HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, LORD’S DAY 23
What good does it do you, however, to believe all this?
In Christ I am right with God and heir to life everlasting.
How are you right with God?
Only by true faith in Jesus Christ. Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments and of never having kept any of them, and even though I am still inclined toward all evil, nevertheless, without my deserving it at all, out of sheer grace, God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me. All I need to do is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart.
Why do you say that by faith alone you are right with God?
It is not because of any value my faith has that God is pleased with me. Only Christ’s satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness make me right with God. And I can receive this righteousness and make it mine in no other way than by faith alone.
Sunday, May 28: Hebrews 1:1-4
“What good does it do you to believe all this?” I hope you appreciate the straightforwardness of that question. It highlights the Catechism’s emphasis on God’s tireless grace: “In Christ I am right with God.” Both the question and the answer bring us back to the essentials of Biblical faith. First, Christianity is a about a Person, Jesus Christ. He is the full-revelation of the Father’s redemptive will, the fulfillment of all His promises, and the only salvation hope for the nations (Hebrews 1:1-4). Second, Christianity is about people. The greatest hunger of humanity is to know and be reconciled to God (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and, therefore, its greatest need is the atoning sacrifice of Jesus for the forgiveness of sin (Acts 4:12, Romans 5:6-11, 2 Corinthians 5:21). Finally, Christianity is personal. It invites everyone to say: “My Jesus is everything – the foundation of my faith, the expression of my life, and the joy of my hope” (Romans 1:16-17). So, the Catechism places emphasis on God’s tireless grace: “In Christ I am right with God.” In fact, the Catechism itself is tireless in presenting this good news because it knows how tired and weary and burdened we become. We are tired of people’s fabricated spiritual expectations, weary of trying to be good enough for God, and burdened by the feeling that we may not be loved by God. The writer of Hebrews draws us back to the well of God’s grace: “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away” (Hebrews 2:1). Lord’s Day 23 invites us to cling to God’s gospel of tireless grace. Since the Father has saved you in Christ, you can stop trying to save yourself. Since He has forgiven you in Christ, you can stop trying to prove yourself. I hope you can freely and joyfully say: “In Christ I am right with God.”
Pastor Calvin Hoogendoorn