HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, LORD’S DAY 5
According to God’s righteous judgment we deserve punishment both in this world and forever after: how then can we escape this punishment and return to God’s favor?
God requires that his justice be satisfied. Therefore the claims of his justice must be paid in full, either by ourselves or another.
Can we pay this debt ourselves?
Certainly not. Actually, we increase our guilt every day.
Can another creature – any at all – pay this debt for us?
No. To begin with, God will not punish another creature for what a human is guilty of. Besides, no mere creature can bear the weight of God’s eternal anger against sin and release others from it.
What kind of mediator and deliverer should we look for then?
One who is truly human and truly righteous, yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is also true God.
Saturday, February 4: Psalm 103
The Heidelberg, like the Scripture from which it is birthed, is uncompromising in its relentless pursuit of bringing the good news of God’s unmerited grace into our lives. It assumes there is no other god who even remotely compares to the Triune God. It also assumes there is no other faith system as gracious as that in which the greatest delight is Jesus Christ Himself. My faith conversations, therefore, will often include some pointed questions. Can you show me any other god who comes to make His dwelling with children, women and men? Can you show me another savior who freely restores life through His own death? Can you show me another faith that receives good works as an expression of grateful love? Can you show me any other religion that assures us that the future is eternally bright? The answer, of course is, “no.” First, there is only one true and triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit as revealed in the Bible. Second, as far as I know, in every other faith system salvation and acceptance require unending human achievement. Third, as far as I know, in every other faith system, even after climbing the ladders of good works, there is no guarantee of a hopeful future. Only Biblical Christianity offers free grace in Jesus Christ. It alone announces the Mediator who became sin to set us free from sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), who was cursed to set us free from the curse (Galatians 3:13) and who was shamed to set us free from shame (Matthew 27:27-31, Hebrews 2:11 & 12:2). I hope you are ready to abandon your efforts to be good enough for God. Better yet, I hope you are ready to embrace Him alone as your true comfort and joy: “That I am not my own, but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.”
Pastor Calvin Hoogendoorn