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No Other Word (Commandment #2)

HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, LORD’S DAY 35

What is God’s will for us in the second commandment?

That we in no way make any image of God nor worship him in any other way than he has commanded in his Word.

May we then not make any image at all?

God cannot and may not be visibly portrayed in any way. Although creatures may be portrayed, yet God forbids making or having such images if one’s intention is to worship them or to serve God through them.

But may not images be permitted in the churches as teaching aids for the unlearned?

No, we shouldn’t try to be wiser than God. He wants his people instructed by the living preaching of his Word – not by idols that cannot even talk.

 

DEVOTIONAL: AUGUST 13-19

No Other Word (Commandment #2)

Christians are Word-centered people. That’s why the Heidelberg Catechism states the essential meaning of the second commandment is this: “We shouldn’t try to be wiser than God. He wants his people instructed by the living preaching of his Word.” In fact, that’s the teaching of the Bible itself. “Teach me, O Lord,” says David, “and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:11). The truth for which David hungers is the Word: “You word, O Lord is eternal” (Psalm 119:89), and “is a lamp to my feet and light for my path (119:105). Therefore, Paul reminds the Church that “all Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). I think you get the point. Genuine Christians are people who, according to the Belgic Confession, “receive all these books and these only as holy and canonical for the regulating, founding, and establishing of our faith” (Article 5). The Word-centered life is the truly Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered, and holy life. Yet, not all people are content to receive the Bible alone as sufficient for faith and life (Article 7). Some would rather trust human traditions, while others have an insatiable need for additional visions or revelations. Both, however, are a poor, if not sinful, replacement of the sufficiency and clarity of God’s objective Word. The exercise of a God-centered life is clearly taught in His Word. It sufficiently teaches the boundaries of holy and obedient authority, security, purity, dignity and justice. Pastoral observation has shown that to root faith and life in established human tradition or perceived visions and revelations is fool’s gold. It may seem wise and spiritual at the time, but will ultimately distort the truth and the character of how we live. Do you desire to please the Lord? Then listen to, learn from, and live the Word. It alone is the Holy Spirit’s voice to translate our faith into the faith and ethical discernment that brings glory to God and hope to the world.

Pastor Calvin Hoogendoorn

 

PERSONAL REFLECTION

Sunday, August 13

The Catechism states that Christians are to worship the Lord, but not “in any other way than he has commanded in his Word.” Read John 4:23-24. Prayerfully reflect on how both your personal worship and participation in corporate worship honors Jesus’ call to “worship in spirit and in truth” (v.24).

Monday, August 14

The Catechism states that Christians are not to “make any image of God…if one’s intention is to worship them or to serve God through them.” Read Isaiah 40:18-25, Acts 4:8-12 and Romans 12:1-2. Prayerfully reflect on God’s call to relinquish our idols, to know Him alone as the source of life, and to serve Him each day. How does your Sunday worship lead you to a life of daily holy obedience?

Tuesday, August 15

The Catechism teaches that God knows what we need better than we know what we need: “We shouldn’t try to be wiser than God.” To live with and for Him, “He wants his people instructed by the living preaching of his Word.” Read Psalm 119:105. What does it mean that God’s Word is “a lamp?” Take time to prayerfully identify how you career, moral or faith path is directed by the Word of God.

Wednesday, August 16

The Catechism teaches that God knows what we need better than we know what we need: “We shouldn’t try to be wiser than God.” To live with and for Him, “He wants his people instructed by the living preaching of his Word.” Read Isaiah 55:1-13. What does it mean that God’s Word is like “rain and snow” that makes things “bud and flourish” (vv.10-13)? Take time to prayerfully identify the fruit of God’s nourishing Word in your life.

Thursday, August 17

The Catechism teaches that God knows what we need better than we know what we need: “We shouldn’t try to be wiser than God.” To live with and for Him, “He wants his people instructed by the living preaching of his Word.” Read Ephesians 6:17. What does it mean that God’s Word is the “sword of the Spirit?” Take time to prayerfully identify where the Spirit has brought victory over sin and evil in your life, and those areas where the Word needs to bring new or renewed transformation.

Friday, August 18

The Catechism teaches that God knows what we need better than we know what we need: “We shouldn’t try to be wiser than God.” To live with and for Him, “He wants his people instructed by the living preaching of his Word.” Read Hebrews 4:12-13. God’s Word is likened to a surgeon’s scalpel, a “double edged sword.” Take time to prayerfully identify where the Lord has done or must do His surgery in your life in order to give you healing and hope.

Saturday, August 19

The Catechism teaches that God knows what we need better than we know what we need: “We shouldn’t try to be wiser than God.” To live with and for Him, “He wants his people instructed by the living preaching of his Word.” Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Paul describes the Word as the Spirit’s CPR to revive and refresh our lives. Take time to prayerfully identify the obstacles that deplete you and bring despair into your life, and how the Lord has revived and refreshed you through His Word.