Caleb’s Baptist — Question 2a

Caleb,

The Second question and answer of the first Lord’s day gives us the structural outline of the Catechism. The Catechism is divided according to the three part answer of question #2. Part #1 of the Catechism deals with how great our sins and miseries are. Part #2 of the Catechism (the longest part) deals with how we are delivered from all our sins and miseries. Part #3 of the Catechism deals with our response of gratitude to God for our deliverance. The Catechism is then sub-divided into 52 Lord’s Days. One unit for each week of the year. This structuring was often used in order to teach a congregation one Lord’s Day unit per week thus covering the Catechism in one year.

There is a certain logic to be found in this subdivision. A man will not see the need for salvation until he first sees his sin. Once man sees his sin, salvation is what he will pine for and once he begins to comprehend how great a salvation he has been freely given the natural response is to show gratitude to the one who has done all the saving.

Keep in mind that the Catechism was intended to be a kind of basic Christianity. It was hoped that all God’s people would be familiar with the basic truths brought out in the Catechism. Many people want to jump to graduate school Christianity without getting the basics down that are found in the Catechism. This is a dangerous road to take, if only because the basics are instrumental when seeking to understand matters loftier. If we don’t have the basics under our belt loftier matters might possibly throw us for a loop.

The second question asks,

How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou, enjoying this comfort, mayest live and die happily?

First note how practical the Catechism is. It desires for people to live happily. It believes it is giving a way for people to die happily. The truths in the catechism are expected to have an impact in the way that we think, the way that we live, and the way that we die.

Second, not the premise of the second question. The premise is that Christianity is primarily the life of the mind. Question #2 asks, how many things are necessary for thee to know. With this question the Catechism tells us that unless we rationally understand certain truths we will not be able to enjoy the comfort that Christianity affords. Christianity is a life long pursuit of thinking God’s thoughts after Him. This is not a insignificant point as many versions of Christianity today denigrate the life of the mind in favor of emotion, or encounter or experience. Now, it may be the case that Christianity should well include emotion, encounter, and experience but these are the consequence of knowing God, not the basis of knowing God. I harp on this because much if not most of Christianity is based on the search for a meaningful experience with God, or a encounter with God, or some emotional high from God. The Catechism is not primarily concerned with these matters. The Catechism, following Scripture is concerned with you knowing God, and your undoubted Catholic Christian faith.

Jeremiah 9:23 Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; 24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.

John 17:3 (Jesus speaking) This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

The shift from the insistence on “Knowing God,” to a insistence on “Experiencing God” can be seen in the Christian publishing world. In 1973 a book was published entitled “Knowing God.” It was considered a instant classic. Another book title from that era that was also was quite good was “Knowledge of the Holy.” However another publishing wave hit in 1990 and a book entitled, “Experiencing God,” became all the rage. The two titles of those two books tell a loud story about how the Church and Christians think about God. You should also know that theology of encounter with God is also a big emphasis in certain quarters. I tell you these things so that you might understand different flavors of Christianity as you come across them. Biblical Christianity wants you to know God. Now certainly proper emotions will follow (the emotion of misery when sin is known, the emotion of relief upon knowing that we’ve bee rescued, the emotion of gratitude as a knowing response to our rescue, the emotion of joy knowing that we are safe in Christ, the emotion of love in knowing that God loves us, etc.) but emotions, experience, or encounter are only the residue of knowing God and your undoubted Catholic Christian faith.

Tomorrow we will look at the answer to question #2.

Caleb’s Baptism (1c)

Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer

That I with body and soul, both in life and death, (a) am not my own, (b) but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; (c) who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, (d) and delivered me from all the power of the devil; (e) and so preserves me (f) that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; (g) yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, (h) and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, (i) and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him. (j)

Caleb,

In the previous post we began to look at the consequences (privileges) that accrue to us because we are owned by God. We left off with the idea that when God owns someone He never un-owns. God never loses what He has claimed as His own.

John 6:39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

As we continue to consider the consequences and privileges of being owned by God as ratified by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to pay for ours we see not only are we delivered from the power of the devil, and not only are we preserved to the end of our days in God’s keep, but we also see that God’s providence (His governance over all that happens in life) directs our steps and accounts for our paths taken. God’s providential care (His governing oversight) includes minutia such as your hair count.

Matt.10:30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered

Of course God’s providential care (governing oversight) is over all His creation. The Sparrow does not fall apart from God’s Providence. The Lily’s grow according to God’s providence.

However, for those who belong to Him His care and oversight is the care and oversight of a Benevolent Father, while His providential care and oversight for those not claimed by Him is that of a condemning Judge. Some vessels have been made for wrath.

Next the Catechism teaches that God has a purpose in all of His providential oversight (governing care) over His people. We are to embrace the fact that whatever comes into our lives as God’s people is something ordained by our governing God for the furtherance of His intent to keep us owned in His salvation. This informs us that all that comes into our lives in the course of our everyday living is something sent by God to further the course of His and our salvation.

As being owned by God because He has benevolently provided for us Christ as our legal representation, we can now know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Two more privileges come to us as a result of being friends with God because of the spilled blood of Christ.

First, we are told that God sends His Holy Spirit to work in us an assurance that, because we are owned by Christ, we have eternal life now. There was a time in history when Christians found it hard to accept the fact that they were owned by Christ. They struggled with the reality of their sinfulness to the point they found it hard to believe that they had eternal life. Christians typically don’t struggle with this so much in the 21st century since we are more inclined to believe in a God who owes us forgiveness then believing in a God who is severe against our sinfulness. However, there are still those who find it hard to believe that they really have eternal life and so one of the benefits of being owned by Christ is that we are given His Holy Spirit as one who guarantees the eternal life we have now and the eternal life that is to come.

Eph.1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Rom.8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God

The final benefit (consequence / privilege) mentioned in being owned by God, atoned for by Christ, and sealed permanently unto God by the Holy Spirit (notice the Trinitarian character of the first question) is that we live in terms of His authority and of who He is. Because we are owned by God the inevitable consequence is that we will live in light of His light, we will, in a ever increasing epistemologically self conscious fashion, live and move and have our being in Him, and we will live in terms of His law and testimonies. God has not redeemed us so that we might live in defiance of His character but He has redeemed us for particular works that God has prepared from eternity past for us (Ephesians 2:10).

Rom.8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

In order to simplify as much as possible,

I. ) Where do we find Comfort (Strength)?

A.) In the fact that we are not our own
B.) In the fact that we are owned by God in our complete totality

II.) How is it that we are owned by God?

A.) Because Jesus Christ spilled His blood
B.) Such a substitutionary death satisfies the Father’s just wrath against sin

III.) What are the consequences of being owned by God?

A.) The Devil has no hold upon me
B.) I am preserved to the very end by God who loves me and call me the apple of His eye.
C.) God’s providential (governing) care as a Father orders all my life
D.) All things that come into my life are serving the purpose of seeing me kept by God
E.) I am granted assurance that I really do have eternal life
F.) I am equipped so that my ongoing life story is a telling of the Greatness of my Lord Christ

Allow me to close that the consequences (benefits / privileges) of being owned by Christ should yield to us great confidence. What have we to fear? If all this is true that we have looked at, if it really is the case that God is for us, who can be against us? If all this is true why would you or I ever fear anyone or anything but God?

Tomorrow, we will look at Question #2

Caleb’s Baptism — Question 1 (b)

Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer

That I with body and soul, both in life and death, (a) am not my own, (b) but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; (c) who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, (d) and delivered me from all the power of the devil; (e) and so preserves me (f) that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; (g) yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, (h) and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, (i) and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him. (j)

Caleb,

In the previous post we looked at the idea that we gain comfort (Lit. with strength) in the truth that we are not our own, but in the totality of our being and in the full circumference of our life, we belong to Jesus Christ who is the sovereign King over all reality.

In your Baptism, God brands you as one whom He owns. Because we bear that mark of Baptism we can, in times of trials and discouragements, remember our Baptism as a means of bringing back to our consciousness that are owned by Christ. More about Baptism in later posts.

In this post we want to concentrate on how it is we are owned. The catechism will go into this in great depth in later questions and answers. Remember with these first two questions what we have is a introduction. As such we will not go into more depth later.

We are owned, the Catechism teaches (as it is faithful to Scripture) because our faithful Savior bore the penalty that was rightfully mine. Jesus Christ satisfied for my sins.

1.) Satisfaction for human sin was needed in order to quench the just wrath of God against sin and sinners. Without one who stood in our place as a substitute satisfaction for human sin and sinners those who were sinners must themselves satisfy the wrath of God against sin. God required such satisfaction against sin because He promised that the soul that sinneth shall surely die. If God were to not visit satisfaction upon sin God would be found to be a liar.

2.) The satisfaction for sin was in the spilled blood of Christ. His spilled blood was the satisfaction that God required to quench His wrath. Scripture teaches, “without the shedding of blood there is no remission (forgiving) of sin.”

3.) Our sins have been fully satisfied for. This means that there is no longer any sin — past, present, or future, that God will condemn me for in terms of eternal punishment.

Tit.2:14 “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

1 Pet.1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 1 Pet.1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Now the consequence of this satisfying of God’s wrath is that you are delivered from all the power of the devil. Notice the movement here. He have gone from being under the authority (power) of the devil to being owned by God. Every person you meet Caleb, is either owned by God or is under the power of the devil. For Christians, the devil is a paper tiger. He has no authority over us. We need not fear his braying or his blowhard character.

Heb.2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

1 John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

Another consequence is that the Christian is preserved by God.

John 6:39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

We can have strength, in part, because we have security in knowing that God will never leave us nor forsake us. We live and move in terms of a confidence that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

So, In order to simplify as much as possible,

I. ) Where do we find Comfort (Strength)?

A.) In the fact that we are not our own
B.) In the fact that we are owned by God in our complete totality

II.) How is it that we are owned by God?

A.) Because Jesus Christ spilled His blood
B.) Such a substitutionary death satisfies the Father’s just wrath against sin

III.) What are the consequences of being owned by God?

A.) The Devil has no hold upon me
B.) I am preserved to the very end by God who loves me and call me the apple of His eye.

We will pick up more of the consequences of being owned by God in the next post.

Caleb’s Baptism — Question #1

Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

The first two questions in the Heidelberg Catechism which we are looking at serve as a kind of Introduction to the Catechism as a whole.

Note in the first question the practicality of the Catechism. The very first question is interested in the person studying the Catechism knowing that the material they are about to study and digest has the purpose of giving them “comfort.” Now the idea of comfort when the Catechism was written was not what we associate with comfort today. It was not the notion of stretching out on a sofa relaxing. The word “Comfort,” comes from the Latin. Con is Latin for “with”; fortis for “strength.” When the Catechism asks “What is your only comfort in life and death,” it is asking where is it that you can find strength.

The answer to that question is of incredible importance. Every person living wants to know where they can find strength when hardships come their way, when persecutions come their way, when courage is needed, when disappointments visit them, when life happens, when death looms. When these realities visit our lives where are we to find comfort (with strength)?

The answer that they give is that,

That I with body and soul, both in life and death, (a) am not my own, (b) but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; (c) who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, (d) and delivered me from all the power of the devil; (e) and so preserves me (f) that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; (g) yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, (h) and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, (i) and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him. (j)

We will take a few entries to break their answer down.

That I with body and soul, both in life and death, (a) am not my own, (b) but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ…

The reason that we can gain strength in not being our own is found in the reality that in being owned by another, (Jesus Christ) ultimately He who I am owned by has taken responsibility for me. Now, the one who owns me, and who has taken responsibility for me is the Sovereign King of the Whole universe of whom it is said (Ephesians 1:20f) that, He is seated at the right hand of God and He towers over all rule, authority, power, dominion and every opposition that can be imagined. The Sovereign King, who holds all things in subjection is the one who I am owned by and who has taken responsibility for me as my owner.

Can you understand why that truth believed would give someone strength?

Finally, for this post, notice the totality of ownership that the Lord Christ has claimed over His people. In your whole existence (body and soul, life and death) you are owned by the Lord Christ. This means that there is no area where Christ does not have a claim on you, and as such there is no area where we can not find strength in the fact that we are owned by Christ.

The Scriptures that support the idea that we are owned by Christ are below.

(a) Rom.14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. Rom.14:8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.

(b) 1 Cor.6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?