Genuine: H.C. Question 88

What is involved in genuine repentance or conversion? 

Romans 6:1-11 – What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Ephesians 4:22-24 – You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Colossians 3:5-10 – Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Luke 5:1-11; Ephesians 6:10-16 “The Shield of Faith”

Scripture says that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  The Bible also says that “faith, if not accompanied by action, is dead.”  We often talk about faith as a subject, the concept that we are “saved by faith,” but what does that look like?

Biblical faith is more than just a theological concept or a subject to discuss, it is a verb, an action word.  Paul’s language in Ephesians 6 changes as he talks about “taking up” the shield of faith.  For us, it means living out the things that we claim to believe on Sunday in our everyday lives.  It means applying them to the situations we find ourselves in.  When we stand on God’s promises and apply them to our lives, we take up the shield that defends us from the bombardment of doubts and fear that the enemy is sending our way.

 

Questions to take home:

  1. Have you ever experienced a time in your life where you were bombarded with doubt, fear, or feelings of inadequacy?  What impacts did that have on your life?  How did you respond?  What Scriptural truths do you think you could apply to a situation like that?
  2. Why do you think it is so hard for us to believe God’s promises?  In what ways do we try to place conditions on them or water them down?
  3. What is that thing that God is calling you to right now that you need to step out in faith to actively answer that call?  How are you going to take that first step?

By No Means! H.C. Lord’s Day 32

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 32

Q 86. Since we have been delivered from our misery by grace through Christ without any merit of our own, why then should we do good works? 
A 86. Because Christ, having redeemed us by his blood, is also restoring us by his Spirit into his image, so that with our whole lives we may show that we are thankful to God for his benefits, so that he may be praised through us, so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits, and so that by our godly living our neighbors may be won over to Christ.

Q 87. Can those be saved who do not turn to God from their ungrateful and unrepentant ways? 
A 87. By no means. Scripture tells us that no unchaste person, no idolater, adulterer, thief, no covetous person, no drunkard, slanderer, robber, or the like will inherit the kingdom of God.

This week’s questions and answers draws us into the third of the three major themes of the Heidelberg Catechism.  We started off with “guilt,” talking about the fact that Scripture reveals to us the reality of our sinfulness and guilty verdict that we carry when left on our own.  There is nothing that we can do to change this, no amount of work or right living can make up for the sin that we commit nor bridge the chasm between us and God.

We then moved on to talking about grace.  We have seen and read that, in the midst of our helplessness, God stepped in to make a way for our relationship with Him to be repaired.  Jesus is The Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one can come to the Father except through Him.  This fundamental truth sets apart Christ followers from every other religion.  Salvation from our sins comes by the grace of God through faith in Christ Jesus alone.

Today we move on to the final leg of the journey: gratitude.  This section answers the next question: “how then shall we live in response to this?”  The answers to question 88 and 89 are an introduction to what the “New Life” in Christ looks like and they are characterized by the words of Paul in the book of Romans.

Romans 6:1-4 – What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Romans 6:15-18 – What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

Both of these passage characterizes the transition between the “old self” and the “new creation” that we are in Christ.  The reformed understanding of the change that takes place in this transaction is one of permanence.  Once we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ, we are marked as Christ’s own, forever.  In the same way that there is nothing we can do to earn our own salvation, there is nothing that we can do to lose it either.

This particular doctrine, known as “perseverance of the saints” or “once saved always saved,” has encountered much criticism over the years.  Much of that criticism stems from the notion that this is a license to live however one likes because of the security of their salvation.  “Why does one need to change anything about their lives is the only thing needed is faith?”

Biblically, the answer is quite straight forward: faith expresses itself in a transformed life.  We are no longer steeped in sin but instead have the Holy Spirit in us and experience an inner transformation that is expressed in outward deeds.  This isn’t to say that we live a life that is trying to “pay God back” for what He has done for us in Jesus Christ, but instead that we are living a life of thankfulness and celebration for the freedom we are given through faith in Him.  The former falls back into a “works-righteousness” mentality, the latter not only sees God’s work continuing in us which is expressed in and through our lives, but also adorns the Gospel in such a way that others will be attracted to it as well.

Naturally, the follow-up question to this would be, “what about sin?”  What about those who have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, placed their faith in Him, and have then, either fallen back into an old sin or have chosen to walk away from the faith?  I can tell you that there is no easy answer for this.

For those who fall back into sin, we are encouraged to not dispair because God is faithful to us even when we are not faithful to Him.  Paul writes, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  God is not powerless against sin but has indeed defeated it in Jesus Christ, therefore those who have fallen back into sin, say in the instance of addiction, are not lost to God.  There is always hope, always grace, and God relentlessly pursues them all the way to the day Jesus comes again.

As far as those who walk away from the faith, this question can be more difficult to answer.  It seems unfair to us that those who actively walk away from God and don’t affirm their so-called faith with their life would still be saved through the faith they once exhibited.  Our notion of “fairness,” if we think about it, is centered on works.  Works do not save us; it is God’s grace affirmed by our faith that brings about salvation.

Paul writes, in Romans 8, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”  We may be inclined to question a person’s faith, whether it was genuine or not.  That is, however, not for us to determine.  God knows the heart and God calls to Himself whom He will.  The same can be said for the so called “death-bed conversion.”  We cannot know the eternal outcome of such things.  However, what we do know is this: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9).

Do I Have To? H.C. Question 87

 Can those be saved who do not turn to God from their ungrateful and unrepentant ways?

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:19-21 – The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Ephesians 5:1-20 – Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John 3:14 – We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

What’s Next? H.C. Question 86 (Part 2)

Since we have been delivered from our misery by grace through Christ without any merit of our own, why then should we do good works? 

Matthew 7:17-18 – Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

Galatians 5:22-24 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

2 Peter 1:10-11 – Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Matthew 5:14-16 – “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Romans 14:17-19 – For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

1 Peter 2:12 – Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

1 Peter 3:1-2 – Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

What’s Next? H.C. Question 86 (Part 1)

Since we have been delivered from our misery by grace through Christ without any merit of our own, why then should we do good works? 

Romans 6:13 – Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.

Romans 12:1-2 – Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

1 Peter 2:5-10 – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”
Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
and,

“A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Matthew 5:16 – In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

 

Ephesians 6:10-15; John 14:15-28 “Gospel Shoes”

The world around us swirls with chaos. Whether you experience this through your home life, your place of employment, or the constant barrage of updates coming from your smartphone, it seems like peace is something we no longer expect to experience in our day to day living.

Jesus, however, offers peace to His followers, one that transcends even the most uncertain of circumstances. In Him, we have peace with God, peace the assures us of our salvation, the forgiveness of our sins, then the promise that nothing can ever take that from us. This peace gives us a firm footing on which we walk in newness of life even when storms rage around us.

Questions to take home:
Are there places in your life where you are experiencing a lack of peace? How have these things crippled or caused you not to be able to move forward in life?

How would you define peace after hearing from God’s Word today? How does that definition impact the situations in your life in which you aren’t feeling at peace?

What are some Truths in Scripture that give you peace in the midst of difficulty? What would it look like to apply these truths to the situation in question one?