Heidelbasics: Brief Weekly Reflections on the Heidelberg Catechism by Rev. David Fagrey, Pastor of Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD
20. Are all men, then, saved by Christ as they have perished in Adam?
No, only those who by true faith are engrafted into Him and receive all His benefits.
Although Adam represented and acted on behalf of all mankind, Christ represented and acted on behalf of those who believe in Him and thereby receive the salvation He earned for them. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).
21. What is true faith?
True faith is not only a sure knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word, but also a hearty trust, which the Holy Spirit works in me by the Gospel, that not only to others, but to me also, forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness, and salvation are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits.
Faith by definition is to rely upon the word of another. When a jury reaches a verdict, they are relying upon the testimony of faithful witnesses. Faith in God is to rely upon God’s Word (the Bible). True (saving) faith is to be convinced by the Holy Spirit that God’s Word is truth (John 17:17; 10:35; 2 Tim. 3:16); and, especially, to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation (John 5:24). Since He merited (earned) salvation for me, I embrace Him with a believing heart and seek nothing more besides Him.
22. What, then, is necessary for a Christian to believe?
All that is promised us in the Gospel, which the articles of our Catholic, undoubted Christian faith teach us in summary.
In order to truly believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and not be deceived by those who preach “another Jesus” (2 Cor 11:4), we need to believe specifically what the Bible says about who Jesus is and what He has done to save His people from their sins. These key doctrines of the gospel are summarized in the articles (or statements) of the Apostles’ Creed (not written by the apostles, but based on their teaching in the New Testament). This Creed is called catholic, meaning universal, because it contains the universal beliefs of all Christians. They are undoubted (not doubted) by true believers.
23. What are these articles?
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Begotten Son, our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
The next 35 Questions and Answers (24-58) explain the biblical basis of these articles.