Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 10 image

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 10

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[One of the most striking differences between Reformed people in the sixteenth and twenty-first centuries comes across clearly in Lord's Day 10. When it comes to God's power, we focus on predestination; they focused on providence. We use the doctrine dogmatically; they used it pastorally. For Heidelberg, the "almighty and ever-present power of God" is a source of comfort: if nothing happens by chance, but all things come from his fatherly hand, then it provokes patience in the bad, thankfulness for the good, and hope for the future. Although, for the writers of the Catechism, God's sovereignty no doubt extends into the eternal destinies of humans, that is not their focus here.

On a related note, notice how clearly Heidelberg talks about the fact that prosperity and poverty, rain and drought, come from God - yet always with the purpose of good. If, like someone I was talking to last week, that makes you wonder how you can pray for freedom from persecution or sickness when it turns out they might be from God, then have a look at Hebrews 12:3-11 or 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. We pray in accordance with what God has revealed, but acknowledge the possibility of mystery. And through it all, God will be good to us.]

Q27. What do you understand
by the providence of God?

A27. The almighty and ever present power of God
by which God upholds, as with his hand,
heaven and earth
and all creatures,
and so rules them that
leaf and blade,
rain and drought,
fruitful and lean years,
food and drink,
health and sickness,
prosperity and poverty—
all things, in fact,
come to us not by chance
but by his fatherly hand.

Q28. How does the knowledge
of God’s creation and providence help us?

A28. We can be patient when things go against us,
thankful when things go well,
and for the future we can have
good confidence in our faithful God and Father
that nothing in creation will separate us from his love.
For all creatures are so completely in God’s hand
that without his will
they can neither move nor be moved.

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