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  • Chad Werkhoven

Hebrews 7:22-28 - Once For All

Is the Roman Catholic Eucharist really a "condemnable idolatry?"

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Read Hebrews 7:22-28

Listen to passage & devotional:


Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 80

Q. How does the Lord’s Supper

differ from the Roman Catholic Mass?

A. The Lord’s Supper declares to us

that our sins have been completely forgiven

through the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ

which he himself finished on the cross once for all.

It also declares to us

that the Holy Spirit grafts us into Christ,

who with his very body is now in heaven at the right hand of the Father

where he wants us to worship him.

But the Mass teaches

that the living and the dead

do not have their sins forgiven

through the suffering of Christ

unless Christ is still offered

for them daily by the priests.

It also teaches

that Christ is bodily present

in the form of bread and wine

where Christ is therefore to be worshiped.

Thus the Mass is basically

nothing but a denial

of the one sacrifice and suffering of Jesus Christ

and a condemnable idolatry.



Many of us knows what it feels like to be in what seems like a never ending rut, whether it's milking cows daily, sitting in a nursing home day and night, or dealing with the same problems time and time again at the office.

Such was the tedious nature of the temple in Jerusalem: priests would "offer sacrifices day after day, first for their own sins and then for the sins of the people (v27)." Imagine being one of those priests, first making a bloody mess and then cleaning it up, day after day, all while knowing you could never kill enough animals to fully atone for your own sin, much less than those crushed by their own guilt who delivered animals to you daily.

That's why the writer of Hebrews keeps coming back to the theme articulated in v25, that Jesus Christ is able to save completely those who come to God through Him! Christ sacrificed Himself - once for all. Unlike the blood of bulls and goats, which was inadequate to save anybody, Christ's sacrifice was fully sufficient to fully pay for the sins of those God had entrusted to Him (see our post on Hebrews 10, which is very similar to this passage).

Dig Deeper

For all the differences between the Roman Catholic Church and Reformed churches (or protestant churches in general), none is greater than how the Lord's Supper is understood. The Heidelberg Catechism is often praised for its peaceful, pastoral approach to systematic theology (remember, after all, that its theme is explaining what our only comfort in life and death is), but yet this irenic document describes the Eucharist as a "condemnable idolatry." That's pretty harsh!

Many modern Roman Catholic theologians would say it's too harsh, and that the Heidelberg doesn't fairly explain how the Eucharist is currently understood by the RCC. They'll cite several references from their own Catechism which present a very sound view of how Christ's once-for-all sacrifice on the cross is celebrated in the Eucharist. Praise God that the RCC has come to understand salvation more clearly in the centuries since the Heidelberg Catechism was first written!

Yet the unfortunate truth remains that Rome has chained herself to the continual participation of the eucharist as the necessary means of salvation. "The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part II, Article 3, para. II.1325)." This makes your continuing salvation dependent upon your action: if you separate yourself from the sacrament, you separate yourself from God's grace; that somehow Christ, who as we just read in v25 "always lives to intercede for you," is unable to do so unless you continually take action to bind yourself to Him.

This grave misrepresentation of the gospel, coupled with the teaching we've looked at earlier that the bread and wine transubstantiate into the real body and blood of Jesus which must be worshipped, is therefore, as the Heidelberg Catechism describes it, a condemnable idolatry.

Many of you used to be, and maybe still are, members of the Roman Catholic Church, so these words likely are upsetting to hear. If you're struggling with this difficult concept, please don't struggle alone. Know that your elders and pastors have no desire to condemn you, but will walk alongside you to help you better understand your only comfort in life and in death.

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God our Father, who accepts all those who come to Him through Christ by faith;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God that Christ has "saved you completely," and that you'll be reminded of this salvation as you come to His table.



Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Luke 20


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