Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Heidelberg Exhortations-Lord's Day 7

Matt 6:9-10 9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Our Father, we magnify Your name in the earth. You have called us out to be Your people and made us part of that kingdom that you have established here on the earth. May we be faithful to You so that Your kingdom here will look more and more like Your kingdom in heaven. You have been faithful from the beginning. You created us for Your good pleasure, not to fulfill a lack in Yourself but to display Your own glory, the glory You had with the Son and with the Spirit before the worlds were created. You provided a way for us to return to You after our fall in Adam. This was Your plan from the beginning. You made promises to Eve of the coming Christ and to all of our fathers in the faith of that one who would bruise the serpent’s head. You have kept Your promise to them and to us by revealing Christ in us. We thank You that You keep covenant with Your people to a thousand generations. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.


Q. 20. Are all men then, as they perished in Adam, saved by Christ? A. No; only those who are ingrafted into him, and, receive all his benefits, by a true faith.

Q. 21. What is true faith? A. True faith is not only a certain knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in his word, but also an assured confidence, which the Holy Ghost works by the gospel in my heart; that not only to others, but to me also, remission of sin, everlasting righteousness and salvation, are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ's merits.

Q. 22. What is then necessary for a christian to believe? A. All things promised us in the gospel, which the articles of our catholic undoubted christian faith briefly teach us.

Q. 23. What are these articles?
1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell:
5. The third day he rose again from the dead:
6. He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
8. I believe in the Holy Ghost:
9. I believe a holy catholic(that is, universal)church: the communion of saints:
10. The forgiveness of sins:
11. The resurrection of the body:
12. And the life everlasting.

Those of you familiar with this will recognize the answer. It is the Apostle’s Creed. It is often ascribed to the apostle’s themselves but probably was not penned by them. However, it is one of the most ancient confessions of our faith and we would all do well to know it by heart as we confess with the Christian Church through the ages.

Question 21 speaks of true faith that is the free gift of God. The freer this gift the more binding is our duty and desire to obedience. We must get a handle on this. Those who oppose free grace often oppose it because they think it does nothing to bind the recipient to obedience. If grace does not cost anything, then why should we obey God? Dear ones, it cost a great deal. It cost the life of our precious Lord Jesus. If you really get a handle on this, then you must contemplate on how truly the free the grace is. You have no claim to it. You cannot purchase it. You cannot even really understand it. It is given to you by a gracious God merely because He is kind. And we stand there dumbfounded. A thankful man, woman, or child will immediately respond to that kind of grace with absolute fidelity, loyalty, and obedience. Any shortcomings will be immediately, confessed and repudiated. Remember, the freer the grace the more binding the obedience. And His grace is truly free and our love and thankfulness places upon us the most joyful burden of obedience. Who could not love such a kind Master?

Matt 6:12 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Our kind Father, teach us how free your grace is. Teach us to see the enormity of our debt and so, the enormity of the cost to forgive it and so, the enormity of the forgiveness. We confess to You that we have not rightly understood Your grace. We have either made light of it and have given ourselves an excuse for sin or refused to rightly believe it by refusing to forgive others. Your wrath and anger against us has been removed in Christ and through Christ our wrath and anger against those who have wronged us ought also to be removed. Let no unwholesome word proceed from our mouths. Forgive us for our spiteful words. We pray that You would reveal our own sins to us and we confess them to You now. Amen.

Matt 6:13 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Dear Ones, God has been very kind to us and forgiven our sins. Just as we forgive, may he forgive us. This may scare us realizing that we do not forgive as He does. However, we must learn that by faith in Christ, we are forgiven, freely, fully, and forever. When we grasp this, we will be able to freely and fully forgive others. And God’s forgiveness will be with us forever. So, come and honor him now. Amen.

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