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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 6

30/04/2014

LORD’S DAY 6

* Before you begin. Read Hebrews 2:10-18

16. Why must He be a true and righteous man?
Because the justice of God requires(1) that the same human nature which has sinned should make satisfaction for sin; but one who is himself a sinner cannot satisfy for others.(2)
(1)Rom: 5:15. (2)Isa. 53:3-5.

17. Why must He also be true God?
That by the power of His Godhead He might bear in His manhood the burden of God’s wrath,(1) and so obtain for(2) and restore to us righteousness and life.(3)
(1)Isa. 53:8; Acts 2:24. (2)Jn. 3:16; Acts 20:28. (3)I Jn. 1:2.

-oOOo-

Lord’s day 5 and 6 overlap, in that Q/A 15-17 deal with the doctrine of the two natures in Christ. Fully God, and Fully Man. It stresses the sinlessness of Christ’s humanity, so enabling Him to be our perfect representative on the Cross, and the power of His Divinity, – thus He (and only He) is capable of bearing the awful burden of God’s wrath upon him, thus taking the punishment for sin, due to mankind. Since we cannot make atonement, and since God’s justice requires that ‘the soul that sins shall die’ any representative who atones for our sins on our behalf must be one of us! A HUMAN BEING, one that is a REAL MAN yet at the same time is RIGHTEOUS – Has never sinned. ‘that the same human nature which has sinned should make satisfaction for sin; but one who is himself a sinner cannot satisfy for others’
Romans 5:12-15 1 Peter 3:18, For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. Isaiah 53:11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

We must be able, ready and willing to confess the true humanity and true divinity of Christ, that He is two distinct natures in one person forever. This is vital, because his divine offices of prophet, priest and king are all dependent upon the fact of his person. Furthermore, his saving work demands that we understand something of this doctrine. For:-
If Jesus is not fully human, then how could He have perfectly fulfilled the law on our behalf? Done what we so miserably failed to do, and the represented us on the Cross? Gregory of Nazianzus: “What He did not assume, He did not redeem.”
If He is not fully divine, how could he have borne the weight and awfulness of the sons of mankind?
If He is not fully human and fully divine, how then could he have taken upon himself the role of the mediator, the Daysman, so longed for by Job?
We must not attempt to rationalise this doctrine by means of human wisdom alone. We are not meant to rationalise it, we are to BELIEVE it, as it is laid out for us in Scripture. Attempts to rationalise this doctrine have led to some of the most damning Christological errors. 1 Cor 4:6. I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favour of one against another. They are errors that will lead a soul to a lost eternity. It was because of these errors that the Church was forced to systematise it’s teaching on the Person of Christ at the Council of Chalcedon in 451AD. At Chalcedon, the church didn’t try to rationalise the mystery of two distinct natures in One Person, but rather stopped others from doing so, and thus falling into grievous error.
Classical errors in the early church (first 400 years) included:-

Ebionism. Mostly among early Jewish Christians. Removed Christ’s true divinity, and made him the human messiah, appointed by God. It left the gap between God and man unbridged.
Doceticism. Opposite to Ebionism, the Docetics believed that Jesus only appeared to be human, hence God did not become one of US. Later this merged in to Gnosticism.
Gnosticism. See separate notes. http://semper-reformata.com/2014/01/06/an-easy-introduction-to-gnosticism/
Arianism. See separate notes. http://semper-reformata.com/2014/04/30/arius-nicea-and-the-creeds-class-notes/
Apollinarianism. In Jesus the eternal Word (the Logos) took the place of the human soul at the incarnation. It denies that God became truly man.
Nestorianism. Taught the separation of the Two Natures – left his personal unity in doubt.
Eutychianism. An opponent of Nestorius, taught that while there were two natures before the incarnation, there was only one nature after it. So Jesus was neither truly God or truly man, unable to act as our mediator.

We must not ignore this important truth, under the guise of ‘simple belief’ or ‘childlike faith’. It is always easy to claim that we do not need to hear sermons or attend Bible Studies on such difficult aspects of theology. History teaches us that neglect of doctrine is never neutral, it always leads to error, and doctrinal error is deadly for the soul.

“… the incarnation, being in a class of one, can scarcely be interpreted on the analogy of human experience.”

 

18. But who now is that Mediator, who in one person is true God and also a true and righteous man?
Our Lord Jesus Christ,(1) who is freely given unto us for complete redemption and righteousness. (2)
(1)Mt. 1:23; I Tim. 3:16; Lk. 2:11. (2)I Cor. 1:30; Acts 4:12.

19. From where do you know this?
From the Gospel, which God Himself first revealed in Paradise,(1) afterwards proclaimed by the holy patriarchs(2) and prophets, and foreshadowed by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law,(3) and finally fulfilled by His well-beloved Son.(4)
(1)Gen. 3:15. (2)Gen. 22:18; 49:10-11; Rom. 1:2; Heb. 1:1; Acts 3:22-24; 10:43. (3)Jn. 5:46. Heb. 10:7. (4)Rom. 10:4; Gal. 4:4-5; Heb. 10:1.

The Catechist then tells us that we read about the only One who was suitable to bear away our sins in THE GOSPEL. But what is ‘The Gospel?’ In these days there are so many ‘gospels’ being proclaimed, that would would need to be able to identify what is the authentic Gospel, so that we shall be able to correctly identify our only Redeemer.
Let’s think of some of the ‘false gospels’ that are around:-

The Social Gospel – the old false gospel of the social liberals, who felt that the message of the church was to build better schools and thus educate the masses, to build hospitals and provide medical care, to build social safety nets for the poor… It was not only a social gospel but a ‘socialist gospel’ – for underlying it was the vain belief that mankind was basically good, and that all he needed was a helping hand to make him a little better. The height of the traditional social gospel preaching came during the second half of the 19th century, when modernism and higher criticism had been disputing much of the Biblical text. The social gospel is very much still alive, spread by false teachers like Rick Warren and others using the mantra of ‘deeds not creeds’ to cast despite on doctrinal fidelity.

The false gospel of ‘Liberation Theology’ – another socialist religious construct, beloved by liberal churches in the third world, and elements with Roman Catholicism, it teaches that the message of Christ was purely to set the captives free, so it seeks radical political solutions, usually with Marxist type ideologies.

The modern false gospel of ‘Self Esteem’ as preached by people like Joel Osteen, where the message is centred around your own quest for happiness and self-satisfaction.

The Wealth and Prosperity false gospel, as preached by T D Jakes and others, who believe among other heresies that God wants you to be rich, and to be successful and healthy, and that if you are not, there is something wrong with your faith. They bleed money from their followers by inviting them to ‘sow a seed’ into their ministry – in the hope that they will receive some form of dividend from God – in fact they positively teach that if you want to see ‘blessing’ (always material) the seed of faith will need to be sown, and your faith will be rewarded many time over. It is, of course all a con. Titus 1:10-12 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans,[a] a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.

The ‘Seeker-Friendly, Purpose Driven’ false gospel. Introduced to the church growth movement in America by Warren, Bill Hybels and others, this is the philosophy of Peter Drucker (Communitarianism) – where the church is modelled on a business, the pastor as a manager, and the Gospel as a product that must be packaged and presented in such a way as to appeal to ‘the clientele.’ Since sin and misery and hell, salvation by the shed blood of Christ upon the Cross, repentance and forgiveness generally don’t appeal to unconverted people, these Gospel prerequisites are omitted, in favour of ‘principles to improve your life, to realise your dream destiny, to achieve your real purpose in life.’

The Works-Righteousness gospel of Rome. Grace plus good works, religious observances, to obtain a shorter period in purgatory … Need I say more?

Have you noticed that all of these false ‘gospels’ are based upon a low view of sin, – they all presume that in some way WE can DO SOMETHING to improve our live or the lives of others. That we can be some effort of our own MERIT our salvation. Sin to most heretics is ‘life difficulties’ or ‘imperfections in our character’ which with a bit of help or good advice we can fix, and this be better people – more acceptable to God.

So, what does our instructor teach us about the message that we shall find in the true, biblical Gospel?

It speaks of the Human and Divine Nature of Christ. 16. Why must He be a true and righteous man? 17. Why must He also be true God? 18. But who now is that Mediator, who in one person is true God and also a true and righteous man?

It points to the cross, where the entire weight of the sins of the world were placed upon Christ. He might bear in His manhood the burden of God’s wrath,

It reminds us of the free gift of God. Our Lord Jesus Christ,(1) who is freely given unto us

It proclaims redemption, and imputed righteousness. and so obtain for(2) and restore to us righteousness and life.(3) for complete redemption and righteousness.

It spans both testaments in a redemptive covenant. which God Himself first revealed in Paradise,(1) afterwards proclaimed by the holy patriarchs(2) and prophets, and foreshadowed by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law,(3) and finally fulfilled by His well-beloved Son.(4)

The message of the Gospel is not confined to the Four Gospels, or even to the New Testament. Christ is proclaimed in all the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation. Consider these verses:
Jesus speaking to the Jews in John 5:38-39 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
The story of the men walking along the road to Emmaus, in Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. The Old Testament is full of Christ!
Christ’s words to His disciples, Luke 24:44-45 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.
The story of the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:30-35  And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
The Catechism itself reminds us of the ‘protoeuangellion’ the very first evangelistic message, found in Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
Think about it:

ASK: Why do you think a sinner cannot pay for the sins of others? ________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________________

Consider the promise given in Genesis 3:15. What does that verse tell us God would do?______________

___________________________________________________________________________________

 

Who is the ‘Seed of the Woman’ in that verse? ________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________________

 

Why the offspring of the WOMAN, and not the man? ___________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

PRAY: Thank God for the Gospel!

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