Lord’s Day 23: Right with God

Catechism and PsalterHaving set forth the orthodox Christian faith as described in the Apostles’ Creed, the Heidelberg Catechism proceeds to reiterate and expound upon why it is necessary for a Christian “to believe all this.”  Lord’s Day 7, which introduced the Creed, is remarkably mirrored here in Lord’s Day 23, today’s focus in this URC Psalmody series.

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

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

60 Q.  How are you right with God?

A.  Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.

Even though my conscience accuses me
of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments
and of never having kept any of them,
and even though I am still inclined toward all evil,
nevertheless,
without my deserving it at all,
out of sheer grace,
God grants and credits to me
the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ,
as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner,
as if I had been as perfectly obedient
as Christ was obedient for me.

All I need to do
is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart.

61 Q.  Why do you say that by faith alone you are right with God?

A.  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.
And I can receive this righteousness and make it mine
in no other way than
by faith alone.

Suggested Songs

212, “Praise the Lord, for He is Good” (Psalm 107)

(Sung by Cornerstone URC in Hudsonville, MI)

“In Christ I am right with God and heir to life everlasting.”  Psalm 107 is a tremendous song of deliverance.  In its 43 verses it lists several situations in which the Lord brings salvation to the afflicted, marking each scenario with two refrains: “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress,” and “Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!”  This Psalter Hymnal selection treats the first nine verses of Psalm 107, beautifully describing the captivity from which we have been released and the heavenly city which we await.

Praise the Lord, for He is good,
For His mercies ever sure
From eternity have stood,
To eternity endure;
Let His ransomed people raise
Songs to their Redeemer’s praise.

From captivity released,
From the south and from the north,
From the west and from the east,
In His love He brought them forth,
Ransomed out of every land
From the adversary’s hand.

Wandering in the wilderness,
Far they roamed the desert way,
Found no settled dwelling-place
Where in peace secure to stay,
Till with thirst and hunger pressed
Courage sank within their breast.

To Jehovah then they cried
In their trouble, and He saved:
He Himself became their Guide,
Led them to the rest they craved
By a pathway straight and sure,
To a city strong, secure.

Sons of men, awake to praise
God the Lord who reigns above,
Gracious in His works and ways,
Wondrous in redeeming love;
Longing souls He satisfies,
Hungry hearts with good supplies.

44, “Lord, I Lift My Soul to Thee” (Psalm 25)

(Sung by West Sayville URC, Long Island, New York)

“Out of sheer grace, God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ.”  This particular section of Psalm 25 expresses the psalmist’s trust in God’s grace not to record his trespasses, but rather to show sinners His way.

Sins of youth remember not,
Nor my trespasses record;
Let not mercy be forgot,
For Thy goodness’ sake, O Lord.
Just and good the Lord abides,
He His way will sinners show,
He the meek in justice guides,
Making them His way to know.

65, “The Good Man’s Steps Are Led Aright” (Psalm 37)

“I can receive this righteousness and make it mine in no other way than by faith alone.”  It is this faith which Psalm 37 exhorts its readers to pursue.  Here the psalmist expounds upon the blessings the “good man”—the one who trusts in Christ for his salvation—will receive, both in this life and in the life to come.

The good man’s steps are led aright,
His way in pleasing in God’s sight,
Established it shall stand;
He shall not perish though he fall,
The mighty Lord, who rules o’er all,
Upholds him with His hand.

Though I am old who young have been,
No saint have I forsaken seen,
Nor yet his home in need;
He ever lends in gracious ways,
His life true charity displays,
His sons are blest indeed.

Depart from evil, do thou well,
And evermore securely dwell;
Jehovah loves the right.
His faithfulness His saints have proved,
Forever they shall stand unmoved,
But sinners God will smite.

Salvation is from God alone,
Whom as their covert saints have known
When by sore troubles tried;
The Lord, who helped in troubles past,
Will save them to the very last,
For they in Him confide.

–MRK

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