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The Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 1

 

1     Q.    What is your only comfort in life and in death?

 

       A.    That I am not my own,1

but belong--

body and soul,

in life and in death--2

to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.3

  

He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,4

and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.5

He also watches over me in such a way6

that not a hair can fall from my head

without the will of my Father in heaven:7

in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.8

  

              Because I belong to him,

              Christ, by his Holy Spirit,

              assures me of eternal life9

              and makes me whole-heartedly willing and ready

              from now on to live for him.10

  

1 1 Cor. 6:19-20

2 Rom. 14:7-9

3 1 Cor. 3:23; Titus 2:14

4 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:2

5 John 8:34-36; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 John 3:1-11

6 John 6:39-40; 10:27-30; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 Pet. 1:5

7 Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 21:16-18

8 Rom. 8:28

9 Rom. 8:15-16; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13-14

10 Rom. 8:1-17

 

2     Q.    What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort? 

 

       A.    Three things:

first, how great my sin and misery are;1

second, how I am set free from all my sins and misery;2

third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.3

  

1 Rom. 3:9-10; 1 John 1:10

2 John 17:3; Acts 4:12; 10:43

3 Matt. 5:16; Rom. 6:13; Eph. 5:8-10; 2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Pet. 2:9-10

 

Part I -- MAN’S MISERY

 

Lord's Day 2

 

3     Q.    How do you come to know your misery? 

 

       A.    The law of God tells me.1

 

                   1 Rom. 3:20; 7:7-25

 

4     Q.    What does God's law require of us?  

 

       A.    Christ teaches us this in summary in Matthew 22--

 

You shall love the Lord your God

with all your heart

and with all your soul

and with all your mind

and with all your strength.1*

This is the first and greatest commandment.

 

And the second is like it:

You shall love your neighbour

as yourself.2

 

On these two commandments depend

all the Law and the Prophets.

 

1 Deut. 6:5

2 Lev. 19:18

* Earlier and better manuscripts of Matthew 22 omit the words "and with all

  your strength." They are found in Mark 12:30.

 

5     Q.    Can you live up to all this perfectly? 

 

       A.    No.1

I have a natural tendency

to hate God and my neighbor.2

 

1 Rom. 3:9-20, 23; 1 John 1:8, 10

2 Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 7:23-24; 8:7; Eph. 2:1-3; Titus 3:3

 

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Lord's Day 3

 

6     Q.    Did God create man so wicked and perverse?

 

       A.    No.

God created man good1 and in his own image,2

that is, in true righteousness and holiness,3

so that he might

truly know God his creator,4

love him with all his heart,

and live with him in eternal happiness

for his praise and glory.5

 

1 Gen. 1:31

2 Gen. 1:26-27

3 Eph. 4:24

4 Col. 3:10

5 Ps. 8

 

7     Q.    Then where does man's corrupt nature come from?

 

       A.    From the fall and disobedience of our first parents,

Adam and Eve, in Paradise.1

This fall has so poisoned our nature2

that we are born sinners--

corrupt from conception on.3

 

1 Gen. 3

2 Rom. 5:12, 18-19

3 Ps. 51:5

 

8     Q.    But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined toward all evil?

 

       A.    Yes,1 unless we are born again,

              by the Spirit of God.2

 

1 Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Job 14:4; Isa. 53:6

2 John 3:3-5

 

Lord's Day 4

 

9     Q.    But doesn't God do man an injustice by requiring in his law what man is unable to do?

 

       A.    No, God created man with the ability to keep the law.1

Man, however, tempted by the devil,2

in reckless disobedience,3

robbed himself and his descendants of these gifts.4

 

1 Gen. 1:31; Eph. 4:24

2 Gen. 3:13; John 8:44

3 Gen. 3:6

4 Rom. 5:12, 18, 19

 

10   Q.    Will God permit such disobedience and rebellion to go unpunished?

 

       A.    Certainly not.

He is terribly angry

about the sin we are born with

as well as the sins we personally commit.

 

As a just judge

he punishes them now and in eternity.1

 

He has declared:

"Cursed be every one who does not abide by

all things written in the book of the law,

and do them.” 2

 

1 Ex. 34:7; Ps. 5:4-6; Nah. 1:2; Rom. 1:18; Eph. 5:6; Heb. 9:27

2 Gal. 3:10; Deut. 27:26

 

11   Q.    But isn't God also merciful? 

 

       A.    God is certainly merciful,1

but he is also just.2

His justice demands

that sin, committed against his supreme majesty,

be punished with the supreme penalty--

eternal punishment of body and soul.3

 

1 Ex. 34:6-7; Ps. 103:8-9

2 Ex. 34:7; Deut. 7:9-11; Ps. 5:4-6; Heb. 10:30-31

3 Matt. 25:35-46 

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Part II -- MAN’S DELIVERANCE

 

Lord's Day 5

 

12   Q.    According to God's righteous judgment we deserve punishment both in this world and forever after: how then can we escape this punishment and return to God's favour?

 

       A.    God requires that his justice be satisfied.1

Therefore the claims of his justice

must be paid in full,

either by ourselves or by another.2

 

1 Ex. 23:7; Rom. 2:1-11

2 Isa. 53:11; Rom. 8:3-4

 

 

13   Q.    Can we pay this debt ourselves?

  

       A.    Certainly not.

              Actually, we increase our guilt every day.1

 

                   1 Matt. 6:12; Rom. 2:4-5

 

14   Q.    Can another creature--any at all-- pay this debt for us?

 

       A.    No.

To begin with,

God will not punish another creature

for man's guilt.1

Besides,

no mere creature can bear the weight

of God's eternal anger against sin

and release others from it.2

 

1 Ezek. 18:4, 20; Heb. 2:14-18

2 Ps. 49:7-9; 130:3

 

15   Q.    What kind of mediator and deliverer should we look for then?

 

       A.    He must be truly human1 and truly righteous,2

yet more powerful than all creatures,

that is, he must also be true God.3

 

1 Rom. 1:3; 1 Cor. 15:21; Heb. 2:17

2 Isa. 53:9; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 7:26

3 Isa. 7:14; 9:6; Jer. 23:6; John 1:1

 

Lord's Day 6

 

16   Q.    Why must he be truly human and truly righteous?

 

       A.    God's justice demands it:

man has sinned,

man must pay for his sin,1

but a sinner can not pay for others.2

 

1 Rom. 5:12, 15; 1 Cor. 15:21; Heb. 2:14-16

2 Heb. 7:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:18 

 

17   Q.    Why must he also be true God? 

 

       A.    So that,

by the power of his divinity,

he might bear the weight of God's anger in his humanity

and earn for us

and restore to us

righteousness and life.1

 

1 Isa. 53; John 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:21

 

18   Q.    And who is this mediator-- true God and at the same time truly human and truly righteous?

 

       A.    Our Lord Jesus Christ,1

who was given us

to set us completely free

and to make us right with God.2

 

1 Matt. 1:21-23; Luke 2:11; 1 Tim. 2:5

2 1 Cor. 1:30

 

19   Q.    How do you come to know this? 

 

       A.    The holy gospel tells me.

God himself began to reveal the gospel already in Paradise;1

later, he proclaimed it

by the holy patriarchs2 and prophets,3

and portrayed it

by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law;4

finally, he fulfilled it

through his own dear Son.5

 

1 Gen. 3:15

2 Gen. 22:18; 49:10

3 Isa. 53; Jer. 23:5-6; Mic. 7:18-20; Acts 10:43; Heb. 1:1-2

4 Lev. 1-7; John 5:46; Heb. 10:1-10

5 Rom. 10:4; Gal. 4:4-5; Col. 2:17

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Lord's Day 7

 

20   Q.    Are all men saved through Christ just as all were lost through Adam?

 

       A.    No.

Only those are saved

who by true faith

are grafted into Christ

and accept all his blessings.1

 

1 Matt. 7:14; John 3:16, 18, 36; Rom. 11:16-21

 

21   Q.    What is true faith?

 

       A.    True faith is

not only a knowledge and conviction

that everything God reveals in his Word is true;1

it is also a deep-rooted assurance,2

created in me by the Holy Spirit3 through the gospel,4

that, out of sheer grace earned for us by Christ,5

not only others, but I too,6

have had my sins forgiven,

have been made forever right with God,

and have been granted salvation.7

 

1 John 17:3, 17; Heb. 11:1-3; James 2:19

2 Rom. 4:18-21; 5:1; 10:10; Heb. 4:14-16

3 Matt. 16:15-17; John 3:5; Acts 16:14

4 Rom. 1:16; 10:17; 1 Cor. 1:21

5 Rom. 3:21-26; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-10

6 Gal. 2:20

7 Rom. 1:17; Heb. 10:10

 

22   Q.    What then must a Christian believe?

 

       A.    Everything God promises us in the gospel.1

That gospel is summarized for us

in the articles of our Christian faith--

a creed beyond doubt,

and confessed throughout the world.

 

1 Matt. 28:18-20; John 20:30-31

 

23   Q.    What are these articles?

 

       A.    I believe in God, the Father, almighty,

maker of heaven and earth.

 

And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord;

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the virgin Mary;

suffered under Pontius Pilate;

was crucified, dead, and buried;

he descended into hell;

the third day he rose again from the dead;

he ascended into heaven,

and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father almighty;

from thence he shall come

to judge the living and the dead.

 

I believe in the Holy Spirit;

I believe a holy catholic church, the communion of saints;

the forgiveness of sins;

the resurrection of the body;

and the life everlasting. 

 

Lord's Day 8

 

24   Q.    How are these articles divided?

 

       A.    Into three parts:

God the Father and our creation;

God the Son and our deliverance;

God the Holy Spirit and our sanctification.

 

25   Q.    Since there is but one God,1 why do you speak of three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

 

       A.    Because that is how

God has revealed himself in his Word:2

these three distinct persons

are one, true, eternal God.

 

1 Deut. 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6

2 Matt. 3:16-17; 28:18-19; Luke 4:18 (Isa. 61:1); John 14:26; 15:26; 2 Cor. 13:14; Gal. 4:6;

  Tit. 3:5-6   

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God the Father

 

Lord's Day 9

 

26   Q.    What do you believe when you say, "I believe in God, the Father, almighty, maker of heaven and earth"?

 

       A.    That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who out of nothing created heaven and earth

and everything in them,1

who still upholds and rules them

by his eternal counsel and providence,2

is my God and Father

because of Christ his Son.3

 

I trust him so much that I do not doubt

he will provide

whatever I need

for body and soul,4

and he will turn to my good

whatever adversity he sends me

in this sad world.5

 

He is able to do this because he is almighty God;6

he desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.7

 

1 Gen. 1 & 2; Ex. 20:11; Ps. 33:6; Isa. 44:24; Acts 4:24; 14:15

2 Ps. 104; Matt. 6:30; 10:29; Eph. 1:11

3 John 1:12-13; Rom. 8:15-16; Gal. 4:4-7; Eph. 1:5

4 Ps. 55:22; Matt. 6:25-26; Luke 12:22-31

5 Rom. 8:28

6 Gen. 18:14; Rom. 8:31-39

7 Matt. 7:9-11

 

Lord's Day 10

 

27   Q.    What do you understand by the providence of God?

 

       A.    Providence is

the almighty and ever present power of God1

by which he upholds, as with his hand,

heaven

and earth

and all creatures,2

and so rules them that

leaf and blade,

rain and drought,

fruitful and lean years,

food and drink,

health and sickness,

prosperity and poverty--3

all things, in fact, come to us

not by chance4

but from his fatherly hand.5

 

1 Jer. 23:23-24; Acts 17:24-28

2 Heb. 1:3

3 Jer. 5:24; Acts 14:15-17; John 9:3; Prov. 22:2

4 Prov. 16:33

5 Matt. 10:29

 

28   Q.    How does the knowledge of God's creation and providence help us?

 

       A.    We can be patient when things go against us,1

thankful when things go well,2

and for the future we can have

good confidence in our faithful God and Father

that nothing will separate us from his love.3

All creatures are so completely in his hand

that without his will

they can neither move nor be moved.4

 

1 Job 1:21-22; James 1:3

2 Deut. 8:10; 1 Thess. 5:18

3 Ps. 55:22; Rom. 5:3-5; 8:38-39

4 Job 1:12; 2:6; Prov. 21:1; Acts 17:24-28   

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God the Son

 

Lord's Day 11

 

29   Q.    Why is the Son of God called "Jesus," meaning "saviour"?

 

       A.    Because he saves us from our sins.1

Salvation cannot be found in anyone else;

it is futile to look for any salvation elsewhere.2

 

1 Matt. 1:21; Heb. 7:25

2 Isa. 43:11; John 15:5; Acts 4:11-12; 1 Tim. 2:5

 

30   Q.    Do those who look for their salvation and security in saints, in themselves, or elsewhere really believe in the only saviour Jesus?

 

       A.    No.

Although they boast of being his,

by their deeds they deny

the only saviour and deliverer, Jesus.1

 

Either Jesus is not a perfect saviour,

or those who in true faith accept this saviour

have in him all they need for their salvation.2

 

1 1 Cor. 1:12-13; Gal. 5:4

2 Col. 1:19-20; 2:10; 1 John 1:7

 

Lord's Day 12

 

31   Q.    Why is he called "Christ," meaning "anointed"?

 

       A.    Because he has been ordained by God the Father

and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit1

to be

our chief prophet and teacher2

who perfectly reveals to us

the secret counsel and will of God for our deliverance;3

our only high priest4

who has set us free by the one sacrifice of his body,5

and who continually pleads our cause with the Father;6

and our eternal king7

who governs us by his Word and Spirit,

and who guards us and keeps us

in the freedom he has won for us.8

 

1 Luke 3:21-22; 4:14-19 (Isa. 61:1); Heb. 1:9 (Ps. 45:7)

2 Acts 3:22 (Deut. 18:15)

3 John 1:18; 15:15

4 Heb. 7:17 (Ps. 110:4)

5 Heb. 9:12; 10:11-14

6 Rom. 8:34; Heb. 9:24

7 Matt. 21:5 (Zech. 9:9)

8 Matt. 28:18-20; John 10:28; Rev. 12:10-11

 

32   Q.    But why are you called a Christian?

 

       A.    Because by faith I am a member of Christ1

and so I share in his anointing.2

I am anointed

to confess his name,3

to present myself to him as a living sacrifice of thanks,4

to strive with a good conscience against sin and the devil

in this life,5

and afterward to reign with Christ

over all creation

for all eternity.6

 

1 1 Cor. 12:12-27

2 Acts 2:17 (Joel 2:28); 1 John 2:27

3 Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10:9-10; Heb. 13:15

4 Rom. 12:1; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9

5 Gal. 5:16-17; Eph. 6:11; 1 Tim. 1:18-19

6 Matt. 25:34; 2 Tim. 2:12

 

Lord's Day 13

 

33   Q.    Why is he called God's "only begotten Son" when we also are God's children?

 

       A.    Because Christ alone is the eternal, natural Son of God.1

We, however, are adopted children of God--

adopted by grace through Christ.2

 

1 John 1:1-3, 14, 18; Heb. 1

2 John 1:12; Rom. 8:14-17; Eph. 1:5-6

 

34   Q.    Why do you call him "our Lord"?

 

       A.    Because--

not with gold or silver,

but with his precious blood--1

he has set us free

from sin and from the tyranny of the devil,2

and has bought us,

body and soul,

to be his very own.3

 

1 1 Pet. 1:18-19

2 Col. 1:13-14; Heb. 2:14-15

3 1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Tim. 2:5-6  

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Lord's Day 14

 

35   Q.    What does it mean that he "was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary"?

 

       A.    That the eternal Son of God,

who is and remains

true and eternal God,1

took to himself,

through the working of the Holy Spirit,2

from the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary,3

a truly human nature

so that he might become David's true descendant,4

in all things like us his brothers5

except for sin.6

 

1 John 1:1; 10:30-36; Acts 13:33 (Ps. 2:7); Col. 1:15-17; 1 John 5:20

2 Luke 1:35

3 Matt. 1:18-23; John 1:14; Gal. 4:4; Heb. 2:14

4 2 Sam. 7:12-16; Ps. 132:11; Matt. 1:1; Rom. 1:3

5 Phil. 2:7; Heb. 2:17

6 Heb. 4:15; 7:26-27

 

36   Q.    How does the holy conception and birth of Christ benefit you?

 

       A.    He is our mediator,1

and with his innocence and perfect holiness

he removes from God's sight

my sin--mine since I was conceived.2

 

1 1 Tim. 2:5-6; Heb. 9:13-15

2 Rom. 8:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 4:4-5; 1 Pet. 1:18-19

 

Lord's Day 15

 

37   Q.    What do you understand by the word "suffered"?

 

       A.    That during his whole life on earth,

but especially at the end,

Christ sustained

in body and soul

the anger of God against the sin of the whole human race.1

 

This he did in order that,

by his suffering as the only atoning sacrifice,2

he might set us free, body and soul,

from eternal condemnation,3

and gain for us

God's grace,

righteousness,

and eternal life.4

 

1 Isa. 53; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18

2 Rom. 3:25; Heb. 10:14; 1 John 2:2; 4:10

3 Rom. 8:1-4; Gal. 3:13

4 John 3:16; Rom. 3:24-26

 

38   Q.    Why did he suffer "under Pontius Pilate" as judge?

 

       A.    So that he,

though innocent,

might be condemned by a civil judge,1

and so free us from the severe judgment of God

that was to fall on us.2

 

1 Luke 23:13-24; John 19:4, 12-16

2 Isa. 53:4-5; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13

 

39   Q.    Is it significant that he was "crucified" instead of dying some other way?

 

       A.    Yes.

This death convinces me

that he shouldered the curse

which lay on me,

since death by crucifixion was accursed by God.1

 

1 Gal. 3:10-13 (Deut. 21:23)  

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Lord's Day 16

 

40   Q.    Why did Christ have to go all the way to death?

 

       A.    Because God's justice and truth demand it:1

only the death of God's Son could pay for our sin.2

 

1 Gen. 2:17

2 Rom. 8:3-4; Phil. 2:8; Heb. 2:9

 

41   Q.    Why was he "buried"?

 

       A.    His burial testifies

that he really died.1

 

1 Isa. 53:9; John 19:38-42; Acts 13:29; 1 Cor. 15:3-4

 

42   Q.    Since Christ has died for us, why do we still have to die?

 

       A.    Our death does not pay the debt of our sins.1

Rather, it puts an end to our sinning

and is our entrance into eternal life.2

 

1 Ps. 49:7

2 John 5:24; Phil. 1:21-23; 1 Thess. 5:9-10

 

43   Q.    What further advantage do we receive from Christ's sacrifice and death on the cross?

 

       A.    Through Christ's death

our old selves are crucified, put to death, and buried with him,1

so that the evil desires of the flesh

              may no longer rule us,2

but that instead we may dedicate ourselves

              as an offering of gratitude to him.3

 

1 Rom. 6:5-11; Col. 2:11-12

2 Rom. 6:12-14

3 Rom. 12:1; Eph. 5:1-2

 

44   Q.    Why does the creed add, "He descended into hell"?

 

       A.    To assure me in times of personal crisis and temptation

that Christ my Lord,

     by suffering unspeakable anguish, pain, and terror of soul,

          especially on the cross but also earlier,

     has delivered me from the anguish and torment of hell.1

 

1 Isa. 53; Matt. 26:36-46; 27:45-46; Luke 22:44; Heb. 5:7-10

 

Lord's Day 17

 

45   Q.    How does Christ's resurrection benefit us?

 

       A.    First, by his resurrection he has overcome death,

     so that he might make us share in the righteousness

     he won for us by his death.1

 

Second, by his power we too

     are already now resurrected to a new life.2

 

Third, Christ's resurrection

     is a guarantee of our glorious resurrection.3

 

1 Rom. 4:25; 1 Cor. 15:16-20; 1 Pet. 1:3-5

2 Rom. 6:5-11; Eph. 2:4-6; Col. 3:1-4

3 Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:12-23; Phil. 3:20-21

 

Lord's Day 18

 

46   Q.    What do you mean by saying, "He ascended into heaven"?

 

       A.    That Christ,

     while his disciples watched,

was lifted up from the earth into heaven1

and will be there for our good2

until he comes again

     to judge the living and the dead.3

 

1 Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11

2 Rom. 8:34; Eph. 4:8-10; Heb. 7:23-25; 9:24

3 Acts 1:11

 

47   Q.    But isn't Christ with us until the end of the world as he promised us?1

 

       A.    Christ is true man and true God.

     In his human nature Christ is not now on earth;2

     but in his divinity, majesty, grace, and Spirit

     he is not absent from us for a moment.3

 

1 Matt. 28:20

2 Acts 1:9-11; 3:19-21

3 Matt. 28:18-20; John 14:16-19

 

48   Q.    If his humanity is not present wherever his divinity is, then aren't the two natures of Christ separated from each other?

 

       A.    Certainly not.

Since divinity

is not limited

and is present everywhere,1

it is evident that

     Christ's divinity is surely beyond the bounds of

          the humanity he has taken on,

     but at the same time his divinity is in

     and remains personally united to

          his humanity.2

 

1 Jer. 23:23-24; Acts 7:48-49 (Isa. 66:1)

2 John 1:14; 3:13; Col. 2:9

 

49   Q.    How does Christ's ascension into heaven benefit us?

 

       A.    First, he pleads our cause

in heaven

in the presence of his Father.1

 

Second, we have our own flesh in heaven--

a guarantee that Christ our head

will take us, his members,

to himself in heaven.2

 

Third, he sends his Spirit to us on earth

as a further guarantee.3

By the Spirit's power

we make the goal of our lives,

     not earthly things,

but the things above where Christ is,

     sitting at God's right hand.4

 

1 Rom. 8:34; 1 John 2:1

2 John 14:2; 17:24; Eph. 2:4-6

3 John 14:16; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5

4 Col. 3:1-4  

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Lord's Day 19

 

50   Q.    Why the next words: "and sitteth at the right hand of God"?

 

       A.    Christ ascended to heaven,

there to show that he is head of his church,1

     and that the Father rules all things through him.2

 

1 Eph. 1:20-23; Col. 1:18

2 Matt. 28:18; John 5:22-23

 

51   Q.    How does this glory of Christ our head benefit us?

 

       A.    First, through his Holy Spirit

     he pours out his gifts from heaven

          upon us his members.1

 

Second, by his power

     he defends us and keeps us safe

          from all enemies.2

 

1 Acts 2:33; Eph. 4:7-12

2 Ps. 110:1-2; John 10:27-30; Rev. 19:11-16

 

52   Q.    How does Christ's return "to judge the living and the dead" comfort you?

 

       A.    In all my distress and persecution

I turn my eyes to the heavens

and confidently await as judge the very One

who has already stood trial in my place before God

and so has removed the whole curse from me.1

All his enemies and mine

     he will condemn to everlasting punishment:

but me and all his chosen ones

he will take along with him

into the joy and the glory of heaven.2

 

1 Luke 21:28; Rom. 8:22-25; Phil. 3:20-21; Tit. 2:13-14

2 Matt. 25:31-46; 2 Thess. 1:6-10

 

God the Holy Spirit

 

Lord's Day 20

 

53   Q.    What do you believe concerning "the Holy Spirit"?

 

       A.    First, he, as well as the Father and the Son,

                   is eternal God.1

 

Second, he has been given to me personally,2

so that, by true faith,

he makes me share in Christ and all his blessings,3

comforts me,4

and remains with me forever.5

 

1 Gen. 1:1-2; Matt. 28:19; Acts 5:3-4

2 1 Cor. 6:19; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; Gal. 4:6

3 Gal. 3:14

4 John 15:26; Acts 9:31

5 John 14:16-17; 1 Pet. 4:14

 

Lord's Day 21

 

54   Q.    What do you believe concerning "the holy catholic church"?

 

       A.    I believe that the Son of God

through his Spirit and Word,1

out of the entire human race,2

from the beginning of the world to its end,3

gathers, protects, and preserves for himself

     a community chosen for eternal life4

          and united in true faith.5

And of this community I am6 and always will be7

     a living member.

 

1 John 10:14-16; Acts 20:28; Rom. 10:14-17; Col. 1:18

2 Gen. 26:3b-4; Rev. 5:9

3 Isa. 59:21; 1 Cor. 11:26

4 Matt. 16:18; John 10:28-30; Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:3-14

5 Acts 2:42-47; Eph. 4:1-6

6 1 John 3:14, 19-21

7 John 10:27-28; 1 Cor. 1:4-9; 1 Pet. 1:3-5

 

55   Q.    What do you understand by "the communion of saints"?

 

       A.    First, that believers one and all,

as members of this community,

share in Christ

and in all his treasures and gifts.1

 

Second, that each member

should consider it his duty

to use these gifts

readily and cheerfully

for the service and enrichment

     of the other members.2

 

1 Rom. 8:32; 1 Cor. 6:17; 12:4-7, 12-13; 1 John 1:3

2 Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Cor. 12:20-27; 13:1-7; Phil. 2:4-8

 

56   Q.    What do you believe concerning "the forgiveness of sins"?

 

       A.    I believe that God,

     because of Christ's atonement,

will never hold against me

     any of my sins1

nor my sinful nature

     which I need to struggle against all my life.2

 

Rather, in his grace

God grants me the righteousness of Christ

to free me forever from judgment.3

 

1 Ps. 103:3-4, 10, 12; Mic. 7:18-19; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; 1 John 1:7; 2:2

2 Rom. 7:21-25

3 John 3:17-18; Rom. 8:1-2  

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Lord's Day 22

 

57   Q.    How does "the resurrection of the body" comfort you?

 

       A.    Not only my soul

will be taken immediately after this life

to Christ its head,1

but even my very flesh, raised by the power of Christ,

will be reunited with my soul

and made like Christ's glorious* body.2

 

1 Luke 23:43; Phil. 1:21-23

2 1 Cor. 15:20, 42-46, 54; Phil. 3:21; 1 John 3:2

 

58   Q.    How does the article concerning "life everlasting" comfort you?

 

       A.    Even as I already now

experience in my heart

the beginning of eternal joy,1

              so after this life I will have

perfect blessedness such as

no eye has seen,

no ear has heard,

no man has ever imagined:

a blessedness in which to praise God eternally.2

 

1 Rom. 14:17

2 John 17:3; 1 Cor. 2:9

* The first edition had here the German word for "holy." This was later corrected to the German word for "glorious."

 

Lord's Day 23

 

59   Q.    What good does it do you, however, to believe all this?

 

       A.    In Christ I am right with God

and heir to life everlasting.1

 

1 John 3:36; Rom. 1:17 (Hab. 2:4); Rom. 5:1-2

 

60   Q.    How are you right with God?

 

       A.    Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.1

 

Even though my conscience accuses me

of having grievously sinned against all God's commandments

and of never having kept any of them,2

and even though I am still inclined toward all evil,3

nevertheless,

without my deserving it at all,4

out of sheer grace,5

God grants and credits to me

the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ,6

as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner,

as if I had been as perfectly obedient

     as Christ was obedient for me.7

 

All I need to do

is to accept this gift of God 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 Tit. 3:4-5

5 Rom. 3:24; Eph. 2:8

6 Rom. 4:3-5 (Gen. 15:6); 2 Cor. 5:17-19; 1 John 2:1-2

7 Rom. 4:24-25; 2 Cor. 5:21

8 John 3:18; Acts 16:30-31

 

61   Q.    Why do you say that by faith alone you are right with God?

 

       A.    It is not because of any value my faith has

     that God is pleased with me.

Only Christ's satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness

     make me right with God.1

And I can receive this righteousness and make it mine

in no other way than

by faith alone.2

 

1 1 Cor. 1:30-31

2 Rom. 10:10; 1 John 5:10-12

 

Lord's Day 24

 

62   Q.    Why can't the good we do make us right with God, or at least help make us right with him?

 

       A.    Because the righteousness

which can pass God's scrutiny

must be entirely perfect

and must in every way measure up to the divine law.1

Even the very best we do in this life

is imperfect

and stained with sin.2

 

1 Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:10 (Deut. 27:26)

2 Isa. 64:6

 

63   Q.    How can you say that the good we do doesn't earn anything when God promises to reward it in this life and the next?1

 

       A.    This reward is not earned;

it is a gift of grace.2

 

1 Matt. 5:12; Heb. 11:6

2 Luke 17:10; 2 Tim. 4:7-8

 

64   Q.    But doesn't this teaching make people indifferent and wicked?

 

       A.    No.

It is impossible

     for those grafted into Christ by true faith

not to produce fruits of gratitude.1

 

1 Luke 6:43-45; John 15:5  

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The Sacraments

 

Lord's Day 25

 

65   Q.    You confess that by faith alone you share in Christ and all his blessings: where does that faith come from?

 

       A.    The Holy Spirit produces it in our hearts1

     by the preaching of the holy gospel,2

and confirms it

     through our use of the holy sacraments.3

 

1 John 3:5; 1 Cor. 2:10-14; Eph. 2:8

2 Rom. 10:17; 1 Pet. 1:23-25

3 Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 10:16

 

66. Q.    What are sacraments?

 

       A.    Sacraments are holy signs and seals for us to see.

They were instituted by God so that

     by our use of them

he might make us understand more clearly

     the promise of the gospel,

and might put his seal on that promise.1

 

And this is God's gospel promise:

     to forgive our sins and give us eternal life

by grace alone

because of Christ's one sacrifice

finished 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   Q.    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?

 

       A.    Right!

              In the gospel the Holy Spirit teaches us

and through the holy sacraments he assures us

that our entire salvation

rests on Christ's one sacrifice for us on the cross.1

 

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

 

68   Q.    How many sacraments did Christ institute in the New Testament?

 

       A.    Two: baptism and the Lord's Supper.1

 

1 Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26

 

Baptism

 

Lord's Day 26

 

69   Q.    How does baptism remind you and assure you that Christ's one sacrifice on the cross is for you personally?

 

       A.    In this way:

Christ instituted this outward washing1

and with it gave the promise that,

as surely as water washes away the dirt from the body,

so certainly his blood and his Spirit

wash away my soul's impurity,

     in other words, all my sins.2

 

1 Acts 2:38

2 Matt. 3:11; Rom. 6:3-10; 1 Pet. 3:21

 

70   Q.    What does it mean to be washed with Christ's blood and Spirit?

 

       A.    To be washed with Christ's blood means

     that God, by grace, has forgiven my sins

because of Christ's blood

poured out for me in his sacrifice on the cross.1

 

To be washed with Christ's Spirit means

     that the Holy Spirit has renewed me

     and set me apart to be a member of Christ

so that more and more I become dead to sin

and increasingly live a holy and blameless life.2

 

1 Zech. 13:1; Eph. 1:7-8; Heb. 12:24; 1 Pet. 1:2; Rev. 1:5

2 Ezek. 36:25-27; John 3:5-8; Rom. 6:4; 1 Cor. 6:11; Col. 2:11-12

 

71   Q.    Where does Christ promise that we are washed with his blood and Spirit as surely as we are washed with the water of baptism?

 

       A.    In the institution of baptism where he says:

                   "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,

     baptizing them in the name of the Father

     and of the Son

     and of the Holy Spirit."1

 

"He who believes and is baptized will be saved,

but he who does not believe will be condemned."2*

 

This promise is repeated when Scripture calls baptism

the washing of regeneration3 and

the washing away of sins.4

 

1 Matt. 28:19

2 Mark 16:16

3 Tit. 3:5

4 Acts 22:16

* Earlier and better manuscripts of Mark 16 omit the words "Whoever believes and is baptized . . . condemned."

 

Lord's Day 27

 

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

 

       A.    No, only Jesus Christ's blood and the Holy Spirit

cleanse us from all sins.1

 

1 Matt. 3:11; 1 Pet. 3:21; 1 John 1:7

 

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

 

       A.    God has good reason for these words.

He wants to teach us that

the blood and Spirit of Christ wash away our sins

just as water washes away dirt from our bodies.1

 

But more important,

he wants to assure us, by this divine pledge and sign,

that the washing away of our sins spiritually

is as real as physical washing with water.2

 

1 1 Cor. 6:11; Rev. 1:5; 7:14

2 Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27

 

74   Q.    Should infants, too, be baptized?

 

       A.    Yes.

Infants as well as adults

     are in God's covenant and are his people.1

They, no less than adults, are promised

the forgiveness of sin through Christ's blood

and the Holy Spirit who produces faith.2

 

Therefore, by baptism, the mark of the covenant,

infants should be received into the Christian church

and should be distinguished from the children of unbelievers.3

This was done in the Old Testament by circumcision,4

     which was replaced in the New Testament by baptism.5

 

1 Gen. 17:7; Matt. 19:14

2 Isa. 44:1-3; Acts 2:38-39; 16:31

3 Acts 10:47; 1 Cor. 7:14

4 Gen. 17:9-14

5 Col. 2:11-13  

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The Lord’s Supper

 

Lord's Day 28

 

75   Q.    How does the Lord's Supper remind you and assure you that you share in Christ's one sacrifice on the cross and in all his gifts?

 

       A.    In this way:

Christ has commanded me and all believers

to eat this broken bread and to drink this cup.

With this command he gave this promise: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

his body was offered and broken for me

and his blood poured out for me

     on the cross.

 

Second,

as surely as

I receive from the hand of the one who serves,

and taste with my mouth

the bread and cup of the Lord,

given me as sure signs of Christ's body and blood,

so surely

     he nourishes and refreshes my soul for eternal life

     with his crucified body and poured-out blood.

 

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

 

76   Q.    What does it mean to eat the crucified body of Christ and to drink his poured-out blood?

 

       A.    It means

to accept with a believing heart

     the entire suffering and death of Christ

and by believing

     to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life.1

 

But it means more.

Through the Holy Spirit, who lives both in Christ and in us,

we are united more and more to Christ's blessed body.2

And so, although he is in heaven3 and we are on earth,

we are flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.4

And we forever live on and are governed by one Spirit,

          as members of our body are by one soul.5

 

1 John 6:35, 40, 50-54

2 John 6:55-56; 1 Cor. 12:13

3 Acts 1:9-11; 1 Cor. 11:26; Col. 3:1

4 1 Cor. 6:15-17; Eph. 5:29-30; 1 John 4:13

5 John 6:56-58; 15:1-6; Eph. 4:15-16; 1 John 3:24

 

77   Q.    Where does Christ promise to nourish and refresh believers with his body and blood as surely as they eat this broken bread and drink this cup?

 

       A.    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,

'Take, eat, this is my body, which is for you.*

Do this in remembrance of me.'

In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,

'This cup is the new covenant in my blood.

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."1

 

This promise is repeated by Paul in these words:

 

"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."2

 

1 1 Cor. 11:23-26

2 1 Cor. 10:16-17

* Earlier and better manuscripts of I Cor. 11 omit the words, “Take, eat.”

 

Lord's Day 29

 

78   Q.    Are the bread and wine changed into the real body and blood of Christ?

 

       A.    No.

Just as the water of baptism

is not changed into Christ's blood

and does not itself wash away sins

but is simply God's sign and assurance,1

so too the bread of the Lord's Supper

is not changed into the actual body of Christ2

even though it is called the body of Christ3

     in keeping with the nature and language of sacraments.4

 

1 Eph. 5:26; Tit. 3:5

2 Matt. 26:26-29

3 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 11:26-28

4 Gen. 17:10-11; Ex. 12:11, 13; 1 Cor. 10:1-4

 

79   Q.    Why then does Christ call the bread his body and the cup his blood, or the new covenant in his blood? (Paul uses the words, a participation in Christ's body and blood.)

 

       A.    Christ has good reason for these words.

He wants to teach us that

as bread and wine nourish our temporal life,

so too his crucified body and poured-out blood

truly nourish our souls for eternal life.1

 

But more important,

he wants to assure us, by this visible sign and pledge,

     that we, through the Holy Spirit's work,

share in his true body and blood

as surely as our mouths

receive these holy signs in his remembrance,2

     and that all of his suffering and obedience

are as definitely ours

as if we personally

had suffered and paid for our sins.3

 

1 John 6:51, 55

2 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 11:26

3 Rom. 6:5-11  

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Lord's Day 30

 

80   Q.    How does the Lord's Supper differ from the Roman Catholic Mass?*

 

       A.    The Lord's Supper declares to us

that our sins have been completely forgiven

through the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ

which he himself finished on the cross once for all.1

It also declares to us

that the Holy Spirit grafts us into Christ,2

who with his very body

is now in heaven at the right hand of the Father3

where he wants us to worship him.4

 

But the Mass teaches

that the living and the dead

do not have their sins forgiven

through the suffering of Christ

unless Christ is still offered for them daily by the priests.

It also teaches

that Christ is bodily present

in the form of bread and wine

where Christ is therefore to be worshiped.

Thus the Mass is basically

nothing but a denial

of the one sacrifice and suffering of Jesus Christ

and a condemnable idolatry.

 

1 John 19:30; Heb. 7:27; 9:12, 25-26; 10:10-18

2 1 Cor. 6:17; 10:16-17

3 Acts 7:55-56; Heb. 1:3; 8:1

4 Matt. 6:20-21; John 4:21-24; Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:1-3

* Question and answer 80 were altogether absent from the first edition of the

Catechism, and were present in a shortened form in the second edition. The

translation here given is of the text of the third edition.

 

81   Q.    Who are to come to the Lord's table?

 

       A.    Those who are displeased with themselves

     because of their sins,

but who nevertheless trust

that their sins are pardoned

and that their continuing weakness is covered

          by the suffering and death of Christ,

and who also desire more and more

to strengthen their faith

and to lead a better life.

 

Hypocrites and those who are unrepentant, however,

eat and drink judgment on themselves.1

 

1 1 Cor. 10:19-22; 11:26-32

 

82   Q.    Are those to be admitted to the Lord's Supper who show by what they say and do that they are unbelieving and ungodly?

 

       A.    No, that would dishonour God's covenant

and bring down God's anger upon the entire congregation.1

Therefore, according to the instruction of Christ

and his apostles,

     the Christian church is duty-bound to exclude such people,

          by the official use of the keys of the kingdom,

until they reform their lives.

 

1 1 Cor. 11:17-32; Ps. 50:14-16; Isa. 1:11-17

 

Lord's Day 31

 

83   Q.    What are the keys of the kingdom?

 

       A.    The preaching of the holy gospel

and Christian discipline toward repentance.

Both preaching and discipline

open the kingdom of heaven to believers

and close it to unbelievers.1

 

1 Matt. 16:19; John 20:22-23

 

84   Q.    How does preaching the gospel open and close the kingdom of heaven?

 

       A.    According to the command of Christ:

 

The kingdom of heaven is opened

by proclaiming and publicly declaring

to each and every believer that,

as often as he accepts the gospel promise in true faith,

God, because of what Christ has done,

truly forgives all his sins.

 

The kingdom of heaven is closed, however,

by proclaiming and publicly declaring

to unbelievers and hypocrites that,

as long as they do not repent,

the anger of God and eternal condemnation

rest on them.

 

God's judgment, both in this life and in the life to come,

is based on this gospel testimony.1

 

1 Matt. 16:19; John 3:31-36; 20:21-23

 

85   Q.    How is the kingdom of heaven closed and opened by Christian discipline?

 

       A.    According to the command of Christ:

 

If anyone, though called a Christian,

     professes unchristian teachings or lives an unchristian life,

if after repeated brotherly counsel,

     he refuses to abandon his errors and wickedness, and,

if after being reported to the church, that is, to its officers,

     he fails to respond also to their admonition--

such a one the officers exclude from the Christian fellowship

     by withholding the sacraments from him,

and God himself excludes him from the kingdom of Christ.1

 

Such a person,

     when he promises and demonstrates genuine reform,

is received again

as a member of Christ

and of his church.2

 

1 Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:3-5, 11-13; 2 Thess. 3:14-15

2 Luke 15:20-24; 2 Cor. 2:6-11  

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Part III -- MAN’S GRATITUDE

 

Lord's Day 32

 

86   Q.    We have been delivered from our misery by God's grace alone through Christ and not because we have earned it: why then must we still do good?

 

       A.    To be sure, Christ has redeemed us by his blood.

But we do good because

Christ by his Spirit is also renewing us to be like himself,

so that in all our living

we may show that we are thankful to God

     for all he has done for us,1

and so that he may be praised through us.2

 

And we do good

so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits,3

and so that by our godly living

     our neighbours may be won over to Christ.4

 

1 Rom. 6:13; 12:1-2; 1 Pet. 2:5-10

2 Matt. 5:16; 1 Cor. 6:19-20

3 Matt. 7:17-18; Gal. 5:22-24; 2 Pet. 1:10-11

4 Matt. 5:14-16; Rom. 14:17-19; 1 Pet. 2:12; 3:1-2

 

87   Q.    Can those be saved who do not turn to God from their ungrateful and impenitent ways?

 

       A.    By no means.

Scripture tells us that

no unchaste person,

no idolater, adulterer, thief,

no covetous person,

no drunkard, slanderer, robber,

or the like

is going to inherit the kingdom of God.1

 

1 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:1-20; 1 John 3:14

 

Lord's Day 33

 

88   Q.    What is involved in genuine repentance or conversion?

 

       A.    Two things:

the dying-away of the old self,

and the coming-to-life of the new.1

 

1 Rom. 6:1-11; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:5-10

 

89   Q.    What is the dying-away of the old self?

 

       A.    It is to be genuinely sorry for sin,

to hate it more and more,

and to run away from it.1

 

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

 

90   Q.    What is the coming-to-life of the new self?

 

       A.    It is wholehearted joy in God through Christ1

and a delight to do every kind of good

     as God wants us to.2

 

1 Ps. 51:8, 12; Isa.57:15; Rom. 5:1; 14:17

2 Rom. 6:10-11; Gal. 2:20

 

91   Q.    What do we do that is good?

 

       A.    Only that which

arises out of true faith,1

conforms to God's law,2

and is done for his glory;3

and not that which is based

on what we think is right

or on established human tradition.4

 

1 John 15:5; Heb. 11:6

2 Lev. 18:4; 1 Sam. 15:22; Eph. 2:10

3 1 Cor. 10:31

4 Deut. 12:32; Isa. 29:13; Ezek. 20:18-19; Matt. 15:7-9   

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Lord's Day 34

 

92   Q.    What does the Lord say in his law?

 

       A.    God spoke all these words:

 

                      THE FIRST COMMANDMENT

 

I am the Lord your God,

who brought you out of the land of Egypt,

out of the house of bondage.

You shall have no other gods before me.

 

                      THE SECOND COMMANDMENT

 

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 the fourth generation

of those who hate me,

     but showing steadfast love to thousands of those

          who love me and keep my commandments.

 

                      THE THIRD COMMANDMENT

 

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.

 

                      THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT

 

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days you shall labour, 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,

or 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.

 

                      THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT

 

Honour your father and your mother,

that your days may be long

in the land which the Lord your God gives you.

 

                      THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT

 

You shall not kill.

 

                      THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT

 

You shall not commit adultery.

 

                      THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT

 

You shall not steal.

 

                      THE NINTH COMMANDMENT

 

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

 

                      THE TENTH COMMANDMENT

 

You shall not covet your neighbour’s house;

you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife,

or his manservant, or his maidservant,

or his ox, or his ass,

or anything that is your neighbour’s.1

 

1 Ex. 20:1-17; Deut. 5:6-21

 

93   Q.    How are these commandments divided?

 

       A.    Into two tables.

The first has four commandments,

     teaching us what our relation to God should be.

The second has six commandments,

     teaching us what we owe our neighbor.1

 

1 Matt. 22:37-39

 

94   Q.    What does the Lord require in the first commandment?

 

       A.    That I, not wanting to endanger my very salvation,

avoid and shun

all idolatry,1 magic, superstitious rites,2

and prayer to saints or to other creatures.3

 

That I sincerely acknowledge the only true God,4

trust him alone,5

look to him for every good thing6

     humbly7 and patiently,8

love him,9 fear him,10 and honour him11

     with all my heart.

 

In short,

that I give up anything

rather than go against his will in any way.12

 

1 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 10:5-14; 1 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 Ps. 104:27-28; James 1:17

7 1 Pet. 5:5-6

8 Col. 1:11; Heb. 10:36

9 Matt. 22:37 (Deut. 6:5)

10 Prov. 9:10; 1 Pet. 1:17

11 Matt. 4:10 (Deut. 6:13)

12 Matt. 5:29-30; 10:37-39

 

95   Q.    What is idolatry?

 

       A.    Idolatry is

having or inventing something in which one trusts

in place of or alongside of the only true God,

     who has revealed himself in his Word.1

 

1 1 Chron. 16:26; Gal. 4:8-9; Eph. 5:5; Phil. 3:19  

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Lord's Day 35

 

96   Q.    What is God's will for us in the second commandment?

 

       A.    That we in no way make any image of God1

nor worship him in any other way

     than he has commanded in his Word.2

 

1 Deut. 4:15-19; Isa. 40:18-25; Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:22-23

2 Lev. 10:1-7; 1 Sam. 15:22-23; John 4:23-24

 

97   Q.    May we then not make any image at all?

 

       A.    God can not and may not

be visibly portrayed in any way.

 

Although creatures may be portrayed,

yet God forbids making or having such images

if one's intention is to worship them

or to serve God through them.1

 

1 Ex. 34:13-14, 17; 2 Kings 18:4-5

 

98   Q.    But may not images be permitted in the churches as teaching aids for the unlearned?

 

       A.    No, we shouldn't try to be wiser than God.

He wants his people instructed

by the living preaching of his Word--1

not by idols that cannot even talk.2

 

1 Rom. 10:14-15, 17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:19

2 Jer. 10:8; Hab. 2:18-20

 

Lord's Day 36

 

99   Q.    What is God's will for us in the third commandment?

 

       A.    That we neither blaspheme nor misuse the name of God

     by cursing,1 perjury,2 or unnecessary oaths,3

nor share in such horrible sins

     by being silent bystanders.4

 

In a word, it requires

     that we use the holy name of God

          only with reverence and awe,5

     so that we may properly

confess him,6

pray to him,7

and praise him in everything we do and say.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; Jer. 4:2

6 Matt. 10:32-33; Rom. 10:9-10

7 Ps. 50:14-15; 1 Tim. 2:8

8 Col. 3:17

 

100 Q.    Is blasphemy of God's name by swearing and cursing really such serious sin that God is angry also with those who do not do all they can to help prevent it and to forbid it?

 

       A.    Yes, indeed.1

No sin is greater,

no sin makes God more angry

than blaspheming his name.

That is why he commanded the death penalty for it.2

 

1 Lev. 5:1

2 Lev. 24:10-17

 

Lord's Day 37

 

101 Q.    But may we swear an oath in God's name if we do it reverently?

 

       A.    Yes, when the government demands it,

or when necessity requires it,

in order to maintain and promote truth and trustworthiness

for God's glory and our neighbour’s good.

 

Such oaths are approved in God's Word1

and were rightly used by Old and New Testament believers.2

 

1 Deut. 6:13; 10:20; Jer. 4:1-2; Heb. 6:16

2 Gen. 21:24; Josh. 9:15; 1 Kings 1:29-30; Rom. 1:9; 2 Cor. 1:23

 

102 Q.    May we swear by saints or other creatures?

 

       A.    No.

A legitimate oath means calling upon God

as the one who knows my heart

to witness to my truthfulness

and to punish me if I swear falsely.1

No creature is worthy of such honor.2

 

1 Rom. 9:1; 2 Cor. 1:23

2 Matt. 5:34-37; 23:16-22; James 5:12  

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Lord's Day 38

 

103 Q.    What is God's will for us in the fourth commandment?

 

       A.    First,

that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained,1

and that, especially on the festive day of rest,

I regularly attend the assembly of God's people2

to learn what God's Word teaches,3

to participate in the sacraments,4

to pray to God publicly,5

and to bring Christian offerings for the poor.6

 

Second,

that every day of my life

I rest from my evil ways,

let the Lord work in me through his Spirit,

and so begin already in this life

the eternal Sabbath.7

 

1 Deut. 6:4-9, 20-25; 1 Cor. 9:13-14; 2 Tim. 2:2; 3:13-17; Tit. 1:5

2 Deut. 12:5-12; Ps. 40:9-10; 68:26; Acts 2:42-47; Heb. 10:23-25

3 Rom. 10:14-17; 1 Cor. 14:31-32; 1 Tim. 4:13

4 1 Cor. 11:23-25

5 Col. 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:1

6 Ps. 50:14; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 8 & 9

7 Isa. 66:23; Heb. 4:9-11

 

Lord's Day 39

 

104 Q.    What is God's will for us in the fifth commandment?

 

       A.    That I honour, love, and be loyal to

my father and mother

and all those in authority over me;

that I obey and submit to them, as is proper,

     when they correct and punish me;1

and also that I be patient with their failings--2

for through them God chooses to rule us.3

 

1 Ex. 21:17; Prov. 1:8; 4:1; Rom. 13:1-2; Eph. 5:21-22; 6:1-9; Col. 3:18-4:1

2 Prov. 20:20; 23:22; 1 Pet. 2:18

3 Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:1-8; Eph. 6:1-9; Col. 3:18-21

 

Lord's Day 40

 

105 Q.    What is God's will for us in the sixth commandment?

 

       A.    I am not to belittle, insult, hate, or kill my neighbour--

not by my thoughts, my words, my look or gesture,

and certainly not by actual deeds--

and I am not to be party to this in others;1

rather, I am to put away all desire for revenge.2

 

I am not to harm or recklessly endanger myself either.3

 

Prevention of murder is also why

     government is armed with the sword.4

 

1 Gen. 9:6; Lev. 19:17-18; Matt. 5:21-22; 26:52

2 Prov. 25:21-22; Matt. 18:35; Rom. 12:19; Eph. 4:26

3 Matt. 4:7; 26:52; Rom. 13:11-14

4 Gen. 9:6; Ex. 21:14; Rom. 13:4

 

106 Q.    Does this commandment refer only to killing?

 

       A.    By forbidding murder God teaches us

that he hates the root of murder:

envy, hatred, anger, vindictiveness.1

 

In God's sight all such are murder.2

 

1 Prov. 14:30; Rom. 1:29; 12:19; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 John 2:9-11

2 1 John 3:15

 

107 Q.    Is it enough then that we do not kill our neighbour in any such way?

 

       A.    No.

By condemning envy, hatred, and anger

God tells us

to love our neighbours as ourselves,1

to be patient, peace-loving, gentle,

     merciful, and friendly to them,2

to protect him from harm as much as we can,

and to do good even to our enemies.3

 

1 Matt. 7:12; 22:39; Rom. 12:10

2 Matt. 5:3-12; Luke 6:36; Rom. 12:10, 18; Gal. 6:1-2; Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12; 1 Pet. 3:8

3 Ex. 23:4-5; Matt. 5:44-45; Rom. 12:20-21 (Prov. 25:21-22)

 

Lord's Day 41

 

108 Q.    What is God's will for us in the seventh commandment?

 

       A.    God condemns all unchastity.1

We should therefore thoroughly detest it2

and, married or single,

live decent and chaste lives.3

 

1 Lev. 18:30; Eph. 5:3-5

2 Jude 22-23

3 1 Cor. 7:1-9; 1 Thess. 4:3-8; Heb. 13:4

 

109 Q.    Does God, in this commandment, forbid only such scandalous sins as adultery?

 

       A.    We are temples of the Holy Spirit, body and soul,

and God wants both to be kept clean and holy.

That is why he forbids

everything which incites unchastity,1

whether it be actions, looks, talk, thoughts, or desires.2

 

1 1 Cor. 15:33; Eph. 5:18

2 Matt. 5:27-29; 1 Cor. 6:18-20; Eph. 5:3-4  

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Lord's Day 42

 

110 Q.    What does God forbid in the eighth commandment?

 

       A.    He forbids not only outright theft and robbery,

     punishable by law.1

 

But in God's sight theft also includes

cheating and swindling our neighbour

by schemes made to appear legitimate,2

such as:

inaccurate measurements of weight, size, or volume;

fraudulent merchandising;

counterfeit money;

excessive interest;

or any other means forbidden by God.3

 

In addition he forbids all greed4

and pointless squandering of his gifts.5

 

1 Ex. 22:1; 1 Cor. 5:9-10; 6:9-10

2 Mic. 6:9-11; Luke 3:14; James 5:1-6

3 Deut. 25:13-16; Ps. 15:5; Prov. 11:1; 12:22; Ezek. 45:9-12; Luke 6:35

4 Luke 12:15; Eph. 5:5

5 Prov. 21:20; 23:20-21; Luke 16:10-13

 

111 Q.    What does God require of you in this commandment?

 

       A.    That I do whatever I can

     for my neighbour’s good,

that I treat him

     as I would like others to treat me,

and that I work faithfully

     so that I may share with those in need.1

 

1 Isa. 58:5-10; Matt. 7:12; Gal. 6:9-10; Eph. 4:28

 

Lord's Day 43

 

112 Q.    What is God's will for us in the ninth commandment?

 

       A.    God's will is that I

never give false testimony against anyone,

twist no one's words,

not gossip or slander,

nor join in condemning anyone

     without a hearing or without a just cause.1

 

Rather, in court and everywhere else,

I should avoid lying and deceit of every kind;

these are devices the devil himself uses,

and they would call down on me God's intense anger.2

I should love the truth,

speak it candidly,

and openly acknowledge it.3

And I should do what I can

     to guard and advance my neighbour’s good name.4

 

1 Ps. 15; Prov. 19:5; Matt. 7:1; Luke 6:37; Rom. 1:28-32

2 Lev. 19:11-12; Prov. 12:22; 13:5; John 8:44; Rev. 21:8

3 1 Cor. 13:6; Eph. 4:25

4 1 Pet. 3:8-9; 4:8

 

Lord's Day 44

 

113 Q.    What is God's will for us in the tenth commandment?

 

       A.    That not even the slightest thought or desire

contrary to any one of God's commandments

should ever arise in my heart.

 

Rather, with all my heart

I should always hate sin

and take pleasure in whatever is right.1

 

1 Ps. 19:7-14; 139:23-24; Rom. 7:7-8

 

114 Q.    But can those converted to God obey these commandments perfectly?

 

       A.    No.

In this life even the holiest

have only a small beginning of this obedience.1

 

Nevertheless, with all seriousness of purpose,

they do begin to live

according to all, not only some,

of God's commandments.2

 

1 Eccles. 7:20; Rom. 7:14-15; 1 Cor. 13:9; 1 John 1:8-10

2 Ps. 1:1-2; Rom. 7:22-25; Phil. 3:12-16

 

115 Q.    No one in this life can obey the Ten Commandments perfectly: why then does God want them preached so pointedly?

 

       A.    First, so that the longer we live

the more we may come to know our sinfulness

and the more eagerly look to Christ

     for forgiveness of sins and righteousness.1

 

Second, so that,

     while praying to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit,

we may never stop striving

     to be renewed more and more after God's image,

until after this life we reach our goal:

     perfection.2

 

1 Ps. 32:5; Rom. 3:19-26; 7:7, 24-25; 1 John 1:9

2 1 Cor. 9:24; Phil. 3:12-14; 1 John 3:1-3  

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Prayer

 

Lord's Day 45

 

116 Q.    Why do Christians need to pray? 

 

       A.    Because prayer is the most important part

     of the thankfulness God requires of us.1

And also because God gives his grace and Holy Spirit

only to those who pray continually and groan inwardly,

asking God for these gifts

and thanking him for them.2

 

1 Ps. 50:14-15; 116:12-19; 1 Thess. 5:16-18

2 Matt. 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-13

 

117 Q.    How does God want us to pray so that he will listen to us?

 

       A.    First, we must pray from the heart

to no other than the one true God,

     who has revealed himself in his Word,

asking for everything he has commanded us to ask for.1

 

Second, we must acknowledge our need and misery,

hiding nothing,

and humble ourselves in his majestic presence.2

 

Third, we must rest on this unshakable foundation:

even though we do not deserve it,

God will surely listen to our prayer

     because of Christ our Lord.

That is what he promised us in his Word.3

 

1 Ps. 145:18-20; John 4:22-24; Rom. 8:26-27; James 1:5; 1 John 5:14-15

2 2 Chron. 7:14; Ps. 2:11; 34:18; 62:8; Isa. 66:2; Rev. 4

3 Dan. 9:17-19; Matt. 7:8; John 14:13-14; 16:23; Rom. 10:13; James 1:6

 

118 Q.    What did God command us to pray for?

 

       A.    Everything we need, spiritually and physically,1

as embraced in the prayer

Christ our Lord himself taught us.

 

1 James 1:17; Matt. 6:33

 

119 Q.    What is this prayer?

 

       A.    Our Father who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come,

Thy will be done,

     On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread;

And forgive us our debts,

     As we also have forgiven our debtors;

And lead us not into temptation,

     But deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

     and the power,

     and the glory, forever.

Amen.1*

 

1 Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4

* Earlier and better manuscripts of Matthew 6 omit the words "For thine is . . . Amen."

 

Lord's Day 46

 

120 Q.    Why did Christ command us to call God "our Father"?

 

       A.    At the very beginning of our prayer

Christ wants to kindle in us

what is basic to our prayer--

the childlike awe and trust

that God through Christ has become

our Father.

 

Our fathers do not refuse us

     the things of this life;

God our Father will even less refuse to give us

     what we ask in faith.1

 

1 Matt. 7:9-11; Luke 11:11-13

 

121 Q.    Why the words "who art in heaven"?

 

       A.    These words teach us

not to think of God's heavenly majesty

     as something earthly,1

and to expect everything

for body and soul

from his almighty power.2

 

1 Jer. 23:23-24; Acts 17:24-25

2 Matt. 6:25-34; Rom. 8:31-32

 

Lord's Day 47

 

122 Q.    What does the first request mean?

 

       A.    Hallowed be thy name means,

 

Help us to really know you,1

to bless, worship, and praise you

for all your works

and for all that shines forth from them:

your almighty power, wisdom, kindness,

justice, mercy, and truth.2

 

And it means,

 

Help us to direct all our living--

     what we think, say, and do--

so that your name will never be blasphemed because of us

but always honoured and praised.3

 

1 Jer. 9:23-24; 31:33-34; Matt. 16:17; John 17:3

2 Ex. 34:5-8; Ps. 145; Jer. 32:16-20; Luke 1:46-55, 68-75; Rom. 11:33-36

3 Ps. 115:1; Matt. 5:16  

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Lord's Day 48

 

123 Q.    What does the second request mean?

 

       A.    Thy kingdom come means,

 

Rule us by your Word and Spirit in such a way

     that more and more we submit to you.1

 

Keep your church strong, and add to it.2

 

Destroy the devil's work;

destroy every force which revolts against you

and every conspiracy against your Word.3

 

Do this until your kingdom is so complete and perfect

that in it you are

all in all.4

 

1 Ps. 119:5, 105; 143:10; Matt. 6:33

2 Ps. 122:6-9; Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:42-47

3 Rom. 16:20; 1 John 3:8

4 Rom. 8:22-23; 1 Cor. 15:28; Rev. 22:17, 20

 

Lord's Day 49

 

124 Q.    What does the third request mean?

 

       A.    Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven means,

 

Help us and all men

to reject our own wills

and to obey your will without any back talk.

Your will alone is good.1

 

Help everyone carry out the work he is called to2

     as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven.3

 

1 Matt. 7:21; 16:24-26; Luke 22:42; Rom. 12:1-2; Tit. 2:11-12

2 1 Cor. 7:17-24; Eph. 6:5-9

3 Ps. 103:20-21

 

Lord's Day 50

 

125 Q.    What does the fourth request mean?

 

       A.    Give us this day our daily bread means,

 

Do take care of all our physical needs1

so that we come to know

that you are the only source of everything good,2

and that neither our work and worry

nor your gifts

can do us any good without your blessing.3

 

And so help us to give up our trust in creatures

and to put trust in you alone.4

 

1 Ps. 104:27-30; 145:15-16; Matt. 6:25-34

2 Acts 14:17; 17:25; James 1:17

3 Deut. 8:3; Ps. 37:16; 127:1-2; 1 Cor. 15:58

4 Ps. 55:22; 62; 146; Jer. 17:5-8; Heb. 13:5-6

 

Lord's Day 51

 

126 Q.    What does the fifth request mean? 

 

       A.    And forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors means,

 

Because of Christ's blood,

do not hold against us, poor sinners that we are,

any of the sins we do

or the evil that constantly clings to us.1

 

Forgive us just as we are fully determined,

     as evidence of your grace in us,

to forgive our neighbours.2

 

1 Ps. 51:1-7; 143:2; Rom. 8:1; 1 John 2:1-2

2 Matt. 6:14-15; 18:21-35

 

Lord's Day 52

 

127 Q.    What does the sixth request mean?

 

       A.    And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil means,

 

By ourselves we are too weak

to hold our own even for a moment.1

 

And our sworn enemies--

     the devil,2 the world,3 and our own flesh--4

never stop attacking us.

 

And so, Lord,

uphold us and make us strong

     with the strength of your Holy Spirit,

so that we may not go down to defeat

     in this spiritual struggle,5

but may firmly resist our enemies

     until we finally win the complete victory.6

 

1 Ps. 103:14-16; John 15:1-5

2 2 Cor. 11:14; Eph. 6:10-13; 1 Pet. 5:8

3 John 15:18-21

4 Rom. 7:23; Gal. 5:17

5 Matt. 10:19-20; 26:41; Mark 13:33; Rom. 5:3-5

6 1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Thess. 3:13; 5:23

 

128 Q.    What does your conclusion to this prayer mean?

 

       A.    For thine is the kingdom,

and the power,

and the glory, forever means,

 

We have made all these requests of you

because, as our all-powerful king,

you not only want to,

but are able to give us all that is good;1

and because your holy name,

     and not we ourselves,

should receive all the praise, forever.2

 

1 Rom. 10:11-13; 2 Pet. 2:9

2 Ps. 115:1; John 14:13

 

 

129 Q.    What does that little word "Amen" express?

 

       A.    Amen means,

 

This is sure to be!

 

It is even more sure

     that God listens to my prayer,

than that I really desire

     what I pray for.1

 

1 Isa. 65:24; 2 Cor. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:13

 

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