Beginning with comfort (hc1)

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The first two questions of the Heidelberg Catechism (“What is your only comfort in life and death?” and “What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort?”) deal with the source of true comfort. When a person experiences the true comfort which only God can give, two things are true of them. The first, is that they know what is ahead of them, what will take place in the future that cannot be avoided. The second, is that they have relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Because of this, comfort sourced in this world can only be explained as temporary and a lie. Temporary, because people and the world will pass away, a lie, because this passing away doesn’t by pass the final judgement. Can a person really be comfortable in this world when he lives with the knowledge of the final judgement?  Therefore, any comfort a person experiences in this life is in ignorance and we are not speaking of the temporary , material, earthly comfort that some people seek to provide or find in this world.

The comfort which only God can give

The comfort that God supplies is a comfort that is protected from thieves breaking to steal, it’s a comfort that cannot be destroyed by moth or rust. So why do so many people think they can out live the perishing they in time will always experience? The moth nibbles away, it slowly removes the strength of the garment and the rust slowly eats away at the metal, the clothing becomes weak and unwearable and the metal becomes heavy. On that day when we stand before God, lives will be naked and ashamed, heavy with sin or they will be clothed in the righteousness which God supplies in Christ Jesus, this is the comfort and joy which God gives.

What must I know?

The comfort which God supplies is what causes the people of God to live and die in joy. Nothing takes them by surprise but they cannot begin to imagine what God has prepared for those who love him. In this sense, the people of God will always be surprised but this surprise will not remove or destroy the comfort which God has already given. The kind of surprise which does remove the temporary comfort so many people have, is the surprise of the final judgement, the accountability that we must all face. The thought that we can and will be held accountable is so great that it is dealt with in this life by lives suppressing the truth in unrighteousness or by Christ death on the cross for the sins of his people.

The true comfort and joy spoken of in the questions of the Heidelberg Catechism is Jesus Christ. This is the reason why men, women, boys and girls can face the judgement of God in joy and not fear. Jesus, by his shed blood on the cross has fully paid for all of my sins. Even the most comfortable person in this world cannot live in joy knowing what is ahead of him, but the one, even in the most uncomfortable circumstances presently can live in joy and comfort, when he belongs to Jesus Christ.

Living in joy and comfort

The Christian is not deceived, he sees because he hears, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Lives that follow Christ are observed and demonstrated by their obedience to the word of God. Those who seek to continue in sin close their eyes and believes that what surrounds them is no longer there, that it has gone away because they cannot see it. But those who belong to Christ know they are held accountable before a holy and just God, but they live in the joy and comfort that as they look at the cross of Christ and see their final judgement and their innocence. In Christ our sin was exchanged for his righteousness, he was judged in our place and we are forgiven, able to stand before God. The joy and comfort we have in Christ is the joy and comfort of living with the verdict of judgement day, today, not guilty in Christ Jesus. This is why followers of Christ live and die in joy and comfort.

By Daniel Ralph

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