Q 33. Why is he called God’s “only begotten Son” when we also are God’s children?
A 33. Because Christ alone is the eternal, natural Son of God. We, however, are adopted children of God—adopted by grace through Christ.
Q 34. Why do you call him “our Lord”?
A 34. Because—not with gold or silver, but with his precious blood— he has set us free from sin and from the tyranny of the devil, and has bought us, body and soul, to be his very own.
Sometimes when I am reading things I am presented with a question I didn’t even know existed. Heidelberg Catechism question and answer 33 is like that. In church, we talk at length about how we are called God’s Children and what that actually means for us and our identity. We are adopted into God’s family, made co-heirs with Christ, and are prepared to receive all the benefits of being God’s children. Sometimes we forget, though, that this title and identity is something that is given to us, not something we are necessarily born into.
Scripture is very clear about the position of our natural birth before God. Ephesians 2:2-3 says, because of Adam’s Sin, we were by nature children of wrath and sons (and daughters) of disobedience. Yet it follows that up by saying that “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” What amazing grace!
Jesus has always been the natural Son of God, begotten from all eternity, the very essence and image of God. The Son didn’t become the Son all of the sudden when Jesus was born. We, however, become children of God when we receive God’s adoption of us through faith in Jesus Christ by God’s grace alone.
The other subject that this particular week of the Heidelberg Catechism covers is the Lordship of Jesus Christ. God’s Word is clear that God has laid everything at the feet of Christ, who is before all things and in whom all things hold together. More than this, Colossians 1 talks about Jesus as being the creator of all things too. Therefore, when Jesus sacrificed Himself for the redemption of all things, He was given Lordship over them by the Father.
What exactly does this mean? Well, as Lord Jesus governs the whole universe and guards His people, protecting them against the schemes of the enemy. It also means that He had rights over us. Jesus, because of what He has done for us and the power He has given us, has the right to call us to live a transformed life. In Scriptural language, this is called “dying to self.” When we put our faith in Jesus we are claiming Him as our Lord which, incidentally, means that we are abdicating our own Lordship over our lives.
To be clear, Jesus wasn’t just arbitrarily given this position. His Lordship is costly… very costly. Jesus did gain this position through military rule, governmental overthrowing, or any other earthly method of power transfer, He gained it through His own death on the cross. He bore God’s wrath and judgment, and through it He set us free from the tyranny of the devil.