References: I John 3:1; John 17:1-10
Relationship rooted in salvation
“I belong to Jesus” means I am fully His. Understand Jesus’ actions to make you His: your belonging is based on the salvation that has taken place. Adam and Eve sinned (fell into a condition of sin) and found themselves outside the garden. Yes, God still sustains the life of the unbeliever–but to really belong to Him, to return, to be restored, the work of the Savior had to take place.
Jesus is that Savior. Apart from Jesus, there is no other way to restoration, to be a child of God. Jesus said He finished the work given to Him to do. The very purpose of God in giving people to Jesus is for Jesus to save them. Belonging to Jesus means having, not just hoping for, but already possessing salvation. The other way around is equally true: having salvation means belonging to Jesus.
This relationship is rooted in salvation. When confronted by the Pharisees because He wasn’t acting like they wanted Him to, Jesus made his purpose very clear. He came to do a job specifically given to Him. That job was saving the people given to Him; not one will be lost. We read in John 17:4, “I have finished the work which you have given me.” Belonging to Jesus means being saved; being saved means belonging to Jesus.
As the catechism underscores again and again, salvation and belonging are not given because you came to Him, or you did the right things, or even your life now is the basis for the ongoing relationship. Instead, it is all about God, what He accomplished by his Son, and what is yours–based on the grace of God.
The possibility of belonging to Jesus
The language of the catechism is quite clear. It does not offer a possibility if or perhaps, based on something done on your part. It states a fact: “I belong to Jesus.”
Yet how can such a thing be possible? We turned away from God; we trampled on every commandment; we rebelled against Him and gave our hearts to this world. Some people believe the sort of frivolous idea that Jesus is simply a buddy; others hold the notion that a God who is really a God of love would never be so petty as to hold anyone’s sin against him. He is just love, yes, God is love. But God is also revealed in Scripture as a righteous and holy God. Indeed, how can we belong to Jesus?
Understanding the holiness of God
We could study at length God as a Holy God who cannot permit unrighteousness before Him. This was demonstrated drastically in the Old Testament, whenever someone came into God’s presence. Even Moses was told to take off his shoes, because he was standing on holy ground.
In the NT, God has not changed, but Christ’s work to glorify God has been accomplished. John demonstrates this idea in the words of I John 3. We have already noted them in several ways, but it cannot be overly stated. He is exclaiming about an unbelievable reality. What manner of love. How is it possible? How can we understand this love? It defies definition, because this love, the love of the holy, righteous God, is potent enough to change our status… so you and I can be the children of God.
Think about it. This can never be just some unemotional, frivolous thing: “Oh, so that’s how it works; that’s nice.” An important theme in Scripture is the joy of knowing God, even coming to meet with Him and experiencing Him, He who is God the sovereign Creator.
I say to you absolutely, if you know this love bestowed on you, how can you not express it with joy, and yet, and yet, at the same time with tears in your eyes and running down your face? What manner of love to be called the children of God. To belong to Jesus, wow, how can that be?
The key word is love. By the grace of God, you, the sinner, belong to Jesus.
Implications of cleansing by the blood
And yet God has not changed. He cannot allow unholiness before Him. He cannot allow unrighteousness before Him.
Remember: we can appear before God not through gold or silver, but with His precious blood.
Picture it this way. In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve and God were together. They enjoyed the closest relationship possible. When sin broke their intimacy, it meant not only that man left God, but a righteous and holy God left man. Because right there, before God, by the work of man, sits a great big pile of the worst stench you can think of.
Thus the necessary work of Christ, to whom you have been given, must take place. The stench must be eradicated; it must be removed. The blood of Christ on the cross did just that. The life of obedience by the Savior, which is now yours, replaces the stench with a sweet-smelling savor. Yes, you belong to Jesus, thus you are the adopted children of God, because you have been cleansed, because you are now–in Christ–righteous.
Contemplate that for a bit. There is the love of God.
Blog post content taken from a sermon series delivered by Dr. Maynard Koerner, President and Professor of Ministerial Studies at Heidelberg Theological Seminary.