As we consider the HC we need to remember that it was written with the purpose of clearly delineating the Reformed faith vis-a-vis other expressions of Christianity that were present during this time. As such, the HC will often use questions and answers in order to make clear distinctions between Reformed doctrine and the doctrine of the Roman Catholics, or the doctrine of the Lutherans, or the doctrine of the Anabaptists. There are in the HC questions matters that really are serving as apologetics against wrong thinking of these other expressions of Christianity. Question 30 is just such a question. This question and answer is pointed at the doctrine of medieval Roman Catholicism with its theology that makes Jesus half a Savior. Today HC #30 is a landmine that cuts all Arminian theology in half as well.
Question 30: Do such then believe in Jesus the only Savior, who seek their salvation and welfare of saints, of themselves, or anywhere else?
Of course, in the context of Roman Catholicism this question is seeking to draw a bright red line between the Reformers understanding of who Jesus is and the Roman Catholic understanding of who Jesus is. Both have the name of Jesus on their lips but the respective Jesus’ they speak of share the same name but are different persons.
The Jesus of Rome is not the only Savior, but is a Jesus who requires aid and assistance in the matter of getting a man saved. The Jesus of Rome needs the aid and assistance of departed saints, human agency doing work of penance or enduring purgatory. Similarly, the Jesus of the Arminians needs the aid and assistance of adding their acquiescence as the work that makes the work of the atonement work. Similarly, the Jesus of the Baptists demonstrates that he is a different Jesus than the Jesus of the paedo-Reformed when the Baptist turns Baptism into being about the work of our promises to God as opposed to being about God’s work in making promises to us.
The same could be said of any Christianity that posits that Jesus provided a hypothetical universal atonement for all. In such an atonement the people who hold to that are seeking their salvation in themselves as the HC warns against since they must add something of their own to make the atonement effective.
The HC provides their answer;
Answer: They do not; for though they boast of Him in words, yet in deeds they deny Jesus the only deliverer and Savior;3 for one of these two things must be true, that either Jesus is not a complete Savior or that they, who by a true faith receive this Savior, must find all things in Him necessary to their salvation.4
In the answer we see the warfare of the HC against contradiction. On one hand the catechizers understand that there are those who boast of Jesus being the alone Savior but who on the other hand contradict that boast by acting in such a way, via their deeds, to deny what they say with their lips. This reminds us of the old maxim regarding politicians; “Never listen to what they say, only watch what they do.”
Here the HC follows the clear teaching of Scripture;
31 Cor. 1:13, 31, Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
Gal. 5:4, Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
The centrality of Christ in doing all the saving without any contribution on fallen man’s part is the central plank of the Christian faith. Take that plank away and all that is left, though going by the name of Christianity, is just another form of auto-soterism (self-salvation) — another form of cheap and unseemly humanism. This was and is the danger of Federal Vision (the denial of HC q. 30 in Reformed quarters) when it was closely examined.
In the tail end of the answer to HC 30 we find a restatement of all that has been said as tracing out the logical consequence in what has already been stated.
for one of these two things must be true, that either Jesus is not a complete Savior or that they, who by a true faith receive this Savior, must find all things in Him necessary to their salvation.4
Because Jesus the Christ is the alone savior the Biblical Christian is set free from all mechanisms and habits that might be thought to be aids in achieving an otherwise uncertain salvation that could not be gained apart from said mechanisms and habits.
4Col. 2:20, Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances?
This idea of Jesus alone as our Savior reminds us once again of the reality that God is satisfied with Christ alone as a payment for sin. It is folly for us to try and pacify God in any way except by appealing to the name of Christ. This is what makes Christianity … Christianity – this simple fact that the just anger of God against us has been forever quenched in the propitiatory death of Jesus the Christ. This is why Jesus is the alone Savior of God’s people.
Col. 1:19–20, For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.