2009-01-13 - Heidelberg 13
Heidelberg Catechism Series, Part 30
Romans 2:5, "But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God."
Question 13: "Can we pay this debt ourselves?"
Answer: "Certainly not. Actually, we increase our guilt every day."
We have just looked at question 12, where we find that God requires justice, and our sin deserves punishment. Here we come to the question respecting if we can pay the debt of our sin ourselves, and the answer is, "Certainly not." In fact, the answer doesn't stop there. It continues that every day our guilt increases.
The verse I have chosen for today does something interesting that the question does not. The verse makes things personal. The verse talks about "your stubbornness," "you are storing up wrath for yourself," and I think it is good to think about this question in a personal manner. This is not a general question that speaks generally about a general topic. The topic is deeply personal, and the manner in which it applies to us is also deeply personal. We can't pay the debt of sin ourselves. We need someone to pay it for us, and the only One in history who can is Jesus Christ. But that is not my focus for today. My focus is that every day, we are adding to our guilt, if we have yet to come to Christ for forgiveness and mercy. Every day, we are heaping up more and more culpability.
All any of us has ever known is God's goodness, patience, forbearance, and longsuffering. We are daily loaded with mercies and favors from God. How do we return thanks? Many of us do nothing. We can go the entire day, and the thought of God, His Redemption in Christ, His kindness - these might never cross our mind in the course of a day. Every morning that an unrepentant sinner wakes up and finds he/she is not in hell, the sunshine seems to say to him/her, "I will shine for you for another day, for it may be that this day you will repent. "At night, after the day is past and the sinner turns in, does not the bed say, "I will give you another night of rest so that you might live and turn from your sins and trust in Jesus?" Every mouthful of bread says, "I will support your body, so that you may have the strength to repent." How gracious God is to many who never think of Him. How vast are His mercies. What is the sum total of them? Who can number them?
Maybe some of us were great in our sins at age 20. We had stretched the limits of God's patience, and we knew it. We had for many years increased our guilt every day. But now we are 30, or 40, or 50, and have we lived that many more years, still increasing daily our guilt? Would we continue to try the patience of the God who could stop our cursing tongue for good, close our lustful eye forever, cease our wandering heart from beating, and remove the breath from our black lungs? Surely you understand where I go with this. If we have not turned to the Lord: Why? What holds us back? Can we continue to be so foolish, and not expect that God will say, at some point, at some point soon, "I have done much for her- I have endured a lot from him - it is enough." God knows all our transgressions. One day, the curtain will not go up for us, and before that day, may we all have fallen before Jesus Christ and begged Him mercy for our many sins that heap upon each other - heaps and heaps - more so every day. We cannot pay the debt ourselves. We must have Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria,