Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Daily Devotions for January 11 and 12: Lord's Day 2 of the Heidelberg Catechism


More ABC’s: Learning the Bible’s Alphabet


1) Heidelberg Catechism

3 Q. How do you come to know your misery?

A. The law of God tells me.

2) Scripture

Isaiah 53:1-6:

53:1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised,
and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 57:20-21:

20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea;
for it cannot be quiet,
and its waters toss up mire and dirt.
21 There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”


Let’s continue to think about this contrast between the law and the gospel, which is so basic to understanding the Bible. The law and the gospel are complete opposites when it comes to salvation. The law shows us our sin, while the gospel shows us our Savior from sin! The law accuses us of sin, while the gospel tells us we are justified and forgiven of our sins. The law demands perfect righteousness, while the gospel gives perfect righteousness. The law threatens us with condemnation, while the gospel frees us from condemnation. The law says, “Do this, and you will live,” while the gospel says, “Believe this, and you will live.”

Here is the contrast of the law and gospel side by side:

1. The law shows us our sin.
1. The gospel shows us our Savior.

2. The law accuses us of sin.
2. The gospel brings forgiveness of sin.

3. The law demands perfect righteousness
3. The gospel gives us the perfect righteousness of Christ.

4. The law threatens us with condemnation.
4. The gospel frees us from condemnation.

5. The law says, “Do this, and you will live."
5. The gospel says, “Believe this, and you will live.”

In our two readings from Isaiah, we see a gospel passage and a law passage. Isaiah 53:1-6 tells us about the gospel. It shows us our Savior as he bears our sins on the cross. It calls for faith so that we might have salvation when it asks, “Who has believed our message?” It speaks of forgiveness when it tells us that Christ’s “punishment” “brought us peace.” On the other hand, Isaiah 57:20-21 is a law passage. It shows us the effects of sin. As the catechism would put it, Isaiah 57:20-21 shows us our misery if we don’t belong to Jesus.

Discussion: Of the two, law or gospel, which is the good news and which is the bad news? Why is Isaiah 53:1-6 a gospel passage? Why is Isaiah 57:20-21 a law passage? Which person looks happier or more peaceful, the person who believes the gospel message or the wicked person in Isaiah 57?

Prayer Starter: In your prayer, thank the Father for his incredible love in sending his Son into the world for our forgiveness and blessing.


The Perfect Standard Points to the Perfect Savior


1) Heidelberg Catechism

4 Q. What does God’s law require of us?

A. Christ teaches us this in summary in Matthew 22 --- Love the Lord your God with all your heart and will all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first and greatest commandment.

And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hand on these two commandments.

2) Scripture

Matthew 22:34-40: But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”


When we consider the contrast between the law and the gospel, we can sometimes think that God’s law is a bad thing. But this is not true. God’s law is a good thing, because it teaches us what it means to love God with our whole heart, mind, and strength.

It is true that the law shows us our sin, but that doesn’t mean the law is bad! It’s not that the law is bad, it’s that our hearts are bad! The law shows us that we don’t love God perfectly, nor do we love our neighbor perfectly for God’s sake. The law shows us that we need a Savior, because we have failed to live up to its perfect standard.

Only one person ever kept God’s law perfectly. Only one person ever loved God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. Only one person ever loved his neighbor as himself for his Father’s sake. That person’s name is Jesus Christ. He is our Savior. The law cannot save us and make us right with God. But Jesus can save us, and he has saved every person who truly believes in him.

The law’s perfect standard shows us that the good news of gospel is not about our obedience. Instead the good news of the gospel is about Christ’s obedience --- for us! Through his perfect obedience that took him to the cross, we are saved.

Discussion: The law of God shows us our sin. Since the law shows us the bad news about our sin, is the law a bad thing? What does the law show us about the human heart? If the law cannot save us through our obedience, whose obedience can save us?

Prayer Starter: In your prayer, thank the Father for the law’s function in showing us our sin and need of a Savior. Also thank him for giving us Jesus, who is able to save us.

Hymn for Lord’s Day 2

How Do You Come to Know

To the tune TRENTHAM (Breathe on Me Breath of God http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/PsH/420 or http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/UMH/420). Based on Lord’s Day 2 of the Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 3-5 (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A’s 14, 42, 18-19). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
How do you come to know
your sin and misery?
The holy, righteous law of God
points out my sin to me.

v. 2
What does God’s law require?
Wholehearted love for God,
with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength,
while on this earth we walk.

v. 3
What does God’s law require?
Love to our neighbor too.
Love him as you do love yourself.
Love him for God’s sake too.

v. 4
Can you live up to this?
No one can perfectly.
The law condemns my lack of love,
it shows my guilt to me.

v. 5
What then can sinners do?
Flee to the God of grace.
God sent His Son to bear our guilt
and take the sinner’s place.

v. 6
What does the gospel show?
It shows God’s gracious will.
It shows how we may live with Him
bless’d on His holy hill.

Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it.

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