The class I’m teaching on A Gospel-centered Life has proved very interesting. You would think that teaching a catechism from 1563 would be a challenge, but actually the class has almost taught itself. The question and answer format of the catechism has stimulated some great discussions in the first two classes.
I tried to give a historical background to the Reformation and then some historical context about how the Baptists arose as a group in England. Then we backtracked to place the Heidelberg Catechism in its Reformed context.
One question that came out of our discussion is whether an unsaved person actually hates God and his neighbor. Many thought the word “hate” (aborrecer in Spanish) was strong, but upon further reflection (Rom. 8:7 for example) we concluded that it was biblical. These types of discussions help our people understand the gravity of our sin. Several also struggle with eternal security, so I explained that a proper understanding of our sinfulness leads us to realize that salvation is God’s work from beginning to end; thus the idea of losing our salvation makes no sense. God has chosen us and called us to salvation, sealing us with his Holy Spirit. How will he throw that plan into reverse?
I’ve had the students read some of the questions of the catechism and write a personal reflection on what they’ve learned from them. The idea is to inculcate the gospel into our very being. It’s important to see that being “gospel-centered” is not an idea that came out of the Gospel Coalition or Together for the Gospel. It’s an idea rooted in the Scriptures, and is plainly evident in the Heidelberg Catechism of 1563
I’ve been working on a six-week course I’ll be offering in our Escuela de Impacto on how to live a gospel-centered life. As part of the course we’re going to be studying the Heidelberg Catechism (1563). As many of you know, I’ve been getting into church history in the last two or three years, and as a result I’ve run across some amazing material. This catechism is one of those gems. The opening question will give you a small taste:
Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong— body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven;in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.
As Carl Trueman has noted, perhaps the biggest difference between Roman Catholic experience and the experience of an evangelical Christian is the matter of assurance. From a Roman Catholic perspective, a person cannot have assurance of salvation, while from an evangelical perspective we should have assurance. That assurance is beautifully portrayed by this opening question and answer from the Heidelberg Catechism.
Hi guys, sorry for the downtime with our site. The three sites I administer were hit by malware the week the group from Campus Baptist was here. I’d never really thought about security for websites, but now I’m going to take it a lot more seriously. I beefed up security for WordPress and am using better security sense for how the sites are set up. At any rate, we’re back online after a lot of hours of setup. (Note to self: backup better next time!)
You’ll notice a change or two on the site. I’ve gotten rid of Jon’s Blog, so now everything will be posted on the home page. I’m sorry if some of you wanted to only read about one aspect of our lives because now it’s unfiltered… it’s going to be a mix of ministry, theology, technology or musings I may have. Why even bother blog? Well, a blog is a less-polished view of missionary life. Prayer letters often come off as slick productions about the highlights of life. Here you’ll see other sides of ours (Don’t even ask how many hours I spent last week getting the site for our church back up!). I also like to have a forum to discuss things I’m reading or studying.
As all things in life, other than our position in Christ, this site will be in a state of flux for a bit. Hang tight, it’ll only get better. Who knows, maybe I’ll even be more encouraged to write more often.