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The Impossible Christ - John 20, HCLD 6

A service plan from Lord's Day 6 of the Heidelberg Catechism focused on the nature of our Deliverer and why he must be both human and divine, part of a series on the Heidelberg Catechism.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

This service focuses on the identity of Jesus Christ as our Mediator. The previous Lord's Day of the Heidelberg Catechism asked about where we would be able to find a deliverer and answered by claiming the deliverer must be both human and divine. Lord's Day 6 continues that dialog by asking why it must be that way and who such a deliverer is. The gospels, of course, answer this question, and the claim of John the Apostle in John 20:30-31, our text for this service, is an example of this answer.

* * *

We bring our worship to God in the name of Jesus
knowing that we have life in his name.



The Call to Worship

*Song: "We Come, O Christ, to You" PsH 238:1-4, TH 181:1-4, TWC 86:1-4

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you
in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

*Response: “We Come, O Christ, to You” PsH 238:5, TH 181:5, TWC 86:5

The Children's Moment


The Call to Confession

A Litany of Confession:

Why must he be truly human and truly righteous?
God's justice demands
that human nature, which has sinned,
must pay for its sin;
but a sinner could never pay for others.

Why must he also be true God?
So that, by the power of his divinity,
he might bear the weight of God's anger in his humanity
and earn for us and restore to us righteousness and life.

And who is this mediator-true God and at the same time
truly human and truly righteous?
Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was given us
to set us completely free and to make us right with God.

How do you come to know this?
The holy gospel tells me.
God himself began to reveal the gospel already in Paradise;
later, he proclaimed it
by the holy patriarchs and prophets,
and portrayed it by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law;
finally, he fulfilled it through his own dear Son.
(The Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 6)

The Sung Prayer of Confession: "Jesus, Remember Me" (sung twice) PsH 217, RN 227, SFL 168, SNC 143, TWC 822, WOV 740, UMH 488

The Assurance of God's Pardon: Heidelberg Catechism, Answer 19 [see liturgy notes]

*Song of Assurance: "Like a River Glorious" PsH 560, TH 699, TWC 594

God's Guide for Grateful Living [see liturgy notes]


*Song: "O Christ, Our Hope, Our Heart's Desire" PsH 485, TH 161

The Prayer for Illumination

The Reading of Scripture: John 20:19-31; 21: 24-25
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: "The Impossible Christ"
Text: John 20:30-31

The Prayer of Application


*Our Sung Affirmation of Faith: "I Believe in God Almighty" SNC 175

The Offertory Prayer

The Offertory
The Offering of Music
We Offer our Gifts for…

The Prayers of the People


*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Song of Faith: "O Christ, the Great Foundation" PH 443, SNC 177, TWC 709


* You are invited to stand.

Sermon Notes:

The facts about the existence and activities of Jesus Christ are rather clear. We know where he lived, when he lived, and much of what he said and did. There is no scarcity of information. John tells us that when he wrote his gospel about Jesus' life, he had a great deal of material to choose from (see 20:30). He even says that if it all were written down "the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written" ( 21:25).

The diversity of conviction arises when we go beyond the factual information and ask about his true identity. There wasn't much consensus in his day, and the same is true today. Interview ten people on the street, and you are likely to get many different viewpoints, such as an imposter, a good man, a moral teacher, or an egotistical Rabbi. In this confusion, many believe Jesus may easily be dismissed without any consequences.

But John calls us to affirm a viewpoint of Jesus Christ's identity that seems virtually impossible. He is a human being, called the long-awaited Messiah, who is actually the Son of God through whom alone we can find eternal life. He is truly human and truly divine as the Catechism teaches. It may seem to be impossible, but we are told it is true!

Which position we take, will totally shape our relationship with him, our salvation, and our hope of eternal life. What may humanly seem impossible is, in the final analysis, absolutely true!

Music Notes:
Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,
Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America;
Great Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

Liturgy Notes:

1. Since this service focuses on our understanding of the identity of Christ, the opening hymn has been selected to focus on our coming to this Christ. The Call to Worship could, likewise, reflect this coming to Christ the Son of God.

2. A few works of explanation in introducing the testimony of Heidelberg Catechism Answer 19 will provide a good transition so that the assurance of pardon is clearly in focus: Beginning in Paradise and continuing through its fulfillment in Christ, God speaks to us about his eagerness to pardon his people.

3. See last week’s Liturgy Note #2 about the options that are available for God's Guide to Grateful Living. These are also consistent with this service and its theme.

4. The Sung Affirmation of Faith enables the congregation to join the historic Christian church in professing the faith of the Apostles' Creed. This is a fitting profession after God's Word speaks about the identity and centrality of Jesus Christ.