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| The Heidelberg Catechism |
Introduction Part 2: Lord’s Day One
By: G.I. Williamson
The Heidelberg Catechism serves as a “map” to both experienced and inexperienced Christians alike. As mentioned in part one of the introductions, Catechism is a guideline of the bible given in the form of questions and answers. It consists of 129 questions followed by answers that have been carefully and effectively written. All of the answers coexists with the bibles teachings and is also insightful. G.I. Williamson breaks down the Q/A into three major parts: questions 1 and 2 are introductory; 3-11 explores man’s “sin and misery”; questions 12-85 “shows the way of deliverance”; and questions 86-129 “unfolds the life of gratitude that is to be expected in those who are saved.
Question 1: What is your only comfort in life and death?
Answer: That I, with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, wherefore by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willingly and ready, henceforth, to live unto Him.
Question 2: How many things are necessary for you to know, that you in this comfort may live and die happily?
Answer: Three; the first, how great my sins and misery are; the second, how I am delivered from all my sins and misery; the third, how I am to be thankful to God for such deliverance.
These are two excellent questions to begin with. I wonder how many self proclaimed Christians would get this one wrong. Even with proclaiming faith in Jesus Christ there are many who will seek comfort elsewhere. As humans we are in constant need of comfort, without it we’re out of place and uneasy. This is especially true when it comes to sin; once the serpent made Eve comfortable with committing a sin she did so, and she enticed Adam to do so as well.
With sin introduced to us through Adam and Eve we are prone to do the very same. Once God confronted them on their sinful actions, he banished them from the Garden of Eden. From there sin multiplied and the world has become what we know it to be today. Williamson writes “in just the first six chapters of the Bible, God tells us that we lost something like ‘heaven on earth’ (in the Garden of Eden) and found ourselves in a world that began to resemble hell.”
Although it may be a resemblance, it lacks the true horror of pure evil because God has restrained Satan’s plan, which is to take God’s glory. One indication of this is God dividing the nations of the world through language barriers (as mentioned in Genesis 11). Imagine the evils that would be done if every corrupted power shared the same language?
Even with Noah’s Ark we can see God’s preventive tactics for pure evil, Williamson writes “God permitted evil to develop to the full, we could say so that all people in subsequent ages might know how great man’s sin and misery really are.” Through the story of Noah’s we see God’s mercy and justifiable anger towards sin. God had shown mercy to Noah and his family. He asked Noah to build an Ark and then to gather both genders of every species, the rest was left to be destroyed. This particular story not only shows God’s mercy, but man’s sinful nature also.
The author reminds his readers that “we today can be very thankful that sin is somewhat restrained in the world, we also need to realize – from this scriptural data – that our human predicament is still basically a desperate one.” Even after the fall of man, Noah’s Ark and the crucifixion of Christ (some of God’s greatest merciful acts) we still desperately need God because it is impossible to appreciate what has been truly done. Through Christ we are able to receive mercy, the type in which we truly don’t deserve due to our sinful nature and God’s hatred for sin.
We are unable to get this concept on our own, for if we did, as followers of Christ we would carry the willingness to learn and serve. As Christians spreading the gospel our goal should be to learn God’s word, and then to serve by living in accordance to it. There are too many distractions that we get comfort from. These comforting distractions take us away from our responsibility as Christians.
Sin and misery go hand in hand, because sin was committed misery followed. The misery we experience in life is brought about from sin. Remember, if Adam and Eve had obeyed God’s commands that connection between us and God would have never been broken. If we were in God’s presence then sin, misery and death would have never been introduced. Sin, misery and death take us away from God because we seek comfort from the three in other things besides Christ. People turn to alcoholism, drugs, sex, television, gaming, work, friends, family etc. just to escape the harsh realities this world has to offer.
This is why questions one and two are so important. “What is your only comfort in life and death?” “How many things are necessary for you to know, that you in this comfort may live and die happily?” First we need to self evaluate, after doing so we must then ask God to remove our indwelling sin. Williamson writes “Once we understand this, we can go on to learn that there is indeed a solution.” The solution he speaks of is the saving grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
What Jesus has done for us and what he still does should give us comfort in the world we live in. Anything of this world is perishable, but the Word of God is forever. Hebrews 2:14-15 explains how Christ freed us from the bondage of sin. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 reminds us that “the Lord is faithful” and He “will establish you and guard you from the evil one”. Everything has been preordained by our heavenly Father it is He who is in control. So our comfort should come from Christ for it is he whom our body and soul belongs to in life and death. The three things we need to know to remain in this comfort is that we are sinful and miserable, only Christ can deliver us from this nature so with that being said we shall remain thankful and serve with diligence.
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