2007-12-05 - Heidelberg 1.4
Heidelberg Catechism Series, Part 4
Question 1: What is your only comfort in life and death?
Answer: That I am not my own, but belong - body and soul, in life and in death - to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me whole-heartedly willing and ready, from now on, to live for him.
We come to the end of Question 1. Today we will briefly look at the phrase, "Because I belong to him ," to the end. This completes the thought begun in the answer, "That I am not my own." It takes a while to get there, but here is the answer: You are not your own, because you belong to Christ. In addition, the Holy Spirit is brought in here. Thus the answer to the question brings in all three persons of the Trinity. The answer, in its completeness, is soothing. It is reassuringly upbeat. We are not our own, but we belong to Jesus, and we don't belong to God like the trees do, or like the stars of the Heavens do, or like the beasts of the field. Rather, we belong to Christ because He has set His love upon us. We are not merely created; we are redeemed. It is not simply that we belong to the Lord, but much more - that we have been purchased by His blood. We have been grafted into the true vine (John 15). We are His children, and have been adopted into His family, such that we are now the sons and daughters of God.
We can see much of what this part of the answer highlights demonstrated in Romans 8:12-17. There are other places in Scripture where we see the wisdom and truth of this part of the response. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, 5:5, Ephesians 1:13-14, Psalm 110:3, Philippians 2:13, Luke 1:74, 75, and Hebrews 13:21 are just a couple of passages where we are told we can assuredly know that this blessed promise is true. All those who are being led by the Spirit of God are sons of God, Romans 8:14. This can be a great comfort to us, but also a great concern. Is the Spirit of God leading us? If we answer in the affirmative, we may be comforted - but when there are doubts, or when we can look at our lives and perceive our drifting away from the Spirit's leading, we must grow concerned.
This answer also tells something else that is of great comfort. It speaks of eternal life. Our belonging to Christ assures us of eternal life. We might draw several deductions from this, but one less obvious is that eternal life, for those who are in Christ, has already begun. Being in Christ gives us freedom from the power of sin, but we also have eternal life already started, that can never be torn from us. It is for this very reason that the answer ends as it does. Knowing this - experiencing this - "makes us wholeheatedly willing and ready from now on to live for him." This is our blessed standing in the grace of Christ. It is new life, and it is the reality and experience of all who belong to Him. Now we live for Him - and not for ourselves.
Soli Deo Gloria,