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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Begotten: H.C. Question 33

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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.



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!



Ephesians 1:3-2:10 "Membership or Belonging"



Galatians 4 – Know or Known?

Read Galatians 4

Though it may seem like his attention has shifted, Paul continues here to lay out the foundation of what it means to be in Christ by grace through faith rather than through works.  He uses the themes of slavery and adoption to illustrate this.  Where slaves do their master’s bidding, working at whatever they are told to earn their place, through Christ, we are set free from that.  No longer do we need to work to earn favor with God or our place in His Kingdom.

The same is true with adoption.  A child that is orphaned has no family, no inheritance, no future (or so it was at that time).  Orphans would often become slaves or worse.  Paul casts us as orphans until God, in Christ, adopts us into His own family by His grace.  When this happens, we are made heirs of God’s Kingdom and God calls us His child.

God calls us His child

Paul has spent a considerable amount of time talking about the role of faith in this argument.  Faith is crucial to salvation because it is through faith that we receive the gift of God.  It is important that we not confuse what Paul is saying here though because faith itself can be a “work” of our own.

Biblical theology points to faith as a work of the Holy Spirit inside of us, another act of grace by God.  We, in turn, come to a point of acceptance, claiming that faith as our own.  This is when, using Paul’s language, that we “know” God, or at least begin to know Him.

However, Paul makes a distinction here that is important.  He says that we are “known” by God.  He has been at work in our lives since the very beginning bringing us to the point of faith and salvation.  God knows us more deeply and more fully than we even know ourselves.  When we come to the point of salvation and know God, we enter into a family of believers where our “abba Father” knows each one of us and loves us unconditionally and eternally.