Articles

The Essence of Reformed Christianity - continued

Taken from the Heidelberg Catechism


Biblical Truth, embodied in our Lord Jesus Christ, is the basis of all civilized life. Christ is the true and living way, the beginning, middle and end. Where He is Lord there is no falsehood, no fallacy, no lies and no deceit. A person or a culture which rejects Him suffers untruth in every way. A person or a culture which rejects His commandments cannot have peace and prosperity. All who hate God, love death. (Proverbs 8:36)

The HEIDELBERG CATECHISM asks:
22. What then must a Christian believe?
Everything God promises us in the gospel. That gospel is summarized for us in the articles of our Christian faith - a creed beyond doubt, and confessed throughout the world.
Matthew 28:18-20; John 20:30-31.


23. What are these articles?
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and
born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was
buried; he descended to hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to
heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come
to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness
of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.


24. How are these articles divided?
Into three parts:
God the Father and our creation;
God the Son and our deliverance;
God the Holy Spirit and our sanctification.


25. Since there is but one God, why do you speak of three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
Because that is how God has revealed himself in his Word: these three distinct persons are one, true, eternal God.
Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4, 6;
Matthew 3:16-17; 28:18-19; Luke 4:18 (Isaiah 61:1); John 14:16; 15:26; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Galatians; 4:6; Titus 3:5-6.


GOD THE FATHER
26. What do you believe when you say, "I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth"?
That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth and everything in them, who still upholds and rules them by his eternal counsel and providence, is my God and Father because of Christ his Son. - I trust him so much that I do not doubt he will provide whatever I need for body and soul, and he will turn to my good whatever adversity he sends me in this sad world. - He is able to do this because he is almighty God; he desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.
Genesis 1 & 2; Exodus 20:11; Psalm 33:6; Isaiah 44:24; Acts 4:24; 14:15.
Psalm 104; Matthew 6:30; 10:29; Ephesians 1:11; John 1:12-13; Romans 8:15-16; Galatians 4:4-7; Ephesians 1:5.
Psalm 55:22; Matthew 6:25-26; Luke 12:22-31; Romans 8:28; Genesis 18:14; Romans 8:31-39; Matthew 7:9-11.


27. What do you understand by the providence of God?
Providence is the almighty and ever present power of God by which he upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty - all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but from his fatherly hand.
Jeremiah 23:23-24; Acts 17:24-28; Hebrews 1:3; Jeremiah 5:24; Acts 14:15-17; John 9:3; Proverbs 22:2; Proverbs 16:33;
Matthew 10:29.


28. How does the knowledge of God's creation and providence help us?
We can be patient when things go against us, thankful when things go well, and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from his love. All creatures are so completely in his hand that without his will they can neither move nor be moved.
Job 1:21-22; James 1:3; Deuteronomy 8:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Psalm 55:22; Romans 5:3-5; 8:38-39.
Job 1:12; 2:6; Proverbs 21:1; Acts 17:24-28.


GOD THE SON
29. Why is the Son of God called "Jesus," meaning "saviour"?
Because he saves us from our sins. Salvation cannot be found in anyone else; it is futile to look for any salvation elsewhere.
Matthew 1:21; Hebrews 7:25; Isaiah 43:11; John 15:5; Acts 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 2:5.


30. Do those who look for their salvation and security in saints, in themselves, or elsewhere really believe in the only saviour Jesus?
No. Although they boast of being his, by their deeds they deny the only saviour and deliverer, Jesus. - Either Jesus is not a perfect saviour, or those who in true faith accept this saviour have in him all they need for their salvation.
1 Corinthians 1:12-13; Galatians 5:4; Colossians 1:19-20; 2:10; 1 John 1:7.


31. Why is he called "Christ," meaning "anointed"?
Because he has been ordained by God the Father and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit to be
· our chief prophet and teacher who perfectly reveals to us the secret counsel and will of God for our deliverance;
· our only high priest who has set us free by the one sacrifice of his body, and who continually pleads our cause with the Father; and
· our eternal king who governs us by His Word and Spirit, and who guards us and keeps us in the freedom he has won for us.
Luke 3:21-22; 4:14-19 (Isaiah 61:1); Hebrews 1:9 (Psalm 45:7); Acts 3:22 (Deuteronomy 18:15); John 1:18; 15:15; Hebrews
7:17 (Psalm 110:4); Hebrews 9:12; 10:11-14; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 9:24; Matthew 21:5 (Zechariah 9:9); Matthew 28:18-20;
John 10:28; Revelation 12:10-11.


32. But why are you called Christian?
Because by faith I am a member of Christ and so I share in his anointing. I am anointed to confess his name, to present myself to him as a living sacrifice of thanks, to strive with a good conscience against sin and the devil in this life, and afterward to reign with Christ over all creation for all eternity.
1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Acts 2:17 (Joel 2:28); 1 John 2:27; Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:9-10; Hebrews 13:15; Romans 12:1;
1 Peter 2:5, 9; Galatians 5:16-17; Ephesians 6:11; 1 Timothy 1:18-19; Matthew 25:34; 2 Timothy 2:12.


The Heidelberg Catechism was composed at the request of Elector Frederick III of the Palatinate and approved by the synod of Heidelberg in January 1563. An old tradition credits Zacharius Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus with being co-authors. In his preface the elector says that it was written "with the advice and cooperation of our entire theological faculty in this place, and of all superintendents and distinguished servants of the church." The Heidelberg Catechism was approved by the Synod of Dort in 1618. It soon became the most ecumenical of the Reformed catechisms
and confessions, and is the most widely used and most warmly praised catechism of the Reformation period.



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