References: Rom. 14:7-9; 8:12-30
Very often, when people want to emphasize not just working at something halfheartedly but giving it your all, they will reference giving 110% or 115%. Suppose a young person attends a sports camp–they will get a T-shirt that says something about giving 110%. School kids talk about getting “extra credit.” At the risk of revealing just how old I am, I don’t get that one at all.
Now I am trying to figure to out what 110% looks like. Just think about it. What if I asked Marlin to fill my glass of water to 110%? What would that look like? Full is full. Giving all you have means 100%, so there can’t be more. There can’t be more than full credit; 100% is all there can be.
Thus far we have been looking at Heidelberg Q&A #1 as the message of comfort based on what God promised to do for you. Specifically, the last point we noted is that we belong to God: “I am not my own.”
When God claims you, how much does He claim? When God promises salvation, in that you belong to Him, how much of “you” or “your life” do you understand now belongs to Him? Look at the totality of your life. Perhaps you say, “Well, I give Him one day a week. Someday I will be with Him completely. If I give 110% to my sports, etc. there isn’t much left now for God.”
The catechism’s authors understand what God says He promised to do for you in this way. Keep in mind any portion of your life you believe belongs to God, or any amount you are willing to give, is only because of what He will do, has done, for you. As you read this statement, bear in mind this is not what God is asking from you. It is your new God-declared reality, based on what He has done, based on the fact that you belong to Him. This is what He wants you to understand about your situation: “That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own.”
There is no 110% here, no extra credit, but this is as total and as complete as anything can be. “Body and soul” means everything about you; “life and death” covers every part of your existence. God misses nothing, God forgets nothing, God leaves nothing up to circumstances. You belong body and soul, in life and in death, to Him.
That fact comes loaded with tremendous implications for what we rely on, what we can count on, and how it relates to living in comfort.
The relationship with God
Now as we carefully, step by step study the message of the Gospel presented here, remember we are talking about a relationship with God. The confession states, “I belong to Him (God).”
This relationship exists between God and you as His child. It’s a present-tense reality. It is not a mere possibility, not as something you could achieve if you really tried, not something we have to look forward to someday. Also, this relationship not only restores what existed at creation–it is even greater. It means being brought back to the garden, yet a garden which is in the new heavens and earth.
Body and Soul
There exists a tendency to emphasize the salvation of the soul, to the neglect of considering the body in its present state. A proper emphasis upon “body and soul” means an emphasis upon physical salvation. The children of Israel were rescued from slavery in Egypt, brought into the promised land, deported to Babylon, and brought back again. Does a convert today change his physical residence when he becomes converted? Obviously not. Clearly, our bodies continue to suffer the consequences of sin. Physical ailments, physical suffering, aging, and ultimately death remains part of the Christian life. But you would be wrong if you thought that salvation is only “spiritual” until the new heavens and earth.
The promise to Adam and Eve was for life to continue, even though there were consequences. If God did not have a plan for the salvation of the His chosen people through the work of the Son, Jesus Christ, there would have been no ark. Every breath which the unbeliever takes, every morsel of food he eats, is only because God has a plan for the salvation of His people. This creation, under the curse of sin, exists and functions only because there is a Savior for God’s people.
Specifically, you worship God and live a life of service not just with your soul, but with your whole being. You proclaim His truth and sing of His glory with your voice and tongue.
Next week: In Life and In Death
Blog post content taken from a sermon series delivered by Dr. Maynard Koerner, President and Professor of Ministerial Studies at Heidelberg Theological Seminary.