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January 2 – LD 1, Day 2: The Personal Approach of the Catechism

Read: Romans 11:5, 6; Ephesians 2:8, 9

The Heidelberg Catechism has a very attractive feature about it: It is personal and experiential. It does not discuss the truths of Scripture from an abstract and impersonal way, such as one might find in a Dogmatics; it speaks directly to the believer and insists that the believer answer out of his own experience. Notice the very first question: “What is thy only comfort in life and death.”

This personal approach to the truth of Scripture means that the believer who answers these questions always looks at the truth from the viewpoint of the blessedness that truth has for him.

The Heidelberg Catechism has as its theme, “Comfort.” Added to the personal approach of the Catechism, is the great theme of the comfort the truth means to the believer. The truth is comforting and the believer is asked to explain how each truth is indeed of comfort to him.

Comfort is sorely needed by the believer. This world of sin and death, of sickness and pain, of sorrow and grief, of trouble and heartache, is hungry for something that will comfort him. My mother, sick all her life, often said, “The best of life is nothing but weariness and sorrow.”

The Roman Catholic Church, out of which God’s people came at the time of the Reformation, could find no comfort in masses and candles, fastings and ceremonies, purgatory and penance. The theology of the Roman Catholic Church was one of saving one’s self through the prescribed rituals of the church. But there was no comfort in it. Martin Luther tried in his years as a monk, but could not find peace though he was the most rigid observer of the church’s rules. The problem was that Rome taught man had to save himself by careful observance of all the laws and rituals of the church. Written above the gates of the Roman Catholic Church were the words: “Abandon all comfort, ye who enter here.”

Imagine what a startling message the Reformer brought to Europe’s weary people of God. We bring you a gospel of comfort! It is not a comfort for some of your sorrows. It is not a comfort for the days of your life only. It is not a comfort for diseases in your body only. It is a comfort that will bring peace to your soul in life and death, in whatever may be your lot in life. It is an all-comprehensive comfort!

Last modified on 26 December 2015

Additional Info

  • Date: 2-January
Hanko, Herman

Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)

Ordained: October 1955

Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965

Emeritus: 2001


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