************ Sermon on Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 2 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on June 20, 2010
Q & A 2
Romans 3:9-12; 5:6-9; 12:1
"What Must I Know?"
What do you need for happiness? What does it take to make you happy?
How would you fill in the blank: "I will be happy if ..." If what? I will be happy if I make $100,000 per year? I will be happy if my dairy makes money? If will be happy if my kids get straight "A's" at school? I will be happy if I have a boyfriend? I will be happy if I have a girlfriend? I will be happy if I get a scholarship? I will be happy if my husband stops drinking? I will be happy if my wife loses weight? I will be happy if I get another husband or wife? I will be happy if I can have some money in the bank? I will be happy if I buy the product or service I see advertized on TV?
What does it take to make you happy? Everyone wants to be happy, right? I doubt if there is one single person here who does not want to be happy. Doesn't our constitution even guarantee the right to pursue happiness? So, what do you need to be happy?
Last week we looked at what Q & A 1 said about comfort. By comfort, if you remember, the Catechism means strength, security, fortress. What gives me the strength to keep on going? That I belong to Jesus Who bought me with His blood, watches over me, and works out everything for my salvation.
Today, the Catechism goes one step further and asks, "What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort?" Or, to put it another way, "What must you know to be happy?"
I The Question
A Notice the form the question takes. The question is not, "How do I get this comfort?" Nor does the question ask, "What do I have to do to make this comfort mine?" Rather, the question is, "How do I enjoy the comfort?"
As some of you know, getting possessions is not all that hard; but enjoying a treasure is an art. It is possible to own a painting by Rembrandt but have no appreciation for art. And, it is possible to own an old car but have no appreciation for cars. Similarly, it is possible to know all about the comfort of Jesus the Savior; but to live and die in the joy of this comfort is an entirely different matter. How sad it is that many believers know all about Jesus yet get no joy from this. These Christians miss out on so much. You know these Christians: you don't see smile on their faces; rather, you see frowns. Their Christianity is all doom and gloom and no joy and happiness. They are so quick to see the negative and to say their complaints.
B Notice, too, that word "know." "What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort?" To students, of course, that word "know" is loaded with all kinds of baggage. Right away, things like tests, memorization, term-papers, and the learning of facts come to mind. This use of the word "know" has "head-knowledge" in mind. Q & A 2 also has "heart-knowledge" in mind.
What is the difference between head-knowledge and heart-knowledge? When a guy and a gal first meet, it doesn't take long to get head-knowledge about the other person: name, age, home-town, family, date of birth, address, cell phone number, email address, hobbies, career choice, education goals, church membership, height, etc. Most of these things can be found on facebook if you don't have the right privacy and security settings. Heart-knowledge, on the other hand, is not obtained that quickly or easily. It takes time and personal interaction to find out things like: strength of faith, level of commitment, standard of morality, depth of personality, world and life view. It is probably safe to say that it is head-knowledge that attracts you to the other person. It takes heart-knowledge, however, to make the other person someone you love and deeply care for.
To live and die in the joy of the Christian's comfort, head-knowledge and heart-knowledge is needed. You need to know the facts. You also need to live the facts.
II The Answer
A "What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort?" What head-knowledge and heart-knowledge must you have to be happy in the comfort of belonging to Jesus?
First of all, to be happy, to experience the joy of the Christian's comfort, you must know how great your sin and misery are.
Sin is a dirty and old fashioned word today. Who wants to admit they are wrong? Who wants to admit they are lost in darkness? Who wants to admit they have done evil in God's sight? Who wants to admit they have transgressed God's law? To know our sin and misery is to admit guilt. Guilt, of course, means punishment. And punishment means hell. Who wants to admit this?
To know your sin and misery is to lay bare your soul and to confess your faults to God. No one likes to do that. To know sin and misery is to admit the need for salvation. No one wants to admit that either – that man needs saving, that he is about to drown. All of this goes against our human grain of hiding our faults and short-comings.
Whether we like it or not, to be happy, to find joy in the Christian's comfort, we need to know and admit the devastating consequences of sin.
Listen again to what I read earlier from Romans 3. Listen and come to know your sin:
(Rom 3:10-12) "There is no one righteous, not even one; (11) there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. (12) All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one."Until and unless you realize these verses describe you, you will not have the joy of the Christian's comfort.
So, true happiness involves knowing our sin and misery. True happiness involves falling on our knees before God and confessing our sins before Him. True happiness pleads in prayer for God's grace and mercy for me a sinner.
B To have true happiness, you must also know how you are set free from all your sins and misery. To be happy, we must know first-hand the Savior, Jesus Christ. We must know He is the only way of salvation. We must know He was crucified and shed His blood. We must know that He died for our sins.
Topic: ChristWhen it comes to sin and misery, we also need the blood of an overcomer. We need the blood of someone who has overcome sin and misery. That Overcomer is Jesus. It is only by His blood, shed upon the cross, that we can overcome and be set free from our sin and misery. As Paul puts it in Romans,
Subtopic: Blood of
Title: Blood of an overcomer
In the late 1800s an epidemic of measles struck a village in India. The missionary's daughter was in danger of losing her life from this epidemic. So the word went out: the blood of an overcomer was needed. Serum from the blood of a person who had overcome measles would protect the life of the little girl. It was no use finding someone who had recovered from chicken pox or a broken leg. Such people, though healthy, could not give the help needed to overcome measles. Someone was needed who had experienced measles and had conquered it. From this person's blood, antibodies could be taken and injected into the sick person.
(Rom 5:8-9) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!
To be happy in this life and in the life to come, we need to know the Overcomer and His blood. We need to know that only the blood of the Overcomer can save us and set us free.
C There is also a third thing you must know to be happy: how to thank God for your deliverance. Notice the last passage I read from Romans:
(Rom 12:1) Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.The most important word in this verse is the first word: "Therefore." "Therefore" refers to what comes before. You know what comes before. In the first three chapters, Paul mentions our sin and the wrath of God upon that sin. Then in the next eight chapters, Paul mentions how Jesus saves us from our sin. "Therefore ... in view of God's mercy ... offer your bodies as living sacrifices." "Therefore," because you have been saved, thank God for your deliverance.
Don't we see this same pattern with Israel in the wilderness? What does God do right after He delivers Israel from the bondage of Egypt and brings them safely across the Red Sea? He gives His people the Ten Commandments as a guide for grateful living!
God, in His mercy, saves us from our sins. Therefore a response of thankfulness is called for. Gratitude follows grace. Service follows salvation. Responsibilities follow privileges.
Don't we see this same pattern throughout life? It is a privilege to be a parent, but that also means the responsibility of raising your children in God's ways. It is a privilege to be a home owner, but that also means the responsibility of mowing the lawn, paying taxes, and keeping the house neat. It is a privilege to be a citizen, but that means the responsibility of voting, showing up for jury duty, and contributing to society. It is a privilege to own a farm, dairy, or business, but it also means the responsibility of hard work and long hours.
It is an undeserved privilege to be saved by the blood of the Overcomer. Yet, it means the responsibility of living your life for the Lord.
D "What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort?" What must you know and experience to be happy? "Three things: first, how great my sin and misery are; second, how I am set free from all my sins and misery; third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance."
These three things are not three separate stations on the road to happiness. You never leave one behind when you reach the next. In other words, in this life and on this earth and in this body, you never leave your sin and your need for the Savior just because you try to lead the thankful life. All your life, congregation, you need to know yourself to be a sinner. All your life, congregation, you need to know the Savior's love at Golgotha. All your life, congration, you need to know how to lead the thankful life.
E These three things also happen to be the three parts of the Catechism: Sin, Salvation, Service. By the way, do you see how the organization of the Catechism follows the organization of Romans? Both start with sin, move to salvation, and then deal with service.
A couple of months ago, I heard someone present a summary of the Gospel. All they talked about was Jesus. They said nothing about sin. They said nothing about service. Following the outline of Romans, Q & A 2 summarizes the Gospel for us: sin, salvation, service. That is the Gospel! That is what we need to know in order to live and die in the joy of the Christian's comfort.
To live and die happily, we must know sin and salvation and service. And, to emphasize any one of these at the expense of the other two is to distort the Gospel and to rob ourselves of the full measure of Christian joy.
There are churches and ministers that talk only or primarily about sin and misery. The minister's calling is to make the congregation feel guilty and miserable. The only good sermon is one in which the congregation is ripped to shreds. There can be no happiness or joy if grace and gratitude are mere afterthoughts.
There are also some churches and pastors that talk only or primarily about forgiveness and salvation. Little or nothing is said about the life of service. Again, God's people are being robbed of the full measure of joy.
Finally, there are also churches and pastors that talk only or primarily about gratitude. In these churches, the emphasis is on the social gospel – on doing good in the community and the world. But not as a response to salvation from sin. Once again, how can there be happiness and joy if there is no knowledge of sin and salvation.
What do you need to be happy? You don't need money. You don't need white teeth. You don't need things. To be happy, to live and to die in the joy of the Christian's comfort, we need to know our sin, we need to know the Overcomer and His blood, and we need to know how to respond with the thankful life. That's what it takes to be happy.
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