This page contains all of the questions and answers of An Orthodox Catechism, written by Hercules Collins, along with easily viewable Scripture references.
This catechism, first published in 1680, is a Particular (i.e., seventeenth-century Calvinistic) Baptist revision of the Heidelberg Catechism.
1. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
That I am not my own,1 but belong — body and soul, in life and in death 2 to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.3 He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,4 and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.5 He also watches over me in such a way 6 that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven7 in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.8 Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life9 and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.10
^ 1. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
^ 2. Romans 14:7-9
^ 3. 1 Corinthians 3:23; Titus 2:14
^ 4. John 8:34-36; Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 John 3:1-11
^ 5. 1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 John 1:7-9; 1 John 2:2
^ 6. John 6:39-40; John 10:27-30; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Peter 1:5
^ 7. Matthew 10:29; Luke 21:16-18
^ 8. Romans 8:28
^ 9. Romans 8:15-16; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14
^ 10. Romans 8:1-17
2. What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort?
Three things: first, how great my sin and misery are; second, how I am set free from all my sins and misery; third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.
3. How do you come to know your misery?
The law of God tells me.11
^ 11. Romans 3:20; Romans 7:7-25}
4. What does God’s law require of us?
Christ teaches us this in summary in Matthew 22:37-40 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.12 This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.13 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
5. Can you live up to all this perfectly?
6. Did God create people so wicked and perverse?
No. God created them good16 and in his own image,17 that is, in true righteousness and holiness,18 so that they might truly know God their creator,19 love him with all their heart, and live with him in eternal happiness for his praise and glory.20
7. Then where does this corrupt human nature come from?
8. But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good
9. But doesn’t God do us an injustice by requiring in his law what
10. Will God permit such disobedience and rebellion to go
Certainly not. He is terribly angry about the sin we are born with as well as the sins we personally commit. As a just judge he punishes them now and in eternity.30 He has declared: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.31
11. But isn’t God also merciful?
12. According to God’s righteous judgment we deserve punishment both in this world and forever after: how then can we escape this punishment and return to God’s favor?
13. Can we pay this debt ourselves?
Certainly not. Actually, we increase our guilt every day.37
^ 37. Matt. 6:12; Rom. 2:4-5
14. Can another creature–any at all–pay this debt for us?
15. What kind of mediator and deliverer should we look for then?
16. Why must he be truly human and truly righteous?
17. Why must he also be true God?
So that, by the power of his divinity, he might bear the weight of God’s anger in his humanity and earn for us and restore to us righteousness and life.45
^ 45. Isa. 53; John 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:21
18. And who is this mediator–true God and at the same time truly
19. How do you come to know this?
The holy gospel tells me. God himself began to reveal the gospel already in Paradise;48 later, he proclaimed it by the holy patriarchs49 and prophets,50 and portrayed it by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law;51 finally, he fulfilled it through his own dear Son.52
20. Are all saved through Christ just as all were lost through Adam?
No. Only those are saved who by true faith are grafted into Christ and accept all his blessings.53
^ 53. Matt. 7:14; John 3:16, 18, 36; Rom. 11:16-21
21. What is true faith?
True faith is not only a knowledge and conviction that everything God reveals in his Word is true;54 it is also a deeprooted assurance,55 created in me by the Holy Spirit56 through the gospel,57 that, out of sheer grace earned for us by Christ,58 not only others, but I too,59 have had my sins forgiven, have been made forever right with God, and have been granted salvation.60
^ 54. John 17:3, 17; Heb. 11:1-3; James 2:19
^ 55. Rom. 4:18-21; 5:1; 10:10; Heb. 4:14-16
^ 56. Matt. 16:15-17; John 3:5; Acts 16:14
^ 57. Rom. 1:16; 10:17; 1 Cor. 1:21
^ 58. Rom. 3:21-26; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-10
^ 59. Gal. 2:20
^ 60. Rom. 1:17; Heb. 10:10
22. What then must a Christian believe?
Everything God promises us in the gospel. That gospel is summarized for us in the articles of our Christian faith–a creed beyond doubt, and confessed throughout the world.61
^ 61. Matt. 28:18-20; John 20:30-31
23. What are these articles?
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
24. How are these articles divided?
Into three parts: God the Father and our creation; God the Son and our deliverance; God the Holy Spirit and our sanctification.
25. Since there is but one God,62 why do you speak of three:
Because that is how God has revealed himself in his Word: these three distinct persons are one, true, eternal God.63
^ 62. Deut. 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6
^ 63. Matt. 3:16-17; 28:18-19; Luke 4:18 a. 61:1); John 14:26; 15:26; 2 Cor. 13:14; Gal. 4:6; Tit. 3:5-6
26. What do you believe when you say, “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth”?
That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth and everything in them,64 who still upholds and rules them by his eternal counsel and providence,65 is my God and Father because of Christ his Son.66 I trust him so much that I do not doubt he will provide whatever I need for body and soul,67 and he will turn to my good whatever adversity he sends me in this sad world.68 He is able to do this because he is almighty God;69 he desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.70
^ 64. Gen. 1 & 2; Ex. 20:11; Ps. 33:6; Isa. 44:24; Acts 4:24; 14:15
^ 65. Ps. 104; Matt. 6:30; 10:29; Eph. 1:11
^ 66. John 1:12-13; Rom. 8:15-16; Gal. 4:4-7; Eph. 1:5
^ 67. Ps. 55:22; Matt. 6:25-26; Luke 12:22-31
^ 68. Rom. 8:28
^ 69. Gen. 18:14; Rom. 8:31-39
^ 70. Matt. 7:9-11
27. What do you understand by the providence of God?
Providence is the almighty and ever present power of God 71 by which he upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures,72 and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty—73 all things, in fact, come to us not by chance74 but from his fatherly hand.75
28. How does the knowledge of God’s creation and providence help us?
We can be patient when things go against us,76 thankful when things go well,77 and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from his love.78 All creatures are so completely in his hand that without his will they can neither move nor be moved.79
29. Why is the Son of God called “Jesus,” meaning “savior”?
Because he saves us from our sins.80 Salvation cannot be found in anyone else; it is futile to look for any salvation elsewhere.
30. Do those who look for their salvation and security in saints, in themselves, or elsewhere really believe in the only savior Jesus?
No. Although they boast of being his, by their deeds they deny the only savior and deliverer, Jesus.81 Either Jesus is not a perfect savior, or those who in true faith accept this savior have in him all they need for their salvation.82
31. Why is he called “Christ,” meaning “anointed”?
Because he has been ordained by God the Father and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit 83 to be our chief prophet and teacher84 who perfectly reveals to us the secret counsel and will of God for our deliverance;85 our only high priest86 who has set us free by the one sacrifice of his body,87 and who continually pleads our cause with the Father;88 and our eternal king89 who governs us by his Word and Spirit, and who guards us and keeps us in the freedom he has won for us.90
^ 83. Luke 3:21-22; 4:14-19; Isa. 61:1; Heb. 1:9; Ps. 45:7
^ 84. Acts 3:22; Deut. 18:15
^ 85. John 1:18; 15:15
^ 86. Heb. 7:17; Ps. 110:4
^ 87. Heb. 9:12; 10:11-14
^ 88. Rom. 8:34; Heb. 9:24
^ 89. Matt. 21:5; Zech. 9:9
^ 90. Matt. 28:18-20; John 10:28; Rev. 12:10-11
32. But why are you called a Christian?
Because by faith I am a member of Christ91 and so I share in his anointing.92 I am anointed to confess his name,93 to present myself to him as a living sacrifice of thanks,94 to strive with a good conscience against sin and the devil in this life,95 and afterward to reign with Christ over all creation for all eternity.96
^ 91. 1 Cor. 12:12-27; Acts 3:22; Deut. 18:15
^ 92. Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28; 1 John 2:27
^ 93. Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10:9-10; Heb. 13:15
^ 94. Rom. 12:1; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9
^ 95. Gal. 5:16-17; Eph. 6:11; 1 Tim. 1:18-19
^ 96. Matt. 25:34; 2 Tim. 2:12
33. Why is he called God’s “only Son” when we also are God’s children?
34. Why do you call him “our Lord”?
35. What does it mean that he “was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary?
That the eternal Son of God, who is and remains true and eternal God,102 took to himself, through the working of the Holy Spirit,103 from the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary,104 a truly human nature so that he might become David’s true descendant,105 like his brothers in every way106 except for sin.107
^ 102. John 1:1; 10:30-36; Acts 13:33 . 2:7); Col. 1:15-17; 1 John 5:20
^ 103. Luke 1:35
^ 104. Matt. 1:18-23; John 1:14; Gal. 4:4; Heb. 2:14
^ 105. 2 Sam. 7:12-16; Ps. 132:11; Matt. 1:1; Rom. 1:3
^ 106. Phil. 2:7; Heb. 2:17
^ 107. Heb. 4:15; 7:26-27
36. How does the holy conception and birth of Christ benefit you?
37. What do you understand by the word “suffered”?
That during his whole life on earth, but especially at the end, Christ sustained in body and soul the anger of God against the sin of the whole human race.110 This he did in order that, by his suffering as the only atoning sacrifice,111 he might set us free, body and soul, from eternal condemnation,112 and gain for us God’s grace, righteousness, and eternal life.113
38. Why did he suffer “under Pontius Pilate” as judge?
39. Is it significant that he was “crucified” instead of dying some other way?
Yes. This death convinces me that he shouldered the curse which lay on me, since death by crucifixion was accursed by God.116
^ 116. Gal. 3:10-13; Deut. 21:23
40. Why did Christ have to go all the way to death?
41. Why was he “buried”?
His burial testifies that he really died.119
^ 119. Isa. 53:9; John 19:38-42; Acts 13:29; 1 Cor. 15:3-4
42. Since Christ has died for us, why do we still have to die?
43. What further advantage do we receive from Christ’s sacrifice and death on the cross?
Through Christ’s death our old selves are crucified, put to death, and buried with him,122 so that the evil desires of the flesh may no longer rule us,123 but that instead we may dedicate ourselves as an offering of gratitude to him.124
44. Why does the creed add, “He descended to hell”?
To assure me in times of personal crisis and temptation that Christ my Lord, by suffering unspeakable anguish, pain, and terror of soul, especially on the cross but also earlier, has delivered me from the anguish and torment of hell.125
^ 125. Isa. 53; Matt. 26:36-46; 27:45-46; Luke 22:44; Heb. 5:7-10
45. How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?
First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, so that he might make us share in the righteousness he won for us by his death.126 Second, by his power we too are already now resurrected to a new life.127 Third, Christ’s resurrection is a guarantee of our glorious resurrection.128
46. What do you mean by saying, “He ascended to heaven”?
47. But isn’t Christ with us until the end of the world as he promised with us?132
^ 132. Matt. 28:20
48. If his humanity is not present wherever his divinity is, then aren’t the two natures of Christ separated from each other?
Certainly not. Since divinity is not limited and is present everywhere,135 it is evident that Christ’s divinity is surely beyond the bounds of the humanity he has taken on, but at the same time his divinity is in and remains personally united to his humanity.136
49. How does Christ’s ascension to heaven benefit us?
First, he pleads our cause in heaven in the presence of his Father.137 Second, we have our own flesh in heaven–a guarantee that Christ our head will take us, his members, to himself in heaven.138 Third, he sends his Spirit to us on earth as a further guarantee.139 By the Spirit’s power we make the goal of our lives, not earthly things, but the things above where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand.140
50. Why the next words: “and is seated at the right hand of God”?
51. How does this glory of Christ our head benefit us?
52. How does Christ’s return “to judge the living and the dead comfort you?”
In all my distress and persecution I turn my eyes to the heavens and confidently await as judge the very One who has already stood trial in my place before God and so has removed the whole curse from me.145 All his enemies and mine he will condemn to everlasting punishment: but me and all his chosen ones he will take along with him into the joy and the glory of heaven.146
53. Why the next words: “and is seated at the right hand of God”?
54. What do you believe concerning “the Holy Spirit”?
First, he, as well as the Father and the Son, is eternal God.149 Second, he has been given to me personally,150 so that, by true faith, he makes me share in Christ and all his blessings,151 comforts me,152 and remains with me forever.153
55. What do you believe concerning “the holy catholic church”?
I believe that the Son of God through his Spirit and Word,154 out of the entire human race,155 from the beginning of the world to its end,156 gathers, protects, and preserves for himself a community chosen for eternal life157 and united in true faith.158 And of this community I am159 and always will be160 a living member.
^ 154. John 10:14-16; Acts 20:28; Rom. 10:14-17; Col. 1:18
^ 155. Gen. 26:3b-4; Rev. 5:9
^ 156. Isa. 59:21; 1 Cor. 11:26
^ 157. Matt. 16:18; John 10:28-30; Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:3-14
^ 158. Acts 2:42-47; Eph. 4:1-6
^ 159. 1 John 3:14, 19-21
^ 160. John 10:27-28; 1 Cor. 1:4-9; 1 Pet. 1:3-5
^ 160. undefined
56. What do you understand by “the communion of saints”?
First, that believers one and all, as members of this community, share in Christ and in all his treasures and gifts.161 Second, that each member should consider it a duty to use these gifts readily and cheerfully for the service and enrichment of the other members.162
57. What do you believe concerning “the forgiveness of sins”?
I believe that God, because of Christ’s atonement, will never hold against me any of my sins 163 nor my sinful nature which I need to struggle against all my life.164 Rather, in his grace God grants me the righteousness of Christ to free me forever from judgment.165
58. How does “the resurrection of the body” comfort you?
Not only my soul will be taken immediately after this life to Christ its head,166 but even my very flesh, raised by the power of Christ, will be reunited with my soul and made like Christ’s glorious body.167
59. How does the article concerning “life everlasting” comfort you?
Even as I already now experience in my heart the beginning of eternal joy, 168 so after this life I will have perfect blessedness such as no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human heart has ever imagined: a blessedness in which to praise God eternally.
60. What good does it do you, however, to believe all this?
In Christ I am right with God and heir to life everlasting.169
^ 169. John 3:36; Rom. 1:17; Hab. 2:4; Rom. 5:1-2
61. How are you right with God?
Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.170 Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments and of never having kept any of them,171 and even though I am still inclined toward all evil,172 nevertheless, without my deserving it at all,173 out of sheer grace,174 God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ,175 as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me.176 All I need to do is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart.177
^ 170. Rom. 3:21-28; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-9; Phil 3:8-11
^ 171. Rom. 3:9-10
^ 172. Rom. 7:23
^ 173. Tit. 3:4-5
^ 174. Rom. 3:24; Eph. 2:8
^ 175. Rom. 4:3-5 n. 15:6); 2 Cor. 5:17-19; 1 John 2:1-2
^ 176. Rom. 4:24-25; 2 Cor. 5:21
^ 177. John 3:18; Acts 16:30-31
62. Why do you say that by faith alone you are right with God?
It is not because of any value my faith has that God is pleased with me. Only Christ’s satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness make me right with God.178 And I can receive this righteousness and make it mine in no other way than by faith alone.179
63. Why can’t the good we do make us right with God, or at least help make us right with him?
Because the righteousness which can pass God’s scrutiny must be entirely perfect and must in every way measure up to the divine law.180 Even the very best we do in this life is imperfect and stained with sin.181
64. How can you say that the good we do doesn’t earn anything when God promises to reward it in this life and the next? 182
This reward is not earned; it is a gift of grace.183
^ 182. Matt. 5:12; Heb. 11:6
^ 183. Luke 17:10; 2 Tim. 4:7-8
65. But doesn’t this teaching make people indifferent and wicked?
No. It is impossible for those grafted into Christ by true faith not to produce fruits of gratitude.184
^ 184. Luke 6:43-45; John 15:5
66. It is by faith alone that we share in Christ and all his blessings: where then does that faith come from?
67. What are sacraments?
Sacraments are holy signs and seals for us to see. They were instituted by God so that by our use of them he might make us understand more clearly the promise of the gospel, and might put his seal on that promise.188 And this is God’s gospel promise: to forgive our sins and give us eternal life by grace alone because of Christ’s one sacrifice finished on the cross.189
68. Are both the word and the sacraments then intended to focus our faith on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross as the only ground of our salvation?
Right! In the gospel the Holy Spirit teaches us and through the holy sacraments he assures us that our entire salvation rests on Christ’s one sacrifice for us on the cross.
69. How many sacraments did Christ institute in the New Testament?
Two: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.190
^ 190. Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26
70. What is Baptism?
Immersion or dipping of the Person in Water in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, by such who are duly qualified by Christ.191
^ 191. Mat. 3:16; John 3:23; Acts 8:38, 39; Rom. 64
71. Who are the proper Subjects of this Ordinance?
Those who do actually profess Repentance towards God, Faith in, and Obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ.192
^ 192. Acts 2:38; Acts 8:36, 37
72. Should infants, too, be baptized?
No, for we have neither Precept nor Example for that Practice in all the Book of God.
73. Does the Scriptures forbid the Baptism of Infants?
It is sufficient that the Divine Oracles commands the baptizing of Believers, unless we will make ourselves wiser than what is written. Nadab and Abihu were not forbidden to offer strange Fire, yet for doing so they incurred God’s Wrath, because they were commanded to take Fire from the Altar.193
^ 193. Mat. 28:18, 19; Mark 16:16; Lev 9:24, 10:16
74. May not the infant children of believers under the Gospel be baptized since the infant descendants of Abraham were circumcised under the Law?
No. Abraham had a command from God to circumcise his infant descendants, but believers have no command to baptize their infant children under the Gospel.194
^ 194. Gen. 17:9-12
75. If the infant children of believers are in the Covenant of Grace with their parents, as some say, why may they not be baptized under the Gospel, as well as Abraham’s infant descendants were circumcised under the Law?
By the infant children of Believers being in the Covenant of Grace, it must either be meant of the Covenant of Grace absolutely considered, and if so, then there can be no total and final falling away of any infant children of believers from the Covenant, but all must be saved.195
Or, they must mean conditionally, on consideration that when they come to an age of maturity, they by true faith, love, and holiness of life, taking hold of God’s Covenant of Grace, shall have the privileges of it. This being their sense, I then ask what real spiritual privilege the infant children of believers have more than the infant children of unbelievers, if they live also to years of maturity, and by true faith and love take hold God’s Covenant? I further demand, whether the Seal of the Covenant does not belong as much to the children of unbelievers as to the children of believers? and more too, since some infant children of unbelievers take hold of God’s Covenant, and some infant children of believers do not2; as this often occurs to the sorrow of many godly parents.196
Suppose all the infant children of believers are absolutely in the Covenant of Grace; believers under the Gospel should not baptize their infant children any more than Lot had warrant to circumcise himself or his infant children, although he was closely related to Abraham, a believer, and in the Covenant of Grace too: since circumcision was limited to Abraham and to his family. Also by the same rule we should bring infants to the Lord’s Table, since the same qualifications are required for the proper administration of Baptism as for the Lord’s Supper.197
We must know the covenant made with Abraham had two parts: First, a spiritual, which consisted in God’s promising to be a God to4 Abraham, and all his spiritual descendants in a particular manner,198 whether they were circumcised or uncircumcised, who believed as Abraham the Father of the faithful did.199 This was signified by God’s accepting them as his people who were not descended6 from Abraham, but through Jesus Christ, the Gentiles, the uncircumcised who believed,200 should have their faith counted for righteousness, as Abraham’s was before he was circumcised.201
Second, this promise consisted of temporal good: so God promised Abraham’s Seed should enjoy the land of Canaan, and have plenty of outward blessings,202 and sealed this promise by circumcision. It was also a distinguishing character of the Jews being God’s people from all the Nations of the Gentiles, who were not yet the spiritual descendants of Abraham: but when the Gentiles came to believe, and by faith became the people of God as well as the Jews,203 then Circumcision, that distinguishing mark, ceased. The character of being the children of God now is faith in Christ and circumcision of the Heart. Whatever reason may be given for the Infants of Believers to be Baptized first, as their being the children of believers; or secondly, their being in the Covenant; or thirdly, that the infant descendants of Abraham a believer, were circumcised; all this you see avails nothing: for circumcision was limited to the family of Abraham and all others, though believers, were excluded. It was also limited to a particular day, the eighth day, and what ever reason might be given, it was not to be done before or after. It was limited to male and did not include female; if Baptism came in the place of circumcision, and is the seal of the Covenant under the Gospel as circumcision was under the Law, none but the males must be baptized, because none but the Males were Circumcised. But as the Law regulated circumcision, now the Gospel regulates Baptism, and it depends purely upon the will of the Law-giver, at what periods of time, upon what Persons and terms Baptism is to be administered. We will do well, then, to heed what is declared in Scripture.204
195. Jer. 32:38-40; John 10:28 196. Isa. 56:3-8; Acts 10:34-35; John 3:16 197. Acts 2:41, 42 198. Gen. 17:19, 21; Gen. 21:10; Gal. 4:30
199. Acts 2:39. Rom. 9:7-8
200. Gal. 3:16, 28-29
201. Rom. 4:9-14 202. Gen.12;6-7; 13.15-17; 15:16,18; 17:8-11
203. John 1:12; Rom. 2:28-29; Phil. 3:3; Gal. 3:26-28
204. Acts 3:22
76. How does baptism remind you and assure you that Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross is for you personally?
In this way: Christ instituted this outward washing 205 and with it gave the promise that, as surely as water washes away the dirt from the body, so certainly his blood and his Spirit wash away my soul’s impurity, in other words, all my sins.206
77. What does it mean to be washed with Christ’s blood and Spirit?
To be washed with Christ’s blood means that God, by grace, has forgiven my sins because of Christ’s blood poured out for me in his sacrifice on the cross.207 To be washed with Christ’s Spirit means that the Holy Spirit has renewed me and set me apart to be a member of Christ so that more and more I become dead to sin and increasingly live a holy and blameless life.208
78. Where does Christ promise that we are washed with his blood and Spirit as surely as we are washed with the water of baptism?
In the institution of baptism where he says: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” 209 “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”210 This promise is repeated when Scripture calls baptism the washing of rebirth 211 and the washing away of sins.212
79. Does this outward washing with water itself wash away sins?
No, only Jesus Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit cleanse us from all sins.213
^ 213. Matt. 3:11; 1 Pet. 3:21; 1 John 1:7
80. Why then does the Holy Spirit call baptism the washing of
God has good reason for these words. He wants to teach us that the blood and Spirit of Christ wash away our sins just as water washes away dirt from our bodies.214 But more important, he wants to assure us, by this divine pledge and sign, that the washing away of our sins spiritually is as real as physical washing with water.215
81. How does the Lord’s Supper remind you and assure you that you share in Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross and in all his gifts?
In this way: Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat this broken bread and to drink this cup. With this command he gave this promise:1 First, as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup given to me, so surely his body was offered and broken for me and his blood poured out for me on the cross. Second, as surely as I receive from the hand of the one who serves, and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, given me as sure signs of Christ’s body and blood, so surely he nourishes and refreshes my soul for eternal life with his crucified body and poured-out blood.216
^ 216. Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-25
82. What does it mean to eat the crucified body of Christ and to drink his poured-out blood?
It means to accept with a believing heart the entire suffering and death of Christ and by believing to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life.217 But it means more. Through the Holy Spirit, who lives both in Christ and in us, we are united more and more to Christ’s blessed body.218 And so, although he is in heaven 219 and we are on earth, we are flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.220 And we forever live on and are governed by one Spirit, as members of our body are by one soul.221
^ 217. John 6:35, 40, 50-54
^ 218. John 6:55-56; 1 Cor. 12:13
^ 219. Acts 1:9-11; 1 Cor. 11:26; Col. 3:1
^ 220. 1 Cor. 6:15-17; Eph. 5:29-30; 1 John 4:13
^ 221. John 6:56-58; 15:1-6; Eph. 4:15-16; 1 John 3:24
83. Where does Christ promise to nourish and refresh believers with his body and blood as surely as they eat this broken bread and drink this cup?
In the institution of the Lord’s Supper: “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”222 This promise is repeated by Paul in these words: “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.”223
84. Are the bread and wine changed into the real body and blood of Christ?
No. Just as the water of baptism is not changed into Christ’s blood and does not itself wash away sins but is simply God’s sign and assurance,224 so too the bread of the Lord’s Supper is not changed into the actual body of Christ 225 even though it is called the body of Christ 226 in keeping with the nature and language of sacraments.227
85. Why then does Christ call the bread his body and the cup his blood, or the new covenant in his blood? And Paul uses the words, a participation in Christ’s body and blood.
Christ has good reason for these words. He wants to teach us that as bread and wine nourish our temporal life, so too his crucified body and poured-out blood truly nourish our souls for eternal life.228 But more important, he wants to assure us, by this visible sign and pledge, that we, through the Holy Spirit’s work, share in his true body and blood as surely as our mouths receive these holy signs in his remembrance,229 and that all of his suffering and obedience are as definitely ours as if we personally had suffered and paid for our sins.230
86. How does the Lord’s Supper differ from the Roman Catholic Mass?
The Lord’s Supper declares to us that our sins have been completely forgiven through the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ which he himself finished on the cross once for all.231 It also declares to us that the Holy Spirit grafts us into Christ,232 who with his very body is now in heaven at the right hand of the Father 233 where he wants us to worship him.234 But the Mass teaches that the living and the dead do not have their sins forgiven through the suffering of Christ unless Christ is still offered for them daily by the priests. It also teaches that Christ is bodily present in the form of bread and wine where Christ is therefore to be worshiped. Thus the Mass is basically nothing but a denial of the one sacrifice and suffering of Jesus Christ and a condemnable idolatry.
87. Who are to come to the Lord’s table?
Those who are displeased with themselves because of their sins, but who nevertheless trust that their sins are pardoned and that their continuing weakness is covered by the suffering and death of Christ, and who also desire more and more to strengthen their faith and to lead a better life. Hypocrites and those who are unrepentant, however, eat and drink judgment on themselves.235
^ 235. 1 Cor. 10:19-22; 11:26-32
88. Are those to be admitted to the Lord’s Supper who show by what they say and do that they are unbelieving and ungodly?
No, that would dishonor God’s covenant and bring down God’s anger upon the entire congregation.1 Therefore, according to the instruction of Christ and his apostles, the Christian church is duty-bound to exclude such people, by the official use of the keys of the kingdom, until they reform their lives.236
^ 236. 1 Cor. 11:17-32; Ps. 50:14-16; Isa. 1:11-17
89. How should this Ordinance of the Lord’s Supper be closed?
In singing Praises to God vocally and audibly for his great Benefits and Blessings to his Church in the shedding of the most precious Blood of his Son to take away their Sin; which Blessings are pointed out in this Sacrament. Also we find our Lord and his Disciples did close this Ordinance in singing a Hymn or Psalm; and if Christ sang, who was going to die, what cause have we to sing for whom he died, that we might not eternally die, but live a spiritual and eternal life with Father, Son, and Spirit in inexpressible Glory.237
^ 237. Mat. 26.30 Lesson 32
90. What are the keys of the kingdom?
The preaching of the holy gospel and Christian discipline toward repentance. Both preaching and discipline open the kingdom of heaven to believers and close it to unbelievers.238
^ 238. Matt. 16:19; John 20:22-23
91. How does preaching the gospel open and close the kingdom of heaven?
The kingdom of heaven is opened by proclaiming and publicly declaring to all believers, each and every one, that, as often as they accept the gospel promise in true faith, God, because of what Christ has done, truly forgives all their sins. The kingdom of heaven is closed, however, by proclaiming and publicly declaring to unbelievers and hypocrites that, as long as they do not repent, the anger of God and eternal condemnation rest on them. God’s judgment, both in this life and in the life to come, is based on this gospel testimony.239
^ 239. Matt. 16:19; John 3:31-36; 20:21-23
92. How is the kingdom of heaven closed and opened by Christian discipline?
Those who, though called Christians, profess unchristian teachings or live unchristian lives, and after repeated and loving counsel refuse to abandon their errors and wickedness, and after being reported to the church, that is, to its officers, fail to respond also to their admonition–such persons the officers exclude from the Christian fellowship by withholding the sacraments from them, and God himself excludes them from the kingdom of Christ.240 Such persons, when promising and demonstrating genuine reform, are received again as members of Christ and of his church.241
93. We have been delivered from our misery by God’s grace alone through Christ and not because we have earned it: why then must we still do good?
To be sure, Christ has redeemed us by his blood. But we do good because Christ by his Spirit is also renewing us to be like himself, so that in all our living we may show that we are thankful to God for all he has done for us,242 and so that he may be praised through us.243 And we do good so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits,244 and so that by our godly living our neighbors may be won over to Christ.245
94. Can those be saved who do not turn to God from their ungrateful and impenitant ways?
By no means. Scripture tells us that no unchaste person, no idolater, adulterer, thief, no covetous person, no drunkard, slanderer, robber, or the like is going to inherit the kingdom of God.246
^ 246. 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:1-20; 1 John 3:14
95. What is involved in genuine repentance or conversion?
Two things: the dying-away of the old self, and the coming-tolife of the new.247
^ 247. Rom. 6:1-11; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:5-10
96. What is the dying-away of the old self?
It is to be genuinely sorry for sin, to hate it more and more, and to run away from it.248
^ 248. Ps. 51:3-4, 17; Joel 2:12-13; Rom. 8:12-13; 2 Cor. 7:10
97. What is the coming-to-life of the new self?
98. What do we do that is good?
99. What is the Law of God?
The Decalogue, or Ten Commandments.255
^ 255. Exod. 20. Deut. 5
100. How are these commandments divided?
Into two tables. The first has four commandments, teaching us what our relation to God should be. The second has six commandments, teaching us what we owe our neighbor.256
^ 256. Matt. 22:37-39
101. What is the Preface to the ten Commandments?
I am JEHOVAH, the Lord your God, who brought you out of the Land of Egypt, out of the House of Bondage.
102. What do we learn from the Preface?
Three things: first he shows to whom the right of all Rule belongs, that is, to God himself for he says, “I am JEHOVAH”. Secondly, he says he is the God of his people, that through the promise of his bountifulness he might encourage them to obey him. Thirdly, he says, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, as if he should say, I am the one who made myself known to you and bestowed all those Blessings upon you; therefore you art bound to show thankfulness and obedience unto me.257
^ 257. Exod. 20:2
103. Do these things belong to us?
Yes, because they figuratively include and imply all the deliverances of the Church; and further, also this was a type of our wonderful Deliverance achieved by Christ.
104. What is the first Commandment?
Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.
105. What does the Lord require in the first commandment?
That I, not wanting to endanger my very salvation, avoid and shun all idolatry,258 magic, superstitious rites,259 and prayer to saints or to other creatures.260 That I sincerely acknowledge the only true God,261 trust him alone,262 look to him for every good thing263 humbly264 and patiently,265 love him,266 fear him,267 and honor him 268 with all my heart. In short, that I give up anything rather than go against his will in any way.269
^ 258. 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 10:5-14; 1 John 5:21
^ 259. Lev. 19:31; Deut. 18:9-12
^ 260. Matt. 4:10; Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9
^ 261. John 17:3
^ 262. Jer. 17:5, 7
^ 263. Ps. 104:27-28; James 1:17
^ 264. 1 Pet. 5:5-6
^ 265. Col. 1:11; Heb. 10:36
^ 266. Matt. 22:37; Deut. 6:5
^ 267. Prov. 9:10; 1 Pet. 1:17
^ 268. Matt. 4:10; Deut. 6:13
^ 269. Matt. 5:29-30; 10:37-39
106. What is idolatry?
Idolatry is having or inventing something in which one trusts in place of or alongside of the only true God, who has revealed himself in his Word.270
^ 270. 1 Chron. 16:26; Gal. 4:8-9; Eph. 5:5; Phil. 3:19
107. What is the Second Commandment?
Thou shalt make to thee no graven Image, nor the likeness of anything which is in Heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor in the Waters under the Earth: thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them, for I the Lord thy God and a jealous God, and visit the sins of the Fathers upon the Children, unto the third and fourth Generation of them that hate me, and shew Mercy to thousands of them which love me, and keep my Commandments.
108. What is God’s will for us in the second commandment?
109. May we then not make any image at all?
God neither ought and may not be visibly portrayed in any way. Although creatures may be portrayed, yet God forbids making or having such images if one’s intention is to worship them or to serve God through them.273
^ 273. Ex. 34:13-14, 17; 2 Kings 18:4-5
110. But may not images be permitted in the churches as teaching aids for the unlearned?
111. What is the third Commandment?
Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord they God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his Name in vain.
112. What is God’s will for us in the third commandment?
That we neither blaspheme nor misuse the name of God by cursing,276 perjury,277 or unnecessary oaths,278 nor share in such horrible sins by being silent bystanders.279 In a word, it requires that we use the holy name of God only with reverence and awe,280 so that we may properly confess him,281 pray to him,282 and praise him in everything we do and say.283
^ 276. Lev. 24:10-17
^ 277. Lev. 19:12
^ 278. Matt. 5:37; James 5:12
^ 279. Lev. 5:1; Prov. 29:24
^ 280. Ps. 99:1-5; Jer. 4:2
^ 281. Matt. 10:32-33; Rom. 10:9-10
^ 282. Ps. 50:14-15; 1 Tim. 2:8
^ 283. Col. 3:17
113. Is blasphemy of God’s name by swearing and cursing really such serious sin that God is angry also with those who do not do all they can to help prevent it and forbid it?
114. But may we swear an oath in God’s name if we do it reverently?
Yes, when the government demands it, or when necessity requires it, in order to maintain and promote truth and trustworthiness for God’s glory and our neighbor’s good. Such oaths are approved in God’s Word 286 and were rightly used by Old and New Testament believers.287
115. May we swear by saints or other creatures?
116. What is the fourth Commandment?
Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath Day: six Days should thou labor, and do all that thou hast to do, but the seventh Day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God, in it thou should do no manner of Work, Thou, nor thy Son, nor thy Daughter, thy Man-Servant, nor thy Maid-Servant, nor they Cattle, nor the Stranger that is within thy Gates: for in six Days the Lord made Heaven, and Earth, the Sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day, and hallowed it.
117. What is God’s will for you in the fourth commandment?
First, that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained,290 and that, especially on the festive day of rest, I regularly attend the assembly of God’s people 291 to learn what God’s Word teaches,292 to participate in the sacraments,293 to pray to God publicly,294 and to bring Christian offerings for the poor.295 Second, that every day of my life I rest from my evil ways, let the Lord work in me through his Spirit, and so begin already in this life the eternal Sabbath.296
^ 290. Deut. 6:4-9, 20-25; 1 Cor. 9:13-14; 2 Tim. 2:2; 3:13-17; Tit. 1:5
^ 291. Deut. 12:5-12; Ps. 40:9-10; 68:26; Acts 2:42-47; Heb. 10:23-25
^ 292. Rom. 10:14-17; 1 Cor. 14:31-32; 1 Tim. 4:13
^ 293. 1 Cor. 11:23-25
^ 294. Col. 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:1
^ 295. Ps. 50:14; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 8 & 9
^ 296. Isa. 66:23; Heb. 4:9-11 Lesson 40
118. What is the fifth Commandment?
Honor thy Father and Mother that thy days may be long in the Land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
119. What is God’s will for you in the fifth commandment?
That I honor, love, and be loyal to my father and mother and all those in authority over me; that I obey and submit to them, as is proper, when they correct and punish me; 297 and also that I be patient with their failings—298 for through them God chooses to rule us.299
120. What is the sixth Commandment?
Thou shalt do no Murder.
121. What is God’s will for you in the sixth commandment?
I am not to belittle, insult, hate, or kill my neighbor–not by my thoughts, my words, my look or gesture, and certainly not by actual deeds– and I am not to be party to this in others; 300 rather, I am to put away all desire for revenge.301 I am not to harm or recklessly endanger myself either.302 Prevention of murder is also why government is armed with the sword.303
122. Does this commandment refer only to killing?
123. Is it enough then that we do not kill our neighbor in any such way?
No. By condemning envy, hatred, and anger God tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves,306 to be patient, peace-loving, gentle, merciful, and friendly to them,307 to protect them from harm as much as we can, and to do good even to our enemies.308
124. What is the seventh Commandment?
Thou shalt not commit Adultery.
125. What is God’s will for us in the seventh commandment?
126. Does God, in this commandment, forbid only such scandalous sins as adultery?
We are temples of the Holy Spirit, body and soul, and God wants both to be kept clean and holy. That is why he forbids everything which incites unchastity,312 whether it be actions, looks, talk, thoughts, or desires.313
127. What is the eighth Commandment?
Thou shalt not steal.
128. What does God forbid in the eighth commandment?
He forbids not only outright theft and robbery, punishable by law.314 But in God’s sight theft also includes cheating and swindling our neighbor by schemes made to appear legitimate,315 such as: inaccurate measurements of weight, size, or volume; fraudulent merchandising; counterfeit money; excessive interest; or any other means forbidden by God.316 In addition he forbids all greed317 and pointless squandering of his gifts.318
^ 314. Ex. 22:1; 1 Cor. 5:9-10; 6:9-10
^ 315. Mic. 6:9-11; Luke 3:14; James 5:1-6
^ 316. Deut. 25:13-16; Ps. 15:5; Prov. 11:1; 12:22; Ezek. 45:9-12; Luke 6:35
^ 317. Luke 12:15; Eph. 5:5
^ 318. Prov. 21:20; 23:20-21; Luke 16:10-13
129. What does God require of you in this commandment?
That I do whatever I can for my neighbor’s good, that I treat others as I would like them to treat me, and that I work faithfully so that I may share with those in need.319
^ 319. Isa. 58:5-10; Matt. 7:12; Gal. 6:9-10; Eph. 4:28
130. What is the ninth Commandment?
Thou shalt not bear false Witness against thy neighbor
131. What is God’s will for you in the ninth commandment?
God’s will is that I never give false testimony against anyone, twist no one’s words, not gossip or slander, nor join in condemning anyone without a hearing or without a just cause.320 Rather, in court and everywhere else, I should avoid lying and deceit of every kind; these are devices the devil himself uses, and they would call down on me God’s intense anger.321 I should love the truth, speak it candidly, and openly acknowledge it.322 And I should do what I can to guard and advance my neighbor’s good name.323
132. What is the tenth Commandment?
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors house, nor his wife, nor his servant, nor his maid, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is his.324
^ 324. Exodus 20:17
133. What is God’s will for you in the tenth commandment?
That not even the slightest thought or desire contrary to any one of God’s commandments should ever arise in my heart. Rather, with all my heart I should always hate sin and take pleasure in whatever is right.325
^ 325. Ps. 19:7-14; 139:23-24; Rom. 7:7-8
134. But can those converted to God obey these commandments perfectly?
No. In this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience.326 Nevertheless, with all seriousness of purpose, they do begin to live according to all, not only some, of God’s commandments.327
135. No one in this life can obey the Ten Commandments perfectly: why then does God want them preached so pointedly?
First, so that the longer we live the more we may come to know our sinfulness and the more eagerly look to Christ for forgiveness of sins and righteousness.328 Second, so that, while praying to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, we may never stop striving to be renewed more and more after God’s image, until after this life we reach our goal: perfection.329
136. Why do Christians need to pray?
Because prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness God requires of us.330 And also because God gives his grace and Holy Spirit only to those who pray continually and groan inwardly, asking God for these gifts and thanking him for them.331
137. How does God want us to pray so that he will listen to us?
First, we must pray from the heart to no other than the one true God, who has revealed himself in his Word, asking for everything he has commanded us to ask for.332 Second, we must acknowledge our need and misery, hiding nothing, and humble ourselves in his majestic presence.333 Third, we must rest on this unshakable foundation: even though we do not deserve it, God will surely listen to our prayer because of Christ our Lord. That is what he promised us in his Word.334
^ 332. Ps. 145:18-20; John 4:22-24; Rom. 8:26-27; James 1:5; 1 John 5:14-15
^ 333. 2 Chron. 7:14; Ps. 2:11; 34:18; 62:8; Isa. 66:2; Rev. 4
^ 334. Dan. 9:17-19; Matt. 7:8; John 14:13-14; 16:23; Rom. 10:13; James 1:6
138. What did God command us to pray for?
Everything we need, spiritually and physically,335 as embraced in the prayer Christ our Lord himself taught us.
139. What is this prayer?
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.336
^ 336. Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4
140. Are Christians tied to this very Form of Prayer?
We are not. Our Lord here delivers to his Church a brief Summary of those things which we are to ask of God, but yet Christ also expects us to ask for particular benefits. This form a set of general topics, under which all benefits may be grouped. All particulars of Prayer must agree & correspond with this general form, although we are not tied to this from. This is apparent from Jam. 1:5. where the Apostle exhorts the Saints, if any of them lack wisdom, they should ask of God, who gives liberally to all, but these words are not found in the form of prayer particularly expressed. In addition, we have examples of prayer both in the Old and New Testament, which do not exactly follow this form although all they asked was included in this prayer.
141. Why did Christ command us to call God “our Father”?
At the very beginning of our prayer Christ wants to kindle in us what is basic to our prayer–the childlike awe and trust that God through Christ has become our Father. Our fathers do not refuse us the things of this life; God our Father will even less refuse to give us what we ask in faith.337
^ 337. Matt. 7:9-11; Luke 11:11-13
142. Why the words “in heaven”?
143. What does the first request mean?
“Hallowed be your name” means, Help us to really know you,340 to bless, worship, and praise you for all your works and for all that shines forth from them: your almighty power, wisdom, kindness, justice, mercy, and truth.341 And it means, Help us to direct all our living–what we think, say, and do–so that your name will never be blasphemed because of us but always honored and praised.342
144. What does the second request mean?
“Your kingdom come” means, Rule us by your Word and Spirit in such a way that more and more we submit to you.343 Keep your church strong, and add to it.344 Destroy the devil’s work; destroy every force which revolts against you and every conspiracy against your Word.345 Do this until your kingdom is so complete and perfect that in it you are all in all.346
145. What does the third request mean?
“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” means, Help us and all people to reject our own wills and to obey your will without any back talk. Your will alone is good.347 Help us one and all to carry out the work we are called to,348 as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven.349
146. What does the fourth request mean?
“Give us today our daily bread” means, Do take care of all our physical needs 350 so that we come to know that you are the only source of everything good,351 and that neither our work and worry nor your gifts can do us any good without your blessing.352 And so help us to give up our trust in creatures and to put trust in you alone.353
147. What does the fifth request mean?
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” means, Because of Christ’s blood, do not hold against us, poor sinners that we are, any of the sins we do or the evil that constantly clings to us. Forgive us just as we are fully determined, as evidence of your grace in us, to forgive our neighbors.354
148. What does the sixth request mean?
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” means, By ourselves we are too weak to hold our own even for a moment.355 And our sworn enemies–the devil,356 the world,357 and our own flesh—358 never stop attacking us. And so, Lord, uphold us and make us strong with the strength of your Holy Spirit, so that we may not go down to defeat in this spiritual struggle,359 but may firmly resist our enemies until we finally win the complete victory.360
^ 355. Ps. 103:14-16; John 15:1-5
^ 356. 2 Cor. 11:14; Eph. 6:10-13; 1 Pet. 5:8
^ 357. John 15:18-21
^ 358. Rom. 7:23; Gal. 5:17
^ 359. Matt. 10:19-20; 26:41; Mark 13:33; Rom. 5:3-5
^ 360. 1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Thess. 3:13; 5:23
149. What does your conclusion to this prayer mean?
“For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever” means, We have made all these requests of you because, as our all-powerful king, you not only want to, but are able to give us all that is good; 361 and because your holy name, and not we ourselves, should receive all the praise, forever.362
150. What does that little word “Amen” express?
“Amen” means, This is sure to be! It is even more sure that God listens to my prayer, than that I really desire what I pray for.363
^ 363. Isa. 65:24; 2 Cor. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:13