Heidelberg Catechism: Question 60: How are you right with God?
Answer: Only by true faith in Jesus Christ. Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments and of never having kept any of them, and even though I am still inclined toward all evil, nevertheless, without my deserving it at all, out of sheer grace, God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me. All I need to do is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart.
Observations: After the catechism finishes reflecting on the Apostles’ Creed it asks the question, ‘What good does it do you, however, to believe all this?’ It answers, ‘In Christ I am right with God and heir to life everlasting. (Q&A 59)’ The question remains, how does believing the Apostles’ Creed make us right with God? The Apostles’ Creed defines what we need to believe about Christ, what it means to have ‘true faith.’ We are made right with God when we believe that even though I have ‘grievously sinned against God… and even though I am still inclined toward all evil, God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ.’ The gift of Jesus’ atoning death, his righteousness and holiness are completely ‘undeserved’ and are given ‘out of sheer grace.’ Through faith in Christ God treats us as ‘if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me.’ The Bible uses the word ‘justified’ to describe this idea of Christ’s perfect obedience being credited to us. We are saved when Christ’s life is substituted for our own, when his right standing before God becomes our right standing, when his holiness becomes our holiness. We receive this gift of grace when we accept it ‘with a believing heart.’ These basic truths are what we must believe to receive eternal life.
Application: Do you believe you are undeserving of God’s love? You have sinned against God, you have broken his commands, and you are still inclined towards doing so. Do you believe that in Christ God is gracious to you? Even though you are a sinner who deserves God’s condemnation, in Christ God declares you forgiven, righteous and holy. Do you believe that in Jesus there is no condemnation, but only the loving acceptance of Your heavenly Father? The gospel is that through faith in Jesus God saves sinners – do you believe the gospel?
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I believe the gospel, that in Christ my sinners and my rebellion and all the evil I have done and will do has been dealt with on the cross. I believe that Jesus paid the penalty that I deserve. And Lord, I believe that through no merit of my own You have declared me righteous, that I have been justified in Your sight. I believe that even though I am unworthy and undeserving You have made me holy in Jesus, that You no longer see my disobedience, but only Christ’s obedience. Lord, I believe that I am no longer under Your condemnation, but rather I am Your child and You look upon me with love and warmth, that You desire my good, that You will take me home to be with You. And Lord, all I can do is thank You for my faith in Jesus. Thank You for saving me. May Jesus be forever honoured as King of kings and Lord of lords. In His name I pray. Amen.