“My friend has invited me to their Roman Catholic service (funeral, wedding, church). There will be a priest who will offer the Eucharist. Should I partake or abstain?”
It has been an encouragement to receive this question because I know that the person asking is conflicted for the right reasons. They know that Roman Catholics have a different understanding of the Lord’s supper, and at the same time they love the Gospel and want their loved ones not to be offended unnecessarily so that they won’t close a door for a Gospel conversation in the future.
The question is this: is this a hill to die on?
I would say, quite emphatically, that this is a huge deal, and I truly believe that this is a matter of the utmost importance. I want to give you three reasons why you should never, ever take the mass!
The mass is a blasphemous celebration
Jesus declared on the cross that it is finished! (John 19:30) In other words, He was declaring in that moment that He was accomplishing everything needed to bring peace between us and God while on the cross that exact moment.
The writer of Hebrews details exactly what that meant in Hebrews chapter 10, when he said these words.
“Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again, and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy…And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary” (Hebrews 10:11-14,18).
This passage is so clear! While in the Old Testament, priests (glorified butchers) had to kill countless innocent lambs to provide atonement for individuals in Israel, Jesus the perfect Lamb of God, had to sacrifice His own body only one time. And through that one act, He was able to satisfy God’s wrath for all those who would believe in Him once and for all!
Saying that he must continue dying is blasphemous. It literally belittles Christ to being unable to do what He said He did.
I once asked a priest why Jesus had to continue dying over and over again.
He said because once you take communion, it doesn’t wipe away future sins. If you take the mass on Sunday, you will sin on Monday, so you have to take it again to help purge your future sins.
This priest was honest in his understanding of how salvation worked. In his mind, consistent with Roman Catholic doctrine, salvation isn’t a one-time event. Rather, it is something that must occur over and over again many times (even daily!) in a person’s life. And then in purgatory.
The mass denies the doctrines of regeneration, justification, and even sanctification!
When you take the mass, you are telling Jesus that His death on the cross was insufficient and that He must continue dying in order to continually save you. And even if you don’t believe that, the people around you do, and by partaking in the ceremony you are approving and sharing in this blasphemous understanding of communion.
Our Christian brothers and sisters died because of their unwillingness to take the mass
Many of our brothers and sisters had opportunities to keep their heads if only they ate the Eucharist. But because of their commitment to the true Gospel, they were unwilling to eat and drink in order to save their lives. They loved Jesus too much.
David Platt, in a sermon preached at the Together for the Gospel conference said,
“The question was, did they or did they not believe that the body and blood of Christ were corporally, literally, locally, and materially present under the forms of bread and wine after the words of consecration were pronounced? Did they or did they not? That was the simple question. If they did not believe and admit it, they were burned.
John Rogers recounted his interrogation by the church, saying:
“I was asked whether I believed the sacrament to be the very body and blood of our Savior Christ, who was born of the virgin Mary and hanged on the cross, really and substantially? I answered, “I think it to be false.” I cannot understand “really and substantially” to signify otherwise than corporally. But corporally Christ is only in heaven, so Christ cannot be corporally in your sacrament.”
John Rogers marched to his death in front of thousands after a long time in prison. He only met his newborn son as he saw him in the crowd as he marched to his death, after a long time of pleading to be able to meet him and to speak to his wife. Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, John Holyer, Agnes Snoth, Anne Wright, Joan Soale, and Joan Catmer, just to name a few of the hundreds of men and women who boldly chose Christ above comfort and were martyred for their stance against the Roman Catholic Mass.
What are we to say to them? For us, it might cost us some awkwardness with a family member or friend, for them it cost them their lives!
If you were to take the mass, you’d be telling your brothers and sisters who’ve gone before you that they foolishly died. That their efforts to please Christ and to preach the Gospel were unnecessary, and that it would have been wiser to simply relent and take the mass so that they could avoid the awkwardness and keep their lives.
Compromise isn’t a door for the Gospel
It is very popular these days to meet people halfway. To dumb down certain doctrines in order to be able to win people to the Gospel. We know this happens in the Seeker Sensitive Movement. Hell and sin are rarely mentioned in order to be able to win over those who might get offended at the mention of these words.
While there is wisdom in focusing on the Gospel in evangelism, and not getting sidetracked by rabbit trails, it is imperative that we tell the whole truth without being embarrassed by any part of the Bible. Compromising doctrine or uncomfortable truths for the sake of opening a door to preach the Gospel leads to Gospel preaching. In fact, more often than not this compromising rises out of a heart that is ashamed of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:16).
Many might think that in the vein of Paul in 1 Corinthians that we should not offend unbelievers so that we can share the Gospel with them later. But the situation here is much different.
Paul, in order not to offend, didn’t ask if the meat was offered to idols. The reason for the uncertainty was that not all meat was offered to idols and the host would be foolish to assume that Paul knew that. With the Roman Catholic Mass, the meaning of it is the same every time, therefore a Christian knows for certain that every time a priest offers it, it is a diabolical offering. It is always offered to idols. So, unlike the uncertainty that Paul faced, we know for sure and can definitively say that it is wrong every time.
Simply put, we don’t offend the Lord in order to not offend someone the Lord created. In fact, with many of my friends, not partaking was the vessel God used to open up a conversation about the Gospel.
When you take the mass, you are telling the unbelievers around you that you are willing to compromise the Gospel in order to build a bridge. And you are telling the Lord of Gory that offending Him is better than offending your loved one.
Obviously, this post is strongly worded. I write this to believers who understand the Gospel and who are already leaning towards abstaining in such a situation. One hundred percent of those who asked me what they should do were already planning on abstaining, but were trying to crystallize in their minds the reasons why. If you are a Roman Catholic who has stumbled onto this post, I would first thank you for reading up to here, I know it is so hard to have your faith challenged! Second I’d like to invite you to visit this post that I wrote with you in mind!
May God gift us with the wisdom to walk in wisdom towards outsiders (Col. 4:5), not unnecessarily offending them if we don’t have to, but boldly preaching the Gospel each day, striving to please Christ above all else!