References: I John 3:1; John 17:1-10
When it comes to human relationships, the concept of “belonging,” or ownership, is difficult and controversial. We know that at one time in history, it was not only common but accepted that one person could actually own another. There are still people in the world today who are owned by others. We find that appalling.
“Belong” can also convey not ownership, but general connections or associations, like with family relations, nationalities, race, etc. We might say, I belong to a club, to an organization, to a church. In that sense there is more the idea of association. Today, however, I use the word “belong” in its most basic sense: ownership.
But using “belong” to mean “ownership” doesn’t just imply transactions over a piece of property being bought and sold. It includes a real connection. The owner claims that which belongs to him; he controls it; he uses it for his purpose. A good, benevolent owner produces a positive relation. So that which is owned can receive benefits from its owner.
As we examine the relationship between you and Jesus, I trust that this very general description of “belong” will be helpful, even as we specifically seek to understand what it means to know Jesus.
Belonging to Jesus
We continue considering in detail the statements of Heidelberg Q&A #1. We have already studied the reality clearly stated, “I am not my own.” In a very real way, in the most basic sense of that word, “I do not belong to myself.” That is what we all confess as members.
We understand from God’s Word that He is the Creator. He not only brought everything into existence, but He sustains all life. The Creator and the creature–mankind–enjoy a most intimate relationship. We depend on God for life; to depend means that we belong to Him. For the unbeliever, though they trust in Satan, it is still the Creator God who sustains their life.
From that general relationship between God as Creator and man as dependent creature, created in the image of God, we now turn to the specific aspect of salvation. Consider the specific reality of Jesus as your Savior.
To continue the idea I am not my own, the Catechism presents the next statement in Q&A #1, and we confess these words, “…but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.”
We may be tempted to pass over the statement, saying, “That is nice, I belong to Jesus.” But the depths in that concept are by no means something to be casual about.
Given by God to the Son
The Creator God determined in eternity, before the foundation of the world, to save and restore by recreation a specific people, after the fall of all mankind. By restoration, understand that God doesn’t just have a plan for you in eternity. Rather, He brings you back to Him, restoring full recognition God as the source of life, and reflecting that relationship then in you and me, His people. Thus Scripture clearly presents the idea that the Creator of all, the owner of all, gives those He has determined to save, to Christ. You will see that in the words of Christ Himself in John 6:36-39.
So here is the Creator, the Owner, giving us to the Savior, saying, in essence, “These are now yours.” Of course, since the Savior is God the Son, the relationship of ownership with the Son is for the purpose of providing salvation. You have been given by the Creator to the Son.
We want to be careful here. Belong to the Son, who is God, means we still belong to God, but even more so, we now belong by means of a saving relationship, restored in fellowship with God.
Please do not ever get the sense God transfers you because He rejects you, and just tells Jesus, the “nicer guy,” to take you. No. We are the children of God by His love. Again, listen to the words of Jesus in His high priestly prayer in John 17, verses 1b-2 and 6.
Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.
I have manifested your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You give them to Me, and they have kept Your word.
The language is very clear. When you confess Jesus, you are confessing the one to whom you belong, in the most complete sense of that word. This belonging involves so much more than a mere association as friends or even close buddies. The language of Scripture uses the language of ownership (see I Peter 1:18-19 and I Cor. 6:20). The catechism states the matter this way in Q&A #34: “…not with silver or gold, but with His precious blood, He has redeemed and purchased us…”
In the ancient world, to redeem had the connotation of someone who was enslaved because of a debt, but could be freed if the debt was paid. For Jesus to be your Savior, you needed him to pay your debt.
Blog post content taken from a sermon series delivered by Dr. Maynard Koerner, President and Professor of Ministerial Studies at Heidelberg Theological Seminary.