HC #30 — Jesus As Savior Means Satisfaction With Jesus As Savior

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.

HC #29 … Jesus the Christ As The Alone Savior

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, 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.

Gen. 1:2

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.

HC Q. 28 — The Personal Advantage Of Embracing God’s Exhaustive Providence

As we take up the Heidelberg Catechism again we bump into this delightful habit that the catechism has throughout of pausing to make sure that the catechumen understands the impact of the doctrine they are being taught. The catechizers want the catechumens to know the application of the doctrines that they are being taught in terms of the impact of the doctrine upon the lives of those being taught.

Too often, systematic theology can be taught as an abstraction. However, the HC desires that our systematic theology, which includes, of course, the truth that God as Creator, in His providence, is the sustainer (preserver/upholder) and governor of all things. This is also a truth that provides advantage/comfort to God’s people.

Question 28: What advantage is it to us to know that God has created, and by His providence doth still uphold all things?

Clearly, the implication here is that those who do not believe in God’s providence, do not have the advantage of all that is involved in the answer. People who do not embrace God’s providence are bereft of the comfort we find in the answer.

Answer: That we may be patient in adversity;8 thankful in prosperity;9 and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father,10 that nothing shall separate us from His love;11 since all creatures are so in His hand, that without His will they cannot so much as move.12

If we break this down in the form of an outline we get;

I.) The Advantages from affirming God’s Providence

A.) Patience in Adversity
B.) Thankfulness in prosperity
C.) Firm Trust in the character of God our Father that He loves us whatever befalls us

That adversity comes from God is a point that the HC labors to demonstrate again as it already has established from the previous question and answer of HC 27. The Psalmists ask,

Ps. 39:10, Remove Thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of Thine hand.

The HC teaches that because of the reality of God’s providence that when adversity (persecutions, hardship, trials, sorrows) does come upon us we can learn to be patient. Of course, patience is a virtue that characterizes Christians (Galatians 5:22) and as such we should rejoice when God’s providence works to the end of folding this attribute into the Christian’s life. As such, God’s providence is a means by which God works this particular fruit of the Spirit into our lives.

Secondly, on this score, we that adversity in our lives is an opportunity to thank God that He continues to sanctify us as His children. The deepest desire of every Christian is to be conformed to Christ and adversity is one means by which God conforms us to His Son. The joy in being conformed to Christ in adversity is one reason we can be “thankful in adversity.”

Samuel Rutherford understood somewhat of this point. A point that is made in Roman 5:3

 Rom. 5:3, And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.

“O what I owe to the file, hammer, and furnace! Why should I be surprised at the plow that makes such deep furrows in my soul? Whatever direction the wind blows, it will blow us to the Lord….Whether God comes with a rod or a crown, He comes with Himself. “Have courage, I am your salvation!” Welcome, welcome Jesus!”

Oh, what owe I to the file, to the hammer, to the furnace of my Lord Jesus! who has now let me see how good the wheat of Christ is, that goes through His mill, and His oven, to be made bread for His own table. Grace tried is better than grace, and it is more than grace; it is glory in its infancy.


Samuel Rutherford

Maybe someday yet, I will have Father Rutherford’s maturity on this score.The second advantage in believing God’s Providence is that we can be thankful in prosperity. Oddly enough, it can be as difficult at times to be thankful in prosperity as it is to be patient in adversity. When things are good there is the temptation to forget that it is God’s providence that is the reason for whatever prosperity we are knowing and experiencing. Instead the HC teaches us that we are to be thankful to God who is the ground of our prosperity,

9Deut. 8:10, When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which He hath given thee.

1 Thes. 5:18, In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

There is nothing as unbecoming and inconsistent as a non-thankful Christian. Indeed, any Christian who is characterized by a niggardly, unthankful spirit is in danger of coming under God’s fatherly discipline.

God grant us grace to be genuinely thankful.

By learning God’s providence God’s people also have the decided advantage of knowing that the sovereign God of the universe loves them for the sake of Jesus Christ and that no matter what befalls us (comes into our lives).

Rom. 5:3–6, And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

The intent of this teaching of the HC I think is to anchor us in the reality that God is never absent from His people come what may and that because God is never absent from them, and because God loves them for the sake of Christ, they can be confident that even in the hottest fire God’s love remains steady and fixed upon them.

11Rom. 8:38–39, For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It is more easy to affirm these truths when not in the cannibals pot of persecution but will we be able to be steadfast in affirming God’s love for us even when circumstances, read apart from God’s revelation, scream to the contrary? Are we ready to affirm God’s love when cancer strikes? When loved ones die?  When civilization begins to dissipate while we are watching? When the New World Order looks like it is going to run the table? In times of adversity will we be able to continue to affirm both God’s providence and God’s deep and abiding love for us because of the finished work of Jesus Christ for God’s elect. Let us pray even now for the grace to stand if and when those days of travail visit us. Let us pray that we might remember our catechism as it faithfully exegetes Scripture if and when Job like days of trouble arrive.

12Job 1:12, And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.

Job 2:6, And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.

(Note in the two Job passage’s above that Satan is merely God’s attack dog on a long chain.)

Matt. 8:31, So the devils besought Him, saying, If Thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.

Isa. 10:15, Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.

In the end, this affirmation of God’s providence is naught but the old stout Reformed doctrine of God’s exhaustive and totalistic sovereignty.  This sovereignty taught in the Bible is not embraced by Rome, it is not embraced by the Arminians, it is not embraced by the Lutherans and alas, it is not embraced by many Reformed people today who, when this doctrine is taught, start screaming things like “hyper-Calvinism.”

However, this Heidelberg Calvinism, which exalted God’s sovereignty at every turn is what is taught everywhere in the pages of Holy Writ and people eschew God’s Providence at their soul’s own peril.

HC Q. 27 — God’s Providence; The Belief That Makes Men, Men

As we return to the Heidelberg Catechism in Lord’s Day 10 we are taking up the the meaning of the Apostles Creed when it says, “I believe in the God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth.” In systematic theology when God the Father’s work as Creator is examined what is included also is God’s work as Sustainer (Preserver) and Governor. God as Father is Creator, Sustainer, and Governor of all things. When we consider God as Sustainer and Governor we often speak of God’s Providence.  The Heidelberg takes question and answer 27 to explain simply the meaning of God’s Providence.

Before getting into the question itself we should notice that the HC’s bold affirmation of God’s Providence removes all Deistic conceptions of the God of the Bible where God creates the world but then wanders off uninvolved with His world allowing it to run on its own mechanism and power. The character of God that the HC teaches is one where God, the Father continues to be intimately involved in His creation. In the words of Francis Schaeffer, “God is there and He is not silent.”

We see this in Lord’s Day 10 as it discusses the meaning of the Apostle Creed’s phrase, “I believe in God the Father, Creator of Heaven & Earth.”

Question 27 picks up the them begun in the previous Question & Answer.

Question 27: What dost thou mean by the providence of God?

With this question we learn, as mentioned earlier, that underneath the category of God as Creator, is the sub-category of God’s Providential control of all reality, from the blowing of a gentle breeze across a picturesque meadow, to the movement of great armies across vast plains. The totality of that control is seen in the answer provided by the Catechizers;

Answer: The almighty and everywhere present power of God;1 whereby, as it were by His hand, He upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures;2 so that herbs and grass, rain and drought,3 fruitful and barren years, meat and drink,4 health and sickness,5 riches and poverty,6 yea, and all things come, not by chance, but by His fatherly hand.7

Note here, following Scripture, that the Reformed faith embraces the nearness of God

“Am I a God near at hand,” says the Lord,

“And not a God afar off?
24 Can anyone hide himself in secret places,
So I shall not see him?” says the Lord;
“Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord. — Jeremiah 23

Following Scripture, the HC affirms both the transcendence of God as well as the immanence of God. Because of God’s providence there is no where that we can escape the almighty and everywhere present power of God. God is closer to us than our next breath.

St. Paul likewise affirms this every present power of God;

Acts 17:25–28, Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though He needed any thing, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring.

The totality of God’s providence is exhaustive. This confidence in God’s providence goes a long way toward explaining the absolute fearlessness in the Reformed throughout the centuries. People who believe that God controls all are a people who have no fear and so are a people who will wage all on doing the right thing before God’s eyes. People who believe in God’s exhaustive providence don’t consider what other people might be able to do to them. Those who believe in God’s providence are a dangerous people.

Note, the phrase in the answer to question 27, “He upholds and governs.” Therein is contained the idea of God as sustainer of all and God as governor of all. Not only did God create all, but He is the one who sustains (preserves/upholds) all so that all continues. God is the reason why life continues. It may be that some might account that there is a self-subsisting power in our life and being, yet life is of such a nature to make it clear that any putative self-subsisting power is contingent upon many factors. Clearly, were we not upheld and nursed by the power of God’s providence any self-subsisting power would be extinguished immediately and to dust we would soon return. Surely, it is in Him we live and move and have our being.

And that upholding and governing of God that is the Creator God’s providence is applicable to  “heaven, earth, and all creatures.”

Heb. 1:3, Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Nothing is outside the providence of God. Indeed, outside the providence of God — outside the sustaining and governing power of the God of the Bible — man would slip into nothingness.

Men who do not acknowledge this exhaustive providence of God are blasphemers. They are, in their existence, being kept by God all the while denying the reality of the God who keeps them. Anyone who denies this lofty and Biblical notion of God’s providence, at best, are Christians not yet matured. Such people certainly should not be allowed anywhere near a pulpit, nor should any esteem be given them.

This must be said because many “Christians” do deny this HC answer and do deny this Reformed doctrine of God’s exhaustive providence. How many Christians are ready to affirm that;

 that herbs and grass, rain and drought,3 fruitful and barren years, meat and drink,4 health and sickness,5 riches and poverty,6 yea, and all things come, not by chance, but by His fatherly hand.7

This doctrine of God’s providence teaches that all things come into our lives by the hand of a Sovereign God who loves us for the sake of the finished work of Jesus Christ. What a source of comfort this is to the Christian who is conversant troubles, and yet how difficult to bury this truth in the marrow of our beings. This doctrine of God’s providence is easily forgotten when God’s people are going through the fire of trials, persecutions, or sorrows.

The whole book of Job teaches the providence of God. Job never gets an answer to his why questions in the book of Job. What Job does eventually get at the end of Job is a series of questions put to him by God that bespeak God’s providence and that God being God is in control of all.

The Scriptures teach and the HC follows by teaching God’s people to trust God at every turn, including the turns that include adversity. This entrusting ourselves to God does not mean that we do not flee adversity if possible, nor that we should not resist wickedness if possible. It merely means that what men intend for evil, God intends for God. It may be that God providentially orders hardships in order to providentially order our response that will seek to escape or put down the mediate cause of that hardship when possible.

So, this doctrine of God’s providence does not teach a kind of pagan fatalism. We do not know that all God might be doing in His providential arrangement. We do know that when adversity comes to us in God’s providence we should repair to the Scripture to see what our response might be for any given ordained providential circumstance.

Note, how the HC goes out of its way to teach that things do not come to us “by chance.” Chance has no reality. It is a word that we use in order to explain something that otherwise cannot be explained. Even when we talk about the chances of a coin flipped coming up heads or tails, it is not chance that is making the coin come up one way or the other. Chance may be predictive but it is never causative. (But even in being predictive chance has to presuppose the God who alone provides the order wherein chance as predictive can exist.) Chance causes nothing. Neither does “luck,” — another word that is mistakenly used by people to explain causation.

No, for the Calvinist/Reformed, following his HC catechism, all things come to us by God’s Fatherly hand.

Christians use to affirm this every time they attended a funeral — often the most difficult of all of God’s hard providences — when they would hear the minister say, “The Lord Giveth, the Lord Taketh, Blessed Be the Name of the Lord (Job 1:21).” The Lord gives herbs, grass, rain and drought and He takes it away;

Jer. 5:24, Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in His season: He reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.

The Lord gives fruitful and barren years, meat and drink and the Lord takes them away;

Acts 14:17, Nevertheless He left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

The Lord gives health and sickness, and He takes them away;

John 9:3, Jesus answered, Neither hath this (blind) man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

The gives riches and poverty, and He takes them away;

Prov. 22:2, The rich and poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all.

Job 1:21, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

When that scripture is heard as echoed by the HC and believed it is a affirmation of the HC’s teaching on God’s providence. In all things the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh, blessed be the name of the Lord who, in His providence worketh all things after the counsel of His will,

Eph. 1:11, In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.

God’s providence is so exhaustive that even the falling of birds from the sky are ordered by the God of all providence who upholds and sustains all things according to His glorious will;

Matt. 10:29–30, Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

It is only because of God’s providence we can humbly nod and silently say “Amen” at the funeral committal service when we hear;

“The Lord Giveth And the Lord Taketh. Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord.”

HC 33 — Christ as the μονογενῆ Υἱὸν (One and Only Son)

The Heidelberg Catechism continues to track and explain the Apostle Creed. In doing so the HC is explaining to us the basics (fundamentals) of our undoubted catholic Christian faith. The HC is, by this method, at one and the same time giving us a proper understanding of the Apostles Creed and a proper understanding of Christianity 101. Remember, if we embrace the explanation of the Heidelberg Catechism then we must refuse other denominational expressions of Christianity that are in contradiction to the explanation of the HC. If we refuse to do that we shouldn’t attach ourselves to Reformed Churches as members.

In the Apostle’s Creed we confess that we believe;

“In Jesus Christ His only begotten son,” and so the HC asks,

Question 33: Why is Christ called the only begotten Son of God, since we are also the children of God?

Answer: Because Christ alone is the eternal and natural Son of God;1 but we are children adopted of God, by grace, for His sake.2

The work here is to distinguish between our sonship and the sonship of the only begotten Son of God.

First, note the brevity here. The catechizers could have spent paragraphs here explaining the eternality of the Son but instead simply states that Christ is the eternal and natural Son of God. The labor here is not to explain the second person of the trinity but rather the labor here is to build an understanding in our minds that there is a distinction between the sonship of Christ and the sonship of men and women as those in Christ.

Christ as a person of the Trinity has been from eternity God’s Son.

1John 1:1, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Heb. 1:2, (The Father) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds.

Of course this understanding chases off heresies like Arianism (Jehovah Witnesses) which insisted that Christ was not from eternity God’s Son but was God’s highest and best creation. It chases off heresies like Sabellianism (one form of Modalism) which embraced that the Son was only a mode of God and not a distinct person from eternity. Oneness Pentecostalism is one modern example of those who would deny HC 33.

Christ is the eternal and natural son of God but we are sons of God in a non-eternal and non-natural manner; that is by way of adoption.

but we are children adopted of God, by grace, for His sake.2

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. (I John 3:1)

2Rom. 8:15–17, For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.

Eph. 1:5–6, Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved.

In adoption we move from the court room where we are justified to the family room where we are part of the family of God. As adopted we have access to the Father through our elder Brother the majestic and ever awesome Lord Jesus Christ.

We should understand that this adoption is also a legal category. We have been laboring throughout to demonstrate that Christianity can never be understood apart from understanding the legal categories that are intrinsic to the definition of Christianity. Adoption is a legal category. We are not merely adopted by good intent. We are legally adopted by grace for the sake of Jesus Christ. Christ as our Elder Brother gives us introduction to the Father and serves as the legal surety for our adoption. We are sons of God because of the legal relationship between the eternal and natural son of God and we the younger brethren of the Lord Jesus who are adopted by the grace of His surety.

Legal categories are a superior way to understand Biblical Christianity than purely relational categories. Relationships can wax and wane but relationships that are anchored in legal realities are firm fixture that cannot be moved by our ever shifting experiences or emotions. Adoption, while no doubt relational, is legal before it is relational. Because Adoption is anchored in the surety of Jesus Christ we know that nothing can separate us as adopted sons and daughters from the love of God.

It is a great privilege to not only be justified but also to be adopted. May God grant us grace to be full of praise for this privilege and to bank on it when troubles enter into our lives. Those troubles can never negate our legally established adoption as sons of the God most High.