Grace Granted and Credited
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 Granted and Credited
Thursday, June 1: 1 John 3:1-3
“What good does it do you to believe all this?” Frankly, it does us a lot of good. What if you had a conversation with a person whose time on earth is short? What if she informed you she is scared to die? What if you learned her life had been painfully dehumanized by her family? What if she told that she isn’t worth much, and then assumes the same is true spiritually? So, she is scared to die. Life has told her that if she’s not good enough for her parents then she is also not good enough for God. She’s scared to hear it from Him, too. All of us should seriously reflect on this question. Would you rather have your life depleted by the voices of an empty past or your life enriched by The Voice of tireless grace? Too many people have been stripped of their God-created dignity by cruel parents, rule-based churches, and other traumatic life experiences. They are people of faith, but their past tirelessly mocks their hunger for assurance. So, let’s listen to The Voice of tireless grace: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are” (1 John 3:1)! That’s what the Catechism means when it professes that “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.” It wants us to see ourselves as God see us – perfect, beautiful and lovable in Jesus Christ. We do not have to be victims of our past, slaves to voices of evil, or tortured souls uncertain of life after death. We are free to claim our secure identity in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul helps us understand the significance of this teaching for life. He affirmed that he did not care what anyone thought of him or what he thought of himself. He understood the injustice of people and the deception of self-perception. Instead, he places himself before the Judge, Jesus Christ, whose judgment is always more gracious than any human kindness (1 Corinthians 4:3-4). Do you know that kindness of God? Do you believe that He has granted and credited to you “the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ?” And do you know that He sees you as perfect in Christ? I hope you will take time to listen to The Voice that matters – The Voice of tireless grace!
Pastor Calvin Hoogendoorn