Category Archives: Heidelberg Catechism

Theology, Ethics and . . . What?

I am currently reading Michael Horton’s Thanksgiving post at Out of the Horse’s Mouth (the White Horse Inn blog), “Joining the Thanksgiving Parade.” In his introduction, he brings up a famous quote–sort of a theological proverb. Here’s Horton’s words:

The Heidelberg Catechism, in fact, is structured in terms of Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude, leading G. C. Berkouwer to conclude, “The essence of theology is grace; the essence of ethics is gratitude.” Or, as we have say around here, duties (imperatives) are always grounded in gospel promise (indicatives). The appropriate response to a gift is thankfulness. (emphasis mine)

In light of this reminder, I simply have a question for students of Reformed theology in general, and the Heidelberg Catechism in particular:

  • If grace is the essence of theology, and gratitude is the essence of ethics, then guilt is the essence of what?

Please submit your answers in the comments thread.

May the grace of God in Christ crucified and risen to atone for your guilt inspire much gratitude in you this Thanksgiving!

A Case Study in Sin

The following long, tedious post is a small way of demonstrating just how comprehensively God’s law condemns the sin of man. It highlights the depth and breadth of our fallen nature that is bent on violating God’s law in every conceivable manner, and shows just how much we all, believer and unbeliever alike, deserve God’s eternal anger and torment.

 The following extensive description of what it means to keep God’s law also shows us just how thoroughly successful the Lord Jesus Christ was in keeping God’s law in every conceivable manner for his elect—those who come to believe.

 Finally, it shows the many-faceted way in which we who believe and have been forgiven for such egregious, heinous sin, can express our gratitude for the active obedience of Christ in perfectly keeping God’s law for us, and for his passive obedience in suffering the penalty of divine wrath which such deep, dark, extensive sin deserves.

 The church my family has been attending for the past year or more, has recently been going through the Heidelberg Catechism. Last Lord’s Day evening we recited, received instruction on, and discussed Lord’s Day 40, which consists of Question & Answer numbers 105-107, regarding what is required in the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder.”

 Last night, the Lord showed me just how easy it is to violate the spirit of God’s command against murder. Several ladies converged on my house to carpool to a ladies meeting. One of those ladies brought her husband with her to stay with me and share a pizza and a movie while they are away. My wife and I used to attend another church with this couple, which church has a distinct reputation for hurting many of its members, and used to be a little more legalistic than it is today. In fact, in some ways, it appears to be changing into the very kind of church it used to stand against. Being a wounded former member of such a church provides many temptations to violate the spirit of God’s command against murder, namely by “dishonoring” and “hating” it in our “thoughts,” “words,” and “gestures” and “deeds,” as we neglect to “lay aside all desire of revenge.”

 This kind of sin has become such a habit for me, in particular, that it didn’t dawn on me that this was what we were doing, not even when one of the other members who were in attendance last Sunday evening during the catechism discussion walked in, and I felt compelled to jokingly explain that we were having a little fun at our former church’s expense. It didn’t dawn on me until several hours later. Hence the occasion for the following post.

 While it may appear so, this is not an exercise in self-flagellation, but, as I explained above, an amplification of the Heidelberg Catechism’s explanation of what the Bible teaches about what all God requires of us in the sixth commandment. May it open your eyes to the depth of your sin, the extent of Christ’s righteousness and grace, and may it guide you in expressing your loving gratitude for his free gift of righteousness which can only be received by faith in Christ.

 

Question 105. What does God require in the sixth commandment?

Answer: That neither in thoughts, nor words, nor gestures, much less in deeds, I dishonour, hate, wound, or kill my neighbour, by myself or by another: (Matt. 5:21-22;26:52; Gen. 9:6) but that I lay aside all desire of revenge: (Eph. 4:26; Rom. 12:19; Matt. 5:25; 18:35) also, that I hurt not myself, nor wilfully expose myself to any danger. (Rom. 13:14; Col. 2:23; Matt. 4:7) Wherefore also the magistrate is armed with the sword, to prevent murder. (Gen. 9:6; Ex. 21:14; Matt. 26:52; Rom. 13:4)

 

Question 106. But this commandment seems only to speak of murder?

Answer: In forbidding murder, God teaches us, that he abhors the causes thereof, such as envy, (Pr. 14:30; Rom. 1:29) hatred, (1 John 2:9,11) anger, (James 1:20; Gal. 5:19-21) and desire of revenge; and that he accounts all these as murder. (1 John 3:15)

 

Question 107. But is it enough that we do not kill any man in the manner mentioned above?

Answer: No: for when God forbids envy, hatred, and anger, he commands us to love our neighbour as ourselves; (Matt. 7:12; 22:39; Rom. 12:10) to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and all kindness, towards him, (Eph. 4:2; Gal. 6:1-2; Matt. 5:5,7,9; Rom. 12:18; Luke 6:36; 1 Peter 3:8; Col. 3:12; Rom. 12:10,15) and prevent his hurt as much as in us lies; (Ex. 23:5) and that we do good, even to our enemies. (Matt. 5:44-45; Rom. 12:20-21)

 

What does God require in the sixth commandment?

 In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not dishonor my neighbor in my thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not hate my neighbor in my thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not wound my neighbor in my thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not murder my neighbor in my thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not dishonor my neighbor in my words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not hate my neighbor in my words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not wound my neighbor in my words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not murder my neighbor in my words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not dishonor my neighbor in my gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not hate my neighbor in my gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not wound my neighbor in my gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not murder my neighbor in my gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not dishonor my neighbor in my deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not hate my neighbor in my deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not wound my neighbor in my deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not murder my neighbor in my deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would dishonor my neighbor in his thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would hate my neighbor in his thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would wound my neighbor in his thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would murder my neighbor in his thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would dishonor my neighbor in his words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would hate my neighbor in his words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would wound my neighbor in his words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would murder my neighbor in his words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would dishonor my neighbor in his gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would hate my neighbor in his gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would wound my neighbor in his gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would murder my neighbor in his gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would dishonor my neighbor in his deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would hate my neighbor in his deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would wound my neighbor in his deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would murder my neighbor in his deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not hurt myself;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not willfully expose myself to any danger;

 For this reason, God has granted the right to human government alone to put murderers to death, as the just punishment of murder, and as a deterrent to murder by others.

But this commandment seems only to speak of murder?

 In forbidding murder, God teaches us that he abhors envy as the cause of murder, and that he accounts it as murder;

In forbidding murder, God teaches us that he abhors hatred as the cause of murder, and that he accounts it as murder;

In forbidding murder, God teaches us that he abhors anger as the cause of murder, and that he accounts it as murder;

In forbidding murder, God teaches us that he abhors desire of revenge as the cause of murder, and that he accounts it as murder;

But is it enough that we do not kill any man in the manner mentioned above?

 No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to show patience towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to show peace towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to show meekness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to show mercy towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to show all kindness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to prevent his hurt as much as lies in us;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to do good to our neighbor, even to our enemy;

 

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to show patience towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to show peace towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to show meekness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to show mercy towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to show all kindness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to prevent his hurt as much as lies in us;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to do good to our neighbor, even to our enemy;

 

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to show patience towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to show peace towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to show meekness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to show mercy towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to show all kindness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to prevent his hurt as much as lies in us;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to do good to our neighbor, even to our enemy.

RAPechism

I just went to the Sovereign Grace Ministries website and downloaded yet another rap written by “The Voice” Curtis Allen, who previously was challenged to rap on the Heidelberg Catechism in honor of Kevin DeYoung’s recent book on it, and now, for reasons I’ve yet to read, if not only because of popular demand due to it’s novelty, a rap on the Westminster Shorter Catechism, accompanied, and containing commentary and instruction, by Dr. D. A. Carson.

When you get your bottom jaw off the floor,  you can visit both posts here and here. You can download each song if you please, and read the lyrics (some of us need to read the lyrics). After I downloaded them, I put them together in a playlist with an album name of my own invention, “RAPechism.”

Looks like those Baptistic, charismatic Calvinists are good for something after all :-)

God’s Law Reveals Your Misery



3.         How do you come to know your misery?

A.        The law of God tells me.1

1.         Romans 3:20 “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”

Romans 7:7-25 “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

“Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

4.         What does God’s law require of us?

A.        Christ teaches us this in summary in Matthew 22: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind [and with all your strength—KJV].1 This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.2 All “the Law and the Prophets” (the Old Testament) hang on these two commandments.

1.         Deuteronomy 6:5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

2.         Leviticus 19:18 “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”

5.         Can you live up to all this perfectly?

A.        No.1 I have a natural tendency to hate God and my neighbor.2

1.         Romans 3:9-20,23 “What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one;no one understands;no one seeks for God.All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;no one does good, not even one.’Their throat is an open grave;they use their tongues to deceive.’‘The venom of asps is under their lips.’‘Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.’ ‘Their feet are swift to shed blood;in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.’‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’ Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

1 John 1:8,10 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

2.         Genesis 6:5 “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Romans 7:23-24 “but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

Romans 8:7 “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”

Ephesians 2:1-3 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

Titus 3:3 “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.”

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