The Heart of the Catechism of the Heart
Q and A 1
What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own,1but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—2 to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.3 He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,4 and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.5 He also watches over me in such a way6 that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven;7 in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.8 Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life9 and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.10
10 Rom. 8:1-17
“Faith is more than knowledge, but it is, nevertheless, also knowledge; and without the knowledge of faith, the confidence of faith is impossible. You cannot make a Christian by instruction, but the Christian can be indoctrinated, and by growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ may increase in the conscious possession of the true comfort in life and death…
What is comfort?
We think of a fluffy pillow, a good movie, and a ice cold drink after a hard day’s work. Comfort is ease, rest, self-indulgence. But that is not what it means here.
Comfort comes from two Latin words that mean “with strength.” What comforts is what gives strength, or fortifies. It is the courage to life by grace in this fallen world.
“Comfort is that which results from a certain process of reasoning, in which we oppose something good to something evil, that by a proper consideration of this good, we may mitigate our grief, and patiently endure the evil. The good, therefore, which we oppose to the evil, must necessarily be great, and certain, in proportion to the magnitude of the evil with which it is contrasted.” Zacharias Ursinus
This comfort is equal to anything that life or death can throw at us.
“Faith is more than knowledge, but it is, nevertheless, also knowledge; and without the knowledge of faith the confidence of faith is impossible. You cannot make a Christian by instruction, but the Christian can be indoctrinated, and by growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ may increase in the conscious possession of the true comfort in life and death…
Assurance of Salvation - It is one thing to have sufficient strength to do something and another to actually do it. To have comfort, fortification, given to you, you still must know that it is yours, and you still must use it. To be assured that we belong to God means that we can draw on his all-sufficient bank account. We can sign the check and draw it from his account.account.ations in this world in opposition to God. I am no longer a slave to sin. I can walk in newness of life. hold upon the promise of God, is certain of that promise, contemplates that promise so that the believing heart embraces the thing promised and esteems it so great and gracious, that the sufferings of this present times are not worthy to be compared with it.” Herman Hoeksema
Only comfort. This is not one way of coping with the difficulties of life, but the only way. It is the only comfort that is equal to the task. There is only one comfort in a fallen world. The promised grace of God embraced by a living faith.
This is a personal comfort. What is your comfort? Everyone tries something to cope with a fallen world. Drink to deaden the pain, the exercise of power to try to control something, the diversion of entertainment. We do need to ask ourselves what is our comfort? How are we trying to cope with the evil of human life?
The answer is that I belong to Jesus Christ, and I am not my own. We have been told to be true to ourselves, to listen to the voice within, to be authentically yourself and to do what you think is best. The secular answer is to go deeper into yourself for your define your own morality, and you shape your own identity. This is Friedrich Nietzsche Ubermensch, “an overman is someone who can establish his own values as the world in which others live their lives, often unaware that they are not pre-given.”
The Bible, and the Catechism which summarizes its teaching points away from self, to God in Christ. We belong to a faithful savior. This savior, saves. Saves us from our fallen condition, our fallen world, and saves us from ourselves. Jesus, the savior, Christ, the anointed promised messiah is my certain and only comfort.
We are redeemed by God the Son
He is faithful. True to his word. He will do what he has said. Most of the promised given in the Bible have already been realized, especially those promising the coming of the seed of the woman that would crush the head of the serpent and deliver us from our fallen world. He is faithful. His word is our comfort, our strength in this broken world.
What is the source of all my discomfort? If you trace your dis-eases back to their source, it is sin. The underlying issue is always sin. Sin is our biggest problem.
What does this faithful God and Savior do for me that provides such unshakable comfort? Three things. He forgives my sins, he protects me in this fallen world and he leads me home, to a prefect place.
Forgiveness. Jesus pays for my sins with his precious blood. The Son of God has taken away my guilt and shame. He hasn’t merely overlooked my sins, but he has paid for them in full.
We are preserved by God the Father
Protection. The tyranny of the devil. The devil has hidden himself in our day. So much so that many think of the devil in the same category as the tooth faerie, mother nature, and Santa Clause. It is a pleasing fiction. But, the devil is real and his tyranny and destruction can be seen everywhere. My faithful savior shields me from the evil that is in the world, the temptations in this world in opposition to God. I am no longer a slave to sin. I can walk in newness of life.
Not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my heavenly father. God is near. Everything that happens is preparing me for glory, for perfection. God promises that all things work together for the good of those who love him.
We are Renewed by God the Holy Spirit
Assurance of Salvation - It is one thing to have sufficient strength to do something and another to actually do it. To have comfort, fortification, given to you, you still must know that it is yours, and you still must use it. To be assured that we belong to God means that we can draw on his all-sufficient bank account. We can sign check and draw from his account.
The Holy Spirit grants us the well-founded certainty that we belong to God. He gives us assurance of salvation. This is confidence that we have eternal life and that we are heading into life eternal. We are living the heavenly life, in some sense, now. The future blessing is also assured. This provides comfort in life and in death.
Wholeheartedly Willing to live for Him - We do not live for ourselves, for that is a leaky, unstable bucket to invest in. We live for the glory of God. We seek to make his name great in all the earth, not our own. We are willing, with all that we are, to live for him.
If this is not your conviction you really don’t understand your only comfort.
Ready, equipped, to live for Him. The Holy Spirit makes us ready to live for him. Equips, enables and empowers us to walk with God in this life and to follow the path he weaves to glory.