Courtney Jacob

I Belong to Jesus

Life’s trials come in all shapes and sizes. Our concerns can be the result of real situations we’re facing or choices that we need to make. Maybe you’re struggling with a serious medical diagnosis or a sudden life change like a job loss. Maybe you have to make a major decision about your future security, safety, or the safety of your loved ones. In this life, there is a never-ending list of things about which we can worry. But the good news is that the Bible has the antidote to all our worries.

In our Groundwork series, “I Belong to Jesus,” we turn to a resource that has comforted believers for centuries—the lyrical words of Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 1—to guide our conversations as we study the scriptures that inform the biblical truth that we “belong—body and soul, in life and in death”—to our faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

Why study the Heidelberg Catechism? Isn’t the Bible the only authoritative Word of God?

You’re right, we at Groundwork affirm that the Bible is the only authoritative Word of God and all we need to learn about salvation. So why then use a catechism? Because it’s a gateway, a place to begin. M. Craig Barnes, a pastor and the president of Princeton Theological Seminary, observes in his book Body & Soul: Reclaiming the Heidelberg Catechism that,

“The word catechism sounds strange and even off-putting. If we have any familiarity with catechisms at all, we tend to think of them as rote memorizations of religious questions and right answers. But that was never their intent. They were written to provide a conversation between the most pressing human anxieties and the biblical story handed down through the centuries. The point is not simply to recite the right answer, but to enter a holy conversation” (p. 27).

So simply put, a catechism is a teaching tool that helps us engage God’s Word. Any credible catechism is a helpful aid for studying scripture because it offers concise statements of Christian beliefs and annotates each belief with the scripture references upon which it is based. It does not replace or supersede the Bible, rather it guides us through the Bible.

Timeless Comfort

What makes the Heidelberg Catechism unique among catechisms? And why has generation after generation of believers found comfort in this Reformed teaching tool? The Heidelberg’s distinctiveness lies in its ability to connect faith to our everyday life experiences and offer comfort to ease our anxious hearts.

M. Craig Barnes eloquently states the priceless value that corporate confessions of faith, like the Heidelberg Catechism, provide believers. “When any of us faces the inevitable storms of life, ‘my little faith’ just won’t do. We need the sturdy, deep-rooted faith of that ‘great cloud of witnesses’ (Heb. 12:1) who placed their trust in the God whose story now envelops our own” (p. 21-22). And the opening question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism do just that.

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

A. That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

(HeidelbergCatechism.com offers the full text and biblical annotations of Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 1 for free, as do many other Reformed denominations.)

In our Groundwork discussions, we’ll study the scripture passages that inform the above answer, we’ll look at the assurances we have because it is true, and we’ll reflect on what effects this truth should have on our lives.

Know You Belong

I invite you to grow in understanding your place in God’s family and story through the episodes of our Groundwork series “I Belong to Jesus”

...and together we’ll gain the strength and confidence to set aside our worries, find security in our belonging, and fully live for him.

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