Friday, June 10, 2011

Singing Through the Heidelberg: Lord's Day 2

Lord's Day 2

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

A. The law of God tells me.

Q & A 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 with 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 hang
on these two commandments.

Q & A 5
Q. Can you live up to all this perfectly?

A. No.
I have a natural tendency
to hate God and my neighbor.


The Heidelberg is going to explain the Christian faith much like the apostle Paul in the book of Romans. Just as the first three chapters of Romans tell us about our sin and the condemnation it brings, so the Heidelberg’s next three Lord’s Days will tell us about our sin and the misery it brings.

In order to understand the Bible and the Heidelberg Catechism, it’s important to understand the contrast between the law and the gospel. This contrast is seen in the catechism by comparing Q&A 3 and Q&A 19:

Q. 3 How do you come to know your misery?
A. The law of God tells me.

Q. 19 How do you come to know this [blessings in Christ]?
A. The holy gospel tells me.

We learn about our sin and misery through God’s holy law. We learn about Christ and his benefits through the gospel. These two words of Scripture must be carefully distinguished.

The Heidelberg Catechism is a Reformation document. The Reformation believed that both the law and the gospel were to be proclaimed each time the Word was preached. For example, Philip Melanchthon, the great Lutheran reformer wrote that “it is impossible to teach correctly or fruitfully either gospel without law or law without gospel.” The church order of the Palatinate, where the Heidelberg Catechism was commissioned and written, stated that every sermon should be organized in a guilt, grace, gratitude pattern or law, gospel, thankfulness pattern.

Consider and learn this vital contrast between the law and the gospel as we place it 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.”

Law and gospel is basic to understanding the Bible’s message. God speaks two words throughout both the Old and New Testaments. These two words of law and gospel must be carefully distinguished in order to understand God’s message to the fallen human race.


How Do You Come to Know

To the tune TRENTHAM Breath on Me, Breath of God (). 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: William 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 heav'nly hill.

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