Monday, April 18, 2011

Singing through the Heidelberg Catechism: Lord's Day 46

Lord's Day 46

Q & A 120
Q. Why did Christ command us
to call God "our Father"?

A. At the very beginning of our prayer
Christ wants to kindle in us
what is basic to our prayer—
the childlike awe and trust
that God through Christ has become
our Father.

Our fathers do not refuse us
the things of this life;
God our Father will even less refuse to give us
what we ask in faith.

Q & A 121
Q. Why the words
"in heaven"?

A. These words teach us
not to think of God's heavenly majesty
as something earthly,
and to expect everything
for body and soul
from his almighty power.


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Lord’s Day 46 points to three places where we can have mistaken ideas about God.

First, we can be mistaken about God’s almighty power. This was the problem with the Sadducees of Jesus’ day, who did not believe in the resurrection. Jesus told them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Mat. 22:29).

Our Father, Jesus teaches us, is “in heaven.” This phrase points to God’s majesty, power, and sovereign rule over all the earth. Right before God’s judgment fell on the most powerful man on earth in the ancient world, the Lord spoke to him through Daniel, saying, “But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and all your ways, you have not glorified” (Dan. 5:23 NASB). If the life-breath and ways of the most powerful man on earth is in God’s hand, then surely our life-breath and ways are in his hand too! Even more, Jesus teaches us that our destiny in the age to come is also in the Father’s hand: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mat. 10:28). The catechism is right when it call for the reverent fear of God, given his “heavenly majesty,” and “almighty power.”

Second, we can be mistaken about the Fatherhood of God. The truth is that God is not the Father of all people. We lost the right to call God, Father, through Adam’s sin. Now, Jesus teaches us that there is only one way back to the Father, and that one way is through himself: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).

Third, we can be mistaken about the goodness of God. In Luke 19, we meet a man with an insulting view of Jesus, and thus, of the Father, for Jesus is the exact image of the Father. The man says to the Lord, “I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man” (Luke 19:21). But neither Jesus nor our heavenly Father is severe or difficult to please. Rather, Jesus is gentle and his yoke is easy. Likewise, our Father is gracious and generous.

Jesus teaches us about the incredible generosity of the Father when he says:

“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy
Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13).
The key words are “how much more!” Yes, earthly fathers, sinful though they are, can be very generous. But the generosity of earthly fathers is but a pale reflection of the lavish generosity of the heavenly Father, who is without sin. For the Father will give us the most prized of all gifts, the Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of Jesus Christ, to dwell within us! O that we could see how extravagantly generous is the heart of our Father toward us! Rightly the catechism calls us to trust our Father in heaven!


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No One Comes unto the Father, But through Jesus, His Dear Son

To the tune: LAUDA ANIMA (http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/UMH/66). Based on Lord’s Day 46 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 100). Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
No one comes unto the Father,
but through Jesus, His dear Son.
For the cross the only altar,
where salvation’s work was done.
Praise the Son and praise the Father,
Holy Spirit, three in One.

v. 2
Rev’rent fear we owe the Father,
dwells in heaven, glor-i-ous.
Sov’reign, Ruler, no one other,
rules in glory, luminous.
Give all honor to the Father,
ruling over each of us.

v. 3
Trust the Father in His kindness,
He will give you what is best.
Earthly fathers often faithless,
still, to children gifts dispense.
How much more your Father, gen’rous,
gives the Spirit, ever blest.

v. 4
Help us, Father, as Your children,
live on earth to honor You.
With a fear and trust begotten
through Your Spirit and Your truth.
Living as obed-ient children,
pleasing You in all we do.


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

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