Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?
The first two questions in the Heidelberg Catechism which we are looking at serve as a kind of Introduction to the Catechism as a whole.
Note in the first question the practicality of the Catechism. The very first question is interested in the person studying the Catechism knowing that the material they are about to study and digest has the purpose of giving them “comfort.” Now the idea of comfort when the Catechism was written was not what we associate with comfort today. It was not the notion of stretching out on a sofa relaxing. The word “Comfort,” comes from the Latin. Con is Latin for “with”; fortis for “strength.” When the Catechism asks “What is your only comfort in life and death,” it is asking where is it that you can find strength.
The answer to that question is of incredible importance. Every person living wants to know where they can find strength when hardships come their way, when persecutions come their way, when courage is needed, when disappointments visit them, when life happens, when death looms. When these realities visit our lives where are we to find comfort (with strength)?
The answer that they give is that,
That I with body and soul, both in life and death, (a) am not my own, (b) but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; (c) who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, (d) and delivered me from all the power of the devil; (e) and so preserves me (f) that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; (g) yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, (h) and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, (i) and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him. (j)
We will take a few entries to break their answer down.
That I with body and soul, both in life and death, (a) am not my own, (b) but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ…
The reason that we can gain strength in not being our own is found in the reality that in being owned by another, (Jesus Christ) ultimately He who I am owned by has taken responsibility for me. Now, the one who owns me, and who has taken responsibility for me is the Sovereign King of the Whole universe of whom it is said (Ephesians 1:20f) that, He is seated at the right hand of God and He towers over all rule, authority, power, dominion and every opposition that can be imagined. The Sovereign King, who holds all things in subjection is the one who I am owned by and who has taken responsibility for me as my owner.
Can you understand why that truth believed would give someone strength?
Finally, for this post, notice the totality of ownership that the Lord Christ has claimed over His people. In your whole existence (body and soul, life and death) you are owned by the Lord Christ. This means that there is no area where Christ does not have a claim on you, and as such there is no area where we can not find strength in the fact that we are owned by Christ.
The Scriptures that support the idea that we are owned by Christ are below.
(a) Rom.14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. Rom.14:8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
(b) 1 Cor.6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?