What Must I Believe? H.C. Lord's Day 7

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 7

Q 20. Are all people then saved through Christ just as they were lost through Adam?
A 20. No. Only those are saved who through true faith are grafted into Christ and accept all his benefits.

Q 21. What is true faith?
A 21. True faith is not only a sure knowledge by which I hold as true all that God has revealed to us in Scripture; it is also a wholehearted trust, which the Holy Spirit creates in me by the gospel, that God has freely granted, not only to others but to me also, forgiveness of sins, eternal righteousness, and salvation. These are gifts of sheer grace, granted solely by Christ’s merit.

Q 22. What then must a Christian believe?
A 22. All that is promised us in the gospel, a summary of which is taught us in the articles of our universal and undisputed Christian faith.

Q 23. What are these articles?
A 23. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Salvation history can be boiled down to the actions of two men: Adam and Jesus.  Adam, the first human, as a representative of the whole human race, sinned against God by disobeying Him.  In doing so, Adam plunged all humankind and the whole of creation into sin and misery.  Humans were cut off from our relationship with God and left with the total inability to repair that relationship on their own.

Jesus, whom Scripture calls the “second Adam,” also represented all humankind.  Through His life, death, and resurrection, He purchased redemption for humanity, through His blood, making it once again possible to live in relationship with God.  This too has the potential to impact all mankind.  However, unlike the actions of Adam, which had an instant effect on all humans from that time forward, the offer of salvation in Jesus Christ must be accepted by faith for salvation to be realized.  God’s offer of salvation in Jesus Christ is universal, extending to every man, woman, and child that ever lived, but the efficacy (the effect or intended result) is only realized when someone places their faith in Jesus Christ.

So naturally, the next question is: “what is faith?”  Question and Answer 21 take on this question and it can be boiled down, as author Kevin DeYoung points out, to two things, ‘knowledge and conviction.’  He goes on to stay, we don’t worship a ‘content-less’ Jesus and as such, knowledge is an important component.  Sadly it often feels like knowledge has been the only thing that we focus on, suggesting that we could possibly “know” our way into salvation, something that spills over into works-righteousness.

Faith also comes with and through a deep conviction.  It is a confident (not arrogant) assurance of our eternal salvation.  Faith is, as the author of Hebrews writes, “the assurance of things hoped for and the certainty of things unseen.”  When we believe the Gospel, we put our faith in Jesus Christ, knowing and being assured that He accomplished for us what we were otherwise unable to do.  He purchased redemption for us through His blood and the sacrifice of Himself that He offered once and for all on the cross that, when we believe in Him, we would be accepted by God and never forsaken by Him.



The Apostle's Creed: H.C. Question 23

What are these articles?

The Apostles’ Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

The Apostles’ Creed is the very basis of what we believe and hold to as Christians.  Other creeds and confessions came later to clarify certain issues and confusions that have taken place over the years.  For further reading today, I have included three other widely accepted Creeds of the Church.  I invite you to read through them and compare them to the Apostles’ Creed.  What strikes you as being important in these creeds?

The Nicene Creed:

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Athanasian Creed:

Whoever wants to be saved should above all cling to the catholic faith.

Whoever does not guard it whole and inviolable will doubtless perish eternally.

Now this is the catholic faith: We worship one God in trinity and the Trinity in unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being.

For the Father is one person, the Son is another, and the Spirit is still another.

But the deity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, equal in glory, coeternal in majesty.

What the Father is, the Son is, and so is the Holy Spirit.

Uncreated is the Father; uncreated is the Son; uncreated is the Spirit.

The Father is infinite; the Son is infinite; the Holy Spirit is infinite.

Eternal is the Father; eternal is the Son; eternal is the Spirit: And yet there are not three eternal beings, but one who is eternal; as there are not three uncreated and unlimited beings, but one who is uncreated and unlimited.

Almighty is the Father; almighty is the Son; almighty is the Spirit: And yet there are not three almighty beings, but one who is almighty.

Thus the Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God: And yet there are not three gods, but one God.

Thus the Father is Lord; the Son is Lord; the Holy Spirit is Lord: And yet there are not three lords, but one Lord.

As Christian truth compels us to acknowledge each distinct person as God and Lord, so catholic religion forbids us to say that there are three gods or lords.

The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten; the Son was neither made nor created, but was alone begotten of the Father; the Spirit was neither made nor created, but is proceeding from the Father and the Son.

Thus there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three spirits.

And in this Trinity, no one is before or after, greater or less than the other; but all three persons are in themselves, coeternal and coequal; and so we must worship the Trinity in unity and the one God in three persons.

Whoever wants to be saved should think thus about the Trinity.

It is necessary for eternal salvation that one also faithfully believe that our Lord Jesus Christ became flesh.

For this is the true faith that we believe and confess: That our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is both God and man.

He is God, begotten before all worlds from the being of the Father, and he is man, born in the world from the being of his mother — existing fully as God, and fully as man with a rational soul and a human body; equal to the Father in divinity, subordinate to the Father in humanity.

Although he is God and man, he is not divided, but is one Christ.

He is united because God has taken humanity into himself; he does not transform deity into humanity.

He is completely one in the unity of his person, without confusing his natures.

For as the rational soul and body are one person, so the one Christ is God and man.

He suffered death for our salvation. He descended into hell and rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

At his coming all people shall rise bodily to give an account of their own deeds.

Those who have done good will enter eternal life, those who have done evil will enter eternal fire.

This is the catholic faith.

One cannot be saved without believing this firmly and faithfully.

The Chalcedonian Creed

We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.



Believe! H.C. Question 22

What then must a Christian believe?

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 20:30-31 – Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

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.



True Faith: H.C. Question 21

What is true faith?

John 17:3, 17 – Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent…

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

Hebrews 11:1-3 – Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

James 2:19 – You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

Romans 4:18-21 – Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Romans 5:1 – Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

Romans 10:10, 17 – 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…

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

Hebrews 4:14-16 – Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Matthew 16:15-17 – “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.

John 3:5 – Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

Acts 16:14 – One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.

Romans 1:16-17 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.  For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

1 Corinthians 1:21 – For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

Galatians 2:16, 20 – know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

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

Romans 3:21-26 – But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Ephesians 2:8-10 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.



Everyone? H.C. Question 20

Are all people then saved through Christ just as they were lost through Adam?

Matthew 7:14 – But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

John 3:16-18For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

John 3:36 – Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

Romans 11:16-21 – If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.



Romans 14:1-4; 15:5-7 "Weak or Strong"



Satisfaction: H.C. Lord's Day 6

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 6

Q 16. Why must the mediator be a true and righteous human?
A 16. God’s justice demands that human nature, which has sinned, must pay for sin; but a sinful human could never pay for others.

Q 17. Why must the mediator also be true God?
A 17. So that the mediator, by the power of his divinity, might bear the weight of God’s wrath in his humanity and earn for us and restore to us righteousness and life.

Q 18. Then who is this mediator—true God and at the same time a true and righteous human?
A. Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was given to us to completely deliver us and make us right with God.

Q 19. How do you come to know this?
A 19. The holy gospel tells me. God began to reveal the gospel already in Paradise; later God proclaimed it by the holy patriarchs and prophets and foreshadowed it by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law, and finally God fulfilled it through his own beloved Son.

I love words; they have such power and ability to create meaning.  “Words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth.”  This quote, from the movie V for Vendetta (a silent favorite of mine), articulates well what I think about words.  In the Lord’s Day 6, there are a number of words, churchy type theological words, that no longer take up residence in our Christian vocabulary, that do well in helping us to understand the reality of the Gospel, the reality of the cross, and are alluded to here in the Heidelberger.

Expiation – “Christ’s death removed our sin and guilt”

Redemption – “Christ’s death ransomed us from the curse of the law and the punishment and power of sin”

Reconciliation – “Christ’s death restored our relationship with God”

Propitiation – “Christ’s death appeased or placated the wrath of God”

These terms make up the fundamental biblical aspects of the cross.  They describe the good news, or Gospel, about Jesus that in Him and through Him our sins are forgiven, we are freed from the law, our relationship with God is once again made right and we can stand before God the Father in full confidence, knowing we have been made clean and righteous.  All of this often falls under the use of the word Atonement.

Atonement  – reparation for (making up for, repairing) an offense or injury, satisfaction of law and punishment

Again, this is the Gospel, the very core of what it means to be a Christian.  The Gospel itself does not summon us to “live a better life” or show us “what we can do for God,” it doesn’t talk about cultural transformation or even relevance.  The Gospel is simply the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again from the dead on the third day.  The Gospel is the truth that we do not have to work for our own salvation because it was accomplished for us in Jesus Christ and that, through faith, we receive the total, complete, and eternal forgiveness for our sins.

What the Gospel, or “atonement theory” describes is the act through which Jesus Christ takes on the curse of God, is the subject of the full wrath of God, and receives the complete punishment of God on the cross in place of each and every human being.  This was done because, though humanity was created in God’s image to live in relationship with God, the infection of sin left us without hope and the ability to save ourselves.  We were, as the book of Ephesians says, “by nature, objects of wrath.”  That wrath was the wrath of God against sin which Jesus took on.

The good news that is the Gospel is that, when we place our faith in Jesus Christ, righteousness is imputed to us.  Here, I think two more words ought to be defined well for us:

Righteousness – “the state of being right in God’s sight and in line with the attributes of God’s law, holiness, justice, morality, etc.”

Imputed – “attributed to, caused, represented as being done, assigned to, ascribed to”

This is the core of who we are.  There is nothing more important in Christian theology that this!!  People try to water it down (not really sure why) or alter it in different ways, but the reality is still the same for us.  The Gospel is the good news of divine self-satisfaction through divine self-substitution for the sake of us.  This happens through Christ, both completely divine and completely human, who is our mediator, our Savior, our Lord.



The Bible Tells Me So: H.C. Question 19

How do you come to know [Jesus Christ is the mediator]?

Genesis 3:15 – And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Genesis 22:18 – and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

Genesis 49:10 – The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.

Isaiah 53 – Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?  He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.  He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.  Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away.  Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.  He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.  After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.  Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Jeremiah 23:5-6 – “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.  In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety.  This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.

Micah 7:18-20 – Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?  You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.  You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.  You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago.

Acts 10:43 – All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Hebrews 1:1-2 – 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.

Leviticus 1-7 (Lot’s of reading, but certainly worthwhile!  Use this link to bring you to it: Biblegateway.com – Leviticus 1-7)

John 5:46 – If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.

Hebrews 10:1-10 – The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.’”

First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Romans 10:4 – Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Galatians 4:4-5 – 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.

Colossians 2:17 – These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.



Jesus Christ: H.C. Question 18

Then who is this mediator—true God and at the same time a true and righteous human?

Matthew 1:21-23 – 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.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

Luke 2:11 – Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

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

1 Corinthians 1:30 – It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.



Fully God: H.C. Question 17

Why must the mediator also be true God?

Isaiah 53 – Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?  He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.  He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.  Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away.  Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.  He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.  After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.  Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

2 Corinthians 5:21 – God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.



Fully Human: H.C. Question 16

Why just the mediator be a true and righteous human?

Romans 5:12 – Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned

Romans 5:15 – But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!

1 Corinthians 15:21 – For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.

Hebrews 2:14-16 – 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. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.

Hebrews 7:26-27 – Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 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.

1 Peter 3:18 – For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.



Two for One Rescue: H.C. Lord's Day 5

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 5

Q 12. According to God’s righteous judgment we deserve punishment both now and in eternity: how then can we escape this punishment and return to God’s favor?
A 12. God requires that his justice be satisfied. Therefore the claims of this justice must be paid in full, either by ourselves or by another.

Q 13. Can we make this payment ourselves?
A 13. Certainly not. Actually, we increase our debt every day.

Q 14. Can another creature—any at all—pay this debt for us?
A 14. No. To begin with, God will not punish any other creature for what a human is guilty of.  Furthermore, no mere creature can bear the weight of God’s eternal wrath against sin and deliver others from it.

Q 15. What kind of mediator and deliverer should we look for then?
A 15. One who is a true and righteous human, yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is also true God.

In recent years, mainstream Christianity has taken a dramatic turn towards emphasizing social justice and taking up the banner of an increasingly visual social justice movement.  This movement has turned Christians into activists, pulpits into platforms, and people into protestors.

To be clear, social justice is an incredibly important aspect of the Gospel and something that, prior to the last 20 years or so, was something that far too often got pushed to the sidelines of Christian communities.  As the pendulum often does, we are seeing a swing to the far opposite side, it seems, and it is possible that a correction is in order.

“Why?” You may ask.  “If social justice is an important aspect of the Gospel, shouldn’t we be emphasizing it?”  Certainly, the answer is yes.  We cannot forget that the work of Christ in bringing salvation to the world is something that ultimately transforms the whole world… in fact, the entire universe!  As the body of Christ we should be about this work in our faith communities.

However, if the pendulum is swinging, that means it came from somewhere.  Perhaps the opposite side of the spectrum was the “turn or burn” mentality that has often been prevalent in the Christian church.  People standing on street corners with megaphones and signs proclaiming the coming judgment and wrath of God unless you make a decision for Christ on the spot.  This isn’t exactly the “loving God” that we come to know in Scripture.  However, it too is an aspect of the pendulum of justice, and it too is important as we have seen over these past few weeks.

The Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 5 emphasizes, once again, the true nature of the justice of God who is holy, perfectly just, and perfectly righteous.  Looking at this we once again see that God’s justice demands judgment against sin.  Does this make God unloving?  No.  As we discussed last week, God’s love and God’s wrath are 100% linked together.  Emphasizing one over the other does God an injustice.

It seems that lately, the emphasis has been on saving the world in the name of God’s justice.  This has, at least in some realms, come at the expense of saving souls.  When the pendulum of justice is balanced, this is a “both/and” of the Gospel.  Emphasizing the “save the world” campaign becomes a thinly veiled philosophy of work’s righteousness (earning our own way) where a “turn or burn” mentality sacrifices the real needs of people for the sake of an eternal transaction (often taking place outside the understanding of true faith).

In the parable of the sheep and the goats at the end of Matthew 25, Jesus talks about the importance of providing for the physical needs of people.  In doing so, we are actually serving as if we are doing it for Christ Himself.  Those that don’t do this, however, are told to “depart from me.”  The action-oriented social justice movement emphasizes these needs and providing for them, but we must not forget that this must be linked with a concern for the souls of those we come alongside as well.  James writes, “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”  I think the inverse could also be considered true: what if we are too focused on keeping people warm and well fed but do nothing about the souls?  There has to be a balance.

What does this really have to do with the Heidelberger’s 5th Lord’s Day?  Well, simply put: Jesus is that balance.  Emphasis on the “earn your own way,” “works righteousness,” “save the world” mentality only says, perhaps not intentionally, that we can do this ourselves.  The Heidelberg, witnessing to Scripture, is clear that we can’t.  We need Jesus because we cannot pay this debt of sin ourselves and hope to live; no human can… and no creature can either.  We need our Savior who is at the same time 100% God, with the ability to take on the curse and wrath of God, and 100% man, who can stand in the place of humanity.  Jesus is both of those.

“I came that you may have life,” Jesus says in John 10:10, “and have it to the full.”  Jesus says this certainly referring to the eternal life that He offers.  However, the trajectory of Jesus ministry on earth also included a direct confrontation of sin’s impact in the world, both physically and structurally.  He challenged religious leaders, governments, physical illness, and even death itself, leaving a trail of defeated sin in His wake.  All the while, though, He kept the cross in His view knowing that it was not enough to simply provide physical saving, or spiritual saving, but that both were necessary to bring the true redemption, reconciliation, and restoration that God sought and seeks for each one of us.



Mediator: H.C. Question 15

Heidelberg Catechism Question 15

What kind of mediator and deliverer should we look for then?

Romans 1:3 – regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David,

1 Corinthians 15:21 – For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.

Hebrews 2:17 – For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

Isaiah 53:9 – He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

2 Corinthians 5:21 – God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Hebrews 7:26 – Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.

Isaiah 7:14 – Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Isaiah 9:6 – For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Jeremiah 23:6 – In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety.  This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.

John 1:1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.



Can I Get a Sub? H.C. Question 14

Heidelberg Catechism Question 14

Can another creature—any at all—pay this debt [of sin] for us?

Ezekiel 18:4, 20 – For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die…

The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.

Hebrews 2:14-18 – 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. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Psalm 49:7-9 – No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough— so that they should live on forever and not see decay.

Psalm 130:3 – If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?