Heidelberg Catechism Q59

Q.59. What good does it do you, however, to believe all this?

A. In Christ I am right with God and heir to life eternal.


Beliefs are powerful thing.  People have died in past centuries because they believed in freedom. They have died because they believed in the right of free speech.  They have died because they believed in the right of self-government.  Beliefs have caused men and women to give their lives in order to stand firm in a conviction.  But the catechism tells us that believing in the testimony of the apostle’s creed brings us life.  It is not such a far leap from believing something and dying for it, to believing in God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit and living.  The word of God calls us to believe.  Read John 20:31.Tuesday

What exactly does it mean to believe the doctrine contained in the Apostles’ Creed?  It means completely surrendering all hope of salvation in one’s own ability and completely surrendering to God, joyfully accepting the death of his Son as payment for sin.  It means receiving the empowering of the Spirit in order to live in a right relationship with God the Father forevermore.  It means a living vibrant communication between God and oneself.  To believe the doctrine contained in the Creed is to be assured that one has a relationship with God because of Christ through the Spirit.  It is relational at the core, not academic, though the academics are still vital.  Relationships of trust are the difference between knowing a point or principle and believing in a person.  Read John 6:29.


Being right with God is another way of saying one is righteous.  To be righteous is to be in conformity with God’s law, while to be unrighteous is to have broken God’s law.  When a person believes God is Father, Jesus is Son who died and rose again, and the Spirit applies the resurrection to my life, they have come into conformity with God’s law which demands the punishment of sins and the vindication of the sinless.  Both occurred to Jesus Christ, he was punished for our violations, but death could not keep him for he himself was without sin.  When we believe this, God declares us in conformity to his law and so he restores a relationship to us based on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Read Romans 4:23-24.


But more than just believing in Christ makes us righteous.  The catechism tells us that we are literally incorporated into Christ.  As a part of his body, every requirement of the law is fulfilled in you and every punishment for our violations of the law was done at the cross.  We gain his perfect obedience; he gains our needful punishment.  This is what it means to be right with God in Christ.  Read 1 Corinthians 1:30 and 2 Corinthians 5:19.


And one of the benefits of being in a right relationship with God is the promise of eternal life.  Since God is eternal and will never cease to exist, it only follows that those he wants to be in relationship must also be granted a life, which will never end.  When we are made one with Christ his life is granted to us.  Read Romans 6:23 and 2 Timothy 1:1.


Essentially, this question reminds us that salvation comes down to a matter of believing and entrusting our life now and in the future to Christ alone.  The first time we believe this and enter into a relationship with God is called “being justified.”  When we are justified we agree that the law demands the punishment of sin and that we are sinful and that Christ suffered in our place so that we would not have to suffer under God’s wrath.  Such belief makes us right with God and grants us eternal life and brings us great comfort and joy.   Read Romans 5:1-2.



About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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