(Kersten, The Heidelberg Catechism in 52 Sermons, Vol.2, Part 3)

The Spiritual Nourishment of God's Children in the Lord's Supper

Lord's Day 29

Psalter No. 184 st. 2, 3, 4
Read I Cor. 11:17-34
Psalter No. 48 st. 3, 4, 7, 8
Psalter No. 328 st. 4
Psalter No. 3 st. 3, 4


    How clearly the Lord Jesus teaches us in John 6 that we must
receive eternal life through spiritual communion with Him by faith. A
large multitude had followed Him when he left the Sea of Tiberias
because they had seen the signs which He performed on the sick. From
the mountain on which He sat with His disciples He saw a great company
come unto Him and said to Philip, testing him, "Whence shall we buy
bread that these may eat?" Surprised and confused Philip answered, "Two
hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that everyone
of them may take a little." But behold, with five barley loaves and two
small fishes which a lad had, He fed the great multitude of about five
thousand men; and to magnify the wonder, after all were satisfied there
remained twelve baskets of fragments.
    The multitude was enthusiastic, saying, "Of a truth this is that
prophet that should come into the world." They made so much of Him that
they desired to make Him King. What a bitter disappointment followed
that amazement about the feeding of so large a company with a few
loaves and fishes! Thousands also in our days who are as enthusiastic
about Jesus as the multitude was, will dethrone Him in the same manner
instead of honoring Him, and will experience the same bitter end. The
Lord's kingdom of course is not of this world, and when the people
sought to take Him by force to make Him a king, He departed again into
a mountain alone. If there is no discovery of our lost state there is
also no right knowledge of true communion with Christ.
    The multitude did not yet withdraw from the Lord. The disciples had
crossed over to Capernaum and the next day the people followed them,
seeking Jesus. They were determined, as all men are, to persist in
their ways. Oh, how much there can be that is not truly wrought by God.
That became quite evident when they asked the question, "Rabbi, when
camest Thou hither?" The Lord gave no answer, but rather He exposed
their false esteem of Him by saying, "Ye seek me, not because ye saw
the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled."
Saw no miracles? No, in the feeding of the five thousand they had seen
nothing of the divine power of Christ, nothing of His mediatorial
ministry which He alone could fulfill, because He was not only man, but
also very God. They had not understood that He was the spiritual bread
which came down from heaven. Being strangers of their state of misery,
they did not desire Him as the Savior. Poor people they were,
misleading themselves. However much they thought of Jesus, they neither
knew nor desired Him as the Savior. In order for them to believe in
Him, He would have had to do a very special sign. What was He more to
them than the son of Joseph? Their offense at Him reached its height
when He said to them that except they ate His flesh and drank His blood
they had no life in them. What brutal language! Who can eat the flesh
of Jesus and drink His blood? "This is a hard saying, who can hear it?"
What was the end of all this enthusiasm of the multitude? "From that
time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him."
    This was written in order that we should understand, that spiritual
communion with Christ is indispensable to salvation. Whatever miracles
we may have seen, whatever respect we may have for Jesus, if that
communion is lacking, we shall forsake Him and remain estranged from
Him as Savior. Eating of the heavenly bread and drinking of Christ's
blood does not mean eating and drinking Jesus with our bodily mouths,
but appropriating Him by faith, so that we become partakers of His one
sacrifice accomplished on the cross, and of all His benefits. This
communion is wrought by the Holy Spirit and sacramentally confirmed in
the Lord's Supper in such a manner that common bread is eaten and
common wine is taken; yet by the use of these signs the Holy Spirit
works in the hearts of His people a spiritual eating and drinking, an
appropriating by faith of Christ and His perfect sacrifice.
    This is shown to us clearly in the twenty-ninth Lord's Day of our
Heidelberg Catechism which reads as follows:

Q. 78. Do then the bread and wine become the very body and blood of

A. Not at all: but as the water in baptism is not changed into the
    blood of Christ, neither is the washing away of sin itself, being
    only the sign and confirmation thereof appointed of God; so the
    bread in the Lord's supper is not changed into the very body of
    Christ: though agreeably to the nature and properties of
    sacraments, it is called the body of Christ Jesus.

Q. 79. Why then does Christ call the bread His body, and the cup His
    blood, or the new covenant of His blood; and Paul the "Communion
    of the body and blood of Christ?"

A. Christ speaks thus, not without great reason, namely, not only
    thereby to teach us, that as bread and wine support this temporal
    life, so His crucified body and shed blood are the true meat and
    drink, whereby our souls are fed to eternal life; but more
    especially by these visible signs and pledges to assure us, that
    we are as really partakers of His true body and blood (by the
    operation of the Holy Ghost) as we receive by the mouths of our
    bodies these holy signs in remembrance of Him; and that all His
    sufferings and obedience are as certainly ours, as if we had in
    our own persons suffered and made satisfaction for our sins to

    In this twenty-ninth Lord's Day the spiritual nourishment of God's
children in the Lord's Supper is explained to us:
     I. by excluding all changing of the signs;
    II. by explaining the meaning of the special designations of the
    Endowed with light from above, the young authors of the Heidelberg
Catechism made God's infallible Word their guide, discarding all human
statutes; and in the severe battle that had to be fought, they placed
the pure truth on the candlestick once more. This is especially true of
the doctrine of the Lord's Supper, the explanation which we now follow.
You will recall that the twenty eighth Lord's Day spoke of the Lord's
Supper and explained what it is to eat the Lord's crucified body and to
drink His shed blood. As clear as the explanation was according to
God's eternal Word, the opponents of that scriptural doctrine did not
abandon their errors. They were found even among the Reformers. Great
as their services were in leading the church out of Rome's house of
bondage, some did not have penetrating insight into the mysteries
concerning the sacraments which are revealed in the testimonies of the
Lord. That is a proof that they also were men, and in their fallacies
lies an effective warning for us to take heed lest we idolize men,
however highly we may esteem them because of their work. Zwingli denied
the working of God's grace in the Lord's Supper, as he also erred in
baptism, as we have already indicated. According to Zwingli we must use
the Lord's Supper only in obedience; to him it was no more than a sign.
Thereby he denied the significance and strength of the sacrament in
which God the Holy Spirit strengthens the faith of His people and the
exercise of their communion with the sacrifice once accomplished by
Christ. The conflict with Luther about the Lord's Supper was also
sharp. Luther taught the doctrine of consubstantiation, that is, the
presence of Christ in His human nature in, with, and under the elements
of the Lord's Supper. This great Reformer rejected the Romish
transubstantiation, and would not hear of a changing of the bread and
wine into the body and blood of Christ. Although he believed bread and
wine remained what they essentially were, Luther still held that Christ
in His human nature truly is in, with, and under the bread and wine,
and is thus enjoyed. This gross error of Luther found its basis in his
view of the omnipresence of Christ's body and soul, fully revealed in
His ascension. Then Christ in His human nature as well as in His divine
nature is also omnipresent with and under the elements of the Supper;
yes, even in the bread and in the wine; and hence He is given to, and
eaten by every partaker. However seriously and kindly he was
instructed, Luther would not abandon that error. Is it a wonder that
the Lutherans so sharply opposed Frederick III and sought to banish the
Heidelberg Catechism? The Lord, however, graciously prevented it, and
preserved the pure doctrine of the Lord's Supper for His church. Christ
is in heaven according to His human nature only and He will remain
there until He returns to judge the quick and the dead. Therefore, He
is not corporally present in, with, and under the bread and wine. Only
in His Godhead, majesty, grace and Spirit is He everywhere present,
also with the Lord's Supper, where His people eat and drink and commune
with Him spiritually by faith.
    The most devastating controversy against the truth, however, was
waged by the church of Rome. The Catechism flatly contradicts that
false church. With a strong hand the instructor defends this important
doctrine of the Lord's Supper, placing before Rome this question: Do
then the bread and wine become the very body and blood of Christ? Rome
answers this question affirmatively. Did not the Lord Jesus, as He sat
at the table with His disciples and gave them the bread, say "This is
My body"? In that moment, says Rome, the bread was changed into the
body of Christ by Him Who instituted the Lord's Supper, and the wine
became His blood. Although the bread and wine retained their own form
and taste, they were indeed changed into the body and blood of Christ;
in fact, they became Christ Himself both as to His divine and human
nature, as He is at the right hand of His Father. To this day, each
time the Catholic priest blesses the bread and wine upon the altar, the
substance changes during the blessing. We call this change
"transubstantiation", meaning "change of substance." It was not until
the year 1215 that Pope Innocent III succeeded, after much dispute, in
establishing the doctrine of transubstantiation as the dogma of the
Roman Catholic Church. Since that time it has been the high dignity of
the priest to change bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.
A few years ago Father Timmermans boasted though it was true, he was
less than God, he is exceedingly more than common people; for he holds
the host in his anointed fingers and can do with Jesus what he pleases.
The priest is more than the mother of Christ, for she is only a refuge
for sinners, but he can forgive sin. The idolatrous doctrine of
transubstantiation also led to the use of wafers, so that the bread
need not be broken (a crumb might be lost of that wonderful "body" of
Christ). The wafer is devoutly laid upon the tongue of the communicant,
while the wine, which is not passed to the communicants lest a drop of
the "blood" of Christ should fall, is drunk by the priest for all.
Hence not spiritually by faith, but by using the physical mouth to eat
the bread and drink the wine, which have changed into the true Christ,
does one become united with Him, according to Rome's erroneous
    In opposition to this unscriptural doctrine of transubstantiation,
our fathers teach that bread and wine do not change into the body and
blood of Christ. "But as the water in baptism is not changed into the
blood of Christ, neither is it the washing away of sin itself, being
only the sign and confirmation thereof appointed by God; so the bread
in the Lord's Supper is not changed into the very body of Christ;
though agreeably to the nature and properties of sacraments, it is
called the body of Christ Jesus."
    Hence bread and wine do not become the very body and blood of
Christ. The elements of the supper remain what they are, as the
baptismal water remains what it is. The Catechism accuses Rome of being
inconsistent in its doctrine of the sacraments. Baptism and the Lord's
Supper are both sacraments. They both have sacramental power. Why have
a transubstantiation in the Lord's Supper, but not in baptism? Would
that make their false doctrine too obvious? Moreover, God's Word taught
us that baptism is not the washing away of sins, but is only a divine
pledge and seal thereof. Thus the elements of the Supper are not in
themselves food for the soul, but bread and wine are divine pledges and
seals thereof. Did not the Lord say while He was instituting the Lord's
Supper and breaking the bread, "This is My body", and while He was
passing the cup, "This is My blood"? Both Rome and Luther emphasize the
word *is*, in order to arrive at the doctrine that Christ in His human
nature is in the wafer and in the wine. What an absurd conclusion! In
the Passover chamber, Christ did not give each a morsel of His body or
give of His own blood to drink. His body was not yet broken, nor His
blood shed. How then could that sacrifice which was not yet offered be
distributed in bread and wine?
    While He gave His disciples bread and wine, He pointed out the
significance that this bread and this wine have in the supper, which
was here instituted and sanctified to be a sacrament. Moreover, the
word "is" does not always indicate a change. The Son of God "is" become
a curse for His people; He, the Mediator, "is" the rock; but He was
changed neither into a curse, nor into a rock. Let us finally remark
that it is agreeable to the nature and properties of a sacrament to
call the supper the body of Christ. The same sacramental manner of
speaking is found in the other sacraments. Thus of circumcision the
Lord said, "This is my covenant," while circumcision was merely, as it
is called in the next verse of Gen. 17, a "token of the covenant." Also
with the Passover we find the same manner of speaking. The meal was
called "the Lord's pass over", although it was only a symbol of it, for
the Lord's pass over was the passing over of the destroying angel in
Egypt. Thus we saw also in baptism, the sacramental manner of speaking
of the power of the washing of regeneration, of which baptism by water
is but a sign and seal. In just the same manner the supper is called
the body of Christ. Read also what the Apostle Paul, by the inspiration
of the Holy Spirit testifies of the Lord's Supper, "This cup is the New
Testament in My blood." Here we have the divine explanation of what the
Lord spoke in the Passover chamber, which condemns the entire Romish
and also the Lutheran opinion. You cannot understand how anyone can
believe the false doctrine of Rome. What? Is the Lord not able to make
bread into meat and wine into blood? Certainly! He changed the waters
of Egypt into blood and the water of Cana in Galilee into wine; but
then the entire composition of the water was changed. The waters of
Egypt stank and the fish died. Nobody in Cana had to ask whether he was
drinking water or wine. The governor of the feast testified this wine
was better than the first. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that a
divine miracle takes place without changing the composition of bread
and wine. See, taste, or analyze them chemically, and the result is
always the same: they are and remain bread and wine. The entire
doctrine of transubstantiation is a lie. The signs of bread and wine
remain unchanged, and in the Lord's Supper there is no physical eating
of Christ with our mouths, but a spiritual eating and drinking of
Christ Who is present according to His Godhead, majesty, grace, and
Spirit only; and in the sacrament He gives Himself to His own by faith.
This is the great value of the Lord's Supper, which is pointed out by
the special names given to the Supper - names which the instructor now
in the second place explains in question 79.
    The second question of Lord's Day 29 speaks more extensively of
eating and drinking spiritually. If Rome is entirely mistaken about its
transubstantiation, "Why then" asks question 79, "does Christ call the
bread His body, and the cup His blood, or the new covenant in His
blood; and Paul the communion of the body and blood of Christ?" And as
with baptism we were told that the sacramental manner of speaking was
not done "without great cause", namely to teach and assure us, so it is
here also. The bread and wine in the Lord's Supper are called the body
and blood of Christ, not because they become so, but because the Lord
first wants to teach us, as bread and wine serve to maintain our
temporal life, so the sacrifice of Christ is the true meat for the
soul. Often bread and wine are mentioned in Scripture as that which
feeds, refreshes, and strengthens life. So also is Christ only the
spiritual food for our souls. By His sacrifice He has merited
righteousness and holiness which were necessary to restore the lost
sinner into communion with God. The soul of that sinner is empty and
can never be satisfied, not even with a thousand worlds. The soul which
God has uncovered and made to feel its emptiness, hungers for the God
of his life. The spotless, holy One can have no communion with the
sinner. Only in Christ can He give Himself to man. Atonement lies in
the sacrifice of Christ. When the soul may embrace that sacrifice by
faith, then it will find rest, taste the favour of God and be satisfied
with the fulness of His house. Only in Christ is nourishment both for
the babes and for the most advanced in grace. To thirst for God, as a
hart pants after the water brooks, is the revelation of a new life.
Although thirsting and hungering reveal the true life of God, and the
upright desire to experience these exercises of faith more, they are
painful and wearying to the soul. Inwardly the soul can be as a dry and
thirsty land where no water is. Then it becomes plain what caused
David's complaint, "O God, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee: my
soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee." Then the sacrifice
of Christ, accomplished in the breaking of His body and in the shedding
of His blood, is the one only, soul-satisfying food and drink, of which
the living declare: "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and
fatness, and my mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips." "As bread
and wine support this temporal life, so His crucified body and shed
blood are the true meat and drink, whereby our souls are fed to eternal
life." What precious teaching lies therefore in the Lord's Supper!
God's children spend so much money for that which is not bread, and
labor for that which cannot satisfy; but here the Lord Jesus teaches us
about that meat and drink which will satisfy our hunger and thirst
forever. How fitting and proper it would be if there were now a
stronger urge in our hearts to be fed only by that heavenly manna. It
is for the hungry, so that they by faith may be satisfied out of the
fulness of Christ. "They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fulness
of Thy house; and Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy
pleasures. For with Thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light shall we
see light."
    Because of sin we are condemned to hunger eternally; for the rich
man there was no drop of water to cool his tongue; but blessed is he,
who learns here to hunger and thirst after Christ. He shall be
satisfied forever, for in the sacrifice of Christ once offered upon
Golgotha, God is his all-satisfying good. This, in the first place, the
Lord wants to show His people. They must learn to understand it by
heavenly instruction.
    The sacrament, however, is more than an instruction. It has sealing
power. It is a means of grace by which God the Holy Spirit wants to
assure those who are hungering after God that they are partakers of
Christ. Especially to give that assurance the Lord has instituted the
supper. The instructor therefore teaches that Christ calls the bread
His body and the cup His blood "more especially by these visible signs
and pledges to assure us, that we are as really partakers of His true
body and blood (by the operation of the Holy Ghost) as we receive by
the mouths of our bodies these holy signs in remembrance of Him; and
that all His sufferings and obedience are as certainly ours, as if we
had in our own persons suffered and made satisfaction of our sins to
God." When Tamar wanted a confirmation of Judah's promise, she asked
for his signet, his bracelets and his staff as a pledge, so that soon
after, when Judas would visit her for her iniquity and burn her, she
could appeal to the pledge. "Discern, I pray thee, whose are these, the
signet, the bracelets, and staff"; and it saved her life. Bread and
wine are the pledges given by God. In the Supper the Lord gives His
people a pledge that He would not be wrath with them, nor rebuke them;
for by the operation of the Holy Spirit they become partakers of the
true body and blood of Christ. He has testified this in His Word, and
He confirms it sacramentally in the Lord's Supper. But the sacramental
confirmation must be wrought by the Holy Spirit in the heart of God's
children and embraced by the exercise of faith. Otherwise they remain
far from it. The celebration of the Lord's Supper is a means to that
end, so that they cry out in faith: "Discern, I pray thee, whose these
pledges are." It is as if the Lord places this pledge in the hands of
their faith. Thereby He assures them that they truly have an interest
in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. With many that interest is very
obscure at times, because by unbelief they stand at a distance and have
not the power of faith to overcome all obstacles. Although they are on
the way to safety, they have not yet reached the city of refuge where
the avenger of blood can no longer pursue them. That often makes them
fear that they shall fall into the hands of the pursuer. In the Lord's
Supper, Christ comes to help them. Those signs are pledges given them
by God that they might believe that the avenger of blood shall never
overtake them. What rest and peace then accompanies their sitting at
the table of the covenant. "Thou prepares a table before me in the
presence of my enemies. Thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth
over." On the other hand the granted assurance may reveal so little
power in the soul, that iniquities prevail and earthly cares have the
upper hand. Heavenly joy is lacking and Christ has no form or
comeliness. How low then does God condescend to meet with His people.
At the Supper He reminds them of what He has once given them when He
entered into a covenant with them and made them His own. At the table
He reveals His love and invites them to exercise communion with Him in
Christ. The latest visit from God is the best assurance. "Awake, awake;
put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O
Jerusalem, the holy city... Shake thyself from the dust; arise and sit
down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive
daughter of Zion. For thus saith the Lord, Ye have sold yourselves for
nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money."
    Thus the Lord wishes to feed our souls at His table. Not that the
Supper itself can give us anything, for the virtue does not lie in the
elements, and there is no benefit for those who merely eat and drink.
Only by faith can our souls profit from the pledges which God gives.
For His children this is not a strange matter. The Sun of righteousness
can arise for them from behind the darkest clouds! Then Christ is
showing Himself through the lattice of His ordinance. O how deeply He
leads His people into His substitutionary work! How He overwhelms them
with the love wherewith He loved them, and gave Himself unto death for
them. For scarcely will a friend die for a friend, yet Christ commended
His love to us in that, while we were yet sinners He died for us. He
died on the cross for enemies. At that table the true partakers may
look by faith through that broken bread and poured wine, and cast an
eye upon Him Who redeemed them from eternal destruction. Then they sink
at His feet as the woman did in the home of Simon, and their soul
carries away the comfort with the remission of sins. Then they proclaim
the glory of their Emmanuel, and they sing by faith, "Thou hast
redeemed us with Thy blood." Then they are aroused out of their
deadness, and communion with God in Christ becomes lively; a blessing
for which they had been longing sometimes for a long time, saying with
the church of old, "I will go and return to my first husband, for then
was it better with me than now." Behold what communion God's children
may exercise with one another at the table if they may see something of
Christ in the elements. As out of many grains one meal is ground, and
one bread is baked, so are they altogether one body. The nature of the
new life is aroused here in spiritual exercise. Yes, at the table they
sometimes feel themselves one with those who are already before the
throne, whose places are vacant at the table, but having Supper above
in perfect communion of soul with God; with those who have fought the
good fight and gained the victory. Here are the foretastes of life in
heaven. Oh, what will it be to serve God eternally without sin, to be
like the Lamb, and to see Him as He is! When that love becomes strong,
will not God's people sing with David as we now wish to do?
        All those who fear Thy Name
        Shall my companions be;
        Thy mercy fills the earth, O Lord
        Thy statutes teach Thou me.
                       Psalter No. 328 st. 4
    What we have considered should be enough to make us loathe the
doctrine of Rome with our whole heart; that false doctrine which says
that bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ and
that He is eaten with our natural mouth instead of by faith. They may
taunt and revile you as a hater of papacy, but do not let that deter
you from rejecting and opposing with all that is in you the doctrine of
transubstantiation. Alas, the hands of the sons of the Reformation have
become exceedingly weak, and for that reason Rome is beginning to exert
its influence over us in government. Are we not reaping the bitter
fruits of having permitted idolatry to gain more and more liberty? Our
fathers spoke of the anti-christian Rome, but today Rome is called a
Christian church. Some have joined themselves with Rome and marched
with her under one banner. People who actually denied Christ were
assured an entrance into heaven, and our government officials,
including even those who professed the protestant religion, attended
the mass to please Rome. The Netherlands, too, must have a papal
delegate; the land that was drenched with the blood of martyrs bowed
before the man who asserts that he is seated on the chair of Peter,
even though he denies entirely the doctrine of Peter. The precious
Belgic Confession, which in Article 36 describes the duties of the
government and of the citizens according to the Word of God, had to be
changed. Twenty words had to be deleted, just those in which the church
confesses the duty of the government to destroy the anti-Christ. Thus
superstition obtained free reign and Protestant Netherlands was made
one of its strongest bulwarks. Favoured with public funds and supported
by our taxes it is striving to Romanize The Netherlands. Open your eyes
and you will see the truth of it. Even a blind man can feel it. But
will not God remember the blood of the martyrs? Shall not the day of
vengeance come, for which there is a cry from the souls of them that
were slain for the Word of God and for the testimony which they held?
When the fifth seal had been opened, John heard them cry under the
altar with a loud voice saying "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost
Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?"
Shall we then give assistance to Rome? In spite of the efforts to gain
authority and to oppress God's Church by legislation and government, it
is said of them "that they (who are calling in heaven) should rest yet
for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their
brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled."
(Rev 6:9-11) Be not surprised therefore if Rome increases in strength
for a while; it is approaching its judgment. Remember that the victory,
already gained by Christ, will one day be given to His people. More
martyrs will fall, but the day is coming when the Lord will reverse the
course of events. Let Rome curse, as it repeatedly does, all those that
will not bow before its image. May God make His church faithful,
causing her to flee idolatry and oppose lying doctrines. Bread and wine
do not change into the true Christ; the elements remain what they are.
Not one person obtains communion with Him by eating a constructed
Christ with the natural mouth; but only by true faith do we partake of
Christ and His benefits. Our fathers have taught us these things with
holy earnestness, not out of hatred to these people or to revile them.
May we and our children embrace those doctrines, and hang them as a
chain about our neck. Speak of them in your home and on the way. May
the Lord awaken our sleeping people to love His Word and truth again,
before He fulfill upon us the word spoken to the angel of the Laodicean
Church, "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I
will spue thee out of My mouth." Must we not fear that our nation is
bringing about its own destruction? Cry aloud then, and spare not;
deliver your souls from the nation whose gods are according to the
number of its cities.
    Communion with Christ, however, cannot be obtained merely by
opposing heresies and confessing the true doctrine, however necessary
they may be. This spiritual communion, which is signified and sealed in
the Lord's Supper for God's people, is received and exercised only by
    Now there comes to all of us the most serious question, all
decisive for an awful eternity, whether we have truly become a partaker
of Christ and all His benefits. Let everyone examine himself in this,
for without Him we shall not be able to stand before God. Our orthodox
confession will not avail us as ground of safety at death. Oh, I should
like to urge everyone continually and in every sermon to search God's
Word and the writings of our orthodox fathers day after day. You would
then be kept from many errors. "My people are destroyed", says the
Lord, "for lack of knowledge." This is a suitable lamentation for our
day also. We want to gather knowledge. Already in the elementary
schools the young children are overburdened with educational materials.
In all phases of life nowadays there is more and more pressure of
everything that looks like knowledge. There is hardly any time left for
God's Word and the doctrines founded upon it. Thus the church sinks
farther and farther away and many heresies are tolerated. Many of the
rising generation readily accept what cannot pass the test of truth.
Thereby he becomes important and thinks he can obtain comfort outside
of the only comfort both in life and death, namely: that I am not my
own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. When in the true
interest of the soul, that is emphasized, the preaching is considered
much too sharp by many. I say by many, not by all. For conscience still
testifies that nothing less will do, and every minister who is faithful
in the calling to which God has called him, wants to know nothing but
Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Him he would preach, and of Him the
Lord's Supper testifies. May God sanctify the preaching to our hearts,
however sharp it may sound. Search the Scriptures, therefore, for they
are they which testify of Him. Give up all grounds outside of Him; do
not deceive yourself. May God open your eyes before it is too late, and
you begin to cry out upon your death bed, as I once heard a catechumen
do in his distress, "I must die, and I cannot die." It is still the day
of grace. The Word, and also the Lord's Supper still testify of
spiritual fellowship with Christ. May the precious time of grace, by
the grace of God, be of eternal benefit to you. Beloved, I cannot and
may not do otherwise than direct you to Him Whose body was broken and
Whose blood was shed to reconcile sinners with God.
    There may be some who object, saying surely there are also
concerned souls, and souls who are filled with misgivings. Yes, there
are such. What are they concerned about? Let them say it themselves. Is
it not, afflicted and tempest-tossed souls, about the necessity of
reconciliation with God? You have grieved Him with your sins. Have you
not bowed before Him as entirely lost when He opened your eyes, and as
in a moment showed you your whole life, even from your youth? Did you
then not feel guilt increased with guilt from day to day, and that in
the face of all God's mercies? You spent your nights in sighing, and in
wonderment you had to declare, "I am still alive." Come, testify before
Him Who knows all things, whether you could find rest in all your
working and seeking. Would you choose a ministry other than that which
points to the necessity of having spiritual communion with Christ?
Certainly not! You would not entrust your soul to any other. Although
you must complain again and again that everything of self is too short
as a covering before God, yet you desire nothing less than a
discovering ministry which directs you to Christ alone. The catechism
says that in the Lord's Supper, God Himself assures you of that true
communion with Christ. The Lord grant you to know this by faith, so
that your sorrowing and anxious soul may obtain rest in Him, in Whom
there remains a rest for the people of God. Oh, let us not be satisfied
with only a contemplation of these matters. May Christ nourish you with
His all-sufficient sacrifice so that you may hunger and thirst after
Him the more. He is the bread of life. If we exercise no communion with
Him, as those farthest advanced can attest, our souls grope in the
dark, feel forsaken, and wander far from God. May the Lord then assure
us that the perfect satisfaction of Christ is ours, as though we had in
our own persons suffered and made satisfaction for our sins to God, as
the instructor says. May the spiritual union with Him Who paid the
entire debt, be our firm foundation, upon which we expect salvation in
eternal and perfect fellowship with Him in heaven. Amen.

Kersten, Heidelberg Catechism in 52 Sermons, Vol.2
(continued in part 4...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-02: krhc2-03.txt