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My Only Comfort

May 15, 2012

Every Sunday at East Point Church we confess our common faith together. This gives us opportunity to not only learn what we believe but to remind each other of the faith we profess in Christ Jesus our Lord. Last year we recited The Apostles Creed. This year we are using the Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day One, Question One.  The catechism is an excellent guide to learning the fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith.  It begins at the level of our Christian experience and the need for us to know and have the indispensable comfort of Christ in this world. According to the catechism, this comfort comes from knowing that Christ possesses us now and forever.  Question one asks:   “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” The answer reminds us that we have been purchased by Christ and we belong to him.

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 thing 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.”

By way of the precious blood of Christ, we belong to him. Consequently, the promise and hope to the Christian is not that there will not be bad days. Indeed, trial is eventually the portion of all born into this world (Job 14:1). Yet for the one born of God, the comfort is that the Lord, who holds the world, holds you too. When life turns against you and bad days seem to outnumber the good days, the catechism is there to remind you of the surety and faithfulness of your only true comfort. One of my favorite (if not my favorite) commentaries on the catechism is the three-volume set The Triple Knowledge written by Herman Hoeksema. Consider his counsel from question one when you are up against it in this life:

All things seem to go against you, and it seems that your punishment awaits you every morning. There is “depression” in the land, and in vain do you walk the streets of the city to find employment that you may provide for your family. Whatever savings you were able to lay up for such times are soon consumed. You lose your home. You are forced to live on “relief,” or on charity. What is your only comfort? That soon the evil days may be over and prosperity will return to the land? No, but that you belong to Christ! Sickness attacks your frame and day after day, week after week, month after month, you travel a way of suffering. What is your only comfort? That there are physicians and means to alleviate your suffering; or that you may look forward to recovery? No, but your consolation is that you belong to Christ! Death enters your home and takes away a dear child, tearing it from your very heart. And again, your only, mark you well, emphatically your only comfort is that you are not your own, but belong to your faithful Saviour Jesus Christ!…Your relationship to Christ is always sufficient.[1]

Praise God! We belong to Jesus because he has purchased us. He is not returning or exchanging what he has bought.

[1] Herman Hoeksema, The Triple Knowledge: An Exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism, Vol 1 (Reformed Free Publishing: Grand Rapids, MI, 1970), p. 42.

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