Saturday, November 4, 2017

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 45: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM QA 116-119

Reformation 500 WEEK 45: Heidelberg Catechism QA 116-119

Question 116: Why is prayer necessary for Christians? Because it is the chief part of thankfulness which God requires of us, and because God will give His grace and Holy Spirit only to those who earnestly and without ceasing ask them of Him, and render thanks unto Him for them.

     The Christian life is a life of thankfulness. Prayer is the chief or main part of showing ourselves thankful for our salvation. God saved us first of all that we might thank and praise Him for His glorious grace. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ …having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Eph. 1:3, 5-6). You are “His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. Psalm 103:1-2; 116:12-17). “No one has faith who is not thankful for it; for all those who possess true faith taste the grace of God, and those who have tasted the grace of God show themselves thankful to God for it, and desire it more and more” (Ursinus, 620).

     The second reason why prayer is necessary is because it is God’s appointed way for us to receive all those things that are necessary both for soul and body. “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” (Psalm 50:15). “For everyone who asks receives” (Luke 11:10). Our Father in heaven already knows what we need (Matt. 6:8) but still He requires us to ask Him, because He wants us to realize what our real needs are; and that He is the only who can meet our needs. “We do not obtain the blessings which are necessary for us, except we ask them at the hands of God; for He has promised them to none but such as ask. Prayer is, therefore, just as necessary for us as it is necessary for a beggar to ask alms” (Ursinus, 620). 

     But don’t the wicked receive many gifts from God, who nevertheless do not ask or desire them? “The wicked do indeed received many gifts [Matt. 5:45]; but not such as are principle nor peculiar to the elect, as faith, repentance, conversion, remission of sins and regeneration. And still further, the gifts they do receive do not contribute to their salvation, but to their destruction” (Ursinus, 620).

        Our greatest need as Christians is for a continual supply of God’s grace and Holy Spirit, so that we might live an obedient and thankful life. Jesus says to all believers: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Since we believers already have the Holy Spirit, to ask our Father to give us the Holy Spirit is to ask for an increase of the Spirit’s grace and gifts, primarily the gift of sanctification, which is precisely what produces in us the faith and desire to call upon Jesus as LORD (1 Cor. 12:3). “God effects in us a desire for the Holy Spirit and gives Him to us in the very same moment…. We might also make a distinction between the beginning and increase of the Spirit within us, inasmuch as we do not desire the latter before we have the former. No one desires the Holy Spirit, except he in whom the Spirit dwells” (Ursinus, 621). For the Christian, prayer is a way of life: giving thanks, praying for help, and giving thanks for the help received: “pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God” (1 Thess. 5:18; cf. Eph. 5:20; Phil. 4:6-7).

Question 117: What belongs to such prayer which is acceptable to God and which He will hear? First, that with our whole heart we call only upon the one true God, who has revealed Himself to us in His Word, for all that He has commanded us to ask of Him; second, that we thoroughly know our need and misery, so as to humble ourselves in the presence of His divine majesty; third, that we be firmly assured that notwithstanding our unworthiness He will, for the sake of Christ our Lord, certainly hear our prayer, as He has promised us in His Word.

     Three things are necessary for our prayers to be acceptable to God. First, we must sincerely ask the true God what He commands us to ask. “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit [sincerely] and truth [according to Scripture]” (John 4:24). “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14). “God does not desire us to direct vague and wandering petitions to Him, being uncertain what we should pray for. A king would consider himself derided and mocked if anyone were to kneel before him, without knowing what to ask as his hands” (Ursinus, 620). Second, we must ask with humility, which is to realize how unworthy we are to receive the help we so desperately need. “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown me” (Gen. 32:10); “we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You” (2 Chron. 20:12). Third, we must ask with assurance that God will hear our prayer for Jesus’ sake. Jesus said, “whatever you ask [according to His will] in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14; cf. Mark 11:24; Heb. 11:6).

Question 118: What has God commanded us to ask of Him? All things necessary for soul and body, which Christ our Lord comprised in the prayer which He Himself taught us.

     When the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1), Jesus taught them what we call the Lord’s Prayer (recorded in Luke 11:2-4 and Matthew 6:9-13). Jesus did not say, “Pray these exact words and no other.” He said, “In this manner, pray” (Matt. 6:9); that is, pray like this. The Lord’s Prayer “contains, in the most condense form, all things which are to be sought as necessary for soul and body. It is in like manner a rule or pattern with which all our prayers ought to conform and agree…. Hence Augustine declares that all the prayers of the saints which we have in the Scriptures are contained in the Lord’s Prayer. Augustine also adds, that we are at liberty to express the same things in other words when we pray” (Ursinus, 625-626).

Question 119: What is the Lord’s Prayer? Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

     The remainder of the Catechism will explain the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer.


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 116-119

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 45



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 44: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM QA 113-115

Reformation 500 WEEK 44: Heidelberg Catechism QA 113-115

Question 113: What does the tenth Commandment require? That not even the least inclination or thought against any commandment of God ever enter our heart, but that with our whole heart we continually hate all sin and take pleasure in all righteousness.

     The Tenth Commandment, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house [or wife, or anything that is your neighbor’s],” is the one commandment that speaks directly to the heart. The word covet means “strong desire.” By itself it is not a bad word. It depends on what we strongly desire. We can earnestly desire good things, as Paul commanded us in 1 Corinthians 12:31: “covet [earnestly desire] the best gifts.” The Tenth Commandment forbids “coveting those things which God has forbidden” (Ursinus, 606). Even if we don’t take what belongs to our neighbor, it is a sin to want it. Even if we don’t sleep with our neighbor’s spouse it is a sin to wish we could. Even if we don’t rob a bank, it is a sin to wish we could and to rejoice in others who do. Love “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6). The Tenth Commandment is last to teach us that obeying all of God’s commands is a matter of the heart. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart” (Deut. 6:5). “You shall not hate your brother in your heart…. but you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:17-18). “The Lord Jesus Christ re-emphasized this truth in His sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:20-48), that the commandments require heart-purity and heartfelt love to God and our neighbor. The natural, unregenerate man – such as the Pharisees in Jesus’ day were proud of their outward obedience and resented Jesus’ teaching about the heart [Matt. 23:28; John 7:7]” (Jones, Study Helps, 283).

     When God redeems us by faith in Jesus Christ, He not only forgives the eternal penalty of our wicked heart, He also purifies our hearts in sanctification, so that with our whole heart we continually hate all sin (even the least inclination or thought against any commandment of God) and take pleasure in all righteousness. “Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness” (Psalm 119:35-36).

     The cure for covetousness is contentment. “Let your conduct be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for He has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). “And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation…For the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim. 6:8-10). Therefore, to sum up how to be content: “1. We must be satisfied with what God gives us because He is free and sovereign, and He gives us what He wishes us to have for our best. He alone is Master of our lives. 2. God is all-wise and infinitely good in giving His gifts. His love toward us in Christ is perfect. He never withholds from us that which is for our spiritual good and for His glory. To think that God would be unfair to us is folly and unbelief. We deserve nothing, and all we have, we have received by God’s rich mercy. 3. Contentment with God’s providence enables us to live in peace and joy, in gratitude and praise. The unsatisfied person is never happy, and is likely to break the commandments of God in order to get what he desires. Having the Lord and His salvation, we need nothing more, and our joy is full” (Jones, 284).

Question 114: Can those who are converted to God keep these Commandments perfectly? No, but even the holiest of men, while in this life, have only a small beginning of such obedience, yet so that with earnest purpose they begin to live not only according to some, but according to all the Commandments of God.

     “The natural man, who is un-regenerated, is not able to obey God’s holy will in any degree [Rom. 8:7] …. But the question asks if the converted or regenerated person can keep God’s holy commands perfectly.” Since the regenerated person “still has his ‘old man,’ the old nature of sin, he is unable to give God perfect obedience…. The most sanctified Christians, such as the Apostles, are still sinful and not perfect. The Scriptures tell us of Noah’s drunkenness [Gen. 9:21]. Job cursing the day of his birth (Job 3:1-2), David’s acts of adultery and murder (2 Sam. 11), Peter’s shameful denial of his Lord (Luke 22:54-62), and Paul’s confession of indwelling sin (Rom. 7:21). … Christ taught us to pray for daily forgiveness, even as we pray for our daily bread (Matt. 6:11-12; cf. 1 John 1:8-10)” (Jones, 287-288). Since the Lord commands us to “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48), we only have a small beginning of the obedience which God requires. But at least by God’s grace we have a beginning, and an earnest purpose to obey all of God’s commands, just as Paul did: “I delight in the law of God according to the inward man” (Rom. 7:22). “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3).


Question 115: Why then does God so strictly enjoin the Ten Commandments upon us, since in this life no one can keep them? First, that as long as we live we may learn more and more to know our sinful nature, and so the more earnestly seek forgiveness of sins and righteousness in Christ; second, that without ceasing we diligently ask God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, that we be renewed more and more after the image of God, until we attain the goal of perfection after this life.


     There are two reasons why God requires us to obey His commands perfectly even though we never will in this life. First, the more we learn what God requires in His commands, the more we discover how far short we fall (Rom. 3:20-23; 7:7); and the more earnestly we seek forgiveness and righteousness in Christ. “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:24-25). Second, God’s law is not only designed to drive us to Christ for forgiveness but also for renewal (sanctification), so that God’s holy image is more and more restored in us (Eph. 5:1). We not only need daily forgiveness for covetousness, we also need daily renewal so that we “put to death…evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5) and learn to be more content with the Lord’s loving presence in our hearts (Rom. 5:5). “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me...forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead…. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:12-13, 20). So, “God commands us to seek and to desire the perfect fulfillment of the law in this life…because He purposes at length to accomplish it in those who desire it, and to grant it to us after this life, if we here truly and heartily desire it” (Ursinus, 616).

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 HC Lord's Day 44 QA 113-115

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 44



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, October 21, 2017

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 43 KNOX REFORMS SCOTLAND

Reformation 500 WEEK 43    KNOX REFORMS SCOTLAND


After bloody Mary came to the English throne, John Knox fled for his life; and “ended up as co-pastor of the English refugee congregation in Calvin’s Geneva,” which he said was “the happiest period of his life” (Needham, 2000 years, 3:407). In 1558 he wrote his first revolutionary book, in which he argued that “female rule…contradicted both the law of nature and God’s revealed law in Scripture, and female rulers must be deposed. The treatise was aimed chiefly against Mary Tudor [bloody Mary];” but “soon after the book’s publication, Mary Tudor died and was succeeded by a female Protestant sovereign, Elizabeth [who helped to make England a Protestant country again]. Knox’s book alienated Elizabeth badly,” and “also outraged most Protestants,” including Calvin who “had its sale in Geneva banned” (Ibid. 408). On the whole, Calvin and Knox were on the same page. Knox judged Geneva to be “the most perfect school of Christ that ever was in the earth since the days of the apostles.”

In 1559, Knox returned to Scotland, “determined to do for his country what Calvin had done for the city of Geneva” (Nichols, Reformation, 97). “In May, after he preached a fiery sermon that making images of Jesus, God, and saints and praying to them is against the Bible, his listeners became so energized that they started to destroy all the pictures and statues in the church. The same thing happened in other cities. Soon there was an actual war, and Mary Guise [who was ruling Scotland for her sixteen-year-old daughter Mary Stuart who was also Queen of France] had to ask France to send more troops to help her. Seeing they could easily be outnumbered, the Protestant lords asked England to come to their rescue…. Finally, in March 1560, the English army came to the rescue and defeated the French in battle” (Simonetta Carr, John Knox, 37, 40). In June Mary of Guise died. On August 17, “the Scottish Parliament decreed a change of religion. Protestantism instead of Catholicism was made the religion of the country. A Calvinistic confession of faith, largely the work of John Knox, was adopted. The pope’s authority and all jurisdiction was abolished and the celebration of the mass was forbidden” (Kuiper, Church in History, 217). In January 1561, Parliament approved Knox’s Book of Discipline, which introduced Presbyterian church government modeled after Calvin’s system in Geneva, where each congregation is governed by elders (presbyters), elected from its own membership. “For the conduct of public worship Knox prepared a Book of Common Order. To a great extent this order of worship was based on the form for public worship used by the church of English refugees in Geneva. That in turn was based on the form designed by Calvin. This form of worship consisted in prayer, reading of Scripture, the sermon, congregational singing, and the taking up of an offering” (Kuiper, 218-219).


Mary Stuart, Scotland’s lawful queen, arrived in August 1561. Her attempt to obtain freedom to practice her catholic faith was vigorously opposed at every step by Knox, who “affirmed in a sermon that one mass was more dreadful than an invasion of Scotland” (Needham, 3:420). Knox was summoned into Mary’s presence four times, and each time “got the better of the queen,” even once “reducing her to hysterical tears by his forthright no-nonsense commitment to a Protestant Scotland in which the idolatry of the mass could have no place” (Ibid. 421). 

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 Knox Reforms Scotland

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 43



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 43: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM QA 112

Reformation 500 WEEK 43: Heidelberg Catechism QA 112

Question 112: What does the ninth Commandment require? That I bear false witness against no one, twist no one’s words, be no backbiter or slanderer, join in condemning no one unheard or rashly; but that on pain of God’s heavy wrath, I avoid all lying and deceit as the very works of the devil; and that in matters of judgment and justice and in all other affairs, I love, speak honestly, and confess the truth; also, insofar as I can, defend and promote my neighbor’s good name.

     The Ninth Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” is designed for “the establishment and preservation of truth amongst men… for the glory of God and the safety of our neighbor” (Ursinus, 600-601). Behind this command is the fact that God Himself is “a God of truth and without iniquity” (Deut. 32:4); “it is impossible for God to lie” (Heb. 6:18). God created mankind in His image to imitate Him by thinking, speaking, and practicing the truth. Mankind fell by believing Satan’s lie, “You shall not surely die.” Mankind is saved by believing the truth: “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Jesus said, “I am the truth” (John 14:6). When God redeems us from sin through faith in Jesus Christ, He gives us a love for truth and a hatred of lies: “lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight” (Prov. 12:22). Therefore, by the work of the Holy Spirit, “a righteous man hates lying” (Prov. 13:5). But the habit of lying, like every sinful habit, is hard to break. Therefore, Paul tells Christians, “putting away lying, let each of you speak truth with his neighbor” (Eph. 4:25). When we lie, we imitate the devil, who is “the father of lies” (John 8:44). All liars will suffer God’s eternal wrath in hell (Rev. 21:8). Believers will suffer God’s loving discipline. God disciplined Jacob by allowing him to be deceived – first by his uncle Laban; and then by his own sons who led him to believe that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal.

     “The reputation and honor of our neighbor is his sacred right [Prov. 22:1]; and it is a grave sin to tear down his reputation and good name by speaking lies [25:18], or even by speaking unkindly about him” (Jones, Study Helps, 280). To twist someone’s words means “so changing the words of another person that a wrong message is given [Psalm 56:5] ….  Backbiting is speaking behind a person’s back in an evil and hurtful manner (even though truthful facts are reported), so that injury is done. Slander is telling things about another person which we know to be untrue.” Joining in condemning another person unheard or rashly refers to “believing a lie on insufficient evidence [Prov. 18:13] …. We must warn others who tell us questionable things that they must beware of gossip [Prov. 18:8]. Even if we know something evil about another person, we are not to speak of it to others before first approaching the person privately and seeking his repentance – in which case, we should forget the matter and not repeat it to others [Matt. 18:15]” (Jones, 280-81); “nor are those lies which are uttered for politeness sake, excused, because we may not do evil, that good may come…. God did not bless [the Hebrew midwives] because they lied, but because they feared Him and would not slay the children of the Israelites [Ex. 1:15-21]” (Ursinus, 601-602).


     God told Joshua to use military deception in defeating Ai (Joshua 8:1-26). May we say that Rahab’s lie was a form of military deception, since she chose Israel’s side in the war on Jericho? What about those who hid Jews in Nazi Germany?

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 QA 112

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 43



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, October 14, 2017

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 42: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM QA 110-111

Reformation 500 WEEK 42: Heidelberg Catechism QA 110-111

 Question 110: What does God forbid in the eighth Commandment? God forbids not only such theft and robbery as are punished by the government, but God views as theft also all wicked tricks and devices, whereby we seek to get our neighbor’s goods, whether by force or by deceit, such as unjust weights, lengths, measures, goods, coins, usury, or by any means forbidden of God; also, all covetousness and the misuse and waste of His gifts.

                The Eighth Commandment, “You shall not steal,” is designed for “the preservation of the property or possessions which God has given to every one for the support of life” (Ursinus, 595). Behind this commandment is the fact that “all property – the world itself – belongs first of all to God the Creator: ‘the earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness” (Psalm 24:1). The Lord God gives His property to men as a sacred trust, and each person who owns property is responsible to use his property to serve God…. Never may we call our property or money absolutely our own, any more than our bodies and souls are our own, for it all belongs to our faithful Savior. We are always stewards or caretakers of God’s possessions…. All that we possess has been given to us by God to be used for His glory [Matt. 25:14-30]” (Jones, Study Helps, 274). “Behold, all souls are Mine” (Ezek. 18:4). “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, says the LORD of hosts” (Haggai 2:8). Daniel rebuked wicked King Belshazzar: “you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hands and owns all your ways, you have not glorified” (Dan. 5:23). The Lord rebuked the wicked servant who buried his talent: “you ought to have deposited My money with the bankers, and at My coming I would have received back My own with interest” (Matt. 25:27).

                If the steward mismanages the owner’s property or money it is stealing. If we misuse and waste God’s gifts we steal from God, by robbing Him of the glory He would have received had we used our gifts in His service (Eph. 6:5-8). Tithing is a reminder of stewardship, which is why God says that if we do not tithe we are stealing from Him. “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, in what way have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:8).

To steal from our neighbor is also to steal from God, for God has given our neighbors everything they have to be used for His glory. Therefore, “the private ownership of property is a divine right. Property belongs to persons and no one has the right to take another person’s property ‘by force or by deceit.’ … Six deceitful ways of stealing from our neighbor are listed here: unjust weights, lengths, measures, goods, coins, usury are mentioned. Weights, lengths, and measures refer to business honesty. Unjust coins refer to counterfeit coins (coins made of a cheap metal which are passed off as precious metal) or clipped coins (a piece shaved of silver and gold coins, a trick often practiced in the Middle Ages). ‘Usury’ is charging excessive interest on money loaned to another person, or charging any interest on a loan to a Christian brother in need (Leviticus 25:35-36). The book of Proverbs has many statements about dealing honestly and justly with our neighbor. ‘Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight” (Prov. 11:1; cf. 13:11; 14:23; 20:10; Isaiah 1:22-23).… Other forms of cheating are false advertising (television has much of this!), receiving stolen goods (Prov. 29:24), not paying one’s debts, not paying wages (Lev. 19:13; James 5:4), and gambling … (Prov. 13:11; 16:8; 2 Thess. 3:10-12)” (Jones, Study Helps, 275).

“The right of private property, under God, is the foundation of the economic system called ‘capitalism.’ Freedom and private property are required by God’s Word for man’s societal life. The United States of America was founded by men who were steeped in these moral teachings of Scripture received from their Reformed and Puritan heritage. They embodied the basic principles of private property, economic freedom, and honest money (money with real value) into our basic law, the United States Constitution. Ungodly men have tried to do away with the Eighth Commandment” in exchange for a society in which “the government takes over the land, the property, and businesses with the promise to ‘help the poor.’ This ungodly kind of government is called Socialism or Communism or the Welfare State. It has been tried many times in history,” with the same results: “the persecution of the church and the enslavement of the people to godless dictators…. It is the duty of government to protect your rights, not take them away by confiscating property, imposing excessive taxes, and curtailing your right to work how and where you wish, by government restrictions. King Ahab sinned against God by taking away Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings 21), and King Rehoboam sinned by taxing the people too heavily (1 Kings 12:3-4, 14, 16)” (Ibid.).

Many socialists argue that the Bible endorses the common ownership of property in Acts 4:32: “the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.” But the Bible goes on to make it clear that this practice was voluntary. After Ananias and his wife lied about how much money they gave to the common storehouse, Peter said to them, “While [the land] remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control” (Acts 5:4).

Question 111: But what does God require of you in this Commandment? That I further my neighbor’s good where I can and may, deal with him as I would have others deal with me, and labor faithfully, so that I may be able to help the poor in their need.

Stealing begins with greed in our heart (Mark 7:22), with a desire to take instead of to give. The biblical cure for stealing is to ask the Lord Jesus for forgiveness and for spiritual renewal, so we learn the true meaning of His words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 22:35). God ordained work as a means to provide for our needs (Prov. 13:11; 14:23; 1 Tim. 5:8; 2 Cor. 12:14), and to give to others who are in need. “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give to him who has need” (Eph. 4:28; cf. Prov. 13:22; 19:17; 2 Thess. 3:10).


As believers, we are learning to be faithful stewards, working for God’s glory, putting off our greed and putting on hard work and generosity. We are learning to fight against the desire to be rich (1 Tim. 6:9-10); and if we are rich we are learning not to “trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.” We are learning to “be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share” (1 Tim. 6:17-18). God’s grace is teaching us to treat others the way we want to be treated (Matt. 7:12).


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 QA 110-111

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 42



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, October 7, 2017

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 41: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM QA 108-109

Reformation 500 WEEK 41: Heidelberg Catechism QA 108-109

Question 108: What does the seventh Commandment teach us? That all unchastity is accursed of God, and that we should therefore loathe it with our whole heart, and live chastely and modestly, whether in holy wedlock or in single life.

     The Seventh Commandment, “You shall not commit adultery,” forbids more than merely the outward act of adultery (sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not his or her spouse). Jesus said, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). Adultery begins with lust in our heart. “And pornography isn’t just a male problem. Both sexes have immoral fantasies. Women might be more captured by romantic literature and men by erotic pictures, but the end result is the same—you are committing adultery in your thought life” (David Powlison, “Breaking Pornography Addiction”). Jesus died on the cross, to deliver us from the penalty of lust, and also to purify our hearts, so that we begin in this life to learn by His Holy Spirit to be sexually pure (chaste), whether in marriage or in single life. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that you should abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thess. 4:3-5). “The design of this commandment is the preservation of chastity…and the guarding of marriage, or keeping it holy” (Ursinus, 590).

     The seventh commandment forbids all sexual impurity (unchastity), including fornication (sexual intercourse between people not married to each other), homosexuality (sexual intercourse between people of the same sex), incest (sexual intercourse with a parent, child, sibling, or grandchild), bestiality (sex with an animal), and polygamy (having more than one spouse at the same time). “Do not be deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified.” (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Only the Lord Jesus Christ can deliver us from both the penalty and addiction of sexual impurity, so that we learn to love chastity and loathe unchastity with our whole heart (Ps. 119:127-128).

     God hates lust not only because it spoils His image in mankind, but especially because it destroys the marriage relationship. “Marriage is a lawful and indissoluble union between one man and one woman, instituted by God [Gen. 2:18-25; Matt. 19:4-6];” “that it might be the means of perpetuating and multiplying the human race in a lawful manner [Gen. 1:28];” that it might be the means to “gather to Himself out of the whole human race, thus lawfully propagated, an everlasting church, which shall rightly know and worship Him [Gen. 17:7; Mal. 2:14-15; 1 Cor. 7:14];” “that it might be an image or resemblance of the union between Christ and the church [Eph. 5:30-32];” and “that wanton and wandering lusts might in this way be avoided [1 Cor. 7:1-5] (Ursinus, 592-593). “Marriage is honorable among all, and the [marriage] bed undefiled [see the Song of Solomon]; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4).

     God “hates divorce” (Mal. 2:16). But He does permit divorce in the case of “sexual immorality” (Matt. 19:9) and in the case of an unbelieving spouse deserting their believing spouse: “if the unbeliever departs, let him depart” (1 Cor. 7:15). “Actions which are tantamount to desertion constitute adequate grounds for divorce. For example, the deliberate and unrepentant withholding of food, clothing, and sexual relations,” or “spousal abuse which is life-threatening or destructive of the “cleaving” aspect of marriage [Exodus 21:10-11] …. Remarriage is lawful for persons divorced on biblical grounds [Matt. 19:9; 1 Cor. 7:15]” (RCUS paper on Divorce and Remarriage).

Question 109: Does God forbid nothing more in this Commandment than adultery and such gross sins? Since both our body and soul are temples of the Holy Spirit, it is His will that we keep both pure and holy; therefore, He forbids all unchaste actions, gestures, words, thoughts, desires, and whatever may entice thereto.

     In order for us to keep our body and soul sexually pure, we must remember that the Holy Spirit lives in us, which means that our body and soul are a temple of the Holy Spirit. He lives in us to sanctify us, to purify our hearts, so that we may more and more die unto sin and lead holy and blameless lives. “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:18-20). This is why He commands us to be holy: “as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Pet. 1:15). He intends to use the command to be holy to make us holy, in answer to Jesus’ prayer: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth” (John 17:17; cf. Ps. 119:9; Rom. 12:2; Eph. 5:26). Through prayerful reading of God’s Word, we desire to obey God’s Word. “Make me walk in Your commands, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things” (Ps. 119:35-37). Our lust will not condemn us or separate us from God’s love, but it still grieves the Holy Spirit who dwells in us; “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (Eph. 4:30). It is because we love God that we do not want to grieve Him with our sexual sins.


     It is also because we fear God that we avoid “all unchaste actions, gestures, words, thoughts, desires, and whatever may entice thereto.” Just because our heavenly Father will not punish us in hell for our sins, does not mean He will not discipline us for our sins in this life. “Whom the LORD loves He chastens” (Heb. 12:5; cf. Ps. 99:6-8; 1 Cor. 10:8). The Lord chastened Samson (Judges 16) and David (2 Samuel 12) for their sexual sins. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent” (Rev. 3:19). “By the fear of the LORD one departs from evil” (Prov. 16:6; cf. Gen. 39:7-12). “Nothing is more powerful to overcome temptation than the fear of God” (Calvin). “Therefore, … beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1). “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Prov. 15:3). “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?”  (Job 31:1). “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes” (Ps. 101:2-3). We do not need to look at pornography in order to have sexual fantasies, but pornography will provide plenty of fuel for the fire. Better not to strike the match. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure (Gal. 6:10). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteous” (1 John 1:9). 

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 QA 105-107

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 41



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, September 30, 2017

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 40: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, QA’S 105-107

Reformation 500 WEEK 40: Heidelberg Catechism, QA’s 105-107

Question 105: What does God require in the sixth Commandment? That I do not revile, hate, insult, or kill my neighbor either in thought, word, or gesture, much less in deed, whether by myself or by another, but lay aside all desire of revenge; moreover, that I do not harm myself, nor willfully run into any danger. Wherefore also to restrain murder the magistrate is armed with the sword.

     The Ten Commandments go deeper than merely commanding or forbidding an outward action. “The law is spiritual” (Rom. 7:14). God is more concerned with purity of heart than with outward appearance. We do not keep God’s commands if we only keep them outwardly. The Lord said the Pharisees “honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Matt. 15:8). “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt. 23:27-28). “The Pharisees had infected the people with a perverse opinion: that he who has committed nothing by way of outward works against the law fulfills the law. Christ reproves this most dangerous error, and He declares an unchaste glance at a woman to be adultery [Matt. 5:28]” (Calvin, Institutes, 2.8.7). Jesus died for our sins, not only to save us from the penalty of a wicked heart, but also to purify our hearts (Acts 15:9) so we love the Lord and obey His commands out of thankfulness for our salvation (John 14:15). Jesus “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).

    The Sixth Commandment, “You shall not murder,” requires more than merely avoiding the outward act of murder. You would not be pleased if you knew that the person who praised you really hated you and wished you were dead; or worse, was planning your death! “The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart” (Psalm 55:21). God’s law has always forbidden hate and required love in our hearts, first for God and then for our neighbor. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart” (Deut. 6:5). “You shall not hate your brother in your heart…. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD” (Lev. 19:17-18). There is no neutrality; we either love or hate. To ignore or avoid someone intentionally, or to be indifferent, is not love, and is therefore a form of hate.

     The Sixth Commandment “forbids every unlawful injury inflicted upon our own or our neighbor’s life and safety;” and requires “the preservation of our own and of our neighbor’s life and safety” (Ursinus, 589). This is based on the fact that human life is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26; 9:6), “which we may not destroy either in ourselves or in others” (Ursinus, 584). 

Not all killing is murder. To kill without God’s approval is murder. But to kill with God’s approval is not murder. Killing animals for food (Gen. 9:3) or killing in self-defense is not murder (Ex. 22:2-4). And if it is not wrong for an individual to kill in self-defense, then it is not wrong for an individual soldier or an army to kill if necessary to protect their life and country (Luke 3:14). Pacifists object to using force on the basis of Christ’s command to love our enemies and to turn the other cheek. But they fail to realize that such commands apply to the individual Christian, not to the civil magistrate. Right after the Bible tells Christians, “do not avenge yourselves” (Rom. 12:19), it says that the magistrate “is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on evil-doers” (Rom. 13:4).

     The death penalty is not murder. God instituted the death penalty to avenge and restrain murder. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man” (Gen. 9:6; cf. Lev. 24:17). Murder is an attack on God’s image. If we shed innocent blood we must pay with our own blood; “life for life” (Deut. 19:21). The death penalty is God’s vengeance against the murderer. “Hence when the magistrate puts wicked transgressors to death, it is not man, but God who is the executioner of the deed” (Ursinus, 587). To spare the murderer is “a cruel mercy, by which society itself is injured” (Ibid. 588). In 1922, Hitler was convicted of murder and after two years in jail was released, only to go on to murder millions of people!

Question 106: Does this Commandment speak only of killing? No, but in forbidding murder God teaches us that He abhors its very root, namely, envy, hatred, anger, and desire of revenge; and that in His sight all these are hidden murder.

     God not only hates murder, He hates the very root of murder, which begins in the human heart. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders” (Mark 7:21). Murder begins with such things as envy, hatred, anger, and a desire of revenge. Even if Cain never murdered his brother Abel, his envy, anger and hatred against his brother was hidden murder in God’s eyes.

Whoever hates his brother is a murderer and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15). Hidden murder needs God’s forgiveness in Christ just as much as murder in cold-blood. Jesus said, “whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment,” and “whoever says, ‘you fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matt. 5:22). Even when our anger is justified, we must be careful not to sin but to deal with our anger biblically. “Be angry, and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil” (Eph. 4:26-27).

Question 107: But is this all that is required: that we do not kill our neighbor? No, for in condemning envy, hatred, and anger, God requires us to love our neighbor as ourselves, to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and kindness toward him, and to prevent his hurt as much as possible: also, to do good even unto our enemies.


     The only antidote to envy, anger, hatred, and a desire for revenge is to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and kindness toward our neighbor (Col. 3:12-14). Instead of resentment and bitterness, we must seek reconciliation with our brother (Matt. 5:23-24). “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18). Instead of taking revenge on our enemies, Jesus says, “love your enemies…that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt.5:44-45; cf. Rom. 12:17-21). The only proper response is, “God, be merciful to me the sinner!” (Luke 18:13). “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10).

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 QA 105-107

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 40



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, September 23, 2017

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 39 BLOODY MARY

Reformation 500 WEEK 39    Bloody Mary


     “Princess Mary, the only surviving child of Henry VIII and [his first wife] Catherine of Aragon, was dedicated in her allegiance to the Catholic Church and Catholic Spain, the birthplace of her mother” (DeMar, Reformation, 227). Mary remembered what happened to her and her mother back in 1533. When Archbishop Cranmer had declared her mother’s marriage to Henry unlawful so Henry could wed Anne Boleyn, Mary was declared illegitimate and removed from the line of succession to the throne. In 1544, Henry reinstated Mary to the line of succession behind her half-brother, Edward, born to Henry’s third wife Jane Seymour in 1537.

     Before Edward VI died in 1553, knowing full well that after his death Mary would restore Catholicism in England, he devised a complicated scheme to prevent her from taking the throne. He named his Protestant cousin, Lady Jane Grey his success-or. After Edward died, Jane was proclaimed queen of England on July 10, 1553. Jane’s father-in-law, the Duke of Northumberland, set out with forces to capture Mary, but before he could do so she raised her own army and rallied other support-ers, prompting the royal government to switch its allegiance from Jane and declare Mary the legitimate queen. Jane, who had reigned for just nine days, was imprison-ed with her husband in the Tower of London, and Northumberland was executed. Later, Jane and her husband were tried, found guilty, and executed as traitors.

     Queen Mary worked to return England to Catholicism, undoing the reforms made by Edward. She brought the Church of England back under the authority of the pope, deposed Protestant bishops, and restored traditional Roman Catholic worship. In 1554, she married King Philip of Spain, “the most deadly foe of Protest-antism in all Europe. Many English Protestants fled abroad: most found refuge in Germany and Switzerland [John Knox fled to Geneva]. Protestants who stayed behind in England were now arrested and tried for heresy(Needham, 2000 Years, 3:393).

     “The most notable victims of Mary’s persecution were the two bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley. As the flames curled around their bodies Latimer spoke courage and comfort to his fellow martyr: ‘This day we shall light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.’” (Kuiper’s History, 226). Mary’s next victim was Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, who was promptly excommunicated. Even though Cranmer weakened and signed a denial of the Protestant faith, Mary decided to make an example of him and burn him anyway. But just before he was to die on March 21, 1556, he stunned everyone by renouncing his denial and reaffirming his Protestant faith. As the flames rose around him at the stake, the old archbishop in dramatic fashion held out the hand which had signed the denial, “so that it was the first part of his body to be burnt away” (Needham, 3:394).


     Before she died in 1558, Mary had more than 270 Protestants burned at the stake, earning her the name “Bloody Mary,” given to her by John Foxe (1516-1587) in his famous Book of Martyrs. Foxe hoped the church would never forget. At least the Anglican prayer book did not forget: “Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, after the examples of thy servants Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer; that we may live in thy fear, die in thy favor, and rest in thy peace.” 

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 History: Bloody Mary

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 39

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 39: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM QA 104

Reformation 500 WEEK 39: Heidelberg Catechism QA 104

Question 104: What does God require in the fifth Commandment? That I show all honor, love, and faithfulness to my father and mother, and to all in authority over me, submit myself with due obedience to all their good instruction and correction, and also bear patiently with their infirmities [weaknesses], since it is God’s will to govern us by their hand.

                The Fifth Commandment, “honor your father and your mother,” is first in the second table of the law, because it is in the home where we begin to learn how to love our neighbor as our self and to submit to all authority in society. The purpose “of this commandment is the preservation of civil order,” and parental authority and government “was the first established among men” (Ursinus, 575). Behind this commandment is the truth that God governs us through various kinds of authority. “For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God” (Rom. 13:1-2). The only exception to our obedience to men is if they command us to disobey God, in which case, “we ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Parental authority is the foundation of all authority. Since God knows the depravity of our hearts, that we submit to authority grudgingly, He starts us off with that submission which is easiest to tolerate, in order to gradually accustom us to submit to all other lawful authority.

                The fact that the Bible directs this commandment to children in the church teaches us that God redeems children through faith in Christ from the penalty and bondage of sin, including the sin of dishonoring parents; so that they learn to honor, love, and obey their parents out of thankfulness for salvation. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Eph. 6:1). The words, “in the Lord,” mean that this obedience “should be religious; arising out of the conviction that such obedience is the will of the Lord. This makes it a higher service than if rendered from fear or from mere natural affection” (Charles Hodge, on Eph. 6:1).

The basic meaning of the word honor is “weighty, of great value and worth.” To honor our parents is to treat them as carrying a lot of weight, as very valuable and worthy of respect, because it is God’s will to govern us by their hand. Therefore, we “should treat them with honor, obedience, and gratefulness. It follows from this that we are forbidden to detract from their dignity either by contempt, by stubbornness, or by ungratefulness [Matt. 15:4-6]” (Calvin, Institutes, 2.8.35). On the other hand, “when God requires parents to be honored, He at the same time demands that they so discharge the duties of parents as to be worthy of honor [Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4]” (Ursinus, 576).


Honoring parents also means to bear patiently with their weaknesses, even when they behave dishonorably (Gen. 9:18-23). This does not mean children have to put up with abuse. Parents who abuse their children are breaking the law, and abusing the authority God gave them. Therefore, “if our parents spur us to transgress the law, we have a right to regard them not as parents, but as strangers who are trying to lead us away from obedience to our true Father” (Calvin, Institutes, 2.8.38). Abused or abandoned children do not have the right to be bitter or to rage against society. Only the Lord can heal their broken heart and bitterness. “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take care of me” (Psalm 27:10). 

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 QA 104

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 39

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.