The Church of Jesus Christ
HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, LORD’S DAY 21
What do you believe concerning “the holy catholic church”?
I believe that the Son of God through his Spirit and Word, out of the entire human race, from the beginning of the world to its end, gathers, protects, and preserves for himself a community chosen for eternal life and united in true faith. And of this community I am and always will be a living member.
What do you understand by “the communion of saints”?
First, that believers one and all, as members of this community, share in Christ and in all his treasures and gifts. Second, that each member should consider it a duty to use these gifts readily and cheerfully for the service and enrichment of the other members.
What do you believe concerning “the forgiveness of sins”?
I believe that God, because of Christ’s atonement, will never hold against me any of my sins nor my sinful nature which I need to struggle against all my life. Rather, in his grace God grants me the righteousness of Christ to free me forever from judgment.
The Church of Jesus Christ
Sunday, May 14: Acts 2:1-47
The Catechism give us a grace-filled vision of the Church. Let’s capture it by answering three questions. First, who built and is building the Church? The answer is that the Father through the Son of God is building His Church (Ephesians 2:1-22, Colossians 1:15-20). Second, how is He building the Church? The answer is that He is building His Church through His Spirit and Word (Acts 2:1-47). Third, what is the Church? The answer is those chosen by God. Each question and answer reveals that the Church is a community saved and sustained by grace alone: “I believe that the Son of God, through his Spirit and Word, out of the entire human race, from the beginning of the world to its end, gathers, protects, and preserves for himself a community chosen for eternal life and united in true faith.” We often speak of this Church as both an organism and an organization. As an organism, the focus is placed on people who are born again into a living hope, and who encourage and serve one another in love (1 Corinthians 12:1-27, Ephesians 2:11-22). As an organization, the focus is placed on an institution with a location, leaders, and programs that equip the congregation in gospel truth, service and witness (Ephesians 4:7-16, 1 Timothy 3:15). Both are important expressions of the Church, but primary emphasis should be placed on the organism. The Church exists to tell and embody the grace-filled story of the Person who died and rose to save. The organization’s buildings, rituals, policies and programs are only valuable if they serve to cultivate that kind of Christ-focused faith, love and hope within the organism (1 Corinthians 13:13; cf. Chapters 12-14). Who knows? If we fix our eyes on the Person (Hebrews 12:1-3) and encourage one another to live as His people (Hebrews 10:19-25), perhaps others will also turn in repentance and faith to Jesus Christ (Acts 2:37-41).
Pastor Calvin Hoogendoorn