Dishonoring God’s Name

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The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 36

99. Question: What is required in the third commandment?

 Answer: We are not to blaspheme or to abuse the Name of God by cursing,[1] perjury,[2] or unnecessary oaths,[3] nor to share in such horrible sins by being silent bystanders.[4] In short, we must use the holy Name of God only with fear and reverence,[5] so that we may rightly confess Him,[6] call upon Him,[7] and praise Him in all our words and works.[8]

 [1] Lev. 24:10-17. [2] Lev. 19:12 [3] Matt. 5:37; James 5:12. [4] Lev. 5:1; Prov. 29:24. [5] Ps. 99:1-5; Is. 45:23; Jer. 4:2. [6] Matt. 10:32, 33; Rom. 10:9, 10. [7] Ps. 50:14, 15; I Tim. 2:8. [8] Rom. 2:24; Col. 3:17; I Tim. 6:1.

 100. Question: Is the blaspheming of God’s Name by swearing and cursing such a grievous sin that God is angry also with those who do not prevent and forbid it as much as they can?

 Answer: Certainly,[1] for no sin is greater or provokes God’s wrath more than the blaspheming of His Name. That is why He commanded it to be punished with death.[2]

 [1] Lev. 5:1. [2] Lev. 24:16.

The Ten Commandments and Idolatry

The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 34

92. Question: What is the law of the LORD?

 Answer: God spoke all these words, saying: I am the LORD your God, who
brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

 1. You shall have no other gods before Me.

 2. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love Me and keep My
commandments.

 3. You shall not take the Name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His Name in vain.

 4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.

 5. Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you.

 6. You shall not kill.

 7. You shall not commit adultery.

 8. You shall not steal.

 9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

 10. you shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, 10. or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.[1]

 [1] Ex. 20:1-17; Deut. 5:6-21.

 93. Question: How are these commandments divided?

 Answer: Into two parts. The first teaches us how to live in relation to God; the second, what duties we owe our neighbor.[1]

 [1] Matt. 22:37-40.

 94. Question: What does the LORD require in the first commandment?

 Answer: That for the sake of my very salvation I avoid and flee all idolatry,[1] witchcraft, superstition,[2] and prayer to saints or to other creatures.[3] Further, that I rightly come to know the only true God.[4] trust in Him alone,[5] submit to Him with all humility[6] and patience,[7] expect all good from Him only,[8] and love,[9] fear,[10] and honour Him[11] with all my heart. In short, that I forsake all creatures rather than do the least thing against His will.[12]

 [1] I Cor. 6:9, 10; 10:5-14; I John 5:21. [2] Lev. 19:31; Deut. 18:9-12. [3] Matt. 4:10; Rev. 19:10; 22:8, 9. [4] John 17:3. [5] Jer. 17:5, 7. [6] I Pet. 5:5, 6. [7] Rom. 5:3, 4; I Cor. 10:10; Phil. 2:14; Col. 1:11; Heb. 10:36. [8] Ps. 104:27, 28; Is. 45:7; James 1:17. [9] Deut. 6:5; (Matt. 22:37). [10] Deut. 6:2; Ps. 111:10; Prov. 1:7; 9:10; Matt. 10:28; I Pet. 1:17. [11] Deut. 6:13; (Matt. 4:10); Deut. 10:20. [12] Matt. 5:29, 30; 10:37-39; Acts 5:29.

 95. Question: What is idolatry?

 Answer: Idolatry is having or inventing something in which to put our trust instead of, or in addition to, the only true God who has revealed Himself in His Word.[1]

 [1] I Chron. 16:26; Gal. 4:8, 9; Eph. 5:5; Phil. 3:19.

Repentance, Conversion, and Good Works

The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 33

88. Question: What is the true repentance or conversion of man?

 Answer: It is the dying of the old nature and the coming to life of the new.[1]

 [1] Rom. 6:1-11; I Cor. 5:7; II Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:5-10.

 89. Question: What is the dying of the old nature?

 Answer: It is to grieve with heartfelt sorrow that we have offended God by our sin, and more and more to hate it and flee from it.[1]

 [1] Ps. 51:3, 4, 17; Joel 2:12, 13; Rom. 8:12, 13; II Cor. 7:10.

 90. Question: What is the coming to life of the new nature?

 Answer: It is a heartfelt joy in God through Christ,[1] and a love and delight to live according to the will of God in all good works.[2]

 [1] Ps. 51:8, 12; Is. 57:15; Rom. 5:1; 14:17. [2] Rom. 6:10, 11; Gal. 2:20.

 91. Question: But what are good works?

 Answer: Only those which are done out of true faith,[1] in accordance with the law of God,[2] and to His glory,[3] and not those based on our own opinion or on precepts of men.[4]

 [1] Joh. 15:5; Rom. 14:23; Heb. 11:6. [2] Lev. 18:4; I Sam. 15:22; Eph. 2:10. [3] I Cor. 10:31. [4] Deut. 12:32; Is. 29:13; Ezek. 20:18, 19; Matt. 15:7-9.

The Role of Good Works

The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 32

Question 86
. Since then we are delivered from our misery, merely of grace, through Christ, without any merit of ours, why must we still do good works?

Answer: Because Christ, having redeemed and delivered us by his blood, also renews us by his Holy Spirit, after his own image; that so we may testify, by the whole of our conduct, our gratitude to God for his blessings, (a) and that he may be praised by us; (b) also, that every one may be assured in himself of his faith, (c) by the fruits thereof; and that, by our godly conversation others may be gained to Christ. (d)

 (a) Rom.6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. Rom.12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Rom.12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 1 Pet.2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 1 Pet.2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: 1 Pet.2:10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 1 Cor.6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (b) Matt.5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

1 Pet.2:12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. 1 Pet.1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 1 Pet.1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (c) 2 Pet.1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: Matt.7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. Gal.5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Gal.5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Gal.5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (d) 1 Pet.3:1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 1 Pet.3:2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Rom.14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

Question 87. Cannot they then be saved, who, continuing in their wicked and ungrateful lives, are not converted to God?

Answer: By no means; for the holy scripture declares that no unchaste person, idolater, adulterer, thief, covetous man, drunkard, slanderer, robber, or any such like, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (a)

 (a) 1 Cor.6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 1 Cor.6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. Eph.5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Eph.5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

The Lord’s Supper, Part 2

The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 29

78. Question: Are then the bread and wine changed into the real body and blood of Christ?

Answer: No. Just as the water of baptism is not changed into the blood of Christ and is not the washing away of sins itself but is simply God’s sign and pledge,[1] so also the bread in the Lord’s supper does not become the body of Christ itself,[2] although it is called Christ’s body[3] in keeping with the nature and usage of sacraments.[4]

[1] Eph. 5:26; Tit. 3:5. [2] Matt. 26:26-29. [3] I Cor. 10:16, 17; 11:26-28. [4] Gen. 17:10, 11; Ex. 12:11, 13; I Cor. 10:3, 4; I Pet. 3:21.

79. Question: Why then does Christ call the bread His body and the cup His blood, or the new covenant in His blood, and why does Paul speak of a participation in the body and blood of Christ?

Answer: Christ speaks in this way for a good reason: He wants to teach us by His supper that as bread and wine sustain us in this temporal life, so His crucified body and shed blood are true food and drink for our souls to eternal life.[1] But, even more important, He wants to assure us by this visible sign and pledge, first, that through the working of the Holy Spirit we share in His true body and blood as surely as we receive with our mouth these holy signs in remembrance of Him,[2] and, second, that all His suffering and obedience are as certainly ours as if we personally had suffered and paid for our sins.[3]

[1] John 6:51, 55. [2] I Cor. 10:16, 17; 11:26. [3] Rom. 6:5-11.

The Lord’s Supper

The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 28

75. Question: How does the Lord’s Supper signify and seal to you that you share
in Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross and in all His gifts?

Answer: In this way: Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat of this broken bread and drink of this cup in remembrance of Him. With this command He gave these promises:[1] First, as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup given to me, so surely was His body offered for me and His blood poured out for me on the cross. Second, as surely as I receive from the hand of the minister and taste with my mouth the bread and the cup of the Lord
as sure signs of Christ’s body and blood, so surely does He Himself nourish and refresh my soul to everlasting life with His crucified body and shed blood.

[1] Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19, 20; I Cor. 11:23-25.

76. Question: What does it mean to eat the crucified body of Christ and to drink His shed blood?

Answer: First, to accept with a believing heart all the suffering and the death of Christ, and so receive forgiveness of sins and life eternal.[1] Second, to be united more and more to His sacred body through the Holy Spirit, who lives both in Christ and in us.[2] Therefore, although Christ is in heaven[3] and we are on earth, yet we are flesh of His flesh and bone of His bones,[4] and we forever live and are governed by one Spirit, as the members of our body are by one soul.[5]

[1] John 6:35, 40, 50-54. [2] John 6:55, 56; I Cor. 12:13. [3] Acts 1:9-11; 3:21; I Cor. 11:26; Col. 3:1. [4] I Cor. 6:15, 17; Eph. 5:29, 30; I John 4:13. [5] John 6:56-58; 15:1-6; Eph. 4:15, 16; I John 3:24.

77. Question: Where has Christ promised that He will nourish and refresh believers with His body and blood as surely as they eat of this broken bread and drink of this cup?

Answer: In the institution of the Lord’s supper: The Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes (I Corinthians 11:23-26). This promise is repeated by Paul where he says: The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread (I Corinthians 10:16, 17).

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.