Saturday, July 15, 2017

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 29: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM QA’S 78-79

Reformation 500 WEEK 29: Heidelberg Catechism QA’s 78-79

Question 78: Do, then, the bread and the wine become the real body and blood of Christ? No, but as the water in Baptism is not changed into the blood of Christ, nor becomes the washing away of sins itself, being only the divine token [symbol] and assurance thereof, so also in the Lord’s Supper the sacred bread does not become the body of Christ itself, though agreeably to the nature and usage of sacraments it is called the body of Christ.

Both Roman Catholics and Lutherans argue that Christ’s words, “This is My body,” and “This is My blood,” are to be understood literally, meaning that Christ’s physical body and blood are present in the communion bread and wine. The Roman Catholic view is that when the priest utters the words, “This is My body,” the substance of the bread miraculously changes into the real flesh and blood of Christ; all that remains of the bread and wine is its form, appearance, weight, smell, and taste. This view is called transubstantiation, which means change of substance. Only the bread (not the wine) is given to the people, because flesh has blood in it; and therefore, the people get “the blood” when they eat “the flesh.” The Lutherans do not believe the bread or wine changes; but that Christ’s glorified body in heaven is now (like His divine nature) everywhere present and therefore is present with the bread and wine. This is called consubstantiation, which means “with the substance.”

The truth is, the Catholics and Lutherans are not literal enough. Jesus did not say, “This changed into My body” or “This contains My body.” The verb “is” in the Bible never means “changed into” or “contains.” But it does mean represents or symbolizes. For example, “The field is the world” (Matt. 13:38). Jesus said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven” (John 6:41). Did Jesus mean He changed into or was inside a loaf of bread? The answer is obvious. He represented bread – heavenly bread in fact – the true manna from heaven! Remember the rock that was struck in the wilderness, and out came water for the people to drink? “That Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4). Did the rock change into or contain Christ? Again, the answer is obvious. That Rock symbolized Christ – who was struck for our sins, to give us living water (John 4:13-14; 7:37-38). If I showed you a photograph of my mother and said, “This is my mother,” you would not think I was holding a piece of my mother’s flesh. Likewise, Jesus was not holding a piece of His own flesh, or a cup of His own blood. The disciples, who often misunderstood Jesus, did not need to ask Him what He meant, because it was obvious. The bread represents His body. The wine represents His blood “shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28).

“Christ’s physical body in heaven is one; it is not shredded into millions of pieces and scattered over the Communion tables of all churches in all ages!” (Jones, Study Helps, 180). Christ’s glorified human body is visible in heaven at the right hand of God. It is not invisible in the bread and wine. According to the creed of Chalcedon (AD 451), the historic position of the Christian Church is that Christ’s divine and human natures are so joined together that there is no change of the one into the other. But if Christ’s human nature became everywhere present then that would be a change!

Another problem with the Catholic and Lutheran position is inconsistency. They insist that ‘to drink Christ’s blood’ must be interpreted literally; and therefore, they think the communion wine changes into or contains the blood of Christ. But they do not argue that ‘to be washed by the blood of Christ’ (1 John 1:7) must be interpreted literally, so that the baptism water changes into or contains the blood of Christ. Rather, they admit, ‘to be washed by Christ’s blood” is figurative language, meaning, ‘to be forgiven by Christ’s blood.’ They are willing to interpret the washing of the blood figuratively; why not the drinking of the blood? For “to be washed with the blood of Christ, and to drink His blood is the same thing” (Ursinus, 396).

Let us look at the last phrase of Question 78: “in the Lord’s Supper the sacred bread does not become the body of Christ itself, though agreeably to the nature and usage of sacraments it is called the body of Christ.” This is simply a repeat of what was said in connection with baptism, that sometimes a symbol (like baptism) is called by the name of what it symbolizes (i.e. the washing away of sins). Circumcision, which was the sign of the covenant between God and Abraham, is called the covenant itself (“the covenant of circumcision,” Acts 7:8), even though it is only a symbol of the covenant. The rock in the wilderness is called Christ (“that Rock was Christ”), even though it was only a symbol of Christ. So, we should have no problem with calling the bread His body, and the cup His blood, even though they are only symbols of His body and blood.

Question 79: Why then does Christ call the bread His body, and the cup His blood, or the New Testament in His blood; and the Apostle Paul, the communion of the body and the blood of Christ? Christ speaks thus with great cause, namely, not only to teach us thereby, that like as the bread and wine sustain this temporal life, so also His crucified body and shed blood are the true meat and drink of our souls unto life eternal; but much more, by this visible sign and pledge to assure us that we are as really partakers of His true body and blood by the working of the Holy Spirit, as we receive by the mouth of the body these holy tokens [symbols] in remembrance of Him; and that all His sufferings and obedience are as certainly our own, as if we ourselves had suffered and done all in our own person.


 Why are sacramental symbols called by the name of what they symbolize? This highlights the close connection between the symbol and what it symbolizes. The physical nourishment we receive from bread and wine (Psalm 104:15; Gen. 14:18) resembles the spiritual nourishment we receive every day as a result of believing in (“eating”) Christ’s crucified body and shed blood. Remember that eternal life is a life of union and communion (fellowship) with the risen and glorified Christ (through the Word and prayer) in the bond of the Holy Spirit so that we are spiritually sanctified and transformed more and more into His image. Christ calls the bread His crucified body and the wine His shed-blood because He wants to symbolically assure us believers that just as certainly as our mouth tastes the bread and wine (symbols of His sacrifice), we can be just as certain that our soul tastes (possesses) all the benefits of His sacrifice. He gives us symbols of His suffering and death to assure us that His suffering and death is imputed to us as if we ourselves had suffered and died. Christ wants us to taste with our mouth how near He is to us and how dear we are to Him. He told His disciples, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you” (Luke 22:15). His desire to have communion with His people has not changed (Heb. 13:8)!

NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation 500 Heidelberg Catechism 78-79

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 29


Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.

Page on Omaha Reformed Church's Website: Links to all Bulletin Inserts.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 28: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM QA’S 75-77

Reformation 500 WEEK 28: Heidelberg Catechism QA’s 75-77

Question 75: How is it signified and sealed to you [the believer] in the Holy Supper that you partake of [benefit from] the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross and all His benefits? Thus: that Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat of this broken bread and to drink of this cup in remembrance of Him, and has joined therewith these promises: first, that His body was offered and broken on the cross for me and His blood shed for me, as certainly as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup communicated to me; and further, that with His crucified body and shed blood He Himself feeds and nourishes my soul to everlasting life, as certainly as I receive from the hand of the minister and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, which are given me as certain tokens [symbols] of the body and blood of Christ.

     Having learned that baptism is the sign and seal of the beginning of our salvation in forgiveness and regeneration (the Lord has once for all received us believers into His covenant of grace), we will now learn that the Lord’s Supper is the sign and seal of the continual growth of our salvation in communion with Christ (the Lord will preserve us in this covenant of fellowship with Him and all believers).

     The Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper during His last Passover supper with His disciples, the night before His crucifixion, the same night in which He was betrayed. “The Passover was the solemn eating of a lamb, which God enjoined upon the Israelites in order, that this rite…might be a memorial to them of their deliverance from Egypt, and that it might especially declare to the faithful their spiritual deliverance from sin and death by Christ, who was to be slain upon the cross, and to be eaten by faith” (Ursinus, 437). The Lord’s Supper teaches that this is already accomplished. “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7).

     Jesus took the bread and wine of the Passover supper and gave them their true significance as symbols of His crucified body and shed blood (His suffering and death) on the cross for all who believe in Him. The Lord commanded us believers to eat and drink symbols of His sacrifice for our sins as a visual symbolic reminder of the truth that He suffered and died for us to unite us to His glorified body in heaven, so that we might receive all the benefits of His crucified body and shed blood (John 15:1-5). For the sake of His sacrifice, we are not only forgiven and regenerated (which is symbolized in our baptism); we have eternal life, a life of communion (fellowship) with Christ (though the Word and prayer) in the bond of the Holy Spirit so that we are sanctified and transformed more and more into His image (John 17:3; 1 Cor. 6:17; 12:13; Eph. 5:30; 1 John 1:3).

     The bread is not only broken, to symbolize that “He was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5); the wine is not only poured into a cup, to symbolize that “He poured out His soul unto death” (Isaiah 53:12); the bread and wine are given to us to eat and drink to symbolize our communion with Christ – that He lives in us to nourish our souls every day and forever! As certainly as we swallow the bread and wine and they nourish our body (think of the physical benefits of bread and wine), that is how close Jesus is by His Spirit to strengthen and gladden our soul. In this way Christ strengthens our faith. The bread and wine remind us of the benefits He has already bestowed upon us, which causes us to give Him thanks – that’s communion!

Question 76: What does it mean to eat the crucified body and drink the shed blood of Christ? It means not only to embrace with a believing heart all the sufferings and death of Christ, and thereby to obtain the forgiveness of sins and life eternal, but moreover, also, to be so united more and more to His sacred body by the Holy Spirit, who dwells both in Christ and in us, that, although He is in heaven and we are on earth, we are nevertheless flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone, and live and are governed forever by one Spirit, as members of the same body are governed by one soul.

     Over a year before Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He spoke of eating His flesh and drinking His blood (John 6:41-63). The Jews thought He was speaking literally, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” (John 6:52). But if we compare John 6:47, “he who believes in Me has everlasting life,” with verse 54, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life,” we see that the same effect of eternal life is attributed both to the eating of Him, and to believing in Him. Jesus clearly said His words have a spiritual meaning. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit” (John 6:63). To spiritually eat and drink Christ’s crucified body and shed blood is to embrace His sacrifice on the cross with a believing heart, believing Christ suffered and died in our place to save us from our sins, and asking God to forgive our sins for the sake of Christ’s sacrifice (1 John 1:9).

     This is how we obtain forgiveness of sins and eternal life – a life of union and communion with our risen and glorified Savior. Just as we continually need food and drink for our physical life, so (through the Word and prayer) we continually spiritually feed on Christ for our spiritual life, trusting in His sacrifice alone for our salvation, and hungering and thirsting to please Him out of thankfulness for our salvation (John 14:21-23; 15:5; Eph. 3:16-19; 4:12-15). “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (John 6:56). The daily communion we enjoy in our private lives (without the symbols) is enjoyed together publicly with the symbols (1 Cor. 10:16-17). We have communion with Christ in a spiritual yet real way; and together we are spiritually nourished and strengthened. “Christ teaches this eating of His flesh in the sixth chapter of John, and confirms it in the supper by external signs” (Ursinus, 382).


Question 77: Where has Christ promised that He will THUS feed and nourish believers with His body and blood as certainly as they eat of this broken bread and drink of this cup? In the institution of the Supper, which says: “The Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me. In the same manner, He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” [1 Cor. 11:23-26]. And this promise is also repeated by the Apostle Paul, where He says, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, so we being many are one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread” [1 Cor. 10:16-17].

NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation 500 Heidelberg Catechism 75-77

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 28


Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.

Page on Omaha Reformed Church's Website: Links to all Bulletin Inserts.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 27: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, QUESTION 72-74

Reformation 500 WEEK 27: Heidelberg Catechism, QUESTION 72-74

Question 72: Is, then, the outward washing with water itself the washing away of sinsNo, for only the blood of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit cleanse us from all sin.

     Abraham did not receive a circumcised heart (a forgiven and regenerated heart) through circumcision. He was saved before he was circumcised. Circumcision was added to symbolize and certify what Abraham already had (Rom. 4:11). Likewise, baptism symbolizes and certifies what believers already have (Acts 10:48). Salvation from sin is through faith in Christ alone, apart from works, including the work of baptism. The repentant thief on the cross went to heaven without being baptized.

     There are two or three verses in the NT that appear to say that baptism is necessary for salvation. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). But notice that it does not say “he who is not baptized will be condemned,” but only “he who does not believe will be condemned.” It is the lack of belief not the lack of baptism that results in condemnation. Baptism is mentioned right after belief simply because it is the first fruit of faith. It is the first work commanded by Christ for all new believers. He who truly believes in Jesus will obey His command to be baptized. The person who refuses to be baptized shows he does not have true faith. Similarly, when Peter said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized…for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38), he mentions baptism right after repentance because it is the first fruit of repentance – which is inseparable from faith: “repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). When Ananias told Paul, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16), Paul was already converted (his sins were already washed away) before he was baptized – before he even met Ananias (see Acts 9:1-16). Therefore, his baptism was divine assurance of his spiritual cleansing, especially as he called upon the Lord to cleanse him from sin (1 John 1:9).

Question 73: Why then does the Holy Spirit call Baptism the washing of regeneration and the washing away of sins? God speaks thus with great cause, namely, not only to teach us thereby that just as the filthiness of the body is taken away by water, so our sins are taken away by the blood and Spirit of Christ; but much more, that by this divine pledge and token He may assure us that we are as really washed from our sins spiritually as our bodies are washed with water.

     Sometimes a symbol (like baptism) is called by the name of what it symbolizes. For example, circumcision, which is the sign of the covenant between God and Abraham, is sometimes called the covenant itself (“the covenant of circumcision,” Acts 7:8), even though it is only a symbol of the covenant. This highlights the close connection between the symbol and what it symbolizes. Baptism is called “the washing of regeneration” (Titus 3:5) because it symbolically assures us believers of our regeneration: just as certainly as our bodies are washed with water, we can be just as certain that we are forgiven by Christ’s blood and regenerated by the Holy Spirit.

Question 74: Are infants also to be baptized? Yes, for since they, as well as their parents, belong to the covenant and people of God [Gen. 17:7], and through the blood of Christ both redemption from sin and the Holy Spirit, who works faith, are promised to them no less than to their parents [Isa. 59:21; Acts 2:39], they are also by Baptism, as a sign of the covenant, to be engrafted into the Christian Church, and distinguished from the children of unbelievers [1 Cor. 7:14], as was done in the Old Testament by circumcision, in place of which in the New Testament Baptism is appointed.

     God’s covenant of salvation with believing Abraham included his descendants. “I will be a God to you and to your descendants after you” (Gen. 17:7); which is why God commanded Abraham to give the sign of this covenant to his descendants. God did not promise to save all of Abraham’s descendants; only that His elect would be among his descendants in every generation, and that from the seed of believers “He intends to raise up a seed for Himself” (Vos, “Doctrine of the Covenant”). It was this covenant promise that distinguished the seed of believers as a “holy seed” (Ezra 9:2). “God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Deut. 30:6). “My covenant I will establish with Isaac” (Gen. 17:20-21); “for in Isaac your seed shall be called [effectually!]” (Gen. 21:12). “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved” (Isa. 10:22); “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants, says the Lord, from this time and forevermore” (Isa. 59:21). In some cases, the hearts of God’s elect are regenerated in the womb, so they grow up loving the Lord. “From my mother’s womb, You have been my God” (Psalm 22:10). John the Baptist was “filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). Cf. Ps. 25:12-13.

     God’s covenant of salvation with believers and their seed has not been abolished in the NT; only the sign has changed from circumcision to baptism; and part of the newness of the new covenant is that females can receive the sign of salvation. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter told the Jews to repent and be baptized, because the promise of salvation “is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God shall call [effectually!]” (Acts 2:39). The children of believers are still a “holy” seed (1 Cor. 7:14) – still distinguished by the same promise that distinguished them in the OT (Deut. 30:6). Paul told Timothy, “I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also” (2 Tim. 1:5). If the Baptists are right, that infants of believers should no longer receive the sign of God’s covenant of salvation, then this major change should be clearly indicted in the NT. But instead of change we see the same pattern. For example, when Lydia (an adult convert, like Abraham) believed, then “she and her household were baptized” (Acts 16:15; cf. v.33) – just like Abraham had believed and then he and his household were circumcised! The Bible assumes a household usually includes children: “an elder must be one who rules his own household well, having his children in submission with all reverence” (1 Tim. 3:4)! There is no stipulation in the NT that only confessing believers are to be baptized. There is no example in the NT of a child from a Christian home who was baptized after confessing faith in Christ! Is not the Baptist view, an argument from silence?

NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation 500 Heidelberg Catechism 72-74

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 27


Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.

Page on Omaha Reformed Church's Website: Links to all Bulletin Inserts.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 26: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM QA’S 69-71

Reformation 500 WEEK 26: Heidelberg Catechism QA’s 69-71

Question 69: How is it signified and sealed to you [the believer] in Holy Baptism that you have part in [received the benefits of] the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross? Thus: that Christ instituted this outward washing with water and joined to it this promise, that I am washed with His blood and Spirit from the pollution of my soul, that is, from all my sins, as certainly as I am washed outwardly with water, whereby commonly the filthiness of the body is taken away.

     We have already learned that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the NT signs and seals of salvation for believers, replacing the OT signs and seals of salvation: circumcision and Passover. We will now begin to learn that baptism is the sign and seal of the beginning of our salvation in forgiveness and regeneration; whereas the Lord’s Supper is the sign and seal of the continual growth of our salvation in communion with Christ. “Baptism is the sign of the covenant between God and the faithful; the Lord’s Supper is the sign of the preservation of the same covenant” (Ursinus, 380).

     It is clear that baptism has replaced circumcision, because they both symbolize and certify for believers “circumcision of the heart” (Rom. 2:29) – which is a forgiven and regenerated heart (Deut. 30:6; Isaiah 52:1; Jer. 4:4; Phil. 3:3; Col. 2:11-14). We have already learned that God first established His covenant of grace with Abraham by saving him through faith in the Christ who was to come (John 8:58). Then He gave him circumcision as “a sign of the covenant” (Gen. 17:11), to certify his salvation in Christ (Rom. 4:11). For the believer, circumcision certified both forgiveness (the removal of sin’s guilt) and regeneration (the removal of sin’s inborn corruption). Since Christ’s blood on the cross has abolished all other blood-shedding, baptism is now the sign and seal of a forgiven and regenerated heart (Col. 2:11-14).

     God designs baptism to be a visible symbol to certify His promise to every believer: “whoever believes in Him will receive the remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). God uses water (a cleansing agent) to certify the same promise: “just as certainly as water washes away the dirt of your body, I have washed away the dirt of your soul. I have forgiven you and regenerated you for the sake of My Son’s sacrifice on the cross.” Thus, God “uses this external symbol as a means, and as a visible word or promise to stir up and confirm the faith of those who are baptized” (Ursinus, 372). We must first have faith before our baptism can confirm or strengthen our faith (cf. Acts 8:36-38).

     The amount of water used in baptism is not the important thing. The Greek word for baptism “means to plunge, to dip, to wash, or to sprinkle. In the eastern church they were ordinarily immersed. Those, however, who lived in the colder regions of the north were commonly sprinkled with water. But this is a matter of no importance, as washing may be performed either by dipping or sprinkling” (Ursinus, 357). Being cleansed by the blood of Jesus is referred to as a “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:2); which is appropriately symbolized and certified by the sprinkling of water: “I will sprinkle clean water on you…I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart…I will put My Spirit within you” (Ezek. 36:25-27). We believers have “our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:22).

Question 70: What is it to be washed with the blood and Spirit of Christ? It is 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; and also to be renewed by the Holy Spirit and sanctified to be members of Christ, so that we may more and more die unto sin and lead holy and blameless lives.

     Our spiritual cleansing has two parts: (1) cleansing by the blood of Christ, which is to be forgiven the penalty of sin for the sake of Christ’s shed-blood on the cross; and (2) cleansing by the Spirit of Christ, which is to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5), which is the beginning of sanctification (the removal of the inward corruption of sin), “which consists in a change of evil inclinations into those which are good, which the Holy Spirit works in the will and heart, so as to produce in us hatred to sin, and a desire to live according to the will of God” (Ursinus, 361).

     Baptism is to be administered only once (just as circumcision was never performed more than once on the same individual) because it symbolizes and certifies for every believer what happens only once: the forgiveness of the eternal penalty of sin; and regeneration. Therefore, as we stated earlier, baptism is the sign and seal of the beginning of our salvation in forgiveness and regeneration.
     This is why baptism is used as an initiation ceremony into the Christian church (Acts 2:40-41, 47), just as circumcision was the initiatory ceremony into the Jewish church. Initiation into the new covenant community by baptism is a sign and seal of the believer’s initiation into the covenant of grace through forgiveness and regeneration.

     Since “external baptism is a sign of the internal, that is, of regeneration, salvation and of spiritual absolution” (Ursinus, 372), “the church administers baptism lawfully…only to those whom she ought to regard among the number of the regenerate” [Acts 10:48] (Ursinus, 373). This will be explained more fully in QA 74.

Question 71: Where has Christ promised that we are as certainly washed with His blood and Spirit as with the water of Baptism? In the institution of Baptism, which says: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” [Matt. 28:19]. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” [Mark 16:16]. This promise is also repeated where Scripture calls Baptism “the washing of regeneration” [Titus 3:5] and “the washing away of sins” [Acts 22:16].


     Question 71 quotes the four main proof texts of the Catechism’s teaching on baptism: Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; Titus 3:5; and Acts 22:16. The latter three will be explained in connection with Question 72. Concerning Matthew 28:19, Ursinus has a good summary: “Baptism is a sacred rite instituted by Christ in the NT, by which we are washed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, to signify that God receives us [believers] into His favor, [He forgives us] on account of the blood which His Son shed for us, and that we are regenerated by His Spirit; and that we, on the other hand [as Christ’s disciples and members of His church], bind ourselves to exercise faith in God, and to perform new obedience to Him” (Ursinus, 357). 

NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation 500 Heidelberg Catechism 69-71

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 26


Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.

Page on Omaha Reformed Church's Website: Links to all Bulletin Inserts.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 25: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, QUESTION 65-68

Reformation 500 WEEK 25: Heidelberg Catechism, QUESTION 65-68

Question 65: Since, then, we are made partakers of Christ and all His benefits by faith only, where does this faith come from? The Holy Spirit works faith in our hearts by the preaching of the Holy Gospel, and confirms it by the use of the holy sacraments.

     We have learned that salvation is received by faith alone in Christ alone. Now we will learn where our faith in Christ comes from, and how it is strengthened.

     We have already learned in Question 8 that we are spiritually dead, unable to believe in Christ, unless we are regenerated. Therefore, our faith in Christ is “not of ourselves; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). “For to you it has been grantedto believe in Him” (Phil. 1:29). Saving faith is given to us “through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Saving faith is given only to God’s elect.

     Question 65 correctly teaches that, “the Holy Spirit works faith in our hearts by the preaching of the Holy Gospel.” “How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? …So, then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:14, 17). It pleases God “through the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1:21); you have “been born again…through the word of God...which was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:23, 25). While Paul preached to Lydia, “the Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14; cf. 10:44). “Justifying faith is, therefore, “not ordinarily produced in adults without the preaching of the gospel” (Ursinus, 113).

     After the Holy Spirit creates faith in our hearts He confirms it, that is, strengthens it “by the use of the holy sacraments [i.e. baptism and the Lord’s Supper].”  The Bible’s teaching concerning the sacraments is explained in Questions 66-82.

Question 66: What are the sacraments? The sacraments are visible holy signs and seals appointed by God for this end, that by their use He may the more fully declare and seal to us [believers] the promise of the Gospel, namely, that of free grace He grants us the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life for the sake of the one sacrifice of Christ accomplished on the cross.

     The word sacrament (sacred or holy ceremony) is the word the Christian church has traditionally used to refer to the holy ceremonies of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

     Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the NT signs and seals of salvation for believers, replacing the OT signs and seals of salvation: circumcision and Passover. A sign symbolizes or points to something. A seal confirms or certifies something (like a seal on a diploma or a signature on a contract). The terms sign and seal come from Romans 4:11 where Paul spoke of Abraham receiving “the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised.” God first established His covenant of grace with Abraham by saving him through faith in Christ (Rom. 4:12; Gal. 3:17). Then He gave him circumcision as “a sign of the covenant” (Gen. 17:11), to certify Abraham’s salvation in Christ. The cutting of the foreskin symbolized and certified the removal of sin’s penalty and corruption in Christ who “was cut off” for the sins of His people (Isaiah 53:8). In this way, Abraham’s faith in Christ was confirmed and strengthened (John 8:58). The Passover was also a sign of salvation for believers. The blood of the Passover Lamb – “the blood shall be a sign for you” (Ex. 12:13) – was a picture of salvation from the bondage of sin through the blood of “Christ, our Passover, sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7) – “the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Heb. 13:20). “This is My blood of the new covenant” (Mark 14:24). 

     Now that the true blood has flowed, there is no longer the shedding of blood in either circumcision or Passover. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are now the signs and seals of God’s covenant of grace with believers in Christ. “Sacraments are, therefore, the signs of the everlasting covenant between God and the faithful” (Ursinus, 354).

     The holy sacraments symbolize and certify what God promises all believers in the Gospel: forgiveness of sins and everlasting life for the sake of the one sacrifice of Christ accomplished on the cross (Acts 10:43-48).

Question 67: Are both the Word and the sacraments designed to direct our faith to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross as the only ground of our salvation? Yes, truly, for the Holy Spirit teaches in the Gospel and assures us by the holy sacraments, that our whole salvation stands in the one sacrifice of Christ made for us on the cross.

     The word and sacraments preach the same Gospel, only in different ways. The Holy Spirit teaches us believers in the Gospel that Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross is the only ground of our salvation. There is no other reason why God saves us from our sins “except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). The Holy Spirit uses the sacraments (the symbols of salvation through the cross) to assures us of the same Gospel. The water in baptism symbolizes and certifies that “the blood of Jesus Christ God’s Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). The bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper symbolize and certify that we are saved only because of His broken body and shed blood on the cross. “The sacraments differ from the word in this, that they signify by actions and gestures what the word does by language” (Ursinus, 356). It is like showing your love with a kiss after saying, “I love you.” The kiss without the words is not a sign of love (Judas kissed Jesus!). Water, bread and wine without the Gospel are not signs and seals of salvation. They need the word of the cross to set them apart from ordinary use so they become holy (set apart) signs and seals of salvation for believers.

Question 68: How many sacraments has Christ instituted in the New Testament? Two: Holy Baptism and the Holy Supper.


     Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the only two sacraments instituted by Christ. The Roman Catholic Church adds confirmation, penance, ordination, extreme unction, and marriage. But the Bible does not support this. Neither do the ancient church fathers, two of whom, Ambrose and Augustine, said the only two sacraments were baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These two sacraments are to be faithfully observed in the church until Christ returns (Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 11:26); so “they may be marks by which the true church may be known and distinguished from all other religions” (Ursinus, 342). 


NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation 500 Heidelberg Catechism 65-68

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 25


Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.

Page on Omaha Reformed Church's Website: Links to all Bulletin Inserts.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 24: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM QA’S 62-64

Reformation 500 WEEK 24: Heidelberg Catechism QA’s 62-64

Question 62: But why cannot our good works be the whole or part of our righteousness before God? Because the righteousness which can stand before the judgment seat of God must be perfect throughout and entirely conformable to the divine law, but even our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin.

     We have learned that, “to justify” means “to declare one righteous.” The key question is: on what basis does God declare the believer in Christ to be righteous?

     For the Roman Catholic Church, God declares someone righteous only if they are first sanctified, that is, made inwardly righteous by an infusion of grace (which happens by baptism) and then they cooperate with infused grace by doing righteous things (good works). As long as they keep doing good works, God will keep declaring them righteous. Those who commit a mortal sin lose the grace of justification. But they can be restored to a state of justification through the sacrament of penance. Therefore, for Rome, we are justified on the basis of an imperfect righteousness done by us.

     How does Rome interpret Paul’s statement in Romans 3:28: “a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law”? They argue that “works of the law” refers only to the ceremonies of the law (e.g. circumcision, animal sacrifices, etc.), and not the moral law (i.e. the Ten Commandments). Therefore, they maintain that no one is justified by the ceremonial works of the law, but they are justified by doing the good works required in the NT. With this understanding, they appeal to James 2:24, “a man is justified by works [i.e. good works], and not by faith only.”

     But Rome misinterprets both Paul and James. First of all, nowhere does Paul say a man is not justified by ceremonial works but he is justified by good works. Second, James uses the term justify differently than Paul. “To be justified” has another meaning besides “to be declared righteous before God.” It can also mean “shown to be righteousness before men” (e.g. Luke 7:35; Rom. 3:4). Therefore, Paul speaks “of that righteousness by which we are justified before God…but James speaks of that righteousness by which we are justified before men by our works” (Ursinus, 338). James is rebuking the person who claims to believe in Jesus, but does not have good works to show for it. “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” (James 2:14). True believers bear fruit out of thankfulness for salvation: “every good tree produces good fruit” (Matt. 7:17). Therefore, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (2:17). James challenges the professing believer without good works, to show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (2:18). Thus, the correct way to understand James 2:24 is: “a man is justified [shown to be righteous] by works, and not by faith only.”

     Rome’s fatal mistake is to refuse to accept the biblical truth that perfect righteousness is the requirement for eternal life (Gal. 3:21), which is precisely why we need Christ’s perfect righteousness imputed to us!

     Thus, our “works, as they proceed from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable in the sight of God, forasmuch as they are all sanctified by His grace. Nevertheless, they are of no account towards our justification, for it is by faith in Christ that we are justified, even before we do good works (Belgic Confession, Article 24).
Question 63: Do our good works merit [DESERVE] nothing, even though it is God's will to reward them in this life and in that which is to come? The reward comes not of merit, but of grace.

The Bible says that God will reward our good works, both in this life and in that which is to come (Psalm 18:20; 19:10-11; Mark 10:28-29; Matt. 5:11-12; 6:6; Heb. 6:10; 11:6; Rev. 22:12). The rewards include peace, joy, and spiritual prosperity (Deut. 12:28; Psalm 1:1-3; Psalm 119:165; Prov. 3:13-17; John 10:10; 14:21).

But this does not mean our good works deserve to be rewarded. Only perfect righteousness deserves to be rewarded. “Therefore, we do good works, but not to merit by them (for what can we merit?); nay, we are indebted to God for the good works we do, and not He to us, since it is He who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure [Phil. 2:13]. Let us therefore attend to what is written: When you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, we are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do [Luke 17:10]. In the meantime, we do not deny that God rewards good works, but it is through His grace that He crowns His gifts” (Belgic Confession, article 24).

Question 64: But does not this doctrine make men careless and profane? No, for it is impossible that those who are implanted into Christ by true faith, should not bring forth fruits of thankfulness.

     The Roman Catholics slander the reformed doctrine of justification by saying that it makes men careless and profane. They maintain that if you teach people to believe they are justified by faith in Christ even before they do good works, then that will make them care less about doing good works and encourage them to live in sin.

     But the easy reply is that being set free from eternal condemnation makes us thankful, not profane! For when we are united to Christ by true faith we receive both justification and sanctification (1 Cor. 6:11; see again Question 43). God first justifies us by declaring us perfectly righteousness in Christ, and then by His Holy Spirit He begins the process of sanctification which restores God’s holy image in us, purifying us from the inward corruption of sin, and making us inwardly righteous and holy, so that we hate sin and do good works out of thankfulness for salvation (Eph. 4:24-25; Tit. 2:14; 1 John 2:4; 3:10). True believers are “those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some hundred” (Mark 4:20). “For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Good works are the fruit of justification – which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23); “the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth” (Eph. 5:9). Since the Holy Spirit is producing good fruit in our lives (He “makes me heartily willing and ready to live unto Him,” Question 1), it is impossible that those who are implanted into Christ by true faith, should not bring forth fruits of thankfulness (Jer. 32:40; Ezek. 36:27).

     “He, therefore, who boasts of having applied to himself by faith the death of Christ, and yet has no desire to live a holy and godly life… gives conclusive evidence that the truth is not in him; for all those who are justified are willing and ready to do those things which are pleasing to God” (Ursinus, 227).



NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation 500 Heidelberg Catechism 62-64

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 24


Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.

Page on Omaha Reformed Church's Website: Links to all Bulletin Inserts.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 23: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM QA’S 59-61

Reformation 500 WEEK 23: Heidelberg Catechism QA’s 59-61


Question 59: What does it help you now, that you believe all this [that is, the articles of the Apostles creed]? That I am righteous in Christ before God, and an heir of eternal life.

     Remember that Question 21 taught us that true faith is to believe everything God has revealed in His Word is truth (John 17:17), and especially to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Since the articles of the Apostles’ Creed are a summary of who Jesus is and what He has done to save His people from their sins, to believe these articles means we have true faith, and are united to the ascended Lord Jesus Christ (we are in Him) in order to receive all the benefits of the salvation He obtained for us by His life and death.

     The first and primary benefit for the believer is, “I am righteous in Christ before God, and an heir of eternal life.” Righteousness is perfect obedience to God, and is the requirement for eternal life, for disobedience brings death. God told a sinless Adam and Eve: “obey Me perfectly or die.” Jesus Christ obeyed God perfectly and died on the cross to fully pay for our disobedience. Therefore, when we are united to Him by true faith, His perfect righteousness – “the gift of righteousness” (Rom. 5:17) – is ours and thus we have eternal life. How it becomes ours is explained in Question 60.


Question 60: How are you righteous before God? Only by true faith in Jesus Christ: that is: although my conscience accuses me, that I have grievously sinned against all the commandments of God, and have never kept any of them, and am still prone always to all evil; yet God, without any merit of mine, of mere grace, grants and imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ, as if I had never committed nor had any sin, and had myself accomplished all the obedience which Christ has fulfilled for me, if only I accept such benefit with a believing heart.


     The question, “How can a man be righteous before God?” (Job 9:2) is the same question as, “How can man be justified before God?” (Job 25:4). For “to justify,” means “to recognize and declare one righteous [Psalm 51:6]” (Ursinus, 330).

     God cannot justify or declare us righteous because of any righteousness which we have done. “For [as David confessed to God] in Your sight no one living is righteous” (Psalm 143:2); “that is, no one shall be acquitted, or declared just by inherent righteousness” (Ursinus, 327). This is because “his works are unholy before his justification,” and “after his justification they are also imperfect [Luke 17:10]” (Ursinus, 328). We need perfect righteousness in order for God to declare us righteous.

     The good news is that when we are united to Christ by true faith, God gives us the gift of Christ’s perfect righteousness. “Christ fulfilled the law by the holiness of His human nature, and by His obedience, even unto the death of the cross [Phil. 2:8]” (Ursinus, 328). Indeed, the “entire humiliation of Christ, from the moment of His conception to His glorification, including His assumption of humanity, His subjugation to the law, His poverty, reproach, weakness, sufferings, death, …is all included in the satisfaction which He made for us [Rom. 5:15-19; Gal. 3:10-13]” (Ursinus, 327).


     The only way that Christ’s perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness can become ours is if God imputes it to us. The word impute is taken directly from the Bible, and it means to credit someone with doing what someone else did for them [Philemon 1:18]. “God imputes righteousness apart from works” (Romans 4:6). To impute righteousness “is to regard one that is unrighteous, as righteous, and to absolve him from guilt, and not to punish him, all of which is done on account of the satisfaction of another imputed to him” (Ursinus, 329). God imputes Christ’s righteousness to us. He credits us for doing what Christ did for us, as if we had never committed nor had any sin, and had ourselves accomplished all the obedience which Christ has fulfilled for us!

     Therefore, on the basis of Christ’s perfect righteousness imputed to us God justifies us, declaring us righteous! God does not treat us as guilty sinners deserving of condemnation. He treats us as if we had no sin! This means God will not punish us for our sins (Rom. 8:31-38). We are forgiven the eternal penalty of sin! God imputed our sins to Jesus. He treated Jesus as a sinner even though He wasn’t, and made Him pay for our sins, so that He could treat us as perfectly righteous, even though we’re not, and not make us pay for our sins (2 Cor. 5:19, 21).

     We only have to accept this benefit with a believing heart (and even the faith to do this is a gift). How else do you receive the gift of imputed righteousness? If someone else did something for me, the only thing left for me is to believe and say thank you! If God wants to give perfect righteousness as a gift, the only proper response is to reach out the empty hand of faith to receive the gift, and say thank you. “Justifying or saving faith” is “when we firmly believe that the righteousness of Christ is granted and imputed to us, so that we are justified in the sight of God” (Ursinus, 111).

     “Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law” (Rom. 3:28).

Question 61: Why do you say that you are righteous by faith only? Not that I am acceptable to God on account of the worthiness of my faith, but because only the satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ is my righteousness before God; and I can receive the same and make it my own in no other way than by faith only.

     We are justified by faith not because of faith. When someone gives you a gift, it is not because of your outreached hands, as if you were doing something worthy to receive the gift. Rather, you simply receive the gift by your outreached hands. Likewise, when God gives us the gift of righteousness it is not because of our faith, as if our faith makes us worthy of being declared righteous. Rather, we simply receive God’s gift by our faith. Faith is the only way to receive a gift. It “is of faith that it might be according to grace” (Rom. 4:16).


     “We are justified only by believing, and receiving the righteousness of another, and not by our own works, or merit. All works are excluded from justification, yes even faith itself in as far as it is a virtue, or work…. It is for this reason, that Paul always says, that we are justified by faith, and through faith, as by an instrument; and never on account of faith;” for “if we were justified on account of our faith, then faith would no longer be the acceptance of the righteousness of another, but it would be the merit, and cause of our own righteousness” (Ursinus, 332). 

NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation 500 Heidelberg Catechism 59-61

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 23


Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.

Page on Omaha Reformed Church's Website: Links to all Bulletin Inserts.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 22 JOHN CALVIN AND STRASSBURG

Reformation 500 WEEK 22    John calvin and strassburg


Calvin arrived in the German city of Strasbourg in September, 1538, a few months after he and Farel had been banished from Geneva. “Strasbourg was a crossroads between France, Germany, Switzerland and the Low Countries. Various currents of Reformation thought met there. German Lutherans stood side by side with French Evangelicals, Anabaptists from the Low Countries and Zwinglians from Switzerland. All the various doctrines mingled in a great stream of life and activity under the peaceable direction of [Martin] Bucer [1491-1551]” (Cadier, 91-92).

Bucer (17 years older than Calvin) had been won for the Reformation by Luther during the great Leipzig Debate (1518), and he had witnessed first-hand the failure of Luther and Zwingli to agree at the Marburg Colloquy (1529). “He tried to find a middle ground between Luther and Zwingli in regard to the nature of the Lord’s Supper” (Greg Singer, Dictionary of Christianity, 2:207).

While in Strasbourg, Calvin “became pastor of the church of the French refugees, followers of Luther in France who had fled to Strasbourg to escape persecution. He also gave lectures in theology” (Kuiper, 196). He “published his first commentary, that on the Epistle to the Romans,” which “shows clearly that Calvin was, from the first, a prince of exegetes” (Cadier, 96). He also prepared a greatly enlarged edition of the Institutes. “He converted many Anabaptists…who brought to him from the city and country their children for baptism” (Schaff, 8:369).

“God in His providence had placed Calvin’s future wife in his congregation. Idelette de Bure, her husband Jean Stordeur, and their two children had come to Strasbourg as Anabaptists. After listening to Calvin’s faithful exposition of God’s Word, as well as having private conversations with Calvin, they embraced his Reformed views and had their youngest child baptized. In the spring of 1540, Jean Stordeur was stricken with the plague and died. A few months later, just as Calvin had almost given up any hope of finding a wife, Bucer asked him to consider Idelette. John and Idelette were married in August 1540” (DeMar, Reformation, 206).

Meanwhile back in Geneva, certain enemies of Calvin were threatening to return the city to the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Sadoleto, a very able man, had written a clever letter in which he tried to persuade the citizens of Geneva to return to the Roman Church. At the request of the council of Geneva, “Calvin, setting aside all hard feeling against the Genevans…wrote a brilliant Rely to Sadoleto” (Kuiper, 196). This Reply “was one of the means of saving Geneva from the grasp of popery, and endearing Calvin to the friends of freedom” (Schaff, 8:425).

When the party which was friendly to Calvin held power again in Geneva, the city Council begged Calvin to return, “convinced that Calvin alone could save the city from anarchy” (Schaff, 8:430). Calvin at first refused, but when Farel wrote to threaten him again with the wrath of God, Calvin finally gave in again. ‘If I had any choice I would rather do anything than to give in to you in this matter, but since I remember that I no longer belong to myself, I offer my heart to God as a sacrifice’ (Cadier, 105).


“Amid great rejoicing and an enthusiastic ovation Calvin entered Geneva a second time, on September 13, 1541” (Kuiper, 197). 

NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation 500 John Calvin and Strassburg

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 22


Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.

Page on Omaha Reformed Church's Website: Links to all Bulletin Inserts.

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 22: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM QA’S 57-58

Reformation 500 WEEK 22: Heidelberg Catechism QA’s 57-58

Question 57: What comfort do you receive from ‘the resurrection of the body’? That not only my soul after this life shall be immediately taken up to Christ its Head, but also that this my body, raised by the power of Christ, shall be reunited with my soul, and made like the glorious body of Christ.

Question 57 summarizes the biblical teaching concerning article 11 of the Apostles Creed, “the resurrection of the body.” We have already learned from Question 45 that Christ’s resurrection guarantees our resurrection, which will occur when Christ returns to usher in new heavens and a new earth (John 6:44; 1 Thess. 4:15-16; 1 Pet. 3:10-13). Our resurrection will follow the same basic pattern as His. His human soul after He died went immediately to heaven (Luke 23:43), and then returned to His body and came forth from the grave. Our soul after we die “shall be immediately taken up to Christ its Head.” Paul said: “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8; cf. Phil. 1:23). The souls of believers go immediately to heaven; and the souls of unbelievers go immediately to hell (Luke 16:22; Rev. 6:10). During the time between death and the resurrection [“the intermediate state”], “the soul does not sleep,” but “feels, and understands without the body…although the manner of its operation without the body is altogether unknown to us” (Ursinus, 310).

The resurrection is when our souls shall be re-united with our bodies – which will be raised from the dust by the Lord’s almighty power (Job 19:26; Ezek. 37:12; Acts 26:8; 1 Cor. 15:42-44). Our resurrected body will be just like Christ’s “glorious body” (Phil. 3:21). Christ’s resurrected body was the very same body that was crucified (John 20:24-29). It was still “flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39), but adorned with immortality (Luke 24:31, 51; Rev. 1:14). Our resurrected bodies will be the same as those which we now have, only they will be immortal, incorruptible, imperishable, free from all defects and imperfections. Yes, we will recognize each other (Matt. 8:11)!
The bodies of the wicked will also be raised but only to endure eternal punishment (Daniel 12:2; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15; Matt. 25:30, 46).

Question 58: What comfort do you receive from the article ‘life everlasting’? That, inasmuch as I now feel in my heart the beginning of eternal joy, I shall after this life possess complete blessedness, such as eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, therein to praise God forever.


Since eternal life is a life in “fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3; cf. John 17:3), eternal life begins the moment God works truth faith in our hearts (John 5:24). As believers, we begin in this life to know what the unbelieving eyes and ears and hearts do not know, because “God has revealed them to us through His Spirit” (see 1 Cor. 2:8-10). But we have only a beginning of eternal joy (Phil. 1:6; Heb. 12:2). God’s image is only partially restored in us (Gal. 5:22-23). But when Christ returns, God’s image will be perfectly restored in us; and on a new earth in our resurrected bodies we will see Him face to face (1 John 3:2); “there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4). We can only imagine!


NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation 500 HC QAs 57-58

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 22


Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.

Page on Omaha Reformed Church's Website: Links to all Bulletin Inserts.