Gratitude and Renewal
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 Renewal
Monday, July 10: Colossians 3:15-17
The Catechism is graciously relentless in its teaching that good works are the fruit of salvation. It begins with the reaffirmation that “Christ has redeemed us by his blood.” This is the language of identity. Christians always begin life with this central affirmation: “I am a child of the living God by grace alone” (2 Corinthians 5:16-21, 1 John 3:1-3). Therefore, the Catechism teaches that “we do good because Christ by His Spirit is also renewing us to be like himself.” This is the language of character. Christians, because of their identity in Christ, gratefully begin to reflect His character: “I am to learn to live who I am in Jesus Christ” (Romans 12:1-2, Ephesians 4-5, Colossians 3:1-17). Numerous Reformed commentators have stated the teaching this way: “We cannot have Jesus as our Savior if we refuse to honor Him as our Lord.” Our identity is that we are fully redeemed by our Savior, and our character is to reflect that we are being daily purified to imitate our Lord. Allow me one critical observation and ask one pressing question. First, the critical observation: The emphasis in gratitude remains on God’s sovereign grace at work in our lives. Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of sin. His Spirit now delivers us from the power of sin. Our good works of gratitude neither contribute to salvation nor secure God’s favor. Our gratitude is always gratitude for grace. Now, the pressing question: Is your heart open to the pre-eminence of Christ and the renewing work of the Spirit in the exercise of your faith, love and hope? I believe both the observation and the question highlight the relevance of the Catechism for today. It frees us from the narcissism of America’s therapeutic culture. It gives Biblical substance to the familiar, yet all important words: “It’s not about you.” It is about Christ! He is the driving vision and passion of the Christian – the truly human – life.
Pastor Calvin Hoogendoorn