Archive for the ‘Heidelberg Catechism’ Category

3.Q. From where do you know your sins and misery?

A. From the law of God.[1]

[1] Rom. 3: 20

For a scholarly treatment of the various uses of the law in reformed theology, please see Joel Beeke’s wonderful treatment in this article:

The Heidelberg is here mentioning the “Evangelical” use of the law. Martin Luther called this use of the law as a “beating stick”. It batters you and beats you to the point of despair, where assurance can only come from God’s grace. After being beaten to Christ, the law then becomes a “walking stick” guiding us in sanctification.

Here are some basic summaries of the 3 uses of the law for the Christian from Beeke’s article:

The Civil Use of the Law: The first use of the law is its function in public life as a guide to the civil magistrate in the prosecution of his task as the minister of God in things pertaining to the state. The magistrate is required to reward good and punish evil (Rom. 13:3-4). Nothing could be more essential to this work than a reliable standard of right and wrong, good and evil. No better standard can be found than the law of God.”

“The Evangelical Use of the Law: Wielded by the Spirit of God, the moral law also serves a critical function in the experience of conversion. It disciplines, educates, convicts, curses. The law not only exposes our sinfulness; it also condemns us, pronounces a curse upon us, declares us liable to the wrath of God and the torments of hell. “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal. 3:10). The law is a hard taskmaster; it knows no mercy. It terrifies us, strips us of all our righteousness, and drives us to the end of the law, Christ Jesus, who is our only acceptable righteousness with God. “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24). Not that the law itself can lead us to a saving knowledge of God in Christ. Rather, the Holy Spirit uses the law as a mirror to show us our impotence and our guilt, to shut us up to hope in mercy alone, and to induce repentance, creating and sustaining the sense of spiritual need out of which faith in Christ is born.”

“The Didactic Use of the Law: The third or didactic use of the law addresses the daily life of the Christian. In the words of the Heidelberg Catechism, the law instructs the believer how to express gratitude to God for deliverance from all his sin and misery”

2. Q. What do you need to know in order to live and die in the joy of this comfort?

A. First, how great my sins and misery are;[1] second, how I am delivered from all my sins and misery;[2] third, how I am to be thankful to God for such deliverance.[3]

[1] Rom. 3:9, 10; I John 1:10. [2] John 17:3; Acts 4:12; 10:43. [3] Matt. 5:16; Rom. 6:13; Eph. 5:8-10; I Pet. 2:9, 10.

Essentially, it is the Gospel, pure and simple, that is necessary for the believer’s hope in this life and the next. Implied in this faith, as mentioned in being “thankful”, is the path of sanctification. Sanctification is the outworking of our salvation in this life. While thankfulness is very much part of the motives in sanctification, I think that there is much more that fuels a holy desire. John Piper, in his book “Future Grace” , expands on the doctrine of sanctification and our motives in it.  Here is an excerpt,

What is future grace? It is all that God promises to be for us from this second on. Saving faith means being confident and satisfied in this ever-arriving future grace. This is why saving faith is also sanctifying faith. The power of sin’s promise is broken by the power of a superior satisfaction; namely, faith in future grace. Gratitude for past grace was never meant to empower future obedience. Tomorrow’s crisis demands tomorrow’s grace. And faith that future grace will be there is the victory that overcomes the world.”

1. Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?

A. That I am not my own,[1] but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death,[2] to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.[3] He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil.[5] He also preserves me in such a way[6] that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head;[7] indeed, all things must work together for my salvation.[8] Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life[9] and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.[10]

[1] I Cor. 6:19, 20 [2] Rom. 14:7-9. [3] I Cor. 3:23; Tit. 2:14. [4] I Pet. 1:18, 19; I John 1:7; 2:2. [5] John 8:34-36; Heb. 2:14, 15; I John 3:8. [6] John 6:39, 40; 10:27-30; II Thess. 3:3; I Pet. 1:5. [7] Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 21:16-18. [8] Rom. 8:28. [9] Rom. 8:15, 16; II Cor. 1:21, 22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13, 14. [10] Rom. 8:14.

WOW!!! That’s all I can say to the truth of this answer. I am in the unshakable, all-powerful, loving hands of my Father and nothing in this world will extinguish His perfect will for my life!!!