A Big "But" From the Heidelberg Catechism

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The Heidelberg Catechism is one of the most beloved creeds of the Reformation period. It has been teacher to millions. It is made up of 129 questions and answers. Q & A we'll consider here, include a big but or two. Check out this big "but":

Question & Answer # 1

What is your comfort in life and death?

but belong to my loyal Savior Jesus Christ; who with his precious blood has been satisfied for all my sins, and delivered from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, where by His Holy Spirit He assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready, sinceforth, to live unto Him.

I've included the whole of Q & A # 1 here for the beauty and richness of it. But, I want to focus on the immediate context of the word but.

The question is: What is my only real (and lasting) comfort? The answer begins: I'm not my own. The first step to comfort is to realize that I am not my own. If I am my own, than life, death and anything I would hope for afterwards. But I'm not my own. And that is good news. It's where this big but makes its impact: I'm not my own, but I belong to Christ. I can take comfort in the fact that he holds my fate in his hands.

There's another key word in this immediate context: … belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who … What follows is a litany of achievements, or finished work, of Christ on our behalf. He paid for my sins in a way that is fully sufficient. There's no need for me to do that – what I can not accomplish, he has. He delivered me from the power of the devil – nothing can snatch me out of his hand. He preserves me to the degree of meticulous care that even the hair on my head are accounted for (with some of us that are less than a feat with others). He is going to orchestrate things in such a way as to be a constructive part of the work. He gives me eternal hope – both the prospects of living forever in heaven, but more than that, a life of eternal quality here and now. Finally, in all of this he gives me purpose. It's not the what, by the way. It's the who. I am not my own, but I belong to Jesus.

Finally, do not overlook the words both in life and death at the start. These two have often been separated in our thinking. We've compartmentalized them to the degree that we try to live one, and we try not to think of the other. In some circles the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been reduced to a message about death and the promise of an afterlife – a fire escape clause. The catechism rightly places the two together. Our comfort is about the entire picture. Back to those things that Jesus has accomplished – they are not delivering any afterlife, but they are bringing comfort and purpose into this life.

The columns and beams of my life are identified upon a foundation. That foundation is not me. It's Jesus. That's comforting.

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Source by Darin Shaw