The supper of the Lord Jesus was instituted by him the same night he was betrayed. It is to be observed in his churches to the end of the age as a perpetual remembrance and display of the sacrifice of himself in his death (1Co 11:23-26). It is given for the confirmation of the faith of believers in all the benefits of Christ’s death, their spiritual nourishment and growth in him, and their further engagement in and to all the duties they owe him. The supper is to be a bond and pledge of their communion with Christ and each other (1Co 10:16-17, 21).
In this ordinance Christ is not offered up to his Father, nor is any real sacrifice made at all for remission of sin of the living or the dead. It is only a memorial of the one offering Christ made of himself on the cross once for all (Heb 9:25-26, 28). It is also a spiritual offering of the highest possible praise to God for that sacrifice (1Co 11:24; Mt 26:26-27).
In this ordinance the Lord Jesus has appointed his ministers to pray and to bless the elements of bread and wine and in this way to set them apart from a common to a holy use. They are to take and break the bread, take the cup, and give both to the communicants while also participating themselves (1Co 11:23-26).
Denying the cup to the people, worshipping the elements, lifting them up or carrying them around for adoration, or reserving them for some pretended religious use are all contrary to the nature of this ordinance and to the institution of Christ (Mt 15:9; 26:26-28; Ex 20:4-5).
The outward elements in this ordinance, properly set apart for the use ordained by Christ, have such a relationship to Christ crucified that they are sometimes called—truly though figuratively—by the names of the things they represent, that is, the body and blood of Christ (1Co 11:27). However, in substance and nature they still remain truly and only bread and wine, as they were before (1Co 11:26-28).
The doctrine commonly called transubstantiation teaches that the substance of bread and wine is changed into the substance of Christ’s body and blood by the consecration of a priest or some other way. This doctrine is hostile not only to Scripture (Ac 3:21; Lk 24:6, 39) but also to common sense and reason. It destroys the nature of the ordinance and has been and is the cause of many kinds of superstitions and of gross idolatries (1Co 11:24-25).
Worthy recipients who outwardly partake of the visible elements in this ordinance also by faith inwardly receive and feed on Christ crucified and all the benefits of his death. They do so really and truly, yet not physically and bodily but spiritually. The body and blood of Christ are not present bodily or physically in the ordinance but spiritually to the faith of believers, just as the elements themselves are present to their outward senses (1Co 10:16; 11:23-26).
All ignorant and ungodly people are unfit to enjoy communion with Christ and are thus unworthy of the Lord’s table. As long as they remain in this condition, they cannot partake of these holy mysteries or be admitted to the Lord’s table without committing a great sin against Christ (2Co 6:14-15). All those who receive the supper unworthily are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, eating and drinking judgment on themselves (1Co 11:29; Mt 7:6).