Lord’s Day 5: By Ourselves or by Another

Catechism and Psalter

Welcome back to URC Psalmody’s 2013 Heidelberg Catechism series.  Today we turn to Lord’s Day 5, the first installment in the Catechism’s second section.  Now that we have an understanding of our true nature from Lord’s Days 1-4, we naturally desire to know how we can be saved from our sin and misery.  The Catechism answers this question slowly and methodically, giving us plenty of time to reflect on its claims.

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.
Therefore the claims of his justice
must be paid in full,
either by ourselves or by another.

13 Q.  Can we pay this debt ourselves?

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

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 man’s guilt.
no mere creature can bear the weight
of God’s eternal anger against sin
and release others from it.

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

A.  He must be truly human and truly righteous,
yet more powerful than all creatures,
that is, he must also be true God.

Suggested Songs

182, “O Lord, Thou Judge of All the Earth” (Psalm 94)

“God requires that his justice be satisfied.”  For the unrepentant sinner, Psalm 94 ought to be downright frightening.  It calls upon God to “arise and show Thy glory forth,/Requite the proud, condemn the wrong.”  It admonishes “fools and brutish men” to be wise: “Shall not He see who formed the eye?/Shall not He hear who formed the ear,/And judge, who reigneth, God Most High?”  And it unequivocally declares:

The Lord will judge in righteousness,
From Him all truth and knowledge flow;
The foolish thoughts of wicked men,
How vain they are the Lord doth know.

90, “Hear This, All Ye People, Hear” (Psalm 49)

(Sung by Grace URC in Dunnville, Ontario)

“Can we pay this debt ourselves?  Certainly not.…Can another creature—any at all—pay this debt for us?  No.”  Psalm 49 is a wisdom psalm whose primary themes are the vanity of life and the futility of wickedness.  Towards the end of this versification, the psalmist warns us of how costly our lives really are:

They that trust in treasured gold,
Though they boast of wealth untold,
None can bid his brother live,
None to God a ransom give.

If from death one would be free
And corruption never see,
Costly is life’s ransom price,
Far beyond all sacrifice.

274, “From the Depths Do I Invoke Thee” (Psalm 130)

“No mere creature can bear the weight of God’s eternal anger against sin and release others from it.”  In Psalm 130 we find a perfect transition from the despair of sin to the comfort of salvation.  This versification in particular presents a wonderful summary of salvation:

From the depths do I invoke Thee;
Lord, to me incline Thine ear,
To my voice be Thou attentive
And my supplication hear.

Lord, if Thou shouldst mark transgressions,
In Thy presence who shall stand?
But with Thee there is forgiveness,
That Thy Name may fear command.

For Jehovah I am waiting
And my hope is in His Word,
In His word of promise given;
Yea, my soul waits for the Lord.

For the Lord my soul is waiting
More than watchers in the night,
More than they for morning watching,
Watching for the morning light.

Hope in God, ye waiting people;
Mercies great with Him abound;
With the Lord a full redemption
From the guilt of sin is found.


1 Response to “Lord’s Day 5: By Ourselves or by Another”

  1. 1 Lord’s Day 6: Who Is This Mediator? « URC Psalmody Trackback on February 6, 2013 at 7:02 am

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