On this day, June 18th, 1546, Anne Askew was convicted of heresy after being tortured for her outspoken beliefs on the false doctrine of transubstantiation. She is one of only two women who have been tortured in the Tower of London and then burned at the stake. On, July 16, 1546 Anne Askew was martyred for her Baptist faith in Smithfield, London. She had refused to recant her witness under extreme torture of the rack. This torture has so disfigured her body that she had to be transported to the stake via a wheel chair.
Transubstantiation is the belief that during the communion of the Lord’s Supper, the bread and wine actually become the spiritual blood and body of Christ. This teaching has no doctrinal proof found in scripture. In scripture at what we call “the Last Supper”, which took place on the Jewish Passover, Jesus instituted the “Lord’s Supper” as a memorial service that is to remind us that sin causes death, and he sacrificed himself to pay the debt of sin for us. His death is what brings us life. His body was broken and his blood spilled out on our behalf. Jesus calls this process exchanging his death for ours, the New Covenant. (Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; John 13:1-7) It is his blood that the New Testament is written in. His blood was shed for the remission of sins. The wine is to remind us of this blood that he poured out for us. In Luke 22:19, Jesus himself says, “Do this in remembrance of me”. Clearly this is meant as a symbolic ceremony to ensure that we do not forget that the Son of God himself gave his life for ours. Much like we put flowers of a grave to remember a loved one who has passed. The flowers do not become the loved one, nor do they become the center of affection.
I know that this is hard for some believers to accept. So let’s take a look at what Paul writes when he spoke to the Corinthians. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
You see the Corinthians had a misunderstanding of what the “Lords Supper” was also. This came from their pagan beliefs. They were mixing pagan rituals into the ordinances of the church. Paul addresses these by clarifying the purpose of the ceremony. First, the apostle says that he is passing on to then exactly what he was received directly from the Lord. In these few sentences Paul says that this ceremony is for a “remembrance”, just like Jesus did. The purpose “remembrance of me (Jesus)”… “to show the Lord’s death until he returns”.
We do not conjure up the Lord, as if any man could conjure the living God, and then force him to be re-sacrificed on our behalf. The epistle to the Romans say, “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.” (Romans 6:9-10) Something very important is revealed in this passage. Sin is payed for. Since Jesus died for sin, and then rose from the dead, sin has no hold on him, or those who believe on him. He lives to God. We who believe in him, so likewise, live unto him (Jesus Christ) and so then to God. We are alive already, in Christ. Sin no longer has the ability to hold us under the bondage of death. This is why we do not need to fear death. This is why Anne Askew did not need to fear death. Taking of the communion does not wipe away our sins each time we partake of it. Instead it is a reminder that our sins have already been wiped away, once and for all times. “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Romans 6:18).
Our problem is that we are still in this corruptible flesh. Because we are in this flesh, we do not see the spiritual realm around us. We cannot see the glorified Christ yet. We need to be reminded of our hope. When we forget God and his grace, we tend to walk away from him. This has been demonstrated in the history of Israel. It has likely been demonstrated in your own life history also. God knows this and in his love, he instituted this memorial service, not just to remind us that he died, but that he arose and is returning! “Ye do show the Lord’s death till he come”; what an excellent reminder to us to not give up the hope that we have inside. We then can endure the horrible tortures of the rack like Mrs. Askew, if we, like her, keep the knowledge that Jesus lives, and he is returning for us.