Reformation Matters 5

This is the fifth post in celebration of the 505th Reformation.

The Only Sufficient Sacrifice

We must, of course, take strong exception to such pretended sacrifice. We cannot regard it as anything other than a deception, a mockery, and an abomination before God. The so-called sacrifice in the mass certainly is not identical with that on Calvary, regardless of what the priests may say. There is in the mass no real Christ, no suffering, and no bleeding. And a bloodless sacrifice is ineffectual. The writer of the book of Hebrews says that “apart from shedding of blood there is no remission” of sin (9:22); and John says, “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Since admittedly there is no blood in the mass, it simply cannot be a sacrifice for sin. 

Lorraine Boettner, Roman Catholicism VIII. 3

Two of Rome’s doctrines undermine the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice.

First, their doctrine of purgatory. Tetzel’s selling of indulgence which stood on this doctrine was by the way what stirred Luther to post his 95 Theses or Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences. In number 35 of the theses, he writes, “He preaches like a heathen who teaches that those who will deliver souls out of Purgatory or buy indulgences do not need repentance and contrition.” This diminishes the value of Christ’s sacrifice which ‘teaches that the great mass of Christians, who are only imperfectly “justified” in this life, dying in communion with the church, go to [it] after death where they “undergo purification [by suffering in the fires of purgatory], so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 1030).[17] 

Though we won’t find Luther’s explicit denial of the doctrine of purgatory in his theses, he clearly rejected this later with the following statements,

[Small Catechism - Question No. 211] "We should pray for ourselves and for all other people, even for our enemies, but not for the souls of the dead."
[Lectures on Genesis] "Purgatory is the greatest falsehood because it is based on ungodliness and unbelief; for they deny that faith saves, and they maintain that satisfaction for sins is the cause of salvation. Therefore he who is in purgatory is in hell itself; for these are his thoughts: ‘I am a sinner and must render satisfaction for my sins; therefore I shall make a will and shall bequeath a definite amount of money for building churches and for buying prayers and sacrifices for the dead by the monks and priests.’ Such people die in a faith in works and have no knowledge of Christ. Indeed, they hate Him. We die in faith in Christ, who died for our sins and rendered satisfaction for us. He is my Bosom, my Paradise, my Comfort, and my Hope."

Second, the Sacrifice of the Mass or the Eucharistic Sacrifice which demeans Christ’s finished work on the cross. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church,

278. “The Holy Mass is one and the same sacrifice with that of the Cross, inasmuch as Christ, who offered Himself, a bleeding victim, on the Cross to His Heavenly Father, continues to offer Himself in an unbloody manner on the altar, through the ministry of His priests.” 

1324. "The Eucharist is 'the source and summit of the Christian life.' [LG 11.] 'The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.' [PO 5.]"

1367. "The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: 'The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.' 'In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner.' [Council of Trent (1562): DS 1743; cf. Heb 9:14, 27.]"

The Eucharist being the summit of the Christian life performed daily is also the greatest event for them, “The reason why the daily Mass is the greatest event on planet earth each and every day is because it makes present to us in time and space the ever-living prayer within the heart of Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven. What is this prayer? It is the offering of Jesus to the Father of his Calvary sacrifice that is perpetuated by our Eucharistic liturgy (just as Jesus commanded it to be when he instituted the Eucharist on Holy Thursday as a memorial of his passion and death).” [18]

But is it really the teaching of the Scriptures? The Scripture testifies that Christ’s sacrifice is done once and for all, more than sufficient to atone for the sins of those whom God chose before the foundation of the world in Him (Romans 6:10, Hebrews 9:12, 25–26, 28; 10:10–14; 1 Peter 3:18).

Rom 6:10  For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 
Heb 9:12  He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 
Hebrews 9:25-26 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own,  (26)  for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Hebrews 10:10-14 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  (11)  And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.  (12)  But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,  (13)  waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.  (14)  For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
1 Peter 3:18  For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 

Reading the Scriptures above, it is impossible to see that Christ can be offered once again in any shape or form. We must be content with the biblical teaching on the Lord’s supper which is beautifully summarized in one of the Reformed Confessions,

[1689  London Baptist Confession of Faith 30.1] The supper of the Lord Jesus was instituted by him the same night wherein he was betrayed, to be observed in his churches, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance, and showing to all the world the sacrifice of himself in his death, confirmation of the faith of believers in all the benefits thereof, their spiritual nourishment, and growth in him, their further engagement in, and to all duties which they owe to him; and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other.

However, they turn to John 6:53-57 as the key text that supports their doctrine of the Eucharist and biblical evidence of Christ’s real presence,

“Therefore Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life in yourselves. The one eating My flesh and drinking My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is true food and My blood true drink. The one eating My flesh and drinking My blood abides in Me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent Me and I have life through the Father, also the one eating Me will have life through Me."

James White, responding to Rome’s faulty interpretation of John 6 concludes,

If the Romanist wants to be an ultra-literalist, then he must take it all the way. This is the blood of the covenant, yet that is impossible since Christ had not yet died. Clearly, then, Christ is using the wine as a symbol of the blood of the new covenant, and the bread as a symbol of His broken body. 

They have to be symbols, since the reality was not yet in existence! Christ’s body was not yet broken, yet He breaks the bread as a symbol of the breaking of His body; His blood is not yet shed, yet He speaks of it as shed. All of this was pointing forward to the cross, and for us, points back to It. The supper finds its substance, its fulfillment, in the cross and in nothing else. It looks to one sacrifice, and reminds us that it was there, and there alone, that our redemption was accomplished.[19]

In fact, the French reformation was ignited by a passage about the reality that there is no need for a daily sacrifices since Christ already offered Himself once and for all (Heb 7:27). “If Christ’s sacrifice for sin on the cross was a complete work, and thus neither need be nor can be repeated, then all our attempts to atone for sin must be both unnecessary and insulting to Christ, in that they suggest His work is not sufficient. ” [20]

These two teachings blasphemously go against the Biblical doctrine of Christ’s completed sacrifice. They must be rejected in every generation if we are to preserve the sufficiency of our Redeemer’s finished work on the cross.

God’s will was for Christ to offer His body as the sin-bearer of His people once and for all. His perfect offering is what sanctifies or makes His people holy in God’s eyes (I Thessalonians 3:13). The Old Covenant’s sacrificial system, with its priests and rites, came to an end with Christ’s incarnation and work of redemption. He is the fulfillment of all Old Testament promises and types, as well as the New Covenant’s foundation; through Him alone, the believer approaches God with confidence. In the same way, no other sacrifice after Christ’s once and for all offering at the cross can supplement it or make it more complete. To add anything to its exclusivity is to devalue God’s perfect design.

John Calvin clearly articulated ‘that the unscriptural Roman priesthood as it goes about its offerings of an “unbloody sacrifice” in the myriad Masses it offers daily, blasphemes Christ, suppresses the eternal power of his cross-work to save sinners once and for all, wipes out the true and unique death of Christ, robs men of the benefit of his death, and nullifies the true significance of the Lord’s Supper.’ [21]

Affirming these doctrines is tantamount to denying Christ’s eternal value, mocking the dignity of His character, and spitting upon His tomb from which the satisfied, pleased, and appeased Father powerfully raised Him.

To God be the glory!

This blog is included in the series of posts for the 505th reformation month.

  • [17] This is based on 2 Maccabees 12:46 and a very strained exegesis of 1 Corinthians 3:15, 1 Peter 1:7, and Jude 22–23
  • [18] tomlirish. (n.d.). The Catholic Mass does not repeat but makes present the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary. Catholic Strength. Retrieved October 31, 2022, from
  • ‌[19] James White, The Fatal Flaw: Do the teachings of Roman Catholicism deny the Gospel? Chapter 7: “This is My Body”. The author of this blog recommends reading the Fatal Flaw for a robust refutation of Rome’s doctrine on transubstantiation.
  • [20] Michael Reeves, The Unquenchable Flame. Kindle Loc. 1252
  • [21] John Calvin, The Institutes of Christian Religion, 4.18.2–7

Published by Jeff Chavez

Sinner saved by grace

3 thoughts on “Reformation Matters 5

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