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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 11



Before you begin: Read Matthew 1:20-21 29. Why is the Son of God called “Jesus,” that is, Saviour? Because He saves us from all our sins,(1) and because salvation is not to be sought or found in any other.(2) (1) Mt. 1:21; Heb. 7:25. (2)Acts 4:12; Lk. 2:10-11. Names are really important. The modern tendency to name children after celebrities is but a recent and regrettable innovation that speaks volumes about the worthless values of our society. Our western surnames often developed from a description of the occupation of the bearer. Smith was a metal-worker, Cooper was a barrel maker and so on. Sometimes they described our lineage, as in Johnston, – the son of John, McEwen, the son of Ewen, O’Brien, the son of Brian and so on. Our first names too were often chosen with great care, and only after much deliberation. I was given the names Robert Kirk, in honour of my maternal grandfather. When my own children were born, they were given names to reflect the character of Bible heroes, then names in honour of relatives as a second name. This was even more the case in Bible times. When John the Baptist was born, there his father was given a direct command to name him John, even though no-one in the family was so called. Here’s the story:

Luke 1:57-66 Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. 58And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. 59And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. 60And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. 61And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. 62And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. 63And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. 64And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. 65And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judæa. 66And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.

Do you see the great anticipation, as the relatives waited to hear the name of the baby, the shock when they heard that he wasn’t being named after any one of them or their predecessors, and the awareness that this baby must be going to be different! The naming of the baby Jesus was a similarly solemn and God-ordained event. To Joseph, entrusted with the guardianship of the infant Jesus, and thus ultimately responsible for his name, the angel gave a direct command. Matthew 1:21And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Joseph was given no choice in the matter. He he no options. The child’s name would be Jesus. The naming of the Christ-child has great significance. The name Jesus was a common enough name in NT times, – it’s the Hebrew name Joshua, which means ‘Jahweh will Save.’ There were two Joshuas in the OT, Joshua the successor of Moses, who led God’s people into the promised land, and Joshua the High Priest at the Restoration of Jerusalem, who was also instrumental in leading the people into the Promised Land.

Zechariah 3:1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by.

Now, a third Joshua has come, for despite the efforts of the previous bearers of the name, their victories and work was only temporal, and the occupation of the promised land that they brought about were at best only temporary, and only a prefiguration of the glorious land of milk and honey that awaits the saints of God. A deliverer was needed, whose work would be spiritual and eternal, a Saviour who would redeem his people and lead them into their eternal rest. That One was God’s Son, Jesus. Our instructor deals with this in Q/A 29and 30, when he asks why the Son of God is called ‘Jesus’ and he teaches us that it is because he shall save us from our sins, something that no other can do. He stresses: 1. He SAVES us. When I was young the Christian shops sold a little red metal badge, with the words ‘Jesus Saves’. They’re not seen so much nowadays, – and probably would just leave the modern ‘Christian’ confused! Those who wore them were often the object of much derision, and snide comments. ‘Jesus saves what?’ Yet there is a volume of truth summed up in that little phrase. Jesus saves! For those who wore that badge, it had to be personal as it is for the catechist. He saves US from our sins. God has rescued us from our own wilful rebellious self-destructive nature. Note carefully that he does not say that Jesus OFFERS us salvation from our sins. Salvation is never ‘offered’ to us on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis, which depends on our decision to appropriate what He offers. Salvation is purchased, achieved and applied to us. It is ours, the work is finished.

A hymn writer wrote this modern song, “Why don’t you give The Lord a try? Don’t let this precious chance go by. I’m praying for you, now, that you will find the strength somehow, to take the chance and give The Lord a try.” What a awful song, full of worthless, unbiblical theology. As if we dead helpless sinners would ever choose The Lord! Our sinful nature would ensure that we chose the evil and reject God. And what a pointless prayer, to pray that somehow you will find some ‘inner strength’ to choose Christ. How awful, to tell dead sinners that they have to pull themselves up to God by their bootlaces. Salvation is all of The Lord.

2. Notice what it is that Jesus rescues us from:-

  1. He saves us from all our SINS. Lest there be any confusion, the catechist instructs us regarding what we have been saved FROM. Our SINS. We are not, as some of the purpose-driven seeker sensitive preachers would have us think, saved from a purposeless life, or from having small dreams, or from mediocre jobs, and misbehaving children. Nor are we saved from the ills of this world as defined by the liberal Protestants and liberation theology preachers; ills like inequality, economic hardship, deprivation, lack of education opportunities and poor housing and so on. We are saved from something much more basic and destructive than all those other ills, and which is the root cause of every other evil in this world, and that something is SIN. WHAT IS SIN? Sin is both negative and positive. It is the action of committing evil, planning it in our hearts and executing it with our hands. It is thinking and purposing and enacting evil.  But it is also, in a negative sense a falling short of the righteous standards of a God has laid down in the Law, so that we cannot keep the law, or be justified under it.  We sin because we are SINNERS. We are sinners from our conception, because we inherit our nature from our common father Adam. Our sin affects every part of our being. We are ‘totally depraved’ – not meaning that we are as had as we can possibly be, but that our mind, our will and our emotions are all tainted and stained by sin, and we are rightly described as ‘dead in trespasses and sins’.
  2. HOW EFFECTIVE IS CHRIST’S SAVING WORK? Just as our sins affect every part of us, our salvation also cleanses us from ALL our sins. Christ’s saving work cleanses us from all sin; in our hearts, our sin stained emotions are straightened out, in our wicked thought-life, our minds are renewed, and our rebellious will is brought into conformity with the will of God. Heart soul and mind are renewed.
  3. HOW DOES HE SAVE US? He saves us by dying on the cross for our sins. By this we mean that he frees us from sin’s:-
    • Penalty. The wages of sin is death. Eternal death. On the Cross, Jesus took my punishment and died my death. The penalty and punishment for my sin was taken by him. The debt is paid, and God, who is just will not demand punishment twice. Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
    • Power. Sins power is destroyed by Jesus. We will be tempted, we will succumb to that temptation more times that we might want to, but in Christ all our sins are forgiven, past present and future.
    • Presence. Not now, for we love in a sin cursed world. Sin is all around us, in the philosophies of the age, in our conversations, in our media, in our schools and our colleges, and yes, even in our churches. But one day we will be taken from this world, into God’s immediate presence, to a place where sin will be no more, and that effects of sin will be felt no more.

3. He is the ONLY Saviour. I was listening to a radio podcast a short time ago, which featured a segment where a Christian teacher was speaking to a ground of ‘Christian’ students. A girl began to heckle him, when he said that Jesus was the only way of salvation. “No, no” she shouted. “Jesus is the only way of salvation for me! But for others, they may find salvation in other religions…” Post moderns cannot accept any claims of exclusive, authoritative or absolute truth, and they carry that mindset over into their religion. The exclusive claims of Christ make little impression on them. So the catechist, writing over four hundred years ago, is right up to date when he reminds us that salvation is not to be sought or found in another.

  1. We must not SEEK salvation in any other. To seek salvation in any other god, or to worship any other god is idolatry. Isaiah 47:17 They are turned back and utterly put to shame, who trust in carved idols, who say to metal images, You are our gods.
  2. We will not FIND salvation in any other. We may make that dreadful mistake of making another our lord, our religious leader or guru, but it will all be in vain, for there is no salvation outside Christ. There will not be one single inhabitant of heaven who had not come there through salvation in Jesus Christ alone. Let us not be be hesitant. There is only one way if salvation, only one way to heaven, and that is through Christ and Him crucified. Any other religion is a false religion. That includes the great world religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Judaism, Scientology, Humanism… All of those and more, and the cults that cling to the pretence of having a ‘Christian’ basis, Mormonism, Christian Science, Watchtower Society and all the rest.

Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” 30. Do those also believe in the only Saviour Jesus, who seek their salvation and welfare from “saints,” themselves, or anywhere else? No; although they make their boast of Him, yet in their deeds they deny the only Saviour Jesus;(1) for either Jesus is not a complete Saviour, or they who by true faith receive this Saviour, must have in Him all that is necessary to their salvation.(2) (1)I Cor. 1:13, 30-31; Gal. 5:4. (2)Isa. 9:7; Col. 1:20; 2:10; Jn. 1:16; Mt. 23:28. The catechist adds an extra challenge to this section on the name of Jesus. There may be those who will claim to follow Christ, but who will add something else to supplement his finished work. He points out that to add anything to the saving work of Christ is to negate the effects of that work in our own lives. He particularly mentions those who add to Christ

  1. The intercession of ‘saints,” – in the Bible saints are simply sinner who have experienced God’s saving work in their lives. Paul wrote to the ‘saints’ at Rome, and he was writing to the ordinary Christian believers there. They are the hagioi, the holy ones, those who have been separated unto Christ. But some sections of the visible church have added to the work of Christ the intercession of Mary and the ‘saints,’ who they reckon to be those Christians, now dead, who have a surplus of merit accrued to their account, from which others may hope to draw some merit for themselves, and thus win some favour with God. It doesn’t work. To add the supposed merits of a man or woman to the work of Christ is to believe that his saving work is not complete, and not enough in itself.
  2. Self esteem. There are some who will add SELF to Christ’s works, – believing that there must be something that I must do in order to be saved. That may be attending to sacraments, or it may be ‘making a decision’ or it may be my own works or words or self-esteem. Again, to add anything of man to the work of Christ is to deny the sufficiency of his sacrifice and negate its efficiency, and would be the equivalent of ‘earning’ at least a part of salvation, and saving grace cannot be earned, it can only be received as a free gift.
  3. Any other ‘extra’ merit.

As the catechist concludes, ‘they who by true faith receive this Saviour, must have in Him all that is necessary to their salvation.’ Think About It. What is the Hebrew name translated in the NT as Jesus?_______________________________________________________ What does the name Jesus mean? _______________________________________________________________________ How did Jesus SAVE us from our sins? ___________________________________________________________________ To what extend are our sins forgiven? ____________________________________________________________________ Apart from Jesus, who else can save us from our sins? _________________________________________________________ Do we need to add anything to Christ’s work order to be saved? ___________________________________________________ Should Christians seek the help of ‘saints’ in their salvation? _____________________________________________________ Pray About It. Thank God for free salvation, and for His Son, Jesus, who came into this world to save his people from their sins

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