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Heidelberg Catechism #44

Q. 44 – Why does the Creed add, “He descended into Hell”?

A. 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.

Theological: It is interesting to note that the Catechism basically bypasses all the discussion of the harrowing of hell in its answer. The wisdom in this policy is the controversy is not very edifying. (more…)

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Heidelberg Catechism #43

Q: What further advantage do we receive from Christ’s sacrifice and death on the cross?

A: Through Christ’s death our old selves are crucified, put to death, and buried with him, so that the evil desires of the flesh may no longer rule us, but that instead we may dedicate ourselves as an offering of gratitude to him.

Theological: Do you ever find yourself marveling at the way the Bible speaks of our definitive break from sin and darkness? I do. Paul tells us that our old man has been put to death in Christ, that we are new creations. (more…)

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Heidelberg Catechism #42

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

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

Theological: Christians still die… why? First thing is that Christ has transformed EVERYTHING for Christians. Death is something. Ergo, Christ has transformed death for Christians. Death, for the Christian, might be unknown, and, to that degree, might be scary. Death is not, however, a punishment for the Christian. Death IS a punishment for those outside of Christ. One gets the impression that death for the Christian (that is, when it actually happens) is actually a pleasure. Without doubt, it’s certainly a portal to eternal pleasure. After all, at Yahweh’s right hand are pleasures forevermore (Ps 16:11).  Death is an entrance into those pleasures. The saint will live in those pleasures until the resurrection, when those pleasures will be perfected. Similarly (or maybe conversely), for those outside of Christ, death is punishment and an entrance into eternal punishment, which will be perfected at the resurrection. Christ has removed the sting of death (1 Cor 15), but not its use as a major point of transition.

Practical: You know, everyone’s gotta die… at least for the most part. There will be one generation that doesn’t have to, but, aside from them, we all face death. Steve Job’s comments about death are interesting, but seem flat when compared with eternal joys or punishment. You can see Steve’s full speech here. People outside of Christ should be horrified by death. Typically they are. Sometimes, however, they are act as if they don’t care, or that it doesn’t bother them. These folks are either simply lying (to themselves and/or to others) or are deluded. Death, therefore, is an evangelistic tool… use it. Preach it. Speak about it. If folks accuse you of being morbid, tell them you only speak of death in order to draw attention to the eternal life found only in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

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Heidelberg Catechism #45

Q. How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?

A. 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.

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

Third, Christ’s resurrection is a guarantee of our glorious resurrection

Theological: I think that the human mind too often works in false dichotomies. (more…)

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Heidelberg Catechism #44

Q. Why does the Creed add, “He descended to Hell”?

A.  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.

Theological: Our theological instructors (Ursinus & Olevianus), in their pastoral wisdom, skipped over the controversy surrounding this passage; so will I. (more…)

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Heidelberg Catechism #43

Q. What further advantage do we receive from Christ’s sacrifice and death on the cross?

A. Through Christ’s death our old selves are crucified, put to death, and buried with him, so that the evil desires of the flesh may no longer rule us, but that instead we may dedicate ourselves as an offering of gratitude to him.

Theological: Romans 6 (among other passages) teaches us that we were buried with Christ in baptism. The blessings of that baptism are received by faith (more…)

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Heidelberg Catechism #42

Q. Since Christ has died for us, why do we still have to die?

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

Theological: For the believer in Jesus Christ, death is transformed. What used to be a just penalty for sin has become a portal into a fuller version of eternal life. O death, where thy sting? O grave, where thy victory? This, like so much Christian verity, must be approached in faith. (more…)

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