Dear Friends,

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

That is a question many people are being forced to ask in these uncertain days. No harm. It is a question we all need to ask at some stage in our lives and so it might as well be now as later. The authors of The Heidelberg Catechism of 1563 (which in turn greatly influenced our own Westminster Shorter Catechism) did not speak into a vacuum. In those days, tuberculosis was rife and many people died in the Black Death.

They were doing theology into a context of fragility and vulnerability. What they wrote then, backed up with Scriptural references is worth considering.

That I am not my own, 1
but belong with body and soul,
both in life and in death, 2
to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. 3
He has fully paid for all my sins
with his precious blood, 4
and has set me free
from all the power of the devil. 5
He also preserves me in such a way 6
that without the will of my heavenly Father
not a hair can fall from my head; 7
indeed, all things must work together
for my salvation. 8
Therefore, by his Holy Spirit
he also assures me
of eternal life 9
and makes me heartily willing and ready
from now on to live for him. 10

1. 1 Cor 6:1920.
2. Rom 14:7-9.
3. 1 Cor 3:23Tit 2:14.
4. 1 Pet 1:18191 Jn 1:72:2.
5. Jn 8:34-36Heb 2:14151 Jn 3:8.
6. Jn 6:394010:27-302 Thess 3:31 Pet 1:5.
7. Mt 10:29-31Lk 21:16-18.
8. Rom 8:28.
9. Rom 8:15162 Cor 1:21225:5Eph 1:1314.
10. Rom 8:14.

In our day, some of the finest hymn writers of this generation have
also considered this question, and inspired by the Heidelberg Catechism
have written a song which speaks Bible truth into our context.

What is our hope in life and death?
Christ alone, Christ alone
What is our only confidence?
That our souls to Him belong
Who holds our days within His hand?
What comes, apart from His command?
And what will keep us to the end?
The love of Christ, in which we stand

O sing hallelujah!
Our hope springs eternal
O sing hallelujah!

Now and ever we confess
Christ our hope in life and death
What truth can calm the troubled soul?
God is good, God is good
Where is His grace and goodness known?
In our great Redeemer’s blood
Who holds our faith when fears arise?
Who stands above the stormy trial?
Who sends the waves that bring us night
Unto the shore, the rock of Christ?

O sing hallelujah!
Our hope springs eternal
O sing hallelujah!

Now and ever we confess
Christ our hope in life and death
Unto the grave, what will we sing?
“Christ, He lives; Christ, He lives!”
And what reward will heaven bring?
Everlasting life with Him
There we will rise to meet the Lord
Then sin and death will be destroyed
And we will feast in endless joy
When Christ is ours forevermore

O sing hallelujah!
Our hope springs eternal
O sing hallelujah!

In Christ, our only comfort in life and death,

Yours most sincerely,

Frank