Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 5 – Crossing the Chasm

God gave us the Bible, the whole Bible, and therein He reveals that which He determined we should know. He shows us a God who not only loves, serves and dies for others but a God who we should fear (Matt. 10:28). We stand guilty before this righteous God and our debt must be payed. We know the answer is Jesus, but why?

Lord’s Day 5 shows us how there is only one deliverer from the judgment of a righteous God.

Q. 12: Since then, by the righteous judgment of God, we deserve temporal and eternal punishment, is there no way by which we may escape that punishment, and be again received into favour?

A: God will have his justice satisfied: and therefore we must make this full satisfaction, either by ourselves, or by another. 

God is just and fair and, when being truly honest with ourselves, we want this God. We want a God who hates the unjust, a God who hates rape and murder, a God who hates famine and corruption. How perfect would a world be where every wrong is removed and any foul deed punished. Imagine a country where the corrupt official is removed from his position immediately and then punished accordingly.

We like the idea of this fair and just god. The problem is when we are summoned before this perfect Judge and our deeds are judged against a perfect standard.

Q. 13: Can we ourselves then make this satisfaction?

A: By no means; but on the contrary we daily increase our debt.

By trying to serve out this deserved sentence we increase that very wrongful acts on which we are judged. As finite beings we cannot live up to the bar that an infinite Judge has set.

Q. 14: Can there be found anywhere, one, who is a mere creature, able to satisfy for us?

A: None; for, first, God will not punish any other creature for the sin which man has committed; and further, no mere creature can sustain the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin, so as to deliver others from it. 

A fair judge will not pronounce a guilty criminal free then point to a random spectator in the court declaring that he must now be imprisoned for the murder or rape or whatever the criminal is guilty of. More than that, the sentence pronounced cannot be served by any living person, animal etc. As an example imagine a child rapist and murderer is found guilty of fifty such offences, his sentence would be multiple life sentences adding up to (for example) 18 life sentences. Should that roughly equate to 1 800 years no man or animal could serve out such a sentence.

Standing before the perfect Judge we are charged with a sentence that cannot be served by us. I cannot serve the sentence I deserve for the wrong I have done or will still do.

Q. 15: What sort of a mediator and deliverer then must we seek for?

A: For one who is very man, and perfectly righteous; and yet more powerful than all creatures; that is, one who is also very God. 

So why would we need Jesus? As Kevin DeYoung puts it: “We need a righteous Man to save fallen men and a divine Man to bear the curse of God…. because nothing other than a God-man can save men from God”

We need Jesus as our mediator, fully man and fully god.

“There is no arbiter between us,
who might lay his hand on us both.” -Job 9:33

-See also The Good News We Almost Forgot, Kevin DeYoung.


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