January 29 – February 4 Family Worship Guide for Family Devotions using the Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 5

Family Worship Guide
For the Week of Lord’s Day 5

Catechism

12  Q.  According to God’s righteous judgment we deserve punishment both in this world and forever after: how then can we escape this punishment and return to God’s favor?

A.  God requires that his justice be satisfied.[1] Therefore the claims of his justice must be paid in full, either by ourselves or another.[2]

13  Q.  Can we pay this debt ourselves?

A.  Certainly not. Actually, we increase our guilt every day.[3]

14  Q.  Can another creature; any at all; pay this debt for us?

A.  No. To begin with, God will not punish another creature for what a human is guilty of.[4] Besides, no mere creature can bear the weight of God’s eternal anger against sin and release others from it.[5]

15  Q.  What kind of mediator and deliverer should we look for then?

A.  One who is truly human[6] and truly righteous,[7] yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is also true God.[8]

Scripture Memory

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

1Timothy 2:5-6

Daily Scripture Reading

Sunday           Read the passage your pastor preached on this week.

Monday          Romans 2:1-11

Tuesday          Job 9:1-20

Wednesday    Job 9:21-35

Thursday        Job 16:16-22

Friday              Job 40:1-5

Saturday         1 John 2:1-3

Daily Prayer Requests

Sunday           Pray that the Lord would be glorified through you in the upcoming week.

Monday:         Pray for the senior adults in your church.

Tuesday:         Pray for the leaders in your church.

Wednesday:   Pray for those who are homeless and destitute.

Thursday:       Pray for the salvation of friends and family members; call them by name.

Friday:             Pray for your family members; call them by name.

Saturday         Pray that God would be glorified in tomorrow’s worship gathering.

Overview and Helps

Monday’s Scripture follows question and answer 12. The readings on Tuesday through Saturday refer collectively to questions 13-15. You will notice that most of the readings are from the book of Job. The biblical theme of the need for a mediator plays a key role in the theology of Job. Any further study you did on this theme in the book of Job would be profitable.

MONDAY

Romans 2:1-11 is pretty clear about mankind’s universal guilt and condemnation. Paul’s battle was with Jews and Gentiles. Perhaps today the argument of the passage could be applied to “Christians” and believers. Children “born and raised” must understand that all people stand guilty before God and are in desperate need of embracing “the riches of his kindness” that leads to repentance.

TUESDAY

Job is a far more complex character than most Christians realize. For instance, in Job 9:1-20, does Job really believe he is blameless? We know from the first chapter that he was very careful about the mere possibility his sons and daughters sinned. Does he not think he is guilty of sin as well? Or is his view of God so high that he is saying even if he thought he was not guilty, he knows God would prove him wrong? Or is his view of God warped into claiming that God is a petty enough tyrant to find something wrong in even a perfect man? In any event, however good or bad as Job thinks he is, he knows God is infinitely more holy.

WEDNESDAY

Nearly all your attention can be devoted the last several verses of the chapter. This is mankind’s dilemma. There is no one to bridge the great chasm between God and man. Man’s only hope is someone who can stretch out one hand to God, the other hand to man, and bring them together. Hence the cross.

THURSDAY

Dwell on verse 19. Job’s hope is ours: an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

FRIDAY

In Job 40:1-5 we actually see how the law is a surrogate for the presence of God. “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.” (Romans 3:19) The law accomplishes in man what the appearance of God accomplished in Job: it leaves us speechless in regards to the charges against us.

SATURDAY

This passage answers the dilemma this week’s questions present and points to the solution that next week’s questions offer. It should be noted that we are saved from our sins, and saved to keep his commandments. God is concerned with our obedience, but only its place. We obey in response to God’s grace not to secure God’s grace.

Catechism Comments & Quotes

Summarizing the group of questions:

The Catechism reorients us to the crisis of the human condition: On our own, God is not for us but against us. God’s wrath cannot be wished away from the pages of Scripture. (DeYoung, 38)

It took the church a few centuries of heresies to safeguard this biblical truth from error. Almost all the early heresies dealt somehow with the person of Christ, either denying His full deity (Arianism), or His full manhood (Docetism), or confusing the two (Eutychianism), or splitting the two (Nestorianism). As attractive as the compromise solutions seemed at the time, nothing other than a full-throated orthodoxy would do, because nothing other than a God-man can save men from God. We need a bridge that goes far enough in both directions, spanning the gulf that exists between a holy God and a rebellious people. We need a Mediator, as the Athanasian Creed says, who is “God and human” yet “not two, but one.” (DeYoung, 39)

Question 12

The design of this Lord’s Day is to prove how utterly destitute of salvation the sinner has become. If God dealt with sinners as they deserve, none could dare hope. From the human standpoint, there is no way of salvation. Three ways of solving the problem of sin are possible: obedience, paying the penalty, atonement. Adam has already forfeited the first way; the second offers no salvation; and the third is one which man is incapable of making  himself- first because no creature is good enough to pay either his own or another’s indebtedness; and second, because all men are already “dead in sins.” If there is a way of escape therefore, it is not to be found in ourselves. (Brower, 16)

Light is the natural symbol of God’s absolute justice and truth, just as darkness is the symbol of Satan’s kingdom of error and evil. Because God is light, it is very foolish to think for even one moment he will go easy on sin. The truth is that not one single sin—not even one we might call “a very little one”—will be remitted without full payment. (Williamson, 28)

…if man wants to “come again to grace,” to live in the presence of God, it will be necessary for him to pay; if he is insolvent, it will be necessary that someone else pay for him. The debt cannot remain unpaid. (UCP, 38)

Question 13

Man cannot satisfy God’s righteousness. He cannot restore the right of God and man. In fact he himself is the ever new, ever recurring cause of the destruction of this right. (Barth, 49)

Hundreds of thousands believe that rites and ceremonies are roads to the everlasting God. They sprinkle water, they dip and immerse, they burn candles, and they say litanies. Or they chant verses until their minds are numb. They call on saints and holy people, make pilgrimages, sing songs, pay money, But the Lord says that there is only one Mediator between God and man. (Kuyvenhoven, 36)

“Good” deeds are quite useless; they cannot compensate for the bad ones; they cannot restore the balance. Our acts are all tainted by the curse; we cannot produce a single pure deed, that is to say, a completely unselfish act motivated by love alone. (UCP, 40)

“It is the road to hell that is paved with good intentions, not the road to heaven.” (Cited in UCP, 41)

Question 14

Another creature cannot “pay” because man is the one who committed the violation, He is questioned about his deed and he must answer for it. Moreover, no mere creature can reestablish the right of God and man. (Barth, 49)

This is an intolerant teaching. It gives no saving credit to other religions, and it declares all human efforts hopeless. (Kuyvenhoven, 36)

How many times do we not find men and women, who, in one way or another, think they ought still to satisfy God? But when God reveals himself as he really is in Jesus Christ, when he ceases to be a creation of the human imagination, it becomes clear immediately that he could not allow anyone to bargain with him over his grace. (UCP, 42)

Question 15

Redemption as redemption through righteousness is only possible through one who is true man, one who is able to measure up to the responsibility of man before God, one who is capable of representing a new man (q. 16). But at the same time he must also be true God, one who is capable of actually achieving the restoration in its significance for all other men (q. 17). (Barth, 49)

One could imagine one righteous man dying to redeem one other person (if such a righteous man could be found, and he were willing to do it.) But even if such a person could be found, he could not redeem many people—unless he were not only a man but also an infinite person. (Williamson, 29)


[1] 1  Ex. 23:7; Rom. 2:1-11

[2] 2  Isa. 53:11; Rom. 8:3-4

[3] Matt. 6:12; Rom. 2:4-5

[4] Ezek. 18:4, 20; Heb. 2:14-18

[5] Ps. 49:7-9; 130:3

[6] Rom. 1:3; 1 Cor. 15:21; Heb. 2:17

[7] Isa. 53:9; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 7:26

[8] Isa. 7:14; 9:6; Jer. 23:6; John 1:1

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