to really believe (HC 11)


Christians look to Jesus who is the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb 12:2).  But why is Jesus called Jesus? The next two questions in the Heidelberg Catechism are as follows ‘Why is the son of God called ‘Jesus,’ meaning ‘Saviour’? and ‘Do those who look for their salvation and security in saints, in themselves, or elsewhere really believe in the only Saviour Jesus?’

You shall call his name Jesus

‘You shall call his name Jesus, for He shall save his people from their sins’ (Matt 1:21). Salvation cannot be found anywhere else. Therefore it is futile to look for salvation elsewhere. Jesus saves us from our sins, so when we speak of Jesus being our Saviour it is the judgement of God and the forgiveness of sins that we have in mind. We may look to others for help in other areas of our life and God provides for us through such people, but when it comes to the forgiveness of sins there is no person that we can look to other than Jesus Christ.

Looking elsewhere

The answer to the second question  (‘Do those who look for their salvation and security in saints, in themselves, or elsewhere really believe in the only Saviour Jesus?) is ‘no’. Many will claim to believe and trust in Christ but by looking elsewhere, whether to themselves or others they are not looking to Christ alone. Those who are saved are saved by grace in Christ alone. This is where we can understand the value of the Christian life, when we look at the price paid ( 2 Cor 5:21) for us to be forgiven.

Functional Saviours

Praying to saints may not be a particular problem for Protestant churches, but functional saviours are. A functional saviour is what you look to in order to make yourself feel better, or to give your life a purpose other than what God has given. A functional saviour could be anything from having money to spend, eating chocolate, drinking wine, voluntary work or superstitious acts to name a few. Those who look to such functional saviours fail to understand who they are and what they have in Christ Jesus. They also fail to see the good work that God has given us, prepared before hand that we should walk in them. Functional saviours are what we turn to other than Jesus or in addition to Jesus in order to have a sense of worth. But this behaviour is either a result of forgetfulness ( 2 Peter 1) or a lack of growth in biblical knowledge and understanding.

Those who believe they are good enough or believe that they haven’t done anything bad enough and therefore should be allowed to enter into eternal life, not only misunderstand what eternal life is but themselves. In such cases the functional saviours are the beliefs of ‘i am good enough’ or ‘i am not that bad’ or to put it another way, because such people judge themselves by their own standard they have become their own functional saviours and as a result do not turn to Christ.

Jesus is the only Saviour and Jesus is the saviour because he saves us from our sins, ‘…there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).

By Daniel Ralph

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