Caleb’s Baptism — Heidelberg Catechism Question 9 (b)


Continuing now with the answer to Heidelberg Question #9.

4. Lord’s Day

Question 9. Does not God then do injustice to man, by requiring from him in his law, that which he cannot perform?

Answer: Not at all; (a) for God made man capable of performing it; but man, by the instigation of the devil, (b) and his own wilful disobedience, (c) deprived himself and all his posterity of those divine gifts.

First, since Scripture teaches that God is just (II Thessalonians 1:6) we knew that the Catechizers were not going to answer question #9 in the negative by saying “God is unjust.” Scripture is our touchstone for all truth so that if Scripture says that God is just, we therefore know that whatever God does, is by definition “just.”

Second, the Catechizers, following Scripture, inform us that God is not being unfair or unjust to man by requiring of him what, as fallen, he cannot give. God created man in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:24). God created man upright (Ecclesiastes 7:29). So, God is not responsible to man for man’s sin nature since God made man capable of performing all that God required. The reality that man is not able to meet his responsibility before God is not something that God can be charged with.

Third, note that the Catechism traces the reason for man’s total inability to man himself as through his willful disobedience he partnered with God’s arch enemy against God. Man, moving outside of God’s authoritative Law-Word (Genesis 3:3-4) which defined all reality yielded to the subtilty of Satan’s temptation (II Corinthians 11:3) that man could be his own authoritative law-word, in order to overthrow God in hopes that he might en-god himself in the place of God.

Karl Barth (a well known 20th century theologian) once said that one of the greatest mysteries of all is how someone bent towards God without a sin nature could still sin. How did bad water come from a good well? I can not answer that question precisely (it is a bit of a mystery) though I can say that whatever nature Adam had his nature was one that obviously was “still able to sin.” Clearly Adam, before the Fall, was both able to sin and able to not sin. Before the Fall Adam was judicially innocent before God having committed no sin. Before the Fall Adam was innocent, meaning that he had no guile in him predisposing him to sin. Still, Adam was not confirmed in this state though and so was able to sin and did sin.

Because of the Fall of Adam, men outside of Christ, like Adam when he gave into the instigation of the Devil, are of their Father the Devil (John 8:44). This is because in Adam’s fall we fell all. Adam did not just deprive himself of his divine gifts (a bent towards God, judicially righteous, innocent, favor with God, etc.) but he also deprived all of his posterity of these divine gifts. Whereas before the Fall Adam was able to not sin, now after the Fall, all of Adam’s descendants are not only able to sin but also are unable to not sin. This is the sin nature that results from the fall and this is the sin nature that must be cured before we are once again able to not sin and so choose Christ. Note, that the cure for our inability to not sin must be conferred before we can once again gain a nature that is able to not sin. The implication of this is that man must be regenerated unto faith in Christ.

Here we have being taught again the organic unity of mankind. As Americans we are so prone to think individualistically and atomistically but Scripture teaches that by our first Father sin entered the world and that sin nature, (as well as the guilt of Adam’s sin) was passed on to all of Adam’s descendants (Romans 5:12).

All of this begins to point to why Biblical Christians go on and on about the Sovereignty of God. Man is dead in his trespasses and sins. He is unable to not sin and so increases his debt against God daily. The only hope that dead men walking can have is if the Sovereign God, out of His free favor, sends forth His Spirit to make us alive.

Tomorrow we will move on to question #10.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

2 thoughts on “Caleb’s Baptism — Heidelberg Catechism Question 9 (b)”

  1. So, its not that he wasnt able to sin, its that he had the choice not to sin, and could actually do it. Where as we dont have that ability anymore, correct me if im wrong.

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