The Heidelberg Catechism
The Reformed Churches throughout the world for over 400 years have accepted as a means of instruction in the Christian faith, the Heidelberg Catechism. This famous Catechism was written by two scholars in Germany (Olevianus and Ursinus) and first published in 1563. The Reformed Churches use this Catechism for the indoctrination of the children and for doctrinal instruction. It is not an "old fashioned, " outdated creed, as one might suspect, for the simple reason that it is based squarely on the Scriptures themselves which can never be "outdated, " being the Word of the eternal God.
The term "catechism" is a biblical word (katacheo). Used at least seven times in the New Testament, it refers to instruction in the faith. Although the question-and-answer form of a catechism is not found in the Bible, the general injunction to train converts and covenant children is given to the church (Matt. 28:19-20 ). The Church through the ages has taken this responsibility seriously. In preparing converts or children to make a public profession of faith, it has provided written questions on the Apostle's Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer. Frederick the III stated this as his reason for commissioning the writing of the Heidelberg Catechism:
And accordingly ... we have secured the preparation of a summary course of instruction or catechism of our Christian Religion, according to the word of God ... in order that the youth in churches and schools may be piously instructed in such Christian doctrine, and be thoroughly trained therein, but also that the Pastors and Schoolmasters themselves may be provided with a fixed form and model, by which to regulate the instruction of youth, and not, at their option, adopt daily changes, or introduce erroneous doctrine. (Preface to the Heidelberg Catechism, 1563)
Our commitment to the Heidelberg Catechism enables us to provide clear training for the youth and members of the Church. It provides a balanced and succinct treatment of what a Christian is to believe and how he is to live.
127. What is the sixth petition?
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil"; that is, since we are so weak in ourselves that we cannot stand a moment1, and besides, our deadly enemies, the devil2, the world3, and our own flesh4, assail us without ceasing, be pleased to preserve and strengthen us by the power of Thy Holy Spirit, that we may make firm stand against them and not be overcome in this spiritual warfare5, until finally complete victory is ours6.
- â€œI am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." John 15:5 .
For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more. Ps. 103:14-16.
- Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 1 Peter 5:8,9 .
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Eph. 6:12,13 .
- If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:19 .
- But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Rom. 7:23 .
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. Gal. 5:17 .
- Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matt. 26:41 .
Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. Mark 13:33 .
- So that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. 1 Thess. 3:13.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. 1 Thess. 5:23,24.
* And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 2 Cor. 12:7 .
128. How do you close this Prayer?
"For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever"; that is, all this we ask of Thee, because as our King, having power over all things, Thou art willing and able to give us all good1; and that thereby not we, but Thy holy name may be glorified for ever2.
- For the Scripture says, â€œWhoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.â€ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him." Rom. 10:11,12 .
Then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, 2 Peter 2:9 .
- And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:13 .
Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, But to Your name give glory, Because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth. Ps. 115:1.
129. What is the meaning of the word "Amen"?
"Amen" means: so shall it truly and surely be. For my prayer is much more certainly heard of God than I feel in my heart that I desire these things of Him1.
- For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 2 Cor. 1:20 .
If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. 2 Tim. 2:13 .
* The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them. Ps. 145:18,19.
124. What is the third petition?
"Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" that is, grant that we and all men renounce our own will1, and without gainsaying obey Thy will, which alone is good2; so that every one may fulfill his office and calling as willingly and faithfully3 as the angels do in heaven4.
- Then Jesus said to His disciples, â€œIf anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." Matt. 16:24 .
- Saying, â€œFather, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.â€ Luke 22:42 .
Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age. Titus 2:12 .
- Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called. 1 Cor. 7:24 .
- Bless the LORD, you His angels, Who excel in strength, who do His word, Heeding the voice of His word. Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, You ministers of His, who do His pleasure. Ps. 103:20,21.
* And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Rom. 12:2 .
* Make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Heb. 13:21 .
120. Why did Christ command us to address God thus: "Our Father"?
To awaken in us at the very beginning of our prayer that childlike reverence for and trust in God, which are to be the ground of our prayer, namely, that God has become our Father through Christ, and will much less deny us what we ask of Him in faith than our parents refuse us earthly things1.
- Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Matt. 7:9-11 .
If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!â€ Luke 11:11-13 .
* And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each oneâ€™s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear. 1 Peter 1:17 .
* Doubtless You are our Father, Though Abraham was ignorant of us, And Israel does not acknowledge us. You, O LORD, are our Father; Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name. Isa. 63:16 .
121: Why is it added: "Who art in heaven"?
That we might have no earthly thought of the heavenly majesty of God1, and from His almighty power expect all things necessary for body and soul2.
- â€œAm I a God near at hand,â€ says the LORD, â€œAnd not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?â€ says the LORD; â€œDo I not fill heaven and earth?â€ says the LORD. Jer. 23:23,24 .
God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. ... Nor is He worshiped with menâ€™s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. ... so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. Acts 17:24,25 ,27.
- For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. Rom. 10:12 .
* Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O LORD my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today. 1 Kings 8:28 .
* But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases. Ps. 115:3.
123. What is the second petition?
"Thy kingdom come"; that is, so govern us by Thy Word and Spirit, that we submit ourselves to Thee always more and more1; preserve and increase Thy Church2; destroy the works of the devil every power that exalts itself against Thee and all wicked devices formed against Thy Holy Word3, until the fullness of Thy kingdom come4, wherein Thou shalt be all in all5.
- Oh, that my ways were directed To keep Your statutes! Ps. 119:5
Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness. Ps. 143:10.
- Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem. Ps. 51:18.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: â€œMay they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, Prosperity within your palaces.â€ Ps. 122:6,7.
- He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8 .
And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. Rom. 16:20 .
- And the Spirit and the bride say, â€œCome!â€ And let him who hears say, â€œCome!â€ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. ... He who testifies to these things says, â€œSurely I am coming quickly.â€ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Rev. 22:17,20 .
For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. Rom. 8:22,23 .
- Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. 1 Cor. 15:28 .
* But You, O LORD, shall endure forever, And the remembrance of Your name to all generations. You will arise and have mercy on Zion; For the time to favor her, Yes, the set time, has come. Ps. 102:12,13.
* Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. Heb. 12:28 .
* Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, â€œThe kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!â€ Rev. 11:15 .
* Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 1 Cor. 15:24 .
112. What does the ninth Commandment require?
That I bear false witness against no one1 twist no one's words2 be no backbiter or slanderer3, join in condemning no one unheard or rashly4; but that on pain of God's heavy wrath, I avoid all lying and deceit5 as the very works of the devil6; and that in matters of judgment and justice and in all other affairs, I love, speak honestly, and confess the truth7, also, insofar as I can, defend and promote my neighbor's good name8.
- A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who speaks lies will not escape. ... A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who speaks lies shall perish. Prov. 19:5,9
- He who does not backbite with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend. Ps. 15:3.
- And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents. Rom. 1:28-30 .
- Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Matt. 7:1,2 .
Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Luke 6:37 .
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. John 8:44 .
- Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal truthfully are His delight. Prov. 12:22 .
A righteous man hates lying, But a wicked man is loathsome and comes to shame. Prov. 13:5 .
- Does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. 1 Cor. 13:6.
Therefore, putting away lying, â€œLet each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,â€ for we are members of one another. Eph. 4:25 .
- And above all things have fervent love for one another, for â€œlove will cover a multitude of sins.â€ 1 Peter 4:8 .
* Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. ... â€œDoes our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?â€ John 7:24,51 .
* For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: â€œWho committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouthâ€; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously. 1 Peter 2:21,23 .
* Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Col. 4:6 .
* Not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9 .