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Doctrinal Standards & Ecumenical Creeds

Lord's Day 1

Q & A 1 Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?

A. That I am not my own,^1
but belong--
body and soul,
in life and in death--^2
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.^3

He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,^4
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.^5
He also watches over me in such a way^6
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven:^7
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.^8

Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life^9
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.^10

^1 1 Cor. 6:19-20
^2 Rom. 14:7-9
^3 1 Cor. 3:23; Titus 2:14
^4 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 John 1:7-9; 1 John 2:2
^5 John 8:34-36; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 John 3:1-11
^6 John 6:39-40; John 10:27-30; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 Pet. 1:5
^7 Matthew 10:29-31; Luke 21:16-18
^8 Rom. 8:28
^9 Rom. 8:15-16; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 2 Cor. 5:5; Eph. 1:13-14
^10 Rom. 8:1-17

 

Q & A 2 Q. What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort?

A. Three things:
first, how great my sin and misery are;^1
second, how I am set free from all my sins and misery;^2
third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.^3

^1 Rom. 3:9-10; 1 John 1:10
^2 John 17:3; Acts 4:12; Acts 10:43
^3 Matthew 5:16; Rom. 6:13; Eph. 5:8-10; 2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Peter 2:9-10
Lord's Day 2 ’ 
Q & A 3

Q. How do you come to know your misery?

A. The law of God tells me.^1

^1 Rom. 3:20; Rom. 7:7-25

 

Q & A 4

Q. What does God's law require of us?

A. Christ teaches us this in summary in Matthew 22-- Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.^1^* This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.^2 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

^1 Deut. 6:5

^2 Lev. 19:18 *Earlier and better manuscripts of Matthew 22 omit the words "and with all your strength." They are found in Mark 12:30.

Q & A 5

Q. Can you live up to all this perfectly?

A. No.^1 I have a natural tendency to hate God and my neighbor.^2

^1 Rom. 3:9-20, 23; 1 John 1:8, 10

^2 Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 7:23-24; Rom. 8:7; Eph. 2:1-3; Titus 3:3

Lord's Day 3 ’ 
Q & A 6

Q. Did God create people so wicked and perverse?

A. No. God created them good^1 and in his own image,^2 that is, in true righteousness and holiness,^3 so that they might truly know God their creator,^4 love him with all their heart, and live with him in eternal happiness for his praise and glory.^5

^1 Gen. 1:31

^2 Gen. 1:26-27

^3 Eph. 4:24

^4 Col. 3:10

^5 Ps. 8

Q & A 7

Q. Then where does this corrupt human nature come from?

A. From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise.

^1 This fall has so poisoned our nature

^2 that we are born sinners-- corrupt from conception on.^3

^1 Gen. 3

^2 Rom. 5:12, 18-19

^3 Ps. 51:5

Q & A 8

Q. But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined toward all evil?

A. Yes,^1 unless we are born again, by the Spirit of God.^2

^1 Gen. 6:5; Gen. 8:21; Job 14:4; Isa. 53:6

^2 John 3:3-5

Lord's Day 4 ’ 
Q & A 9

Q. But doesn't God do us an injustice by requiring in his law what we are unable to do?

A. No, God created humans with the ability to keep the law.^1 They, however, tempted by the devil,^2 in reckless disobedience,^3 robbed themselves and all their descendants of these gifts.^4

^1 Gen. 1:31; Eph. 4:24

^2 Gen. 3:13; John 8:44

^3 Gen. 3:6

^4 Rom. 5:12, 18, 19

Q & A 10

Q. Will God permit such disobedience and rebellion to go unpunished?

A. Certainly not. He is terribly angry about the sin we are born with as well as the sins we personally commit. As a just judge he punishes them now and in eternity.^1 He has declared: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.^2

^1 Ex. 34:7; Ps. 5:4-6; Nah. 1:2; Rom. 1:18; Eph. 5:6; Heb. 9:27

^2 Gal. 3:10; Deut. 27:26

Q & A 11

Q. But isn't God also merciful?

A. God is certainly merciful,^1 but he is also just.^2 His justice demands that sin, committed against his supreme majesty, be punished with the supreme penalty-- eternal punishment of body and soul.^3

^1 Ex. 34:6-7; Ps. 103:8-9

^2 Ex. 34:7; Deut. 7:9-11; Ps. 5:4-6; Heb. 10:30-31

^3 Matthew 25:35-46

Lord's Day 5 ’ 
Q & A 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.^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

Q & A 13

Q. Can we pay this debt ourselves?

A. Certainly not. Actually, we increase our guilt every day.^1

^1 Matt. 6:12; Rom. 2:4-5

Q & A 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 what a human is guilty of.^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; Ps. 130:3

Q & A 15

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

A. One who is truly human^1 and truly righteous,^2 yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is also 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; Isa. 9:6; Jer. 23:6; John 1:1

Lord's Day 6 ’ 
Q & A 16

Q. Why must he be truly human and truly righteous?

A. God's justice demands that human nature, which has sinned, must pay for its sin;^1 but a sinner could never 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

Q & A 17

Q. Why must he also be true God?

A. 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

Q & A 18

Q. And who is this mediator-- true God and at the same time truly human and truly righteous?

A. 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

Q & A 19

Q. How do you come to know this?

A. 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; Gen. 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

Lord's Day 7 ’ 
Q & A 20

Q. Are all saved through Christ just as all were lost through Adam?

A. 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

Q & A 21

Q. What is true faith?

A. 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; Rom. 5:1; Rom. 10:10; Heb. 4:14-16

^3 Matthew 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

Q & A 22

Q. What then must a Christian believe?

A. 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

Q & A 23

Q. What are these articles?

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

Lord's Day 8
Q & A 24

Q. How are these articles divided?

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

Q & A 25

Q. Since there is but one God,^1 why do you speak of three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

A. 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 Matthew 3:16-17; Matthew 28:18-19; Luke 4:18 (Isa. 61:1); John 14:26; John 15:26; 2 Cor. 13:14; Gal. 4:6; Tit. 3:5-6

Lord's Day 9 ’ 
Q & A 26

Q. What do you believe when you say, "I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth"?

A. 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

Lord's Day 10 ’ 
Q & A 27

Q. What do you understand by the providence of God?

A. 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

Q & A 28

Q. How does the knowledge of God's creation and providence help us?

A. 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

Lord's Day 11 ’ 
Q & A 29

Q. Why is the Son of God called "Jesus," meaning "saviour"?

A. 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

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

Q & A 30

Q. Do those who look for their salvation and security in saints, in themselves, or elsewhere really believe in the only saviour Jesus?

A. No. Although they boast of being his, by their deeds they deny the only saviour and deliverer, Jesus.^1 Either Jesus is not a perfect saviour, or those who in true faith accept this saviour 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

Lord's Day 12 ’ 
Q & A 31

Q. Why is he called "Christ," meaning "anointed"?

A. 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

Q & A 32

Q. But why are you called a Christian?

A. 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

Lord's Day 13 ’ 
Q & A 33

Q. Why is he called God's "only Son" when we also are God's children?

A. 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

Q & A 34

Q. Why do you call him "our Lord"?

A. 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

Lord's Day 14 ’ 
Q & A 35

Q. What does it mean that he "was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary"?

A. 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 like his brothers in every way^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

Q & A 36

Q. How does the holy conception and birth of Christ benefit you?

A. 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

Lord's Day 15 ’ 
Q & A 37

Q. What do you understand by the word "suffered"?

A. 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

Q & A 38

Q. Why did he suffer "under Pontius Pilate" as judge?

A. 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

Q & A 39

Q. Is it significant that he was "crucified" instead of dying some other way?

A. 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)

Lord's Day 16 ’ 
Q & A 40

Q. Why did Christ have to go all the way to death?

A. 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

Q & A 41

Q. Why was he "buried"?

A. His burial testifies that he really died.^1

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

Q & A: 42

Q. Since Christ has died for us, why do we still have to die?

A. 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 ^2John 5:24; Phil. 1:21-23; 1 Thess. 5:9-10

Q & A 43

Q. What further advantage do we receive from Christ's sacrifice and death on the cross?

A. 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 ^3Rom. 12:1; Eph. 5:1-2

Q & A 44

Q. Why does the creed add, "He descended to hell"?

A. 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

Lord's Day 17 ’ 
Q & A 45

Q. How does Christ's resurrection benefit us?

A. 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

Lord's Day 18 ’ 
Q & A 46

Q. What do you mean by saying, "He ascended to heaven"?

A. 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

Q & A 47

Q. But isn't Christ with us until the end of the world as he promised us?^1

A. Christ is truly human and truly 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

Q & A 48

Q. If his humanity is not present wherever his divinity is, then aren't the two natures of Christ separated from each other?

A. 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

Q & A 49

Q. How does Christ's ascension to heaven benefit us?

A. 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

Lord's Day 19 ’ 
Q & A 50

Q. Why the next words: "and is seated at the right hand of God"?

A. 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

Q & A 51

Q. How does this glory of Christ our head benefit us?

A. 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

Q & A 52

Q. How does Christ's return "to judge the living and the dead" comfort you?

A. 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

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