Grace-Filled Eternal Life
HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, LORD’S DAY 23
What good does it do you, however, to believe all this?
In Christ I am right with God and heir to life everlasting.
How are you right with God?
Only by true faith in Jesus Christ. Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments and of never having kept any of them, and even though I am still inclined toward all evil, nevertheless, without my deserving it at all, out of sheer grace, God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me. All I need to do is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart.
Why do you say that by faith alone you are right with God?
It is not because of any value my faith has that God is pleased with me. Only Christ’s satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness make me right with God. And I can receive this righteousness and make it mine in no other way than by faith alone.
Grace-Filled Eternal Life
Monday, May 29: 1 Peter 1:1-9
“What good does it do you to believe all this?” The Catechism teaches that God tireless grace gives Christians assurance of eternal life: “In Christ I am right with God and heir to life everlasting.” Think of this in the context of our smart-phone era. Snapchat allows users to share short-lived words or images that disappear in seconds. Some argue that Snapchat is a meaningless, idle and unaccountable form of self-expression. It is also true that generations of people have similarly engaged in meaningless, idle and unaccountable self-expression in coffee shops, on golf courses, and around dinner tables. But now in our digitally directed age there is “an app for that.” I will let more capable minds address the ethical challenges of social media, yet I do wonder what impact our phone-driven distractions have on our sense of permanence. On the surface our culture seems strangely content with a short-lived, disappearing life. Church membership is a thing of the past, marriages end in “no fault” divorce, and fads dissolve commitments. Underneath, however, deep in our hearts, we feel the sting. Customer “loyalty programs” speak to our hunger for acceptance and permanence. The Catechism’s emphasis on God’s tireless grace that reaches all the way into eternity is precisely the message of permanence we need. The good news is that in our world of fleeting, short-lived and disappearing words, God’s Word endures forever (1 Peter 1:22-25). It is also good news that in our world of all things temporary and conditional, God’s enduring Word invites us to embrace He who is eternal: “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:3-5). So, cling to God’s tireless and permanent grace, and let it carry you all the way to His gift of life everlasting!
Pastor Calvin Hoogendoorn