The Heidelberg catechism having explained the work of God the Father in creation as confessed by the Apostle’s creed now turns to look at the work of God the Son in Redemption. This idea of looking at God the Father in His work of creation, God the Son in His work of Redemption, and God the Spirit in His work of Sanctification is not uncommon in theology. However, we should not absolutize this remembering that the doctrine of perichoresis (also sometimes called circumincession) teaches the “interpenetration” of the three persons of the Trinity, so that the work of any one person of the Trinity is not absolutely isolated to that one person of the Trinity that it is normatively ascribed. There is a relational co-inherence between the members of the Trinity.
For example, when considering the work of the Father in Creation we have Scripture that teaches not only of the Father’s work in Creation but also of the Son’s work in Creation
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;” Hebrews 1:2
“Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made.” John 1:3
“He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him.” John 1:10
And the Scripture attests to the Spirit’s work in Creation;
The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
And by the breath of His mouth all their host. — Psalm 33:6
So, with that brief rabbit trail we turn to the HC and question 29 which begins to speak of the work of the Son in redemption. The HC will spend quite a few questions and answers fleshing out all that the Apostle’s Creed means when it considers the work of the Son in Redemption.
The HC, following the Apostle’s creed starts with the basics;
Question 29: Why is the Son of God called Jesus, that is, a Savior?
Answer: Because He saveth us, and delivereth us from our sins;1 and likewise, because we ought not to seek, neither can find salvation in any other.2
The name Jesus is a name we have met before in Scripture as seen in its Hebrew form, Joshua. Like the Joshua in the OT Jesus leads and delivers His people into the promised land and for that reason, as well as the literal meaning of the name Jesus (Jehovah is Salvation) Jesus is our Savior.
Matt. 1:21, And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.
The HC answers that Jesus saves us and delivers us from our sins. This is so simple and yet so profound at the same time. Simple because the only way that fallen man can be relieved from his sin and guilt is by the salvation that is found alone in Jesus the Christ. Profound because in Jesus being our Savior He alone does all the saving. Should we try to assist in the procuring of this salvation we will only damn ourselves.
Of course, this salvation is man’s chief need. Man has many felt needs that he thinks will satisfy his sin and guilt but man’s real need is Jesus as our alone Savior.
Needless to say, this is all premised on the first section of the HC (Man’s Sin & Misery). If man is not existentially aware of his sin and misery he will never search out a Savior as the answer to a sin and misery he does not recognize. However, countless are the numbers of people through the centuries who have come face to face with their sin and misery and have discovered the glad tidings of the Gospel that Jesus is the one who saves and delivers us from our sins, as well as saving and delivering us from the just wrath of God for those sins.
Our sins scream at us for our falling short of God’s required behavior and constantly accuse us of what we know is true about ourselves and that is that we are at war with God and so with every one else. The HC teaches that Jesus alone is our savior from sin, Satan, self, and God’s wrath to come. This is good news for those conversant with their sin and misery.
Rounding off question 29, the HC makes a pointed comment;
Jesus is called Savior, because we ought not to seek, neither can find salvation in any other.
This pointed comment was necessary to make repeatedly when the catechism was written because the Reformation had moved the needle back to Scripture on this question. Prior to the Reformation, the medieval church had been guilty of introducing all kinds of additional saviors between God and man besides Jesus the Christ as aids to salvation. The HC following Scripture and the Reformation here subtly points to the reality that neither priests, prescribed penance, purgatory, studied attendance to requisite reliquaries, or prayer to Saints, could aid in this matter of salvation. There is no salvation found in any other except Jesus the Christ.
2Acts 4:12, Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
This truth that Jesus the Christ is the alone savior of God’s elect is a truth that is found without doctrinal contradiction only in Reformed churches and not even there in far to many cases. It is not found among the Reformed Baptists with their doctrine of adult Baptism that contravenes this truth. It is not found among the Lutherans with their doctrine that Jesus died for everybody. It is not found among the Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, and the assorted Arminians. If one desires this teaching from the Heidelberg catechism one must attend a paedo-Reformed Church and then earnestly pray that one finds it there.
Salvation can not be found in any other except Jesus the Christ.