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What Are the Different Protestant Views of Communion?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
March 9, 2023 4:24 pm

What Are the Different Protestant Views of Communion?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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March 9, 2023 4:24 pm

Episode 1180 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

Show Notes


Questions in this Episode


1. Are things that Paul taught in the first century applicable today?

2. Is speaking in tongues proof of salvation?

3. What are the different views of communion?

4. When a Christian dies, does their soul go directly to heaven?

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What are the different Protestant views of communion? 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 with your question.

Our phone lines will be open for the next 25 minutes or so. Here's the phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. You can also post your question on one of our social media sites. And of course, you can always email us your question at

First up today, Adriel, we have an email question from one of our listeners named Anthony. He says, how can we be sure that what Paul was teaching as far as acceptable Christian behavior way back in the first century is still relevant for us in modern times? Maybe some of the instruction was for the early church and doesn't apply to us today.

I feel like I'm missing something. Well, Anthony, I wish I had you on the line so I could ask specifically, you know, what in, you know, the Pauline writings are you referring to? Certainly, I mean, when we look at these epistles, I mean, this is holy scripture. Now, we can differentiate between something that's prescriptive for the church at all times and something that's just describing a particular instance that was related to something that was happening in the first century. So, for example, oftentimes when we're looking at the book of Acts, you know, people will read the scene on the day of Pentecost and they'll think, okay, is this just a description of what happened or is this prescriptive? Are we supposed to experience Pentecost when we show up for church on Sunday? And, of course, if it's, you know, prescriptive, well, then we're trying to drum something up, this experience.

And so, I think having those categories can be helpful. There are times where Paul is describing a particular situation there in the first century, but that doesn't mean that it's not relevant for us or that it doesn't speak to us today. One example would be, you know, oftentimes the apostle Paul addresses the church with regard to issues like meat that was sacrificed to idols. You know, there were some Christians that had no problem eating that meat because they realized that, you know, you know, they bought this meat in a meat market, it had been used in a pagan ritual, but they knew that there were no other gods but one.

And so their conscience was free. I mean, they could eat that meat and they just thought, yeah, that's, you know, all that stuff is silly, hocus pocus. But then there were other believers who maybe had come out of some of those pagan backgrounds. And so for them, it was really scandalous to eat meat that had been used in these kinds of ceremonies. And so there was a conflict there that's, you know, a conflict that we don't experience in our churches today. It's not like you go to Vons or wherever it is that you buy your meat and, you know, you have an aisle for the meat that was sacrificed to the pagan gods, you know. Yeah, that's nice.

I wonder if that would be cheaper or more expensive, you know, I'm not sure. But in any event, but we can still, I mean, so even though that was particular to that time, boy, there are lessons there. And in particular, Paul says, look, what we should strive to do is to live peaceably and full of charity with each other, not causing each other to stumble. Well, that relates to us today. It may not be with regard to meat sacrificed to idols, but it can relate to other things that we deal with in the church. And so the writings of the Apostle Paul are relevant for us today. And the other thing I just want to say, thinking about your question, Anthony, is, I mean, as you read, you know, Paul's letters, as I read them, I find myself, and Bill, I think you say this too, you find yourself convicted, challenged, you realize that this really is relevant. Yeah, it was a different time, but there's nothing new under the sun. I think it says that somewhere in the Bible, right?

And it does. And so absolutely, I think, you know, asking is this prescriptive or descriptive, but even the things that are descriptive of something particular in that day are still applicable. There's still, you know, lines of analogy that can be drawn for us today in terms of application. Now, one of the major issues in our culture and certainly in the church over the last few years has been homosexuality. And there are some that will say, well, Paul didn't have science. He didn't understand homosexuality. So when he writes these prescriptive, you know, things against homosexuality, it's because he was just, you know, he didn't have the understanding, didn't have the knowledge that we have today.

How would you respond to that? Well, you're right that people are saying these kinds of things. I mean, we, boy, we're on really dangerous ground when we're making justifications in our minds for rejecting what God's word has clearly taught. I mean, at that point, basically now the Bible does not stand over us as this authority from God speaking to us, but we are the ultimate judges of what's right and wrong, of, you know, how to live and so on and so forth. And at that point, basically, you're just saying, I actually don't want to worship God according to how he's revealed. I want to do things my way and then sort of fit God in there somewhere. And that's what a lot of people do today. And so I would just, I mean, depending on obviously on who I'm talking to, I would say that's, you know, obviously a serious issue. And just, we need to stick to what the word of God says, understanding it in its context and addressing critiques like that specifically, I think is important.

Hmm. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. If you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, you can feel free to call us right now. Here's our phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. Adriel is also happy to take your questions if maybe you have some doubts about the Christian faith. Perhaps you consider yourself to be an atheist or an agnostic and you're thinking, you know, this, I believe this whole Christianity thing is just a myth. Well, call up, ask Adriel your questions about Christianity. He'd be happy to talk to you. Let's go to Bill who's on the phone from Illinois.

Bill, what's your question for Adriel? Yes, I was talking to another Christian, another denomination, and he was talking about what they believe was salvation. And it's, I actually thought of something else too. It says you have to be baptized. You have to accept Christ and you have to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and you're not fully saved until you start speaking in tongues. I wonder if you guys can kind of talk about that. Yeah, we can talk about that. That's false teaching, for one.

So there were a couple of things there that I think were errors. It sounds like he was saying, okay, you're not saved if you were baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. You have to be baptized in Jesus' name. And of course, you know, people get this from the book of Acts, for example, where the disciples are going around baptizing in the name of Jesus. We do know when Jesus instituted baptism in Matthew chapter 28 that he commanded the apostles to go out and baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. That's the prescription for how to baptize. That's how the church is always baptized. That's how we baptize in the church. Where I'm a minister, I think what you see in the book of Acts, they're baptizing in the name of Jesus. The focus there as Luke is writing, especially there at this early stage, is helping to differentiate between the baptism of Jesus and the baptism of John. The baptism of Jesus, I would say, is to be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And there are questions in the book of Acts actually about, okay, were you baptized according to John's baptism or have you been baptized as a Christian? But then the additional point there of you're not fully saved until you speak in tongues, that is a very dangerous, dangerous doctrine.

Even this language of, you know, being fully saved, totally sanctified, that kind of a thing. You're either justified or you're not. There aren't sort of levels of justification.

You can't be more or less justified. This is a definitive, declarative act of God whereby he forgives all of our sins and gives to us the righteousness of his Son, Jesus Christ, imputed to us, received by faith alone. Spiritual gifts like the gift of tongues, even in the first century when Paul is writing, not everyone spoke in tongues. These gifts were not given as a sign that an individual was saved or fully saved or more mature as a believer. In fact, the Corinthians, many of them, you know, were speaking in tongues and Paul's addressing their spiritual immaturity throughout the letter.

He's saying, you guys don't have any love for each other. You're engaging in all this sinful behavior. There was a lot of immaturity, frankly, at that church. But Paul says very clearly, Bill, in 1 Corinthians chapter 12, he asks a rhetorical question. He says, are all apostles, are all prophets, are all teachers, do all work miracles, do all possess gifts of healing, do all speak with tongues, do all interpret?

And the answer is no. There are different members within the body and each of those, you know, gifts that God gives are given for the mutual edification of the whole. So somebody who's saying you're not fully saved until you speak in tongues, what they're saying is every Christian should be doing this. I mean, this is a part of salvation, but that contradicts what the apostle Paul said there in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. And so, Bill, I would say maybe just addressing some of these errors with your friend, taking them to that text in 1 Corinthians chapter 12, and then focusing on the gospel. It's not your speaking in tongues that saves you. It's the righteous life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That's what saves you.

Now, we're called in light of that to live a life that is honoring to God, but it sounds like this friend of yours is relying on his own efforts, his own spiritual works in order to be fully saved, and that is disastrous. And so, yeah, I hope that you guys can have some more conversations. Tell him to feel free to give us a call here at the CORE too. I'm sure you'd love to talk to him, wouldn't you? Yeah, absolutely.

I mean, anybody. So, yeah. All right, this is CORE Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. You know, there are a lot of questions that people have about God's will. What's His will for my relationships, my job, where am I going to go to college, my everyday decisions?

Well, we actually have a brand new booklet for you today that answers just those questions. Yeah, the booklet is called, What is God's Will? And if this is something that you've been wrestling with lately, you know, maybe there's a big decision in front of you and you're trying to determine what the right direction is, I want to encourage you to get a hold of this resource.

I think it'll help you. I think it'll encourage you, and I think it'll give you some biblical clarity on how to approach this question. A lot of times people, you know, when they're trying to determine God's will for their life, they're looking for some sort of sign in the clouds or some sort of audible voice, and then they're disappointed when they don't get that, and they think, well, God has let me down. God is not speaking to me. He's not directing me.

Well, that's not the case at all. Get a hold of this resource again. It's called, What is God's Will? It's a 50-page booklet, and it'll help you really understand this subject a little bit more. It's over at for a gift of any amount. Just a great booklet that will be a big help to you or somebody you know who maybe is struggling with what is God's will in their life. Go to forward slash offers to find that. Again, forward slash offers. Of course, you can call us for any one of our offers at 833-THE-CORE. That's 833-843-2673.

Well, we do receive voicemails here at The Core, and here's one that came in from one of our listeners in Anchorage, Alaska. This is Tom. Hello.

Thank you for your program. This is Tom, and I was wondering, I'm Anglican, and we meet in the afternoon, and sometimes I just want to go in the morning, so sometimes I will go to a Lutheran church, a conservative Lutheran church. I think they believe something different about communion, though. In the Anglican church, it's spiritual and heavenly, but I'm not sure exactly what the Lutherans believe. Is it okay for me to take communion there? I know it's not transubstantiation, but I'm not sure.

Thank you. Okay, great question, Tom, and gets us into one of the most hated disputes during the time of the Reformation, and that is the role of Christ's presence and the way in which Christ is present in the elements of bread and wine. Now, there are different views, obviously, among Protestants. There's this sort of common view in many churches today, I think just broadly evangelical Bible churches, that communion is this time where we get to remember what Jesus did for us.

It's this symbol, it's a sign of the gospel, a picture of the gospel, and really it just helps us to fix our eyes on the cross, on the fact that Jesus died for us, and so we're remembering what Jesus did, and it's primarily this kind of memorial, if you will. Now, that view doesn't really emphasize the presence of Christ in a unique and special way in and through the bread and the wine. Of course, you mentioned transubstantiation, that's the Roman Catholic position, the idea that the bread and the wine are actually transformed through the ministry of the priest by the power of the Holy Spirit into the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ, that the substance is changed. The externals, the accidents, they look the same, it looks like bread, tastes like wine, but substantially it's the body and blood of Jesus, transubstantiation. That was rejected, that doctrine was rejected by the Protestant reformers for a number of reasons, but Lutherans do believe, and of course I'm not a confessional Lutheran, so I've got to be very careful here, and if there are some who are listening right now and you think, you got that wrong, feel free to feel free to call in, but they do believe that Christ is bodily present in these elements of bread and wine. Sometimes they'll use the language of in, with, and under the elements, and this gets at our Christology, our understanding of who Christ is and how his bodily presence is experienced and fed upon, if you will, in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. What they'll say is, well, you know, in the incarnation you have one divine person, but by grace the attributes, if you will, of the divine nature, by grace are communicated to the human nature so that the human body of our Lord Jesus is present everywhere, together with the divinity in one sense, in a special way locally in the Lord's Supper. Now, many other reformers rejected that view and said, no, the way in which we experience, and this would be more my view, and it sounds like it's more in line with your view as well, Tom, the way we experience the presence of Christ, the risen Christ, even the bodily presence of Christ is mysteriously by the power of the Holy Spirit. And so it's not so much that, you know, Jesus bodily is coming down into these elements somehow, but that we, by the power of the Holy Spirit, are united to Christ, who is in heaven, and there by faith are nourished by the grace of the gospel, by his body and his blood. Now, is there any biblical evidence for this?

I would say absolutely. I mean, you think of, I mean, Jesus instituting the Lord's Supper there in the upper room, telling his disciples, this is, this is my body, this is my blood, and in the context of that meal, that's where you get Jesus's upper room discourse as well in John 13 and following, and Jesus told his disciples over and over and over again on that evening, I am going to be with you. I'm leaving, but I'm going to be with you. Well, how am I going to be with you?

How is he going to be with us? By the power of the Spirit who he's sending. That's the whole context of this meal that Jesus instituted.

It is Holy Spirit charged. And so I would say that in the Lord's Supper, we do truly feed on Christ, the whole Christ, if you will, right? His body and his blood, his blood, not in such a way that, you know, the the body of Jesus is there locally present on the table, but that we, through these signs, these holy signs and seals, are lifted up by faith into the presence of God to receive by the power of the Holy Spirit the true body and blood of Christ for our nourishment and our strengthening in the faith.

And so look, again, it is a great tragedy, I would say, that this is such an area of division. I mean, especially because the Lord's Supper is supposed to also be a picture of the unity we have in Christ. You think of Paul's words to the Corinthians, but it is so important for us, brothers and sisters, to take these things seriously. These are holy ordinances given to us by Jesus himself for the church to observe and to experience his grace, his love, the power of the gospel in a tangible way. And so those are some of the different ways that Protestants have talked about.

This is sort of mere memorial, the local presence of Jesus, they're sort of in with and under, or this spiritual, you know, by the power of the Holy Spirit nourishment where we feed on Christ's body and blood by faith. It's that last view that I hold to, but I do love my brothers and sisters who disagree with me on this. And we talked before about Christian liberty, and certainly there are different views. And there's also the core doctrines of the faith, which that's what we talk about here on this program. So we can certainly accept, and we might differ with Christians who have a different tradition on that, but when it comes to what we really care about on this program, it tends to be those core doctrines of the faith that we talk about every day. And I'd love to hear from you if you have a question.

For sure, Bill. And I would add that this is, I mean, when we're thinking about the sacraments of the church, these holy ordinances, these are important doctrines. Now, a difference here I don't think would cause us to say, well, you're not a Christian. I don't think that you're a believer in Jesus Christ.

But they still are very important. And I think we see in many places in the church today, these particular doctrines, we're talking about the church and her sacraments, minimized and sort of cast aside. And that's something that I hate to see as a pastor and really want to encourage people to grow in their understanding of the Lord's Supper so that when they're taking communion at their church, it's not just this sort of time of empty remembrance.

It really is that substantial feeding where we recognize what God is giving to us in this sacred meal. So well said. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Let's go to Tracy, who's calling in from Oklahoma. Tracy, what's your question for Adriel? Hi, thank you so much for taking my call.

I appreciate it. I was talking to a friend who's a Seventh-day Adventist, and she mentioned that one of their beliefs is that the dead stay dead until Judgment Day. And I know that there's scripture to support that. For example, in Psalm 6, it says, For the dead do not remember you who can praise you from the grave. Now, I also heard on the program right before yours that Jesus said to the thief on the cross, whenever the thief asks him to remember him, he said, Today you will join me in paradise. And there is also another scripture that says, you know, absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. So do you mind providing some clarification on that from your point of view?

Yeah, absolutely, Tracy. The souls of believers are at their death, perfected in holiness, and immediately pass into glory. Now, our bodies go down into the ground. They experience corruption there, waiting for the time of resurrection when they're restored. And so this period, you know, the period between our death and the final judgment and resurrection, it's what people call what theologians call the intermediate state. Now, there are some who say, like this friend of yours who's a Seventh-day Adventist, that during that period, it's just sort of like you're asleep.

A very long nap. And that does sound appealing to many, many people. But let me just say, what the Bible teaches is way better than that. It's not that you're going to get just, you know, a thousand years of sleep or something like that. No, it's that when we die, our souls are transported into the presence of God, perfected in holiness, and we're conscious. We're together with God, with, you know, the departed loved ones in Christ, with the angels even around the throne of God. You mentioned a couple verses, like the thief on the cross and Jesus saying to him, today you're going to be with me in paradise. You mentioned Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 5, verse 8, where he said to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

I'll give you two more that I think really seal the deal here. One is in Philippians chapter 1, as Paul is talking about his death. He's going to die soon, he feels. He's thinking about his life.

He's thinking about his ministry, how he's been able to serve various churches like the church at Philippi. And he says in verse 22, or I'll start in verse 21, for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me, yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.

I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. So Paul thought, when I die, I'm going to go and be with Jesus, and that is better than anything I've ever experienced. Even a nap. Even a nap, yeah.

I mean, I know naps can be pretty heavenly sometimes, especially when you have five kids like I do. But the reality is, no, he's saying, I'm going to be with Jesus. One other passage to bring up that I think, you know, puts the nail in the coffin, no pun intended, even more is Hebrews chapter 12 in verse 23.

The author of the Hebrews has this vision of the throne room in heaven, and who is there? The souls of the righteous made perfect, believers who have died around the throne of God, worshiping God together with the angels. And so everywhere, the scripture seems to confirm that when we die, we're not just asleep.

A sleep can be used sometimes as a metaphor for death, but there we're in the presence of God, worshiping him. Thanks for listening to Core Christianity. To request your copy of today's special offer, visit us at and click on offers in the menu bar or call us at 1-833-843-2673. That's 833, the core. 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 / 2023-03-09 18:43:47 / 2023-03-09 18:54:02 / 10

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