Monday, February 7, 2011

Daily Devotions from the Heidelberg: The Lord's Preaching of the Law and the Gospel

The Lord’s Powerful Preaching of Law and Gospel

Reading:

1) Heidelberg Catechism

8 Q. But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined toward all evil?

A. Yes, unless we are born again, by the Spirit of God.

2) Scripture

Genesis 3:8-15, 21: And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.

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.”

21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

Comment

Before their sin, Adam and Eve communed with the Lord without the dread of punishment. After they rebelled against the Lord through disobedience, all of this changed. Our first parents hid from the blessed presence of the God for whom they were made.

Because we have all inherited Adam and Eve’s sin, we do the same thing. We run from the triune God, rather than running into his wonderful presence. We no longer desire or enjoy the presence of a holy God, unless the gospel and Spirit of God change our hearts. Because of the punishment due to sin, we dread the presence of God (1 John 4:17-18). But Jesus has taken our punishment at the cross!

If people are running from God and hiding from him because of sin, then how does the Lord bring us to himself? How does the Lord change us so that we seek him, rather than hide from his holy presence?

The answer is that the Lord calls us to himself by words. Just as the Lord used words to call to Adam in the garden, so he still calls us today. The Lord uses the law and the gospel to change us. We often think that words are weak and powerless. But when words are spoken by the Lord, those words are powerful to create and bring about the new birth as the Spirit of God plants Christ’s gospel word in our hearts.

After Adam’s sin, in Genesis 3:9 we read: “But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” First, the Lord uses the words of the law to show us our true condition before him. Through the law, God shows us our sin and its dangerous consequences. The Lord wants us to consider our true situation before him.

But the Lord also brings to us the healing words of the gospel. The gospel tells us that it is safe for us to come back to God. God will receive us back into his favor, for he has provided for our forgiveness through a sacrifice.  In Genesis 3:15, the Lord himself preaches the gospel! Genesis 3:15 points to the cross of Christ. At the cross Satan was defeated, even as he bruised our Lord’s heel.

Even in the garden, forgiveness came through the work of Jesus Christ, though it lay in the future. The garments of skin that covered the first couple were provided by sacrificial animals. These animal sacrifices pointed forward to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and the way in which Christ’s blood and righteousness covers all of our sin, both original sin and actual sins! When we are covered by Christ’s blood and righteousness, then it is safe to enter once again into the blessed presence of the holy God and his joyful communion!

Discussion: How does the Lord call people to himself? What does God’s holy law show us? What does God’s gospel show us? How do Genesis 3:15 and 3:21 point to Jesus Christ and his work for us?

Prayer Starter: In your prayer thank the Lord for calling you to himself by the gospel, which announces that it is safe to return to God through the sacrifice of his Son. Pray that you will continue to hear and believe God’s word of law and gospel to you all of your life.


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