Caleb’s Baptism … Very God of Very God (HC Q. # 17)

Question 17. Why must he in one person be also very God?

Answer: That he might, by the power of his Godhead (a) sustain in his human nature, (b) the burden of God’s wrath; (c) and might obtain for, and restore to us, righteousness and life. (d)

In the previous question and answer Caleb we examined why it was that Christ must be very man of very man (100% man) in order to qualify as someone who could rescue the descendants of Adam from their sins. In this question the Catechizers (principally Zacharius Ursinus, and secondarily Caspar Olevianus) explain why it is that Christ must be very God of very God in order to successfully become our deliverer.

Before we get to the issue of Christ’s divinity in relation to accomplishing our deliverance we should say a brief word about the the combination of Heidelberg questions 16 and 17. In these two question and answers we have taught what is known as the doctrine of Christ’s Hypostatic Union. This is the doctrine that affirms that the Lord Jesus Christ was one person with two natures. We could get lost in all of the implications of this Caleb but suffice it to say that this is an important doctrine to embrace even if we will not understand it completely in this life. The doctrine is so important that the Church has an ancient creed that teaches on it (creed of Chalcedon) and is so important that one cannot be a Christian without embracing Scripture’s teaching on Christ’s hypostatic union.

The doctrine of the hypostatic union teaches that at one and the same time the Lord Jesus Christ has both a human and divine nature and yet within one person. The early church argued about this for centuries before affirming that Christ was perfect in Godhead while at the same time being perfect in manhood. Teasing out the Scriptures, the Church went on to affirm, as against a party in the Church called “the Eutychians” that these two natures of Christ were not co-mingled so that the Lord Christ was a kind of a being with a hybrid single nature that was partly God and partly man. Continuing to embrace Scripture, the Church, at the same time, had to correct another party that was on the other extreme from the Eutychians, and who, instead of giving us a Christ whose natures were blended into a hybrid, gave us a Christ who was two persons as well as two natures. What the Scriptures affirm and what the Heidelberg catechism teaches is that Christ is one person with two natures.

That Christ has both natures can seen with a simple glance at Scripture,

Very God of Very God

He is worshiped (Matt. 2:2,11; 14:33)
He was called God (John 20:28; Heb. 1:8)
He was called Son of God (Mark 1:1)
He is prayed to (Acts 7:59).
He is sinless (1 Pet. 2:22; Heb. 4:15)
He knows all things (John 21:17)
He gives eternal life (John 10:28)
All the fullness of deity dwells in Him (Col. 2:9)

Very Man of Very Man

He worshiped the Father (John 17).
He was called man (Mark 15:39; John 19:5)
He was called Son of Man (John 9:35-37)
He prayed to the Father (John 17)
He was tempted (Matt. 4:1)
He grew in wisdom (Luke 2:52)
He died (Rom. 5:8)
He has a body of flesh and bones (Luke 24:39)

This doctrine of the Hypostatic Union also insists, as against yet a different heretical school of thought (Apollonarians) that the Lord Christ is human as to both body and soul. Some of the errant teaching yet today, following the errant teaching from centuries ago, insist that Jesus Christ has a human body but that His Spirit was the divine spirit logos.

The denial of this important doctrine continues with us today. The same errors are taught today that were taught thousands of years ago. This is true, not only of the example mentioned in the paragraph above but it is also true of Jehovah Witnesses and Christian Scientists for example. The Jehovah Witnesses deny Christ’s divinity while affirming His humanity. The Christian Scientists deny Christ’s humanity while affirming His deity. All of these sects will marshal Scripture to prove their heresy, conveniently leaving out other Scripture that is against them.

I can’t stress enough how important this teaching of the Heidelberg Catechism is. If a person denies this Hypostatic Union of Christ they have no reason to be considered a Christian. A great deal more could be said here, but I don’t want to bog you down. For our purposes here it is important to remember that, in the words of the Chalcedon Confession that is confessed by all Christians everywhere,

(Christ is) to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ;

Now, as the Catechism deals with this issue it wants to emphasize that Christ had to be God in order to able to provide deliverance for His people. If Christ was merely human he could not have successfully undergone the intense wrath of the Father against sin. Scriptures teaches the character of God’s just wrath against sin that the Lord Christ bore for His Father’s glory,

Deut.4:24 For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.

Nah.1:6 Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.

Ps.130:3 If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?

This was the wrath of God against our sins that the Lord Christ suffered in our place. That just wrath of God against sin would have consumed a merely human Jesus before the penalty against sin had been fully recompensed. So, the catechism teaches that Christ had to likewise be very God of very God in order to receive in His person the just penalty against sin.

Note a matter important here though Caleb. Note the way the catechism carefully phrases the truth,

“by the power of his Godhead sustain in his human nature the burden of God’s wrath”

Reformed theology, following Scripture, has always taught that God can not suffer, nor can God die. If God dies all the lights in the universe go out. Since this is true, Biblical theology affirms that it was Christ’s divine nature (HC — “by the power of His Godhead”) that sustained Christ’s human nature so that the person of Christ could pay for the sins of His people. Some people will say, in a sloppy manner, that “God died on the cross,” but it is more accurate to say that the person of the Lord Christ, as the lamb of God, died on the cross, if only because by definition the God of the Bible can’t die.

Clearly, what HC #17 is concerned about is the fact that the death of the Lord Christ, who is very God of very God, is a substitutionary death (a death in our place) and is so successfully, in part, because as sustained by His divine nature the person of Christ could bear our penalty in full, and win for us the life and acceptability before God that had been forfeited by Adam. That Christ was there dying in our place (in our stead, on our behalf) is clearly taught by Scripture,

Isa.53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted….

Isa.53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

And that the consequence of that death in our place (in our stead, on our behalf) is acceptability again before God and a restoration of life is likewise taught in Scripture,

Our healing is in His wounding

Isa.53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Acceptability before God dependent upon Christ’s Death

1 Pet.3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Restored brought to the elect because of Christ’s Death

Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

John 1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

So, Heidelberg Catechism question and answer #17 teaches us that if were to be saved, then He who would serve as our deliverer must be very God of very God.

God’s 9th Word — Part II

As we begin this morning we want to connect God’s Character to God’s law.


Scripture teaches repeatedly that “God is just.”

Dt. 32:4 “ The Rock! His work is perfect,
For all His ways are [a]just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.

Psalm 33:4 For the word of the Lord is upright,
And all His work is done in faithfulness.
5 He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord.

Even the pagan Kings could testify as did Nebuchadnezzar,

Daniel 4:37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are [a]true and His ways [b]just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”

And when all is said and done, God’s justice will be a theme in the singing in the final age

Revelation 15:3 And they *sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,

“ Great and marvelous are Your works,
O Lord God, the Almighty;
Righteous and true are Your ways,
King of the nations!

The character of “God as just” is seen in His ten words given to mankind. In our series on God’s justice on display in the Ten Commandments we have seen repeatedly that God is just and righteous and has given men, as His image bearers, His just character to live by.


In Psalm 37 we see a connection between God who is just and His love for those who live by His just Character.

Psalm 37:28 For the Lord loves justice
And does not forsake His godly ones;
They are preserved forever,
But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.
29 The righteous will inherit the land
And dwell in it forever.
30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
And his tongue speaks justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
His steps do not slip.

God is Just and He loves seeing His justice in His Redeemed people as His Law is in their hearts.

We shouldn’t need to say this but we will nonetheless. It is understood that our only righteousness is found in Jesus Christ who is our law keeping perfection before the Father. But it is precisely because we are counted as having fulfilled the law in Jesus Christ that we esteem God’s law.

God is just, and we are just in Christ, and so we seek to speak up God’s justice by advocating for and living by God’s law.


This is why we spend time considering the ten words. We spend time considering God’s ten words because we desire to live the abundant life and we desire for God’s justice to be known among the nations.

This just character of God as seen in God’s law is seen as a threat by those who prefer to define justice according to their own law word. They feel threatened by God’s just character and so God’s law.

But, we might ask, is so threatening about God’s law?

Is it threatening that all people might honor, respect, and submit to lawful authorities? (#5)

Is it threatening that all people be committed to protecting the lives, and welfare of all other men? (#6)

Is it threatening that all people be committed to their own spouses and that all be committed to ending sexual exploitation? (#7)

Is it threatening that all people refused to steal property of others thus protecting their own material welfare? (#8)

And in light of the fact that all of this expresses God’s just Character, would it be threatening if everyone took this God seriously? (#1 – 4)

These commandments of God are those commandments that people have serious problems with. Because these laws are so threatening they must be removed from the places were children gather, they must be removed from the places where litigants gather, and they must not be appealed to as a basis for public policy.

Yet despite this cavil against God’s law if we as God’s people were to cease advocating for God’s law in our own personal lives and for the public square we would be left being in opposition to the character of the God we say we serve.

When it comes to God’s justice whoever is not with God is against God, and whoever does not gather with God scatters.

And so we teach and esteem God’s law. Not as our righteousness before God. We have that in our Lord Christ. No, we teach and esteem God’s law out of a sense of gratitude and love for the fact that the law no longer condemns us because we are righteous in Christ.


And what shall happen if we give up on God’s law as a transcendent standard for our personal lives and for the public square?

Well, obviously we then will live by injustice. If God is just, and if His ways are altogether perfect, if we give up on God’s law we give up on justice and embrace injustice.

If we give up on God’s transcendent justice, as summarized in the Ten Commandments then we must find justice in the immanent.

Ill. — Transcendent Justice — Navigating by North Star

If there is no North Star then some other standard for justice has to be appealed to. That other standard will inevitably be defined by whoever has the most power.

If we will not be guided by the North Star of God’s transcendent law we will be guided by man’s immanent law that teaches, per Chairman Mao, that “power comes from the barrel of a gun.”

We will either serve the creator God’s transcendent justice or the “justice” that we create will serve the desires of which ever creature is in control.

The Russian novelist Dostoevsky, in his book “The Brother’s Karamazov” warned that once God is set aside, “man will be lifted up with a spirit of divine titanic pride and the man-god will appear.”

That man-god that Dostoevsky speaks of could be the arrival of anarchy where each man is his own god and where the law is, “every man does what is right in his own eyes.” That man-god could be the arrival of some democratic majority such as the one which was channeled by Robespierre in the French Revolution and gave the law of the guillotine. That man-god could be the arrival of some Despot and Tyrant setting atop a Nation-State who gives the law of his whim and fancy through the procedure of extra-constitutional signing statements or by fiat run around of constitutional authority. However the man-god arrives, he arrives because we failed to esteem God’s transcendent law that gives us North Star justice.

And so we appeal to God’s law as a transcendent norm that norms all other norms. We believe that if we did not appeal to God’s law as a transcendent norm that norms all other norms we would be a cruel and mean people. This is an important point to tease out for a moment.

When Alabama State Supreme Court judge Roy Moore insisted that God’s law stay in the court building in Alabama he was depicted as mean and as a obscurantist. But Judge Moore was the one who in his insistence that God’s law remain in the court room who was reflecting the milk of human kindness.

Often Christians with their transcendent norms and with their advocacy of God’s law as a universal norm that all men should be governed by are seen as the mean people but in point of fact it is people who appeal to get rid of the North Star that was given to regulate human behavior who are the cold hearted mean people. Those who desire to throw off God’s law to be ruled by the un-anchored relative law of the creature are the cruel and the despotic. Those people who have successfully thrown off God’s North Star rule of “Thou Shalt Not Kill” as being oppressive have successfully murdered over 50 million unborn children. Those people who have successfully thrown off God’s North Star rule of “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery,” with legislation that has been counter intuitive to the support of the family are responsible for the destruction of untold numbers of family and individual lives. We could go on, but you get the idea, it is those who oppose God’s law as a transcendent norm that norms all norms who are the mean ones and the cold hearted.

With all that as backdrop we continue to examine God’s law.

This week we take up the 9th commandment again.

Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness

That this law still has influence in our lives is seen by how we raise our children. Likely, all of us raised our children impressing upon them the importance of “telling the truth,” and we made sure that our children didn’t run with other children who we knew were capable at lying. In our marriages we expect spouses to be honest with one another and we find it to be a fault in a husband and wife that lies to their spouse. In the workplace we still look for honesty in both our employees and our employers even if we are often disappointed.

And in the public square we still have the residual influence of God’s transcendent “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness” on our books. We still have laws against perjury, slander, and libel, and fraud, and insider trading, and obstruction of justice, even if those laws are not enforced as much as they should be.

We take it for granted that “Honesty is the best policy,” but in other cultures untouched by Christian thinking this is not necessarily so.

Don Richardson, in his book, “The Peace Child” related the story of a tribe where lying and deceit was the greatest honour / trait a man could have! And upon the first telling of the death of Christ, initially the tribe thought Judas was the hero because of his deceit.

So, unlike other cultures, we still have a residue of a memory of “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness.”

A people who are honest and truth tellers are necessary to have a culture that can function, whether that culture is just in a family, or a workplace, or a community. If we could not trust one another to be truth tellers relationships would not be stable, and commerce could not function. If we could not trust one another to be truth tellers we would be withdrawn and solitary. If we could not trust one another to be truth tellers we would grow to be suspicious and paranoid.

We can see how important “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness” is for healthy communities.

In the Catechism we are instructed what is required in this commandment

Answer: That I bear false witness against no man, (a) nor falsify any man’s words; (b) that I be no backbiter, nor slanderer; (c) that I do not judge, nor join in condemning any man rashly, or unheard; (d) but that I avoid all sorts of lies and deceit, as the proper works of the devil, (e) unless I would bring down upon me the heavy wrath of God; (f) likewise, that in judgment and all other dealings I love the truth, speak it uprightly and confess it; (g) also that I defend and promote, as much as I am able, the honor and good character of my neighbour. (h)

Types of False Witness

Last week we spent time on the fact that this commandment is especially in reference to the court room looking at how this commandment serves as a legal fence around the other commandments. There is no way, that judicially, one can protect Life, Marriage, and Property, unless one can get to the truth.

But clearly, the ninth commandment has in mind a much wider scope than the judicial system alone. It forbids all forms of false witness, all forms of lying (Eph.4:25).

25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.

The 9th commandment aims at preserving reputations and our neighbors good name. One way to destroy a man is to destroy his reputation and so the 9th commandment seeks to protect reputations by forbidding

(1) backbiting and gossip.

Scripture speaks of backbiting as done by the wicked.

Rom.1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Rom.1:30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

Gossip may not include overt lying. Gossip may succeed in false witness by leading astray or by giving truth in such a way that one knows it will be misinterpreted.

Backbiting is a graphic word that communicates an attack on someone in such a way that he can not defend himself. In our imagination we should see it closely akin to the guy in the Movie who shoots someone in the back. Backbiting attacks a person where he is most vulnerable because he can not ward off the attack.

(2) judging rashly

The disciples passed a blind man and asked Jesus who had sinned — the blind man or his parents (John 9:2).

Clearly this was a rash judgment as Jesus points out that neither was the case.

We need to remember this prohibition as we deal with people. Sometimes it seems so obvious what motives for people’s behavior that is reported to us, but we must be careful not to judge rashly. Matters are often not what they first seem. We should try to give people the benefit of the doubt … especially those that we know.

As we enter into this election cycle it will be important for us to not judge rashly. Advertisements on all sides are aimed at us spending 30 or 60 seconds to convince us to judge rashly. Of course judgments are necessary but we should try to, as much as possible, arm ourselves with all the facts before we come to a conclusion.

(3) Libel.

Libel is lying openly and intentionally in print.

Libel often occurs by twisting someone’s ones words, by giving half a quote or by not giving the full context. Truth is in precision.

When we enter into this kind of behavior we are violating the 9th commandment.

As Christians we are to be characterized as dealing in truth.

Jesus said that when we speak lies we speak the Devil’s language. (John 8:44)

Elsewhere Scripture teaches,

Prov.12:22 Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight. Prov.13:5 A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.

Jesus Christ Our Truth Before God

We are liars. None of us keep the command to not bear false witness perfectly.

And so we must constantly repair to Christ.

Our trusting in Christ does not give us license to lie (shall we go on sinning that Grace might increase?) but it does remind us that when give up on our own self righteousness in terms of bearing false witness, Christ is the one who is our righteousness before God.

Caleb’s Baptism — Heidelberg Catechism Q. 16

Question 16. Why must he be very man, and also perfectly righteous?

Answer: Because the justice of God requires that the same human nature which has sinned, should likewise make satisfaction for sin; (a) and one, who is himself a sinner, cannot satisfy for others. (b)

We have established if we are to be rescued from the just wrath of God we need someone else to do the rescuing since we only increase God’s anger with us daily because of our sin nature and our sins. We have established that the rescuer is also called a “mediator” since He represents both God to us and us to God. We have seen that the mediator we need must be more then a mere creature since a mere creature could not endure the just penalty of God for sin. In other words were our mediator only a mere creature there would be more penalty left to endure after the mere creature had expired and so our rescue would fail. We have seen that the mediator must be man without sin, yet also God. Now we are looking at why the mediator, who will be our rescuer from God’s wrath, must have those qualities.

The catechism, following Scripture, teaches us that our rescuer mediator must be very man (i.e. – thoroughly man) because as it is man who sinned the representative for man (mediator) must be man as well. Scripture teaches that God is just and in being just God requires skin for skin. Man has done the sinning. Man must pay the penalty. Scripture teaches that as all mankind fell in Adam so all of God’s new mankind is restored in the second Adam who reversed Adam’s fall by withstanding the death penalty for sin (Romans 5:12-21).

Scripture is repeatedly clear on this point,

“Hebrews.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; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

Note here that we are clearly taught that Jesus Christ was thoroughly man and that as our mediator, and in our place, he bore the penalty of death for our deliverance.

1 Pet.3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

Note again the clarity of Scripture. Christ, as very man, was the one who stood in our place and received upon Himself, as our representative, our punishment.

Isa.53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Isa.53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. Isa.53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isa.53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Isa.53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Clearly the Catechism is correct in telling us that our mediator must be thoroughly man. Of course the implication of this is that Jesus Christ had all the characteristics associated with man. He grew tired. He wept. He was attracted to women. He developed blisters. As a baby he had to be diapered. He grew frustrated. He knew anger. He was thoroughly man.

However, the Catechism gives a qualifier. Our mediator must not only be thoroughly and completely man, sharing our human nature, but He must also be man without sin. If we are to be rescued from God’s just wrath the man doing the rescuing must neither have a sin nature nor must he have ever sinned. As the Catechism says, our rescuer mediator must be completely righteous. The reason is straightforward. Since sin requires the death penalty (“the soul that sinneth shall surely die”) the one who pays for other men’s penalty must not have any sin of His own since if he had His own sin, He would have to die to pay for His sin and could not be a substitute death for others.

The reality that Christ had no sin is taught in Hebrews,

4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

And again a few chapters later,

Heb.7:26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Heb.7:27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.

We should probably point out here that another word for “mediator,” is “Priest.” In the Old Testament the Priests were those who represented God to the people and the people to God. They were the mediators, who by their work in the Sacrificial system rescued God’s people from God’s just wrath. The Hebrews 7 passage reveals Christ’s perfection in as much as He had no need to offer up sacrifice for His own sins. He had no sins that against which God could ever be angry.

As we end here, let us emphasize again the legal nature of Christianity. The rescue Christ brings to His people is a rescue concerned with satisfying God’s justice against sin. The Father had a writ against sin and if He did not punish sin He would have been unjust and so could not have been God. The reason we take some time to point this out is that modern Christianity wants to talk of the Christian faith in terms of “relationship,” and there is some truth to that (though far less than what it is given in the current church). Before we can talk about “having a relationship with God” (whatever that means in the concrete) we must first talk about the issue of justice. Christianity is a religion that is concerned about justice and God’s grace, that creates a relationship between God and man, only comes to us because God’s justice has been satisfied. Christians who can not talk about the Christian faith in terms of judicial categories are, at best, very weak Christians.

God’s justice demanded that sinners pay for sin. God’s justice demanded that if we were going to have a mediator He must be perfect man and very God. God’s justice accepted Christ’s death as our own. God’s justice, having been satisfied God can pardon (another term from the courtroom) man and free him from his condemnation (another courtroom term).

Caleb’s Baptism — Q. 15 — Heidelberg Catechism

Question 15. What sort of a mediator and deliverer then must we seek for?

Answer: For one who is very man, and perfectly righteous; and yet more powerful than all creatures; that is, one who is also very God.

Last time we left off Caleb we had seen that the Catechism had closed all doors against our being able to be our own deliverer. If we are going to be delivered from God’s just wrath against our sin nature and our sins, we need to start looking outside ourselves for that deliverance.

You will notice here the use of the word “mediator.” This is a word that is incredibly important in the Christian faith Caleb. A mediator is one who is a relational conduit between two parties who are at loggerheads. The role of the mediator is to represent each of the warring parties and their interests to the other party. A mediator is to be a honest broker in terms of the issues between the two parties and his purpose is to resolve the conflict between the two parties in such a way where the interest of each party is upheld.

So, we need a mediator to represent us before God in terms of His just case against us. We need somebody who will represent our position to God and who at the same time will represent God’s position to us. From our end, in order to find a mediator who can be our representative (i.e. — Federal Head) we need someone who is very man of very man (100% man), and yet a man who is without sin (perfectly righteous), and one who is God.

The next question will examine why this is so, but it is important to establish at this point that if we are going to be delivered from our sin and misery and delivered to our peace with God it is going to have to come to us by means outside ourselves. This reinforces the idea that our salvation must come to us as a matter of God’s work and not our own. Question 15 insists that if we are to be rescued from God’s just wrath we must “seek” a mediator.

However, the mediator we must seek must not only represent us between the two warring parties (God and man), the mediator must also represent God’s part. The important emphasis here is that man can not come to God without a intermediary and God can not look upon man without a intermediary. Secondarily, it is important to emphasize that the if the intermediary is sufficient for both parties then no other intermediary is necessary. I bring this out because many other expressions of Christianity will offer a multitude of mediators. If the mediator that we must seek for is sufficient then no other mediator is necessary.

Now, let us close this question by looking at just a few of the Scriptures that are offered to support the fact that our mediator must be (1) man, (2) man without sin, and (3) God.

The fact that the mediator we must seek to satisfy God’s just wrath against our sin must be man is seen by the fact that as it is man who has sinned it must be man who atones (makes the payment) for sin. I Cor.15:21 teaches us this clearly,

“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.”

It is man (Adam) who cast man into sin, and so if anyone is to deliver man from sin that deliverer must likewise be man.

Romans 5:19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

Christianity is a religion that demands that man restores what man destroyed, and if we are to be saved our savior must be a man.

However, this man must be different than all men since Adam, inasmuch as this man must be without a sin nature or sins of His own. If he is to be a mediator for God to us, one requirement is that He must be without sin. God will not deal with a mediator man who has sin and so the human mediator we are seeking must be perfect and without sin or flaw.

Scripture offers us this kind of human mediator,

2 Cor.5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Heb.7:26 “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;

If the mediator had his own sin Caleb, he would have to pay for His own sin and so would be of no help to us as He becomes the one who bears our sins. No, if fallen man is to have a mediator that God will accept as a representative of fallen man then that man must be man without being sinful.

Finally the catechism insists that the mediator must not only be man, and man without sin, he must also be very God of very God. In the demand that the mediator we need is both 100% Man and 100% we find the Christian doctrine called the “Hypostatic Union.” This merely teaches that our mediator must be both man and God at the same time. That the mediator we need must be God is taught in the following passages,

(c) Isa.7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (God with us).

Isa.9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Rom.9:5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

Jer.23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. Jer.23:6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

So …

1.) God is opposed to man because of man’s sin
2.) Man himself is not able to appease God’s just wrath against sin
3.) Man must look for a mediator who can stand in the gap for sinful man
4.) This mediator will do for sinful man what he can not do for himself
5.) This mediator, in order to do what needs to be done for sinful man must be

a.) Man
b.) Man without sin
c.) God

“God’s 8th Word — Thou Shalt Be Charitable

I hope you have noticed something as we have made our way through this series of God’s law. I hope you have noticed why it can be said that we are “post-Christian,” in our Culture. Our social order is no longer governed by God’s law. Our cultural Institutions and framework are structured by a law that is other than God’s law.

As a people group and culture, instead of having no other God’s before us, we believe as a people, whatever we might believe contrary-wise individually, that “in the State we live and move and have our being.”

Today, the graven images that we have is too often a love of country that outstrips love for God.

As a culture God’s name is regularly taken in vain. In a conversation w/ a Judge I learned that in court perjury is a regular occurrence.

As a people our culture no longer take the Sabbath seriously … as I witnessed 30 years ago when public commerce ceased on the Lord’s Day.

By any fair calculation the family (Honor thy Father & Mother) is disintegrating.

And who can argue that as a culture we take seriously the prohibitions against Murder, Adultery, and Theft?

This is not to suggest there are not Christians … In this very place and other places who don’t esteem God’s Law. It is merely to point out that as a culture we are “post-Christian.”

God’s law is intended to shape God’s people and structure them, as that Law comes to them as Redeemed in Christ, and yet we who are shaped by God’s law find, at every turn, another law structure next to us, cheek by jowl, that likewise seeks to shape and inform us according to the god who is the lawgiver of that law system.

And so Biblical Christians, in this post-Christian setting, invariably are the counter-culture. It should be said of us, as it was said of the early Christians when the pagan culture was threatened by their presence,

“These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, (Acts 17:6)

As wicked Ahab accused righteous Elijah of being a “Troubler of Israel” because of Elijah’s stand for God, so we should be accused by our wicked culture as being “Troublers of our country,” because of our stand for the Lord Christ.

God’s law is health and vitality for those who are in Christ but those who are outside of Christ find God’s law to be accursed.

We are those who have been made righteous by Christ alone. The Scripture teaches that we were created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Eph. 2:10). It is God’s law that defines for us what good works are for us to walk in.

Christ gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds (Titus 2:14). Our zealousness for good deeds can only successfully be demonstrated if we have a standard to define the “good” about our deeds. That “standard,” is God’s law that we have been examining week by week in this series.

Last Week we talked about

I.) Stealing From God (Vertical)

A.) All abuse and waste of His gifts

II.) Stealing From Others (Horizontal)

This commandment demands just price and just wages.

III.) Stealing In The Public Square

Inflation, Usury, Ponzi Schemes

We examined how those are what the Heidelberg Catechism calls, “Wicked tricks or Devices.”

We could have also talked about

Price and wage controls, minimum wage laws, Corporate Welfare, Entitlement programs, public debt that we incur which the income of our children and grandchildren after us must pay, and other assorted wicked trick and devices whereby we design to appropriate to ourselves the goods which belong to our neighbour.

The passage that is cited to support the necessity to avoid these wicked tricks and devices as theft is,

1 Thess.4:6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.

They might have also cited Ephesians 4:28

Eph.4:28 Let him that stole steal no more …

There is another category of wicked tricks and devices whereby we we design to appropriate to ourselves the goods which belong to our neighbor that I would like to brush up against briefly.

Scripture in Romans 13:6-7 requires us

6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

And so clearly there is a proper due that is owed to those who rule. Because of Scriptures like this Christians can pay proper taxes as a devotion unto God.

C.) Confiscatory Taxation

Here I want to just offer some of what Calvin said on this subject,

Calvin argued for prudent limits, writing that taxes should only support public necessity; for “to impose them (taxes) upon the common folk without cause is tyrannical extortion.”

Calvin offered that obedience was a Christian duty in this area; however, he cautioned Princes not in indulge in “waste and expensive luxury,” lest they earn God’s displeasure. Again he would write on this subject, “Others drain the common people of their money, and afterward lavish it on insane largess.”

Has our tax system become confiscatory? Well, at least one area small businessman that I know of has just this past week written on this very subject,

A few years ago I computed how much of the profits that our companies have generated that I got to keep. Since every dollar in taxes starts as a dollar of profit, I figured out all the taxes we had paid corporately and personally. This included income taxes, social security taxes, sales & use taxes, franchise taxes, real estate taxes, license fees, etc. etc. I was stunned that we had paid a whopping 96% of all the profits we had generated to various governmental entities in taxes, keeping a miserable 4% for reinvestment in the business and as a reward for my work.

This small businessman then goes on to talk about what I consider to be hidden taxes,

And it has not only been the tax burden that successful entrepreneurs have to overcome, it is the regulatory ones as well. We have been forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars on equipment and machinery that was totally unnecessary and has went unused for almost two decades merely because the Ruling Elites knew better than us what was good for us. We’ve been forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in compliance costs to just make sure that we haven’t missed jumping through one hoop or another of the over 13,000 pages of rules and regulations that we are supposed to obey, and on and on.

Calvin certainly would have understood that this kind of confiscatory taxation is a wicked trick and devices whereby what is designed is the appropriation by violators of the 8th commandment to themselves the goods which belong to their and our neighbor. If we are to take the 8th commandment seriously and our own Catechism seriously, we will not be supporters of those who do not advocate the repealing of this kind of confiscatory taxation root, branch and twig.

However the Catechism has a “Thou Shalt” for us that corresponds to the “Thou Shalt Not.”

Question 111. But what does God require in this commandment?

Answer: That I promote the advantage of my neighbour in every instance I can or may; and deal with him as I desire to be dealt with by others: (a) further also that I faithfully labour, so that I may be able to relieve the needy. (b)

(a) Matt.7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. (b) Eph.4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

A.) Works of Charity

Here the Golden Rule is cited. In order to esteem the 8th commandment we should be a people who look not only to our needs but also to the needs of others.

In Reformed Church History this includes not only our personal giving to others as we see need but also our support for the Deacon’s fund in the Church.

Emperor Julian of Rome is quoted,

“Nothing has contributed more to the progress of the superstition of the Christians as their charity to strangers . . . . The impious Galileans provide not only for their own poor, but for ours as well.”

They fed the poor, nursed the sick, housed the homeless, and rescued those abandoned to die.

Calvin, envisioned the Church having this mercy ministry as well,

“When I first came to this Church,” he says, “there was as good as nothing here . . . . There was preaching, and that was all.” He would have found much the same state of things everywhere else in the Protestant world. The Church in the early Protestant conception was constituted by the preaching of the Word and the right administration of the sacraments: the correction of morals was the concern not of the Church but of the civil power…. Calvin could not take this view of the matter. “Whatever others may hold,” he observed, “we cannot think so narrowly of our office that when preaching is done our task is fulfilled, and we may take our rest.” In his view the mark of a true Church is not merely that the gospel is preached in it, but that it is “followed.” For him the Church is the “communion of saints,” and it is incumbent upon it to see to it that it is what it professes to be. From the first he therefore set himself strenuously to attain this end .

And so works of charity — mercy ministries — were hallmarks of the early Reformed Church in Geneva. Calvin himself died comparatively impoverished. Perhaps this was, in part, due to the fact that instead of soaking up the funds in his salary the funds were going to the Deacon’s fund?

B.) Protestant Work Ethic

In order to fulfill the 8th commandment we are required to labor (work) as we can. Many scholars have attributed this strong work ethic as being a major contributor to the success of Biblical Christianity. Christians understood that they were to work and give to the needy. We see here the clear call to be a blessing to others because of our work ethic. Of course that blessing is first to our family in providing for them but as God grants us abundance we are to be a blessing to others.

Let us close by asking what can be done in order to avoid stealing

What is to be done to avoid stealing?

(1) Live in a calling. ‘Let him that stole steal no more, but rather let him labour, working with his hands.’ Eph 4:28, &c. The devil hires such as stand idle, and puts them to the pilfering trade. An idle person tempts the devil to tempt him.

(2) Be content with the estate that God has given you. ‘Be content with such things as ye have.’ Heb 13:5. Theft is the offspring of avarice and envy. Study contentment. Believe that condition best which God has carved out to you. He can bless the little meal in the barrel. We shall not need these things long: we shall carry nothing out of the world with us but our winding sheet. If we have but enough to bear out our charges to heaven, it is sufficient.

(3) Stay out of debt. In Proverbs 22 Scripture teaches that the borrower is the slave of the lender. There is a natural tendency of those in slavery to get out of slavery at all costs, even if it means stealing to do so. Our whole economic system drives us towards debt. The temptation to theft will be far less upon those who are not in debt.

(4) Find ways to stewardship of what God is given you so that you can save against the day of need. When I lived in South Carolina a reasonably well to do Farmer told me that if “I took care of my pennies, my dollars would take care of themselves.”

(5) Entrust yourself to God’s providence. While it is true that we should

Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
7 Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
8 Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest.
9 How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
10 “ A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest”—
11 Your poverty will come in like a vagabond
And your need like an armed man.

It is also true that we are

31 not to worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But [s]seek first [t]His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be [u]added to you.

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will [v]care for itself. [w]Each day has enough trouble of its own.

If we are a hard working people, and wise with our stewardship of God’s resources to us, then we must entrust ourselves to God’s providence, especially at those times when thieving, in one form or another, to relieve our distress might be tempting.