Spiritual Eating and Drinking - Hoeksema

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Puritan Board Doctor
“All the Reformed confessions therefore emphasize that the eating and drinking which takes place at the table of the Lord is purely spiritual. There is a spiritual food: Christ imparts Himself at the table of communion to believers as the true meat and drink: and that spiritual mouth is faith. But this entire spiritual mode of operation, this spiritual eating and drinking Christ, takes place through the means of the signs of broken bread and the wine that is poured out.

In Article 35 of the Confessio Belgica this spiritual eating and drinking is compared with the process of physical nourishment. In physical nourishment there is a physical organism, the human body, that is dependent for its sustenance on the outside world, on food and drink.

Secondly, there is a physical substance, food and drink, that must be assimilated by that body.

Thirdly, there is the longing of that body for physical food and drink: it hungers and thirsts.

Fourthly, there is the act of eating and drinking by the physical mouth.

And finally, there is the process of assimilation, whereby the body changes the food and drink into flesh and blood and thus is strengthened.

All this can be applied spiritually.

First of all, there is a spiritual entity that must be nourished, the regenerated inward man, which is created in Christ Jesus, but is not independent and cannot sustain its own life, but must be nourished from without. The proper nature of that regenerated life is spiritual. It consists of a spiritual knowledge of God in Christ, forgiveness of sin, righteousness before God, adoption unto children, holiness, hatred and abhorrence of sin, delight in the law of God. And that spiritual life must be nourished. It must be sustained and must grow and develop unto perfection. This spiritual life of the regenerated man can never be nourished by material food, but must have spiritual nourishment. There must, therefore, be a spiritual nourishment: righteousness, holiness, wisdom, light, knowledge, which are outside of that regenerated man, and which can be assimilated by him.

That spiritual food and drink is in one word: grace.

And that grace is all in Christ. Christ is the food of that regenerated man, by which he is fed unto eternal life. Christ, therefore, is the spiritual nourishment which the regenerated man needs to sustain life.”

Herman Hoeksema, Reformed Dogmatics (1985) page 720-721
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