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The Heidelberg Catechism

Part II: Deliverance: LORD'S DAY 5

Q & A 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?

God requires that his justice be satisfied.1
Therefore the claims of his justice
must be paid in full,
either by ourselves or another.2

1Ex. 23:7; Rom. 2:1-11
2 Isa. 53:11; Rom. 8:3-4

Q & A 13: Can we pay this debt ourselves?

Certainly not.
Actually, we increase our guilt every day.1

1Matt. 6:12; Rom. 2:4-5

Q & A 14: Can another creature - any at all - pay this debt for us?

To begin with,
God will not punish another creature
for what a human is guilty of.1
no mere creature can bear the weight
of God's eternal anger against sin
and release others from it.2

1Ezek. 18:4, 20; Heb. 2:14-18
2 Ps. 49:7-9; 130:3

Q & A 15: What kind of mediator and deliverer should we look for then?

One who is truly human1 and truly righteous,2
yet more powerful than all creatures,
that is, one who is also true God.^3

1Rom. 1:3; 1 Cor. 15:21; Heb. 2:17
2 Isa. 53:9; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 7:26
3 Isa. 7:14; 9:6; Jer. 23:6; John 1:1

Part II: Deliverance: LORD'S DAY 6

 Q & A 16: Why must he be truly human and truly righteous?

God's justice demands
that human nature, which has sinned,
must pay for its sin;1
but a sinner could never pay for others.2

1Rom. 5:12, 15; 1 Cor. 15:21; Heb. 2:14-16
2 Heb. 7:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:18

Q & A 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.1

1Isa. 53; John 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:21

Q & A 18: And who is this mediator - true God and at the same time truly human and truly righteous?

Our Lord Jesus Christ,1
who was given us
to set us completely free
and to make us right with God.2

1Matt. 1:21-23; Luke 2:11; 1 Tim. 2:5
2 1 Cor. 1:30

Q & A 19: How do you come to know this?

The holy gospel tells me.
God himself began to reveal the gospel already in Paradise;1
later, he proclaimed it
by the holy patriarchs2 and prophets,3
and portrayed it
by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law;4
finally, he fulfilled it
through his own dear Son.5

1Gen. 3:15
2 Gen. 22:18; 49:10
3 Isa. 53; Jer. 23:5-6; Mic. 7:18-20; Acts 10:43; Heb. 1:1-2
4 Lev. 1-7; John 5:46; Heb. 10:1-10
5 Rom. 10:4; Gal. 4:4-5; Col. 2:17

Part II: Deliverance: LORD'S DAY 7

Q & A 20: Are all saved through Christ just as all were lost through Adam?

Only those are saved
who by true faith
are grafted into Christ
and accept all his blessings.1

1Matt. 7:14; John 3:16, 18, 36; Rom. 11:16-21

Q & A 21: What is true faith?

True faith is
not only a knowledge and conviction
that everything God reveals in his Word is true;1
it is also a deep-rooted assurance,2
created in me by the Holy Spirit3 through the gospel,4
that, out of sheer grace earned for us by Christ,5
not only others, but I too,6
have had my sins forgiven,
have been made forever right with God,
and have been granted salvation.7

1John 17:3, 17; Heb. 11:1-3; James 2:19
2 Rom. 4:18-21; 5:1; 10:10; Heb. 4:14-16
3 Matt. 16:15-17; John 3:5; Acts 16:14
4 Rom. 1:16; 10:17; 1 Cor. 1:21
5 Rom. 3:21-26; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-10
6 Gal. 2:20
7 Rom. 1:17; Heb. 10:10

Q & A 22: What then must a Christian believe?

Everything God promises us in the gospel.1
That gospel is summarized for us
in the articles of our Christian faith -
a creed beyond doubt,
and confessed throughout the world.

1Matt. 28:18-20; John 20:30-31

Q & A 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.

Part II: Deliverance: LORD'S DAY 8

Q & A 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.

Q & A 25: Since there is but one God,1 why do you speak of three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

Because that is how
God has revealed himself in his Word:2
these three distinct persons
are one, true, eternal God.

1Deut. 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6
2 Matt. 3:16-17; 28:18-19; Luke 4:18 (Isa. 61:1); John 14:26; 15:26; 2 Cor.13:14; Gal. 4:6; Tit. 3:5-6

Part II: Deliverance: God the Father: LORD'S DAY 9

Q & A 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,1
who still upholds and rules them
by his eternal counsel and providence,2
is my God and Father
because of Christ his Son.3

I trust him so much that I do not doubt
he will provide
whatever I need
for body and soul,4
and he will turn to my good
whatever adversity he sends me
in this sad world.5

He is able to do this because he is almighty God;6
he desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.7

1Gen. 1 & 2; Ex. 20:11; Ps. 33:6; Isa. 44:24; Acts 4:24; 14:15
2 Ps. 104; Matt. 6:30; 10:29; Eph. 1:11
3 John 1:12-13; Rom. 8:15-16; Gal. 4:4-7; Eph. 1:5
4 Ps. 55:22; Matt. 6:25-26; Luke 12:22-31
5 Rom. 8:28
6 Gen. 18:14; Rom. 8:31-39
7 Matt. 7:9-11

Part II: Deliverance: God the Father: LORD'S DAY 10

Q & A 27: What do you understand by the providence of God?

Providence is
the almighty and ever present power of God1
by which he upholds, as with his hand,
and earth
and all creatures,2
and so rules them that
leaf and blade,
rain and drought,
fruitful and lean years,
food and drink,
health and sickness,
prosperity and poverty - 3
all things, in fact, come to us
not by chance4
but from his fatherly hand.5

1Jer. 23:23-24; Acts 17:24-28
2 Heb. 1:3
3 Jer. 5:24; Acts 14:15-17; John 9:3; Prov. 22:2
4 Prov. 16:33
5 Matt. 10:29

Q & A 28: How does the knowledge of God's creation and providence help us?

We can be patient when things go against us,1
thankful when things go well,2
and for the future we can have
good confidence in our faithful God and Father
that nothing will separate us from his love.3
All creatures are so completely in his hand
that without his will
they can neither move nor be moved.4

1Job 1:21-22; James 1:3
2 Deut. 8:10; 1 Thess. 5:18
3 Ps. 55:22; Rom. 5:3-5; 8:38-39
4 Job 1:12; 2:6; Prov. 21:1; Acts 17:24-28

Part II: Deliverance: God the Son: LORD'S DAY 11

Q & A 29: Why is the Son of God called "Jesus," meaning "savior"?

Because he saves us from our sins.1
Salvation cannot be found in anyone else;
it is futile to look for any salvation elsewhere.2

1 Matt. 1:21; Heb. 7:25
2 Isa. 43:11; John 15:5; Acts 4:11-12; 1 Tim. 2:5

Q & A 30: Do those who look for their salvation and security in saints, in themselves, or elsewhere really believe in the only savior Jesus?

Although they boast of being his,
by their deeds they deny
the only savior and deliverer, Jesus.1

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.2

1 1 Cor. 1:12-13; Gal. 5:4
2 Col. 1:19-20; 2:10; 1 John 1:7

Part II: Deliverance: God the Son: LORD'S DAY 12

Q & A 31: Why is he called "Christ," meaning "anointed"?

Because he has been ordained by God the Father
and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit1
to be
our chief prophet and teacher2
who perfectly reveals to us
the secret counsel and will of God for our deliverance;3
our only high priest4
who has set us free by the one sacrifice of his body,5
and who continually pleads our cause with the Father;6
and our eternal king7
who governs us by his Word and Spirit,
and who guards us and keeps us
in the freedom he has won for us.8

1 Luke 3:21-22; 4:14-19 (Isa. 61:1); Heb. 1:9 (Ps. 45:7)
2 Acts 3:22 (Deut. 18:15)
3 John 1:18; 15:15
4 Heb. 7:17 (Ps. 110:4)
5 Heb. 9:12; 10:11-14
6 Rom. 8:34; Heb. 9:24
7 Matt. 21:5 (Zech. 9:9)
8 Matt. 28:18-20; John 10:28; Rev. 12:10-11

Q & A 32: But why are you called a Christian?

Because by faith I am a member of Christ1
and so I share in his anointing.2
I am anointed
to confess his name,3
to present myself to him as a living sacrifice of thanks,4
to strive with a good conscience against sin and the devil
in this life,5
and afterward to reign with Christ
over all creation
for all eternity.6

1 1 Cor. 12:12-27
2 Acts 2:17 (Joel 2:28); 1 John 2:27
3 Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10:9-10; Heb. 13:15
4 Rom. 12:1; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9
5 Gal. 5:16-17; Eph. 6:11; 1 Tim. 1:18-19
6 Matt. 25:34; 2 Tim. 2:12

Part II: Deliverance: God the Son: LORD'S DAY 13

 Q & A 33: Why is he called God's "only Son" when we also are God's children?

Because Christ alone is the eternal, natural Son of God.1
We, however, are adopted children of God -
adopted by grace through Christ.2

1 John 1:1-3, 14, 18; Heb. 1
2 John 1:12; Rom. 8:14-17; Eph. 1:5-6

Q & A 34: Why do you call him "our Lord"?

Because -
not with gold or silver,
but with his precious blood - 1
he has set us free
from sin and from the tyranny of the devil,2
and has bought us,
body and soul,
to be his very own.3

1 1 Pet. 1:18-19
2 Col. 1:13-14; Heb. 2:14-15
3 1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Tim. 2:5-6

Part II: Deliverance: God the Son: LORD'S DAY 14

 Q & A 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,1
took to himself,
through the working of the Holy Spirit,2
from the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary,3
a truly human nature
so that he might become David's true descendant,4
like his brothers in every way5
except for sin.6

1 John 1:1; 10:30-36; Acts 13:33 (Ps. 2:7); Col. 1:15-17; 1 John 5:20
2 Luke 1:35
3 Matt. 1:18-23; John 1:14; Gal. 4:4; Heb. 2:14
4 2 Sam. 7:12-16; Ps. 132:11; Matt. 1:1; Rom. 1:3
5 Phil. 2:7; Heb. 2:17
6 Heb. 4:15; 7:26-27

Q & A 36: How does the holy conception and birth of Christ benefit you?

He is our mediator,1
and with his innocence and perfect holiness
he removes from God's sight
my sin - mine since I was conceived.2

1 1 Tim. 2:5-6; Heb. 9:13-15
2 Rom. 8:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 4:4-5; 1 Pet. 1:18-19

Part II: Deliverance: God the Son: LORD'S DAY 15

 Q & A 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.1

This he did in order that,
by his suffering as the only atoning sacrifice,2
he might set us free, body and soul,
from eternal condemnation,3
and gain for us
God's grace,
and eternal life.4

1 Isa. 53; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18
2 Rom. 3:25; Heb. 10:14; 1 John 2:2; 4:10
3 Rom. 8:1-4; Gal. 3:13
4 John 3:16; Rom. 3:24-26

Q & A 38: Why did he suffer "under Pontius Pilate" as judge?

So that he,
though innocent,
might be condemned by a civil judge,1
and so free us from the severe judgment of God
that was to fall on us.2

1 Luke 23:13-24; John 19:4, 12-16
2 Isa. 53:4-5; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13

Q & A 39: Is it significant that he was "crucified" instead of dying some other way?

This death convinces me
that he shouldered the curse
which lay on me,
since death by crucifixion was accursed by God.1

1 Gal. 3:10-13 (Deut. 21:23)

Part II: Deliverance: God the Son: LORD'S DAY 16

 Q & A 40: Why did Christ have to go all the way to death?

Because God's justice and truth demand it:1
only the death of God's Son could pay for our sin.2

1 Gen. 2:17
2 Rom. 8:3-4; Phil. 2:8; Heb. 2:9

Q & A 41: Why was he "buried"?

His burial testifies
that he really died.1

1 Isa. 53:9; John 19:38-42; Acts 13:29; 1 Cor. 15:3-4

Q & A 42: Since Christ has died for us, why do we still have to die?

Our death does not pay the debt of our sins.1
Rather, it puts an end to our sinning
and is our entrance into eternal life.2

1 Ps. 49:7
2 John 5:24; Phil. 1:21-23; 1 Thess. 5:9-10

Q & A 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,1
so that the evil desires of the flesh
may no longer rule us,2
but that instead we may dedicate ourselves
as an offering of gratitude to him.3

1 Rom. 6:5-11; Col. 2:11-12
2 Rom. 6:12-14
3 Rom. 12:1; Eph. 5:1-2

Q & A 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.1

1 Isa. 53; Matt. 26:36-46; 27:45-46; Luke 22:44; Heb. 5:7-10

Part II: Deliverance: God the Son: LORD'S DAY 17

 Q & A 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.1

Second, by his power we too
are already now resurrected to a new life.2

Third, Christ's resurrection
is a guarantee of our glorious resurrection.3

1 Rom. 4:25; 1 Cor. 15:16-20; 1 Pet. 1:3-5
2 Rom. 6:5-11; Eph. 2:4-6; Col. 3:1-4
3 Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:12-23; Phil. 3:20-21

Part II: Deliverance: God the Son: LORD'S DAY 18

 Q & A 46: What do you mean by saying, "He ascended to heaven"?

That Christ,
while his disciples watched,
was lifted up from the earth to heaven1
and will be there for our good2
until he comes again
to judge the living and the dead.3

1 Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11
2 Rom. 8:34; Eph. 4:8-10; Heb. 7:23-25; 9:24
3 Acts 1:11

Q & A 47: But isn't Christ with us until the end of the world as he promised us?1

Christ is truly human and truly God.
In his human nature Christ is not now on earth;2
but in his divinity, majesty, grace, and Spirit
he is not absent from us for a moment.3

1 Matt. 28:20
2 Acts 1:9-11; 3:19-21
3 Matt. 28:18-20; John 14:16-19

Q & A 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,1
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.2

1 Jer. 23:23-24; Acts 7:48-49 (Isa. 66:1)
2 John 1:14; 3:13; Col. 2:9

Q & A 49: How does Christ's ascension to heaven benefit us?

First, he pleads our cause
in heaven
in the presence of his Father.1

Second, we have our own flesh in heaven -
a guarantee that Christ our head
will take us, his members,
to himself in heaven.2

Third, he sends his Spirit to us on earth
as a further guarantee.3
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.4

1 Rom. 8:34; 1 John 2:1
2 John 14:2; 17:24; Eph. 2:4-6
3 John 14:16; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5
4 Col. 3:1-4

Part II: Deliverance: God the Son: LORD'S DAY 19

 Q & A 50: Why the next words: "and is seated at the right hand of God"?

Christ ascended toheaven,
there to show that he is head of his church,1
and that the Father rules all things through him.2

1 Eph. 1:20-23; Col. 1:18
2 Matt. 28:18; John 5:22-23

Q & A 51: How does this glory of Christ our head benefit us?

First, through his Holy Spirit
he pours out his gifts from heaven
upon us his members.1

Second, by his power
he defends us and keeps us safe
from all enemies.2

1 Acts 2:33; Eph. 4:7-12
2 Ps. 110:1-2; John 10:27-30; Rev. 19:11-16

Q & A 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.1
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.2

1 Luke 21:28; Rom. 8:22-25; Phil. 3:20-21; Tit. 2:13-14
2 Matt. 25:31-46; 2 Thess. 1:6-10

Part II: Deliverance: God the Holy Spirit: LORD'S DAY 20

Q & A 53: What do you believe concerning "the Holy Spirit"?

First, he, as well as the Father and the Son,
is eternal God.1

Second, he has been given to me personally,2
so that, by true faith,
he makes me share in Christ and all his blessings,3
comforts me,4
and remains with me forever.5

1 Gen. 1:1-2; Matt. 28:19; Acts 5:3-4
2 1 Cor. 6:19; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; Gal. 4:6
3 Gal. 3:14
4 John 15:26; Acts 9:31
5 John 14:16-17; 1 Pet. 4:14

Part II: Deliverance: God the Holy Spirit: LORD'S DAY 21

 Q & A 54: What do you believe concerning "the holy catholic church"?

I believe that the Son of God
through his Spirit and Word,1
out of the entire human race,2
from the beginning of the world to its end,3
gathers, protects, and preserves for himself
a community chosen for eternal life4
and united in true faith.5
And of this community I am6 and always will be7
a living member.

1 John 10:14-16; Acts 20:28; Rom. 10:14-17; Col. 1:18
2 Gen. 26:3b-4; Rev. 5:9
3 Isa. 59:21; 1 Cor. 11:26
4 Matt. 16:18; John 10:28-30; Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:3-14
5 Acts 2:42-47; Eph. 4:1-6
6 1 John 3:14, 19-21
7 John 10:27-28; 1 Cor. 1:4-9; 1 Pet. 1:3-5

Q & A 55: 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.1

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.2

1 Rom. 8:32; 1 Cor. 6:17; 12:4-7, 12-13; 1 John 1:3
2 Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Cor. 12:20-27; 13:1-7; Phil. 2:4-8

Q & A 56: 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 sins1
nor my sinful nature
which I need to struggle against all my life.2

Rather, in his grace
God grants me the righteousness of Christ
to free me forever from judgment.3

1 Ps. 103:3-4, 10, 12; Mic. 7:18-19; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; 1 John 1:7; 2:2
2 Rom. 7:21-25
3 John 3:17-18; Rom. 8:1-2

Part II: Deliverance: God the Holy Spirit: LORD'S DAY 22

Q & A 57: How does "the resurrection of the body" comfort you?

Not only my soul
will be taken immediately after this life
to Christ its head,1
but even my very flesh, raised by the power of Christ,
will be reunited with my soul
and made like Christ's glorious* body.2

1 Luke 23:43; Phil. 1:21-23
2 1 Cor. 15:20, 42-46, 54; Phil. 3:21; 1 John 3:2
* The first edition had here the German word for "holy." This was later corrected to the German word for "glorious."

Q & A 58: How does the article concerning "life everlasting" comfort you?

Even as I already now
experience in my heart
the beginning of eternal joy,1
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.2

1 Rom. 14:17
2 John 17:3; 1 Cor. 2:9

Part II: Deliverance: God the Holy Spirit: LORD'S DAY 23

 Q & A 59: What good does it do you, however, to believe all this?

In Christ I am right with God
and heir to life everlasting.1

1 John 3:36; Rom. 1:17 (Hab. 2:4); Rom. 5:1-2

Q & A 60: How are you right with God?

Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.1

Even though my conscience accuses me
of having grievously sinned against all God's commandments
and of never having kept any of them,2
and even though I am still inclined toward all evil,3
without my deserving it at all,4
out of sheer grace,5
God grants and credits to me
the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ,6
as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner,
as if I had been as perfectly obedient
as Christ was obedient for me.7

All I need to do
is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart.8

1 Rom. 3:21-28; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-9; Phil 3:8-11
2 Rom. 3:9-10
3 Rom. 7:23
4 Tit. 3:4-5
5 Rom. 3:24; Eph. 2:8
6 Rom. 4:3-5 (Gen. 15:6); 2 Cor. 5:17-19; 1 John 2:1-2
7 Rom. 4:24-25; 2 Cor. 5:21
8 John 3:18; Acts 16:30-31

Q & A 61: 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.1
And I can receive this righteousness and make it mine
in no other way than
by faith alone.2

1 1 Cor. 1:30-31
2 Rom. 10:10; 1 John 5:10-12

Part II: Deliverance: God the Holy Spirit: LORD'S DAY 24

Q & A 62: 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.1
Even the very best we do in this life
is imperfect
and stained with sin.2

1 Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:10 (Deut. 27:26)
2 Isa. 64:6

Q & A 63: 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?1

This reward is not earned;
it is a gift of grace.2

1 Matt. 5:12; Heb. 11:6
2 Luke 17:10; 2 Tim. 4:7-8

Q & A 64: But doesn't this teaching make people indifferent and wicked?

It is impossible
for those grafted into Christ by true faith
not to produce fruits of gratitude.1

1 Luke 6:43-45; John 15:5

Part II: The Sacraments: LORD'S DAY 25

Q & A 65: It is by faith alone that we share in Christ and all his blessings: where then does that faith come from?

The Holy Spirit produces it in our hearts1
by the preaching of the holy gospel,2
and confirms it
through our use of the holy sacraments.3

1John 3:5; 1 Cor. 2:10-14; Eph. 2:8
2 Rom. 10:17; 1 Pet. 1:23-25
3 Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 10:16

Q & A 66: 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.1

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.2

1Gen. 17:11; Deut. 30:6; Rom. 4:11
2 Matt. 26:27-28; Acts 2:38; Heb. 10:10

Q & A 67: 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?


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.1

1Rom. 6:3; 1 Cor. 11:26; Gal. 3:27

Q & A 68: How many sacraments did Christ institute in the New Testament?

Two: baptism and the Lord's Supper.1

1Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26

Part II: The Sacraments: Baptism: LORD'S DAY 26

Q & A 69: 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 washing1
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.2

1 Acts 2:38
2 Matt. 3:11; Rom. 6:3-10; 1 Pet. 3:21

Q & A 70: 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.1

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.2

1 Zech. 13:1; Eph. 1:7-8; Heb. 12:24; 1 Pet. 1:2; Rev. 1:5
2 Ezek. 36:25-27; John 3:5-8; Rom. 6:4; 1 Cor. 6:11; Col. 2:11-12

Q & A 71: 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."1

"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,
but whoever does not believe will be condemned."2*

This promise is repeated when Scripture calls baptism
the washing of rebirth3 and
the washing away of sins.4

1 Matt. 28:19
2 Mark 16:16
3 Tit. 3:5
4 Acts 22:16
* Earlier and better manuscripts of Mark 16 omit the words "Whoever believes and is baptized . . . condemned."

Part II: The Sacraments: Baptism: LORD'S DAY 27

Q & A 72: 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.1

1 Matt. 3:11; 1 Pet. 3:21; 1 John 1:7

Q & A 73: Why then does the Holy Spirit call baptism the washing of rebirth and the washing away of sins?

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.1

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.2

1 1 Cor. 6:11; Rev. 1:5; 7:14
2 Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27

Q & A 74: Should infants, too, be baptized?

Infants as well as adults
are in God's covenant and are his people.1
They, no less than adults, are promised
the forgiveness of sin through Christ's blood
and the Holy Spirit who produces faith.2

Therefore, by baptism, the mark of the covenant,
infants should be received into the Christian church
and should be distinguished from the children
of unbelievers.3
This was done in the Old Testament by circumcision,4
which was replaced in the New Testament by baptism.5

1 Gen. 17:7; Matt. 19:14
2 Isa. 44:1-3; Acts 2:38-39; 16:31
3 Acts 10:47; 1 Cor. 7:14
4 Gen. 17:9-14
5 Col. 2:11-13

Part II: The Sacraments: The Lord's Supper: LORD'S DAY 28

Q & A 75: 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

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.

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.

1Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-25

Q & A 76: 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.1

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.2
And so, although he is in heaven3 and we are on earth,
we are flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.4
And we forever live on and are governed by one Spirit,
as members of our body are by one soul.5

1John 6:35, 40, 50-54
2 John 6:55-56; 1 Cor. 12:13
3 Acts 1:9-11; 1 Cor. 11:26; Col. 3:1
4 1 Cor. 6:15-17; Eph. 5:29-30; 1 John 4:13
5 John 6:56-58; 15:1-6; Eph. 4:15-16; 1 John 3:24

Q & A 77: 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."1

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."2

11 Cor. 11:23-26
2 1 Cor. 10:16-17

Part II: The Sacraments: The Lord's Supper: LORD'S DAY 29

Q & A 78: Are the bread and wine changed into the real body and blood of Christ?

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,1
so too the bread of the Lord's Supper
is not changed into the actual body of Christ2
even though it is called the body of Christ3
in keeping with the nature and language of sacraments.4

1Eph. 5:26; Tit. 3:5
2 Matt. 26:26-29
3 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 11:26-28
4 Gen. 17:10-11; Ex. 12:11, 13; 1 Cor. 10:1-4

Q & A 79: Why then does Christ call the bread his body and the cup his blood, or the new covenant in his blood? (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.1

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,2
and that all of his suffering and obedience
are as definitely ours
as if we personally
had suffered and paid for our sins.3

1John 6:51, 55
2 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 11:26
3 Rom. 6:5-11

Part II: The Sacraments: The Lord's Supper: LORD'S DAY 30

Q & A 80*: 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.1
It also declares to us
that the Holy Spirit grafts us into Christ,2
who with his very body
is now in heaven at the right hand of the Father3
where he wants us to worship him.4

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.

1 John 19:30; Heb. 7:27; 9:12, 25-26; 10:10-18
2 1 Cor. 6:17; 10:16-17
3 Acts 7:55-56; Heb. 1:3; 8:1
4 Matt. 6:20-21; John 4:21-24; Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:1-3
* Question and answer 80 were altogether absent from the first edition of the catechism but were present in a shorter form in the second edition. The translation here given is of the expanded text of the third edition.

Q & A 81: 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.1

11 Cor. 10:19-22; 11:26-32

Q & A 82: 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.

11 Cor. 11:17-32; Ps. 50:14-16; Isa. 1:11-17

Part II: The Sacraments: The Lord's Supper: LORD'S DAY 31

Q & A 83: 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.1

1Matt. 16:19; John 20:22-23

Q & A 84: How does preaching the gospel open and close the kingdom of heaven?

According to the command of Christ:

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.1

1Matt. 16:19; John 3:31-36; 20:21-23

Q & A 85: How is the kingdom of heaven closed and opened by Christian discipline?

According to the command of Christ:

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.1

Such persons,
when promising and demonstrating genuine reform,
are received again
as members of Christ
and of his church.2

1Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:3-5, 11-13; 2 Thess. 3:14-15
2 Luke 15:20-24; 2 Cor. 2:6-11