The Heidelberg in a Hurry: Question 1 Part 1
In this ongoing series, I will be expositing the Heidelberg Catechism (HC). I will be dividing up each answer into manageable chunks and will then explain it in light of the proof text. The goal is to do this in 500 words or less (not including this preview, or the HC Q/A). I pray these short posts are an encouragement to you.
“Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?”
A. That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both 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 all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him.”
Christian, You Are Not Your Own
One thing is certain regarding humanity, we are prideful. One must ask, what is pride? The answer is that pride is the belief that our life and achievements are how we measure our dominion, resulting in consistent sips from the cesspool of self-affirmation.
Look to the Fall in Genesis 3; Adam and Eve didn’t trust in the sovereign goodness of God (1-5); they attempted to achieve enlightenment through disobedience (6 – 8); Adam blamed God for his lapse (verse 12); culminating in something he and Eve never experienced before, pain and suffering (16 – 19). Sin is the result of Adam and Eve’s lack of humility in their dominion over creation, which was already given them in Genesis 1:28-30, because they were barred from one tree. The objects of our pride may be different, but the underlying rebellion is the same.
So why is it that the opening statement to the Catechism brings comfort to the Christian? To answer that we must look at the opposite statement, “I am my own”. If that is true, then the only measure we would have for comfort is ourselves. There would be no measure of comfort apart from individualistic feelings dependent on circumstance and other external influences. But the Christian shouldn’t find comfort in circumstance, but rather in the eternal truths found in 1 Cor. 6:19 – 20.
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
— 1 Corinthians 19-20 (ESV)
We were bought with a price which eternally assures salvation. It is a price we could never pay. If we are our own we are not represented by Christ’s works, but rather Adam’s failure, which brings death. Those who are saved do not share in Adam’s failing, but rather in the perfect obedience, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:12 – 21).
Since we are not our own Christian’s give up all rights to subjective truth. In other words, when we repent and believe the Gospel, are justified, and then adopted into the family of God we become heralds of the objective and absolute truths that are laid out by the Father. Adam, Eve, and all their posterity found nothing but misery outside of this truth. However, the redeemed will find comfort in life and in death through being regenerated and seeing the truth about God anew.