ESSENTIALS OF REFORMED DOCTRINE
A Guide in Catechetical Instruction
by Rev. H. Hoeksema (revised by Prof. H. Hanko)
- What is the first fruit of God's calling in the heart of the sinner?
The activity of saving faith in him.
- What is saving faith?
It is a certain spiritual knowledge of and hearty confidence
in God through Christ as the God of our salvation.
I Peter 1:21.
- Is faith more than this?
Yes, it is also the means whereby we are engrafted into Christ and receive all His benefits.
- What is the spiritual knowledge of faith?
It is the knowledge that all that God has revealed in His
Word is true and that salvation in Christ is our possession.
Lord's Day 7.
- What is the confidence of faith?
It is complete reliance upon and trust in Christ as the fullness
of all our salvation. Lord's Day 7.
- Who works this faith in us?
The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ.
- In whom does God work this faith?
Only in the elect.
- Are there also imitations of true faith?
Yes, there are miraculous faith, historical faith, and temporary
- Can any of these save?
No, salvation is only by true faith in Christ Jesus.
- Describe briefly what the following passages say about faith:
II Corinthians 5:7.
- What does
James 2:14-26 say about the relation between faith
and good works?
- What does Canons III-IV, 14 say about faith?
- What do the Arminians teach concerning faith? See Canons III-IV,14.
Prove from Scripture that they are wrong.
- Is it possible for anyone to accept Christ as his Savior?
- What is the first benefit of salving faith?
That the believer is justified before God.
- What is justification?
Justification is a gracious judgment of God whereby He declares the elect sinner righteous before Him.
- What difference is there between justification and sanctification?
Justification is a judicial act of God and removes our guilt;
sanctification is a spiritual-ethical work of God and removes
the pollution of sin.
- What is the deepest cause of our justification?
God's eternal counsel according to which He chose in Christ all His people and made them one with Him.
- What is the meritorious ground of our justification?
Only the perfect obedience of Christ as the Head of all His
- Which is the objective proof of our justification?
The resurrection of Christ because it is the seal of God on Christ's perfect obedience on the cross.
- Why do we say that we are justified by faith?
Because faith is the bond that unites us with Christ and by faith we become conscious of our justification.
- Are we then not justified in any way by our works?
No, for all our good works are but the fruit of God's work within us.
II Timothy 1:9;
II Thessalonians 2:13.
- What benefits are implied in justification?
Forgiveness of sin, perfect righteousness, peace with God, adoption unto children, the right to eternal life.
Romans 5:1; 8:15-17.
- Look back at your lesson and notes of Lesson 11, particularly
those questions which had to do with Adam's relation to the human
race and explain how Christ is the second Adam. Cf. in this connection
Romans 5:12-15 and
I Corinthians 15:22.
- Does James teach justification by works in
Look at your notes on the last lesson and explain this.
- Look up the proof texts added to question 9 above and explain
how these texts prove the benefits implied in justification.
- How does
Genesis 15:6 teach that Abraham also was justified
by faith in Christ?
- From your knowledge of the Reformation, tell what the doctrine
of justification by faith meant to Luther.
- What further benefit do believers receive from Christ?
The blessing of sanctification.
- What is the relation between justification and sanctification?
Justification is the ground of our sanctification, so that the one can never be present without the other.
- What is the difference between the two?
Justification is a judicial act of God and frees us from the
guilt of sin; sanctification is a spiritual-ethical operation
of God in us and delivers us from sins' pollution.
- What, then, is sanctification?
It is that work of God whereby we are delivered from the dominion
and pollution of sin and transformed according to the image of Christ.
I Thessalonians 5:23.
- How does God perform this work in the believer?
By the Spirit of the exalted Christ Who cleanses us from all sin.
II Thessalonians 2:13.
- Is the believer made perfectly holy in this life?
No, but even the holiest of God's children have only a small beginning of the new obedience.
- How does sanctification manifest itself in the life of the
The believer earnestly strives with joy and delight to walk
in all good works. Lord's Day 33.
- What are good works?
Only those which proceed from a true faith, are done in accordance with God's law and are directed to His glory.
- Must a Christian do good works?
Certainly, for good works are the purpose of his salvation
that God may be glorified in him; and without holiness it is impossible to see the Lord.
- What is the relation between sanctification and preservation?
Those whom God sanctifies He preserves in holiness until their final salvation.
I Peter 1:5.
- Look up the lesson and notes of Lesson 11. Does sanctification
have to do with original guilt or original pollution?
James 2:14-16 what is said about the relation between faith
and good works? Is it possible to have faith without good works?
Romans 6 and answer the following questions:
- What objection is Paul answering here (verse 1)?
- What is his answer to this objection (verse 2)?
- What does it mean that sin no more reigns over us and has
dominion over us (verses 17, 22)?
- What does it mean to be a servant of sin? What does it mean
to be a servant of God (verses 17, 22)?
- Look up
Matthew 15:19; and
I Corinthians 10:31
and explain how each of these texts prove one of the points in
the answer of question 8 above.
- What is the church?
The church is the elect body of Christ which is manifested
on earth as the gathering of elect believers and their seed.
I Peter 2:9.
- How is the church gathered?
Christ gathers His church by His Word and Spirit.
Ephesians 5:26, 27;
- How can the church be distinguished?
As the church militant on earth, the church triumphant in
heaven, and the church latent which must still be born.
II Timothy 4:7-8.
- How can the church militant on earth be distinguished?
As the church visible and the church invisible.
- What is meant by the church invisible?
The church from the viewpoint of her internal spiritual life
of regeneration, faith, and the other blessings of salvation.
- What is meant by the church visible?
The church as it becomes manifest in the world, in the ministry
of the Word and sacraments, and in the confession and walk of
- What are the distinguishing marks of the church?
The pure preaching of the Word of God, the proper administration
of the sacraments, and the exercise of Christian discipline.
John 8:31, 47.
- What offices did Christ institute in His church on earth?
The offices of minister, elder, and deacon.
- What are the keys of the kingdom?
The preaching of the Word and the exercise of Christian discipline,
by which the kingdom is opened and shut to believers and unbelievers.
- Who belongs to the church visible on earth?
All confessing believers who walk according to their confession, and their children.
I Corinthians 12:12-27 and describe how these verses compare
the church with a human body.
- Read Article 29 of the Belgic Confession and write what this
article says concerning the marks of the true and false church.
- Read Article 28 of the Belgic Confession and write what our
calling is towards the true church.
I Timothy 3:2-12 and list some of the qualifications of
elders and deacons.
Lesson 25: The Means of Grace
- What is to be understood by the means of grace?
Means which the Holy Spirit employs to apply to us the salvation
which God has prepared in Christ.
- Which are the means of grace?
The preaching of the Word and the administration of the sacraments.
- How is the preaching of the word a means of grace?
By means of the preaching, the elect are called to faith and
spiritually nourished so that they grow in the grace of God.
I Peter 2:2.
- What are the sacraments?
They are visible signs and seals of the covenant of grace
instituted by God for the church, by which the faith of the elect is strengthened.
- How are the sacraments means of grace?
They signify and seal the righteousness which is in Christ.
- How many sacraments did God institute for the church of the
Two: Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
- How is Holy Baptism a sign?
The sprinkling of the water signifies the washing away of our sins through the blood of our Savior.
I Peter 3:21.
- How is the Lord's Supper a sign?
The broken bread and the wine poured out signify the broken
body and shed blood of Christ by which we are spiritually nourished and fed.
I Corinthians 11:26.
- What do the sacraments seal?
That the believer by faith is righteous before God in Christ.
- Are the sacraments grace for all who receive them?
No, but only for such as receive them by a true and living
- Read the doctrinal section of our Baptism Form and answer the
- What according to the Form does Baptism signify?
- What is our "part" of the covenant?
- Read the Form for the Administration of the Lord's Supper.
What does the true examination of ourselves consist in?
- What were the two typical sacraments in the Old Testament?
- Look up
I Corinthians 5:7 and
Colossians 2:11-12 and explain
how the sacraments in the New Testament took the place of those
in the Old.
- How many sacraments do the Roman Catholics have?
- Of what is baptism a sign and seal?
Of the washing away of sins in the blood of Jesus Christ.
- Who must receive baptism?
All adult believers who confess their sins and their faith
in Christ, and their children.
- Why must infants be baptized?
Because they as well as adults are comprehended in the covenant of grace.
- How can they be comprehended in that covenant?
Because God establishes His covenant in the line of continued generations.
- Prove from Scripture that God establishes His covenant with
His people in the line of generations.
"And I will establish my covenant between me and thee
and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting
covenant, to be a God unto thee and thy seed after thee."
- Who are Abraham's seed?
All believers, because Abraham is called the father of those who believe.
Romans 4:12, 16;
- Are all baptized children, then, elect?
By no means, for they are not all Israel that are of Israel.
- Does not God, then, seal in baptism that which He does not
Not at all, for baptism, like circumcision, seals the righteousness which is by faith.
- What obligation follows from being baptized?
To love the Lord our God with all our heart and to walk in
a new and holy life.
Galatians 3:16, who does Paul say is the seed of Abraham?
Galatians 3:29, who does Paul say are the seed of Abraham?
- Look up Lord's Day 27, Question and Answer 74, and write what
this Lord's Day gives as the grounds for the baptism of infants.
- Read the parts of the Baptism Form which deal with "To
infants of believers," and write what this section gives
as the grounds for the baptism of infants.
- Look up
I Corinthians 10:1,2;
I Peter 3:20, 21; and the Prayer
in the Baptism Form and explain how the Flood and the passage
through the Red Sea are types of baptism.
Lesson 27: The Lord's Supper
- What is the second sacrament?
Holy Communion or the Lord's Supper.
- When did Christ institute this sacrament?
When He ate the last Passover with His disciples in the night in which He was betrayed.
I Corinthians 11:23.
- What are the signs of the Lord's Supper?
The broken bread and the poured out wine.
I Corinthians 11:24-25.
- Of what are the bread and wine signs?
Of the broken body and shed blood of Christ by which Christ made atonement for our sins.
I Corinthians 11:26.
- How is Christ present in the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper?
He is spiritually present by His grace and Spirit because
the bread and wine signify and seal His body and blood.
I Corinthians 10:16.
- How do the partakers eat and drink Christ at His table?
Spiritually, and only by a true and living faith.
- To whom must the supper be administered?
To all baptized Christians who reveal themselves in confession
and walk as true believers.
- What is necessary before we come to the table of the Lord?
We must rightly examine ourselves whether we are worthy partakers of the table of the Lord.
I Corinthians 11:28.
- What must we examine in ourselves?
Three things: whether we are truly sorry for our sins; whether
we believe that our sins are forgiven in Christ; and whether our faith is manifested in a holy walk.
II Corinthians 13:5.
- What does Lord's Day 30 of the Heidelberg Catechism say is
the difference between the Lord's Supper and the Popish mass?
- Prove from
I Corinthians 11:24-25 that the bread and wine of
the Lord's Super are signs of Christ's body and blood.
- What does
I Corinthians 11:27 say about those who eat the bread
and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily?
- What does Lord's Day 30, Question and Answer 81 say concerning
those for whom the Lord's Supper is instituted?
Lesson 28: The Death of Believers
- Must all men die?
Yes, except those believers who are still living at the coming of Christ.
I Thessalonians 4:17;
- What happens at the death of the wicked?
They are separated from all the things of this life and go into everlasting hell.
- But why must believers also die?
The last tie which connects them with things sinful and corruptible
must be severed.
- Could not they go immediately into glory with both body and
No, this must wait until Christ comes again to raise their
bodies and make a new heaven and a new earth.
- From what do believers separate when they die?
Their new man in Christ is separated from the earthly house
of this tabernacle and from their old man of sin.
II Corinthians 5:1.
- Where do they go when they die?
They go immediately into a conscious state of glory with Christ
- What Scriptural proof is there for this?
Jesus said to the repentant murderer on the cross, "Verily,
I say unto thee, Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise."
- Is there more proof?
Yes, Asaph expected to go to glory after death,
Psalm 73:24, 26; and Paul knew he would be with Christ.
- Show how
Revelation 6:9-10 proves that the believer is in heaven
after he dies.
- The Roman Catholic Church believes in the doctrine of purgatory.
What do they teach concerning purgatory?
- How does
I Corinthians 15:51 teach that the believers who are
alive at Christ's coming will not die?
Lesson 29: The Second Coming of the Lord
- How will this world come to an end?
By the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- When will the Lord come again?
The day and the hour we know not, but all things must first be fulfilled according to God's counsel.
- Do we know what things must first be fulfilled before the Lord
We do in general, for God has revealed them to us in order that we may watch and pray.
- How has God revealed these things to us?
He has told us in Scripture what are the signs of Christ's
- Mention some of these signs which appear in creation.
Famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in many places.
- Mention some signs which appear in the church.
The gospel must be preached to all the world; there will be
terrible apostasy from the faith; and the church will be persecuted.
Matthew 24:9-14, 16-23.
- Mention some signs which appear in the history of the world.
There will be terrible wickedness, and Antichrist shall reign over the whole world.
II Thessalonians 2:7;
- How will the Lord come?
He will come personally and in the body, visible to all, and with great power and glory.
I Thessalonians 4:16.
- What is the church's calling while she waits for Christ's return?
To watch and pray and to live in the hope of her final salvation.
II Peter 3:13-14.
II Peter 3:7, 10-12 and explain what Scripture says about
how this world will be destroyed.
- What does
II Thessalonians 2:8-12 say of the Wicked One? Who
- What does
Matthew 24:29-31 say about the signs which immediately
precede Christ's coming?
- What do the following texts teach concerning our walk as we
wait for the Lord to come back:
I Peter 1:13.
II Peter 3:11, 12, 14, 15.
- What is Pre-millennialism, Post-millennialism, and A-millennialism?
Lesson 30: The End of All Things
- What will take place when the Lord shall come again?
The resurrection of the dead, the final judgment, and the
renewal of all things.
- Who shall be raised from the dead?
All who have died, the godly to the resurrection of life and the ungodly to the resurrection of eternal hell.
- Who shall stand in judgment?
All rational, moral creatures, men, angels, and devils.
II Corinthians 5:10;
I Corinthians 6:2,3;
- What will be the punishment for the wicked?
Eternal suffering in hell in body and soul.
- With what bodies will we be raised?
With a spiritual body raised in incorruption, glory, and power.
I Corinthians 15:42, 43.
- What will be the reward for the people of God?
Everlasting life and glory in the presence of God in heavenly perfection.
- Will there be difference of degree in punishment and reward?
Yes, for all shall be judged according to their works.
I Corinthians 3:8.
- Will the present world be destroyed?
Yes, we expect a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness will dwell.
II Peter 3:10-13.
- What is the blessedness of heavenly glory?
To dwell without sin in the blessedness of God's everlasting covenant of grace.
- Prove from
John 5:28-29 that all men shall be raised from the
John 5:28-29 say anything about the difference between
the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked? What does it
- Look up the passages under answers 3 and 4 above and prove
from them that all men, angels, and devils shall be judged.
- How does
Luke 19:17 prove that there are degrees of reward
- What does
Revelation 21:3-4 say about the blessedness of heaven?
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and
earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten
of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very
God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with
the Father by whom all things were made.
Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven,
and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was
made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according
to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the
right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory,
to judge the living and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no
And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life;
who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father
and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by
And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic church. I acknowledge
one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection
of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
(1) Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary
that he hold the catholic faith; (2) Which faith except every
one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish
(3) And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in
Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; (4) Neither confounding the persons,
nor dividing the substance. (5) For there is one Person of the
Father, another of the Son and another of the Holy Spirit. (6)
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit
is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal. (7) Such
as the Father is, such is the Son and such is the Holy Spirit.
(8) The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Spirit
uncreate. (9) The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible,
and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible. (10) The Father eternal,
the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. (11) And yet they
are not three eternals, but one eternal. (12) As also there are
not three uncreated nor three incomprehensibles, but one uncreated
and one incomprehensible. (13) So likewise the Father is almighty,
the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty; (14) And yet they
are not three almighties, but one almighty. (15) So the Father
is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; (16) And yet
they are not three Gods, but one God. (17) So likewise the Father
is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord; (18) And yet
they are not three Lords, but one Lord. (19) For like as we are
compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every person
by himself to be God and Lord; (20) so are we forbidden by the
catholic religion to say: There are three Gods or three Lords.
(21) The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.
(22) The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but
begotten. (23) The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son;
neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. (24)
So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three
Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits. (25) And in this
Trinity none is afore, nor after another; none is greater, or
less than another. (26) But the whole three persons are co-eternal,
and co-equal. (27) So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity
in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped. (28)
He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
(29) Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that
he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(30) For the right faith is that we believe and confess that
our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man. (31) God
of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and
made of the substance of His mother, born in the world. (32)
Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh
subsisting. (33) Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead,
and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood. (34) Who,
although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.
(35) One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by
taking of the manhood into God. (36) One altogether, not by the
confusion of substance, but by unity of person. (37) For as the
reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;
(38) Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose
again the third day from the dead; (39) He ascended into heaven,
He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty; (40)
From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. (41)
At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies; (42)
And shall give account of their own works. (43) And they that
have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have
done evil into everlasting fire.
(44) This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully,
he cannot be saved.
We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach
men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the
same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God
and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial
[co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial
with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us,
without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according
to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation,
born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood;
one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only begotten, to be acknowledged
in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably;
the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the
unity, but rather the property of each nature being preserved,
and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or
divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten,
God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the
beginning [have declared] concerning him, and the Lord Jesus Christ
himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed
down to us.
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