Every Roman Catholic priest will tell you that all the claims of the Church of Rome stand or fall with the doctrine of the real presence of Christ in the Mass. If the bread and wine used in the Sacrament of the Mass, when consecrated by the priest, are changed in some mysterious way into the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ so that the communicant receiving the bread actually takes into his mouth and eats and digests the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ-if this is true, then the Church of Rome is the true church of Christ and every one of us should be members of it. But if it is false, if it is absolutely opposed to the teaching of the Word of God, then the Church of Rome is an apostate church and every faithful believer should come out of her in order that he might not be held accountable for her sins.
It was because the great reformers of the sixteenth century saw this clearly and were assured in their own hearts that the doctrine of the Church of Rome in regard to the Eucharist or the Mass was absolutely opposed to the Word of God and was not only blasphemous but idolatrous, that they came out in protest against that apostate system and they won for us at tremendous cost of Christian blood the liberty that we now possess. And yet we, unworthy children of such worthy sires, are frittering away our liberty and we are allowing our children to be ensnared again by this evil system from which our fathers escaped with such tremendous effort.
I want to call your attention first of all to a passage in the 10th chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews which may not seem at first sight to have any reference to the subject in question, but I think we shall see that it not only has reference to it but presents the basic truth in regard to it. The 10th chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, beginning with verse 11:
"And every priest (the Apostle is referring to the Levitical priesthood) standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man (that is, the Lord Jesus Christ who as to the mystery of His person is both God and man in one blessed, glorious person never to be divided), after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God: from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that He had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more."
Now here is the crucial text that I want you to get:
"Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin."
In the Epistle to the Hebrews the apostolic writer contrasts the ritual system of the Old Testament dispensation with the glorious work achieved by Jesus Christ when He offered Himself on Calvary's cross for our redemption. He draws our attention to the fact that under the old economy the priest's work was never done because the sin question was never settled. No sacrifice had been found that was of sufficient value to atone for the sins of the world and so whenever men sinned afresh they had to come with a new sacrifice. One offering followed another constantly, therefore there was not even provision made for the priest to sit down in the tabernacle or in the temple of the Lord. The priest's work was never done for sin was never put away. But he goes on to say that in those sacrifices there was an acknowledgment again made of sin from year to year. That is, the worshiper under the Old Testament dispensation came to God in faith, confessing his sin, and brought his animal sacrifice, whether a bullock from the herd, a sheep from the flock, or two birds. He confessed his sin and these sacrifices were offered for him. They did not cancel his guilt. They did not cleanse his heart. They were rather in the nature of a note that a man gives to his creditor for a debt. A man is owing a certain sum of money. He makes out a note for that sum. He is unable to pay when it is due, so he makes out another note, and in those notes there is an acknowledgment again made of the debt from year to year. So in the sacrifices of old there was simply an acknowledgment of sin made year after year. Sometimes when a man must give a note for a debt he has a wealthy friend who is good enough to endorse that note for him. By endorsing that note his friend says, "If you are not able to pay when the note becomes due, I pledge myself to pay for you."
When these people of old gave their notes to God by bringing their sacrifices again and again, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son still ex-carnate, endorsed every note and He said,
"Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God."
In the fulness of time He came, made of a woman, made under the law, and He went to Calvary's cross and there, may I say, gathered up and settled for all those notes of the past, and undertook the full responsibility for every believer to the end of time and offered Himself a sacrifice for the sins of men. By that one all-sufficient offering of Himself upon the cross, He has settled the sin question to God's satisfaction so that now God can be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.
The sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ had both a backward and a forward aspect. It put away all the sins of the past that had only been covered by the blood of the sacrifices and made ample provision to put away all the sins of the future for every one who would believe on Him. The means by which needy sinners avail themselves of an interest in the finished work of Christ is very simple. The sinner has to take his place before God as a lost. guilty man, owning his iniquity and putting his trust in the Man who died on the cross; for
"By Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by Moses' law."
In this New Testament economy Christ is the only sacrificing priest. He is the one all-sufficient victim. Christ having made atonement for sins, rose from the dead and God has manifested His righteous satisfaction in the work of the cross by seating Him in heaven at His own right hand.