Images: H.C. Question 97

May we then not make any image at all?

Exodus 34:13-17 – Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

“Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.

“Do not make any idols.

2 Kings 18:4-5 – He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.)

Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.



Different than the Mass? H.C. Question 80

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

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

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

Hebrews 9:12 – He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

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

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

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

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

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

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

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

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

Hebrews 1:3 – The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

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

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

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

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

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



God's Not Dead! H.C. Lord's Day 17

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 17

How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?
First, by His resurrection He has overcome death, so that He might make us share in the righteousness He won for us by His death.  Second, by His power we too are already now resurrected to new life.  Third, Christ’s resurrection is a guarantee of our glorious resurrection.

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”  1 Corinthians 15:17. These are strong words from the Apostle Paul regarding the resurrection of Jesus from the dead; the event we celebrate on Easter Sunday.

Often, in church, we talk about how Jesus died for our sins on the cross.  Far too often, that’s all the further that the mention of His work goes for us.  Jesus’ death is a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.  Certainly, this is true and I wouldn’t want to discount this event or the suffering that Christ endured for us in the least.  As we discussed last week, the events of the last 24 hours of Jesus’ life cannot be overstated.

However, Jesus’ death doesn’t amount to much without His resurrection from the death.  The Resurrection is the most important event in history.  Without it, Jesus’ death does not accomplish the forgiveness of sins, His sacrifice is not sufficient, and His work is incomplete.  Without the resurrection, our death is still the ultimate end for us, even if the punishment for our sins had been taken by Him.

Paul goes on to say that if Christ is not raised, not only is the Christian faith futile, those that teach it are liars and are to be pitied.  What a bold and honest statement from the most influential Christian in all human history.

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the death…” 1 Corinthians 15:20. This is the foundation of the hope that we have!  Jesus’ death paid for our sins; His resurrection conquers the ultimate punishment for our sins.  By His resurrection, we are assured that He is the all-sufficient sacrifice, that His work is complete, and that the wrath of God has been satisfied.  We know this because the consequences of sin have been removed.

C.S. Lewis, in his book “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” captures this so clearly in the conversation Aslan has with Lucy and Susan after coming back from the dead:

“…though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know.  Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time.  But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and darkness before Time dawned, she would have read a different incantation.  She would have known that when a willing victim who has committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.”

Yes, an innocent victim taking the place of a traitor, though the Resurrection is no magic… it is the sheer power of God on display in Christ Jesus.  It is the ultimate will of God being played out before the eyes of the entire cosmos and impacting the entire universe.  There is no place or time in which the Resurrection’s significance does not touch and is not felt.  All of this was decreed before the foundations of the earth when only the Triune God existed, and all of it was done for us.  Thanks be to God!!



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.



Buried: H.C. Question 41

Why was he “buried”?

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.

John 19:38-42 – Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Acts 13:29 – When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 – For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,



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.



Lordship: H.C. Question 34

Why do you call [Jesus] “our Lord”?

1 Peter 1:18-19 – For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

Colossians 1:13-14 – For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Hebrews 2:14-15 – 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.

1 Corinthians 6:20 – you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Timothy 2:5-6 – For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.



"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;



Hebrews 10 – Once for All

Read Hebrews 10

As the author has been working to draw forward many of the themes of the Old Testament, he or she has also been showing how Jesus Christ fulfills many of those things in His life, death, and resurrection.  He perfectly and eternally fills the Old Testament offices of Prophet, Priest, and King.  The Law is also fulfilled through Him.  Jesus is the realization of God’s redemptive plan, worked out over a couple thousand years!

One of the reasons and ways that Christ fulfills all of these things is that He is the perfect sacrifice to end all sacrifices.  The “Once for All” nature of Jesus’ work on the cross is an important theological point that cannot readily be overlooked.  Old Testament sacrifices were continuous because the blood of animals and the sacrificial system were, as the author states, “only a shadow of good things that are coming…”  They were never meant to be an end unto themselves.

Jesus Christ was that end, the great sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.  He was the perfect “Passover lamb,” the perfect “atonement offering.”  After Him, no other sacrifices were required.

While this is an important theological point made in Scripture, it is emphasized in Reformed Theology because of its intentional distancing for Roman Catholic tenants.  For Catholics, every time Mass was celebrated, Jesus Christ was said to be “re-crucified” or “re-sacrificed.”  For reasons made clear in Hebrews 10, a constant “re-sacrifice” is not at all necessary or theologically correct.

With all of this said, the Author moves on to talk about the application of this truth in the life of faith.  Jesus has opened the way for us to draw near to God once again.  Jesus was the “curtain,” that which separated the people from God in the Temple.  When Jesus died, the curtain was torn, a moment signifying that the barrier had been broken and our relationship with God can be restored.



Hebrews 9 – Outward and Inward

Read Hebrews 9

Continuing on the theme of Christ’s fulfillment of the Old Testament and the Old Covenant, the writer of Hebrews now speaks specifically about the work of Christ as it relates to worship and the sacrificial system at the temple.  In the Old Testament, the sacrificial system was part of the cleansing rituals that took place so that people could come before God in worship.

In the Old Testament, the sacrificial system was part of the cleansing rituals that took place so that people could come before God in worship.  This applied, in a very particular way, to the position of the high priest on the day of atonement, when he would enter the Holy of Holies to make restitution of the people’s sins in the very presence of God.  The high priest used the blood of animals, sacrificed in the appropriate way, both for himself and for the people.  All of this, however, was just a matter of outward cleansing.

The true cleansing that takes place is one of inward cleansing.  Hebrews’ author points out that the sacrifice of animals is not able to clear the conscience of the worshipper; it was a matter of outward cleansing that points to a deeper cleansing that would happen through the blood of Jesus.

Throughout the Old Testament, there is a continual pointing forward to a future time when God would do something “new.”  He calls a people, they will eventually be a blessing to the whole world.  He gives the Law, but a time will come when it won’t just be an external thing but it would be written on the hearts of people.  He talks of sacrifices and offerings, but the true sacrifice God desires is an inward one.  He provides prophets, priests, and kings, all of which are shadows of what is to come.

All of this finds its fulfillment and deep meaning in Jesus Christ who, as the only way to the Father, provides a path from outward action to inward transformation, from outward washing to inward cleansing through His blood and God’s grace.