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

[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.

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

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.

The Holy Spirit

The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 20

53. Question: What do you believe concerning the Holy Spirit?

Answer: First, He is, together with the Father and the Son, true and eternal God.[1] Second, He is also given to me,[2] to make me by true faith share in Christ and all His benefits,[3] to comfort me,[4] and to remain with me forever.[5]

[1] Gen. 1:1, 2; Matt. 28:19; Acts 5:3, 4; I Cor. 3:16. [2] I Cor. 6:19; II Cor. 1:21, 22; Gal. 4:6; Eph. 1:13. [3] Gal. 3:14; I Pet. 1:2. [4] John 15:26; Acts 9:31. [5] John 14:16, 17; I Pet. 4:14.