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The Heidelberg Catechism


Part III: Gratitude: LORD'S DAY 32

Q & A 86: 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,1
and so that he may be praised through us.2

And we do good
so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits,3
and so that by our godly living
our neighbors may be won over to Christ.4

1 Rom. 6:13; 12:1-2; 1 Pet. 2:5-10
2 Matt. 5:16; 1 Cor. 6:19-20
3 Matt. 7:17-18; Gal. 5:22-24; 2 Pet. 1:10-11
4 Matt. 5:14-16; Rom. 14:17-19; 1 Pet. 2:12; 3:1-2

Q & A 87: Can those be saved who do not turn to God from their ungrateful and impenitent 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.1

1 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:1-20; 1 John 3:14

Part III: Gratitude: LORD'S DAY 33

Q & A 88: What is involved in genuine repentance or conversion?

Two things:
the dying-away of the old self,
and the coming-to-life of the new.1

1 Rom. 6:1-11; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:5-10

Q & A 89: 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.1

1 Ps. 51:3-4, 17; Joel 2:12-13; Rom. 8:12-13; 2 Cor. 7:10

Q & A 90: What is the coming-to-life of the new self?

It is wholehearted joy in God through Christ1
and a delight to do every kind of good
as God wants us to.2

1 Ps. 51:8, 12; Isa.57:15; Rom. 5:1; 14:17
2 Rom. 6:10-11; Gal. 2:20

Q & A 91: What do we do that is good?

Only that which
arises out of true faith,1
conforms to God's law,2
and is done for his glory;3
and not that which is based
on what we think is right
or on established human tradition.4

1 John 15:5; Heb. 11:6
2 Lev. 18:4; 1 Sam. 15:22; Eph. 2:10
3 1 Cor. 10:31
4 Deut. 12:32; Isa. 29:13; Ezek. 20:18-19; Matt. 15:7-9

Part III: Gratitude: The Ten Commandments: LORD'S DAY 34

Q & A 92: What does the Lord say in his law?

God spoke all these words:

"The First Commandment"
I am the Lord your God,
who brought you out of Egypt,
out of the land of slavery.
You shall have no other gods before me.

"The Second Commandment"
You shall not make for yourself an idol
in the form of anything in heaven above
or on the earth beneath
or in the waters below.
You shall not bow down to them or worship them;
for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,
punishing the children for the sin of the fathers
to the third and fourth generation
of those who hate me,
but showing love to a thousand generations of those
who love me and keep my commandments.

"The Third Commandment"
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God,
for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless
who misuses his name.

"The Fourth Commandment"
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.
On it you shall not do any work,
neither you, nor your son or daughter,
nor your manservant or maidservant,
nor your animals,
nor the alien within your gates.
For in six days the Lord made
the heavens and the earth, the sea,
and all that is in them,
but he rested on the seventh day.
Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day
and made it holy.

"The Fifth Commandment"
Honor your father and your mother,
so that you may live long
in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

"The Sixth Commandment"
You shall not murder.

"The Seventh Commandment"
You shall not commit adultery.

"The Eighth Commandment"
You shall not steal.

"The Ninth Commandment"
You shall not give false testimony
against your neighbor.

"The Tenth Commandment"
You shall not covet your neighbor's house.
You shall not covet your neighbor's wife,
or his manservant or maidservant,
his ox or donkey,
or anything that belongs to your neighbor.1

1Ex. 20:1-17; Deut. 5:6-21

Q & A 93: 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.1

1Matt. 22:37-39

Q & A 94: What does the Lord require in the first commandment?

That I, not wanting to endanger my very salvation,
avoid and shun
all idolatry,1 magic, superstitious rites,2
and prayer to saints or to other creatures.3

That I sincerely acknowledge the only true God,4
trust him alone,5
look to him for every good thing6
humbly7 and patiently,8
love him,9 fear him,10 and honor him11
with all my heart.

In short,
that I give up anything
rather than go against his will in any way.12

11 Cor. 6:9-10; 10:5-14; 1 John 5:21
2 Lev. 19:31; Deut. 18:9-12
3 Matt. 4:10; Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9
4 John 17:3
5 Jer. 17:5, 7
6 Ps. 104:27-28; James 1:17
7 1 Pet. 5:5-6
8 Col. 1:11; Heb. 10:36
9 Matt. 22:37 (Deut. 6:5)
10 Prov. 9:10; 1 Pet. 1:17
11 Matt. 4:10 (Deut. 6:13)
12 Matt. 5:29-30; 10:37-39

Q & A 95: 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.1

11 Chron. 16:26; Gal. 4:8-9; Eph. 5:5; Phil. 3:19

Part III: Gratitude: The Ten Commandments: LORD'S DAY 35

Q & A 96: What is God's will for us in the second commandment?

That we in no way make any image of God1
nor worship him in any other way
than he has commanded in his Word.2

1Deut. 4:15-19; Isa. 40:18-25; Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:22-23
2 Lev. 10:1-7; 1 Sam. 15:22-23; John 4:23-24

Q & A 97: May we then not make any image at all?

God can not 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.1

1Ex. 34:13-14, 17; 2 Kings 18:4-5

Q & A 98: But may not images be permitted in the churches as teaching aids for the unlearned?

No, we shouldn't try to be wiser than God.
He wants his people instructed
by the living preaching of his Word - 1
not by idols that cannot even talk.2

1Rom. 10:14-15, 17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:19
2 Jer. 10:8; Hab. 2:18-20

Part III: Gratitude: The Ten Commandments: LORD'S DAY 36

Q & A 99: What is God's will for us in the third commandment?

That we neither blaspheme nor misuse the name of God
by cursing,1 perjury,2 or unnecessary oaths,3
nor share in such horrible sins
by being silent bystanders.4

In a word, it requires
that we use the holy name of God
only with reverence and awe,5
so that we may properly
confess him,6
pray to him,7
and praise him in everything we do and say.8

1Lev. 24:10-17
2 Lev. 19:12
3 Matt. 5:37; James 5:12
4 Lev. 5:1; Prov. 29:24
5 Ps. 99:1-5; Jer. 4:2
6 Matt. 10:32-33; Rom. 10:9-10
7 Ps. 50:14-15; 1 Tim. 2:8
8 Col. 3:17

Q & A 100: 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?

Yes, indeed.1
No sin is greater,
no sin makes God more angry
than blaspheming his name.
That is why he commanded the death penalty for it.2

1Lev. 5:1
2 Lev. 24:10-17

Part III: Gratitude: The Ten Commandments: LORD'S DAY 37

Q & A 101: 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 Word1
and were rightly used by Old and New Testament believers.2

1Deut. 6:13; 10:20; Jer. 4:1-2; Heb. 6:16
2 Gen. 21:24; Josh. 9:15; 1 Kings 1:29-30; Rom. 1:9; 2 Cor. 1:23

Q & A 102: May we swear by saints or other creatures?

A legitimate oath means calling upon God
as the one who knows my heart
to witness to my truthfulness
and to punish me if I swear falsely.1
No creature is worthy of such honor.2

1Rom. 9:1; 2 Cor. 1:23
2 Matt. 5:34-37; 23:16-22; James 5:12

Part III: Gratitude: The Ten Commandments: LORD'S DAY 38

Q & A 103: What is God's will for you in the fourth commandment?

that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained,1
and that, especially on the festive day of rest,
I regularly attend the assembly of God's people2
to learn what God's Word teaches,3
to participate in the sacraments,4
to pray to God publicly,5
and to bring Christian offerings for the poor.6

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.7

1Deut. 6:4-9, 20-25; 1 Cor. 9:13-14; 2 Tim. 2:2; 3:13-17; Tit. 1:5
2 Deut. 12:5-12; Ps. 40:9-10; 68:26; Acts 2:42-47; Heb. 10:23-25
3 Rom. 10:14-17; 1 Cor. 14:31-32; 1 Tim. 4:13
4 1 Cor. 11:23-25
5 Col. 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:1
6 Ps. 50:14; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 8 & 9
7 Isa. 66:23; Heb. 4:9-11

Part III: Gratitude: The Ten Commandments: LORD'S DAY 39

Q & A 104: 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;1
and also that I be patient with their failings - 2
for through them God chooses to rule us.3

1Ex. 21:17; Prov. 1:8; 4:1; Rom. 13:1-2; Eph. 5:21-22; 6:1-9; Col. 3:18-4:1
2 Prov. 20:20; 23:22; 1 Pet. 2:18
3 Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:1-8; Eph. 6:1-9; Col. 3:18-21

Part III: Gratitude: The Ten Commandments: LORD'S DAY 40

Q & A 105: 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;1
rather, I am to put away all desire for revenge.2

I am not to harm or recklessly endanger myself either.3

Prevention of murder is also why
government is armed with the sword.4

1Gen. 9:6; Lev. 19:17-18; Matt. 5:21-22; 26:52
2 Prov. 25:21-22; Matt. 18:35; Rom. 12:19; Eph. 4:26
3 Matt. 4:7; 26:52; Rom. 13:11-14
4 Gen. 9:6; Ex. 21:14; Rom. 13:4

Q & A 106: Does this commandment refer only to killing?

By forbidding murder God teaches us
that he hates the root of murder:
envy, hatred, anger, vindictiveness.1

In God's sight all such are murder.2

1Prov. 14:30; Rom. 1:29; 12:19; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 John 2:9-11
2 1 John 3:15

Q & A 107: Is it enough then that we do not kill our neighbor in any such way?

By condemning envy, hatred, and anger
God tells us
to love our neighbors as ourselves,1
to be patient, peace-loving, gentle,
merciful, and friendly to them,2
to protect them from harm as much as we can,
and to do good even to our enemies.3

1Matt. 7:12; 22:39; Rom. 12:10
2 Matt. 5:3-12; Luke 6:36; Rom. 12:10, 18; Gal. 6:1-2; Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12; 1 Pet. 3:8
3 Ex. 23:4-5; Matt. 5:44-45; Rom. 12:20-21 (Prov. 25:21-22)

Part III: Gratitude: The Ten Commandments: LORD'S DAY 41

Q & A 108: What is God's will for us in the seventh commandment?

God condemns all unchastity.1
We should therefore thoroughly detest it2
and, married or single,
live decent and chaste lives.3

1Lev. 18:30; Eph. 5:3-5
2 Jude 22-23
3 1 Cor. 7:1-9; 1 Thess. 4:3-8; Heb. 13:4

Q & A 109: 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,1
whether it be actions, looks, talk, thoughts, or desires.2

11 Cor. 15:33; Eph. 5:18
2 Matt. 5:27-29; 1 Cor. 6:18-20; Eph. 5:3-4

Part III: Gratitude: The Ten Commandments: LORD'S DAY 42

Q & A 110: What does God forbid in the eighth commandment?

He forbids not only outright theft and robbery,
punishable by law.1

But in God's sight theft also includes
cheating and swindling our neighbor
by schemes made to appear legitimate,2
such as:
inaccurate measurements of weight, size, or volume;
fraudulent merchandising;
counterfeit money;
excessive interest;
or any other means forbidden by God.3

In addition he forbids all greed4
and pointless squandering of his gifts.5

1Ex. 22:1; 1 Cor. 5:9-10; 6:9-10
2 Mic. 6:9-11; Luke 3:14; James 5:1-6
3 Deut. 25:13-16; Ps. 15:5; Prov. 11:1; 12:22; Ezek. 45:9-12; Luke 6:35
4 Luke 12:15; Eph. 5:5
5 Prov. 21:20; 23:20-21; Luke 16:10-13

Q & A 111: 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.1

1Isa. 58:5-10; Matt. 7:12; Gal. 6:9-10; Eph. 4:28

Part III: Gratitude: The Ten Commandments: LORD'S DAY 43

Q & A 112: 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.1

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.2
I should love the truth,
speak it candidly,
and openly acknowledge it.3
And I should do what I can
to guard and advance my neighbor's good name.4

1Ps. 15; Prov. 19:5; Matt. 7:1; Luke 6:37; Rom. 1:28-32
2 Lev. 19:11-12; Prov. 12:22; 13:5; John 8:44; Rev. 21:8
3 1 Cor. 13:6; Eph. 4:25
4 1 Pet. 3:8-9; 4:8

Part III: Gratitude: The Ten Commandments: LORD'S DAY 44

Q & A 113: 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.1

1Ps. 19:7-14; 139:23-24; Rom. 7:7-8

Q & A 114: But can those converted to God obey these commandments perfectly?

In this life even the holiest
have only a small beginning of this obedience.1

Nevertheless, with all seriousness of purpose,
they do begin to live
according to all, not only some,
of God's commandments.2

1Eccles. 7:20; Rom. 7:14-15; 1 Cor. 13:9; 1 John 1:8-10
2 Ps. 1:1-2; Rom. 7:22-25; Phil. 3:12-16

Q & A 115: 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.1

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:

1Ps. 32:5; Rom. 3:19-26; 7:7, 24-25; 1 John 1:9
2 1 Cor. 9:24; Phil. 3:12-14; 1 John 3:1-3

Part III: Gratitude: The Lord's Prayer: LORD'S DAY 45

Q & A 116: Why do Christians need to pray?

Because prayer is the most important part
of the thankfulness God requires of us.1
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.2

1Ps. 50:14-15; 116:12-19; 1 Thess. 5:16-18
2 Matt. 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-13

Q & A 117: 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.1

Second, we must acknowledge our need and misery,
hiding nothing,
and humble ourselves in his majestic presence.2

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.3

1Ps. 145:18-20; John 4:22-24; Rom. 8:26-27; James 1:5; 1 John 5:14-15
2 2 Chron. 7:14; Ps. 2:11; 34:18; 62:8; Isa. 66:2; Rev. 4
3 Dan. 9:17-19; Matt. 7:8; John 14:13-14; 16:23; Rom. 10:13; James 1:6

Q & A 118: What did God command us to pray for?

Everything we need, spiritually and physically,1
as embraced in the prayer
Christ our Lord himself taught us.

1James 1:17; Matt. 6:33

Q & A 119: 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.

1Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4
* Earlier and better manuscripts of Matthew 6 omit the words "For yours is... Amen."

Part III: Gratitude: The Lord's Prayer: LORD'S DAY 46

Q & A 120: 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.1

1Matt. 7:9-11; Luke 11:11-13

Q & A 121: Why the words "in heaven"?

These words teach us
not to think of God's heavenly majesty
as something earthly,1
and to expect everything
for body and soul
from his almighty power.2

1Jer. 23:23-24; Acts 17:24-25
2 Matt. 6:25-34; Rom. 8:31-32

Part III: Gratitude: The Lord's Prayer: LORD'S DAY 47

Q & A 122: What does the first request mean?

"Hallowed be your name" means,

Help us to really know you,1
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.2

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.3

1Jer. 9:23-24; 31:33-34; Matt. 16:17; John 17:3
2 Ex. 34:5-8; Ps. 145; Jer. 32:16-20; Luke 1:46-55, 68-75; Rom. 11:33-36
3 Ps. 115:1; Matt. 5:16

Part III: Gratitude: The Lord's Prayer: LORD'S DAY 48

Q & A 123: 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.1

Keep your church strong, and add to it.2

Destroy the devil's work;
destroy every force which revolts against you
and every conspiracy against your Word.3

Do this until your kingdom is so complete and perfect
that in it you are
all in all.4

1Ps. 119:5, 105; 143:10; Matt. 6:33
2 Ps. 122:6-9; Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:42-47
3 Rom. 16:20; 1 John 3:8
4 Rom. 8:22-23; 1 Cor. 15:28; Rev. 22:17, 20

Part III: Gratitude: The Lord's Prayer: LORD'S DAY 49

Q & A 124: 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.1

Help us one and all to carry out the work we are called to,2
as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven.3

1Matt. 7:21; 16:24-26; Luke 22:42; Rom. 12:1-2; Tit. 2:11-12
2 1 Cor. 7:17-24; Eph. 6:5-9
3 Ps. 103:20-21

Part III: Gratitude: The Lord's Prayer: LORD'S DAY 50

Q & A 125: What does the fourth request mean?

"Give us today our daily bread" means,

Do take care of all our physical needs1
so that we come to know
that you are the only source of everything good,2
and that neither our work and worry
nor your gifts
can do us any good without your blessing.3

And so help us to give up our trust in creatures
and to put trust in you alone.4

1Ps. 104:27-30; 145:15-16; Matt. 6:25-34
2 Acts 14:17; 17:25; James 1:17
3 Deut. 8:3; Ps. 37:16; 127:1-2; 1 Cor. 15:58
4 Ps. 55:22; 62; 146; Jer. 17:5-8; Heb. 13:5-6

Part III: Gratitude: The Lord's Prayer: LORD'S DAY 51

Q & A 126: 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.1

Forgive us just as we are fully determined,
as evidence of your grace in us,
to forgive our neighbors.2

1Ps. 51:1-7; 143:2; Rom. 8:1; 1 John 2:1-2
2 Matt. 6:14-15; 18:21-35

Part III: Gratitude: The Lord's Prayer: LORD'S DAY 52

Q & A 127: 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.1

And our sworn enemies -
the devil,2 the world,3 and our own flesh - 4
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,5
but may firmly resist our enemies
until we finally win the complete victory.6

1Ps. 103:14-16; John 15:1-5
2 2 Cor. 11:14; Eph. 6:10-13; 1 Pet. 5:8
3 John 15:18-21
4 Rom. 7:23; Gal. 5:17
5 Matt. 10:19-20; 26:41; Mark 13:33; Rom. 5:3-5
6 1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Thess. 3:13; 5:23

Q & A 128: 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;1
and because your holy name,
and not we ourselves,
should receive all the praise, forever.2

1Rom. 10:11-13; 2 Pet. 2:9
2 Ps. 115:1; John 14:13

Q & A 129: 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.1

1Isa. 65:24; 2 Cor. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:13