Heidelberg Catechism

 Journey to Detroit and #GA221 via Heidelberg

Beginning Sunday, June 16, 2013 (Father’s Day) for 52 weekends leading up to the convening of the 221st General Assembly on June 14, 2014, join me here as we reflect together on the Heidelberg Catechism and comb the riches of our Reformed Christian faith.

REFERENCES FOR THIS JOURNEY

The Holy Bible: New American Standard Bible and New Revised Standard Version

Craig Barnes, Body and Soul: Reclaiming the Heidelberg Catechism. Grand Rapids, MI and Louisville, KY: Faith Alive Resources and Congregational Ministries Publishing, 2012

Lyle Bierma, An Introduction to the Heidelberg Catechism: Sources, History, and Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005

Idem., The Theology of the Heidelberg Catechism: A Reformation Synthesis. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013. (I’m grateful to Lyle for providing advanced copies of chapters 2-5 in the meantime as the expected release date is August)

Eberhard Busch, Drawn to Freedom: Christian Faith Today in Conversation with the Heidelberg Catechism. Translated by William H. Rader. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2010.

Caspar Olevianus, A Firm Foundation: An Aid to Interpreting the Heidelberg Catechism. Translated and edited by Lyle Bierma. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1995.

Zacharius Ursinus, The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism. Translated by G.W. Williard. 1852. Reprint, Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co, 1985.

Lord's Day 1 (Q/A 1 and 2): THE HEART OF THE MATTER

1     Q.   What is your only comfort in life and in death?

A.  That I am not my own,^1 but belong— body and soul, in life and in death—^2 to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.^3 He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,^4 and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.^5 He also watches over me in such a way^6 that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven;^7 in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.^8 Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life^9 and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.^10

^1 1 Cor. 6:19 ^2 Rom. 14:8 ^3 1 Cor. 3:23 ^4 1 Pet. 1:18; 1 John 1:7; 2:2 ^5 1 John 3:8 ^6 John 6:39 ^7 Matt. 10:30;Luke 21:18 ^8 Rom. 8:28 ^9 2 Cor. 1:22;5:5; Eph. 1:14;Rom. 8:16 ^10 Rom. 8:14 2     Q.   What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort?

A.    Three things:^1 first, how great my sin and misery are;^2 second, how I am set free from all my sins and misery;^3 third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.^4

^1 Luke 24:47;1 Cor. 6:11;Tit. 3:3 ^2 John 9:41; John 15:[6-]7 ^3 John 17:3 ^4 Eph. 5:10

"The Heart of the Matter"

There’s a popular theory that in times of wild economic consumption zombie movies and television shows make a comeback and in times of economic desperation vampires are the preferred genres. In both cases, there’s a numbing effect on the soul, a bloodletting and a blood-thirsting, the sucking away of life and vitality. I’ve gotten into the AMC hit series, The Walking Dead, featuring a global apocalypse pitting viral-infected humans turn zombies and a community of survivors. One thing zombies don’t have are hearts.

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Lord’s Day 2 (Q/A 3-5): MIRROR, MIRROR

3     Q.   How do you come to know your misery?        A.    The law of God tells me.^1 ^1 Rom. 3:20 4     Q.   What does God’s law require of us?

A.    Christ teaches us this in summary in Matthew 22:37-40: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. “And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

5     Q.   Can you live up to all this perfectly?

A.    No.^1 I have a natural tendency to hate God and my neighbor.^2

^1 Rom. 3:10; 3:23; 1 John 1:8 ^2 Rom. 8:7; Eph. 2:3

"Mirror, Mirror"

In the 140,000 miles I’ve traveled thus far as General Assembly moderator, I carry in my briefcase a framed drawing that my eldest son gave to me one Father’s Day depicting he and I holding each other’s hands. Within this frame, I placed photos of both of my sons, and four trading cards they gave to me from their prized Pokemon card collection. This frame of mementos, together with a card from my wife that remains in my carrying case, accompanies me in hotels, meeting halls, church sanctuaries, assembly meetings, countless airports and rental cars. They speak to me when I can’t FaceTime or Skype with my family; they tether me to home.

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Lord’s Day 3 (Q/A 6-8): OUR COMMON LOT

6  Q. Did God create people so wicked and perverse? A. No.^1 God created them good and in his own image,^2 that is, in true righteousness and holiness, so that they might truly know God their creator, love him with all their heart, and live with God in eternal happiness, to praise and glorify him.^3 ^1 Gen. 1:31 ^2 Gen. 1:26-27 ^3 2 Cor. 3:18; Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24 7 Q. Then where does this corrupt human nature come from? A. The fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise.^1 This fall has so poisoned our nature that we are all conceived and born in a sinful condition.^2 ^1 Gen. 3; Rom. 5:12, 18-19 ^2 Ps. 51:5; Gen. 5:3 8 Q. But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined toward all evil? A. Yes,^1  unless we are born again by the Spirit of God.^2 ^1 John 3:6;Gen. 6:5; Job 14:4;15:16, [35]; Isa. 53:6 ^2 John 3:5

“Our Common Lot”

Last week was busy with laws in legislative halls and the U.S. Supreme Court. Historic immigration reform legislation was being debated in Congress. The Texas State Senate was embroiled in procedural gymnastics (complete with a 13-hour filibuster) that made any parliamentarian heart’s delight as a bill regarding abortion headed for a showdown. The U.S. Supreme Court handed down rulings related to the Voting Rights Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, and the status of same-gender marriage in the state of California.  My Facebook and Twitter feeds were buzzing, several folks describing the week as a “roller-coaster,” no doubt as each of these legislative and judicial moves were celebrated by many and bemoaned by many, depending on one’s perspective.

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Lord’s Day 4 (Q/A 9-11): SERIOUS FREEDOM...SERIOUSLY

9     Q.   But doesn’t God do us an injustice by requiring in his law what we are unable to do? A.    No,^1 God created human beings with the ability to keep the law. They, however, provoked by the devil,^2 in willful disobedience, robbed themselves and all their descendants of these gifts. ^1 Eph. 4:[22-23], 24-25 ^2 Luke 10:30[-37]   10   Q.   Does God permit such disobedience and rebellion to go unpunished? A.     Certainly not.^1 God is terribly angry with the sin we are born with as well as the sins we personally commit. As a just judge, God will punish them both now and in eternity, having declared: “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.”^2 ^1 Rom. 5:12; Heb. 9:27 ^2 Deut. 27:26; Gal. 3:10 11   Q.   But isn’t God also merciful? A.   God is certainly merciful,^1 but also just.^2 God’s justice demands that sin, committed against his supreme majesty, be punished with the supreme penalty— eternal punishment of body and soul. ^1 Exod. 34:6 ^2 Exod. 20:5; Ps. 5:5; 2 Cor. 6:14

  “Serious Freedom…Seriously”

This weekend marks the 237th anniversary of the United States of America’s independence from England. It also marks a momentous and historic occasion for our sisters and brothers in Egypt as millions of them –Muslim, Christian, and secular alike—literally joined hand-in-hand to call for the resignation of an oppressive regime. When a moderatorial delegation I led this past May visited Egypt, we were struck by the determination, courage and confidence of Presbyterian and Coptic Christians who were ready to put their faith into action, recognizing that such efforts might cost them their very lives. Reports that our delegation and our national offices were receiving from partners in the region leading up to the decisive moment last Monday (June 30, 2013) were filled with cautious hopefulness, not knowing what would happen, but a certain appointment with the inevitable. They had reached a point of no return because the heart of the Egyptian people wanted to be free.  The revolution that toppled the Mubarak regime two years ago and which ushered in the Morsy presidency and the Muslim Brotherhood brought with it the hopes and dreams of the Egyptian people – at long last, poverty would be alleviated, the economy would prosper, religious protections would be secured, women and Christian minorities would be given a place in the new governance, all sectors of the nation would be part of shaping the future of their country. The stated promises of the presidency were just that: statements without action. In fact, what we heard again and again from church leaders were stories of repression, oppression, violence, iron-handed governance, a questionable election, and a post-revolution constitution that placed power and control over collaboration and a shared future.

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Lord’s Day 5 (Q/A 12-15): JUSTICE

12   Q.    According to God’s righteous judgment                we deserve punishment                both now and in eternity:                how then can we escape this punishment                and return to God’s favor? A.   God requires that his justice be satisfied.^1 Therefore the claims of this justice must be paid in full, either by ourselves or by another.^2 ^1 Exod. 20:5; 23:7 ^2 Rom. 8:3-4   13   Q.    Can we make this payment ourselves? A.    Certainly not. Actually, we increase our debt every day.^1 ^1 Job 9:3; 15:15; Matt. 6:12   14   Q.    Can another creature—any at all—                 pay this debt for us? A.    No. To begin with, God will not punish any other creature for what a human is guilty of.^1 Furthermore, no mere creature can bear the weight of God’s eternal wrath against sin and deliver others from it.^2 ^1 Heb. 2:14 ^2 Ps. 130:3   15   Q.    What kind of mediator and deliverer                should we look for then? A.   One who is a true^1 and righteous human,^2 yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is also true God.^3 ^1 1 Cor. 15:21 ^2 Jer. 33:15; Isa. 53:9Ps. 53; 2 Cor. 5:21 ^3 Heb. 7:[15-]16; Isa. 7:14; Rom. 8:3;Jer. 23:6

Lord’s Day 5 (Q/A 12-15)

“Justice”

As a parent, watching children grow up and reflecting upon my own growing up years, I’ve become more aware of the delicate balance of parenting that requires gentle discipline, firm instruction with gracious freedom; both sets are needed for healthy upbringing.  I’ve seen examples of children who have grown up in environments of opposite extremes.  An extremely harsh, authoritative parent who casts correction and instruction without affirmation, acceptance and grace results in a fearful child who grows up ashamed, fearful, and, in time, rebellious – when freedom from the harsh parent is found.  The other extreme of an overly permissive parenting – where a child is constantly soothed, affirmed, allowed to be as free as the blowing wind. I’ve seen many children in our neighborhood where these kinds of children have no respect for their parents, grandparents, often shouting at their elders.  In both sets, a rebellious heart results.

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Lord’s Day 6 (Q/A 16-19): GOD'S NEWS: ALWAYS GOOD, FOREVER PERSONAL, ETERNALLY EFFECTIVE

16   Q.   Why must the mediator be a true and righteous human? A.    God’s justice demands that human nature, which has sinned, must pay for sin;^1 but a sinful human could never pay for others.^2 ^1 Rom. 5:12, 15 ^2 1 Pet. 3:18; Isa. 53:3-5,10-11   17   Q.   Why must the mediator also be true God? A.    So that the mediator, by the power of his divinity, might bear the weight of God’s wrath in his humanity^1 and earn for us and restore to us righteousness and life.^2 ^1 Isa. 53:8; Acts 2:24;1 Pet. 3:18 ^2 John 3:16;1 John 1:2, 4:12; Acts 20:18 [28]; John 1[:4,12]   18   Q.   Then who is this mediator— true God and at the same time a true and righteous human? A.    Our Lord Jesus Christ,^1 who was given to us to completely deliver us and make us right with God.^2 ^1 Matt. 1:23; 1 Tim. 3:16;Luke 2:11 ^2 1 Cor. 1:30   19   Q.   How do you come to know this? A.    The holy gospel tells me. God began to reveal the gospel already in Paradise;^ later God proclaimed it by the holy patriarchsand prophets^2 and foreshadowed it by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law;^3 and finally God fulfilled it through his own beloved Son.^4 ^1 Gen. 3:15 ^2 Gen. 22:18; 49:10-11; Rom. 1:2;Heb. 1:1; Acts 3:22-24; 10:43 ^3 John 5:46; Heb. 10:7 [1-10] ^4 Rom. 10:4;Gal. 4:4
 
 

Lord’s Day 6 (Q/A 16-19) “God’s News: Always Good, Forever Personal, Eternally Effective”


A Saturday Night Live! Segment parodied headline news shows where an anchor sits at a desk as various news items flash on every part of the screen: a scrolling marquee at the bottom of TV screens with brief blurb items of world and national disasters, the Dow Jones and NASDAQ totals in the upper-right hand corner, the local time for each time zone imaginable on the lower-right hand corner, the current weather and the weather forecast for the next week in whatever available space there was, with the eyeball of the news anchor somewhere peeking through this inundation of news feeds and information.

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Lord’s Day 7 (Q/A 20-23): DIAGRAMMING SENTENCES: THE GOSPEL AND ITS WITNESS

20   Q.   Are all people then saved through Christ just as they were lost through Adam?

A.    No. Only those are saved who through true faith are grafted into Christ and accept all his benefits.^1

^1 John 1:12; 3:36; Isa. 53:11, Ps. 2:11[-12]; Rom. 11:17, 19; Heb. 4:2; 10:39   21   Q.   What is true faith? A.    True faith is not only a sure knowledge by which I hold as true all that God has revealed to us in Scripture;^1 it is also a wholehearted trust,^2 which the Holy Spirit^3 creates in me by the gospel,^4 that God has freely granted not only to others but to me also, forgiveness of sins, eternal righteousness, and salvation.^5 These are gifts of sheer grace, granted solely by Christ’s merit.^6 ^1 Heb. 11:1, 3;James 2:19 ^2 Rom. 4:16[-25]; James 1:6; Rom. 5:1;Rom. 10[:9-10] ^3 2 Cor. 4[:6, 13];Eph. 2[:8, 18];Matt. 16:17;John 3:[5-]13;Gal. 5:22; Phil. 1:29 ^4 Rom. 1:16;10:17 ^5 Heb. 2[:9-11]; Rom. 1[:16];Heb. 10:38;Hab. 2:4;Matt. 9:2;Eph. 2:7-9;Rom. 5:1 ^6 Eph. 2[:8]; Rom. 3:24-25;Gal. 2:16   22   Q.   What then must a Christian believe?

A.    All that is promised us in the gospel,^1 a summary of which is taught us in the articles of our universal and undisputed Christian faith.

^1 John 20:31; Matt. 28:20
23    Q.    What are these articles?
         A.    I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen

 Lord’s Day 7 (Q/A 20-23)

“Diagramming Sentences: The Gospel and Its Witness”

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Lord’s Day 8 (Q/A 24-25): 1 ACT, 3 SCENES

24   Q.   How are these articles divided?

A.   Into three parts: God the Father and our creation; God the Son and our deliverance; and God the Holy Spirit and our sanctification.

25   Q.   Since there is only one divine being,^1 why do you speak of three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

A.   Because that is how God has revealed himself in his Word:^2 these three distinct persons are one, true, eternal God.

^1 Deut. 6:4 ^2 Isa. 61:1; Ps. 110:1; Matt. 3:16-17; Matt. 28:19; 1 John 5:7[-8]
 

 

Lord’s Day 8 (Q/A 24-25)

“1 Act, 3 Scenes”

Two lessons in marriage, parenting, and the dynamic of presence-absence. Andrew (my youngest son): Mom, can you buy me the new Pokemon cards? Grace (my wife): No, you already have a whole stack that you got on your birthday. (Andrew leaves saddened. Goes to next room where I am working) Andrew: My handsome, cool dad, how are you? Can you buy me the new Pokemon cards?

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Lord's Day 9 (Q/A 26): THE PRODIGAL FATHER

26   Q.   What do you believe when you say, “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth”? A.   That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth and everything in them,^1 who still upholds and rules them by his eternal counsel and providence,^2 is my God and Father because of Christ the Son.^3 I trust God so much that I do not doubt he will provide whatever I need for body and soul,^4 and will turn to my good whatever adversity he sends upon me in this sad world.^5 God is able to do this because he is almighty God^6 and desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.^7 ^1 Gen. 1;Ps. 33:6 ^2 Ps. 104; Ps. 115:3; Matt. 10:29; Heb. 1:3, ^3 John 1:12; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:5-7;Eph. 1:5 ^4 Ps. 55:22; Matt. 6:25-26;Luke 12:22 ^5 Rom. 8:28 ^6 Rom. 10:12 ^7 Matt. 6:32; 7:9
 

  LORD’S DAY 9 (Q/A 26) “The Prodigal Father”

Your dad is not perfect. Neither was mine. Nor am I. Whether you had a deadbeat dad, or the most loving, supportive dad, he, like me, ain’t perfect. Not by any long shot. It took time, emotional and spiritual maturity, my being married with children, and the sheer act of the Holy Spirit to understand my own dad, to accept him for who he is, fully love and appreciate him in my life, and to ask his forgiveness a few years ago for the ways that I disrespected  him growing-up. When I stood as a candidate for General Assembly moderator, I shared with you and the whole Church my genuine desire and sense of call to pray and work for unity in the body, due in large part to the

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Lord’s Day 10 (Q/A 27-28): GOD AT THE ALTAR, ALTERING US

27   Q.   What do you understand                by the providence of God?

A.    The almighty and ever present power of God^1 by which God upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them^2 that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink,^3 health and sickness,^4 prosperity and poverty—^5 all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand.

^1 Acts 17:25[-28] ^2 Heb.

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Lord’s Day 11 (Q/A 29-30): THE AXIS MUNDI

29   Q.    Why is the Son of God called “Jesus,”                 meaning “savior”?

A.    Because he saves us from our sins,^1 and because salvation should not be sought and cannot be found in anyone else.^2

^1 Matt.

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Lord’s Day 12 (Q/A 31-32): ELECTIONS

31   Q.    Why is he called “Christ,”                meaning “anointed”?

A.    Because he has been ordained by God the Father and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit^1 to be our chief prophet and teacher^2 who fully reveals to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our deliverance;^3 our only high priest^4 who has delivered us by the one sacrifice of his body, and who continually pleads our cause with the Father;^5 and our eternal king who governs us by his Word and Spirit, and who guards us and keeps us in the freedom he has won for us.^6

^1 Ps.

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Lord’s Day 13 (Q/A 33-34): BEING A CHILD

33   Q.   Why is he called God’s “only begotten Son” when we also are God’s children?

A.   Because Christ alone is the eternal, natural Son of God.^1 We, however, are adopted children of God— adopted by grace through Christ.^2

^1 John 1:29;Heb.

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Lord's Day 14 (Q/A 35-36): NOT FAD, NOT COOL, BUT TRUE

35   Q.   What does it mean that he “was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary”?

A.    That the eternal Son of God, who is^1and remains true and eternal God,^2 took to himself, through the working of the Holy Spirit,^3 from the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary, a truly human nature^4 so that he might also become David’s true descendant,^5 like his brothers and sisters in every way^6 except for sin.^7

^1 John 1:1;17:5; Rom.

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Lord's Day 15 (Q/A 37-39): ALL AGAINST ONE, ONE FOR ALL

37   Q.   What do you understand by the word “suffered”?

A.    That during his whole life on earth, but especially at the end, Christ sustained in body and soul the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race.^1

This he did in order that, by his suffering as the only atoning sacrifice,^2 he might deliver us, body and soul, from eternal condemnation, and gain for us God’s grace, righteousness, and eternal life.

^1 1 Pet.

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Lord's Day 16 (Q/A 40-44): TO HELL, IN HELL AND BACK

40   Q.   Why did Christ have to suffer death?

A.    Because God’s justice and truth require it: ^1 nothing else could pay for our sins except the death of the Son of God.^2

^1 Gen.

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Lord's Day 17 (Q/A 45): DIVINE INTERVENTION

45   Q.   How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?

A.    First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, so that he might make us share in the righteousness he obtained for us by his death.^1

Second, by his power we too are already raised to a new life.^2

Third, Christ’s resurrection is a sure pledge to us of our blessed resurrection.^3

^1 1 Cor.

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Lord's Day 18 (Q/A 46-49): OUR LIFELINE

46   Q.   What do you mean by saying,                “He ascended to heaven”?

A.    That Christ, while his disciples watched, was taken up from the earth into heaven^1 and remains there on our behalf^2 until he comes again to judge the living and the dead.^3

^1 Acts 1:9; Matt.

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Lord's Day 19 (Q/A 50-52): SUPERLATIVE OF SUPERLATIVES

50   Q.   Why the next words:                “and is seated at the right hand of God”?

A.    Because Christ ascended to heaven to show there that he is head of his church,^1 the one through whom the Father rules all things.^2

^1 Eph.

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Lord's Day 20 (Q/A 53): HING, PIVOT, FULCRUM – ON THE HOLY SPIRIT

53   Q.   What do you believe                concerning “the Holy Spirit”?

A.    First, that the Spirit, with the Father and the Son, is eternal God.^1

Second, that the Spirit is given also to me,^2 so that, through true faith, he makes me share in Christ and all his benefits,^3 comforts me,^4 and will remain with me forever.^5

^1 Gen.

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Lord's Day 21 (Q/A 54-56): A DIVIDED COMMUNITY, A UNITED COMMUNITY

54   Q.   What do you believe                concerning “the holy catholic church”?

A.    I believe that the Son of God^1 through his Spirit and Word,^2 out of the entire human race,^3 from the beginning of the world to its end,^4 gathers, protects, and preserves for himself,^5 a community chosen for eternal life^6 and united in true faith.^7 And of this community I am^8 and always will be^9 a living member.

^1 John 10:11 ^2 Isa.

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Lord's Day 22 (Q/A 57 & 58): IN THE NOW AND WHAT WILL BE

57   Q.   How does “the resurrection of the body                comfort you?

A.    Not only will my soul be taken immediately after this life to Christ its head,^1 but also my very flesh will be raised by the power of Christ, reunited with my soul, and made like Christ’s glorious body.^2

^1Luke 23:43; Phil.

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Lord's Day 23 (Q/A 59-61): TRUE FREEDOM

59   Q.    What good does it do you, however,                 to believe all this?

A.    In Christ I am righteous before God and heir to life everlasting.^1

^1 Hab.

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Lord's Day 24 (Q/A 62-64): THE ANTIDOTE FOR EGO, VITAMIN FOR THE HEART

62   Q.    Why can’t our good works                 be our righteousness before God,                 or at least a part of our righteousness?

A.    Because the righteousness which can pass God’s judgment must be entirely perfect and must in every way measure up to the divine law.^1 But even our best works in this life are imperfect and stained with sin.^2

^1 Gal.

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Lord's Day 25 (Q/A 65-68): PROOFS, PLEDGES, PROMISE: DIVINE-HUMAN ENGAGEMENT

65   Q.    It is through faith alone                 that we share in Christ and all his benefits:                 where then does that faith come from?

A.    The Holy Spirit produces it in our hearts^1 by the preaching of the holy gospel, and confirms it by the use of the holy sacraments.^2

^1 Eph.

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Lord's Day 26 (Q/A 69-71): HOLY MOVEMENT, WHOLLY MOVES

69   Q.    How does baptism                 remind and assure you                 that Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross                 benefits you personally?

A.    In this way: Christ instituted this outward washing and with it promised that, as surely as water washes away the dirt from the body, so certainly his blood and his Spirit wash away my soul’s impurity, that is, all my sins.^1

^1 Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3

70   Q.    What does it mean                 to be washed with Christ’s blood and Spirit?

A.    To be washed with Christ’s blood means that God, by grace, has forgiven our sins because of Christ’s blood poured out for us in his sacrifice on the cross.^1 To be washed with Christ’s Spirit means that the Holy Spirit has renewed and sanctified us to be members of Christ, so that more and more we become dead to sin and live holy and blameless lives.^2

^1 Heb.

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Lord's Day 27 (Q/A 72-74): THE MATTER OF BAPTISM AND WHY IT MATTERS

72   Q.    Does this outward washing with water                 itself wash away sins?

A.    No, ^1 only Jesus Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit| cleanse us from all sins.^2

^1 Matt.

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Lord's Day 28 (Q/A 75-77): THE MATTER OF THE TABLE AND WHY IT MATTERS

75   Q.    How does the holy supper                 remind and assure you                 that you share in                 Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross                 and in all his benefits?

A.    In this way: Christ has commanded me and all believers| to eat this broken bread and to drink this cup in remembrance of him.

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Lord's Day 29 (Q&A 78-79): MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE

78   Q.   Do the bread and wine become the real body and blood of Christ?

A.     No.

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Lord's Day 30 (Q/A 80-82): CATHOLIC

80* Q.   How does the Lord’s Supper                differ from the Roman Catholic Mass?

A.    The Lord’s Supper declares to us that all our sins are completely forgiven through the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which he himself accomplished on the cross once for all.^1 It also declares to us that the Holy Spirit grafts us into Christ,^2 who with his true body is now in heaven at the right hand of the Father^3 where he wants us to worship him.^4

But the Mass teaches that the living and the dead do not have their sins forgiven through the suffering of Christ unless Christ is still offered for them daily by the priests.

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Lord's Day 31 (Q/A 83-85): CLOSE, OPEN, CLOSE, OPEN

83   Q.   What are the keys of the kingdom?

A.    The preaching of the holy gospel and Christian discipline toward repentance.

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Lord's Day 32 (Q/A 86-87): SIGNED, SEALED, AND BEING DELIVERED

86   Q.

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Lord's Day 33 (Q/A 88-91): BEING APPRENTICED

88   Q.    What is involved                 in genuine repentance or conversion?

A.    Two things: the dying-away of the old self,^1 and the rising-to-life of the new.

^1 Rom.

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Lord's Day 34 (Q/A 92-95): WHERE IS YOUR HEART?

92   Q.  What is God’s law?

A.   God spoke all these words:

THE FIRST COMMANDMENT

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.”

THE SECOND COMMANDMENT

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

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Lord's Day 35 (Q/A 96-98): SWEAT EQUITY

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

A.   That we in no way make any image of God^1 nor worship him in any other way than has been commanded in God’s Word.^2

^1 Deut.

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Lord's Day 36 (Q/A 99-100): WHAT'S IN A NAME?

99   Q.   What is the aim of the third commandment?

A.    That we neither blaspheme nor misuse the name of God by cursing, perjury,^1 or unnecessary oaths,^2 nor share in such horrible sins by being silent bystanders.

In summary, we should use the holy name of God only with reverence and awe,^3 so that we may properly confess God,^4 pray to God,^5 and glorify God in all our words and works.^6

^1 Lev.

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Lord's Day 37 (Q/A 101-102): YOU ARE MY WITNESS

101 Q.   But may we swear an oath in God’s name if we do it reverently?

A.    Yes, when the government demands it, or when necessity requires it, in order to maintain and promote truth and trustworthiness for God’s glory and our neighbor’s good.

Such oaths are grounded in God’s Word^1 and were rightly used by the people of God in the Old and New Testaments.^2

^1 Deut.

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Lord's Day 38 (Q/A 103): ALWAYS A PACIFIC GUY

103 Q.   What is God’s will for you in the fourth commandment?

A.    First, that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained,^1 and that, especially on the festive day of rest, I diligently attend the assembly of God’s people^2 to learn what God’s Word teaches,^3 to participate in the sacraments,^4 to pray to God publicly,^5 and to bring Christian offerings for the poor.^6

Second, that every day of my life I rest from my evil ways, let the Lord work in me through his Spirit, and so begin in this life the eternal Sabbath.^7

^1 Titus 1:5; 1 Tim.

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Lord's Day 39 (Q/A 104): SLAVE TO NO ONE, SERVANT OF CHRIST

104 Q.   What is God’s will for you                in the fifth commandment?

A.    That I honor, love, and be loyal to my father and mother and all those in authority over me;^1 that I submit myself with proper obedience to all their good teaching and discipline; and also that I be patient with their failings—^2 for through them God chooses to rule us.^3

^1 Eph.

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Lord's Day 40 (Q/A 105-107): DIGNIFYING DIFFERENCE

105 Q.   What is God’s will for you in the sixth commandment?

A.    I am not to belittle, hate, insult, or kill my neighbor— not by my thoughts, my words, my look or gesture, and certainly not by actual deeds—^1 and I am not to be party to this in others; rather, I am to put away all desire for revenge.^2

I am not to harm or recklessly endanger myself either.

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Lord's Day 41 (Q/A 108-109): BEING SINGLE

108 Q.   What does the seventh commandment teach us?

A.    That God condemns all unchastity,^1 and that therefore we should thoroughly detest it^2 and live decent and chaste lives,^3 within or outside of the holy state of marriage.^4

^1 Lev.

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Lord's Day 42 (Q/A 110-111): STEWARDSHIP OF GENEROSITY

110 Q.   What does God forbid in the eighth commandment?

A.    God forbids not only outright theft^1 and robbery,^2 punishable by law.

But in God’s sight theft also includes all scheming and swindling in order to get our neighbor’s goods for ourselves, whether by force or means that appear legitimate,^3 such as inaccurate measurements of weight,^4 size, or volume;^5 fraudulent merchandising; counterfeit money;^6 excessive interest; or any other means forbidden by God.

In addition God forbids all greed^7 and pointless squandering of his gifts.^8

^1 1 Cor.

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