Does the bread and the cup of the Lord

Does the bread and the cup of the Lord’s Supper have spiritual value?

The hymn expresses it well: "Only bread and only wine, yet to faith the solemn sign . . ." They are not the body and blood of the Lord, but are emblems or reminders of them. These emblems are not types; neither the shape (round, rectangular), substance (flour or yeast), preparation (from a seed, harvested and ground wheat, baked in an oven), nor disposal (whatever happens to them after they are used) has any significance. Partaking of these emblems does not impart divine life or any inherent spiritual benefit more than any other act of obedience to God’s Word.

Remembering the Lord is a sacred privilege, so there is an elevated responsibility in handling these emblems. Separate emblems of the body and blood of the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:24, 25) remind us of His death. Behavior inconsistent with this sacred privilege causes particular condemnation (verses 27-30).

The bread and cup involve a dual symbolism relating to commemoration and communion. In themselves, they remind us of the death of our Lord, commemorated when we remember Him. When we partake of them, we express fellowship. "The communion of the blood of Christ" (1 Corinthians 10:16) expresses our fellowship with God, His claims having been satisfied (Leviticus 17:11, 1 4;3: 17). "The communion of the body of Christ" expresses our fellowship with one another in the assembly (1 Corinthians 10:16,17). Paul shows that such expressions of fellowship make it morally impossible to participate in any other fellowship inconsistent with His lordship.

Religion has ascribed to the emblems sacramental value such as the power to take away sins. The emblems do not have spiritual value but they do express spiritual truths.

D. Oliver