The Heidelberg Catechism – Back to Basics: My Only Comfort


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When you view God aright and trust in his promises, you find comfort. The word “comfort” comes from the Latin confortāre which means “to strengthen.”

The Heidelberg Catechism, one of doctrinal standards of the United Reformed Church, is quite concerned with the comfort, that is to say, the aid, support, and encouragement of God’s people. While the Reformed confession of the Presbyterian Church (the Westminister Confession of Faith) begins with the chief end of man, the Heidelberg starts with God’s promise and what that means for the Christian.

Q: What is your only comfort in life and death? 

I want to make note of that word, “only.” The writer of the Catechism was probably well aware that there are many comforts in this world. You can take comfort in your spouse or your children or friends. Some choose to take comfort in a bottle, or by escaping into books or video games. And while all of these things have their proper place in life, they are temporary. The Catechism isn’t concerned with temporary comforts, but with the only real comfort:

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.

You, Christian, are not your own. You belong to Jesus. If you have called out to Jesus for mercy and trust in him alone to save you, then you belong to him. You are his. He loves you perfectly and will always love you perfectly. You no longer belong to the world. You no longer are controlled by the things of the world. The devil may throw your sins in your face, but because of Jesus, you are free. Your sins have been paid for. He suffered in your place and where he is, you will be also. You are free, Christian. You’re not guilty anymore.

Our God also takes care of us. Nothing, I repeat, nothing, can happen to you outside of God’s providence.

Later in the Catechism, (Lord’s Day 10, QA 28), we find tremendous comfort in the doctrine of God’s promise. We can be patient in adversity and thankful in prosperity with a firm and confident hope that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus.

The Holy Spirit also makes us ready, willing and able to live for Jesus in all circumstances. You will never be what you ought to be, but you are not what you used to be—take comfort in that. You are being sanctified and Scripture tells us that those sanctified are glorified.

Rest well, Christian, knowing that Jesus loves you and always will.

Photo by John Karwoski via Flickr

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