As we continue our journey through the New City Catechism (NCC), I must admit to feeling a little bit embarrassed at all this talk about ‘sin’, ‘the law’ and ‘punishment’. These words are all so very unpopular in this day and age. Why do we have to dwell here so long? Why such doom and gloom? Give us some good news! We’ll get there soon…but not yet.
A dark and difficult journey is made easier if you can see a light at the end of the tunnel. At the moment we are in section 1 of the NCC, but it helps to keep the overall structure in mind:
- God, Creation & Fall, Law (bad news)
- Christ, Redemption, Grace (good news)
- Spirit, Restoration, Growing in Grace (more good news!)
When your doctor shares your latest test results, you expect nothing less than the unvarnished truth. You want to know exactly what’s wrong. If your doctor was to ‘spruce up’ your results, for fear of giving offence, you would not be helped. If there is to be any hope of recovery, you need a proper diagnosis so you know exactly how much effort you will need to make.
Like a master surgeon, God knows exactly what’s wrong with us, and he doesn’t shy away from telling us: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8).
The painful thing about our journey through the NCC is that we are in the diagnostic stage (section 1) but we haven’t got to God’s remedy (in section 2). However, it is vital for us to grasp the ‘bad news’ of our sin before we are ready to receive the ‘good news’ of God’s grace.
Martin Luther said that “the first duty of the gospel preacher is to declare God’s law and to show the nature of sin.” The great evangelist, D.L. Moody, said something similar: “God being a perfect God, gave a perfect law, and the law was given not to save people, but to measure them.”
So please stick with us on the NCC journey. Please don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to lay a strong biblical foundation for your life and the lives of those around you.