July 30 – LD 31, Day 1: The Keys of the Kingdom
Friday the 30th of July
in Heidelberg Catechism Meditations
Read: Matthew 16:13 - 20
Lord’s Day 31 speaks about the authority and discipline of the church. In describing this authority, the Heidelberg Catechism uses a Biblical figure. This figure does not have its origin with the Heidelberg Catechism but with God’s own Word. The figure is used in several places in scripture, including in the passage that you were asked to read for this meditation. The same idea is also spoken of in John 20:23, and also Rev 3:7.
The kingdom of God is pictured as though it is a high-walled fortress. Cities in the Old Testament time had such walls to protect them from being overrun and destroyed by enemies. Access in and out of this city is only through a gate. The key is the power to open and close this gate for those going in and out.
Jesus spoke very often during His ministry about the kingdom of God. The entire Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matt 5 - 7 has the truth of the kingdom as its main theme. Jesus also called this kingdom the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of righteousness and glory. It is also referred to as the kingdom of Christ. When we are saved by the wonder of the grace of God, we are made citizens of this kingdom.
The kingdom of God is the spiritual realm where God rules in absolute sovereignty and power. God is known and acknowledged by the subjects of this kingdom. The authority of this kingdom was given to the hands of Jesus when He was exalted to the right hand of God. See John 5:22 - 23. The King in God’s kingdom is, and must be obeyed and served by these subjects. The citizens of the kingdom know and do the word of Christ their king. Within the walls of the kingdom, the citizens are protected by God and by King Jesus from their greatest enemies. Being a citizen of this kingdom is exceedingly blessed and glorious. This kingdom will be finally realized in all of its perfection and glory in the new heavens and earth when Jesus comes again at the end of time. King Jesus will come to establish His kingdom of righteousness after overthrowing the wicked kingdoms of this world. In the everlasting heavenly kingdom, Jesus will reveal His glory and power among the subjects of His kingdom whom He has redeemed by His sacrifice on the cross.
The concepts ‘kingdom’ and ‘church’ in the figure “keys of the kingdom” refer to the same blessed reality. King Jesus is Lord and King both of His church and kingdom. The true members of the church of Jesus Christ are now, and will in heaven, also be the citizens of this kingdom. Christ has given authority to His Church to rule in His kingdom while this Church is still on earth.
Today, the power of the keys are given by the Lord Himself, especially to the pastors and elders of the church. These elders have a very serious responsibility to properly exercise their power and authority for the benefit of the citizens of the kingdom and the glory of Christ the King.
The power of the keys is a very great power. Imagine what Jesus says in Matt 16: 19, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” In our meditations on Lord’s Day 31 of the Heidelberg Catechism this week, we want to consider something about what all of this means. I hope that you, the reader, will take a great interest in this subject and meditate on it.