Every Sunday, we will be going through one of the fifty-two Lord’s Days of the Heidelberg Catechism. Written in the year 1563, the Heidelberg still remains a popular confession of faith in many churches to this day. You can find the full text here.
Lord’s Day 21
Question 54: What do you believe
concerning “the holy catholic church”?
Answer: I believe that the Son of God
through his Spirit and Word,1
out of the entire human race,2
from the beginning of the world to its end,3
gathers, protects, and preserves for himself
a community chosen for eternal life4
and united in true faith.5
And of this community I am6 and always will be7
a living member.
1. John 10:14-16; Acts 20:28; Rom. 10:14-17; Col. 1:18
2. Gen. 26:3b-4; Rev. 5:9
3. Isa. 59:21; 1 Cor. 11:26
4. Matt. 16:18; John 10:28-30; Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:3-14
5. Acts 2:42-47; Eph. 4:1-6
6. 1 John 3:14, 19-21
7. John 10:27-28; 1 Cor. 1:4-9; 1 Pet. 1:3-5
Question 55: What do you understand by
“the communion of saints”?
Answer: First, that believers one and all,
as members of this community,
share in Christ
and in all his treasures and gifts.1
Second, that each member
should consider it a duty
to use these gifts
readily and joyfully
for the service and enrichment
of the other members.2
1. Rom. 8:32; 1 Cor. 6:17; 12:4-7, 12-13; 1 John 1:3
2. Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Cor. 12:20-27; 13:1-7; Phil. 2:4-8
Question 56: What do you believe
concerning “the forgiveness of sins”?
Answer: I believe that God,
because of Christ’s satisfaction,
will no longer remember
any of my sins1
or my sinful nature
which I need to struggle against all my life.2
Rather, by grace
God grants me the righteousness of Christ
to free me forever from judgment.3
1. Ps. 103:3-4, 10, 12; Mic. 7:18-19; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; 1 John 1:7; 2:2
2. Rom. 7:21-25
3. John 3:17-18; Rom. 8:1-2
“The holy catholic church”?! I thought this was a Reformed catechism? The Heidelberg writers were not believing in a holy Roman Catholic church, but rather a holy “universal” church. After a brief startle, the writers seek to calm my Reformed brethren down a bit by reassuring them that it is the Son of God, through the Spirit, who “gathers, protects, and preserves for himself a community chosen for eternal life”. Because it is God who gathers, protects, and preserves, then if I am united in true faith, I have the blessed assurance that I am, and always will be, a living member of this global body of believers. And as a member of this community, we live readily and joyfully ready to serve the Lord. Though there will be times that I struggle and fall, this community will be there to walk with me and remind me of the beautiful work that Christ has done for us.