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Gratitude and Mission

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 Mission

Saturday, July 15: 1 Peter 2:4-12

The Catechism teaches that “we do good…so that our neighbors may be won over to Christ.” The teaching is delightfully Biblical. We do not engage in good works for our own sake. In fact, Christians should be motivated to do good works because of their Christ-centered evangelistic potential. We allow the light of the gospel to shine through our good works so that others will praise the Lord (Matthew 5:16). I sometimes fear that we place too much emphasis on service for the sake of service. We do not serve, however, just because there is something good to be done. We live in light of and serve because of the evangelistic mission of God. With the Catechism, we should lament “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.” The unique mission of the Church is the proclamation of the Word that leads to discipleship that in turn leads to the service that seeks to invite others to the daily praise of His name. The Christian Church – in both her words and her deeds – is to point beyond herself to Christ. That’s why I cringe when I hear a mega-Church pastor announce that a little competition between Churches is good for marketing one’s brand. Those words betray an understanding not only of the Church’s mission but also of whom should receive praise. The Catechism wisely teaches us to keep the main thing the main thing. The focus of our work is Christ and the purpose of our work is His mission! What do we want our good works to reveal – brilliant marketing that exalts a pastor or a gospel grace the invites everyone into a living relationship with Jesus? I hope we will all find delight in living the vision of Peter: “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that…they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:11-12).

Pastor Calvin Hoogendoorn