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A study of the Heidelberg Catechism

Posted By: chestnutmare

A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:52 PM

Friends,

There has been some expressed interest in having a study of the Heidelberg Catechism, so we hope this will be helpful to all involved. We will go chronologically through the entire Catechism should there be sufficient consistent interest. The Catechism is located in our Creeds and Catechisms section which contains not only all of the questions and answers but the commentary that was written by the authors of the Catechism.

This catechism was written by Zacharias Ursinus (1534-1583) and Caspar Olevianus (1536-1584) in Heidelberg, Germany and published in 1563 in German. It was endorsed by the Synod of Dort and embraced by Continental Reformed Churches in many different countries. It is the custom of many churches that use it to preach from it from the pulpit every week throughout the year in the Sunday evening service, so it is divided into fifty-two weekly sections.

We hope many will join in and participate. Remember, in order to comment or to see certain parts of the Board, (some forums are members only) you will have to log in otherwise you will only be allowed to read.
Posted By: Tina

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:31 PM

I'm looking forward to this study. Thank you.
Posted By: cathmg

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Sun Feb 04, 2018 11:50 PM

I am also looking forward to the study. Thanks!
Posted By: gotribe

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:56 PM

when will this study begin?
Posted By: chestnutmare

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:37 PM

Sorry, I had to put it on hold for a bit but perhaps as soon as March 1st?
Posted By: gotribe

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Fri Feb 16, 2018 2:07 AM

Excellent! I look forward to participating.
Posted By: chestnutmare

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:57 PM

Sorry, it has taken so long to get this discussion started. I lost my job and started a new home business so things have been quite busy and hectic for a while. So that said, perhaps we can now turn our attention to what I hope will be a study and discussion that will benefit all who are willing to participate.

May I point out that we have a section given to Creeds, Confessions and Catechisms and in that section, you will find the entire Heidelberg Catechism together with its commentary written by Zacharias Ursinus. This is a very important resource for this study and I would encourage you to begin by reading through the first section which is a brief history of the Catechism.

We will begin with a consideration of Question 1 and 2 of the Heidelberg which you will find a link for in this section. Note, the commentary follows along with each question throughout the Heidelberg forum.

Additionally, we have also provided a sermon by Rev. G.H. Kersten Lord's Day 1—Question 1 on this section of the Catechism which I hope you will read as well. I personally loved it and found it to be of much benefit.

Something I hope that you will consider as you examine this first question is, who do you think is the Heidelberg actually addressing? Hint: the authors state their intended readership but given the way this first question and answer are phrased, who is it that this question should actually be addressed to?
Posted By: chestnutmare

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:21 AM

Let me try again. Who do you think the Heidelberg is actually addressing? In other words: Who in your estimation is the proper audience, given the way the Catechism phrases the question and answer?

Hint: the authors state their intended readership but given the way this first question and answer are phrased, who is it that this question should actually be addressed to?
Posted By: cathmg

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Mon Mar 26, 2018 11:12 PM

In my estimation the Heidelberg is actually addressing Christians and is not recommended for missionary work. I gleaned that from reading the brief history.
Posted By: Pilgrim

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Tue Mar 27, 2018 1:44 AM

Curious.... grin Would you say that the Heidelberg is best taught to professing adult Christians only? Or, do you think that children should be catechized using the Heidelberg? scratchchin
Posted By: Tina

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:52 AM

I believe the catechism was addressing the youth for instruction, and for guiding pastors and teachers.
Posted By: Pilgrim

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:20 PM

Originally Posted by Tina
I believe the catechism was addressing the youth for instruction, and for guiding pastors and teachers.

Tina,

Thanks for responding to my question. I would like to travel a bit further on this if I may.

1) How would you (and others, of course) compare the 1st Q&A of the Heidelberg Catechism and the 1st Q&A of the Westminster Shorter Catechism? Put another way, what do you see as one of the major differences between the two in their approach?

2) Depending upon how you (and others) answer that question, and...given how you answered above, "In my estimation the Heidelberg is actually addressing Christians and is not recommended for missionary work.", where does "the youth" fit in to all this? How would you classify them? scratchchin
Posted By: cathmg

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:11 PM

The difference I see is that in the Westminster Shorter Catechism the chief end of man is the question and the glory of God is the answer where in the Heidelberg Catechism the focus is on what God has done for the believer and in a believers life and gives assurance that he does ultimately glorify God by the working of the Holy Spirit in his life. We are not our own...which I believe both questions address, and glorifying God both questions address. Hope that comes across clearly. smile

2. In looking deeper into this question I have found that it is geared to the youth as well as older believers in order to answer questions that they might have so that they can get a deeper understanding of the scriptures. It speaks at a level they can understand. Using the Catechism with the youth of the church will help to ensure a harvest of righteousness for generations to come.The youth are the future of the Church. It helps in times of conflict to go the the Catechism which has the answers clearly spelled out. Also, it promotes consistency for adults and pastors and is helpful in helping to detect heresy.
Posted By: Pilgrim

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Fri Mar 30, 2018 2:41 AM

1. My assessment of a comparison of the two catechisms is: The WSC is written in the 3rd person, i.e., from an objective perspective. The HC is written in the 1st person, i.e., from a subjective perspective.

2. Since #1 is indisputably true then it must also be true that ONLY professing believers, i.e., those who have made a biblical, credible profession of faith should be taught the Heidelberg Catechism. To use the HC to teach children and those who haven't made a biblical, credible profession of faith would be to convey a false sense of assurance to those who are unworthy and who are yet under the just wrath of God. Those who hold to "presumptive regeneration" would strongly disagree, of course, by the very fact that they believe that covenant children are to be presumed regenerate or at least have the "seed of faiith" within them and thus the HC applies to them and the assurance of salvation belongs to them unless they totally repudiate the faith sometime in the future.

It used to be that such a view was held predominately by those in the Continental Reformed Churches, i.e., the Dutch Reformed denominations. But over the past few decades, this view has been adopted and practiced, albeit perhaps not officially on the books within a number of Presbyterian Churches and other independent churches. The consequences of this view has been disastrous in that these churches are filled with unregenerate members who have a false assurance of their spiritual condition and of eternal life.

Okay, so to get straight to the point, it is my firm and unwavering conviction that the Heidelberg Catechism should ONLY be used as a teaching aid for those who have made a biblical, credible profession of faith and who are members of a local church. Let me stress also that I include "biblical" as an inseparable part of a credible profession of faith, especially in our present day due to the proliferation of false gospels within the vast majority of churches, not just the evangelical variety, but sadly also within the Reformed denominations. Thus, I see the WSC as being a more universal source for teaching biblical truth regardless of the spiritual condition of those being taught. And, the HC is a special and narrow source reserved for those who have been effectually called by God, regenerated by the Spirit, united to the Lord Christ through a living faith and who are seeking a life of holiness before God. The Heidelberg is a personal and particular statement of one's own faith in Christ and thus it should be reserved for those who profess a Spirit-wrought faith but also have the marks of that faith.

Just so you know, I love the WSC, WLC and the Heidelberg catechisms. I just believe they should be used to teach particular types of people. grin
Posted By: Tina

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Fri Mar 30, 2018 7:38 PM

Thank you, Pilgrim, I appreciated reading your understanding of the questions, and the information you share.
Posted By: cathmg

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Sat Mar 31, 2018 7:22 AM

I am relatively new to the confessions so I appreciate anything I can learn about them. Thank you Pilgrim.
Posted By: cathmg

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Mon Apr 02, 2018 7:51 AM

In response to Chestnutmare's suggested reading...The Christian’s Only Comfort In Life and Death LORD’S DAY 1 is truly a beautiful and comforting description of what has been provided for us through and in Christ. I need to read it several times to be able to drink in all that it says. I am so thankful to the Lord for His mercy and His grace and for providing such assurance and comfort for His children.
Posted By: chestnutmare

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:04 PM

So, the catechism is directed to the believer as only the believer can respond as such, in the first person. saying “That I…”

Now let's look at what it is that is being addressed: why do you suppose that the author would begin such a study with a question about comfort? What does he mean by comfort for the believer and why is this of paramount importance? Can you define what he means by comfort?

Again here is the question and answer from our study:

Quote
Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer. That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ, who, with his precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that, without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation: and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready henceforth to live unto him.
Posted By: Pilgrim

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Mon Apr 09, 2018 11:21 AM

Originally Posted by chestnutmare
Now let's look at what it is that is being addressed: why do you suppose that the author would begin such a study with a question about comfort? What does he mean by comfort for the believer and why is this of paramount importance? Can you define what he means by comfort?

1. Because of the fact that we all live in a world that is corrupted and that we are all born with a corruption of nature, life is fraught with all manner of woes, ills, tragedy, sorrow, suffering and death. Thus comfort is that balm which consoles the soul and affords hope of relief and better things to come.

2. The reason and ground of that comfort is not to be found within oneself nor from the things or others of this world, for all these things have been subjected to God's wrath due to the Fall. The comfort man needs and which the believer only can own comes from without; the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. And, the Catechism is very precise in stating that the comfort that is found only in Jesus Christ is because " am not my own but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ." It does not say that Jesus Christ belongs to me, i.e., the Lord Christ was made mine because I did such and such, e.g., exercising my own will to allow Him to be my Savior, or went forward at some crusade or revival meeting, or read a little prayer on the back of a card, or decided to become a Christian for whatever reason, etc., etc. NO, the comfort owned by a true Christian is because the Lord Christ owns him/her. Believers have been bought with a price. They have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. They have been reconciled to God through His own sacrifice. They are no longer under the just wrath of God and subject to condemnation but rather, they have been justified and adopted as beloved children of God. It was Christ's Spirit Who worked in them, regenerating their spiritually dead souls giving them a heart of flesh that was smitten with guilt due their sinfulness and wanted to be cured and cleansed of their filth. It was by the Spirit that the Lord Christ became altogether lovely and the one and only hope to be reconciled to God. Believers were "made willing" by the power of God (Ps 110:3).

4. Everything imaginable and even that which is unimaginable which is for our good, both for this life and eternity, is not only promised but given without measure in God's perfect time from the day we were drawn by the Spirit, made alive through the Word, and united to Christ through repentance of sins and faith in Christ Jesus our LORD. NOTHING can separate us from the love of God in life or death, for ALL THINGS work together for good to those who love God and who are the called according to HIS purpose.

What possibily could be more comforting to know than from all eternity, the sovereign God had set His love upon us to be recipients of His mercy and grace in Christ Jesus and to give us a place in His kingdom... both now on this earth and on the new earth which is to come. BigThumbUp
Posted By: Tina

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Tue Apr 10, 2018 4:18 PM

How can I define comfort?

As Pilgrim rightly states, we live in such a corrupt world so many evils and tragedies. Without knowing the comfort of God one could be overwhelmed and despair of such atrocities.

Comfort is knowing that nothing is out of His control. The promise that He preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head. To be able to trust Him in and through all things, this brings me great comfort along with the wonderful promise, I now have eternal life.

I love the answers to question 1.
Posted By: cathmg

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Thu Apr 12, 2018 12:58 AM

Pilgrim you said "What possibly could be more comforting to know than from all eternity, the sovereign God had set His love upon us to be recipients of His mercy and grace in Christ Jesus and to give us a place in His kingdom... both now on this earth and on the new earth which is to come".

Since coming to learn the doctrines of Grace this has been much on my mind. To know that God has chosen us in Christ Jesus, elected us, purchased and redeemed us with His own blood, has justified us and is sanctifying us, preserves us and will glorify us as well... is more than I can really comprehend. It takes salvation totally out of man's hands, and makes God the true author and finisher of our faith, rather than man thinking that he actually has made "quite" a contribution to it. That has set me free and given me such security that no matter what happens I know that I am in His Hands and He will complete that which He has begun. We as His redeemed belong to Him because He has purchased us with His own blood. There is great comfort in that!! and my words cannot express how I love Him and His beautiful Gospel!
Posted By: chestnutmare

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:05 AM

Question 2. How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou, enjoying this comfort, mayest live and die happy?

Answer. Three; the first, how great my sins and miseries are; the second, how I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries; the third, how I shall express my gratitude to God for such deliverance.
Posted By: chestnutmare

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Fri Apr 27, 2018 10:08 AM

What things must you know personally? How do we know this? Why is it so important that we know these things? Does the contemporary church teach these things?
Posted By: Pilgrim

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Fri Apr 27, 2018 2:16 PM

I would like to focus this response on the first of the three things which Ursinus wrote are necessary in order for one to enjoy this comfort referenced in Lord's Day #1.

1. I understand the "enjoying" to mean for the professing believer's assurance of the great salvation promised in Christ.

2. What predominates my thoughts on this first item is what our Lord Christ said:

Quote
John 16:8,9 (ASV) "And he, when he is come, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me;"

3. The world in total does not acknowledge the person nor the work of God's Christ who was sent into this world to redeem a people for himself in order to reconcile them to God, for they are His enemies, to atone for their sins by offering himself in their place, to impute to them his own perfect righteousness, and to give to them the Holy Spirit to dwell within them in order to sanctify them in holiness. The ONLY way anyone will ever know and also desire these things is if FIRST they are shown "how great their sins and miseries are".

4. This is accomplished by the sovereign and secret work of the Holy Spirit when a sinner is regenerated, made alive spiritually through the true Gospel message. It is then that they are given eyes to see and a mind to comprehend these naturally hidden truths about themselves. In other words, the new nature created by the Spirit reveals, in part, how God knows them. When this happens, the person is smitten with deep guilt over a) how wretched they are, b) how odious are their thoughts, words and lives in every aspect without exception. They suddenly realize as did Paul, "there is no good thing that dwells within me" (Rom 7:18). And, because of their sinfulness, they are under the just condemnation and wrath of God.

5. This genuine conviction of sin drives the person to the Lord Jesus Christ for they realize that He is their only hope, both in the deliverance of their miserable condition, but also that He and He alone can supply the needed righteousness which God demands. He becomes to them "altogether lovely" (Song 5:16). And they are thus drawn with irresistible cords of love to Him and embrace Him with a true faith and dependence. THIS is true, biblical conversion.

6. What grieves me today, indescribably so, is how little these truths are known due to the lack of teaching and preaching them in the modern church. All one need do is peruse most church websites and read their "statement of faith" and their "way of salvation" sections, which are variously named and it will become painfully obvious that there is little to no mention of the necessity of "knowing how great my sins and miseries are". Typically, all one reads is that all one needs to do is to profess they are a sinner, or they haven't lived a perfect life, etc., etc. After that is done, a person only needs to confess that Jesus is God, and that He was crucified, buried and rose from the dead. Some don't even require that to be acknowledged. And then the person is assured that they are saved. Yet, these "converts" have never experienced the life-giving work of the Spirit which begins with a deep sense of conviction and guilt and subsequently repent of their sins and whole-heartily run to Christ and cling to Him for pardon, forgiveness and the power to live a life of holiness which is pleasing to God.

7. I find something which Calvin wrote very interesting too. He wrote (paraphrased) that he was not sure which came first; the knowledge of the one true God or a knowledge of one's sinfulness. Methinks that the two are inseparable for they are two sides of the same coin and they compliment each other. Both are needed as they exemplify the infinite gulf which exists between sinful man and the thrice holy God.

8. Lastly, although a tome could be written on this subject alone, The biblical understanding of the incredible love and grace of God can only be truly understood when one realizes just how miserable a person they are by nature. And that from all eternity, God in His infinite wisdom, love and grace set His eyes upon ME and determined to save ME of all the people's of the earth and to adopt ME as His son.

Quote
Psalms 40:1-5 (ASV) "<<For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.>> I waited patiently for Jehovah; And he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay; And he set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: Many shall see it, and fear, And shall trust in Jehovah. Blessed is the man that maketh Jehovah his trust, And respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. Many, O Jehovah my God, are the wonderful works which thou hast done, And thy thoughts which are to us-ward; They cannot be set in order unto thee; If I would declare and speak of them, They are more than can be numbered."
Posted By: Tina

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Sat Apr 28, 2018 5:24 PM

I needed to know that I was a dead woman, totally depraved. This was only possible when I was regenerated and given life. When walking dead I had no comprehension of the depth of my sin.
It is important for me to know that of myself I would have walked right into hell. As Pilgrim said, it is only the sovereign and secret work of the Holy Spirit that can bring a dead person back to life. Being aware of this should keep one humble and truly thankful.
Sadly, there are very few churches that teach these truths, consequently, false doctrine is rampant.
Posted By: chestnutmare

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Sun Apr 29, 2018 6:37 PM

I would like to explore a little further what the author meant by his use of the word “COMFORT”. It is used in our culture often referring to things that make us feel good like: “comfort foods”. While there may be things in our lives that do provide us with relative comfort, such as our homes, things we like to eat or wear, and not to diminish the importance of having food and clothing but the catechism seems to transcend those earthly comforts. Comfort seems to be a familiar word to most people but how many truly possess it?

I once worked with a woman, who told me that she liked to go to church to sing praise choruses and get her “fix” for the week. Without that weekly fix, this woman did not feel comfortable. How is the comfort that question 1 focuses on transcend the temporal comfort that this woman needed weekly “fixes” in order to have in her life?

Let’s look at the following texts:
Psalm 32:1–5
Philippians 4:6
1 Peter 1:18-19
1 Cor. 6:19,20
1 Cor 3:23
2 Cor 3:17
John 8:36
Romans 8:28

So let’s see if we can get a better understanding of the catechism’s use of the word “COMFORT”. Using Scripture, please define what comfort is. Where does this comfort come from? What does comfort bring to our lives and is it necessary to our lives? How does having this comfort influence or affect how we live our daily lives?
Posted By: cathmg

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:43 AM

Pilgrim wrote... The ONLY way anyone will ever know and also desire these things is if FIRST they are shown "how great their sins and miseries are".
4. This is accomplished by the sovereign and secret work of the Holy Spirit when a sinner is regenerated, made alive spiritually through the true Gospel message. It is then that they are given eyes to see and a mind to comprehend these naturally hidden truths about themselves. In other words, the new nature created by the Spirit reveals, in part, how God knows them. "sin drives the person to the Lord Jesus Christ for they realize that He is their only hope, both in the deliverance of their miserable condition, but also that He and He alone can supply the needed righteousness which God demands. He becomes to them "altogether lovely"

I am so grateful for God's patience and His love for me by introducing me to the doctrines of grace! Like Tina I needed to know I was dead, in trespasses and sins. Before I learned of them I was so blind as to my own condition, only knowing what I was taught in mainstream christianity. I knew I was a sinner but did not think I was really that bad until the Holy Spirit did a deep convicting work in my heart. I saw the depravity of my own soul and it drove me to my Savior for cleansing and comfort. I realized the truth of "there is no good thing that dwells within me" (Rom 7:18). It put me in my place, on my knees...and of desperately needing cleansing in His precious blood, His righteousness, and His guidance through His Word. In response to chestnutmare regarding comfort...Jesus is altogether lovely! My only comfort! And my joy! I no longer have to rely on a pretty song, a false prophecy, dreams and visions etc. I am in Christ and He lives in me. My fellowship with Him through His Word, and His promises secure me and therein lies my comfort.
Posted By: Tina

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Mon Apr 30, 2018 5:46 PM

Comfort to me is knowing that my transgressions are forgiven, my sin is covered and the Lord does not impute iniquity to me. I am not on course to hell without my creator, this is a great comfort.

Forgiveness can only be accomplished because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Knowing the pain and the cost which my sin caused Christ urges me to try and live a life worthy of His calling, only possible by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

That I, a mere worm have been called with a Holy calling. My body is not my own but God's temple where the Holy Spirit resides. Sin should not be taken lightly for I was bought at a price.

For me knowing where the Spirit of the Lord is (within me) brings me great comfort. What freedom I have been given. For nothing shall separate me from the love or presence of God.
Whatever is before me I have no need to fear or to be anxious because all things work together for my good because I love God and have been called according to His purpose.
Posted By: cathmg

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Tue May 01, 2018 7:44 AM

There is also great comfort in knowing that I was ransomed with such a great price, the precious blood of Christ...1 Pet. 1:18You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. 1 John 7 reminds me that his blood continues to cleanse me from all sin as I walk in the light and have fellowship with other believers.

As well, God has put His seal on me...Eph. 1:13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

And I belong to Him...1 Cor.3:23 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s

He continues to guide me, and nothing shall separate me from him.
Posted By: Pilgrim

Re: A study of the Heidelberg Catechism - Wed May 23, 2018 10:53 AM

Quote
the second, how I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries

There are actually at least three major elements to this second statement concerning what things are necessary to enjoy this comfort ...

1. HOW I may be delivered
and
2. how I may BE DELIVERED
and
3. from ALL my sins and miseries

So, lets turn these three things into questions for discussion:

1. HOW is a sinner delivered from all sins and miseries?

2. What does it mean to BE DELIVERED?

3. Does ALL sins and miseries mean ALL, without exception? What is the implication of that?
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