We begin our study of the biblical doctrines summarized in the Heidelberg Catechism with the catechism’s first question and answer, which defines our sole comfort in life and in death: that we “belong — body and soul, in life and in death — to [our] faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” This troubled world of ours and the evil in our own hearts prompt us to look for a solution to pain and wickedness. Unbelievers seek comfort in a variety of places. Some turn to drugs, alcohol, or sex to numb their senses. Others amass material goods to fill the God-shaped void within. Billions look to Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, or one of the other false spiritualities that seek to ease our guilt.
These pursuits are futile because true comfort comes only through knowing who we are and to whom we belong. In the beginning, God made us to glorify Him, to reign over His creation as vice-regents entrusted with spreading His kingdom (Gen. 1:26–27). He is our Creator and we are His creatures; thus, we belong to Him. In Adam, however, we spat in the Lord’s face, violating His law in order to be “free” and laws unto ourselves. Such liberty, however, proved elusive. In the fall, we merely sold ourselves to the world, the flesh, the Devil, and death (Rom. 7:14; 8:20–21; Heb. 2:15; 1 John 5:19). We are creatures and will always serve a master; we will either serve God willingly or enslave ourselves to what He hates.
As Christians, we understand who we are as creatures — treasured possessions of the Lord. And we belong to Christ because He bought us (1 Cor. 6:19–20). In the ancient world, slaves belonged to whoever paid the price to own them. Paul echoes this language in today’s passage. Jesus paid a price to the Father to buy us back from our enemies. He died to redeem us.
God ordains whatsoever comes to pass (Eph. 1:11), even our decision in Adam to try and buy ourselves out from under His reign. Because He is our Creator and sovereign over all, His ownership of us did not actually end when we committed cosmic treason in the garden; rather, He allowed His enemies to take charge over us as part of His wrath against sin. Jesus bought us out from under this condition, bearing “our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24–25), enduring the wrath of the Father so that we would no longer, in His wrath, be given over to His enemies.