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All Articles For Our Doctrine

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(Lord’s Day 5) Q. 12. Since then, by the righteous judgment of God, we deserve temporal and eternal punishment, is there no way by which we may escape that punishment, and be again received into favor? A. God will have His justice satisfied: and therefore we must make this full satisfaction either by ourselves, or by another. Q. 13. Can we of ourselves then make this satisfaction? A. By no means; but on the contrary we daily increase our debt. Q. 14. Can there be found anywhere, one, who is a mere creature, able to satisfy for us? A. None;...

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In questions and answers 13 and 14 the Heidelberg Catechism demonstrates that, as far as we are concerned, our work, our efforts, our good intentions, the way is absolutely closed: through our own efforts we can never escape punishment and again be received into favor with God. This must become quite clear, before we can even begin to speak of a divinely wrought salvation through our mediator Jesus Christ. God will give His glory to no other. He does not step in to save man as long as there is any possibility that man can merit and bring about his...

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The Impossibility of Satisfaction The second question that must be answered in this connection is: “Can another creature, a creature that is not man, satisfy for our sin?” The Catechism answers: “God will not punish any other creature for the sin which man committed”. This will of God to punish only the creature that sinned and no other creature is not arbitrary. God’s will is always in accord with His justice, and justice and righteousness belong to His very Being. And God cannot deny Himself. And He certainly would deny Himself if He would punish another creature for man’s sin....

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LORD’S DAY 6 Q. 16. Why must he be very man, and also perfectly righteous? A. Because the justice of God requires that the same human nature which hath sinned, should likewise make satisfaction for sin; and one, who is himself a sinner, cannot satisfy for others. Q. 17. Why must he in one person be also very God? A. That he might, by the power of his Godhead sustain in his human nature, the burden of God’s wrath; and might obtain for, and restore to us, righteousness and life. Q. 18. Who then is that Mediator, who is in...

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Who then is that Mediator, who is in one person both very God, and a real righteous man? For this question we, perhaps, had been looking for some time. We probably grew impatient with the Catechism as it discussed the hopelessness of our condition, the impossibility of salvation on our part, and the question of a possible Mediator, the necessity of His being true and eternal God and real righteous man in one person. And all the while we were left groping in the darkness of our sin and misery. Yet, we saw how essential it is for the maintenance...

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“Whence knowest thou this?” Whence knowest thou that our Lord Jesus Christ is “that Mediator, who is in one person both very God, and a real righteous man?” And whence knowest thou that this Mediator is “of God made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption?” To this question the Catechism gives one of the finest answers in the whole book of instruction: “From the holy gospel, which God Himself first revealed in Paradise; and afterwards published by the patriarchs and prophets, and represented by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law; and lastly has fulfilled it...

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That the holy gospel, according to the Heidelberg Catechism, is essentially good news concerning the promise, may be gathered from the statement: “and lastly, has fulfilled it by his only begotten Son.” The gospel was fulfilled in the fullness of time in Jesus Christ our Lord. But this is possible only if the gospel is essentially a promise. And also the fact that the gospel was always proclaimed and received by the heirs of the promise, from the very beginning of history, is plainly taught by the Catechism in this nineteenth answer. The holy gospel is not the same as...

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Q. 20. Are all men then, as they perished in Adam, saved by Christ? A. No; only those who are ingrafted into him, and receive all his benefits by. a true faith. Q. 21. What is true faith? A. True faith is not only a certain knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in his word, but also an assured confidence, which the Holy Ghost works by the gospel, in my heart; that not only to others, but to me also, remission of sin, everlasting righteousness and salvation, are freely given by God, merely...

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Chapter 1: Salvation for Believers Only (continued) Radically opposed to all these universalistic and semi-universalistic theories of salvation stands the answer of the Catechism: “No; only those who are ingrafted into him, and receive all his benefits by a true faith.” This answer is worthy of our closest consideration especially for two reasons. First of all, by the expression “ingrafted into him” it presents faith, not as an act on the part of man, but as a gift of God, a means whereby God saves the sinner through Christ. And secondly, by the same expression, as well as by the...

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Calvin treats the subject of faith elaborately in his Institutes, Book III, chapter 2. Also according to him faith is both knowledge and confidence, and both are of a special, a higher kind than the knowledge and assurance of faith in general. Writes he: “Knowledge, as we call faith, we do not understand in the sense of comprehension, such as we have of those things that fall within the scope of human sensation. For this knowledge is even so far superior, that the mind of man must needs exceed and surpass itself, in order to attain to it. And even...

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