“That I am not my own, but belong— body and soul, in life and in death— to my faithful Saviour 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 wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him.”
That is the first question and answer asked in The Heidelberg Catechism. Many Christians, haven’t even heard or read anything from The Heidelberg Catechism, which is a huge shame. They contain such timeless truths from scripture. And in these devotions, I would like to look at some of these questions now and again. I’ll be getting some help from Kevin DeYoung.
‘What is your only comfort in life and death?’ and the answer given above is absolutely stunning, isn’t it?!
A 60’s English rock band wrote, “I love to live so pleasantly, Live this life of luxury, Lazing on a sunny afternoon.” We’ve had good weather recently; maybe that is what you call your comfort at the moment – lazing on a sunny afternoon? It prompts us to ask, “What is my comfort?” To which I’m sure there are many answers. With my kids at the moment, a comfort of mine is probably sleep! For many of you maybe a comfort is that chocolate bar (minus the calories!), reading a good book, watching a film, listening to music. All these things can be a comfort.
But the question here asks, “What is your only comfort?” Now that is different. That is asking something deeper. “Comfort” comes from a Latin word which is linked to our word ‘trust’. The Heidelberg is asking, “What is your only trust in life? What is your one and only real security?” It prompts one of the most important questions you will ever be asked, “What enables you to endure life and face death unafraid?”
Is it that you try and attend church? You give to worthy causes? You are set for an easy retirement? You’ve stayed away from the really bad horrible sins?
But The Heidelberg Catechism tells you that actually your only hope, your only source of security has to be from the fact you do not belong to yourself. That is countercultural. DeYoung says, “We can endure suffering and disappointment in life and face death and the life to come without fear of judgement, not because of what we’ve done or what we own or who we are, but because of what we do not possess, namely, our own selves.”
Question 1 of the Catechism should shape our whole lives. The first thing we need to know as a Christian is that we belong to Jesus and not ourselves.
When we think of living and dying in comfort, we imagine easy retirement, drinks by the pool, back-rubs, all the food we desire. But this tells us of a different kind of comfort, one that is deeper, higher, richer and sweeter. A comfort not found in ourselves, or what we can do. A comfort not found outside ourselves in world and its ‘pleasures’. But a comfort, the only comfort, found in Jesus. “Because I belong to Him, Christ.”
Keith Getty and others have recently written a lovely song based on that first question of The Heidelberg Catechism
You may also enjoy learning the story behind the song: