Baptism

The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 27

72. Question: Does this outward washing with water itself wash away sins?

Answer: No, only the blood of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit cleanse us from all sins.[1]

[1] Matt. 3:11; I Pet. 3:21; I John 1:7.

73. Question: Why then does the Holy Spirit call baptism the washing of regeneration and the washing away of sins?

Answer: God speaks in this way for a good reason. He wants to teach us that the blood and Spirit of Christ remove our sins just as water takes away dirt from the body.[1] But, even more important, He wants to assure us by this divine pledge and sign that we are as truly cleansed from our sins spiritually as we are bodily washed with
water.[2]

[1] I Cor. 6:11; Rev. 1:5; 7:14. [2] Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3, 4; Gal. 3:27.

74. Question: Should infants, too, be baptized?

Answer: Yes. Infants as well as adults belong to God’s covenant and congregation.[1] Through Christ’s blood the redemption from sin and the Holy Spirit, who works faith, are promised to them no less than to adults.[2] Therefore, by baptism, as sign of the covenant, they must be grafted into the Christian church and distinguished from the children of unbelievers.[3] This was done in the old covenant by circumcision,[4] in place of which baptism was instituted in the new covenant.[5]

[1] Gen. 17:7; Matt. 19:14. [2] Ps. 22:11; Is. 44:1-3; Acts 2:38, 39; 16:31. [3] Acts 10:47; I Cor. 7:14. [4] Gen. 17:9-14. [5] Col. 2: 11-13.

The Sacraments

The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 25

65. Question: Since then faith alone makes us share in Christ and all His benefits, where does this faith come from?

Answer: From the Holy Spirit,[1] who works it in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel,[2] and strengthens it by the use of the sacraments.[3]

[1] John 3:5; I Cor. 2:10-14; Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29. [2] Rom. 10:17; I Pet. 1:23-25. [3] Matt. 28:19, 20; I Cor. 10:16.

66. Question: What are the sacraments?

Answer: The sacraments are holy, visible signs and seals. They were instituted by God so that by their use He might the more fully declare and seal to us the promise of the gospel.[1] And this is the promise: that God graciously grants us forgiveness of sins and everlasting life because of the one sacrifice of Christ accomplished on the cross.[2]

[1] Gen. 17:11; Deut. 30:6; Rom. 4:11 [2] Matt. 26:27, 28; Acts 2:38; Heb. 10:10.

67. Question: Are both the Word and the sacraments then intended to focus our faith on the sacrifice of Jesus
Christ on the cross as the only ground of our salvation?

Answer: Yes, indeed. The Holy Spirit teaches us in the gospel and assures us by the sacraments that our entire salvation rests on Christ’s one sacrifice for us on the cross.[1]

[1] Rom. 6:3; I Cor. 11:26; Gal. 3:27.

68. Question: How many sacraments has Christ instituted in the new covenant?

Answer: Two: holy baptism and the holy supper.[1]

[1] Matt. 28:19, 20; I Cor. 11:23-26.

The Shape of Love

We are able to love God and others because, the Bible tells us, God first loved us (1 John 4:7, 10-12, 16). Think of our love for others as an overflow of God’s love for us. When we receive the love of God, we can’t help but love God and others.

When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he had over 600 commandments to choose from. The Israelites had a lot of commands they were commanded to obey in the Old Testament. Would Jesus say, “Do not murder” is the most important? Would he answer, “Have no other gods before God” was the primary commandment? No, instead, he summed up the Ten Commandments by saying, the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Then, he said, and the second most important commandment is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. 

By commanding us to love God and our neighbors, Jesus summed up the main points of the Ten commandments. The Ten Commandments show us what this love looks like. The first four commandments emphasize our love for God, while the last six focus on neighbor-love.

But even there, we think we’re obeying these commands by NOT doing something we’re commanded not to do. But the commandments mean so much more. For example, not only are we NOT to murder another person, but we are to have their best interest at heart and try to help them when we can. There’s a positive side of every command, just as there is a negative side.

The Good Samaritan not only committed no harm to the injured Jewish man (The Jews and Samaritans hated each other, as groups of people). But the Samaritan did more than “not hurt” the Jewish man, he helped him. He put the Jewish man’s needs before his own. He went out of his way to help him and then made sure that if more was required, that too would be taken care of. Jesus is telling us that that is what our love for others should look like. 

That’s the shape of Christian love. And most importantly, that’s how God loves us. We aren’t called to love others because they deserve it any more than God loves us because we’re so awesome. We love others because the grace-filled love of God flows in us and through us so that we can love others with God’s love. Thanks be to God for his love. Amen.

Righteous Before God

The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 23

59. Question: But what does it help you now that you believe all this?

Answer: In Christ I am righteous before God and heir to life everlasting.[1]

[1] Hab. 2:4; John 3:36; Rom. 1:17; 5:1, 2.60. 

Question: How are you righteous before God?

Answer: Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.[1] Although my conscience accuses me that I have grievously sinned against all God’s commandments, have never kept any of them,[2] and am still inclined to all evil,[3] yet God, without any merit of my own,[4] out of mere grace,[5] imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ.[6] He grants these to me as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, and as if I myself had accomplished all the obedience which Christ has rendered for me,[7] if only I accept this gift with a believing heart.[8]

[1] Rom. 3:21-28; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8, 9; Phil. 3:8-11. [2] Rom. 3:9, 10. [3] Rom. 7:23. [4] Deut. 9:6; Ezek. 36:22; Tit. 3:4, 5. [5] Rom. 3:24; Eph. 2:8. [6] Rom. 4:3-5; II Cor. 5:17-19; I John 2:1, 2. [7] Rom. 4:24, 25; II Cor. 5:21. [8] John 3:18; Acts 16:30, 31; Rom. 3:22.

61. Question: Why do you say that you are righteous only by faith?

Answer: Not that I am acceptable to God on account of the worthiness of my faith, for only the satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ is my righteousness before God.[1] I can receive this righteousness and make it mine in no other way than by faith alone.[2]

[1] I Cor. 1:30, 31; 2:2. [2] Rom. 10:10; I John 5:10-12.

Resurrection of the Body and Life Everlasting

The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 22

57. Question: What comfort does the resurrection of the body offer you?

Answer: Not only shall my soul after this life immediately be taken up to Christ, my Head,[1] but also this my flesh, raised by the power of Christ, shall be reunited with my soul and made like Christ’s glorious body.[2]

[1] Luke 16:22; 23:43; Phil. 1:21-23. [2] Job 19:25, 26; I Cor. 15:20, 42-46, 54; Phil. 3:21; I John 3:2.

58. Question: What comfort do you receive from the article about the life everlasting?

Answer: Since I now already feel in my heart the beginning of eternal joy, [1] I shall after this life possess perfect blessedness, such as no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived– a blessedness in which to praise God forever.[2]

[1] John 17:3; Rom. 14:17; II Cor. 5:2, 3. [2] John 17:24; I Cor. 2:9.

The Church and Forgiveness

The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 21

54. Question: What do you believe concerning the holy catholic Christian
church?

Answer: I believe that the Son of God,[1] out of the whole human race,[2] from the beginning of the world to its end,[3] gathers, defends, and preserves for Himself, [4] by His Spirit and Word,[5] in the unity of the true faith,[6] a church chosen to everlasting life.[7] And I believe that I am[8] and forever shall remain a living member of it.[9]

[1] John 10:11; Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:11-13; Col. 1:18. [2] Gen. 26:4; Rev. 5:9. [3] Is. 59:21; I Cor. 11:26. [4] Ps. 129:1-5; Matt. 16:18; John 10:28-30. [5] Rom. 1:16; 10:14-17; Eph. 5:26. [6] Acts 2:42-47; Eph. 4:1-6. [7] Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:3-14. [8] I John 3:14, 19-21. [9] Ps. 23:6; John 10:27, 28; I Cor. 1:4-9; I Pet. 1:3-5.

55. Question: What do you understand by the communion of saints?

Answer: First, that believers, all and everyone, as members of Christ have communion with Him and share in all His treasures and gifts.[1] Second, that everyone is duty-bound to use his gifts readily and cheerfully for the benefit and well-being of the other members.[2]

[1] Rom. 8:32; I Cor. 6:17; 12:4-7, 12, 13; I John 1:3. [2] Rom. 12:4-8; I Cor. 12:20-27; 13:1-7; Phil. 2:4-8.

56. Question: What do you believe concerning the forgiveness of sins?

Answer: I believe that God, because of Christ’s satisfaction, will no more remember my sins,[1] nor my sinful nature, against which I have to struggle all my life,[2] but He will graciously grant me the righteousness of Christ, that I may never come into condemnation.[3]

[1] Ps. 103:3, 4, 10, 12; Mic. 7:18, 19; II Cor. 5:18-21; I John 1:7; 2:2. [2] Rom. 7:21-25. [3] John 3:17, 18; 5:24; Rom. 8:1, 2.

Appreciating C.S. Lewis

In an effort to communicate my appreciation for, and my indebtedness to his life and writing, I decided to put together a post sharing resources on C.S. Lewis to help others find these treasures on Lewis. I told my wife not too long ago that I really do think I could spend the rest of my days reading his books, as well books about him. His contributions across various spheres of Christian life have been vast. He speaks to me as very few others do.

I’m no Lewis scholar. I’m a rank amateur at best. But I am a fan who is trying to learn more about him. And while I can’t cite every fact about his life or how he influenced such-and-such school of thought, I find myself returning to him time and time again… whether it is his fiction, nonfiction, letters, or poetry. For that matter, I usually have a biography of Lewis somewhere near my bedside table.

Below are a few links to websites by folks who really are Lewis scholars and who have contributed in helping us think about how Lewis may serve us as a spiritual guide, among other things. I have also included links to websites about his friends, his influences, and those who have been greatly influenced by him. Enjoy.

Joy and Truth,
Dale

Courses on C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy by Michael Peterson (at biblical training.org)

The Life and Writing of C.S. Lewis by Louis Markos (at Great Courses)

C.S. Lewis by Knox Chamblin (at Reformed Theological Seminary)

Mere Christianity by Christopher Mitchell (at C.S. Lewis Institute)

The Screwtape Letters by Jerry Root (at C.S. Lewis Institute) 

Letters to Malcolm by Marjorie Lamp Mead (at C.S. Lewis Institute)

Theology of C.S. Lewis by Andrew Hoffecker (at The Gospel Coalition)

An Introduction to C.S. Lewis (at Hillsdale College)

Influences on the Thought of C.S. Lewis by Jerry Root (at Logos.com)

C.S. Lewis Foundation seminars

Websites and Organizations

1.) C.S. Lewis Institute – Bonanza of great resources. Check out their publications, Reflections and Knowing & Doing. They have great curricula on two Lewis books as well as many audio messages you can listen to or download.

2.) C.S. Lewis Foundation – Another bonanza. Lots of great resources including an online journal and blog.

3.) The C.S. Lewis Review

4.) Into the Wardrobe

5.) Diana Glyer’s website

6.) Mere Lewis.org

7.) C.S. Lewis at Harper

8.) C.S. Lewis Society of California

9.) Narnia Web.com

10.) C.S. Lewis & Public Life

Websites with lots of articles about Lewis

1.) Catholic Education Resource Center

2.) Books and Culture

3.) C.S. Lewis, Literature, and Life

Inklings and Other Friends of Lewis Related Sites

1.) The Kindlings and Earl Palmer Ministries

2.) Peter Kreeft

3.) Ralph Wood

4.) American Chesterton Society

5.) The Tolkien Society

6.) The Inklings

7.) Mythopoeic Society

8.) George MacDonald Society

9.) George MacDonald Info Web