Gratitude and Assurance
HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, LORD’S DAY 32
We have been delivered from our misery by God’s grace alone through Christ and not because we have earned it: why then must we still do good?
To be sure, Christ has redeemed us by his blood. But we do good because Christ by his Spirit is also renewing us to be like himself, so that in all our living we may show that we are thankful to God for all he has done for us, and so that he may be praised through us. And we do good so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits, and so that by our godly living our neighbors may be won over to Christ.
Can those be saved who do not turn to God from their ungrateful and impenitent ways?
By no means. Scripture tells us that no unchaste person, no idolater, adulterer, thief, no covetous person, no drunkard, slanderer, robber, or the like is going to inherit the kingdom of God.
Gratitude and Assurance
Friday, July 14: Philippians 3:12-14, 4:8-9
The Catechism teaches that “we do good so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits.” The Bible teaches that a tree is known by its fruit (Matthew 7:12-20). It also teaches that genuine faith blossoms with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24). Still, we must graciously and carefully nuance our understanding of this teaching. First, faith is rooted in the Word that points to the work of Christ. The Catechism is not teaching that we place our faith in the exercise of our faith. When we do, we devalue the gospel by setting ourselves up as the righteous standard by which others are to measure themselves. The truth is that growth in grace helps us descend into the humility that anchors us in the work of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:9, Ephesians 3:8, 1 Timothy 1:15). Second, the Catechism is teaching us that faith without works is dead (James 2:17), that Christians are to “leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity” (Hebrews 6:1; cf. 5:11-6:3). These words underscore the essential point of the Catechism. Assurance of salvation grows as we intentionally seek to wisely live out our salvation. Finally, assurance is a gift bestowed on us by the Holy Spirit, a gift experienced through human voices of encouragement. Perhaps you, too, may have noticed that even the most self-assured people live with the deep insecurity that their life has been a failure. We should not trust ourselves. But we are free to embrace as a gift from the Spirit the words of grace from others. So, the Catechism teaches that “we do good so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits.” Ultimately, let’s anticipate the day when we will all hear that longed-for voice of our Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).
Pastor Calvin Hoogendoorn