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.



Good Good Father: H.C. Lord's Day 9

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 9

Q 26: What do you believe when you say, “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth”?
A 26: That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth and everything in them, who still upholds and rules them by his eternal counsel and providence, is my God and Father because of Christ the Son.

I trust God so much that I do not doubt he will provide whatever I need for body and soul, and will turn to my good whatever adversity he sends upon me in this sad world.

God is able to do this because he is almighty God, and desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.

It did not use to be a great thing for one to say that they “believe in God.”  In fact, most people, if approached, would say that they believe in a divine being or creative power of some sort that, at the very least, created this universe and started it on its path.  But is this enough?  Can we hold to a very basic belief in something bigger than ourselves, calling ourselves “spiritual” but not “religious,” and get along well in this world?  Sure…  Is is enough for salvation?  No.

Scripture points out that this kind of faith, a simple belief in God, is the same faith that the Satan’s demons have.  And, while this general belief in God doesn’t seem to have a great impact on most humans, the demons’ belief makes them shudder (James 2:19).

As the question and answer 26 indicate, there is so much more to know about and wonder at in God, it stretches us beyond the limits of our ability to think and conceptualize.  Much of this we know as the attributes of God, some of which God shares with us and others that are solely God’s own.

One such attribute that belongs solely to God, something we call an “incommunicable” attribute, and something that goes far beyond our ability to understand, is God’s eternal nature.  Time itself is a concept that does not apply to God.  You may have heard the phrase “I have all the time in the world…”, but God literally holds time in His hand.  There has never been a time where God wasn’t.  Before anything was a thing, God was present and in eternal, perfect, trinitarian communion.

God’s eternal nature leads us to another belief that we hold to which God as the sole source of creation.  This belief is known as Creatio ex Nihilo, or creation out of nothing.  More specifically this means that God created the whole universe out of nothing; He simply spoke it into being and did so before there was even an “it” to speak to.  While this may seem like a relatively obvious thing, but it is profoundly important.  If part of the nature of God is that God is eternal, whereas nothing else is, then we effectually deny what science would tell us about the “Big Bang” and any pre-existent matter.  While the happening of the Big Bang may be the way in which God began creation, and there certainly is evidence to show that possibility, what science cannot and has not been able to prove is what happened in the seconds and eons before that event.  What is important, however, is that we understand that nothing existed alongside God prior to creation.  If we allow for something to exist alongside the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) prior to creation, we are either elevating that thing to the same status as God or lowering God’s status to the realm of a thing; neither are true.  God is God; everything else is a creature, created by God.

Another thing that is, sadly, often forgotten when it comes to belief in God is His continual sustaining and providing action in the world.  Deism, the belief in an uninvolved divine being, has largely become the norm of belief in the world.  Many who believe in a higher being or an intelligent creator, also believe that He/She/It is no longer actively involved in the world.  Like a clockmaker who builds the clock, winds it us, and then lets it go, so too do we think God has done that with the universe and we are here just waiting for time to run its course.  That is, however, not what Christians (should) believe about God.  Scripture reveals to us a God who is loving and active, working His will in the world toward the redemption and restoration of the whole world.  We see this most vividly in the person of Jesus Christ, God incarnate.  If God were an uninvolved deity, the coming of Christ would be completely contradictory to God’s nature, arbitrarily showing up and a random point in time to bring salvation, only to disappear back into the sky with a promise (or perhaps threat) that He will come back some day as well.

All of theology moves us toward trust.  The purpose of our discussions here as we take the posture of “faith seeking understanding,” is one in which we are moving deeper and deeper toward trust in God.  Scripture reveals a loving God who is intimately aware of everything that is happening in His creation and one who is working to bring all things together under Chirst.  Paul writes that “all things work together for the good of those who love God,” and that is what we understand to be happening and what will happen when Jesus returns to set up His eternal Kingdom here and God dwells with us forever.



God the Father: H.C. Question 26 (Part 4)

What do you believe when you say, “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth”?

While this particular passage is not quoted in the Heidelberg Catechism, I think it does very well at capturing at least a part of who God is.

Job 38-42:6 – Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:

“Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?

“Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?

“Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,
that it might take the earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?
The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
its features stand out like those of a garment.
The wicked are denied their light,
and their upraised arm is broken.

“Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?
Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all this.

“What is the way to the abode of light?
And where does darkness reside?
Can you take them to their places?
Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
Surely you know, for you were already born!
You have lived so many years!

“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail,
which I reserve for times of trouble,
for days of war and battle?
What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
to water a land where no one lives,
an uninhabited desert,
to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?
Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?
From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?

“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades?
Can you loosen Orion’s belt?
Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?

“Can you raise your voice to the clouds
and cover yourself with a flood of water?
Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?
Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?
Who gives the ibis wisdom
or gives the rooster understanding?
Who has the wisdom to count the clouds?
Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens
when the dust becomes hard
and the clods of earth stick together?

“Do you hunt the prey for the lioness
and satisfy the hunger of the lions
when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in a thicket?
Who provides food for the raven
when its young cry out to God
and wander about for lack of food?

“Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?
Do you count the months till they bear?
Do you know the time they give birth?
They crouch down and bring forth their young;
their labor pains are ended.
Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds;
they leave and do not return.

“Who let the wild donkey go free?
Who untied its ropes?
I gave it the wasteland as its home,
the salt flats as its habitat.
It laughs at the commotion in the town;
it does not hear a driver’s shout.
It ranges the hills for its pasture
and searches for any green thing.

“Will the wild ox consent to serve you?
Will it stay by your manger at night?
Can you hold it to the furrow with a harness?
Will it till the valleys behind you?
Will you rely on it for its great strength?
Will you leave your heavy work to it?
Can you trust it to haul in your grain
and bring it to your threshing floor?

“The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully,
though they cannot compare
with the wings and feathers of the stork.
She lays her eggs on the ground
and lets them warm in the sand,
unmindful that a foot may crush them,
that some wild animal may trample them.
She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers;
she cares not that her labor was in vain,
for God did not endow her with wisdom
or give her a share of good sense.
Yet when she spreads her feathers to run,
she laughs at horse and rider.

“Do you give the horse its strength
or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?
Do you make it leap like a locust,
striking terror with its proud snorting?
It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength,
and charges into the fray.
It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing;
it does not shy away from the sword.
The quiver rattles against its side,
along with the flashing spear and lance.
In frenzied excitement it eats up the ground;
it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.
At the blast of the trumpet it snorts, ‘Aha!’
It catches the scent of battle from afar,
the shout of commanders and the battle cry.

“Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom
and spread its wings toward the south?
Does the eagle soar at your command
and build its nest on high?
It dwells on a cliff and stays there at night;
a rocky crag is its stronghold.
From there it looks for food;
its eyes detect it from afar.
Its young ones feast on blood,
and where the slain are, there it is.”

The Lord said to Job:
“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Let him who accuses God answer him!”

Then Job answered the Lord:
“I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
I spoke once, but I have no answer—
twice, but I will say no more.”

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm:
“Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
“Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
Do you have an arm like God’s,
and can your voice thunder like his?
Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,
and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
Unleash the fury of your wrath,
look at all who are proud and bring them low,
look at all who are proud and humble them,
crush the wicked where they stand.
Bury them all in the dust together;
shroud their faces in the grave.
Then I myself will admit to you
that your own right hand can save you.

“Look at Behemoth,
which I made along with you
and which feeds on grass like an ox.
What strength it has in its loins,
what power in the muscles of its belly!
Its tail sways like a cedar;
the sinews of its thighs are close-knit.
Its bones are tubes of bronze,
its limbs like rods of iron.
It ranks first among the works of God,
yet its Maker can approach it with his sword.
The hills bring it their produce,
and all the wild animals play nearby.
Under the lotus plants it lies,
hidden among the reeds in the marsh.
The lotuses conceal it in their shadow;
the poplars by the stream surround it.
A raging river does not alarm it;
it is secure, though the Jordan should surge against its mouth.
Can anyone capture it by the eyes,
or trap it and pierce its nose?

“Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook
or tie down its tongue with a rope?
Can you put a cord through its nose
or pierce its jaw with a hook?
Will it keep begging you for mercy?
Will it speak to you with gentle words?
Will it make an agreement with you
for you to take it as your slave for life?
Can you make a pet of it like a bird
or put it on a leash for the young women in your house?
Will traders barter for it?
Will they divide it up among the merchants?
Can you fill its hide with harpoons
or its head with fishing spears?
If you lay a hand on it,
you will remember the struggle and never do it again!
Any hope of subduing it is false;
the mere sight of it is overpowering.
No one is fierce enough to rouse it.
Who then is able to stand against me?
Who has a claim against me that I must pay?
Everything under heaven belongs to me.

“I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs,
its strength and its graceful form.
Who can strip off its outer coat?
Who can penetrate its double coat of armor?
Who dares open the doors of its mouth,
ringed about with fearsome teeth?
Its back has rows of shields
tightly sealed together;
each is so close to the next
that no air can pass between.
They are joined fast to one another;
they cling together and cannot be parted.
Its snorting throws out flashes of light;
its eyes are like the rays of dawn.
Flames stream from its mouth;
sparks of fire shoot out.
Smoke pours from its nostrils
as from a boiling pot over burning reeds.
Its breath sets coals ablaze,
and flames dart from its mouth.
Strength resides in its neck;
dismay goes before it.
The folds of its flesh are tightly joined;
they are firm and immovable.
Its chest is hard as rock,
hard as a lower millstone.
When it rises up, the mighty are terrified;
they retreat before its thrashing.
The sword that reaches it has no effect,
nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.
Iron it treats like straw
and bronze like rotten wood.
Arrows do not make it flee;
slingstones are like chaff to it.
A club seems to it but a piece of straw;
it laughs at the rattling of the lance.
Its undersides are jagged potsherds,
leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.
It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron
and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.
It leaves a glistening wake behind it;
one would think the deep had white hair.
Nothing on earth is its equal—
a creature without fear.
It looks down on all that are haughty;
it is king over all that are proud.”

Then Job replied to the Lord:
“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.

“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”



God the Father: H.C. Question 26 (Part 3)

What do you believe when you say, “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth”?

Matthew 6:25-26, 30 – “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

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.

Ephesians 1:5, 11 – he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,

John 1:12-13 – Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Romans 8:15-16, 28 – 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…

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Galatians 4:4-7 – 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.

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

Luke 12:22-31 – Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Genesis 18:14 – Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

Romans 8:31-39 – What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 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. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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.

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!