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Posts by Pastor Jeff (Page 10)

The Body and the Blood

If you listened closely to the Pastor’s words during Holy Communion, you may have noticed that the Pastor quotes Jesus. As the bread is held up the pastor quotes Jesus’ words saying, “This is my body broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[1] Similarly when the cup is held in the air, again the Pastor quotes Jesus, “This is the blood of the new covenant, poured out for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[2]

Words matter. Christ was deliberate in using these words when instituting the Lord’s Supper. But what do they mean? Historically, these words have divided churches. It was one of the reasons the Lutherans and the Reformed churches were unable to unite in the 16th century. Lord’s Day 29 explains the Reformed position.

Baptism: A Sign & A Seal

Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 27

Lord’s Day 27 discusses two things about Baptism: what it is, and to whom it is for. Baptism is a “sign and a seal”. Signs point to something and clarify our understanding of something. A seal (or “pledge”) is an older way of saying a “promise”. When we see or participate in a sacrament, it is pointing to a greater reality than itself. It is also illuminating a promise that God has given to a believer.

What reality is Baptism is pointing to? Baptism points to the washing away of our sins by Christ’s work on the cross and the working of the Holy Spirit. Q/A 72 asks whether or not the outward washing of water actually does anything. It does not. In contrast to our Catholic friends, Protestants do not believe that baptism cleanses people just by the fact that it is done. The Heidelberg states that only Jesus’ blood and the Holy Spirit cleanse us from sin. This understanding reminds us that baptism is far from being an empty symbol. Baptism points to the reality of something greater.

Washing of Rebirth and Renewal

Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 26

Last week on Lord’s Day 25, we began the section of the Heidelberg Catechism that introduced the Sacraments. The Sacraments are practices that the church uses in its worship that Jesus commanded his followers to do. These are not just meaningless rituals, but practices that Jesus commanded in order to point people to the promises of Christ’s Death and Resurrection. These Sacraments in a sense “act out” our faith and are meant to encourage and strengthen the faith of the believer by reminding them of what Christ has done for us. Lord’s Day 26 focuses on Baptism- what it means and how we should think about it.

Signs and Seals

Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 25

Lord’s Day 25 begins a new section on the Heidelberg that explains the Sacraments. But before we get into a discussion on what are the Sacraments, it might be helpful for us to connect the Sacraments with everything we’ve talked about before. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing how a person is made right before God. We’re not made righteous before God by our own works of righteousness (Ps. 130:3, Rom. 3:20, 28, Gal. 2:16, Eph. 2:8-9). This is not to say that God isn’t pleased by our efforts. God is certainly pleased by our broken, and weak efforts to live our lives to please Him. But our failures to keep God’s commands should lead us to recognize our weakness and our need for a Savior. The righteousness we have been given is not from ourselves, but from faith in Jesus Christ.

What About Our Good Works?

Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 24

Last week’s Lord’s Day discussed what it means to be righteous. We discussed how it is that we are made right before God. Q/A 60 says, “without any merit of my own, out of sheer grace, God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, and as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me. All I need to do is accept this gift with a believing heart.” In other words, we stand righteous, acceptable, justified before God not because of our own good works, but because of what Jesus has done on our behalf.

But what about our good works? Can we contribute anything to our own righteousness before God? Q/A 62 asks the question about our righteousness. Do we contribute to our acceptability before God?

What does it mean to be righteous?

What does it mean to be righteous? It’s a phrase used in Christianity many times. But what does it mean? To be righteous has a range of meanings in the Bible. In the Old Testament, it referred to someone who has done what is right, has acted in accordance with a law, or has upright conduct. Some have emphasized the relational aspect of being righteous. Someone who is righteous has a close relationship with God. There was also an aspect of righteousness that had to do with a court of law. A person was declared righteous legally when they are innocent of wrongdoing and declared not guilty. The New Testament builds on this understanding. Harpers’s Bible Dictionary points out that Jesus sought out “the sinners” of his day and not “the righteous” of the day.[1] Jesus called for a righteousness that was deeper than that of the Pharisees (Matt. 5:20). After the resurrection the Apostles understood Christ’s death and resurrection to be a righteous person’s death on behalf of the unrighteous (Acts 3:14, Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 3:18). Paul explains this more with regards to being declared justified by God (Romans 3:24-26).

Heidelberg Lord’s Day 23 and 24 explain what it means to be righteous and how we can be declared righteous.

Comfort of the Resurrection

Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 22

If you recall what we’ve been discussing over the past few weeks, the Heidelberg spends a significant amount of time explaining what Christianity is all about. It does so by examining one of Christianity’s earliest confessions: the Apostle’s Creed. Lord’s Day 22 deals with the last two statements made in the Apostle’s Creed: belief in “the resurrection of the body” and “life everlasting.” These two doctrines are not just boring things that we are supposed to know and read about as Christians. Both these questions are not just trying to teach bland doctrine. Both these questions try to answer how this doctrine taught in Scripture comforts us.