talks about the original wording that is clearly meaning blood, his blood and his body, not symbols. Thank you.

Great question. Well, the first thing I would say is actually your son is right, and I think if you were talking to the priest in that Roman Catholic Church, they would say, yeah, if you're not Roman Catholic, if you don't embrace this doctrine, then you should not be taking communion. We're affirming that which is believed in the church as well. We're saying this is a sign not just of our fellowship with Christ, but of our fellowship with the church and with her theology. And so typically in the church, and in particular in the Roman Catholic Church, if you're not Roman Catholic, they don't want you taking communion there in their church. I don't know if your son is Roman Catholic, but that's why he's saying that to you, or if he's just saying, I know that this is what that church teaches, and so since you disagree, you shouldn't be taking the Lord's Supper there. But I would say, yeah, the truth is that that's right. Now, is it right that the bread and the wine are transformed into the physical body and blood of Jesus in the context of the liturgy during that section in the liturgy where they're reading the words of institution and calling for the blessing of the Holy Spirit upon the elements?

That's not my view. Now, there's obviously debate about this, and we're talking about the doctrine of the Lord's Supper and the presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper. I know I'm not going to make, it's impossible to make everybody happy here because there's so much disagreement among even Protestants.

When you're talking to people who aren't Roman Catholic, they're just Protestants. There's some who say, well, it's just a sign. It's just a symbol. And I would say it's not just a symbol. It's a real means of grace. But it is a sign, as you say.

It's just not a bare sign, an empty sign. It's a sign that's connected to the reality that it signifies. The reality is Christ, His benefits, His body and blood, and it's through these signs of bread and wine by faith that we receive the reality for our nourishment, for our growth in grace. We have a very special and particular communion with the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the Lord's Supper.

And I'm not making this up. This is exactly what the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 verse 16. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ, the bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? It's still bread and wine, but it's through these signs that God has given to us, we embrace by faith the one signified, the reality signified there, the bread and wine that's truly exhibited before us in the Lord's Supper. And so I don't believe, as the Roman Catholic Church teaches, a doctrine of transubstantiation, you know, these elements of bread and wine are transformed into something else so that they're no longer bread and wine. They might look like bread and wine, but now they're the physical, literal body of Jesus Christ and His blood. No, they remain bread and wine, but through them, the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, we partake of the true body and blood of Jesus Christ by faith.

How? Well, that's where the mystery comes in. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, certainly. It's a work of the Holy Spirit there in the midst of the community of faith, eating and drinking by faith. That's how we partake of Christ.

But still, there's great mystery there, and I think we should embrace that mystery. We're talking about Christian worship and experiencing the Lord in these wonderful gifts that He's given to us, and so we want to value those gifts and receive them with faith. Thank you for giving us that question. Such a powerful explanation and description of the Lord's Supper.

Thank you for that, Adriel, and thanks for that clarification. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. If you have a question about the Bible, the Christian life, doctrine, theology, you name it, we're always open to your questions, and if you're not able to get through during the live program, you can always call us and leave a voicemail. 24 hours a day, our voicemail system is working, and you can call over the weekend. Here's the number. It's 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. Of course, you can always post your question on one of our social media sites and email us at Let's go to Wendy calling in from Kansas City, Missouri. Wendy, what's your question for Pastor Adriel?

Hi, yes, thank you for taking my call. I have a situation. I have a friend that says she's atheist, and when I asked why, she said that she was sexually abused growing up by her father, and if there was a God, how would he allow this to happen? And I need some advice on how to answer that question, please, and thank you. Wendy, it's such a heartbreaking situation. I know that even now as I'm answering this, there are those listening who have experienced abuse, and they've wrestled with this very thing, trying to make sense of how a good God could allow something like this. I think in part when we're dealing with the victims of abuse and caring for them, certainly showing the compassion and love and concern that they weren't shown growing up is really important in terms of just being there, right?

Being a godly friend and someone who I think exhibits the heart of Christ for those who have been hurt and abused. So I would say first and foremost, it's not just coming with an answer, well, this is why God allowed that to happen. We can't look into the mind of God.

I think at first it's just affirming the horrific nature of what took place and being able to say that breaks my heart. That's sin. That's contrary to God's word, God's law, what he calls people to, and God is a just judge, and God will judge. But not trying to provide a rationalization or something like that.

We can just look at these things and say, God have mercy, that was horrific, and I just want to be there for you and comfort you. I think you also see in scripture over and over again God's heart for those who have suffered abuse, even abuse at the hands of his people. There's a story in Genesis chapter 16, the situation with Abram and his wife and his wife's maidservant Hagar.

I just want to read some of this text. As Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, Behold, now the Lord has prevented me from bearing children.

Go into my servant. It may be that I shall obtain children by her. And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar, the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram, her husband, as a wife. And he went into Hagar, and she conceived, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. And Sarai said to Abram, May the wrong done to me be to you. I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me. And Abram said to Sarai, Behold, your servant is in your power.

Do to her as you please. And Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her. Here you have a young woman who's basically just treated as a piece of property, used, and treated harshly, and she runs away. And the next verse says, this is Genesis 16 verse 7, The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. This is actually the first occurrence of that title, that phrase, the angel of the Lord, in the scriptures. Around 60 times you see the angel of the Lord, but this is the first time we see the angel of the Lord.

And what is the angel of the Lord doing? He's pursuing this young woman who has been abused and treated harshly. See, our Lord Jesus pursues the victims of abuse. He knows what it is to be abused and discarded and treated with contempt and murdered. I mean, right when you think about the shame of the crucifixion, we don't always know in terms of answering that question as to the why, you know, how could this happen?

Look, don't go there. What we do know is that there is a God in heaven who calls all the hurting to himself and who assumed humanity to take our pain, to forgive our sins where we sin, but to sympathize with us as well in our brokenness, in our weakness. And so you can go to your friend, Wendy, and talk about this Jesus who loves her and who knows the pain and the horror of sinful people. May the Lord give you wisdom and bless you and be with you. Thank you. When you contact us, please let us know how you've been encouraged by this program and be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's word together.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-03 19:08:01 / 2023-02-03 19:17:47 / 10

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