The Time of Trial: H.C. Question 127

What does the sixth petition mean?
 
Psalm 103:14-16 – for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.  The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
 
Ephesians 6:10-13 – Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
 
1 Peter 5:8 – Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
 
John 15:18-21 – “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.
 
Romans 7:23 – but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.
 
Galatians 5:17 – 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.
 
Matthew 10:19-20 – But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
 
Matthew 26:41 – “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
 
Mark 13:33 – Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.
 
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.
 
1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
 
1 Thessalonians 3:13 – May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
 
1 Thessalonians 5:23 – May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.


“Our Father” H.C. Question 120

Why did Christ command us to call God “our Father”? 
 
Matthew 7:9-11 – “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
 
Luke 11:11-13 – “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
 
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.
 
Galatians 4:1-7 – What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.


Concerning Prayer: H.C. Lord’s Day 45

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 45

 Q 116. Why do Christians need to pray? 
A 116. Because prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness God requires of us.  And also because God gives his grace and Holy Spirit only to those who pray continually and groan inwardly, asking God for these gifts and thanking God for them.
 
Q 117. What is the kind of prayer that pleases God and that he listens to? 
A 117. First, we must pray from the heart to no other than the one true God, revealed to us in his Word, asking for everything God has commanded us to ask for.
Second, we must fully recognize our need and misery, so that we humble ourselves in God’s majestic presence.
Third, we must rest on this unshakable foundation: even though we do not deserve it, God will surely listen to our prayer because of Christ our Lord. That is what God promised us in his Word.
 
Q 118. What did God command us to pray for? 
A 118. Everything we need, spiritually and physically, as embraced in the prayer Christ our Lord himself taught us.
 
Q 119. What is this prayer? 
A 119. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.* For the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours forever. Amen.
 
This Lord’s day begins the final section of the Heidelberg Catechism which focuses specifically in on the Lord’s Prayer.  It is fitting, I think, to end the teaching about how we are called to live here.  We have talked about our sin, our Savior, and our response to that.  First, the gratitude that comes from us for our salvation, then the specifics of what we believe.  Next we talked about the Law, a guide for our lives that ultimately points us back to our need for a Savior and the reason for our faith.  Finally, now, we will talk about our connection to God which is prayer.
 
The first Lord’s day that talks about prayer starts off, rightly, by showing us some of the whys and whats of prayer.  Given the recent events in Texas, and the subsequent negative reactions about prayer that have taken place, these teachings are now, more important than ever.
 
So why pray?  I think, at least for those who are believers, the appropriate counter question is “why not?”  We believe that God is the creator of the universe, that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift including our lives, and that God loves us so much the He has saved us from our sins through His Son, Jesus.  He also invites us into a relationship with Him, one that is connected to Him through prayer and the Holy Spirit.  Through prayer, we bring praise, worship, gratitude, and all sorts of requests.
 
It isn’t, however, so much about what we bring in prayer as it is what God brings in those moments too.  When we approach God, we are shown His love and grace, His welcoming arms are open and He is present there more than any person in our lives ever is to us.  In these moments, through the work of the Holy Spirit, we are also built up in our trust of God, humility of ourselves, and in our identity before Him in Jesus Christ.
 
God also invites us to bring anything and everything to Him in prayer.  In a close relationship, you would talk to your friend about the happenings of your day.  You would most likely also share some of your concerns and frustrations.  Our Heavenly Father desires this with us as well.  He wants to hear about our struggles at work, the joy we get from our children, our frustration in not being able to find our keys.  More than that, though, He wants to be a part of those things in our lives.
 
What this doesn’t mean, however, is that whatever we ask God for we will get.  God is not some sort of cosmic vending machine.  That is why the “How” of this teaching is so important.  Jesus teaches us how to pray and in following this teaching, we begin to get a sense of what is most important.  While God certainly cares about the things that you want, what He has promised you is the things that you need.  He is the ever-present, always providing Father who gives us everything we stand in need of.  The teaching of the Lord’s Prayer reveals to us what those needs actually are.
 
As we look to this, and the teaching that will follow, we will begin to see unfolded before us, God’s deep desire for intimacy in our lives, and also His unending love for us, and His unfailing provision and presence in our lives.


What's Next? H.C. Question 86 (Part 2)

Since we have been delivered from our misery by grace through Christ without any merit of our own, why then should we do good works? 

Matthew 7:17-18 – Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

Galatians 5:22-24 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

2 Peter 1:10-11 – Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Matthew 5:14-16 – “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Romans 14:17-19 – For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

1 Peter 2:12 – Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

1 Peter 3:1-2 – Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.



What's Next? H.C. Question 86 (Part 1)

Since we have been delivered from our misery by grace through Christ without any merit of our own, why then should we do good works? 

Romans 6:13 – Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.

Romans 12:1-2 – 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. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

1 Peter 2:5-10 – 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. For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”
Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
and,

“A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

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. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Matthew 5:16 – In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

 



Open and Closed Preaching: H.C. Question 84

How does preaching the holy gospel open and close the kingdom of heaven? 

Matthew 16:19 – I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

John 3:31-36 – The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

John 20:21-23 – Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”



Different than the Mass? H.C. Question 80

How does the Lord’s Supper differ from the Roman Catholic Mass? 

John 19:30 – When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Hebrews 7:27 – Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.

Hebrews 9:12 – 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.

Hebrews 9:25-26 – Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Hebrews 10:10-18 – And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

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.

The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”

Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.

1 Corinthians 6:17 – But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

1 Corinthians 10:16-17 – Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.

Acts 7:55-56 – But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

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.

Hebrews 8:1 – Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,

Matthew 6:20-21 – But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

John 4:21-24 – “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Philippians 3:20 – But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

Colossians 3:1-3 – Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.



"This is My Body" H.C. Lord's Day 29

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 29

Q 78. Do the bread and wine become the real body and blood of Christ? 
A 78. No. Just as the water of baptism is not changed into Christ’s blood and does not itself wash away sins but is simply a divine sign and assurance of these things, so too the holy bread of the Lord’s Supper does not become the actual body of Christ, even though it is called the body of Christ in keeping with the nature and language of sacraments.

Q 79. Why then does Christ call the bread his body and the cup his blood, or the new covenant in his blood, and Paul use the words, a participation in Christ’s body and blood? 
A 79. Christ has good reason for these words. He wants to teach us that just as bread and wine nourish the temporal life, so too his crucified body and poured-out blood are the true food and drink of our souls for eternal life.

But more important, he wants to assure us, by this visible sign and pledge, that we, through the Holy Spirit’s work, share in his true body and blood as surely as our mouths receive these holy signs in his remembrance, and that all of his suffering and obedience are as definitely ours as if we personally had suffered and made satisfaction for our sins.

Justification by Jesus Christ through faith is the cornerstone of the Christian religion.  There is nothing more distinctly Christian than this doctrine.  During the Reformation, there was one thing that was debated almost as much as this doctrine and that was the theology of the Lord’s Supper.

One of the main points of argument came from the attempt at interpreting what was meant when Jesus broke the bread and poured the cup saying “this is my body” and “this is my blood.”

The Catholic view at this time is a doctrine known as transubstantiation and held that, in the moment of celebrating the Lord’s Supper, the physical bread and wine were transformed literally into Jesus actually body and blood.  They believed that the actual loaf was Jesus’ actual body.

This, for the Reformers, was nothing more than “hocus pocus,” a belief that was intended to draw people to church for the purpose of communion.  More than this, however, comes the notion that this didn’t follow with the revelation of Scripture or Jesus’ self-revelation either.  Jesus also said that He was “the Good Shepherd” and that He was “the Gate.”  Neither statement was meant to be factually accurate in that Jesus tended sheep or swung on hinges, but was in fact, a metaphor for the who Jesus was and what His ministry was about.

To this doctrine, the Reformers had several thoughts:

Consubstantiation: Jesus physical Body and Blood were present alongside the physical bread and wine.

Memorial Meal: The Lord’s Supper was meant to be a time of remembrance of the sacrifice that Jesus made.

Spiritual Presence: That Jesus is really present during the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, that He indeed communes with us through the Holy Spirit, as we also remember Him.  In this, we feast on Christ through faith and the experience of participating in the sacrament.

Why does this really matter, though?  Each way of understanding it was trying to get at one thing: what does it mean when Scripture says that we are “participating” in the Body and Blood of Christ?  How does that work and what purpose does that serve?

There are so many meanings and so much symbolism that is associated with the celebration of the sacraments.  The Lord’s Supper is a memorial meal as well as a proclamation of the Gospel.  It is a way in which we are spiritually nourished through a physical action.

Yet one thing that is uniquely important about celebrating Communion is that fact that it is a time in which we are invited to commune with God at His table.  We are participating in exactly what we are: the Body of Christ.  It is a reminder of who we are and of whose we are.  It is a reminder that we are not in this alone, neither as individuals nor as a church.  It is a confirmation of our identity as a child of God and as a part of His body through God’s grace, shown in Jesus one sacrifice, and accepted by faith in Him.



Eat and Drink: H.C. Question 76 (part 1)

What does it mean to eat the crucified body of Christ and to drink his poured-out blood? 

John 6:35, 40, 50-58 – Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty

For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.  For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

1 Corinthians 12:13 – 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.

Acts 1:9-11 – After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

1 Corinthians 11:26 – For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Colossians 3:1 – Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.



Infant Baptism: H.C. 74

Should infants also be baptized?

Genesis 17:7 – I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.

Matthew 19:14 – Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Isaiah 44:1-3 – “But now listen, Jacob, my servant, Israel, whom I have chosen.  This is what the Lord says— he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you:
Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.  For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.

Acts 2:38-39 – Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Acts 16:31 – They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

Acts 10:47 – “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”

1 Corinthians 7:14 – For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

Genesis 17:9-14 – Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

Colossians 2:11-13 – In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,