When a Godly Man Insists Upon an Error 2: Laying Marburg to Rest

I Corinthians 11:24,25
       Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Luther, as a result of this [disagreement at Marburg] attacked Zwingli and his followers violently, and Calvin also. He said the most outrageous things about them…In spite of the vituperative and unkind things that Luther said of Calvin, Calvin’s references to Luther were always not only gentle, but generous and full of expressions of admiration.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): If only we could talk together for half a day we would agree without difficulty.

HULDRYCH ZWINGLI (1484-1531) But if we blacken our opponents with rough words, the stain may become so great that the truth is lost, as in the old saying, In the multitude of strife, truth is forfeit. For that reason I ask scholars not to overload the matter with hostile clamour, but conduct themselves with sobriety. Otherwise as much evil will issue from the roughness of the words, as good is wrested from their meaning and force. The whole question has its source in the misunderstanding of the text: “This is my body.”

JOHN CALVIN: The only question between us, therefore, respects the manner of His presence; because they place Christ in the bread, and we think it unlawful for us to bring Him down from heaven. Let the readers judge on which side the truth lies.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Calvin in particular, held a very high view of the Lord’s Supper. He did not agree with Zwingli that it was merely a memorial service. He believed in a spiritual ‘Real Presence’ in the Lord’s Supper; but he said that “the communion without a sermon is but a dumb show.”

A. P. GIBBS (1890-1967): Calvin was one of the great intellectuals of the Reformation. While he rejected transubstantiation and consubstantiation, yet he could not wholly divest himself of the idea that some spiritual value was [actually] in the elements. He taught that the communicant receives Christ, who is ‘spiritually present’ in the elements, but only by faith. He declared that though the flesh of Christ is in heaven, the Holy Spirit unites it with the bread and wine…In his “Institutes,” he states his theory concerning the Lord’s Supper: “That sacred communion of flesh and blood, by which Christ transforms His life in us, just as if it penetrated our bones and marrow, He testifies and seals in the Supper, and that not by presenting a vain and empty sign, but by these exerting an efficacy of the Spirit by which He fulfills what He promises.”

JOHN WYCLIFFE (1330-1384): The consecrated host which we see upon the altar is neither Christ nor any part of Christ, but an efficacious sign of Him.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Eat and drink so as to discern the Lord’s body―Having the mind awake to see Jesus symbolized in this ordinance.

WILLIAM TYNDALE (1490-1536): Of the presence of Christ’s body in the Sacrament, meddle as little as your can, that there appear no divisions among us…I would have the right use [of the Supper] preached, and the presence to be an indifferent thing, till the matter might be reasoned in peace at leisure of both parties. If you be required, show the phrases of the Scripture, and let them talk what they will.

A. P. GIBBS: Scripture leaves us in no doubt as to the purpose of the Lord’s Supper. The One who instituted it stated this very definitely: This do in remembrance of Me, Luke 22:19. It is when we turn to the special revelation given by the Lord to Paul that we learn of three more purposes Christ had in mind, namely: the discernment of His body, the proclamation of His death, and the anticipation of His return. All four of these purposes are found in I Corinthians 11:20-24…This plainly affirms that the Lord’s Supper is but a simple, yet very beautiful and spiritually significant memorial of the Lord Jesus.

C. H. SPURGEON: How wonderfully simple it all is! There is nothing here of the paraphernalia of a “sacrament.” It is a simple memorial festival, that is all.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): The strengthening of the faith of believers in Christ’s atonement was one great purpose of the Lord’s Supper.

JOHN CALVIN: Secondly, we must attend to the proper method of seeking Christ; that is, our minds must not be fixed on the earth, but must ascend upwards to the heavenly glory in which He dwells. For the body of Christ did not, by clothing itself with an incorruptible life, lay aside its own nature; and hence it follows that it is finite…And certainly, if this mystery is heavenly, nothing could be more unreasonable than to draw down Christ to the earth, when, on the contrary, He calls us upwards to Himself.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: There is a very tragic footnote to all this. Luther just before his death in 1546 read a little book by John Calvin which bore the title A Little treatise on the Holy Supper of our Lord, and having read it, this is what he said to Melanchthon: “In this matter of the sacrament we have gone much too far. I will commend the thing to the Lord. Do something after my death.” Pathetic, is it not? But it was too late, the damage had been done; and though he had now come to see that they had gone much too far the position had become hardened.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Learn by me how difficult it is to disencumber oneself of errors which the whole world confirms by its example, and which, from long habit, have become a second nature.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: I think this is true of many of us. We may have been worshipping for years in a given way and manner. Why have we done that? There is only one answer: it is how we were brought up. We have never thought about it, we have never examined it, we have never asked any questions. We have inherited a custom; we have inherited a tradition and, indeed, a prejudice. It is amazing to read the long history of the church and see the quarrels and the fighting that have taken place over the question of worship, and that has generally been due to prejudice…They were “brought up in it,” and therefore they not only assume it is right, but prejudice comes in, and they will fight for their tradition with bitterness and intensity. The history of the church is unfortunately full of such battles.

MARY WINSLOW (1774-1854): How is it with you? Do you love Christ’s image wherever and in whomsoever you meet it? Do you speak unkindly or think uncharitably of any of God’s redeemed ones, because they are not of your sect? Then you may well doubt your sincerity. The love of the Spirit—the love which He inspires in the heart—is an unselfish love, a holy love, a uniting, cementing love, a bond of union to the one family of God, and to Christ the one Head. Again I repeat the unfailing test, By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

J. C. RYLE: Love to Christ will be the distinguishing mark of all saved souls in heaven. The multitude which no man can number will all be of one mind. Old differences will be merged in one common feeling. Old doctrinal peculiarities, fiercely wrangled for upon earth, will be covered over by one common sense of debt to Christ. Luther and Zwingli will no longer dispute…All will find themselves joining with one heart and voice in that hymn of praise: Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

C. H. SPURGEON: You are coming to the Lord’s table, and I invite you, beloved, to come here with much love.

THOMAS ADAM (1701-1784): Do this in remembrance of me.”—Remember who I am, and what thou art; remember me as thy Saviour; remember me as thy Master; remember me as hating thy sin; remember me as bearing thy sin; remember me, and fear not; remember me, and sin not; remember me—to live for me, by me, and with me.


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