The Synod of Dort approved the Heidelberg Catechism in 1619, and it soon became the most ecumenical of the Reformed catechisms and confes- sions.
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69The Heidelberg CatechismIntroductionThe Heidelberg Catechism (1563) was composed in the city of Heidelberg, Germany, at the request of Elector Frederick III, who ruled the province of the Palatinate from 1559 to 1576. The new catechism was intended as a tool for teaching young people, a guide for preaching in the provincial churches, and a form of confessional unity among the several Protestant factions in the Palatinate. An old tradition credits Zacharias Ursinus and Caspar Olevia- nus with being the coauthors of the catechism, but the project was actually the work of a team of ministers and university theologians under the watch- ful eye of Frederick himself. Ursinus probably served as the primary writer on the team, and Olevianus had a lesser role. The catechism was approved by a synod in Heidelberg in January 1563. A second and third German edi – tion, each with small additions, as well as a Latin translation were published the same year in Heidelberg. The third edition was included in the Palati- nate Church Order of November 15, 1563, at which time the catechism was divided into ˜fty-two sections or Lord™s Days, so that one Lord™s Day could be explained in an afternoon worship service each Sunday of the year. The Synod of Dort approved the Heidelberg Catechism in 1619, and it soon became the most ecumenical of the Reformed catechisms and confes – sions. It has been translated into many European, Asian, and African lan- guages and is still the most widely used and warmly praised catechism of the Reformation period.Most of the footnoted biblical references in this translation of the cate-chism were included in the early German and Latin editions, but the precise selection was approved by Synod 1975 of the Christian Reformed Church. LORD™S DAY 1 1 Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death? A. That I am not my own,1 but belongŠ body and soul, in life and in deathŠ2 to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.3 He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,4 and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.5 He also watches over me in such a way6 that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven;7 in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.8

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70 Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life9 and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.101 1 Cor. 6:19-20 2 Rom. 14:7-93 1 Cor. 3:23; Titus 2:14 4 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:25 John 8:34-36; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 John 3:1-116 John 6:39-40; 10:27-30; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 Pet. 1:57 Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 21:16-188 Rom. 8:289 Rom. 8:15-16; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13-14 10 Rom. 8:1-172 Q. What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort? A. Three things: ˜rst, how great my sin and misery are;1 second, how I am set free from all my sins and misery; 2 third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.31 Rom. 3:9-10; 1 John 1:102 John 17:3; Acts 4:12; 10:433 Matt. 5:16; Rom. 6:13; Eph. 5:8-10; 2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Pet. 2:9-10 Part I: Misery LORD™S DAY 2 3 Q. How do you come to know your misery? A. The law of God tells me.11 Rom. 3:20; 7:7-254 Q. What does God™s law require of us? A. Christ teaches us this in summary in Matthew 22:37-40: fi‚You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.™1 This is the greatest and ˜rst commandment. fiAnd a second is like it: ‚You shall love your neighbor as yourself.™2

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71 fiOn these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.fl1 Deut. 6:52 Lev. 19:18 5 Q. Can you live up to all this perfectly? A. No.1 I have a natural tendency to hate God and my neighbor.21 Rom. 3:9-20, 23; 1 John 1:8, 102 Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 7:23-24; 8:7; Eph. 2:1-3; Titus 3:3 LORD™S DAY 3 6 Q. Did God create people so wicked and perverse? A. No. God created them good1 and in his own image,2 that is, in true righteousness and holiness,3 so that they might truly know God their creator, 4 love him with all their heart, and live with God in eternal happiness, to praise and glorify him.51 Gen. 1:312 Gen. 1:26-273 Eph. 4:244 Col. 3:105 Ps. 87 Q. Then where does this corrupt human nature come from? A. The fall and disobedience of our ˜rst parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise.1 This fall has so poisoned our nature2 that we are all conceived and born in a sinful condition.31 Gen. 32 Rom. 5:12, 18-193 Ps. 51:5

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728 Q. But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined toward all evil? A. Yes,1 unless we are born again by the Spirit of God.21 Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Job 14:4; Isa. 53:62 John 3:3-5LORD™S DAY 4 9 Q. But doesn™t God do us an injustice by requiring in his law what we are unable to do? A. No, God created human beings with the ability to keep the law. 1 They, however, provoked by the devil, 2 in willful disobedience,3 robbed themselves and all their descendants of these gifts.41 Gen. 1:31; Eph. 4:242 Gen. 3:13; John 8:443 Gen. 3:64 Rom. 5:12, 18, 1910 Q. Does God permit such disobedience and rebellion to go unpunished? A. Certainly not. God is terribly angry with the sin we are born with as well as the sins we personally commit. As a just judge, God will punish them both now and in eternity, 1 having declared: fiCursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.fl 21 Ex. 34:7; Ps. 5:4-6; Nah. 1:2; Rom. 1:18; Eph. 5:6; Heb. 9:272 Gal. 3:10; Deut. 27:26

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7311 Q. But isn™t God also merciful? A. God is certainly merciful,1 but also just.2 God™s justice demands that sin, committed against his supreme majesty, be punished with the supreme penaltyŠ eternal punishment of body and soul.31 Ex. 34:6-7; Ps. 103:8-92 Ex. 34:7; Deut. 7:9-11; Ps. 5:4-6; Heb. 10:30-313 Matt. 25:35-46Part II: Deliverance LORD™S DAY 5 12 Q. According to God™s righteous judgment we deserve punishment both now and in eternity: how then can we escape this punishment and return to God™s favor? A. God requires that his justice be satis˜ed.1 Therefore the claims of this justice must be paid in full, either by ourselves or by another. 21 Ex. 23:7; Rom. 2:1-112 Isa. 53:11; Rom. 8:3-413 Q. Can we make this payment ourselves? A. Certainly not. Actually, we increase our debt every day. 11 Matt. 6:12; Rom. 2:4-514 Q. Can another creatureŠany at allŠ pay this debt for us? A. No. To begin with, God will not punish any other creature for what a human is guilty of.1 Furthermore, no mere creature can bear the weight of God™s eternal wrath against sin and deliver others from it.21 Ezek. 18:4, 20; Heb. 2:14-182 Ps. 49:7-9; 130:3

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7415 Q. What kind of mediator and deliverer should we look for then? A. One who is a true1 and righteous2 human, yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is also true God.31 Rom. 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 LORD™S DAY 6 16 Q. Why must the mediator be a true and righteous human? A. God™s justice demands that human nature, which has sinned, must pay for sin;1 but a sinful human could never pay for others.21 Rom. 5:12, 15; 1 Cor. 15:21; Heb. 2:14-16 2 Heb. 7:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:1817 Q. Why must the mediator also be true God? A. So that the mediator, by the power of his divinity, might bear the weight of God™s wrath in his humanity and earn for us and restore to us righteousness and life.1 1 Isa. 53; John 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:21 18 Q. Then who is this mediatorŠ true God and at the same time a true and righteous human? A. Our Lord Jesus Christ,1 who was given to us to completely deliver us and make us right with God.21 Matt. 1:21-23; Luke 2:11; 1 Tim. 2:5 2 1 Cor. 1:30 19 Q. How do you come to know this? A. The holy gospel tells me. God began to reveal the gospel already in Paradise;1 later God proclaimed it by the holy patriarchs2 and prophets3

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7622 Q. What then must a Christian believe? A. All that is promised us in the gospel,1 a summary of which is taught us in the articles of our universal and undisputed Christian faith.1 Matt. 28:18-20; John 20:30-3123 Q. What are these articles? A. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was cruci˜ed, 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.LORD™S DAY 8 24 Q. How are these articles divided? A. Into three parts: God the Father and our creation; God the Son and our deliverance; and God the Holy Spirit and our sancti˜cation.25 Q. Since there is only one divine being,1 why do you speak of three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? A. Because that is how God has revealed himself in his Word:2 these three distinct persons are one, true, eternal God.1 Deut. 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

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77God the FatherLORD™S DAY 9 26 Q. What do you believe when you say, fiI believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earthfl? A. 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 the Son.3 I trust God so much that I do not doubt he will provide whatever I need for body and soul,4 and will turn to my good whatever adversity he sends upon me in this sad world.5 God is able to do this because he is almighty God6 and desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.71 Gen. 1-2; Ex. 20:11; Ps. 33:6; Isa. 44:24; Acts 4:24; 14:152 Ps. 104; Matt. 6:30; 10:29; Eph. 1:113 John 1:12-13; Rom. 8:15-16; Gal. 4:4-7; Eph. 1:54 Ps. 55:22; Matt. 6:25-26; Luke 12:22-315 Rom. 8:286 Gen. 18:14; Rom. 8:31-397 Matt. 7:9-11LORD™S DAY 10 27 Q. What do you understand by the providence of God? A. The almighty and ever present power of God1 by which God upholds, as with his hand, heaven 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,

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78 prosperity and povertyŠ3 all things, in fact, come to us not by chance 4 but by his fatherly hand.51 Jer. 23:23-24; Acts 17:24-28 2 Heb. 1:33 Jer. 5:24; Acts 14:15-17; John 9:3; Prov. 22:2 4 Prov. 16:33 5 Matt. 10:2928 Q. How does the knowledge of God™s creation and providence help us? A. We can be patient when things go against us,1 thankful when things go well,2 and for the future we can have good con˜dence in our faithful God and Father that nothing in creation will separate us from his love.3 For all creatures are so completely in God™s hand that without his will they can neither move nor be moved.41 Job 1:21-22; James 1:32 Deut. 8:10; 1 Thess. 5:183 Ps. 55:22; Rom. 5:3-5; 8:38-394 Job 1:12; 2:6; Prov. 21:1; Acts 17:24-28 God the SonLORD™S DAY 11 29 Q. Why is the Son of God called fiJesus,fl meaning fisaviorfl? A. Because he saves us from our sins,1 and because salvation should not be sought and cannot be found in anyone else.21 Matt. 1:21; Heb. 7:252 Isa. 43:11; John 15:5; Acts 4:11-12; 1 Tim. 2:5

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7930 Q. Do those who look for their salvation in saints, in themselves, or elsewhere really believe in the only savior Jesus? A. No. Although they boast of being his, by their actions they deny the only savior, 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.21 1 Cor. 1:12-13; Gal. 5:4 2 Col. 1:19-20; 2:10; 1 John 1:7 LORD™S DAY 1231 Q. Why is he called fiChrist,fl meaning fianointedfl? A. 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 fully reveals to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our deliverance;3 our only high priest4 who has delivered us by the one sacri˜ce 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.81 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; 15:154 Heb. 7:17 (Ps. 110:4)5 Heb. 9:12; 10:11-146 Rom. 8:34; Heb. 9:247 Matt. 21:5 (Zech. 9:9)8 Matt. 28:18-20; John 10:28; Rev. 12:10-11

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