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HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, LORD’S DAYS 52 (QA 128)

HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, LORD’S DAYS 52 (QA 128)

What does your conclusion to this prayer mean?

For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever means,

We have made all these requests of you because, as our all-powerful king, you not only want to, but are able to give us all that is good; and because your holy name, and not we ourselves, should receive all the praise, forever.

DEVOTIONAL: DECEMBER 10-16

The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer praises God for who He is and for the good blessings that flow from Him to His children and His world. He is King and He alone is worthy of praise.

The Catechism assumes that God is all powerful. He is, after all, God. His power, however, is not the primary focus of its teaching. The Catechism is most impressed with the gracious way He exercises power and authority for the good of His children. Perhaps you recall the teaching of Lord’s Day 9. While God is able to provide what we need for body and soul, and is able to turn to our good whatever adversity we face in this sad world, our greater joy is to know that this is God’s desire: “He is able to do this because he is almighty God; he desires to do this because he is a faithful Father” (Lord’s Day 9). Lord’s Day 52 teaches the same truth. He is a good King and He alone is worthy of all praise.

Let’s briefly explore this.

The Catechism teaches that the Lord is “our all-powerful king.” Biblical examples abound that reveal this truth. We however, will focus on just one: His gift of joy and fullness out of the pain of barrenness. Typically, old ladies and virgins do not give birth to children. Until, of course, you understand that God is all-powerful. “Worn out” Sarah gave birth to Isaac (Genesis 17:15-22, 18:1-15, 21:1-7) and a “sterile” woman gave birth to Samson (Judges 13:1-25). Hannah, whose womb had been “closed,” gave birth to Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1-20) and Elizabeth, who was “barren” and “well along in years,” gave birth to John (Luke 1:5-23, 57-66). Each miraculous birth signaled a new era in the progress of God’s powerful work of rescuing His people and restoring His creation. Most dramatic and important, however, is the birth of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah of the Old Testament who came to infuse joy and fullness in the midst of the pain of sin’s barrenness. Here is what Mary, a young virgin, heard: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35; cf. 1:26-28, 2:1-7). Jesus is the full and clear revelation of the Father’s good will (Hebrews 1:1-3). He cast out demons (Luke 4:31-37), healed the sick (Luke 4:38-44), and defeated Satan (Hebrews 2:14-15). Therefore, Paul with joy proclaimed His supremacy in the Church and the world (Colossians 1:15-20). In Biblical Christianity, therefore, the question is not whether Christ is all-powerful. The real question is whether His power and purpose to rescue and restore children, women and men into the fullness of life, is realized in you and me. God is our all-powerful King who exercises His power for human good (Romans 8:28-30) and is alone worthy of all praise.

The Catechism also `teaches that the Lord, “as our all-powerful king,” desires to give us His good gifts: “you not only want to, but are able to give us all that is good.” Jesus Himself affirms this truth: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him” (7:11). We know that He has. He has given us food to eat, clothes to wear, and a place to sleep – sometimes through charity and sometimes through employment. Better yet, He has given us His Son, Jesus, to save us from our sin (Matthew 1:21; cf. 1:18-25). Jesus has disarmed sin’s power (Romans 5:12-21), removed its curse (Galatians 3:13), set us free from guilt (Hebrews 10:19-22), and has taken away the fear of condemnation (Romans 8:1-4, 1 John 4:16b-18). Perhaps the greatest summary of God’s good gifts is that Jesus is not ashamed to call us His brothers and sisters. We are members of His family (Hebrews 2:10-11). This is an incredible statement in a world where hostility abounds – where people routinely and publicly shame others for their bodies, political views, faith commitments and the color of their skin. St. Augustine, then, clearly identifies our need: “My heart remains restless within me until I rest in Thee, O my God.” Jesus was sent into the world. He has revived shriveled hearts and restored estranged lives. Advent itself is the invitation to embrace the fullness of true life, hope and peace. God is a Good King. He has given us His peace through His Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6).

Finally, the Catechism teaches that God alone “should receive all the praise, forever.” Let’s ask some questions. Is there any other God who comes to take up residence on earth? Is there any other God who freely forgives and does not hold our sins against us? Is there any other God who invites us to holiness that arises out of gratitude, not fear? Is there any other God who guarantees a joyful inheritance of restored human life on a vibrant peaceful earth? The answer is a resounding, NO. Only the Triune God revealed in the Bible is so gracious and generous. In every other religion, a person must climb their way to “god,” earn forgiveness, do good works to secure divine favor, and live with an uncertain future.  There is only one God who is filled with grace and truth, who brings life, hope and peace, and who is worthy of all praise and glory. It is the Father who sent His Son by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer is not just an affirmation of information that garners some sort of intellectual assent. It is a profession of faith – a living commitment to the display of His glory in Christ through the Church for the sake of the world. With Paul we, too, are to declare with joy, in word and deed, the supremacy of Christ: “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by and for him…and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 3:16-17). The Church has been chosen “for the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:12; cf. 3:7-11). The Lord’s Prayer, therefore, is a rejection of the me-centered western version of “Christianity.” And for good reason. When we become chaplains of the consumer-driven and comfort-driven “Church” culture, we will inevitably cease to be followers of Christ. Pray the Lord’s Prayer. Be delivered from the prison of self-centered religion into the gracious freedom of a Christ-absorbed life – to deny yourself, take up His cross, and follow Him (Matthew 16:24-26).

For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever! He is a good King and is alone worthy of all praise!

Pastor Calvin Hoogendoorn