Heidelberg Lord’s Day 4

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

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

Ge 1.31; Eph 4.24
Ge 3.13; Jn 8.44
Ge 3.6
Ro 5.12,18-19

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

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. He has declared: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’

Ex 34.7; Ps 5.4-6; Na 1.2; Ro 1.18; Eph 5.6; Heb 9.27
Dt 27.26; Gal 3.10

11. But isn’t God also merciful?

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

Ex 34.6-7; Ps 103.8-9
Ex 34.7; Dt 7.9-11; Ps 5.4-6; Heb 10.30-31
Mt 25.35-46

From the Heidelberg Catechism.

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3 thoughts on “Heidelberg Lord’s Day 4

  1. Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways! Either God is merciful, meaning, that he can forgive people, or he is uber-vindictive, meaning, he cannot forgive and so he has to get back at people for what they did or at least make someone pay!

    Worse, you describe God as not only incapable of forgiveness, not only incapable of doing less than exacting “an eye for an eye,” but that he has to gouge out an infinite number of eyes for an eye!

    If God has even an ounce of love or compassion, and is not at least as bad as Satan, then he would be incapable of torturing anyone for any length of time, far less, billions of people for an eternity.
    I’ve actually written an entire book on this topic–Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There’s No Such Place As Hell, (for anyone interested, you can get a free ecopy of Did Jesus Believe in Hell?, one of the most compelling chapters in my book at http://www.thereisnohell.com), but if I may, let me share a couple of the many points I make in it.
    One of the arguments one hears frequently from Evangelicals to justify the idea that God is some sort of Cosmic Nazi is that he can’t help it because his just and holy nature forces him to punish all sin.

    Even if this were so, and if by “justice” we mean “an eye for an eye,” then the worst God could do is make people suffer the same amount that they caused others, meaning there could exist a Purgatory…but not an eternal Hell. No one, not even the most evil human ever, committed an INFINITE amount of harm.

    Also, if God had any love at all, his goodness would have prevented him from creating humanity in the first place, foreseeing the outcome of so much suffering!

    But let’s be real. Jesus’ message was clearly against the idea of revenge, making people suffer for what they did. His view was that getting “justice” only led to a constant cycle of one vendetta after another. Instead, his message was to forgive others, because that’s what God does for anyone who owns up to their mistakes.

  2. Hi Rick,

    These are some good thoughts! I wonder if you could talk a little bit about your views on sin. From your comments it sounds like you would summarize the problem as God and man are separated because of bad actions that people have done that God has to choose to either forgive or hold against us forever. My own understanding of what Scripture teaches is that it’s not our actions, but our corrupted nature that is the real problem. In other words, we don’t become sinners because we sin at some point, but rather we sin because we are born sinners — born with a nature deformed and broken by the fall. So then the issue of eternal separation isn’t a matter of God remaining separate from folks because He can’t ever quite get over what they’ve done but because He will not associate with what they have become. God has provided a way to escape our corrupted nature though recreation in Jesus Christ, which is why we speak of His great mercy.

    If I’ve misunderstood your point, please correct me. Thanks. John

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