Heidelberg Catechism

The Second Part: Grace


Question 12: 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?

Answer: 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]

[1] Ex. 23:7; Rom. 2:1-11 [2] Isa. 53:11; Rom. 8:3-4

Question 13: Can we pay this debt ourselves?

Answer: Certainly not. Actually, we increase our guilt every day.[1]

[1] Matt. 6:12; Rom. 2:4-5

Question 14: Can another creature-any at all-pay this debt for us?

Answer: No. To begin with, God will not punish another creature for man’s guilt.[1] Besides, no mere creature can bear the weight of God’s eternal anger against sin and release others from it.[2]

[1] Ezek. 18:4, 20; Heb. 2:14-18 [2] Ps. 49:7-9; 130:3

Question 15: What kind of mediator and deliverer should we look for then?

Answer: One who is truly human[1] and truly righteous,[2] yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, he must also be true God.[3]

[1] 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


Question 16: Why must he be truly human and truly righteous?

Answer: God’s justice demands it man has sinned, must pay for his sin;[1] but a sinner can not pay for others.[2]

[1] Rom. 5:12, 15; 1 Cor. 15:21; Heb. 2:14-16 [2] Heb. 7:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:18

Question 17: Why must he also be true God?

Answer: So that, by the power of his divinity, he might bear the weight of God’s anger 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

Question 18: And who is this mediator-true God and at the same time truly human and truly righteous?

Answer: Our Lord Jesus Christ,[1] who was given us to set us completely free and to make us right with God.[2]

[1] Matt. 1:21-23; Luke 2:11; 1 Tim. 2:5 [2]1 Cor. 1:30

Question 19: How do you come to know this?

Answer: The holy gospel tells me. God himself began to reveal the gospel already in Paradise;[1] later, he proclaimed it by the holy patriarchs[2] and prophets,[3] and portrayed it by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law;[4] finally, he fulfilled it through his own dear Son.[5]

[1] Gen. 3:15 [2] Gen. 22:18; 49:10 [3] Isa. 53; Jer. 23:5-6; Mic. 7:18-20; Acts 10:43; Heb. 1:1-2 [4] Lev. 1-7; John 5:46; Heb. 10:1-10 [5] Rom. 10:4; Gal. 4:4-5; Col. 2:17


Question 20: Are all saved through Christ just as all were lost through Adam?

Answer: No. Only those are saved who by true faith are grafted into Christ and accept all his blessings.[1]

[1] Matt. 7:14; John 3:16, 18, 36; Rom. 11:16-21

Question 21: What is true faith?

Answer: True faith is not only a knowledge and conviction that everything God reveals in his Word is true;[1] it is also a deep-rooted assurance,[2] created in me by the Holy Spirit[3] through the gospel,[4] that, out of sheer grace earned for us by Christ,[5] not only others, but I too,[6] have had my sins forgiven, have been made forever right with God, and have been granted salvation.[7]

[1] John 17:3, 17; Heb. 11:1-3; James 2:19 [2] Rom. 4:18-21; 5:1; 10:10; Heb. 4:14-16 [3] Matt. 16:15-17; John 3:5; Acts 16:14 [4] Rom. 1:16; 10:17; 1 Cor. 1:21 [5] Rom. 3:21-26; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-10 [6] Gal. 2:20 [7] Rom. 1:17; Heb. 10:10

Question 22: What then must a Christian believe?

Answer: Everything God promises us in the gospel.[1] That gospel is summarized for us in the articles of our Christian faith-a creed beyond doubt, and confessed throughout the world.

[1] Matt. 28:18-20; John 20:30-31

Question 23: What are these articles?

Answer: I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From thence he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit; I believe a holy catholic church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.


Question 24: How are these articles divided?

Answer: Into three parts: God the Father and our creation; God the Son and our deliverance; God the Holy Spirit and our sanctification.

Question 25: Since there is but one God,[1] why do you speak of three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

Answer: 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


Question 26: What do you believe when you say, “I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth”?

Answer: 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 his Son.[3] I trust him so much that I do not doubt he will provide whatever I need for body and soul,[4] and he will turn to my good whatever adversity he sends me in this sad world.[5] He is able to do this because he is almighty God;[6] he desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.[7]

[1] Gen. 1 & 2; Ex. 20:11; Ps. 33:6; Isa. 44:24; Acts 4:24; 14:15 [2] Ps. 104; Matt. 6:30; 10:29; Eph. 1:11 [3] John 1:12-13; Rom. 8:15-16; Gal. 4:4-7; Eph. 1:5 [4] Ps. 55:22; Matt. 6:25-26; Luke 12:22-31 [5] Rom. 8:28 [6] Gen. 18:14; Rom. 8:31-39 [7] Matt. 7:9-11


Question 27: What do you understand by the providence of God?

Answer: Providence is the almighty and ever present power of God[1] by which he 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, prosperity and poverty-[3] all things, in fact, come to us not by chance[4] but from his fatherly hand.[5]

[1] Jer. 23:23-24; Acts 17:24-28 [2] Heb. 1:3 [3] Jer. 5:24; Acts 14:15-17; John 9:3; Prov. 22:2 [4] Prov. 16:33 [5] Matt. 10:29

Question 28: How does the knowledge of God’s creation and providence help us?

Answer: We can be patient when things go against us,[1] thankful when things go well,[2] and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from his love.[3] All creatures are so completely in his hand that without his will they can neither move nor be moved.[4]

[1] Job 1:21-22; James 1:3 [2] Deut. 8:10; 1 Thess. 5:18 [3] Ps. 55:22; Rom. 5:3-5; 8:38-39 [4] Job 1:12; 2:6; Prov. 21:1; Acts 17:24-28


Question 29: Why is the Son of God called “Jesus,” meaning “savior”?

Answer: Because he saves us from our sins.[1] Salvation cannot be found in anyone else; it is futile to look for any salvation elsewhere.[2]

[1] Matt. 1:21; Heb. 7:25 [2] Isa. 43:11; John 15:5; Acts 4:11-12; 1 Tim. 2:5

Question 30: Do those who look for their salvation and security in saints, in themselves, or elsewhere really believe in the only savior Jesus?

Answer: No. Although they boast of being his, by their deeds they deny the only savior and deliverer, 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.[2]

[1] 1 Cor. 1:12-13; Gal. 5:4 [2] Col. 1:19-20; 2:10; 1 John 1:7


Question 31: Why is he called “Christ,” meaning “anointed”?

Answer: Because he has been ordained by God the Father and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit[1] to be our chief prophet and teacher[2] who perfectly reveals to us the secret counsel and will of God for our deliverance;[3] our only high priest[4] who has set us free by the one sacrifice of his body,[5] and who continually pleads our cause with the Father;[6] and our eternal king[7] who governs us by his Word and Spirit, and who guards us and keeps us in the freedom he has won for us.[8]

[1] 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; 15:15 [4] Heb. 7:17 (Ps. 110:4) [5] Heb. 9:12; 10:11-14 [6] Rom. 8:34; Heb. 9:24 [7] Matt. 21:5 (Zech. 9:9) [8] Matt. 28:18-20; John 10:28; Rev. 12:10-11

Question 32: But why are you called a Christian?

Answer: Because by faith I am a member of Christ[1] and so I share in his anointing.[2] I am anointed to confess his name,[3] to present myself to him as a living sacrifice of thanks,[4] to strive with a good conscience against sin and the devil in this life,[5] and afterward to reign with Christ over all creation for all eternity.[6]

[1] 1 Cor. 12:12-27 [2] Acts 2:17 (Joel 2:28); 1 John 2:27 [3] Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10:9-10; Heb. 13:15 [4] Rom. 12:1; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9 [5] Gal. 5:16-17; Eph. 6:11; 1 Tim. 1:18-19 [6] Matt. 25:34; 2 Tim. 2:12


Question 33: Why is he called God’s “only begotten Son” when we also are God’s children?

Answer: Because Christ alone is the eternal, natural Son of God.[1] We, however, are adopted children of God-adopted by grace through Christ.[2]

[1] John 1:1-3, 14, 18; Heb. 1 [2] John 1:12; Rom. 8:14-17; Eph. 1:5-6

Question 34: Why do you call him “our Lord”?

Answer: Because-not with gold or silver, but with his precious blood-[1] he has set us free from sin and from the tyranny of the devil,[2] and has bought us, body and soul, to be his very own.[3]

[1] 1 Pet. 1:18-19 [2] Col. 1:13-14; Heb. 2:14-15 [3] 1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Tim. 2:5-6


Question 35: What does it mean that he “was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary”?

Answer: That the eternal Son of God, who is and remains true and eternal God,[1] took to himself, through the working of the Holy Spirit,[2] from the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary,[3] a truly human nature so that he might become David’s true descendant,[4] in all things like us his brothers[5] except for sin.[6]

[1] John 1:1; 10:30-36; Acts 13:33 (Ps. 2:7); Col. 1:15-17; 1 John 5:20 [2] Luke 1:35 [3] Matt. 1:18-23; John 1:14; Gal. 4:4; Heb. 2:14 [4] 2 Sam. 7:12-16; Ps. 132:11; Matt. 1:1; Rom. 1:3 [5] Phil. 2:7; Heb. 2:17 [6] Heb. 4:15; 7:26-27

Question 36: How does the holy conception and birth of Christ benefit you?

Answer: He is our mediator,[1] and with his innocence and perfect holiness he removes from God’s sight my sin-mine since I was conceived.[2]

[1] 1 Tim. 2:5-6; Heb. 9:13-15 [2] Rom. 8:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 4:4-5; 1 Pet. 1:18-19


Question 37: What do you understand by the word “suffered”?

Answer: That during his whole life on earth, but especially at the end, Christ sustained in body and soul the anger of God against the sin of the whole human race.[1] This he did in order that, by his suffering as the only atoning sacrifice,[2] he might set us free, body and soul, from eternal condemnation,[3] and gain for us God’s grace, righteousness, and eternal life.[4]

[1] Isa. 53; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18 [2] Rom. 3:25; Heb. 10:14; 1 John 2:2; 4:10 [3] Rom. 8:1-4; Gal. 3:13 [4] John 3:16; Rom. 3:24-26

Question 38: Why did he suffer “under Pontius Pilate” as judge?

Answer: So that he, though innocent, might be condemned by a civil judge,[1] and so free us from the severe judgment of God that was to fall on us.[2]

[1] Luke 23:13-24; John 19:4, 12-16 [2] Isa. 53:4-5; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13

Question 39: Is it significant that he was “crucified” instead of dying some other way?

Answer: Yes. This death convinces me that he shouldered the curse which lay on me, since death by crucifixion was accursed by God.[1]

[1] Gal. 3:10-13 (Deut. 21:23)


Question 40: Why did Christ have to go all the way to death?

Answer: Because God’s justice and truth demand it:[1] only the death of God’s Son could pay for our sin.[2]

[1] Gen. 2:17 [2] Rom. 8:3-4; Phil. 2:8; Heb. 2:9

Question 41: Why was he “buried”?

Answer: His burial testifies that he really died.[1]

[1] Isa. 53:9; John 19:38-42; Acts 13:29; 1 Cor. 15:3-4

Question 42: Since Christ has died for us, why do we still have to die?

Answer: Our death does not pay the debt of our sins.[1] Rather, it puts an end to our sinning and is our entrance into eternal life.[2]

[1] Ps. 49:7 [2] John 5:24; Phil. 1:21-23; 1 Thess. 5:9-10

Question 43: What further advantage do we receive from Christ’s sacrifice and death on the cross?

Answer: Through Christ’s death our old selves are crucified, put to death, and buried with him,[1] so that the evil desires of the flesh may no longer rule us,[2] but that instead we may dedicate ourselves as an offering of gratitude to him.[3]

[1] Rom. 6:5-11; Col. 2:11-12 [2] Rom. 6:12-14 [3] Rom. 12:1; Eph. 5:1-2

Question 44: Why does the creed add, “He descended to hell”?

Answer: 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.[1]

[1] Isa. 53; Matt. 26:36-46; 27:45-46; Luke 22:44; Heb. 5:7-10


Question 45: How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?

Answer: 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.[1] Second, by his power we too are already now resurrected to a new life.[2] Third, Christ’s resurrection is a guarantee of our glorious resurrection.[3]

[1] Rom. 4:25; 1 Cor. 15:16-20; 1 Pet. 1:3-5 [2] Rom. 6:5-11; Eph. 2:4-6; Col. 3:1-4 [3] Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:12-23; Phil. 3:20-21


Question 46: What do you mean by saying, “He ascended to heaven”?

Answer: That Christ, while his disciples watched, was lifted up from the earth to heaven[1] and will be there for our good[2] until he comes again to judge the living and the dead.[3]

[1] Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11 [2] Rom. 8:34; Eph. 4:8-10; Heb. 7:23-25; 9:24 [3] Acts 1:11

Question 47: But isn’t Christ with us until the end of the world as he promised us?[1]

Answer: Christ is true man and true God. In his human nature Christ is not now on earth;[2] but in his divinity, majesty, grace, and Spirit he is not absent from us for a moment.[3]

[1] Matt. 28:20 [2] Acts 1:9-11; 3:19-21 [3] Matt. 28:18-20; John 14:16-19

Question 48: If his humanity is not present wherever his divinity is, then aren’t the two natures of Christ separated from each other?

Answer: Certainly not. Since divinity is not limited and is present everywhere,[1] it is evident that Christ’s divinity is surely beyond the bounds of the humanity he has taken on, but at the same time his divinity is in and remains personally united to his humanity.[2]

[1] Jer. 23:23-24; Acts 7:48-49 (Isa. 66:1) [2] John 1:14; 3:13; Col. 2:9

Question 49: How does Christ’s ascension to heaven benefit us?

Answer: First, he pleads our cause in heaven in the presence of his Father.[1] Second, we have our own flesh in heaven-a guarantee that Christ our head will take us, his members, to himself in heaven.[2] Third, he sends his Spirit to us on earth as a further guarantee.[3] By the Spirit’s power we make the goal of our lives, not earthly things, but the things above where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand.[4]

[1] Rom. 8:34; 1 John 2:1 [2] John 14:2; 17:24; Eph. 2:4-6 [3] John 14:16; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5 [4] Col. 3:1-4


Question 50: Why the next words: “and is seated at the right hand of God”?

Answer: Christ ascended to heaven, there to show that he is head of his church,[1] and that the Father rules all things through him.[2]

[1] Eph. 1:20-23; Col. 1:18 [2] Matt. 28:18; John 5:22-23

Question 51: How does this glory of Christ our head benefit us?

Answer: First, through his Holy Spirit he pours out his gifts from heaven upon us his members.[1] Second, by his power he defends us and keeps us safe from all enemies.[2]

[1] Acts 2:33; Eph. 4:7-12 [2] Ps. 110:1-2; John 10:27-30; Rev. 19:11-16

Question 52: How does Christ’s return “to judge the living and the dead” comfort you?

Answer: In all my distress and persecution I turn my eyes to the heavens and confidently await as judge the very One who has already stood trial in my place before God and so has removed the whole curse from me [1] All his enemies and mine he will condemn to everlasting punishment: but me and all his chosen ones he will take along with him into the joy and the glory of heaven.[2]

[1] Luke 21:28; Rom. 8:22-25; Phil. 3:20-21; Tit. 2:13-14 [2] Matt. 25:31-46; 2 Thess. 1:6-10


Question 53: What do you believe concerning “the Holy Spirit”?

Answer: First, he, as well as the Father and the Son, is eternal God.[1] Second, he has been given to me personally,[2] so that, by true faith, he makes me share in Christ and all his blessings,[3] comforts me,[4] and remains with me forever.[5]

[1] Gen. 1:1-2; Matt. 28:19; Acts 5:3-4 [2] 1 Cor. 6:19; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; Gal. 4:6 [3] Gal. 3:14 [4] John 15:26; Acts 9:31 [5] John 14:16-17; 1 Pet. 4:14


Question 54: What do you believe concerning “the holy catholic church”?

Answer: I believe that the Son of God through his Spirit and Word,[1] out of the entire human race,[2] from the beginning of the world to its end,[3] gathers, protects, and preserves for himself a community chosen for eternal life[4] and united in true faith.[5] And of this community I am[6] and always will be[7] a living member.

[1] John 10:14-16; Acts 20:28; Rom. 10:14-17; Col. 1:18 [2] Gen. 26:3b-4; Rev. 5:9 [3] Isa. 59:21; 1 Cor. 11:26 [4] Matt. 16:18; John 10:28-30; Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:3-14 [5] Acts 2:42-47; Eph. 4:1-6 [6] 1 John 3:14, 19-21 [7] John 10:27-28; 1 Cor. 1:4-9; 1 Pet. 1:3-5

Question 55: What do you understand by “the communion of saints”?

Answer: First, that believers one and all, as members of this community, share in Christ and in all his treasures and gifts.[1] Second, that each member should consider it his duty to use these gifts readily and cheerfully for the service and enrichment of the other members.[2]

[1] Rom. 8:32; 1 Cor. 6:17; 12:4-7, 12-13; 1 John 1:3 [2] Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Cor. 12:20-27; 13:1-7; Phil. 2:4-8

Question 56: What do you believe concerning “the forgiveness of sins”?

Answer: I believe that God, because of Christ’s atonement, will never hold against me any of my sins[1] nor my sinful nature which I need to struggle against all my life.[2] Rather, in his grace God grants me the righteousness of Christ to free me forever from judgment.[3]

[1] Ps. 103:3-4, 10, 12; Mic. 7:18-19; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; 1 John 1:7; 2:2 [2] Rom. 7:21-25 [3] John 3:17-18; Rom. 8:1-2


Question 57: How does “the resurrection of the body” comfort you?

Answer: Not only my soul will be taken immediately after this life to Christ its head,[1] but even my very flesh, raised by the power of Christ, will be reunited with my soul and made like Christ’s glorious body.[2]

[1] Luke 23:43; Phil. 1:21-23 [2] 1 Cor. 15:20, 42-46, 54; Phil. 3:21; 1 John 3:2

Question 58: How does the article concerning “life everlasting” comfort you?

Answer: Even as I already now experience in my heart the beginning of eternal joy,[1] so after this life I will have perfect blessedness such as no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no man has ever imagined: a blessedness in which to praise God eternally.[2]

[1] Rom. 14:17 [2] John 17:3; 1 Cor. 2:9 


Question 59: What good does it do you, however, to believe all this?

Answer: In Christ I am right with God and heir to life everlasting.[1]

[1] John 3:36; Rom. 1:17 (Hab. 2:4); Rom. 5:1-2

Question 60: How are you right with God?

Answer: Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.[1] Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments and of never having kept any of them,[2] and even though I am still inclined toward all evil,[3] nevertheless, without my deserving it at all,[4] out of sheer grace,[5] God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ,[6] as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me.[7] All I need to do is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart.[8]

[1] Rom. 3:21-28; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-9; Phil 3:8-11 [2] Rom. 3:9-10 [3] Rom. 7:23 [4] Tit. 3:4-5 [5] Rom. 3:24; Eph. 2:8 [6] Rom. 4:3-5 (Gen. 15:6); 2 Cor. 5:17-19; 1 John 2:1-2 [7] Rom. 4:24-25; 2 Cor. 5:21 [8] John 3:18; Acts 16:30-31

Question 61: Why do you say that by faith alone you are right with God?

Answer: It is not because of any value my faith has that God is pleased with me. Only Christ’s satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness make me right with God.[1] And I can receive this righteousness and make it mine in no other way than by faith alone.[2]

[1] 1 Cor. 1:30-31 [2] Rom. 10:10; 1 John 5:10-12


Question 62: Why can’t the good we do make us right with God, or at least help make us right with him?

Answer: Because the righteousness which can pass God’s scrutiny must be entirely perfect and must in every way measure up to the divine law.[1] Even the very best we do in this life is imperfect and stained with sin.[2]

[1] Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:10 (Deut. 27:26) [2] Isa. 64:6

Question 63: How can you say that the good we do doesn’t earn anything when God promises to reward it in this life and the next?[1]

Answer: This reward is not earned; it is a gift of grace.[2]

[1] Matt. 5:12; Heb. 11:6 [2] Luke 17:10; 2 Tim. 4:7-8

Question 64: But doesn’t this teaching make people indifferent and wicked?

Answer: No. It is impossible for those grafted into Christ by true faith not to produce fruits of gratitude.[1]

[1] Luke 6:43-45; John 15:5


Question 65: You confess that by faith alone you share in Christ and all his blessings: where does that faith come from?

Answer: The Holy Spirit produces it in our hearts[1] by the preaching of the holy gospel,[2] and confirms it through our use of the holy sacraments.[3]

[1] John 3:5; 1 Cor. 2:10-14; Eph. 2:8 [2] Rom. 10:17; 1 Pet. 1:23-25 [3] Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 10:16

Question 66: What are sacraments?

Answer: Sacraments are holy signs and seals for us to see. They were instituted by God so that by our use of them he might make us understand more clearly the promise of the gospel, and might put his seal on that promise.[2] And this is God’s gospel promise: to forgive our sins and give us eternal life by grace alone because of Christ’s one sacrifice finished on the cross.[2]

[1] Gen. 17:11; Deut. 30:6; Rom. 4:11 [2] Matt. 26:27-28; Acts 2:38; Heb. 10:10

Question 67: Are both the word and the sacraments then on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross as the only ground of our salvation?

Answer: Right! In the gospel the Holy Spirit teaches us and through the holy sacraments he assures us that our entire salvation rests on Christ’s one sacrifice for us on the cross.[1]

[1] Rom. 6:3; 1 Cor. 11:26; Gal. 3:27

Question 68: How many sacraments did Christ institute in the New Testament?

Answer:Two: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.[1]

[1] Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26


Question 69: How does baptism remind you and assure you that Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross is for you personally?

Answer: In this way: Christ instituted this outward washing[1] and with it gave the promise that, as surely as water washes away the dirt from the body, so certainly his blood and his Spirit wash away my soul’s impurity, in other words, all my sins.[2]

[1] Acts 2:38 [2] Matt. 3:11; Rom. 6:3-10; 1 Pet. 3:21

Question 70: What does it mean to be washed with Christ’s blood and Spirit?

Answer: To be washed with Christ’s blood means that God, by grace, has forgiven my sins because of Christ’s blood poured out for me in his sacrifice on the cross.[1] To be washed with Christ’s Spirit means that the Holy Spirit has renewed me and set me apart to be a member of Christ so that more and more I become dead to sin and increasingly live a holy and blameless life.[2]

[1] Zech. 13:1; Eph. 1:7-8; Heb. 12:24; 1 Pet. 1:2; Rev. 1:5 [2] Ezek. 36:25-27; John 3:5-8; Rom. 6:4; 1 Cor. 6:11; Col. 2:11-12

Question 71: Where does Christ promise that we are washed with his blood and Spirit as surely as we are washed with the water of baptism?

Answer: In the institution of baptism where he says: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”[1] “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”[2] This promise is repeated when Scripture calls baptism the washing of regeneration[3] and the washing away of sins.[4]

[1] Matt. 28:19 [2] Mark 16:16 [3] Tit. 3:5 [4] Acts 22:16 


Question 72: Does this outward washing with water itself wash away sins?

Answer: No, only Jesus Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit cleanse us from all sins.[1]

[1] Matt. 3:11; 1 Pet. 3:21; 1 John 1:7

Question 73: Why then does the Holy Spirit call baptism the washing of regeneration and the washing away of sins?

Answer: God has good reason for these words. He wants to teach us that the blood and Spirit of Christ wash away our sins just as water washes away dirt from our bodies.[1] But more important, he wants to assure us, by this divine pledge and sign, that the washing away of our sins spiritually is as real as physical washing with water.[2]

[1] 1 Cor. 6:11; Rev. 1:5; 7:14 [2] Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27

Question 74: Should infants, too, be baptized?

Answer: Yes. Infants as well as adults are in God’s covenant and are his people.[1] They, no less than adults, are promised the forgiveness of sin through Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit who produces faith.[2] Therefore, by baptism, the mark of the covenant, infants should be received into the Christian church and should be distinguished from the children of unbelievers.[3] This was done in the Old Testament by circumcision[4]   which was replaced in the New Testament by baptism.[5]

[1] Gen. 17:7; Matt. 19:14 [2] Isa. 44:1-3; Acts 2:38-39; 16:31 [3] Acts 10:47; 1 Cor. 7:14 [4] Gen. 17:9-14 [5] Col. 2:11-13


Question 75: How does the Lord’s Supper remind you and assure you that you share in Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross and in all his gifts?

Answer: In this way: Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat this broken bread and to drink this cup. With this command he gave this promise:[1] First, as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup given to me, so surely his body was offered and broken for me and his blood poured out for me on the cross. Second, as surely as I receive from the hand of the one who serves, and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, given me as sure signs of Christ’s body and blood, so surely he nourishes and refreshes my soul for eternal life with his crucified body and poured-out blood.

[1] Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-25

Question 76: What does it mean to eat the crucified body of Christ and to drink his poured-out blood?

Answer: It means to accept with a believing heart the entire suffering and death of Christ and by believing to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life.[1] But it means more. Through the Holy Spirit, who lives both in Christ and in us, we are united more and more to Christ’s blessed body.[2] And so, although he is in heaven[3] and we are on earth, we are flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.[4] And we forever live on and are governed by one Spirit, as members of our body are by one soul.[5]

[1] John 6:35, 40, 50-54 [2] John 6:55-56; 1 Cor. 12:13 [3] Acts 1:9-11; 1 Cor. 11:26; Col. 3:1 [4] 1 Cor. 6:15-17; Eph. 5:29-30; 1 John 4:13 [5] John 6:56-58; 15:1-6; Eph. 4:15-16; 1 John 3:24

Question 77: Where does Christ promise to nourish and refresh believers with his body and blood as surely as they eat this broken bread and drink this cup?

Answer: In the institution of the Lord’s Supper: “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”[1] This promise is repeated by Paul in these words: “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.”[2]

[1] 1 Cor. 11:23-26 [2] 1 Cor. 10:16-17


Question 78: Are the bread and wine changed into the real body and blood of Christ?

Answer: No. Just as the water of baptism is not changed into Christ’s blood and does not itself wash away sins but is simply God’s sign and assurance,[1] so too the bread of the Lord’s Supper is not changed into the actual body of Christ[2] even though it is called the body of Christ[3] in keeping with the nature and language of sacraments.[4]

[1] Eph. 5:26; Tit. 3:5 [2] Matt. 26:26-29 [3] 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 11:26-28 [4] Gen. 17:10-11; Ex. 12:11, 13; 1 Cor. 10:1-4

Question 79: Why then does Christ call the bread his body and the cup his blood, or the new covenant in his blood? (Paul uses the words, a participation in Christ’s body and blood.)

Answer: Christ has good reason for these words. He wants to teach us that as bread and wine nourish our temporal life, so too his crucified body and poured-out blood truly nourish our souls for eternal life.[1] But more important, he wants to assure us, by this visible sign and pledge, that we, through the Holy Spirit’s work, share in his true body and blood as surely as our mouths receive these holy signs in his remembrance,[2] and that all of his suffering and obedience are as definitely ours as if we personally had suffered and paid for our sins.[3]

[1] John 6:51, 55 [2] 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 11:26 [3] Rom. 6:5-11


Question 80: How does the Lord’s Supper differ from the Roman Catholic Mass?

Answer: The Lord’s Supper declares to us that our sins have been completely forgiven through the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ which he himself finished on the cross once for all.[1] It also declares to us that the Holy Spirit grafts us into Christ,[2] who with his very body is now in heaven at the right hand of the Father[3] where he wants us to worship him.[4]But the Mass teaches that the living and the dead do not have their sins forgiven through the suffering of Christ unless Christ is still offered for them daily by the priests. It also teaches that Christ is bodily present in the form of bread and wine where Christ is therefore to be worshiped. Thus the Mass is basically nothing but a denial of the one sacrifice and suffering of Jesus Christ and a condemnable idolatry.

[1] John 19:30; Heb. 7:27; 9:12, 25-26; 10:10-18 [2] 1 Cor. 6:17; 10:16-17 [3] Acts 7:55-56; Heb. 1:3; 8:1 [4] Matt. 6:20-21; John 4:21-24; Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:1-3 

Question 81: Who are to come to the Lord’s table?

Answer: Those who are displeased with themselves because of their sins, but who nevertheless trust that their sins are pardoned and that their continuing weakness is covered by the suffering and death of Christ, and who also desire more and more to strengthen their faith and to lead a better life. Hypocrites and those who are unrepentant, however, eat and drink judgment on themselves.[1]

[1] 1 Cor. 10:19-22; 11:26-32

Question 82: Are those to be admitted to the Lord’s Supper who show by what they say and do that they are unbelieving and ungodly?

Answer: No, that would dishonor God’s covenant and bring down God’s anger upon the entire congregation. [1] Therefore, according to the instruction of Christ and his apostles, the Christian church is duty-bound to exclude such people, by the official use of the keys of the kingdom, until they reform their lives.

[1] 1 Cor. 11:17-32; Ps. 50:14-16; Isa. 1:11-17


Question 83: What are the keys of the kingdom?

Answer: The preaching of the holy gospel and Christian discipline toward repentance. Both preaching and discipline open the kingdom of heaven to believers and close it to unbelievers.[1]

[1] Matt. 16:19; John 20:22-23

Question 84: How does preaching the gospel open and close the kingdom of heaven?

Answer: According to the command of Christ: The kingdom of heaven is opened by proclaiming and publicly declaring to each and every believer that, as often as he accepts the gospel promise in true faith, God, because of what Christ has done, truly forgives all his sins. The kingdom of heaven is closed, however, by proclaiming and publicly declaring to unbelievers and hypocrites that, as long as they do not repent, the anger of God and eternal condemnation rest on them. God’s judgment, both in this life and in the life to come, is based on this gospel testimony.[1]

[1] Matt. 16:19; John 3:31-36; 20:21-23

Question 85: How is the kingdom of heaven closed and opened by Christian discipline?

Answer: According to the command of Christ: If anyone, though called a Christian, professes unchristian teachings or lives unchristian lives, and after repeated and loving counsel he refuses to abandon his errors and wickedness, and, if after being reported to the church, that is, to its officers, he fails to respond also to their admonition-such a one the officers exclude from the Christian fellowship by withholding the sacraments from him, and God himself excludes him from the kingdom of Christ.[1] Such persons, when he promises and demonstrates genuine reform, is received again as a member of Christ and of his church.[2]

[1] Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:3-5, 11-13; 2 Thess. 3:14-15 [2] Luke 15:20-24; 2 Cor. 2:6-11

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