I Belong (1): Belonging to Christ Is Paramount

Years ago, another elder and I met with a couple in their home to talk about their church membership. They were members of our church but did not attend corporate worship with us. In fact, I don’t think they’d joined us for corporate worship in years. They were essentially strangers. When meeting with this couple, the husband seemed disinterested in our church and church in general. I don’t think he believed he needed a local church, and he didn’t show any desire to be an active part...

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Keep the Sabbath Holy & Be Greatly Blessed (HC LD 38, QA 103)  

Is there any part of God’s moral law more misunderstood or ignored by Christians than the fourth commandment? Maybe the second or the seventh, but it is evident that the fourth commandment has fallen on hard times among many Christians. In fact, the fourth commandment is so misunderstood that people continue to confess Christ and claim to follow him while they unashamedly continue to disobey the fourth missing its goodness. They assume they can have deep intimacy with God apart from obedience...

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Are the Anabaptists Right about Swearing Oaths (HC LD 37, QA 101-102)?

I grew up in the Mennonite Church, and for Mennonites, oaths are a no-no. You simply don’t swear oaths. As a kid, I remember feeling a bit nervous about the possibility of needing to go to court and standing up against the hand on the Bible part. What would I do? By law, Anabaptists are not required to swear oaths in court. They can simply give legal affirmations which are defined as follows: In law, an affirmation is a solemn declaration allowed to those who conscientiously object to...

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Do You Know How to Use God’s Name (HC LD 36, QA 99-100)?  

Majestic. What a word. When something is majestic, it’s grand, it’s impressive, it’s outstanding, it’s magnificent. What have you seen that is majestic? What has taken your breath away? Maybe you’ve beheld the majesty of Mount Whitney in California or of the Winston Churchill Range of the Canadian Rockies. Maybe you’ve looked up at the majesty of the nighttime sky from Cherry Springs State Park in Coudersport, PA, or from Nova Scotia, Canada. I was once fly fishing on Pine Creek...

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What about Images of Jesus (HC LD 35, QA 96-98)?

What about images of Jesus? Many Christians agree we should not make any images of God because of the second commandment. But what about images of Jesus who is both God and man? What if we simply portray the humanity of Jesus and leave his divinity out of it entirely? Is that breaking the second commandment? It’s a big question. It’s an extremely important question. In fact, it’s among the most important theological questions because it relates to how we think about and worship Jesus...

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The “Love Is Love” Fallacy & the Truth about Love (HC LD 34, QA 92-95)

You’ve probably seen it on signs or t-shirts or stickers – “Love is love.” It’s the slogan of the LGBTQIA+ community. This little slogan reveals our culture’s confusion about love. First, as a kid, I was taught not to define a word with the word itself. Doing this is called a circular definition. What is the Heidelberg Catechism? Well, it’s a catechism from Heidelberg. That’s not all that enlightening or helpful. “Love is love” is unhelpful in part because it’s a...

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Take Heart, Your Conversion Is a Process (HC LD 33, QA 88-91)

What is conversion? When you hear the word “conversion,” you might think of an animated evangelist under a tent bellowing about being born again as a tearful man walks a sawdust aisle to the front. Or maybe you think about repeating a prayer at a youth conference or camp or someone leading someone else through the so-called “sinner’s prayer.” Or maybe you think about some other sensational or mountain top experience.   I’ve been to tent revivals, youth conferences, and...

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Should Fear or Grace Motivate Good Works (HC LD 32, QA 86-87)?

Understanding how the Heidelberg Catechism is organized is important. The law exposes our sin and misery and drives us to Christ. This is the guilt section. The grace section unpacks the gospel. In this section, the Heidelberg helps us understand the Apostles’ Creed, an excellent historical summary of the gospel. Through the gospel, the Holy Spirit quickens and motivates us to live for God’s glory by increasingly obeying His commandments. This is the gratitude section. Gratitude is more...

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The Dishonesty & Unhelpfulness of Much Seeker-Sensitive Worship (HC LD 31, QA 83-85)

Imagine an unbeliever named Liam going to church. That’s a great thing, by the way. We want unbelievers in worship. Like all unbelievers, Liam is living in rebellion against God. Liam is unwilling to admit his sin and misery, confess it, repent of it, and he’s unwilling to trust in Christ alone for salvation. However, Liam is spiritual and curious about the Christian faith. So, Liam visits a seeker-sensitive church. As he experiences the worship service, Liam hears the pastor say, “God...

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Are Protestants and Romanists Together (HC LD 30, QA 80-82)?  

When we have family worship, we sometimes talk as a family about how the Reformed faith differs from other theological perspectives including other religions. I firmly believe the Reformed and Presbyterian understanding of the Bible and the world is the most precise, logical, faithful, and comforting, so of course, I’m teaching my children this historic understanding of Christianity. It’s reassuring to confess such a faithful theological tradition with millions of Christians past and...

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