(Kersten, The Heidelberg Catechism in 52 Sermons, Vol.2, Part 26)

The Petition for the Lord's Protection

Lord's Day 52

Psalter No. 414, st. 2, 3
Read James 1
Psalter No. 181, st. 2 & 3
Psalter No. 431, st. 4
Psalter No. 421, st. 4


    The last petition of the prayer which Christ taught us is explained
in Lord's Day 52 in such a way that we can clearly see the significance
contained therein for the victory over the power of darkness. The
petition for deliverance from evil is related to sanctification while
that which was discussed in Lord's Day 51 was related to justification.
However, Lord's Day 51 does not attempt to explain the doctrine of
justification; that was done in Lord's Day 23. But in the explanation
we could clearly see that forgiveness of sins upon the basis of the
blood of Christ is an act of God's justice. This justice charges sin to
and counts man guilty of the transgression of God's law, or if justice
has received perfect satisfaction in the blood of Christ, then God's
justice no longer charges guilt to the elect. Therefore, according to
the instructor, the petition: "Forgive us our debts" also includes, "Be
pleased for the sake of Christ's blood, not to charge to us poor
sinners, our transgressions, nor the depravity, which always cleaves to
    This judicial act, although it forms the foundation of the
salvation of the elect, is not the subject of the last petition. Here
the church calls for protection and strength in the heavy spiritual
warfare. In the same Lord's Day the conclusion of the entire prayer is
explained, "For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for
ever". That is the foundation of the petition, "Deliver us from evil".
The power of Zion's eternal King is able to deliver from the power of
Satan as well as to sanctify the soul and cause it to enter into
eternal glory. This is our subject for the present.
    However, one remark must be added to the distinction which was
noted between the fifty-first and the fifty-second Lord's Day. It is
this: Not only that justification and sanctification may never be
separated, but there is also a relationship between these two benefits,
namely: justification is the foundation upon which all other benefits
are based. In other words, we may not put sanctification before
justification, as some seem to do. The redemption of Zion is an act of
God's righteousness (Isa. 1:27) and by virtue of God's justice which is
satisfied, God's church receives grace for grace, also the grace of
protection, of which the last Lord's Day of the Heidelberg Catechism
    Let us now read together the fifty-second Lord's Day of the
Heidelberg Catechism.
Q. 127. Which is the sixth petition?

A. "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil"; that
    is, since we are so weak in ourselves, that we cannot stand a
    moment; and besides this, since our mortal enemies, the devil, the
    world, and our own flesh, cease not to assault us, do thou
    therefore preserve and strengthen us by the power of thy Holy
    Spirit, that we may not be overcome in this spiritual warfare, but
    constantly and strenuously may resist our foes, till at last we
    obtain a complete victory.

Q. 128. How dost thou conclude thy prayer?

A.  "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for
    ever"; that is, all these we ask of thee, because thou, being our
    King and almighty, art willing and able to give us all good; and
    all this we pray for, that thereby not we, but thy holy name, may
    be glorified for ever.

Q. 129. What does the word "Amen" signify?

A. "Amen" signifies, it shall truly and certainly be: for my prayer is
    more assuredly heard of God, than I feel in my heart that I desire
    these things of him.

    The subject is the petition for the Lord's protection, which
      I. implores protection-in temptation;
     II. is sent up from a heart that is without strength;
    III. calls for eternal victory;
     IV. bases its expectation upon God's almighty power, and
      V. rests in the assurance of being heard.
    In the first place, this petition implores protection in
temptation. True prayer always asks for the fulfillment of God's
counsel and promises. This does not mean that the fulfilling of God's
counsel is dependent upon our praying. The mere thought is absurd.
Whether man prays or curses, whether he wishes to submit to God's
counsel or opposes it with all his power, God accomplishes His eternal

     It is also true that God grants His people the privilege of
delighting themselves in that accomplishment, of finding rest for their
souls in it, and of desiring it. Resting upon God's promises is always
accompanied with a holy longing after their complete fulfillment, and
is not settling on the lees in a lifeless frame. So is he that liveth
in sin, as Moab (Jer. 48:11), but the grace of God gives the soul
exercises of faith with the salvation that is promised to the church.
This is also evident in the petition, "Lead us not into temptation, but
deliver us from evil". The Lord has said in His Word that those who
were begotten unto a lively hope "are kept by the power of God through
faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time". (I Peter
    There is, therefore, no apostasy of saints. Not one of them shall
be left behind. However much the devil rages, the world roars and sin
attacks, there is no danger for God's people. They are kept by the
power of God unto salvation. Let those that are perplexed and fearful
in their struggles take courage. God vouches for His people's
protection. He that has begun a good work in you will perform it until
the day of Jesus Christ. But, it is clearly evident from the petition
which is before us that this protection is not given without regard to
faith, or the life of grace or the life of prayer of God's people.
    God's people pray for that protection. Christ Himself taught them
to do so. Strange spirits have arisen which say that prayer is no
longer necessary, and even some of God's children were carried away
with it. They had made such progress in grace (as they vainly imagine)
that it was no longer necessary to pray, but only to give thanks. The
Lord save us from any such dreadful deception. God leaves an afflicted
and poor people that shall trust in His Name. The proud attitude
mentioned above is accursed. Christ knew very well that Satan would
never attain the victory over His people; yet He taught His disciples
to pray, "Deliver us from evil". The life which is wrought by God
desires the fulfillment of God's will and promise; it fears the bitter
struggle in the consciousness of its own impotence, and seeks refuge
under the wings of the Lord. Instead of desiring temptation, the church
prays, "Lead us not into temptation".
    Temptation in God's Word has various meanings. The word
"temptation" is used in a good as well as in an evil sense.
    It is used in a good sense when God tempts.
    So we read in Gen. 22:1: "And it came to pass after these things
that God did tempt Abraham." Likewise, 2 Chron. 32:31 speaks of God's
tempting. The Lord left Hezekiah to try him, that he might know what
was in his heart: "Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the
princes of Babylon, who sent unto Him to enquire of the wonder that was
done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that
was in his heart." God tempted Israel repeatedly. Yet the Apostle says,
"God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man". The
temptation of which James speaks is a temptation to sin, as is evident
from the context; he speaks of being drawn away of our own lust which
bringeth forth sin. God cannot tempt in such a manner. When God is said
to tempt a person He seeks the glory of His perfections, the
strengthening of the faith in His people or their deeper humiliation as
their weakness is felt.
    Abraham is an example of the first type. The temptation to
sacrifice his only son Isaac, the bearer of the promise, led to the
strengthening of his faith and further confirmation of the promise and
covenant of God, in which Abraham subsequently could rest.
    Hezekiah, on the other hand did not endure the temptation which God
sent him. The special grace which was granted to Abraham, who could not
endure in his own strength any more than Hezekiah could, was withheld
from Hezekiah. God left him. Instead of praising the glory of the Lord,
the God of Israel, Who had delivered him so wonderfully from the
Assyrians, Hezekiah showed the ambassadors of Babylon his own glory.
How deeply ashamed should Hezekiah have felt before the Lord who had
blessed him so richly. Yet he placed his own honour above the Lord's.
Hezekiah was a robber of God's honour!
    Israel also fell many times, when tempted in the wilderness by
false prophets and in the time of the judges. Again and again the
people departed from God and His laws. Again and again Israel showed
how exceedingly deep sin had taken root, and that the power of the
great King alone could save it. The Lord tempted the people in order to
humble them and to cause them to seek His grace again. What God desires
from you, people of God, is your humiliation, your walking humbly
before Him. Your self-exaltation, your presumption, your proceeding in
your own strength will bring you to bitter shame. Soon the enemy will
make an assault upon your spiritual life. You will then find yourself
guilty and ashamed before God and will have to learn and acknowledge
that in self there is no might against that great company. Oh, may we
rightly understand and consider our impotence, so that we (I will say
more of this later) may seek the Lord constantly and pray, "Lead us not
into temptation".
    Finally, God tempts when He tries His people, whether it be to
strengthen their faith, or first humble their hearts in order to pour
out His grace more richly. This kind of temptation is therefore for our
good. He who knows our thoughts afar off and all our deliberations,
wishes to make His people familiar with what is in their hearts and
what is the riches of His grace.
    A second use of the word "tempt" in a favourable manner is in
self-examination. David sings in Psalm 26:2, "Examine me, O Lord, and
prove (tempt) me; try my reins and my heart".
    The King of Israel placed himself before the all-seeing eye of God
to be examined. What a necessary self-examination! The heart is
deceitful above all things, who can know it? He who is no stranger to
his own heart knows this, and nothing is more terrifying for an upright
soul than self-deception. As for those who are sinking into a false
rest, they are admonished, "Examine yourselves... prove your own
selves" (2 Cor. 13:5). May that self examination be more practiced in
our days, for it is to be feared that many are deceiving themselves for
eternity. God's people learn to practice this self-examination. They
say, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my
thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the
way everlasting". We should not refrain from praying for such
    In the last petition we refer to the temptations of Satan. Satan
tempts with a temptation which always tends toward evil. Therefore in
Scripture he is called the tempter. Matthew says of him, "And when the
tempter came to Him (namely Christ), he said, 'If Thou be the Son of
God, command that these stones be made bread'." Paul also speaks of the
tempter in 1 Thess. 3: 5. The Apostle, when he could no longer forbear,
sent Timothy to know the faith of the Thessalonians, "lest by some
means the tempter have tempted you and our labor be in vain". It is the
nature of Satan to tempt man to destruction. For that purpose he uses
the world, all of its allurements and our own flesh. Things outside of
us would not have such an influence upon us if there was not such a
fruitful ground in our hearts in which evil can take root. Corruption
dwells within, and the devil works upon it with his hellish
temptations. He knows the weak points; he knows the lusts of the flesh;
his spying eye sees which sins attract us, especially the besetting
sins of God's children. According to those indwelling sins and their
deceitfulness, the devil presents his temptations. With God's
permission, he chooses the opportune time.
    As David, who had not gone to war, walked on the roof of his
palace, lust arose in his heart and the devil ensnared him by arousing
his passions. In the hall of Caiaphas lay the snare for Peter. He, as a
disciple of the Lord, did not belong in that hall. The desire of his
heart to be there led him into the snare. Peter denied his Lord and
Master three times, even with an oath. Satan filled the heart of
Ananias and Sapphire to lie to the Holy Ghost; both of them gave
offense to the work of the Holy Spirit; Satan spurred them on, laid the
snare and came with his hellish temptation.
    In all these temptations the prince of darkness has but one
purpose, namely that of leading men to destruction; knowing he can
never succeed in such an assault upon God's people, he aims to bring
dishonor upon God by their commission of sin and deprive their souls of
peace. If it were possible, he would lead the elect astray, but he
cannot do all he pleases. In tempting he is limited to what God
permits. God determines the measure, the duration and the outcome of
Satan's temptation. It is God who leads, not the devil; therefore the
Lord teaches His church to flee to Him with the humble petition, "Lead
us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." All our ways are in
the hands of the Lord, who Himself never tempts to evil. He is able to
turn the tempter away, or to save us from his claws. What a comforting
word Christ spoke to Peter whom Satan had much desired to sift as
wheat: "I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not." The
intercession of Christ will prevent Satan from gaining any victory over
God's people. Satan has been vanquished. He did not succeed when Zion's
eternal King was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be
tempted by the devil. He was defeated, totally defeated three times and
the devil had to flee. Eventually he must cease from harassing all of
God's people, and one day he will be put to the worse forever. Job in
the Old, and Peter in the New Testament are proof of this. May we seek
refuge in Christ alone and have need of the Holy Spirit to cleanse us
from sin and save us from Satan. Our own strength fails. Our sinful
heart puts weapons into the devil's hands. But the all-conquering power
of Zion's King, glorified in impotent creatures, causes Satan to flee.
Come then, all you who are guilty and unclean, who hate and flee from
sin to Christ alone, call for His strength with this petition that is
sent up from a heart that is without strength.
    In this petition Catechism teaches us that the true supplicant
asks, "Since we are so weak in ourselves that we cannot stand a moment;
and besides this our mortal enemies, the devil, the world, and our own
flesh, cease not to assault us, do Thou therefore preserve us."
    It is only by God's grace that we acknowledge this weakness in
truth. By nature we think we are strong. Paul, the small and weak one,
was formerly Saul, the strong one. In our imaginary strength we go on
and do not acknowledge that we are vain. God makes us humble and as
time goes on He causes His people more and more to know their
impotence. How big and strong Peter was when he walked on the sea! What
heroes the disciples were when they said they were willing to go into
death with Christ! But how bitter to discover their imaginations and be
stripped of their confidence when they saw the reality of death before
them. Oh, how much must be taken away from God's children before they
are truly poor and impotent before God. How rich we are with all our
poverty! That becomes obvious when the Lord launches out into the deep
with us - when knowledge of God and self increases; when the wickedness
of the heart is disclosed more and more. Formerly, oh yes, we were
willing to sacrifice ourselves in the struggle for the name and the
cause of the Lord, but we did not realize we would deny Christ for the
trying look of a maid, if He did not uphold us.
    God makes us poor. The Holy Spirit uncovers and makes us acquainted
with self. Then we find in ourselves all that is not good; the
treachery of sin is within us. In the city of Mansoul many diabolists
are hidden such as a Christian meets on the way, namely: atheism,
lustings, forget God, hard heart, false peace, arrogance, unbelief, and
who knows how many more scoundrels. If it were only the enemies
without, the conflict would not be so difficult, but it is the evil
that is within our hearts that keeps the enemy busy. Our own flesh is
counted among our mortal enemies. Who, who would endure to the end if
Christ did not guarantee the success of His own work? We would return
to the flesh pots of Egypt, we would be defeated in the spiritual
warfare once and for all. For the grace, which Christ has glorified in
His people, which gave them a new life with a new understanding and new
will, that grace can overcome only by being active in the strength of
Christ. God's children cannot enter the conflict with benefits which
they received in times past. Living on our conversion brings a deadness
in the soul. The Lord will surely make His people understand that they
must lose their conversion as a ground for salvation, that they may
 live on Christ alone. For in Him is the Fountain of Life. In ourselves
we cannot endure for a moment. On the other hand, the enemies are
strong and never give up. They are mortal enemies. They are engaged in
a life and death struggle for they hate the work of God, being enemies
of God's glory. They persecute living souls to death. Oh, how fearful
the soul can become when they attack. Job in the Old and Paul in the
New Testament show how terrifying the assaults of Satan are. With God's
permission he robs us of our goods, casts us into deepest mourning,
brings us to the brink of death, afflicts us with sore boils and
buffets us. He goes about as a roaring lion and if it were possible, he
would deceive the very elect. That, however, is not possible - not
because they offer such valiant resistance, but because they are kept
by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
    No less distressing is the enmity of the world. Egypt which sought
the destruction of Israel; Amalek, which attacked Jacob in the
wilderness; Moab and Edom, both refusing Israel entrance into Canaan,
and all the Gentiles who laid snares for Israel continually and fought
against them bitterly, show the hatred of the world and its conflict
with the people of God throughout the ages. How terrible were the
persecutions under the Roman emperors and the Romish popes! Let the
books of martyrs testify! Although the world at present does not
persecute to the death, its hatred is not diminished. God fixed a gulf
between His people and the world. "Therefore the world hateth you
because ye are not of the world." In scorn and disdain the world utters
its hatred of God's people day after day. The accusations of the wicked
are very sharp, and many of God's children must at times pass through
that anguish. Is not special protection necessary to remain standing?
What can we do in this conflict in our own strength? Our flesh, the
remnant of the old man that continues to permeate all the faculties of
the soul, that corrupt flesh, cooperates with the devil and the world
to dethrone Christ and to lead the soul to destruction.
    This conflict is worse because the enemy never ceases. It is a
conflict to the end. On this side of the grave God's people never get
above this conflict. He that endureth to the end shall be saved. Many
have begun but did not finish. As the wife of Lot, they left Sodom but
never arrived in the Zoar of safety. The conflict became too severe;
the affections remained with that which was left behind; there never
was a forsaking of creature strength, never a standing in the
all-conquering strength of the Lord. They never engaged in true
warfare. But God's people will persevere and be victorious. The way
does, indeed, go through the depths. We must renounce creature
strength, we must become utterly lost; but when the soul feels itself
entirely powerless, then the Lord will make His strength perfect in us.
His strength is made perfect in weakness.
    Against all those unceasing enemies, and in the strife that never
ends here below, Christ teaches His own to pray for the protection and
the power of the Holy Spirit, "that we may not be overcome in this
spiritual warfare, but constantly and strenuously may resist our foes
till at last we obtain a complete victory". The aim then is

eternal victory.
    Our mortal enemies do not yield, and God's people must never give
up the battle; but constantly and strenuously resist the foes. After
what has already been said we need not repeat that such resistance is
impossible in creature strength. In this spiritual warfare we cannot do
battle with carnal weapons, and grace received earlier can do nothing
unless strengthened continuously by the Holy Spirit. That is the
experience of God's people. This causes them to fear continually. The
honour of God is very closely connected with the life of God's people.
If the enemy gains the victory; if Satan is permitted to strike a blow;
if the world is able to entice, or if sin strengthens itself in the
heart; then, although no one on earth sees it, a separation from God's
favour will follow. If sin breaks through and gains the upper hand,
God's Name is blasphemed, and the church of God is defamed. The
searching and spying eye of the worldling watches the life of God's
people closely. Oh, what protection is needed constantly that the world
may never have any evidence for its slander and never be able to speak
evil of the church, except in a false manner. To that end it is
necessary that God's people constantly and strenuously resist the foe,
and in dependence upon the working of the Holy Spirit, crucify the
flesh with its lusts. A cherished sin soon gets the upper hand and
carries the soul further and further from God. How we ought to shun the
world in our homes and in our relations with our children, to abhor sin
with all its attractions, especially in our days. We must row against
the strong current without any rest. Against the revelation of sin
within our own hearts and outside of us, we must fight the battle, in
which the Lord alone can lead to victory. For in Him we are more than
conquerors. Oh, that we were truly impotent! Many times we are deceived
and the enemy surprises us, because we depend on our own strength and
do not carry our spiritual armor correctly. But, "the weak and helpless
shall His pity know".
    Some day, yes, some day, the day of victory will come. The war will
not last forever.
    Christ has won the victory and He triumphs at the right hand of the
Father. One day His people will enter with Him into glory. Soon, when
they have run the race that was set before them; when they have served
God's counsel, their souls shall enter in. When the end of time shall
come, when Christ shall come upon the clouds of heaven, and the earth
and the sea shall give up their dead, then they will enter in with soul
and body. John testified, "They overcame him (the devil) by the blood
of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not
their lives unto the death". "These are they which came out of the
great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in
the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and
serve Him day and night in His temple."
    Be of good courage all you who are being tempted and all who are
warring against (the devil). Be of good courage, the victory is
prepared for you. Here the battle may be severe, and fear may often
distress you. One day all enmity will be destroyed; the wicked will be
no more; sin will have ceased and Satan will be cast into the pool of
fire. Then you will perfectly and eternally honour Him who sits upon
the throne and the Lamb that redeemed you with His blood. The Lord will
wipe away the tears from your eyes and free you eternally from all
oppression. Yes, greater than freedom from oppression will be your
freedom from sin and from the power of evil which did not cease to
distress you in this life. Even now you may taste the first fruits of
that life above. Now at times, by a living faith being delivered from
all things, you may know that you have salvation in Christ. Oh, how
blessed it is to lose oneself in God when all guilt is atoned and all
sin is taken away; to bask in God's love and enjoy His sweet communion.
Did it not seem at times that you were drawn up to heaven, that you
were already hearing the song of the angels and of the redeemed, when
you were overwhelmed by the glory you were privileged to behold by
faith? Nevertheless Paul, who was drawn up to the third heaven, tells
us that we see through a glass darkly. These are only the first fruits,
not to be compared to the glory that we shall inherit. It does not yet
appear what we shall be: but we know that when He shall appear, we
shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. May our eyes be
focused upon that salvation; may hope strengthen us in all the conflict
and cares of this life and cause us to sing with the poet:
        "Soon I in glorious righteousness
        Shall see Thee as Thou art;
        Thy likeness, Lord, when I awake,
        Shall satisfy my heart."
    This victory shall one day be the portion of God's people. Comfort
one another in the days of your tribulation with these words: "So shall
we ever be with the Lord". This hope is not vain, this expectation
shall not be put to shame, because it is not founded upon the strength
of the creature; but as the Catechism shows in the explanation at the
conclusion of the prayer, this hope is rooted in divine omnipotence,
causing the supplicant to pray for the protection of
God's almighty power.
    How dost thou conclude thy prayer? "For thine is the Kingdom, and
the power, and the glory, forever"; that is, all these we ask of Thee,
because Thou, being our King and almighty, art willing and able to give
us all good; and all this we pray for, that thereby not we, but Thy
holy Name may be glorified forever.
    What an encouragement lies in the close of the prayer which Christ
taught His church!
    Thine is the Kingdom! This is the kingdom of grace, Zion, the
mountain of God's glory. Of this kingdom Christ is King, to Whom is
given all power in heaven and on earth. No enemy can stand before Him.
He has bruised the head of Satan. He conquered death and took captivity
captive. Surely, Zion has a mighty King! He will employ that
all-controlling power for the good of His people. Every king protects
his subjects. And will not this King protect His subjects? He ransomed
them; He delivered them out of the claws of Satan, of the world and of
sin; He redeemed them with His blood. Will He deliver the soul of His
turtle dove to the wild beasts of the field? When Egypt planned to
attack the defenseless seed of Jacob, it not only cost them all their
first-born, but Israel triumphed over Pharaoh and his hosts. Babylon's
lot was no better. The Lord pleads the cause of His poor and will lead
His people to victory. He is both willing and able. It has pleased Him
to glorify His Name in the salvation He has prepared for His elect.
God's people are not leaning upon a reed, their strength is in Zion's
great King. What can Satan, what can the world do? Under the protection
of this King, God's people are safe. There is a hiding place in the
cleft of the rock, a protection under the shadow of His wings. If we
are to enjoy this, it is constantly necessary for us to relinquish all
other strongholds and to lose all our confidences outside of Him. But
there is a sad tendency in our hearts to be independent and self
sufficient. We enter the open field and the enemy shoots his arrows at
us. To pray as Christ teaches us in this petition can only be done in
true humility and meekness, in denial of all that is of self. May we be
made the subjects of the humbling and emptying work of the Spirit of
God, so that the strength of Christ may be abundantly glorified in us.
Then we shall be safe in all the warfare and finally obtain the
victory. Then we shall affirm in self-denial, as the instructor says,
"that not we, but Thy holy Name, may be glorified forever". The glory
of God shall be the eternal life of His people.
    May a weak and helpless people then lean upon the strength of the
King and expect from Him the answer to prayer and the fulfillment of
all needs, as we now sing from Psalm 81,
        "Open", saith the Lord,
        "Wide thy mouth, believing
        This - My covenant - word:
        I will, if thou plead,
        Fill thine every need,
        All thy wants relieving."
                  (Ps. No. 431 st. 4)
    Let us for a moment give our thoughts to the assurance we have of
being heard: "What does the word 'Amen' signify?"
    Amen signifies, it shall truly and certainly be, for my prayer is
more assuredly heard of God, than I feel in my heart that I desire
these things of Him.
    Amen is a Hebrew word that has been adopted by all languages. The
root of that Hebrew word denotes firmness, hence in Amen there is
confirmation. It is as the "Verily, verily" with which the Lord Jesus
so often began His discourse, when He was about to say something that
was contrary to the opinion of the Jews. In Isaiah 65:16 it is
translated by the word truth. Amen was of force in an oath. All the
people said, "Amen" when they entered into the covenant. Indeed, so
strong are the ideas of firmness, of immutability, of truthfulness,
included in the word Amen that the Lord Jesus Christ in Rev. 3:14 is
called the Amen, that is, the personified confirmation of all that the
Lord has spoken. Quite correctly, then, the Catechism says that Amen
means: "It shall truly and certainly be."
    With this "amen" the prayer is concluded. Now, anyone can feel that
to be able to add amen to our prayer in truth, faith is necessary
true faith - that assuredly expects from Christ an answer to prayer.
All our praying and our saying of "Amen" is often no more than habit
and custom. Then it has very little meaning for us. It becomes a
concluding word rather than a word of significance. Let God's people be
honest. When is "amen" spoken in a heartfelt manner? Certainly not when
we pray so thoughtlessly that we can scarcely keep our minds upon the
words we utter. We should be ashamed because of our unholy approach to
the pure and holy One. How indispensable for God's people, also in this
regard, is the atonement and purification which is in Christ. He is the
altar that sanctifies the prayers and makes them rise as sweet incense
before God. When by faith we may find in Him the ground of our
pleadings, then and only then may we say in truth, "Amen"; my prayer is
heard of God more assuredly than I feel in my heart that I desire these
things of Him. Now, feeling is not the ground of our prayers, but we
cannot have true prayer without feeling. A heart of stone does not
embrace Christ in faith. A childlike dependence upon the Lord, a
resting upon Christ alone, a losing oneself in God with all our needs
for time and eternity; these are the exercises which cause the true
supplicant to expect assuredly that God will not turn away anyone who
is poor and putteth his trust in the Lord. And the experience of
answered prayer causes the church to sing,
        "I cried to Thee and Thou midst save
        Thy word of grace new courage gave."
    Beloved, do you know something of such praying?
    I beseech you, make not your formal prayers a ground of acceptance.
You pray, you say amen, but have you ever lost yourself in God with all
your needs? Have you ever learned to know the Lord in truth? Or is He a
strange God to you, as He is to all of us by nature? May the grace that
renews the heart teach you to pray in truth as the Holy Spirit said of
Paul, "Behold, he prayeth." All his life this Pharisee had prayed, but
his self-righteous prayers were a stench in God's nostrils. Now,
however, Paul learned to cry for the first time, after he was felled on
the way to Damascus, and became a lost soul before God. Now for the
first time Paul prayed. In like manner, may God call us out of darkness
to His marvelous light, so that in truth we may be brought to Him with
weeping and supplication and find refuge in the Lord for time and
    This is the blessed portion of God's children who, as they look
back upon their way, may say with the poet:
    "He has not turned away my prayer,
    His grace and love He makes me share,
    His name be ever blest."


     A word of appreciation is hereby expressed to Mrs. A. De Bruyn for
her accomplishment in the translation of these Fifty-two Catechism
Sermons, by our beloved and highly esteemed, the late Rev. G. H.
Kersten - to Mr. Cornelius Quist for his faithful assistance in the
editing of this translation, the typists, and all who had part in the
publication. It is providential that these sermons may now appear in
the English language, also for the coming generation in these days of
departure from the sound Reformed teaching. May the Lord's blessing
rest upon the reading and study thereof is our wish and prayer.
In name of the Synodical Committee.
C. F. Boerkoel, Sr.

Kersten, Heidelberg Catechism in 52 Sermons, Vol.2
(... conclusion)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-02: krhc2-26.txt