The Heidelberg Catechism
Used by the various Reformed denominations
A Teacher Asks, The Student Replies:
Q. 1. What is your only comfort in life and death?
A. That I, with body and soul, both in life and death (Rom. 14:8), am not my own (1 Cor. 6:19), but be long unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:23; Tit. 2:14), who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins (1 Pet. 1:18, 19; 1 John 1:7; 2:2, 12), and delivered me (Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8; John 8:34-36) from all the power of the devil (John 6:39; 10:28,29; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 Pet. 1:5), and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head (Matt. 10:30; Luke 21:18); indeed, that everything must fit His purpose for my salvation, (Rom. 8:28) therefore by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:14; Rom. 8:16) and makes me heartily willing and ready, always, to live for him. (Rom. 8:14; 1 John 3:3)
Q. 2. How many things are necessary for you to know that you may live and die happily, enjoying this comfort?
A. Three (Matt. 11:28-30; Eph. 5:8). First, how great my sins and misery are, (John 9:41; Matt. 9:12; Rom. 3:10; 1 John 1:9, 10) second, how I am delivered from all my sins and misery (John 17:3; Acts 4:12; 10:43), third, how I am to express my thankfulness to God for such deliverance (Eph. 5:10; Ps. 50:14; Matt. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:12; Rom. 6:13; 2 Tim. 2:15).
Q. 3. Where do you learn of your sin and its miserable consequences?
A. Out of the law of God (Rom. 3:20).
Q. 4. What does God require of you in His law?
A. Jesus Christ teaches this in summary in Matthew 22:37-40: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like unto it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27).
Q. 5. Are you able to keep God's law?
A. In no way (Rom. 3:10, 20, 23; 1 John 1:8, 10), for by nature I am inclined to hate God and my neighbor, and to break God's commandments in thought, word, and deed (Rom. 8:7; Eph. 2:3; Tit. 3:3; Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 7:23).
Q. 6. Did God create man so wicked and perverse like this?
A. By no means. On the contrary, God created man good (Gen. 1:31) and in His own image (Gen. 1:26, 27); that is, in true righteousness and holiness, so that he might rightly know God his Creator, love Him with his whole heart, and live with Him in eternal blessedness, praising and glorifying Him always. (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10; 2 Cor. 3:18)
Q. 7. Where, then, does this depraved nature of man come from?
A. From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3; Rom. 5:12, 18, 19); by which our nature became so corrupt that we are all conceived and born in sin. (Ps.51:5; Gen. 5:3)
Q. 8. But are we so corrupt that we are wholly unable to do any good, and inclined to all evil?
A. Yes, indeed, (Gen. 8:21; 6:5; Job 14:4; 15:14, 16, 35; John 3:6; Is. 53:6) unless we are born again by the Spirit of God. (John 3:3,5; 1 Cor. 12:3; 2 Cor. 3:5)
Q. 9. Does not God, then, wrong man by requiring of him in His law that which he cannot do?
A. Not at all; for God created man capable of doing it (Eph. 4:24). But man, following the urging of the devil (Gen.3:13; I Tim. 2:13,14), by deliberate disobedience, deprived himself and all his descendants of these gifts (Gen.36; Rom.5:12.)
Q. 10. Will God allow such disobedience and rebellion to go unpunished?
A. Certainly not, for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 5:12) both against our inborn sinfulness as well as our actual sins, and He will punish them according to His righteous judgment both in time and eternity (Ps.50:20; 5:5; Nah. 1:2; Ex. 20:5; 34:7; Rom. 1:18; Eph. 5:6). Just as He has declared: Cursed is every one who does not continue in all things that are written in the book of the law, and do them (Deut. 27:26; Gal. 3:10).
Q. 11. But is not God also merciful?
A. God is indeed merciful and gracious (Ex. 34:6,7; 20:6), but He is also true and righteous (Ps.7:9; Ex.20:5; 23:7; 34:7; Ps.5:4,5; Nah. 1:2,3). And His truth and righteousness require that He punish sin committed against His supreme majesty with extreme, that is, with eternal punishment of body and soul.
Q. 12. Since, then by the righteous judgment of God we deserve punishment both in this life and forever, is there no way by which we may escape that punishment and again be received into favor?
A. God will have His righteousness satisfied (Gen. 2:17; Ex. 23:7; Ezek. 18:4; Matt. 5:26; 2 Thes. 1:6; Luke 16:2); therefore, full payment must be made to His righteousness, either by ourselves or by another (Rom. 8:4).
Q. 13. Can we make this payment ourselves?
A. By no means. On the contrary, we increase our debt each day (Job 9:2; 15:15, 16; 4:18, 19; Ps. 130:3; Matt. 6:12; 18:25; 16:26).
Q. 14. Can any mere creature make the payment for us?
A. None. First of all, God does not want to punish any other creature for the sin which man has committed (Ezek. 18:4; Gen. 3:17). And, further, no mere creature can bear the burden of God's eternal wrath against sin and redeem others from it (Nah. 1:6; Ps. 130:3).
Q. 15. Then, what kind of mediator and redeemer must we seek?
A. One who is true (1 Cor. 15:21) and righteous (Heb. 7:26) man and ye more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is at the same time true God (Isa. 7:14; 9:6; Jer. 23:6; Lk. 11:22)
Q. 16. Why must he be a true and righteous man?
A. Because God's righteousness requires that the same human nature which has sinned should make satisfaction for sin (Ezek. 18:4,20; Rom. 5:18; 1 Cor. 15:21; Heb. 2:14-16), but one who himself is a sinner cannot pay for others (Heb. 7:26, 27; Ps. 49:8; 1 Pt. 3:18).
Q. 17. Why must he at the same time be true God?
A. So that by the power of His deity (Isa. 9:6; 63:3) He might bear in His human nature (Deut. 4:24; Nah. 1:6; Ps. 130:3) the burden of God's wrath (Isa.53:4, 11), and recover for us and restore to us righteousness and life. (Isa. 53:5, 11)
Q. 18. But who is this Mediator who is at the same time true God (1 Jn. 5:20; Rm. 9:5; 8:3; Ga. 4:4; Isa. 9:6; Jer. 23:6; Mal. 3:1) and a true (Lk. 1:42; 2:6,7; Rom. 1:3; 9:5; Phil. 2:7; Heb. 2:14-17; 4:15) and perfectly righteous man (Isa. 53:9,11; Jer. 23:5; Lk. 1:35; Jn. 8:46; Hb. 4:15; 7:26; 1 Pt. 1:19; 2:22; 3:18)?
A. Our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tm. 2:5; Mt. 1:23; 1 Tm. 3:16; Lk. 2:11; Hb. 2:9), who was made to us wisdom of God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30).
Q. 19. From where do you know this?
A. From the Holy Bible which is God's inspired revelation of Himself (Ps.19:1-3; 2 Tm. 3:15, 16).
Q. 20. What do you mean by inspired revelation?
A. That the Holy Spirit moved men to write the scriptures and guided them in their work so they wrote the Word of God without any kind of error. (2 Pt. 1:19)
Q. 21. Why did God give us this true and complete revelation?
A. To tell us about Himself. Especially of His holy gospel which He first revealed in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:15), afterward proclaimed by the holy patriarchs (Gen. 22:18; 12:3; 49:10) and prophets (Isa. 53; 42:1-4; 43:25; 49:5,6,22,23; Jer. 23:5,6; 31:32,33; 32:39-41; Mic. 7:18-20; Acts 10:43; 3:22-24; Rm. 1:2; Heb. 1:1) and foreshadowed through the sacrifices and other rites of the Old Testament (Hb. 10:1,7; Col. 2:7; Jn. 5:46), and finally fulfilled by His only begotten Son (Rm. 10:4; Ga. 4:4; 3:24; Col. 2:17).
Q. 22. Will everyone, then, be saved through this gospel as they became lost through Adam?
A. No (Mt.7:14; 22:14). But only those who are made to share in Christ and all His benefits by a true and living faith (Mark 16:16; Jn. 1:12; 3:16,18,36; Isa. 53:11; Ps. 2:12; Rm. 11:20; 3:22; Hb. 4:3; 5:9; 10:39; 11:6).
Q. 23. What is true faith?
A. It is not only a certain knowledge by which I accept as true all that God has revealed to us in His Word (Jas. 2:19), but also a firm confidence (Heb. 11:1,7; Rm. 4:18-21; 10:10; Eph. 3:12; Heb. 4:16; Js. 1:6) which the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22; Mt. 16:17; 2 Cor. 4:13; Jn. 6:29; Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:19; Acts 16:14) creates in me through the gospel (Rm. 1:16; 10:17; 1 Cor. 1:21; Acts 10:44; 16:14), that, not only to others but to me also God has given the forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness and salvation (Rm. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:10, 38; Gal. 2:16), out of sheer grace solely for the sake of Christ's saving work (Eph. 2:8; Rm. 3:24; 5:19; Lk. 1:77, 78).
Q. 24. What, then, must a Christian believe?
A. All that God has revealed to us about Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:19); and about how He has created us, and redeemed us when fallen (Gen. 1:1; Mark 1:15; John 20:31); as well as the reason, result, and goal of His great and marvelous work of salvation (2 Tim. 1:13; Heb. 11:6; 1 Jn. 5:7; Lk. 1:1).
Q. 25. Since there is but one Divine Being (Dt. 6:4; Eph. 4:6; Isa. 44:6; 45:5; 1 Cor. 8:4,6), why do you speak of three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
A. Because God has thus revealed Himself in His Word (Isa. 61:1; Lk. 4:18; Gen. 1:2,3; Ps. 33:6; Isa. 48:16; Mt. 3:16,17; 28:19; 1Jn. 5:7.), that these three distinct persons are the one, true, eternal God (Isa. 6:1,3; Jn. 14:26; 15:26; 2 Cor. 13:14; Gal. 4:6; Eph. 2:18; Tit. 3:5,6.)
Q. 26. What do you believe concerning God the Father Almighty, Creator of all things?
A. That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth with all that is in them (Gen. 1&2; Ex. 20:11; Job 38 & 39; Acts 4:24; 14:15; Ps. 33:6; Isa. 45:7.) is for the sake of Christ, His Son, my God and my Father (Jn. 1:12; Rm. 8:15; Gal. 4:5-7; Eph. 1:5.). I trust in Him so completely that I have no doubt that He will provide me with all things necessary for body and soul (Ps. 55:22; Mt. 6:25, 26; Lk. 12:22.). Moreover, whatever evil He sends upon me in this troubled and tearful life He will turn to my good (Rm. 8:28.); for He is able to do it, being almighty God (Isa. 46:4; Rm. 10:12.), and is willingly determined to do it, being a faithful Father (Mt. 6:32,33; 7:9,10,11.).
Q. 27. What do you mean by the providence of God?
A. The almighty and everywhere present power of God (Acts 17:25-28; Jer. 23:23,24; Isa. 29:15,16; Ezek. 8:12.) whereby He still upholds, as it were by His own hand, heaven and earth together with all creatures, and rules in such a way (Hb. 1:3.) that plants and animals, rain and drought (Jn. 9:3.), fruitful and unfruitful years, food and drink, health and sickness (Jer. 5:24; Acts 14:17.), riches and poverty (Prov. 22:2.), and everything else, come to us not by chance but by His fatherly hand (Mt. 10:29; Prov. 16:33.).
Q. 28. What advantage comes from acknowledging God's creation and providence?
A. We learn that we are to be patient in adversity (Rm. 5:3; Js. 1:3; Ps. 39:9; Job 1:21,22), thankful in prosperity (1 Thes. 5:18; Dt. 8:10), and to trust our faithful God and Father (Ps. 55:22; Rm. 5:4) for the future, assured that no creature shall separate us from His love (Rm. 8:38,39), since all creatures are so completely in His hand that without His will they cannot so much as move (Job 1:12; 2:6; Prov. 21:1; Acts 17:25).
Q. 29. Why is Jesus Christ called God's only begotten Son, since we also are God's children?
A. Because Christ alone is God and He is God's own eternal, natural Son (Jn. 1:14; Hb. 1:1,2; Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 4:9; Rm. 8:32), but we are children of God by adoption, through grace, for Christ's sake (Rm. 8:16; Jn. 1:12; Ga. 4:6; Eph. 1:5,6).
Q. 30. How did the eternal Son of God become our Savior?
A. The Son of God, who always remained (1 Jn. 5:20; Jn. 1:1; 17:3; Rm. 1:3) and always (Col. 1:15; Rm. 9:5) is true and eternal God, took upon Himself our human nature from the flesh and blood of a virgin woman (Ga. 4:4; Lk. 1:31,42,43) by the working of the Holy Spirit (Mt. 1:20; Lk. 1:35), so that He might also be the true seed of David (Rm. 1:3; Ps. 132:11; 2 Sm. 7:12; Lk. 1:32; Acts 2:30), just like those He was to save (Phil. 2:7; Hb. 2:14,17), except for sin (Hb. 4:15).
Q. 31. What benefit is it to you that Jesus was miraculously conceived and born?
A. That He is our Mediator (Hb. 7:26,27), and that, He covers over with His innocence and perfect holiness the sinfulness in which I have been conceived and born (1 Pt. 1:18,19; 3:18; 1 Cor. 1:30,31; Rm. 8:3,4; Isa. 53:11; Ps. 32:1).
Q. 32. Why do you call Him Jesus, which means Savior?
A. Because He saves us from our sins (Mt. 1:21; Hb. 7:25), and because salvation is not to be sought or found in any other (Acts 4:12; Jn. 15:4,5; 1 Tm. 2:5; Isa. 43:11; 1 Jn. 5:11).
Q. 33. Do those who seek their salvation and well-being by their own efforts, from saints, or by other means really believe in the only Savior Jesus?
A. They do not. Rather, by such actions they deny Jesus, the only Savior and Mediator (1 Cor. 1:13,31; Gal. 5:4;), even though they boast of Him in words. Therefore, one or the other must be true: Either Jesus is not a perfect Savior, or those who have truly received Him possess ALL that is necessary for their salvation (Hb. 12:2; Isa. 9:6; Col. 1:19,20; 2:10; 1 Jn. 1:7).
Q. 34. Why is Jesus called Christ, that is, the Anointed One?
A. Because He is ordained by God the Father and anointed with the Holy Spirit (Ps. 45:7; Hb. 1:9; Isa. 61:1; Lk. 4:18) to be our Prophet-Teacher (Dt. 18:15; Acts 3:22; 7:32; Isa. 55:4) fully revealing to us the secret purpose and will of God concerning our redemption (Jn. 1:18; 15:15), to be our only High Priest (Ps. 110:4), having redeemed us by the one sacrifice of His body (Hb. 10:12,14; 9:12,14,28) and continually interceding for us with the Father (Rm. 8:34; Hb. 9:24; 1 Jn. 2:1; Rm. 5:9,10), and to be our eternal King, governing us by His Word and Spirit, and defending and preserving us in the redemption He has won for us (Ps. 2:6; Zech. 9:9; Mt. 21:5; Lk. 1:33; Mt. 28:18; Jn. 10:28; Rv. 12:10,11).
Q. 35. But why are you called a Christian (Acts 11:26)?
A. Because He has made me a prophet, priest, and king (1 Jn. 2:27; Acts2:17) by sharing in Him and His anointing (Acts 11:26); so that I may confess His name (Mt. 10:32; Rm. 10:10), offer myself a living sacrifice of gratitude to Him (Rm. 12:1; 1 Pt. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6; 5:8,10), and fight against sin and the devil with a free and good conscience throughout this life (1 Pt. 2:11; Rm. 6:12,13; Gal. 5:16,17; Eph. 6:11; 1 Tm. 1:18,20) and hereafter rule with Him in eternity over all creatures (2 Tm. 2:12; Mt. 25:34).
Q. 36. Why do you call Him, Our Lord?
A. Because He has redeemed us, body and soul, from all our sins, not with gold or silver, but with His precious blood, and has delivered us from all the power of the devil, and has made us His own possession (1 Pt. 1:18,19; 2:9; 1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Tm. 2:6; Jn. 20:28).
Q. 37. What is the meaning of our Lord's suffering?
A. That all the time He lived on earth, but especially at the end of His life, He bore in body and soul the wrath of God against the sins of a multitude of all kinds of sinners (even the worst) from all over the world and out of every race and every age of human history (Isa. 53:4; 1 Pt. 2:24; 3:18; 1 Tm. 2:6), so that by His suffering, as the only atoning sacrifice (Isa. 53:10; Eph. 5:2; 1 Cor. 5:7; 1 Jn. 2:2; Rm. 3:25; Hb. 9:28; 10:14), He might redeem our body and soul from everlasting damnation (Gal. 3:13; Col. 1:13; Hb. 9:12; 1 Pt. 1:18,19), and might obtain for us God's blessing, righteousness and eternal life (Rm. 3:25; 2 Cor. 5:21; Jn. 3:16; 6:51; Hb. 9:15; 10:19).
Q. 38. Why was He judged of men like Pontius Pilate and the Jewish leaders?
A. They were God's instruments to prove Christ's innocence, to execute God's judgment, and to show the wickedness of mankind even in its highest attainments of human justice and religion (Jn. 18:38; 19:4-6; Acts 2:33).
Q. 39. Is there something more in His having been crucified than if He had died some other death?
A. Yes, for by this I am assured that He took upon Himself the curse which lay upon me (Gal. 3:13), because the death of the cross was cursed of God (Dt. 21:23).
Q. 40. Why was it necessary for Christ to suffer death?
A. Because the justice and truth of God (Gen. 2:17) are such that nothing else could satisfy for our sins except the death of the Son of God (Rm. 8:3,4; Heb. 2:14,15).
Q. 41. What is the deepest meaning of death?
A. To be separated from God which is the greatest agony of hell (Ps.16:10,11; 89:46).
Q. 42. Did Christ then go into hell in my place?
A. Even though He did not go into the place of the damned, yet while He was on the cross at Calvary He bore all the inexpressible horrors, pains, and agonies in His body and soul which that place ever had or could have (Ps. 18:4,5; 116:3; Mt. 26:38; 27:46; Hb. 5:7), and so He has delivered me from all its torments (Isa. 53:5).
Q. 43. Since then Christ suffered and died for us, why do we also suffer and die?
A. Our suffering and death is not a satifaction for our sins (Mk. 8:37; Ps. 49:7), but a subduing of the evil passions of our mortal bodies and a dying to sins, and an entering into eternal life, leaving behind the corruption which cleaves to our flesh as it is in this present world (Phil. 1:23; Jn. 5:24; Rm. 7:24).
Q. 44. For whom did Christ endure all His sufferings and His terrible death?
A. In His suffering and death Christ had His heart set upon a particular people (Mt. 1:21), His body, His church (Acts 20:28), His sheep (Jn. 10:11), those chosen from eternity to be His own (Eph. 1:3-12) and given to Him before the world began (Jn. 17:1-11,20,24-26).
Q. 45. What comfort is it to you that the purpose of Christ's death was definite and particular?
A. Much, in that it means that Christ does not fail in His purposes (Jn. 6:35-40) nor lose any who were given to Him by the Father (Jn. 10:14-18); and that His love toward me is everlasting (Eph. 5:25-27) and unchangeable (Isa. 46:9-11) rather than general; that the salvation He wrought is certain and not a mere possibility (Isa. 55:11); and that His purchase was full and complete, leaving no part undone in my free salvation (Eph. 1:3,4; Rm. 5:8,9).
Q. 46. Why was He buried?
A. Since the grave is the place of corruption, the finality of death, the return unto dust, Christ was buried to set the seal upon His death. His burial accomplished all of death and thereby fulfilled all righteousness (Acts 13:29; Mt. 27:59,60; Lk. 23:53; Jn. 19:38).
Q. 47. What benefit do we receive from the resurrection of Christ?
A. First, by His resurrection He has overcome death that He might make us share in the righteousness which He has obtained for us through His death (Rm. 4:25; 1 Pt. 1:3; 1 Cor. 15:16). Second, we too are now raised by His power to a new life while in this world (Rm. 6:4; Col. 3:1,3; Eph. 2:5,6). Third, the resurrection of Christ is a sure pledge to us of our blessed resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20,21).
Q. 48. Where is Christ's human nature at this time?
A. Christ was taken up from the earth into heaven (Acts 1:9; Mk. 16:19; Lk. 24:51) before the eyes of His disciples and remains there on our behalf (Hb. 9:24; 4:14; Rm. 8:34; Col. 3:1) until He comes again to judge the living and the dead. (Acts 1:11; Mt. 24:30)
Q. 49. Is not Christ with us until the end of the world, as He has promised us (Mt. 28:20)?
A. Christ is true man and true God. As a man He is no longer on earth, (Hb. 8:4; Mt. 26:11; Jn. 16:28; 17:11; Acts 3:21) but in His divinity, majesty, grace, and Spirit, He is always present with us (Jn. 14:18; Mt. 28:20).
Q. 50. But are not the two natures in Christ separated from each other in this way, if His humanity is not present wherever His divinity is?
A. Not at all; for since the divine nature has no limits and is present everywhere (Jer. 23:24; Acts 7:49), that nature is certainly beyond the limits of the humanity it has assumed (Col. 2:9; Jn. 3:13; 11:15; Mt. 28:6). Nevertheless, it is ever in that humanity as well and remains personally united to it, so that the sympathies of His human nature can be with us in this world, even though His body is not.
Q. 51. What benefit do we receive from Christ's ascention into heaven?
A. First, that He is our Advocate in the presence of His Father in heaven (1 Jn. 2:1; Rm. 8:34). Second, that we have our flesh in heaven as a sure pledge that He, as the Head, will also take us, His members, up to Himself (Jn. 14:2; 17:24; 20:17; Eph. 2:6). Third, that He sends us His Spirit as a security pledge, (Jn. 14:16; 16:7; Acts 2:33; 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5) by whose power we seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God, and not things that are on earth (Col. 3:1.)
Q. 52. What do you mean that Christ sits at the right hand of God; and what benefit do we receive from this glory of Christ, our Head?
A. That He is seated means that He is the acknowledged Head (Eph. 1:20-23; Col. 1:18) over all things for the sake of His Church, (Mt. 28:18; Jn. 5:22) and through Him the Father pours out upon His members all the heavenly gifts of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33; Eph. 4:8), that by His irresistible power and absolute authority He may defend and support us against all His and our enemies (Ps. 2:9; 110:1,2; Jn. 10:28; Eph. 4:8).
Q. 53. What comfort does the return of Christ to judge the living and the dead give you?
A. That in all my sorrows and persecutions, with uplifted head I look for the very same Person who before has offered Himself for my sake to the judgment of God, and has removed all curse from me, to come as judge from heaven (Phil. 3:20; Lk. 21:28; Rm. 8:23; Tit. 2:13), who shall cast all His and my enemies into everlasting condemnation (Mt.25:41; 2 Th. 1:6), but shall take me with all His chosen ones to Himself into heavenly joy and glory. (Mt. 25:34; 2 Th. 1:7)
Q. 54. What comfort does the resurrection of the body give you?
A. That after this life my soul shall immediately be taken up to Christ, its Head (Lk. 16:22; 23:43; Phil. 1:21,23); and rest there awaiting the great day when it shall be reunited with my body, which shall be raised by the power of Christ and be made like unto His glorious body (Job 19:25,26; 1 Jn. 3:2; Phil. 3:21).
Q. 55. What comfort does the teaching concerning the life everlasting give you?
A. That, since I now feel in my heart the beginning of eternal joy (2 Cor. 5:2,3,6), I shall possess, after this life, perfect blessedness, which no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor has the heart of man conceived, and I shall forever praise and rejoice in God (1 Cor. 2:9).
Q. 56. What do you believe concerning the Holy Spirit?
A. First, that with the Father and the Son (1Jn. 5:7; Gen. 1:2; Isa. 48:16; 1 Co. 3:16; 6:19; Acts 5:3,4), He is equally eternal God; second, that He is also given to me (Gal. 4:6; Mt. 28:19,20; 2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13) to make me by true faith share in Christ and all His benefits (Gal. 3:14; 1 Pt. 1:2; 1 Co. 6:17); third, that He comforts and guides me (Jn. 15:26; Acts 9:31) in the way of truth and obedience and will abide with me forever (Jn. 14:16; 1 Pt. 4:14).
Q. 57. What do you believe concerning the holy universal church?
A. I believe that, from the beginning to the end of the world (Gen. 26:4; Rev. 5:9), and out of the whole human race (Ps. 71:17,18; Isa. 59:21; 1 Cor. 11:26), the Son of God (Eph. 5:26; Jn. 10:11; Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:11-13), by His Spirit and Word (Isa. 59:21; Rm. 1:16; 10:14-17; Eph. 5:26), gathers, protects, and preserves for Himself (Mt. 16:18; Jn. 10:28-30; Ps. 129:1-5), in the unity of the faith (Acts 2:42; Eph. 4:3-5), a congregation chosen for eternal life. (Rm. 8:29; Eph. 1:10:13). Also, I believe that I am and forever will remain a living member of this great assembly (Ps. 23:6; 1 Cor. 1:8,9; Jn. 10:28; 1 Jn. 2:19; 1 Pt. 1:5).
Q. 58. When was this church chosen for eternal life?
A. God chose each of its members in Christ before the creation of the world according to the purpose of His eternal and unchangeable will, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto Himself so that we might be built into a holy temple which is pleasing, beautiful, and glorious unto Him (Eph.1:4-23).
Q. 59. How is this elect church of the Lord Jesus Christ manifest in the world?
A. The Son of God, by His Word and Spirit, calls the elect to a saving faith in Himself and these are gathered and united in local congregations for worship, instruction in righteousness, and the proclamation and defense of the gospel (2 Th. 2:13,14; 2 Tm. 1:8,9; Acts 2:41,42; Mt. 28:20; Phil. 1:27).
Q. 60. What do you understand of the communion of saints?
A. That believers one and all, as members of Christ, share Christ and all His treasures and gifts (1 Jn. 1:3; Rm. 8:32; 1 Cor. 12:12,13; 1 Cor. 6:17) together; and, because of this togetherness, every one ought to know that he is obligated to use his gifts freely and cheerfully for the benefit and welfare of other members (1 Co. 12:21; 13:1,5; Phil. 2:4-8).
Q. 61. What do you believe concerning the forgiveness of sins?
A. That, for the sake of Christ's reconciling work, God will no more remember my sins or the sinfulness with which I have to struggle all my life long (1 Jn. 2:2; 1:7; 2 Co. 5:19); but that He graciously grants to me the righteousness of Christ -(Rm. 7:23-25; Jer. 31:34; Mic. 7:19; Ps. 103:3,10,12) so that I may never come into condemnation (Jn. 3:18; 5:24).
Q. 62. How are you righteous before God?
A. Though in myself I am guilty of grievously sinning against all the commandments of God and have not kept any one of them (Rm. 3:9); and though I still have inclinations and desires toward all sorts of evils (Rm. 7:23), yet, God out of pure grace freely gives me all the benefits of Christ's perfect satisfaction (Tit. 3:5; Dt. 9:6; Ezek. 36:22), placing all His righteousness and holiness to my account (Rm.3:24; Eph. 2:8); God looks upon me in Christ and sees perfection as if I had never committed a single sin or had ever been sinful (1 Jn. 2:2; 2 Co. 5:21 as if I myself had fulfilled all the obedience which Christ has carried out for me. All of this is given to me through faith alone (Rm. 3:22; Jn. 3:18).
Q. 63. Why do you say that you are righteous by faith alone?
A. It is not that faith has any worth or merit to God, for it is not a work or meriting condition, but it is God's instrument through which He gives me the satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ (1 Co. 1:30; 2:2), and it is the only way that He does this (1 Jn. 5:10).
Q. 64. Since, then, faith alone makes us share in Christ and all His benefits, where does such faith originate?
A. It is the gracious gift of God created in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:8; 6:23; Jn. 3:5; Phil. 1:29) along with the preaching of the Word (Mt. 28:19; 1 Pt. 1:22,23).
Q. 65. But why cannot our good works or own efforts be our righteousness before God, or at least part of it?
A. Because the righteousness which can stand before the judgment of God must be absolutely perfect and wholly identical to every line and dot of God's law (Ga. 3:10; Dt. 27:26). But even our best efforts in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin. (Isa. 64:6)
Q. 66. Since God rewards good works both in this and the future life, does not this mean there is some merit in them?
A. In no way, for it is a reward of grace (Lk. 17:10), because even my good works are but fruits which Christ bears in and through me (Eph. 2:8,9).
Q. 67. But does not this teaching make people careless and sinful?
A. No, for it is utterly impossible for one who is in union with Christ by true faith, and renewed by the Holy Spirit, not to bring forth the fruits of gratitude (Mt. 7:18; Jn. 15:5).
Q. 68. What two fruits of gratitude should one who has been renewed unto true faith soon exhibit by public rite?
A. Baptism (Mt. 28:19) and the Lord's Supper (Acts 2:42).
Q. 69. What are baptism and the Lord's Supper?
A. They are holy ordinances which declare by symbols the saving truth of the gospel, which were appointed by the Lord Jesus to be observed until the end of the world (Mt. 28:19).
Q. 70. Are these only then mere symbols and not sacraments?
A. They are the Word of God in symbol and must always be understood in connection with that Word. When they are received by faith they draw our attention to Christ's crucifiction and resurrection and thereby strengthen our souls. Unbelievers and hypocrites profess by their act of partaking to believe something they do not possess, therefore receive nothing but guilt for taking God's Word in vain (1 Cor. 11:28,29).
Q. 71. What is baptism?
A. It is the immersing of a believer in water (Rm. 6:3,4,5; Col. 2:11; Ga. 3:27) as a sign unto him (1 Pt. 3:21) that he has union with Christ in His atoning death and powerful resurrection (Rm. 6:2,4), thus having the remission of sins and the washing of regeneration (Mk. 1:4; Acts 26:16), and so is to walk and live as a new creature (Col.3:1-5).
Q. 72. How does holy baptism remind you that Christ's sacrificial death and mighty resurrection avail for you?
A. In this way: Christ has instituted this immersing and washing in water to signify His promise that, as certainly as I go down beneath the water and come up again, I am one with Him (Rm. 6:4) as He was overwhelmed by sufferings and death (Lk. 12:50), then rose victoriously to life (Rm. 6:8-11); and that by this union, just as my whole body is washed externally with water, so have I been wholly cleansed from the uncleanness of my soul and all my sins by the blood and Spirit of Christ, and made a victor over death.
Q. 73. What does it mean to be one with Christ as He was baptized in sufferings and death, and as He arose victoriously over the grave?
A. That God places to my account the death of Christ just as if I myself had borne this overwhelming penalty for sin (Rm. 4:24,25), and I share also in His resurrection by being granted His victory over sin and death and all spiritual foes (Eph.1:3,4), for Christ my risen Lord dwells in me by His Spirit with the same energizing power which raised Him from the dead (Eph. 1:19,20), giving me strength to live a new life and finally raising my body on the last day (Rm. 6:8,9).
Q. 74. What does it mean to be washed in the blood and Spirit of Christ?
A. It means to have the forgiveness of sins from God, through grace for the sake of Christ's blood which He shed for us in His sacrifice on the cross (Hb. 12:24; 1 Pt. 1:2; Rev. 1:5; 7:14; Zech. 13:1; Ezek. 36:25), and because of this to be renewed by the Holy Spirit and separated unto God as members of Christ so that we may more and more die unto sin and live in a consecrated and blameless way (Jn. 1:33; 3:5; 1Cor. 6:11; 12:13; Rm. 6:4; Col. 2:12).
Q. 75. Who, then, should be baptized?
A. Only those who possess the things signified (Mk. 16:16) Otherwise, we declare another gospel which says one may be forgiven in, by, through, or because of baptism, or by inheritance from parents (Jn. 1:13), rather than by Christ's work alone applied to us by God's Spirit (Jn.3:6).
Q. 76. What is the Lord's Supper?
A. It is an eating of bread and drinking of wine by believers as a memorial to relive symbolically the deliverance from sin Christ made for them on Calvary (Mt. 26:26-28; Mk. 14:22-24; Lk. 22:19,20). It is a joyous confession and thanksgiving proclamation that the work which Christ did on the cross is the continuing source of their spiritual life (1 Cor. 10:16,17; 11:23-25; 12:13), and that they are sharers together in it.
Q. 77. What does it mean to eat the crucified body of Christ and to drink His shed blood?
A. It means that we embrace with a trusting heart the whole suffering and death of Christ upon the cross and by it receive the forgiveness of sins and spiritual life (Jn. 6:35,40,47,48,50,51,53,54), and thus become more and more united to Him by the Holy Spirit who dwells both in Christ and in us (Jn. 6:55,56), that, as bread and wine provide for our physical needs, Christ's work upon the cross provides for our spiritual needs (Col. 3:1; Eph. 5:29; 1 Jn. 3:24).
Q. 78. Do the bread and wine become the very body and blood of Christ?
A. No (Mt.26:26-28), for these elements refer to the historical event of Calvary done by our Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 11:23-26) and our incorporation into what He did there (1 Cor. 10:16). Just as baptism is not the actual burial and resurrection of Christ, nor does the water change into the blood or Spirit of Christ, but is a divine memorial, even so, Christ is not offered, nor any real sacrifice made in the Lord's Supper, but we are made by the Spirit to relive by faith the Calvary event which is the source of our life.
Q. 79. Then why does Christ call the bread His body, and the cup His blood, or the new covenant in His blood, and why does the apostle Paul call the Supper a sharing in the body and blood of Christ?
A. Not without strong reason, for the Supper is a special time set apart to take us back to Calvary in memory by faith to relive that event, and to remind ourselves that we receive the reality of spiritual life, from the work of Christ there, with our spiritual mouth, which is faith, in just as real a way as the mouth of the body receives these physical elements; for the flesh and blood of Christ sacrificed once for all on the cross is indeed the true spiritual food and drink of our souls (Jn. 6:55; 1 Cor. 10:16).
Q. 80. Does the scripture use any other such symbolic language?
A. Yes, of the old passover it is written: This is the bread of affliction which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt (Dt. 16:3); Jesus says: The field is the world, I am the door (Mt. 13:3 8; Jn.10:9); and the apostle Paul says the veil on Moses' face is the same that remains on Israel's heart (2 Co. 3:15); also, the book of Hebrews calls the temple veil Christ's flesh (Hb. 10:20).
Q. 81. What difference is there between the Lord's Supper and the Roman Catholic Mass?
A. The Lord's Supper testifies to us that we have complete forgiveness of all our sins through the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ which He Himself has accomplished on the cross once for all (Hb. 10:10,12; 7:26,27; 9:12,25; Jn. 19:30; Mt. 26:28; Lk. 22:19); and that through the Holy Spirit we are incorporated into Christ (1 Cor. 10:16,17; 6:17), who according to His human nature is not now on earth but in heaven, at the right hand of the Father (Jn. 20:17; Col. 3:1; Hb. 1:3; 8:1), and is there to be worshipped (Mt. 6:20,21; Acts 7:55; Phil. 3:20; 1 Th. 1:10). But the Mass teaches that the living and the dead do not have forgiveness of sins through the sufferings of Christ unless He is again offered for them daily by the priest, and that Christ is bodily under the form of bread and wine and is therefore to be worshipped in them. Therefore, the Mass is fundamentally a complete denial of the once for all sacrifice and suffering of Christ and as such an idolatry to be condemned (Hb. 9:26; 10:12,14).
Q. 82. Who ought to come to the table of the Lord?
A. Only Christians, that is, those who have inwardly mourned over their sinfulness, but nevertheless trust that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, and who have heart-felt desire to live the new life of Christian gratitude. But those with hypocritical hearts who have not turned to God with sincerity eat and drink judgment to themselves (1Co. 11:28,29; 10:19-22).
Q. 83. Should those who show themselves to be unbelievers and enemies of God by their confession and life be admitted to this Supper?
A. No, these should not be received by the church, nor welcomed to the Supper, but rather excluded from the fellowship and warned that all who do not sincerely repent stand exposed to the wrath of God and eternal condemnation as long as they remain unconverted (1 Co. 11:20,34; Isa. 1:11; 66:3; Jer. 7:21).
Q. 84. Does Christ require that His church withhold full fellowship from any other than unbelievers?
A. Yes, any who persist to act in a disorderly manner or have settled in errors which tend to destroy the unity of the faith, though they are not damnable in themselves, should be barred from full communion as a warning against such disorderly ways. However, such an offender should be counted as a brother and not an enemy (2 Th. 3:14,15).
Q. 85. Since we are redeemed from our sin and God's wrath wholly by grace through Christ without any merit of our own, why must we do good works?
A. Because just as certain as Christ has redeemed us with His blood, He has also certainly renewed us by His Holy Spirit after His own image, and this inward renewal will always bear fruit (Eph. 2:10; Jn. 15:5; Mt.7:16-20), because true faith is the life of God implanted in the soul and this life will work itself out in humble gratitude to God its source and seek to glorify Him before all men (Js. 2:26; 3:12).
Q. 86. Can those who profess Christ with their mouths, but continue to walk in sin and live being ruled by fleshly desire be saved?
A. Certainly not! Scripture says, Surely you know that the unjust will never come into possession of the kingdom of God. Make no mistake; no fornicator, or idolator, none who are guilty of either adultery or of homosexual perversion, no thieves or greedy or drunkards or slanderers or swindlers, will possess the kingdom of God (1 Co. 6:9,10; Eph. 5:5,6; 1Jn. 3:14); and, without sanctification (holiness) no one shall see the Lord (Hb. 12:14).
Q. 87. What is this practical sanctification?
A. Practical sanctification is the continuing work of God, which He began at regeneration, by His Holy Spirit applying His Word to the heart of each of His children (Phil. 1:6; 2:12,13), thereby separating them from the control of sinful thoughts and actions (Rm. 6:12-14), and setting them apart to become more like Himself in thought and act, in order that they may glorify Him by good works (Eph. 2:10; 1 Tm. 2:10; Tit. 2:7,14; 3:14; 1 Pt. 2:12).
Q. 88. What are good works?
A. The only works which are good in God's sight are those which flow out of gratitude to Him, from a believing heart (Rm. 14:23; 1 Co. 10:31), for what He has done for us through His Son, Jesus Christ; and those which reflect His image (Jn. 17:23; 2 Co. 3:18; Col. 3:10; Rm. 8:29).
Q. 89. How do I reflect the image of God?
A. I reflect the image of God as my character and conduct are, in loving fear by the Spirit, conformed to His will and commandments (Col. 3:5-10).
Q. 90. How do I know the character and commandments of God?
A. God has revealed His law and His character in various ways: In the lives of His saints, such as, Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, John, and Paul; (2 Th. 3:9; 1 Co. 10:11) in His acts and words to and through O.T. Israel and the N.T. churches (Rm. 15:4); in the ten commandments given to Israel by Moses (Rm. 14:9); in the message of the holy prophets (Jer. 31:10; Ezek. 20:47); but especially in Jesus Christ, who was the fulness of God come in our flesh, (so He was the perfect image of God incarnate (Col. 3:9; Hb. 1:1-3)), and whose Spirit was the source of all those other revelations (1 Pt. 1:11).
Q. 91. Where do I find the permanent, final, and inerrant record of these revelations?
A. In the Holy Bible, which is God's Word, and the only sufficient, certain, infallible, and complete rule of truth that we have (Mt. 4:4,7,10; 2 Tm. 3:16,17).
Q. 92. Are not the ten commandments a special rule summing up how we might be holy?
A. We should not ignore Moses or any of the O.T. (1 Tm. 5:18; Eph. 6:2), for they are the Word of Christ too. However, the divine standard of holiness became incarnate in Jesus Christ, and the fulness of God's law is embodied and set forth in His perfect humanity (Ga. 4:4; Col. 2:9); so our use of the O.T. must always be subordinate to and in light of the full and complete revelation of God's eternal law given to us in His Son (Lk. 9:35; Hb. 3:3-7; 12:25; Jn. 1:17,18)
Q. 93. Then, do you mean the O.T. saints were not fully God's children like we are?
A. Indeed they were God's children, but they lived in a time of shadow and infancy (Ga. 4:1-5; Rm. 3:25; Hb. 8:8-13; 10:1; 11:40) and looked forward to the coming of the great Light (Lk. 2:32; Jn. 1:9,14), the gospel of Jesus Christ, which contains the sum and substance and glory of all the laws which God ever gave from His throne (Col. 1:19).
Q. 94. Is Christ's example or the gospel, then, just a new or a fuller set of rules we must follow in order to be saved?
A. Certainly not! For all things pertaining to our salvation were won and are treasured up for us in the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Co. 1:30; Col. 2:3), including our sanctification; and we follow Christ's example and commandments because He dwells in us (Col. 1:27; Jn. 14:16,20) and works in us and gives us His mind and power as His Holy Spirit applies His Word to our hearts (Rm. 12:2; 1 Co. 2:16; Phil. 2:5); all this is part of the one great salvation He merited for us on the cross (Rm. 8:32-34).
Q. 95. Do you, then, walk in Christ as you received Him, that is, by faith alone?
A. Having begun in the Spirit by faith (Ga. 3:2-5) I put no confidence in the flesh to continue, but look to the cross of Christ, not only for my pardon, but for my purification as well (Ga. 3:13,14; 6:14; Hb. 12:2), for there is but one great principle of grace, through faith that covers the whole Christian life (Ga. 3:11; 1 Jn. 4:9).
Q. 96. Does this mean you have no struggle and warfare?
A. Quite the contrary! For the loving fear of God, which His Spirit worked in my heart at my conversion (2 Co. 7:1; Eph. 5:21; Phil. 2:12; 1 Pt. 1:17), by revealing His love to me in Christ and the cross, continues to motivate me to obey His Word and struggle against sin and long for perfection (1 Jn. 3:9; 5:4; Rm. 8:16); and so, I fight to put off the old life of sin and put on the new life of holiness (Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:8-14).
Q. 97. As you become more holy do you need Christ's work on the cross and His Spirit's work within any less?
A. Just the opposite. For my sanctification always remains in Christ (Jn.15:2-4), and, the more I grow in grace, the more I learn of my own sinfulness (Rm. 7:18-20) and my need of His Spirit to apply the benefits of His crucifiction and resurrection. In myself there ever remains no good thing, and it is only in fellowship with Him that I conform to God's standard of holiness.
Q. 98. Will you ever in this life attain perfect conformity to God's standard of holiness?
A. No, for even the holiest of God's children make only a small beginning in obedience (1 Jn. 1:8; Rm. 7:14,15; Eccl. 7:20; 1 Co. 13:9) in this life. Nevertheless, they begin with serious purpose to live not only according to some, but according to all the commandments of God in Christ Jesus (Rm. 7:22; Ps. 1:2).
Q. 99. If weakness and imperfection is mixed with all our good works, how are they acceptable to God at all?
A. As my whole being is accepted through Christ, so also are my good works (2 Co. 8:12; Eph. 1:6); not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and perfect in God's sight, but that He, looking upon them in His Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.
Q100. Why, then, does God set before us such a standard of perfection, since none can attain it in this life?
A. First, that all our life long we may become increasingly aware of our sinfulness (Rm. 3:20; 1 Jn. 1:9; Ps. 32:5), and therefore more eagerly seek forgiveness of sins and righteousness in Christ (Mt. 5:6; Rm. 7:24,25). Second, that we may constantly and diligently pray to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, so that we may be renewed in the image of God, until we attain the goal of full perfection after this life (1 Co. 9:24; Phil. 3:12-14). Third, that we may never forget God's wonderful grace toward us, but continually praise and thank Him (Ps. 103:1-3).
Q101. Why is prayer and thanksgiving necessary for Christians?
A. Because it is the chief part of the gratitude which God works in and requires of us (Ps. 50:14; Rm. 14:6; Eph. 5:4,20; Col. 3:17; Hb. 13:5), and because God will give His grace and Holy Spirit only to those who sincerely beseech Him in prayer without ceasing, and who thank Him for all these gifts He gives us in His Son (Mt. 7:7; Lk. 11:9,13; 1 Th. 5:17).
Q102. What is contained in a prayer which pleases God and is heard by Him?
A. First, that we sincerely (Jn. 4:24; Ps. 145:18) call upon the one true God, who has revealed Himself to us in His Word (Rv. 19:10; Jn. 4:22-24) for all that He has commanded us to ask of Him (Rm. 8:26; 1 Jn. 5:14; Js. 1:5). Then, that we thoroughly acknowledge our need and evil condition (2 Chron. 20:12) so that we may humble ourselves in the presence of His majesty (Ps. 2:11; 34:18; Isa. 66:2). Third, that we rest assured (Rm. 10:13; Js. 1:6), that, in spite of our unworthiness, He will certainly hear our prayer (Jn. 14:13; 16:23; Dan. 9:18) for the sake of Christ our Lord, as He has promised us in His Word (Mt. 7:8; Ps. 27:8).
Q103. What guide has God given to direct us in our prayers?
A. The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in prayer; but we have a special guide in that pattern of prayer which Christ taught His disciples, commonly called, THE LORD'S PRAYER.
Q104. Where is this found?
A. In Matthew 6:9-13, or Luke 11:1-4.
Q105. Why has Christ commanded us to address God: Father?
A. That at the very beginning of our prayer He may awaken in us the inner knowledge that we are God's dearly beloved children through Christ (Mt. 7:9-11; Lk. 11:11-13), and that with a heart of tenderness, compassion, loving kindness, and mercy He who so freely gave His Son for us will certainly provide all our needs (Rm. 8:16-21; Ga. 3:26; Eph. 5:1; Ga. 4:5-7).
Q106. How should you, God's child, approach Him then?
A. I should come to Him with the reverence, expectation, and wonder of a little child (Ps. 131:2) which acknowledges Him the only true God and Source of all my good (Ps. 73:25; 37:7; Mt. 11:28,29); finds my trust and comfort and rest in Him alone; loves, honors, and obeys Him with my whole heart (Mt. 5:29; 10:37; Acts 5:29); and rather than do the least thing against the will of Him who loves me so, I should rather turn my back on all creatures.
Q107. Who denies the Fatherhood of God?
A. All those who deny that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father have denied the Father and set up an idol (Jn. 14:6; Eph. 5:5), which is to imagine or possess something in which one puts one's trust in place of or beside the true God who has revealed Himself in His Word (Phil. 3:19; Gal. 4:8; Eph. 2:12; 1 Jn. 2:23; Jn. 5:23).
Q108. Why does Christ say: OUR Father?
A. So that we may remember to pray not only for ourselves, but with and for our brothers and sisters in Christ also (2 Cor. 1:11; 9:14; Phil. 1:4,19; Col. 3:4).
Q109. Why is there added: Who is in heaven?
A. That we may have no earthly conception of the heavenly majesty of God (Jer. 23:23,24; Acts 17:24,25,27), but that we may expect from His almighty power all things that are needed for body and soul (Rm. 10:12).
Q110. Should we, then, not make any images of God at all?
A. God cannot and should not be pictured in any way. (Isa. 40:25) As for creatures, although they may indeed be portrayed, God forbids making or having any likeness of them in order to worship them or use them to serve Him (Ex. 34:17; 23:24; 34:13; Num. 33:52).Originally uploaded by Dan Keen (CIS 70731,722)
who received the text from Mary Emerson, (CIS 75460,2765).