Calvin: The Spirit Feeds The Soul On Christ’s Body

In the Supper of the Lord, the external minister holds forth the external symbols, the bread of the Lord and the wine of the Lord, which are perceived by the organs of our body, consumed and swallowed. The internal minister, the Holy Spirit, not by external organs of the body, but by his secret virtue, feeds the souls of the faithful, both truly and efficaciously, with the body and the blood of the Lord unto eternal life, as truly as they know themselves to be nourished for this mortal life by bread and wine.
John Calvin | J. K. S. Reid, Calvin: Theological Treatises (Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press, 1954), 174.


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Posted by Tony Phelps | Friday, March 29, 2024 | Categorized Calvin Studies, HeidelQuotes, Lord’s Supper | Tagged Bookmark the permalink.

About Tony Phelps

Tony grew up in Rhode Island. He was educated at BA (University of Rhode Island) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He worked in the insurance industry for ten years. He planted a PCA church in Wakefield, RI where he served for eleven years. In 2015–18 he pastored Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Colorado Springs. He is currently pastor of Living Hope (OPC). Tony is married to Donna and together they have three children. Meet all the Heidelberg contributors»


  1. I think if churches really understood this, every church would administer communion every week. I know, for me personally, this understanding really transformed my view on the matter, and now communion is always the highlight of worship. If we don’t take communion, I leave unfed. How long must our souls go hungry?

    • I came from a tradition of quarterly communion administered during the evening service and, upon embracing the Reformed view of the table, cannot fathom how Reformed ministers and churches who confess that the Lord’s Supper is a means of grace can then willingly choose to deny grace to their congregants.

      • Grace is not denied by an order/schedule of/for communion.

        Schedules, in fact, give people a chance to examine themselves before partaking. That, too, is grace.

        Why are you not demanding communion very single day? Every hour?

        • Mary,

          Ask Calvin. He wanted weekly communion because it is a feast whereby, as we understand Scripture, God the Spirit feeds us, by faith, on the body & blood of Christ.

          I don’t know anyone who is demanding it but why are you resistant?

          One could turn around your objection to ask, Why not do away with the sacraments altogether?

          The best information is that the early church communed weekly because that was the apostolic practice. The Sabbath comes weekly, not daily. We gather weekly, not daily, for services. Politely asking for weekly communion is hardly radical.

          • There are plenty of “Reformed” who says that any church that does not do weekly communion is not a true church. Although I don’t know any professors for instance who argue such (as far as I know) I have certainly met many a laity who has told me such.

            Mary brought up the position that we should give time between feasting so that we can properly partake. I don’t see that position as being resistant. I think arguing that her position leads to “doing away with the sacraments” is a false slippery slope argument, but that is neither here not there.

            I agree that those asking for weekly communion are not radical. Yet often at least in the reformed circles (URC OPC HRC ARP etc) that I have been in people become very vitriolic about this issue. (On both sides sadly)

            • William,

              I’ve never encountered the claim that any congregation lacking weekly communion is not a true church. Whoever says that is just making up things. I’ve never argued any such thing and would oppose anyone who did. It’s a foolish thing to say.

              • No, I don’t doubt at all you would. I’m just expressing my own personal experience of interactions with young men in confessionally reformed churches who are seeking to elevate every issue to first order. It’s very sad to see

                • William,

                  For what it’s worth, I’ve been in and around a wide variety of P&R churches (RCUS, OPC, PCA, URC etc) for more than 40 years. I’ve taught close to a thousand seminarians and I’ve never encountered this claim.

                  Tell these boys that Clark says to stop it. They are not helping the cause.

  2. Your soul, as a true Christian, will never go unfed by your Lord, whether you take communion daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly.

    Don’t make a means of grace Grace itself.


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