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 32
Question 86: Since we have been delivered
from our misery
by grace through Christ
without any merit of our own,
why then should we do good works?
Answer: Because Christ, having redeemed us by his blood,
is also restoring us by his Spirit into his image,
so that with our whole lives
we may show that we are thankful to God
for his benefits,1
so that he may be praised through us,2
so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits,3
and so that by our godly living
our neighbors may be won over to Christ.4
1. Rom. 6:13; 12:1-2; 1 Pet. 2:5-10
2. Matt. 5:16; 1 Cor. 6:19-20
3. Matt. 7:17-18; Gal. 5:22-24; 2 Pet. 1:10-11
4. Matt. 5:14-16; Rom. 14:17-19; 1 Pet. 2:12; 3:1-2
Question 87: Can those be saved
who do not turn to God
from their ungrateful
and unrepentant ways?
Answer: By no means.
Scripture tells us that
no unchaste person,
no idolater, adulterer, thief,
no covetous person,
no drunkard, slanderer, robber,
or the like
will inherit the kingdom of God.1
1. 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:1-20; 1 John 3:14
Why do good works if we are saved by grace? Can’t I just do whatever I want and still go to heaven? After explaining the abundance of grace available to cover our sin in Romans 5, Paul senses there may be some questions from the audience. In Romans 6, Paul asks:
“Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?”
“Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?”
Our answer must be as emphatic as Paul’s…”By no means!” In case that’s not clear enough, here is Paul’s answer in a few other bible translations:
Of course not! (NLT)
May it never be! (NASB)
Absolutely not! (HCSB)
God forbid. (KJV)
Paul continues in Romans 6:2 by asking “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Salvation is not just choosing to stand in the line for heaven instead of the line for hell. Salvation, repentance, and sanctification are real works of restoration by the Spirit and redemption by the blood of Christ so that with our whole lives we may show that we are thankful to God for his benefits, that he may be praised through us, that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits, and so that by our godly living our neighbors may be won over to Christ.
Can those who do not repent of their ungodly ways be saved? The Heidelberg writers give an answer the apostle Paul would be proud of…By no means! This then begs the question: What is repentance? Luckily, the bible (and the Heidelberg writers) give us an answer…next week.
“Good works do not make a good man, but a good man does good works.” Martin Luther