Jesus the Son of God: H.C. Lord's Day 13

Q 33. Why is he called God’s “only begotten Son” when we also are God’s children?
A 33. Because Christ alone is the eternal, natural Son of God.  We, however, are adopted children of God—adopted by grace through Christ.

Q 34. Why do you call him “our Lord”?
A 34. Because—not with gold or silver, but with his precious blood— he has set us free from sin and from the tyranny of the devil, and has bought us, body and soul, to be his very own.

Sometimes when I am reading things I am presented with a question I didn’t even know existed.  Heidelberg Catechism question and answer 33 is like that.  In church, we talk at length about how we are called God’s Children and what that actually means for us and our identity.  We are adopted into God’s family, made co-heirs with Christ, and are prepared to receive all the benefits of being God’s children.  Sometimes we forget, though, that this title and identity is something that is given to us, not something we are necessarily born into.

Scripture is very clear about the position of our natural birth before God.  Ephesians 2:2-3 says, because of Adam’s Sin, we were by nature children of wrath and sons (and daughters) of disobedience.  Yet it follows that up by saying that “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”  What amazing grace!

Jesus has always been the natural Son of God, begotten from all eternity, the very essence and image of God.  The Son didn’t become the Son all of the sudden when Jesus was born.  We, however, become children of God when we receive God’s adoption of us through faith in Jesus Christ by God’s grace alone.

The other subject that this particular week of the Heidelberg Catechism covers is the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  God’s Word is clear that God has laid everything at the feet of Christ, who is before all things and in whom all things hold together.  More than this, Colossians 1 talks about Jesus as being the creator of all things too.  Therefore, when Jesus sacrificed Himself for the redemption of all things, He was given Lordship over them by the Father.

What exactly does this mean?  Well, as Lord Jesus governs the whole universe and guards His people, protecting them against the schemes of the enemy.  It also means that He had rights over us.  Jesus, because of what He has done for us and the power He has given us, has the right to call us to live a transformed life.  In Scriptural language, this is called “dying to self.”  When we put our faith in Jesus we are claiming Him as our Lord which, incidentally, means that we are abdicating our own Lordship over our lives.

To be clear, Jesus wasn’t just arbitrarily given this position.  His Lordship is costly… very costly.  Jesus did gain this position through military rule, governmental overthrowing, or any other earthly method of power transfer, He gained it through His own death on the cross.  He bore God’s wrath and judgment, and through it He set us free from the tyranny of the devil.



Lordship: H.C. Question 34

Why do you call [Jesus] “our Lord”?

1 Peter 1:18-19 – For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

Colossians 1:13-14 – For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Hebrews 2:14-15 – Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

1 Corinthians 6:20 – you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Timothy 2:5-6 – For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.



Begotten: H.C. Question 33

Why is [Jesus] called God’s “only begotten Son” when we also are God’s children?

John 1:1-3 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

John 1:12, 14, 18 -Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth…

No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

Hebrews 1 – In the past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father”?

Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”?

And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.”

But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.  You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”

He also says, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.  They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed.  But you remain the same, and your years will never end.”

To which of the angels did God ever say, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

Romans 8:14-17 – For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Ephesians 1:5-6 – he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.



Romans 3:21-26 "Why Jesus?"

All of Jesus life culminates in the cross.  But when we look at the cross and all the Jesus bore for us, we can’t help but ask the question: “Why Jesus?”



Jesus the Christ: H.C. Lord's Day 12

Q 31. Why is he called “Christ,” meaning “anointed”?
A 31. Because he has been ordained by God the Father and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit to be our chief prophet and teacher who fully reveals to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our deliverance; our only high priest who has delivered us by the one sacrifice of his body, and who continually pleads our cause with the Father; and our eternal king who governs us by his Word and Spirit, and who guards us and keeps us in the freedom he has won for us.

Q 32. But why are you called a Christian?
A 32. Because by faith I am a member of Christ and so I share in his anointing.  I am anointed to confess his name, to present myself to him as a living sacrifice of thanks, to strive with a free conscience against sin and the devil in this life, and afterward to reign with Christ over all creation for eternity.

When we talk about Jesus we often refer to Him as “Jesus Christ” as if Christ was His last name.  We would possibly presume, without much thought, that Jesus is the son of Joseph and Mary Christ.  That is, however, far from the truth.  The word “Christ” is actually a title; in fact, for the Jews, it is THE title.  Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah.”  Claiming someone as the Christ in the time that Jesus lived, or anytime in the history of the people of Israel, meant that you indeed were claiming that person as God’s Savior.  This claim, if found to be false by the religious leaders, was also punishable by death.

With that in mind, the profession of Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” takes on a much greater and more personal meaning for Him.  Not only did he catch on to something that everyone else in that group hadn’t quite gotten yet, but He willingly put His life on the line to confess His faith in Jesus.

But the title of “Christ” is not just something given by humans, it also means anointed.  Anointing is a conferring of title and status, the giving of identity and it can only be done by one with authority.  In the case of Jesus, only God can truly confer the status that Jesus holds as “God’s Savior,” or the “Messiah.”  Jesus is ordained by God and anointed with the Holy Spirit, something that we see most vividly in Jesus’ baptism:

Matthew 3:13-17
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Jesus’ anointing does more than grant Him a title, though, it also carries with it the fulfillment of Old Testament offices in Scripture.  These offices are also God-ordained positions within the people of Israel which Jesus fulfills in His life and ministry.  They are known as the offices of prophet, priest, and king.

Prophet:  The Old Testament prophet is one that fulfills the will of God among the people and in the world while also making God known to the people.  Prophets were often known as the mouthpiece of God, bringing the Word of the Lord, and sometimes the warning of the Lord, to the Israelites.  Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are the fulfillment of God’s will to bring about salvation, redemption, and restoration to the whole world.  More than that, though, Jesus is the divine Word of God, making God known in the world, proclaiming the Kingdom of God, and also, at times, warning of the coming judgment for those who do not follow God.

Priest: The Old Testament priest was one of mediation.  Priests represented the people before God in worship and in sacrifice and also represented God to the people in conferring forgiveness and instruction for the restitution of sins.  They performed the sacrificial rites and oversaw the religious cult (formal actions and activity of worship).  Jesus, in Scripture, is called the “Great High Priest,” and is Himself the end of the formal priestly tradition.  He is the ultimate mediator between humanity and God, being seated at God’s right hand, praying and perfecting our prayers before God.  Most of all, Jesus is the mediator because He is the sacrifice for our sins and through Him, we are forgiven and made right in God’s eyes.  Because of Him, we can once again have a relationship with God.

King:  The Old Testament King was one of both governance and protection.  Kings were anointed and given power by God to govern the people of God with the goal of following God’s law and even expanding the Kingdom (though this didn’t work well often).  God also charged the Kings with the protection of His people.  Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords.  He is over all of creation and God has placed all things under His feet.  Jesus, being God, is the creator and sustainer of all things as well, sharing in the Father’s role of governance and provision for the entire universe.  Scripture also tells us that Jesus watches of God’s people, the Church, keeping them in good times and in bad.

As Christians, we share in Christ’s anointing as adopted sons and daughters of God.  This means that we carry on these roles in the world today as well.  We are called to work God’s will in the world and make God known through preaching the Gospel and sharing God’s loe for all people.  We are called to  represent God in the world and to be “living sacrifices” of thanksgiving for all that He has done for us.  Scripture says that we will also reign with Christ over creation through all eternity which, though future oriented, also has a present and active impact on our posture toward creation and our role to care for everything that God has made.



"Christian" H.C. Question 32

Why are you called a Christian?

1 Corinthians 12:12-27 – Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Acts 2:17 – “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

Joel 2:28 – “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.

1 John 2:27 – As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

Matthew 10:32 – “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.

Romans 10:9-10 – If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Hebrews 13:15 – Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.

Romans 12:1 – Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

1 Peter 2:5 – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Galatians 5:16-17 – So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

Ephesians 6:11 – Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

1 Timothy 1:18-19 – Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.

Matthew 25:34 – “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

2 Timothy 2:12 – if we endure, we will also reign with him.  If we disown him, he will also disown us;



Anointed: H.C. Question 31

Why is he called “Christ,” meaning “anointed”?

Luke 3:21-22 – When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Luke 4:14-19 – Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Isaiah 61:1 – The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,

Hebrews 1:9 – You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”

Psalm 45:7 – You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.

Acts 3:22 – For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you.

Deuteronomy 18:15 – The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.

John 1:18 – No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

John 15:15 – I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

Hebrews 7:17 – For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

Psalm 110:4 – The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

Hebrews 9:12, 24 – He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption…

For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.

Hebrews 10:11-14 – Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

Romans 8:34 – Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

Matthew 21:5 – “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

Zechariah 9:9 – Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!  Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Matthew 28:18-20 – Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

John 10:28 – I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

Revelation 12:10-11 – Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:  “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah.  For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.  They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.



Jesus the Savior: H.C. Lord's Day 11

Q 29. Why is the Son of God called “Jesus,” meaning “savior”?
A 29. Because he saves us from our sins, and because salvation should not be sought and cannot be found in anyone else.

Q. Do those who look for their salvation in saints, in themselves, or elsewhere really believe in the only savior Jesus?
A. No. Although they boast of being his, by their actions they deny the only savior, Jesus.

The Apostles’ Creed is divided up into three parts: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Within those divisions, the lion’s share of the Heidelberg Catechism’s emphasis and work is placed on Jesus.  Two Lord’s days are given to God the Father, one is given specifically to the Holy Spirit, though it’s actually three if you count the whole ending section, eight are given to Jesus, the first three of which will be spent simply unpacking what His name means and why it is important.

First, we will look specifically at the name “Jesus” which means, when translated from its Hebrew form, “savior,” or “God saves.”  In the time of the New Testament, when Jesus was born, lived, and died, there is much evidence that points to the fact that the name “Jesus” was a rather popular name.  It was, perhaps, the 4th most popular name for boys at that time.  Everyone probably knew a “Jesus” of some sort; it would have been the name where you had one or two in every classroom.

So why did God pick such a common name for His incarnate Son?  When I think back to how we came to choose the name we did for our daughter, the impact of the name was not necessarily found in its popularity, though we wanted something unique, but in the meaning that was behind the name.  Her name means “God has answered” and her middle name means “hope.”  Our prayer is that she will always know that God not only answers us when we call, but He has given us the ultimate answer in Jesus Christ, in whom all our hope is found.

As I said a moment ago, the name Jesus comes from the Hebrew name Yeshua (or Joshua) which means “Yahweh saves.”  In fact, Moses renamed Hoshea (which means “salvation”) to Joshua; this was the man that would lead the Israelite campaign to conquer Canaan.  It was an important distinction to make at that time that it was not Joshua, aka. Hoshea, who brought about the fulfillment of God’s covenant, but God Himself working through Joshua.

“Although Jesus,” writes Kevin Deyoung, “was a common name, with Jesus of Nazareth the name took on added significance.  It didn’t just mean that His God saves; it meant that He was the God who saves.  Jesus of Nazareth is the only one who can save us from our sins.”  Salvation can be found nowhere else.

There are a couple of important points that are made here, some explicitly and others implicitly:

First, Jesus saves us from our sins.  The Bible doesn’t cast Jesus as a self-help guru who comes to make us feel better about ourselves, make it possible to find a mate through His supernatural online dating site, or get us the dream job we want but won’t work for.  The work of Jesus Christ, through His life, death, and resurrection, does all that we cannot do ourselves in wiping away our sins and making us right with God once again.  Understanding our identity in Christ can lead to such things as a better self-image and confidence in who we are, yes, but it is not the sole purpose of His work.

Second, this is work that He alone can do and His continued work as the mediator between us and God is also solely His.  We do not pray to saints or other spiritual figureheads.  The Bible does not affirm religious greats that have come before us as those who are able to dispense spiritual brownie points for God if we remember them, give money toward them, or light a candle in their honor.

Finally, the Heidelberg Catechism also uses a rather convicting phrase in its talk about Jesus as the sole source of salvation stating that we should not look for our salvation in ourselves either.  I often hear very well-intentioned people tell others they just need to “push through” or “buck up” when the going gets tough.  Christians give the impression to others that you have to “look within” or “summon the strength inside” to not only get through hard times but also when it come to deal with addiction, pain, abuse, disease, and any number of maladies in this life.  We do not look to ourselves for our salvation and, while the premise of encouragement may indeed be well-intentioned, it may also accidentally be suggesting that the “strength within” is greater than that of the loving, providing, sustaining, creator God who never leaves us or forsakes us.

When it all comes down to it, we need to think back to the beginning of this journey.  What is our only comfort in life and in death?  “That I belong, body and soul, in life and in death, to my faithful savior Jesus Christ.”  This Lord’s Day is a direct application of this and it, once again, involves trust.  It is hard to say that we trust someone because it means that we are no longer trusting ourselves with that thing.  The reality, though, for salvation, is that there is no “both-and,” it is an “either-or.”  As Kevin DeYoung concludes, “Either Jesus is the only Savior, the perfect Savior, and your only comfort in life and in death, or Jesus is, for you,” just another feel good religious item in your life.

Thanks be to God that He is patient with us, merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  Though we are often untrusting and unfaithful, He is always faithful to us.



Only Jesus? H.C. Question 30

Do those who look for their salvation in saints, in themselves, or elsewhere really believe in the only savior Jesus?

1 Corinthians 1:12-13 – What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?

Galatians 5:4 – You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

Colossians 1:19-20 – For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Colossians 2:10 – and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.

1 John 1:7 – But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Psalm 146:3-5 – Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.  When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.  Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.



His Name will be Jesus: H.C. Question 29

Why is the Son of God called “Jesus,” meaning “savior”?

Matthew 1:21 – She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Hebrews 7:25 – Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Isaiah 43:11 – I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.

John 15:5 – “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Acts 4:11-12 – Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

1 Timothy 2:5 – For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,



It's all in the Plan: H.C. Lord's Day 10

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 10

Q 27. What do you understand by the providence of God?
A 27. The almighty and ever present power of God by which God upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty—all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand.

Q 28. How does the knowledge of God’s creation and providence help us?
A 28. We can be patient when things go against us, thankful when things go well, and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing in creation will separate us from his love.  For all creatures are so completely in God’s hand that without his will they can neither move nor be moved.

One of the chief characteristics of God that we hold to be true is His sovereignty over all of Creation.  Essentially, this means that we believe that God has power and authority over all of what He has created, and He exercises that power and authority to bring about His will in the world.  For some, this makes God appear to be more like a dictator, especially if their experience of life has been substantially harder.  We start to ask questions like “why did God make this happen to me?” or “What did I do to deserve this.”

If God is a dictator, however, He certainly is a benign and loving one.  Perhaps, in this instance, the language that the Heidelberg Catechism uses is much better and more appropriate for the discussion.  The writers talk about God’s sovereignty in terms of “providence,” the root word of which is of course, “provide.”  This offers a much more appropriate context for God’s ruling and works in the world.  God is indeed love, and Scripture says that God is working out all things for the good of those who love Him.  We also know that God is actively working to bring restoration to the world which will culminate in Christ’s return and the setting right of all things.  In addition to this, we also know that God is patient, not wishing that any would perish, but providing ample time for people to turn to Him because of His great love for us.

The language of the questions and answers in Lord’s Day 10 can be a bit uncomfortable, though, as well; “all things come from [God’s] hand.”  All things?  Really?  Something about that makes us cringe on the inside.  It’s definitely easier to blame sin, satan, or our own foolish acts for some of the difficult times in life that we experience.  Certainly, our difficulties can come from those things, but Scripture is clear that “all things come from God’s hand,” which means that even if the difficulties we face are a result of a spiritual attack from the satan himself, it is under the direction and purview of God’s power and will.

Let’s be clear about a couple things, though, as we talk about God’s providence.  This is not an excuse to act foolishly or sinfully, only to blame the results on God.  Scripture affirms human responsibility when it comes to the results of actions in our lives, hence the need for a Savior.  The Bible is also clear that temptation to sin does not come from God, which would also allow us to blame God for sin.  But there are seemingly negative things in our lives that do find their source in God in some way.  God is sovereign over creation, over nations and rulers, over both good people and bad.  God has sent trouble and calamity, destroyed nations and people groups, and even hardens the hearts of some.  He uses all of the created order to work His will in the world and His plans cannot be thwarted.

So what does this mean for us?  Should we be scared and living in fear of a God who can do anything at any time just because it pleases Him?  No.  I don’t think so.  When we understand God in human terms, we often think of the worst case scenario.  If we give a ruler too much power, He/She can do whatever they want without any check or balance.  God is not like that.  All of God’s power is exercised in love, as a loving parent exercises loving authority over their children for their benefit.

Lord’s Day 10 is very clear about how this benefits us as well.  When things seem to be going against us, we can be patient knowing that God is working His will and that God is always working for the good of those who love Him.  Think of Joseph or even the Israelite slavery in Egypt, both seemed profoundly negative at the time.  Out of those events, however, great things came to be.  This does take a profound amount of trust, something we have and will continue to talk about here.  These are the times when our faith is tested; they are also the times when God does some of His deepest work in us.

We can also be thankful when things go well, remembering that all good and perfect gifts come from God.  How often do we stop to thank God when we’ve had a good day, a successful meeting, a positive experience with a friend, or anything else for that matter.  It is easy for us to run to God in the bad times, but do we do so in the good times as well?

Finally, we can have confidence in the future knowing that, even if all of our worries and fears come true, God will never leave us and He is always working out His perfect will.  God’s ways are higher than our ways, and He is far above all rule and authority on this earth, but He is always with us and always ready to listen.  We can face the future unafraid because we know that nothing moves except by the hand of God.



Providing Help: H.C. Question 28

How does the knowledge of God’s creation and providence help us?

Job 1:21-22 – …and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;  may the name of the Lord be praised.”  In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

James 1:3 – because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Deuteronomy 8:10 – When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus

Psalm 55:22 – Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

Romans 5:3-5 – Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 8:38-39 – For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Job 1:12 – The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”  Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Job 2:6 – The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”

Proverbs 21:1 – In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water
that he channels toward all who please him.

Acts 17:24-28 – “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’



Providence: H.C. Question 27

What do you understand by the providence of God?

Jeremiah 23:23-24 – “Am I only a God nearby,” declares the Lord, “and not a God far away?  Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?”  declares the Lord.  “Do not I fill heaven and earth?”  declares the Lord.

Acts 17:24-28 – “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

Hebrews 1:3 – The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Jeremiah 5:24 – They do not say to themselves,  ‘Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’

Acts 14:15-17 – “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. In the past, he let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”

John 9:3 – “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

Proverbs 22:2 – Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all.

Proverbs 16:33 – The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.

Matthew 10:29 – Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.