Benefits Package: H.C. Question 43

What further benefit do we receive from Christ’s sacrifice and death on the cross?

Romans 6:5-14 – For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master,because you are not under the law, but under grace.

Colossians 2:11-12 – In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

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.

Ephesians 5:1-2 – Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

The Miserable Problem: H.C. Lord's Day 2

Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 2

Q3. How do you come to know your misery?
A3. The law of God tells me.

Q4. What does God’s law require of us?
A4. Christ teaches us this in summary in Matthew 22:37-40:

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’1 This is the greatest and first commandment.

“And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Q5. Can you live up to all this perfectly?
A5. No. I have a natural tendency to hate God and my neighbor.

The Heidelberg Catechism is broken in a number of different ways.  It is broken up into 52 weekly sections, meant for preaching and teaching in the church.  It is also broken into three sub-sections dealing with salvation and the Christian life.  These sections are often referred to as “Guilt, Grace, Gratitude.”  This week we’ve begun the guilt section.  If the first week was comforting to you, it may seem like this week is exactly the opposite.

Why the focus on sin?  Because sin is, unfortunately, a very real part of our existence as humans.  We are steeped in sin.  You cannot go very far in Scripture without seeing the marks of sin in the world and in human life.  Simply put, we cannot truly know the comfort that is attested to in the first week without recognizing the discomfort of sin here and now.

Yet far too often this had digressed into a lot of doom and gloom, hellfire and damnation language.  This is not necessarily healthy either.  It might be easy to think here that, because the Heidelberger starts off with discussions on sin it is a document that is going to focus on it and, as such, is not worth reading.  Please, let me encourage you not to think in this way.  The Catechism is meant to be a teaching tool and a comfort to all who read it, not an instrument of condemnation.  Of the three sub-sections, this is by far the shortest, and that is intentional.

The brevity of the section on sin is not to discount the importance of this topic, neither is it meant to be an amplification of sin.  As author Kevin DeYoung says in his book The Good News We Almost Forgot,

[The authors] realized that true, lasting consolation con only come to those who know of their need to be consoled.  The first thing we need in order to experience the comfort of the gospel is to be made uncomfortable with our sin.  The comfort of the Gospel doesn’t skirt around the issue of sin, or ignore it like positive thinking preachers and self-help gurus.  It looks at sin square in the eye, acknowledges it, and deals with it.  While many people will tell us to stop focusing on sin and to lighten up because we aren’t “bad” people, the Catechism tells us just the opposite.  In order to have comfort, we must first see our sin-induced misery.

We see this through the Law.  Scripture itself says that the Law is good which means the problem cannot be with the law, it must be with us.  If we’re honest with ourselves, we know this to be true.  The problem is us, our sin… our rebellion… or naturally tendency to “hate” God.

The solution, however, is not more law.  The solution is not more rules… it is not to try harder.  Christianity is not a set of moral codes that we are called to obey.  In fact, when we act in this way, preach moralism, or any such way of thinking, we are effectively denying the power of the cross of Christ.  The solution, friends, is Jesus, in the grace that we are shown by God through His death on the cross and the good news of the Gospel that we don’t have to try (and ultimately fail) to earn our own salvation… that is where our comfort comes from, our salvation comes from, and our hope in the midst of this misery that we find ourselves in.  Again, Christianity doesn’t begin with a big “DO,” it begins with an eternal “DONE!”  Praise God!