WCF Shorter Catechism
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(Q1-3) Introduction | (Q4-38) What Man is to believe concerning God
Q1-2 (1/3) | Q3-4 (1/10) | Q5-6 (1/17) | Q7-8 (1/24) | Q9-10 (1/31) | Q11-12 (2/7) | Q13-14 (2/14) | Q15-16 (2/21) | Q17-18 (2/28) | Q19-20 (3/7) | Q21-22 (3/14) | Q23-24 (3/21) | Q25-26 (3/28) | Q27-28 (4/4) | Q29-30 (4/11) | Q31-32 (4/18) | Q33-34 (4/25) | Q35-36 (5/2) | Q37-38 (5/9)
(Q39-107) What duty God requires of man
Q39-40 (5/16) | Q41-42 (5/23) | Q43-44 (5/30) | Q45-46 (6/6) | Q47-48 (6/13) | Q49-50 (6/20)  | Q51-52 (6/27)  | Q53-54 (7/4)  | Q55-56 (7/11)  | Q57-58 (7/18)  | Q59-60 (7/25) | Q61-62 (8/1) | Q63-64 (8/8) | Q65-66 (8/15) | Q67-69 (8/22) | Q70-72 (8/29) | Q73-75 (9/5) | Q76-78 (9/12) | Q79-81 (9/19) | Q82-83 (9/26) | Q84-85 (10/3) | Q86-87 (10/10) | Q88-89 (10/17) | Q90 (10/24) | Q91 (10/31) | Q92-93 (11/7) | Q94-95 (11/14) | Q96-97 (11/21) | Q98-99 (11/28) | Q100-101 (12/5) | Q102-103 (12/12) | Q104-105 (12/19) | Q106-107 (12/26)

The Fortress Edition (modern English) with ESV scripture proofs from biblegateway.com links, and study notes provided mid-week by Pastor Milligan.

Catechisms are a wonderful way for Christians to grow in knowledge of their Faith and to be able to profess what they believe publicly.  And this tried and true way of teaching is beneficial both for the young and old(er).  Grandparents (and anyone else who loves the little children) can especially use this to bless loved ones (just as Timothy’s grandmother Lois did—2 Tim. 1:5).  There are a great many good books that help us study the Shorter Catechism, but this year I hope to offer a few Bible verses and a couple of questions week by week for our edification and meditation.  Blessings! David Milligan, Pastor

Let me recommend three good commentaries on The Westminster Confession of Faith:  R. C. Sproul’s Truths We Confess; Robert Shaw, An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith; and A. A. Hodge, The Confession of Faith.

Introduction (Q1-3)
Q1-2 (January 3, 2021)

Q. 1.  What is the chief end of man?
A.   Man’s chief end is to glorify God, (1 Cor. 10:31) and to enjoy him forever. (Ps. 73:25-28)

Q. 2. What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The Word of God which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (2 Tim. 3:16) is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him. (1 Jn. 1:3-4)

 Note: this catechism was completed in Nov. 1647, so the language must be understood in that historical context: e.g., “Man” is used in the then-common generic sense of human being.

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. Thomas Watson (d. 1686) says: “Glorifying God consists in four things: 1. Appreciation, 2. Adoration, 3. Affection, 4. Subjection” (A Body of Divinity, 7). So, 1st, Is God highest in our thoughts, more esteemed than anything or anyone else? 2nd, How do we glorify God in our worship? 3rd, Do we love God most—more than anyone or anything else? (how would you prove that, if someone asked?) 4th, Are we ready and willing to serve Him, no matter what He asks?
  2. What do we mean when we say that “The Bible is our rule of faith and life”? Since the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, do we read/listen to it? Do we love it and thank God for them? How do we conform our life to God’s revealed will?
Q3-4 (January 10, 2021)

Q. 3. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, (Gen. 1:1; Jn. 5:39, 20:31; Rom. 10:17; 2 Tim. 3:15) and what duty God requires of man. (Dt. 10:12-13; Josh. 1:8; Ps. 119:105; Micah 6:8; 2 Tim. 1:13; 3:16-17)

What man is to believe concerning God (Q4-38)

Q.4. What is God?
A.   God is a Spirit1, infinite2, eternal3 and unchangeable4, in his being5, wisdom6, power7, holiness8, justice, goodness, and truth.9

  1. Jn. 4:24
  2. Job 11:7-9
  3. Ps. 90:2
  4. James 1:17
  5. Ex. 3:14
  6. Ps. 104:24; Rom. 11:33-34; Heb. 4:13
  7. Rev. 1:8
  8. Rev. 15:4
  9. Ex. 34:6-7

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

1st, What is it to “believe”?  Do you have what is termed, ‘saving faith’?  Do you believe what the Bible reveals concerning God?

2nd, what do you make of this statement: “An orthodox faith and an obedient life is the whole duty of man”  (A. Whyte, A Commentary on the Shorter Catechism, p. 7)?

3rd, Our fourth question gives a short, but DEEP definition of God; have you spent time studying the character and attributes of your Creator and Redeemer?  I could suggest several books that would profit your soul, including J. I. Packer’s classic, Knowing God, but may I recommend Rosemary Jensen’s Praying the Attributes of God: A Guide to Personal Worship Through Prayer.  She leads one through Adoration, Confession, and Thanksgiving in light of what the Bible teaches us about God.

Now, if you are working with children (and some of us adults too!), you know that getting their hands involved helps their minds!  Marianne Ross has helped us all with The Shorter Catechism Activity Book, which suggests, for example, that you have elementary age children fill in the missing vowels on Q. 4 😊.  Be creative!

Q5-6 (January 17, 2021)

Q.5. Is there more than one God?
A. There is only one, the living and true God. (Deuteronomy 6:4)

Q.6. How many persons are in the one God?
A. Three persons are in the one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are one God, the same in substance and equal in power and glory. (Matthew 28:19)

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

A couple of years ago we worked our way through The New City Catechism as a congregation; that brand new (2017) catechism is based on older, well-proven catechisms (including the Westminster Shorter Catechism) and it is from The New City Catechism devotional that our review questions come.

  1. How much attention have you given to the doctrine of the Trinity? Kevin DeYoung, in the aforementioned devotional, says that this “doctrine of the Trinity is the most important Christian doctrine that most people never think about” (p. 26). I’d encourage all of us to give some time to the study of this important (and, yes, mysterious) truth.
  2. Christians are monotheists, that is, we believe in One God. Not lots of gods (polytheism) and not that everything is god (pantheism). Nor is it correct to call us tri-theists (believing in three gods). We are taught in Scripture (and with good reason) that there is only One God, only one God can be infinite and absolute Sovereign. We believe that God is one and that there is only one God. Do you believe this?
  3. But the Bible clearly also teaches that God exists in three persons: The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. That is, we believe in the Trinity. The Father is not the Son or the Spirit, the Son is not the Spirit or the Father, the Spirit is not the Father or the Son. Here we see and learn the wonder of unity in diversity. Here is relational love from all eternity (again, see the devotional, p. 27). Can you begin to see how beautiful and helpful this doctrine is?
  4. But most important of all (yes, even more important that knowing the latest numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations!), is that we must know God as He is, as He reveals Himself. It is so tempting to make a god in our own image, to think that we need to be able to understand and explain everything about the god we worship and serve, but how foolish to think that even the most intelligent human who ever lived could completely comprehend the One, True, and Living God Who always was, is, and will be! So ask for grace and seek to grow in your understanding of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Q7-8 (January 24, 2021)

Q.7. What are the decrees of God?
A. The decrees of God are His eternal plan based on the purpose of His will, by which, for His own glory, He has foreordained everything that happens. (Ps. 33:11; Isa. 14:24; Acts 2:23; Eph. 1:11-12)

Q.8. How does God carry out His decrees?
A. God carries out His decrees in creation and providence. (Revelation 4:11; Dan. 4:35; Acts 4:24-28)

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. Having been taught the reality and character of God (Q. 4-6) here we confess our belief in the sovereignty of God, that is, that He is Ruler and all things happen according to His wise plan.  For an accessible study guide, see The Westminster Shorter Catechism by G. I. Williamson.
  2. As you read and meditate on those Bible verses above, are you moved to praise and prayer?  Will we bow down and worship the Lord of all—even when we don’t fully understand?  The Bible’s teaching, our theology (here summed up in a short question and answer format) should lead us to worship!
Q9-10 (January 31, 2021)

Q.9. What is creation?
A. Creation is God’s making everything out of nothing by His powerful word in six days – and all very good.

Gen. 1; Heb. 11:3 “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

Q.10. How did God create man?
A. God created man, male and female, in His own image and in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, to rule over the other creatures.

Gen. 1:26-28 “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” See Eph. 4:24 & Col. 3:10

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. What difference does it make that God created all things?  Does it make a difference that we are created, not self-existent?  What meaning could life have if this all happened by chance?
  2. What does it mean for your everyday life that you were made in the image of God with dignity and purpose?  How does that truth change how you relate to, speak about, other image-bearers?
  3. If you’ve never heard of the evangelistic tool, Two Ways to Live, check it out on the internet.  You can view a video presentation of it on YouTube:  Two Ways to Live presentation – YouTube
Q11-12 (February 7, 2021)

Q.11. What is God’s providence?
A. God’s works of providence are His most holy,1 wise,2 and powerful preserving3 and governing all His creatures, and all their actions.4

1 Ps. 145:17; 2 Ps. 104:24; Isa. 28:29; 3 Heb. 1:3; 4 Ps. 103:19; Mt. 10:29-31

Q.12. What did God’s providence specifically do for man whom He created?
A. After the creation God made a covenant with man to give him life, if he perfectly obeyed; God told him not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil or he would die. Gen. 2:17; Gal. 3:12

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. When we speak Biblically of God “preserving” and “governing” His world, we are talking about God’s sovereignty—His all-wise and loving authority exercised for His glory and the good of His people.  Does this truth from God’s Word give us hope and confidence in our daily lives when so many things are outside of our control?
Q13-14 (February 14, 2021)

Q.13. Did our first parents remain as they were created?
A. Left to the freedom of their own wills, our first parents sinned against God and fell from their original condition. Gen. 3:6-8; Eccl. 7:29

Q.14. What is sin?
A. Sin is disobeying or not conforming to God’s law in any way. 1 Jn. 3:4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. The Bible teaches that sin is not only actively doing what we should not do, but also not doing what we should do!  Do we acknowledge and repent of both sins of omission as well as sins of commission?
  2. How many sins does it take to make me a lawbreaker?  Read Jm 2:10-11.
  3. Dennis Hustedt, in his book of 52 studies on based on the WSC called Firm in the Faith, shares a brief biography of St. Augustine (A.D. 354-430):  “Augustine was the greatest of all the church fathers.  As a young man, however, he was very sinful.  He wrote about his sinful youth in a famous book called The Confessions in which he described how the Lord rescued him from sin and brought him to a life of grace and truth.  Augustine and his friends used to steal pears from a farmer’s [orchard].  Augustine wrote, ‘I stole which I had at home both in greater plenty and much better.  I didn’t care for that which I stole, I just took pleasure in the very theft and sin itself.’  Although his father was a pagan, his mother [Monica] was a godly woman who prayed earnestly for her son.

“After moving from North Africa to Italy, he heard sermons from another famous theologian of the early church named Ambrose.  …  He came to realize not only how great his sin was, but also how much greater God’s grace was.  At the age of thirty-one, Augustine was converted to Christ after much weeping and calling on God for deliverance.  He went on to write many books about the Christian faith, which have been appreciated by Christians through the centuries.”

Has your sin ever convicted you to the point of weeping?  Have you examined your heart closely enough to identify your sinfulness in light of God’s Law?

 Have you ever read Augustine’s Confessions?  It is a classic for good reason.  If you’d like good guide, I’d recommend Leland Ryken who has a whole series of Christian Guides to the Classics.  (www.christianbook.com has many of them on sale for less than $1)

Q15-16 (February 21, 2021)

Q.15. By what sin did our first parents fall from their original condition?
A. Our first parents’ sin was eating the forbidden fruit. Gen. 3:6 “. . . she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”

Q.16. Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first disobedience?
A. Since the covenant was made not only for Adam but also for his natural descendants, all mankind sinned in him and fell with him in his first disobedience. Gen. 2:16-17; Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:21-22

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. Meditate on Genesis 3:1-6; what do you observe about the temptation Eve (and Adam as well, since he “was with her”) faced?
  2. When and how are you tempted to question God’s goodness?  His Word – His truthfulness and authority?
  3. How much do we think of the repercussions (the ripple effects) of our sin, not only for our own life, but in the lives of others?   (to read Tim Challies’ article go to Don’t Drop the Rock! | Tim Challies)
Q17-18 (February 28, 2021)

Q.17. What happened to man in the fall?
A. Man fell into a condition of sin and misery. Rom. 5:12 “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”

Q.18. What is sinful about man’s fallen condition?
A. The sinfulness of that fallen condition is twofold. First, in what is commonly called original sin, there is the guilt of Adam’s first sin with its lack of original righteousness and the corruption of his whole nature. Second are all the specific acts of disobedience that come from original sin. Mt. 15:19  “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”  Rom. 5:10-20; Eph. 2:1-3; James 1:14-15

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. How often do we lament over the consequences for all humanity from sin? How might recognizing the reality of sin and misery now make us long for more of Christ and His Restoration of all things?
  2. We often blame others or our circumstances for our sin; where does Jesus tell us to look in Matthew 15:19? While we cannot control others or many of our circumstances, we can watch how we react to those things. How would our lives (and the lives of those around us) be different if we owned and repented of our sins right away and really pursued holy, obedient, humble service in every situation and relationship?
Q19-20 (March 7, 2021)

Q.19. What is the misery of man’s fallen condition?
A. All mankind, by their fall, lost communion with God,1 are under His wrath and curse,2 and so made liable to all miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.3

1Gen. 3:8 “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”  Gen 3:10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” Gen 3:24 “He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”

2Gal. 3:10; Eph. 2:2-3

3Lam. 3:39; Mt. 25:41, 46; Rom. 6:23  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Q.20. Did God leave all mankind to die in sin and misery?
A. God, having out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life,1 did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer.2

1Eph. 1:4  “. . . even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”

2Rom. 3:20-22; Gal. 3:21-22

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. The truth of God’s Word helps us understand the world in which we live; as you see the effects of our rebellion against God by our sin, do you connect the misery that is all around us (and even within) to the Fall?  How does it help you live to know first, that this is not how the world was created—sin and misery are not the way it’s supposed to be—and secondly, that God is working out His plan of redemption?
  2. Praise the Lord!  He has not left us lost in sin and misery, but has provided a Redeemer, our Lord Jesus Christ!!  Have you praised God and thanked Him for your salvation today?  How can you share the Good News with those around you this week using your reflections on these two catechism questions?

Parent/Grandparent idea to help children learn/review the catechism:

  • Marianne Ross has The Shorter Catechism Activity Book where for the answer to Q. 20 she’s removed the vowels and the kids need to fill in the blanks.
  • Also, families might want to check out Sinclair Ferguson’s The Big Book of Questions and Answers: A Family Devotional Guide to the Christian Faith.
  • Also, if anyone is interested in the booklet referenced in Sunday’s sermon, it is A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Mary by Leonardo De Chirico
Q21-22 (March 14, 2021)

Q.21. Who is the redeemer of God’s chosen ones?
A. The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ,1 who, being the eternal Son of God, became man,2 and so was, and continues to be, God and man, in two distinct natures, and one Person forever.3

11 Tim. 2:5-6  “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”

2Jn. 1:14  “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.   Gal. 4:4  “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law.”

3Lk. 1:35  “And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.’”   Col. 2:9  “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”  Rom. 9:5; Heb. 7:24f.

Q.22. How did Christ, the Son of God, become man?
A. Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to Himself a true body1 and a reasonable soul,2 being conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and born of her,3 yet without sin.4

1Heb. 2:14  “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.”  Heb. 10:5

2Mt. 26:38

3Lk. 1:27, 31, 35, 42; Gal. 4:4

4Heb. 4:15  “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.   Heb. 7:26  “For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. The Bible is emphatic, there is only one Redeemer; have you paused today to Thank God for opening your eyes and heart to see and love Jesus? 
  2. Have you ever considered why the One Mediator had to be both God and Man?  Take a few minutes to look at The Westminster Larger Catechism questions 38-40 for help answering that.
  3. It is not only at Christmas time that we should bow and worship for the wonder of the incarnation!  When is the last time that you praised God in prayer that Jesus lived a sinless life in this broken, sinful world?
Q23-24 (March 21, 2021)

Q.23. How is Christ our redeemer?
A. As our redeemer, Christ is a prophet, priest, and king in both His humiliation and His exaltation.

1Ps. 2:6, 8-11; Isa. 9:6-7; Mt. 21:5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”; Acts 3:21-22; 2 Cor. 13:3; Heb. 5:5-7; Heb. 7:25; Heb. 12:25

Q.24. How is Christ a prophet?
A. As a prophet, Christ reveals the will of God to us for our salvation by His word and Spirit.

1Jn. 1:18 “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”  Jn. 15:15; Jn. 20:31; 1 Pt. 1:10-12

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. The work of a prophet in the Old Testament was to declare faithfully whatever Yahweh inspired them to say, their proclamation could always have begun “Thus saith the Lord” (see, e.g., Jer. 2:1f.).  How does Jesus in His earthly ministry perfectly fulfill this?
  2. Study Deuteronomy 18:15-22; the Jews of Jesus’ day were waiting for a Prophet like Moses (see Jn. 1:21b) but were blind and deaf to who Jesus was and what He said (Dt. 18:19).  We profess to believe that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior—do we listen and obey?  Do we trust the Living Word of God enough to do whatever He says (even if we don’t understand how it will all work out)?  Hear what Jesus says:  “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Mt. 7:24 emphasis added)
Q25-26 (March 28, 2021)

Q.25. How is Christ a priest?
A. Christ executes the office of a priest in his once offering up of Himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice,1 and reconcile us to God,2 and in making continual intercession for us.3

1Heb. 9:14, 28  “. . . how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.  . . . so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

2Heb. 2:17  “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

3Heb. 7:24-25  “. . . but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.  Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”

Q. 26.  How does Christ execute the office of a king?
A. Christ executes the office of a king in subduing us to Himself, in ruling and defending us,1 and in restraining and conquering all His and our enemies.2

1Ps. 11:3; Mt. 28:18-20; Jn. 17:2; Col. 1:13

2Ps. 2:6-9; 110:1-2; Mt. 12:28; 1 Cor. 15:24-26; Col. 2:15  “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. If you have been reading along with the Chronological Bible Reading Plan this year you might remember reading about the Day of Atonement in Lev. 16 last month.  As you think about the work of the priest as well as the sacrifice offered (and even the scapegoat vv. 21f)—do you see the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God?
  2. The book of Hebrews is so rich as it points out how Jesus Christ fulfills and is a better Priest and Sacrifice!  Take time to read over and pray about what you learn of Christ as our Great High Priest, and Praise God for such a One as Jesus!!
  3. Jesus as the Great Shepherd King protects His people, how have you experienced your Savior’s help when you’ve faced temptation, false accusations, or heavy trials?  Are you resting in His strong arms, in the finished work of Christ on the Cross?  Is He your refuge and strength, your Mighty Fortress? 
  4. Jesus as our King also demands our obedient, faithful service—who are you serving today?  Yourself or the World or Christ?  How can you remind yourself during your daily activities of the Kingship of Jesus?
Q27-28 (April 4, 2021)

Q.27. How was Christ humiliated?
A. Christ’s humiliation consisted in His being born, and that in a low condition,1 made under the law,2 undergoing the miseries of this life,3 the wrath of God,4 and the cursed death of the cross;5 in being buried,6 and continuing under the power of death for a time.7

Lk. 2:7

Gal. 4:4

Isa. 53:2-3

Mt. 27:46 “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”  Lk. 22:44  “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

Phil. 2:8  “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

1 Cor. 15:3-4

Acts 2:24-27, 31  “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.’ … he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.”

Q.28. How is Christ exalted?
A. Christ’s exaltation consists in His rising again from the dead on the third day,1 in ascending into heaven,2 in sitting at the right hand of God the Father,3 and in coming to judge the world at the last day.4

1 Cor. 15:4 “. . . that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”

Mk. 16:19  “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.”

3 Eph. 1:10

4 Acts 1:11  “. . . and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”  Acts 17:31  “. . . because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. We want to be happy and live joyfully, what’s the “secret”?  Read, memorize, and meditate on Paul’s inspired letter to the Christians who lived in Philippi, especially chapter 2 verses 1-18.  We’ve just celebrated Easter, but the Bible consistently (and Jesus’ life explicitly) shows us that the cross comes before the crown.  Consider carefully Christ’s willing humiliation throughout His incarnation—from His birth to His death and burial. 
  2. Worship with great gladness and gratitude such a Savior!  What great Grace!  “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9)
  3. The foundation of our everlasting joy is Jesus who lived and died, who rose and has ascended, and who one day is coming again!  Spend some time this week examining afresh the exaltation of our Lord until you cannot contain the love and awe that drives you to your knees and compels your tongue to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father! (Phil. 2:11)
  4. Did you catch the connection between Christ’s humiliation/exaltation and the transformation in mind and life for us who believe that leads to us shining brightly in this “crooked and twisted generation” (Phil. 2:14)?

Q29-30 (April 11, 2021)

Q.29. How are we made to take part in the redemption Christ bought?
A. We take part in the redemption purchased by Christ by the effectual application of it to us1 by His Holy Spirit.2

1 Jn. 1:11-12  “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

2 Titus 3:5-6  “. . . he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

Q. 30.  How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ
A. The Spirit applies to us the redemption purchased by Christ by working faith in us,1 and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.2

1 Jn. 6:37-39  “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.  For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”
Eph. 1:13-14; 2:8

2 1 Cor. 1:9  “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Eph. 3:17

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. When we sing the children’s song “Jesus Loves Me” we articulate a profound and amazing truth, but as we grow in our faith and understanding we need to plumb the depths of what the Bible reveals about this great reality of Redemption.  We must (and it is our great delight to) understand who this Jesus is and what He has accomplished.  We also have a desperate need to see how we actually are saved, or to put it in the language of the catechism, “How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?”  Do you want to know more about this?
  2. We worship and are astounded and everlastingly thankful to Jesus for dying on the cross for our sins, but do we recognize and give thanks to the Holy Spirit for applying the finished work of Christ to us?
  3. If what the Bible says is true (and it is!), then because we are dead in our sins and trespasses (Eph. 2:5) God has to make us alive (regeneration) so that we might repent and believe.  Salvation is a gift, it is God’s grace (Eph. 2:8)!  How careful do we need to be not to boast?

If you’d like to study this more, allow me to recommend Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray and recently (2015) republished.  As of Thursday afternoon it is available on Kindle for only $2.99.

Here is an excerpt from the new foreword by Carl Trueman: 

“As a new convert to Christianity in the mid-1980s, I was always trying to find books that would help me engage more deeply with the faith. Because I had not grown up in a Christian home and had almost never attended church, my knowledge of the Bible and of its teaching was minimal. I knew something about God, something about sin, and something about Christ. Beyond that, I was a Cambridge undergraduate with less theological understanding than a ten-year-old who had been taught the catechism.

“Because of this, I was always hunting for good, basic books on Christian doctrine. A kind local pastor gave me a copy of J. I. Packer’s God’s Words and that helped introduce me to the basic elements of evangelical theology. Then someone recommended I obtain a copy of John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied. I had never heard of Murray and neither had the manager of the local Christian bookshop, but he dutifully ordered me a copy. When it arrived, I confess to a little disappointment. Frankly, I had expected a weightier tome, not a relatively brief paperback. Yet my disappointment did not survive even my reading of the very first chapter.

“What Murray did, and what I had never really seen before, was demonstrate how my salvation connected to the work of God in both eternity, as he planned salvation, and time, as he executed it in the person and work of his Son and applied it to individuals through the work of his Holy Spirit. Thus, Murray’s little book did three things of major importance: it showed how eternity and time relate to each other in salvation, how that salvation is a Trinitarian matter, rooted in the very identity of God as Trinity, and how this makes sense of the whole Bible.

        “More specifically, Murray was seeking to articulate the order of salvation (Latin: ordo salutis) in a manner that also connected it to the history of salvation (Latin: historia salutis). We might distinguish the two by saying that the order of salvation pertains to the way in which the individual appropriates salvation. Election, calling, justification, sanctification, and glorification are the basic elements of this. The history of salvation is focused on the acts of God in history, specifically as they culminate in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, which provide the basis for the order of salvation.”

Q31-32 (April 18, 2021)

Q.31. What is effective calling?
A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit,1 by which, convincing us of our sin and misery,2 enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ,3 and renewing our wills,4 he persuades and enables us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the Gospel.5

1 2 Thess. 2:13-14  “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.  To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  2 Tim. 1:9

2 Acts 2:37  “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’”

3 Acts 26:18  “. . . to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

4 Ezek. 36:26-27  “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

5 Jn. 6:44-45  “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.  And I will raise him up on the last day.  It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’  Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.”  Phil. 2:13.

Q.32. What benefits do those who are effectively called share in this life?
A. Those who are effectually called partake in justification,1 adoption,2 sanctification, and the other benefits that, in this life, do either accompany them or flow from them.3

1 Rom. 8:30  “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

2 Eph. 1:5  “. . . he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.”

3 1 Cor. 1:26, 30

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. Be like the Bereans!  In Acts 17 Paul and his companions were on a missionary journey. They were forced to leave one city because of violent persecution and arrived in Berea, a city located in the foothills of the Olympian mountains.  When they preached the Gospel, Luke records that the Jews “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11, emphasis added)  The authors of the WSC included the Biblical basis to all the doctrinal truths they taught, do you search the Scriptures to see if these things are so?  Please take time to study and meditate on the footnotes.
  1. In the 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World today, the prayer focus alerts us to 3 significant hurdles that Muslims face if they are to follow Jesus Christ.  Are you thanking God for His sovereign grace that overcomes every seemingly insurmountable barrier to faith?  Do you thank God for calling you to saving faith and graciously bestowing on you all the benefits of salvation in this life as well as in the life to come?
  1. Will you take time to meditate on those amazing benefits today and pray about them this week?  Are you interested in studying them further?  Again, let me encourage John Murray’s book, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, this time especially Part 2: Redemption Applied, where he gives an extended treatment of Rom. 8:30.  (It’s still available for just $2.99 on Kindle!)
Q33-34 (April 25, 2021)

Q.33. What is justification?
Justification is an act of God’s free grace, in which He pardons all our sins,1 and accepts us as righteous in His sight,2 only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us,3 and received by faith alone.4

1 Rom. 3:24-25  “. . . and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.  This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” 

Rom. 4:6-8

2 2 Cor. 5:19, 21  “. . . that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  …  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

3 Rom. 5:17-19  “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through the one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.  Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.  For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”

4 Gal. 2:16  “. . . yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not be works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. 

Phil. 3:9  “. . . and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”

Q.34. What is adoption?
A. Adoption is an act of God’s free grace,1 by which we are received as sons of God, and have a right to all the privileges of that standing.2

1 1 Jn.3:1  “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.  The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

2 Jn. 1:12  “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

Rom. 8:17  “. . . and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. That every sinner is saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone is a plain and necessary truth revealed in Scripture.  So it is very important that we study and understand what JUSTIFICATION is according to God’s Word.  (Please don’t be afraid of theology or theological words!)  Perhaps you have heard it explained like this:  Justification means that I’m forgiven!  It’s “just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned”!  That is an amazing truth—Jesus took my sin upon Himself and paid the penalty, the debt is gone.  But that’s only half of the Good News, there is another exchange that takes place.  Justification also means that God “counts us” as righteous in His sight, because of the righteousness (perfect obedience) of Jesus freely given to us!  That is, when God looks at us in Christ it’s “just-as-if-I’d-always-obeyed”!  The question for you and me is, do we believe this?  And do we remember this daily?  Can we trust that this is true?
  2. Are you interested in studying this important, foundational truth more fully?  Check out chapter 11 in The Westminster Confession of Faith and R.C. Sproul’s exposition in Truths We Confess.  I would also recommend that you look at The Heidelberg Catechism questions 60-64.  If you’d like to look at it with the help of someone who has thought long and hard on this, check out Michael Horton’s The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way, chapter 19.  Or the 75 page booklet, A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Being Made Right with God: Understanding Justification by Guy Waters.
  3. The doctrine of Adoption is another amazing blessing that deserves our time and meditation.  The Westminster divines (the title given to the pastors who were called to assemble and wrote the documents that have become our denomination’s confessional standards) devote an entire chapter (although notable for its succinctness!) to this beautiful act of God’s free grace.  I’d also commend Sinclair Ferguson’s book, Children of the Living God to understand the beauty and blessing of our adoption because of Christ.  But what difference does this truth make to our daily lives?  It transforms our relationships!  Think about this using these prompts from the New England Puritan John Cotton:  (A) Our relationship to God; (B) Our relationship to the world; (C) our relationship to the future; (D) Our relationship to ourselves; and finally, (E) Our relationship to the Church as the Family of God.*
  4. What might be some of the privileges of being Adopted by God Almighty?  What might be some of the responsibilities?

*Joel Beeke & Mark Jones, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life, 546.

Q35-36 (May 2, 2021)

Q.35. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace,1 by which we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God,2 and are enabled more and more to die to sin and live to righteousness.3

A. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace,1 by which we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God,2 and are enabled more and more to die to sin and live to righteousness.3

1 Thess. 2:13 

Eph. 4:23-24  “. . . and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

3 Rom. 6:4, 6  “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  …  We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

Rom. 8:1   

Q.36. What benefits in this life go with or come from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
A. The benefits that in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification are: assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience,1 joy in the Holy Spirit,2 increase of grace,3 and perseverance to the end.4

Rom. 5:1-2, 5  “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  . . . and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Rom. 14:17  “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

3 Prov. 4:18  “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until the full day.”

4 1 Pt. 1:5  “. . . who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

1 Jn. 5:13  “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. Did you notice the significant change of a single word in the answer of question 35 from the previous two answers?  Both justification and adoption are “acts” of God’s free grace; sanctification is a “work” of God’s free grace.  Why do you think that is an important difference?  How is God’s work ongoing in your life? 
  2. The Bible uses the verb “to sanctify” in all three tenses—past, present, and future.  Have you ever considered what that means?  David Powlison, in his very good little book, How Does Sanctification Work* helpfully defines this in his introduction (p. 13):  first of all, “In the past tense, your sanctification has already happened. You are a saint—an identity for which you get no credit! God decisively acted by making you his very own in Christ.”  Here we see God’s free graceworking to save us and make us holy in Christ.  Secondly, “In the present tense, your sanctification is now being worked out.  God is working throughout your life—on a scale of days, years, and decades—to remake you into the likeness of Jesus.  You are being progressively sanctified.” This is where God’s grace and our responsibility meet; we depend on God for the growth, but we are to be active and diligent in using the means of grace God gives us (the Word and prayer primarily, along with the sacraments).  Finally, “In the future tense, your sanctification will be perfected.”  This is the beauty of glorification! 
  3. Do you desire to be pursue holiness (without which no one sees the Lord – Heb. 12:14)?  Then mortify (kill) sin and vivify (live) to righteousness all by the Holy Spirit (see Rom. 8:13)! 
  4. Question and Answer 36 give us great grounds and motivations to adore our Savior God!  Will you spend some time thanking God for these benefits and pleading for more assurance of His love, peace of conscience, and joy in Him?  Do you see growth in grace?  Are you persevering by His grace?  Praise the Lord!
Q37-38 (May 9, 2021)

Q.37. What benefits do believers receive from Christ when they die?
A. The souls of believers are at their deaths made perfect in holiness,1 and do immediately pass into glory;2 and their bodies, being still united to Christ,3 do rest in their graves4 till the resurrection. 5

Heb. 12:23  “and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect.”

Lk. 23:43  “And he said to hm, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’”

2 Cor. 5:1, 6, 8  “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  …  So we are always of good courage.  We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.  …  Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”

Phil. 1:23  “I am hard pressed between the two.  My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.”

3 1 Thess. 4:14  “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”

4 Isa. 57:2

5 Job 19:26-27  “And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.  My heart faints within me!” 

Q. 38.  What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
A. At the resurrection, believers, being raised up in glory,1 shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment,2 and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoyment of God3 to all eternity.4

1 Cor. 15:43  “It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory.  It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.”

Mt. 10:32  “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.”

Mt. 25:23  “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.  Enter into the joy of your master.’”

3 1 Cor. 13:12  “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

1 Jn. 3:2  “Beloved, we are God’s children ow, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

4 1 Thess. 4:17-18  “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with then in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. What opportunity for meditation and adoration of God our Savior!  Do we think, have we considered the benefits of our redemption through faith in Christ’s finished work on our behalf? 
  2. When we think of these things, it puts the specter of death in a whole different light.  Death for the believer, the more we dwell on Biblical truth, has definite benefits which is vital to our comfort and hope both in dying as well as in grieving.  How much time and effort have you taken to think about death in light of this truth?
  3. The Christian’s death—even as the believer immediately enters the very presence of God (heaven)—is not the end or fullness of the glory and joy that awaits Christ’s people!  There are further benefits that Jesus has procured for us at the resurrection; our souls will be reunited to resurrection bodies, there will be the final “Not Guilty” pronouncement before the Judge, and we will enter into the full blessings of the new heavens and the new earth immediately in God’s presence for all eternity!  My question to you is simply this:  How does your anticipation of these things shape your everyday life here and now?
What duty God requires of man (Q39-107)
Q39-40 (May 16, 2021)

Q. 39.  What is the duty that God requires of man?
A, The duty that God requires of man is obedience to His revealed will. 1

1 Sam. 15:22  “And Samuel said, ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.’”

Mic. 6:8  “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” 

Q. 40.  What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?
A. The rule that God at first revealed to man for his obedience was the moral law.1

Rom. 2:14-15  “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.  They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.”

Rom. 10:5 “For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. Have you ever considered the mercy and justice of God in revealing His will to us?  We cannot know God’s secret will (see Dt. 29:29), but we can know what we are required to do and be!  How freeing not to have to wonder if we are pleasing God!  Certainly we will still have questions; but God has clearly revealed His will in the Bible and has promised to give us wisdom from above when we ask (James 1:5).
  2. VERY IMPORTANT:  Mere formalistic observance of religious rituals (even those prescribed by God) is not obeying God!  The external act of bringing a sacrifice without any heart concern for God’s Word in the rest of life does not please the Lord.  Remember what the greatest commandment is?  “You shall love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength” (see Mark 12:28-30).
  3. Where is your heart?  Are you concerned with heartfelt, faithful obedience?  Are you studying God’s Word to understand how you are to live?  Has your conscience been taught by the Word and Holy Spirit?
Q41-42 (May 23, 2021) Duty to obey God’s moral law (40-84)

Q.41. Where is the moral law summarized?
A. The moral law is found summarized in the Ten Commandments. 1.

Dt. 10:4  “And he wrote on the tablets, in the same writing as before, the Ten Commandments that the Lord had spoken to you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly.  And the Lord gave them to me.”

Q.42. What is the essence of the ten commandments?
A. The essence of the ten commandments is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind, and to love everyone else as we love ourselves..1

Mt. 22:37-40  “And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. How shall we live?  If our duty as those created in the image of God is to obey His revealed will (now doubly so since He has saved us and made us His redeemed children), do we understand that the Ten Commandments sum this up?
  2. Have we memorized the 10 Words?  There’s one for each finger (or toe) and too many folks today seem to imagine that it’s not that important to hide God’s Word in our hearts, that should not be so for Christians.
  3. Do you Love God and neighbor?  What a HUGE question!  How would you answer?  Does your reflection on your life include taking your attitude as well as action, your thoughts as well as your words into account?  Do you see how Jesus says that the Law (and the Prophets—i.e., the entire Old Testament!) can be comprehended in the command to LOVE?
  4. Pastor Mike Ross wrote in a prayer devotional leading up to General Assembly six years ago wrote that “it is only in learning how to love God that we are able to love our neighbor made in God’s image.”  Talk to someone about whether you agree and how you might live this out.
Q43-44 (May 30, 2021)

Q.43. What introduces the ten commandments?
A. The preface to the Ten Commandments is in these words: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Ex. 20:2 

Q. 44.  What does the preface to the Ten Commandments teach us?
A.  The preface to the Ten Commandments teaches us that because God is the Lord, and our God and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all His commandments.1

Lk. 1:74-75  “. . . that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.”

1 Pet. 1:15-18   “. . . but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’  And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold.”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. Why should we obey?  The catechism teaches us here, through the preface to the Ten Commandments, solid reasons for this obligation.  First, we obey because the One who gave the commandments is God, the Lord.  As Almighty Lord He has the right to command those He rules over.  He is Lord and we are not.  Have we grasped that in the innermost part of our beings?  Or do we find ourselves reacting (inwardly, if not outwardly) like a rebellious toddler when we don’t get our way?  We don’t like others telling us what we can or cannot do; and when it comes to God’s commands, we too often treat Him like we would anyone else!
  2. Second, not only is God the Lord over all, but He has graciously entered into a covenant with us—He is our God.  This covenant relationship, initiated by God’s sovereign grace, brings both great privileges and great responsibilities.  Our God gives us good rules to guide our life that we may reflect His holy character and follow the pathway of righteousness.  Having been brought into God’s kingdom and become His people, we understand that we must live differently!
  3. Third, we are further reminded that God is our Redeemer and so as He has freed us from bondage, so He has freed us to serve Him with thanksgiving and joy.  Knowing what God has saved us from and for motivates our loving, faithful obedience.  Our hearts are filled with delight to bless and praise this wonderful Lord who has poured out such amazing grace on us!  Does any of this resonate with you?  Does your life honestly reflect these truths?  How can you grow in understanding and obedience?
Q45-46 (June 6, 2021)

Q.45. What is the first commandment?
A. The first commandment is: You shall have no other gods before me.1

Ex. 20:3   

Q.46. What does the first commandment require?
A. The First Commandment requires us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God;1 and to worship and glorify Him accordingly.2

Dt. 26:17  “You have declared today that the Lord is your God, and that you will walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and his commandments and his rules, and will obey his voice.”

1 Chr. 28:9  “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought.  If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.”

2 Ps. 29:2  “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.”

Mt. 4:10  “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”’”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. We will be spending at least a couple of weeks on each commandment; the Shorter Catechism helps us think both positively (what is required) and negatively (what is forbidden).  Do you every examine your own life—thoughts, words, actions, and attitudes—with this thinking in mind:  what do I need to put off (obedience by forsaking sin) and what do I need to put on (obedience by pursuing righteousness)?
  2. Do you see how comprehensive this first Word is?  How are you walking in obedience Monday through Saturday?
  3. Will you please talk to someone else about these things (i.e., obeying the Words of our God) and discuss both what the catechism is teaching and how you are living?  Then please spend some time praying together for God’s help!
Q47-48 (June 13, 2021)

Q.47. What does the first commandment forbid?
A. The First Commandment forbids the denying,1 or not worshiping and glorifying, the true God as God,2 and our God;3 and the giving to any other of that worship and glory due to Him alone.4

Ps. 14:1  “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.”

2  Rom. 1:21  “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

3  Ps. 81:10-11

4  Rom. 1:25-26   

Q.48. What are we specifically taught in the first commandment by the words before me?
A. These words, “before me,” in the First Commandment teach us that God, who sees all things, takes notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other god.1

 Ps. 44:20-21  “If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, would not God discover this?  For he knows the secrets of the heart.”

Ezek. 8:5-6

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. What other things or people take the place of God in your heart?  What happens when we play God or put anything/anyone else in His place?
  2. Have you identified any false gods in our culture?  How shall we then live?  What do we need to be especially careful about as we live and work and play in this world?
  3. What have you been influenced by recently (within the past several years) that informs your priorities and concerns?  How has your life changed because of that?  How does that line up with the First Commandment [I’ll keep this encouragement here:  Will you please talk to someone else about these things] (i.e., obeying the Words of our God) and discuss both what the catechism is teaching and how you are living?  Then please spend some time praying together for God’s help!]
Q49-50 (June 20, 2021)

Q.49. What is the second commandment?
A. The second commandment is: You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand (generations) of those who love me and keep my commandments.1

Ex. 20:4-6    

Q.50. What does the second commandment require?
A. The second commandment requires us to receive, respectfully perform, and preserve completely and purely all the regulations for religion and worship that God has established in His word.1

 Dt. 32:46  “. . . he said to them, ‘Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law.’”

Mt. 28:20  “. . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Acts 2:42  “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. Philip Ryken, in his wonderful book on the Ten Commandments, Written in Stone, gives us a good summary statement:  “The first commandment has to do with worshiping the right God. … The second commandment has to do with worshiping the right God in the right way. … Whereas the first commandment forbids us to worship false gods, the second commandment forbids us to worship the true God falsely.”  (p. 72)  Have you thought about how important worship is?
  2. What do you think it means that the early Christians in Acts “devoted themselves” to those things?  What are you devoted to?
  3. Discuss with another Christian why it is a good thing that God is “jealous”.  How is that a blessing to us?  How is that a warning to us?
Q51-52 (June 27, 2021)

Q.51. What does the second commandment forbid?
A. The Second Commandment forbids the worshiping of God by images,1 or any other way not appointed in His Word.2

Ex. 32:5, 8; Dt. 4:15-19; Rom. 1:22-23

2 Dt. 12:31-32    

Q.52. What are the reasons for the second commandment?
A. The reasons attached to the Second Commandment are: God’s sovereignty over us,1 His ownership in us,2 and the zeal he has for His own worship.3

 Ps. 95:2-3  “Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!  For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.”

2  Ps. 45:11  “. . . and the king will desire your beauty.  Since he is your lord, bow to him.”

3  Ex. 34:13-14  “You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.)”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. Please take time to meditate on the reasons behind this command.  What does it mean for God to be sovereign over your life and worship?  If we call Him “Lord” and “King” what does that imply for how we approach Him in worship? 
  2. Here in the U.S.A. we balk at using “ownership” of another human being.  In what sense is this true when it comes to God that should not be among us?  Do we believe (and understand) that God is our Maker and Redeemer?  Twice over He claims us as His and as believers we cannot deny that this is true.  How does this truth apply to worship on Sundays and our life in general?  See 1 Cor. 6:19b-20  “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.”  Cf. 1 Pt. 1:18-19
  3. What does the Bible mean when God calls Himself “jealous”?  How is it a good thing that God is zealous for the purity of worship?
Q53-54 (July 4, 2021)

Q.53. What is the third commandment?
A. The Third Commandment is, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”1

Ex. 20:17

Q.54. What does the third commandment require?
A. The Third Commandment requires the holy and reverent use of God’s names,1 titles,2 attributes,3 ordinances,4 Word,5 and works.6

 Dt. 28:58  “If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God.”

                Mt. 6:9  “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.’”

2 Ps. 68:4  “Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him!.”

3 Rev. 15:3-4  “And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy.  All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.’”

4 Mal. 1:11, 14  “For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering.  For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.  …  Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished.  For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.”

5 Ps. 138:1-2 “I will give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.”

6 Rev. 4:11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

                Ps. 107: 21-22 “Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. Week after week we recite/pray the Lord’s Prayer together.  How often do we think or seriously consider what we’re praying in the very first petition: “Hallowed be Thy Name”?  May The Heidelberg Catechism #122 help us: “Hallowed be your name means, Help us to really know you, to bless, worship, and praise you for all your works and for all that shines forth from them: your almighty power, wisdom, kindness, justice, mercy and truth.  And it means, Help us to direct all our living—what we think, say, and do—so that your name will never be blasphemed because of us but always honored and praised.  (Cf. Westminster Larger Catechism #190; WSC 101)
  2. Do you know the Name of the Lord?  Take time to study Ex. 33:19 and 34:5-8.
  3. If you call yourself a CHRISTIAN you are bearing the Name of the Lord wherever you are and whatever you do!  Is that claim and commitment to CHRIST a vain assertion?  Is this only something we say on Sundays with our lips, or is it a reality of our live 24/7?
Q55-56 (July 11, 2021)

Q.55. What does the third commandment forbid?
A. The Third Commandment forbids all profaning or abusing of anything by which God makes Himself known.1

Mal. 1:6-7, 12; 2:2; 3:14

Q.56. What is the reason for the third commandment?
A. The reason attached to the Third Commandment is that, however those who break this commandment may escape punishment from men, yet the Lord our God will not allow them to escape His righteous judgment.1

 Dt. 28:58-59  “If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God, then the Lord will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting, and sickness grievous and lasting.”

          1 Sam. 2:12,17, 22, 29; 3:13

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. Each commandment has a positive as well as a negative aspect if we are to be obedient to God’s revealed will.  And for some of the commands, God gives us additional grounds or reasons to obey, as here in the 3rd Commandment:  “. . . for God will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Ex. 20:7b).  So an important question for us this week is whether or not we understand how important obedience to this command really is!  Do you ever really think about taking the name of the Lord your God in vain (other than not saying ‘Jeez’ or ‘OMG’)?
  2. In what areas of our everyday lives might we need to repent?  Kevin DeYoung, in his book on the 10 Commandments* gives us some practical help when he begins by pointing out that “we violate the third commandment when we take up the name of God in service of (1) what is false, (2) what is frivolous, or (3) what is phony” (p. 56).  So here is something to soberly consider:  “We profane God’s name by accusing him of things that are false.  There is certainly a right, scriptural way to lament and cry out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  But to be angry with God, or (as some will tell you) to forgive God, as if he had sins or crimes against you, is to call into question his works and character and so to profane his name. Maybe this will hit closer to home: if we use the name of God to ascribe a false sense of authority to our ideas, plans, or opinions, we violate the third commandment” (p. 57).   If you have done this, have you repented and found forgiveness?
  3. DeYoung goes on with one more insightful application that I’d like us to think and pray about: “. . . as Christians, we sin every time we besmirch the name by which we’re called.  We must act, think, feel, and speak in a way that’s proper for those who are called by the holy name of God” (p. 61).  Friend, do you bear the name of God and Christ?  Are you living worthy of your high and holy calling?  None of us will do so perfectly, but all of us should be striving with God’s help to be more and more consistent in our daily lives to honor God.

Q57-58 (July 18, 2021)

Q.57. What is the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment is: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy..1

Ex. 20:8-11

Q.58. What does the fourth commandment require?
A. The fourth commandment requires us to set apart to God the times He has established in His word – specifically one whole day out of every seven as a holy Sabbath to Him.1

 Dt. 5:12-14 

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. Isn’t it interesting how easily we can come up with excuses why we really can’t obey God’s commandments?  We enjoy so many “labor-saving” machines and have so much provided for us that we can just buy instead of producing ourselves; how is it that we think we are too busy or have too much to do that we can’t come to church or keep one day set apart for God?
  2. A most precious and enduring example for us from the life of Jesus is that we ought to engage in works of mercy on this holy day!  Study Matthew 12:1-13 and Luke 13:10-17.  What opportunities do you have on our day of rest to bless others and bring them rest in the midst of hard and weary times?  Even a card or phone call may refresh someone’s soul!
Q59-60 (July 25, 2021)

Q.59. Which day of the week has God designated as the Sabbath?
A. From the beginning of the world until the resurrection of Christ, God established the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath. From that time until the end of the world the first day of the week is the Christian Sabbath.1

Gen. 2:2-3  “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”

Acts 20:7  “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.”

1 Cor. 16:1-2  “Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do.  On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.”

Q.60. How do we keep the Sabbath holy?
A. The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day,1 even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days;2 and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship,3 except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.4

 Ex. 16:25-28  “Moses said, ‘Eat it [the manna] today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field.  Six days you hall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.’  On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none.  And the Lord said to Moses, ‘How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws?’”

Ex. 20:8, 10

2  Neh. 13:15-19

3  Ps. 92

Isa. 66:23

Lk. 4:16  “And he [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up.  And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.”

Acts 20:7

4  See Mt. 12:1-31

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. Why might it been important to understand that God has the right to designate or choose which day we should give him all our attention and worship?
  2. Do you see the connection between God’s resting after creation in Gen. 2 and the rest we remember after Jesus’ resurrection – the beginning of the new creation?
  3. How do you set apart Sunday, the Christian Sabbath, or the Lord’s Day? In addition to gathering for public worship, what do you do privately or with your family?
Q61-62 (August 1, 2021)

Q.61. What does the fourth commandment forbid?
A. The Fourth Commandment forbids the omission, or careless performance, of the duties required,1 and the profaning the day by idleness,2 or doing that which is in itself sinful,3 or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.4

Ezek. 22:26  “Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things.  They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.”

Amos 8:5 

Mal. 1:13 

2  Acts 20:7, 9

3  Ezek. 23:38  “Moreover, this they have done to me: they have defiled my sanctuary on the same day and profaned my Sabbaths.”

4  Isa. 58:13  “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly.”

Jer. 17:24-26

Q.62. What are the reasons for the fourth commandment?
A. The reasons attached to the Fourth Commandment are: God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments,1 His establishing of a special ownership in the seventh, His own example, and His blessing the Sabbath day.2

 Ex. 20:9  “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work.”

2  Ex. 20:11

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. You may have had a question after reading on Sunday that “loafing” was forbidden!  What the WSC in Modern English termed “loafing” we see above refers to “idleness”—i.e., a laziness that disregards God’s command to keep His day holy.  Have you ever seriously considered what tempts you to idleness on Sunday?
  2. The Shorter Catechism contrasts the reverent and joyful keeping in holiness of God’s day of rest and worship with PROFANING the Sabbath.  We don’t use that word much anymore, not even its derivative: profanity.  Our own culture (the world we live in, the air we breath or the water we swim in) has lost the distinction between what is sacred or holy, and what is not.  When we treat what is set apart by God to be holy (consecrated to Him) as common and not worth our attention or honor, we profane it.  There are many dangers today for us, God’s people, when it comes to treating the Lord’s Day as just any other day.  Worse is when we look at it as a day to do whatever we want!  Will you take a minute to identify some changes you should make in how you live on the Lord’s Day?
  3. What can you do to finish your work in six days?  Is it okay to perhaps not get everything done on your “to-do” list, putting it down on Sunday to delight in a full day of rest and worship?
Q63-64 (August 8, 2021)

Q.63. What is the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment is: Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

Q.64. What does the fifth commandment require?
A. The fifth commandment requires us to respect and treat others, whether above, below, or equal to us, as their position or our relationship to them demands.

Q65-66 (August 15, 2021)

Q.65. What does the fifth commandment forbid?
A. The fifth commandment forbids being disrespectful to or not treating others as their position or relationship to us demands.

Q.66. What is the reason for the fifth commandment?
A. The reason for the fifth commandment is the promise of long life and prosperity, if these glorify God and are for the good of those who obey this commandment.

Q67-69 (August 22, 2021)

Q.67. What is the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment is: You shall not murder. Ex. 20:13

Q.68. What does the sixth commandment require?
A. The Sixth Commandment requires all lawful endeavors to preserve our own lives,1 and the lives of others.2

 Eph. 5:28-29  “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.”

2  1 Kings 18:4  “And when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water.”

Q. 69.  What is forbidden in the Sixth Commandment?
A. The Sixth Commandment forbids the taking away of our own lives or the lives of our neighbors unjustly, or whatever tends to do so.1

1 Gen. 9:6  “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”

Acts 16:28  “But Paul cried with a loud voice, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.’”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. How have you been tempted to either broaden or restrict the Sixth Commandment?  By broaden, I’m referring to the misinterpretation which ignores both the rest of Scripture as well as the linguistic limits of the Hebrew word itself and instead relies on the broadest meaning of the KJV English translation: “Thou shalt not kill.”  By restrict, I’m pointing to the tendency to say to ourselves that since I haven’t ever actually murdered another person, I’ve certainly kept perfectly this command!  Do you not know the breadth of it or how the heart can be in rebellion to God’s perfect law even when the hands don’t act?  Have you not heard what the Lord Jesus Christ declared in the Sermon on the Mount (See Mt. 5:21-22)?
  2. Are you actively desiring to keep this command?  How does that look in your everyday life?  What examples of doing what God requires or helping others not do what God forbids can you give?  Do you see how we fulfill the law by loving our neighbors (Acts 16:28; See Rom. 13:8-10; Gal. 5:13-14)?
  3. Who in the Bible or Church history can provide you with a positive example to emulate?  I immediately thought of Corrie Ten Boom hiding Jews from the Nazis.  Do you know the story of George Mueller or Amy Carmichael, how they saved the lives of so many orphans in England and India?  Might God be calling some of us to adoption or foster care?
  4. This commandment rests on the sanctity of human life.  How shall we understand and apply this great truth to our everyday lives as well as our culture and government policies?

Q70-72 (August 29, 2021)

Q.70. What is the seventh commandment?
A. The seventh commandment is: You shall not commit adultery.
Ex. 20:14 

Q.71. What does the seventh commandment require?
A. The seventh commandment requires us and everyone else to keep sexually pure in heart, speech, and action.
1 Cor. 7:2-3, 5, 34, 36

Col. 4:6  “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

1 Pt. 3:2  “. . . when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”

Q.72. What does the seventh commandment forbid?
A. The seventh commandment forbids thinking, saying, or doing anything sexually impure.1

1 Mt. 5:28  “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Mt. 15:19  “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. What is “chastity”?  In 1928 Webster’s New International Dictionary defined “chaste” this way:  pure in thought and act; free from lewdness* and obscenity,** or indecency.  The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English helpfully calls us to sexual purity in heart, speech, and actions.  Note well that this command includes our heart and speech as well as our actions!
  2. How has the “normalization” of pornography and sexual immorality of all kinds made it all the more imperative for us as Christians to both understand what God says in this area as well as practice what we preach?
  3. Do you see how our personal obedience to God’s Word here has ramifications for the Church body as well as our communities?  Have you ever considered how you are loving your neighbor when you pursue sexual purity in thought, word, and deed (with your whole heart enamored with God)?
  4. How are you fighting against the sexual impurity that surrounds us?  How are you fighting against the lust inside you?  Do you ever share your struggles with this sort of thing?  Is it a matter of prayer are repentance with help from another Christian?

*lewdness = being vulgar or lustful

**obscene = foul, filthy, or disgusting language; impure language or acts; something offensive to chastity or modesty; expressing or presenting to the mind or view something that delicacy, purity, and decency forbid to be exposed

Q73-75 (September 5, 2021)

Q.73. What is the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment is: You shall not steal.

Q.74. What does the eighth commandment require?
A. The eighth commandment requires that we lawfully acquire and increase our own and others’ money and possessions.

Q.75. What does the eighth commandment forbid?
A. The eighth commandment forbids anything that either does or may unjustly take away money or possessions from us or anyone else.

Q76-78 (September 12, 2021)

Q.76. What is the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment is: You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

Q.77. What does the ninth commandment require?
A. The ninth commandment requires us to tell the truth and to maintain and promote it and our own and others’ reputations, especially when testifying.

Q.78. What does the ninth commandment forbid?
A. The ninth commandment forbids anything that gets in the way of the truth or injures anyone’s reputation.

Q79-81 (September 19, 2021)

Q.79. What is the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment is: You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. Ex. 20:17 

Q.80. What does the tenth commandment require?
A. The Tenth Commandment requires full contentment with our own condition,1 with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbor and all that is his.2

 1 Tim. 6:6  “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Heb. 13:5  “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”

2  Rom. 12:15  “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

1 Cor. 13:4-7

Phil. 2:4  “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Q. 81.  What is forbidden in the Tenth Commandment?
A. The Tenth Commandment forbids all discontentment with our own estate,1 envying or grieving at the good of our neighbor,2 and all unreasonable motions and affections toward anything that is his.3

1 1 Kings 21:4  “And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him, for he had said, ‘I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.’  And he lay down on his bed and turned his face and would eat no food.”

Esth. 5:13

1 Cor. 10:10  “. . . nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.”

2  Gal. 5:26  “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

James 3:14, 16  “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.  …  For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”

3  Dt. 5:21

Rom. 7:7-8

Rom. 13:9

Gal. 5:26

Col. 3:5  “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” 

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. As we come to this final commandment, we may be tempted to treat it lightly as perhaps not nearly as important as the others; why is that wrong and even dangerous?
  2. How is contentment an antidote to coveting?  Why is it so hard to be content (Jeremiah Burroughs has an entire book called, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment)?  What can you do to cultivate contentment?
  3. What is the relationship between discontent and disobedience to this commandment?  Did you catch the explicit link between covetousness and idolatry in Col. 3:5?  Have you ever meditated on this connection and examined your heart in that light?
Q82-83 (September 26, 2021)

Q. 82.  Is any man able to keep perfectly the commandments of God?
A. No mere man, since the Fall, is able, in this life, to keep perfectly the commandments of God,1 but does break them daily, in thought, word, and deed.2

Eccl. 7:20  “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.”

Gal. 5:17  “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

1 Jn. 1:8, 10  “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  …  If we say we have not sinned, we make him [God] a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Gen. 6:5  “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

Rom. 3:9-21

James 3:2-13

Q. 83.  Are all transgressions of the law equally wicked?
A. Some sins in themselves, and by reason of aggravating circumstances, are more wicked in the sight of God than others.1

 Ps. 78:17, 32, 56 

Ezek. 8:6  “And he said to me, ‘Son of man, do you see what they doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel are committing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary?  But you will see still greater abominations.’”

Ezek. 8:13 & 15

1 Jn. 5:16

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. Why do you think the writers of the WSC didn’t just answer Q. 82 with a simple “No!”?
  2. What do the qualifications to the negative answer teach us?  Why is the phrase “no mere/ordinary” person such a necessary qualification?  Who has kept the commandments of God perfectly in this life after the Fall?
  3. Do you spend time each evening confessing and repenting of how you’ve transgressed in thought, word, and deed?  How is that a healthy habit for us?  How can we teach the next generation that practice?
  4. Are you curious about Q&A 83?  The Westminster Larger Catechism has a very helpful expanded answer (see #151 which lists 4 kinds of aggravations and examples).
  5. How does believing these truths that the Bible teaches make us more aware of our need of God’s grace and grateful for His gift of forgiveness and salvation?  Let us Worship and Glorify and Enjoy Him forever!

Q84-85 (October 3, 2021)

Q. 84.  What does every sin deserve?
A. Every sin deserves God’s wrath and curse, both in this life and that which is to come.1

Lam. 3:39 

Mt. 25:41  “The he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’”

Gal. 3:10  “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.’”

Eph. 5:6  “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”

Q. 85.  What does God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse, due to us for sin? A. To escape the wrath and curse of God, due to us for sin, God requires of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance to life,1 with the diligent use of all the outward means by which Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption.2

 Acts 20:21  “. . . testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

2  Prov. 21:1-5  “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart. To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin. The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.

Prov. 8:33-36

Isa. 55:3  “Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. Because of the deceitfulness of sin and because of the sinfulness of the world, we are easily duped into thinking that our pet sins are really no big deal; after all God is “in the business of forgiving”, right?  How dangerous is it to treat sin lightly?  How slippery is the slope of falling into popular sins that our culture doesn’t even recognize as wrong in the eyes of the Lord?
  2. But wait; we must be careful of performing merely external religious acts!  Study the prophets and hear Jesus, the Great Prophet, clearly warn against hypocrisy (see, e.g., Mt. 23; 1 Sam. 15:22; Isa. 1; Mic. 6:6-8).  What is the temptation for us to be “good Christians” outwardly while rationalizing and excusing the secret sins of our heart?
  3. Do you fall on your face and praise God that there is a way of escape, that God Himself has provided a way of salvation?
  4. What is your personal experience of faith and repentance?  Have you shared that with anyone recently?  How are you diligently pursuing more of Christ and the benefits of your redemption?  Are you encouraging others in that endeavor?

Q86-87 (October 10, 2021)

Q. 86.  What is faith in Jesus Christ?
A. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace,1 by which we receive and rest on Him alone for salvation, as He is offered to us in the Gospel.2

Eph. 2:8-9  “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

2 Jn. 1:12  “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

Gal. 2:16  “. . . yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”

Phil. 3:9  “. . . and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”

Q. 87.  What is repentance to life?
A. Repentance to life is a saving grace,1 by which a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin,2 and understanding of the mercy of God in Christ,3 does, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it to God,4 with full intention of, and endeavor after, new obedience.5

 Acts 11:18  “When they heard these things they fell silent.  And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.’” 

2  Acts 2:37-38  “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’  And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”

3 Jer. 3:22

Joel 2:12  “‘Yet even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’”

4 Jer. 31:18-19

Ezek. 36:31

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. What kind of faith do you have?  Does the catechism answer match your heart?  Jesus’ parable of the Sower in Matthew 13 clearly teaches that not every outward response is a saving one (see esp. vv. 18-23).
  2. Our salvation is a free gift of God!  Saving faith gives glory to God for this undeserved mercy, His unmerited grace; and resting on Jesus Christ alone we move forward in faith, worshiping and serving our Great God.  Is this what your Christian faith looks like?  Or are you restless and unsure of your salvation? 
  3. God also graciously grants us “repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18).  What an amazing mercy to see our sin for what it truly is—ugly and deadly—and to be able and willing to turn away from it to Jesus for forgiveness and freedom!  Have you felt both the grief of your sin and the assurance of cleansing?  Has the weight of your guilt and shame been taken away at the foot of the cross?  Has your burden rolled away into the maw of the empty tomb?
  4. How can you share this Good News with others?  How can we encourage one another as we strive after new obedience?

Q88-89 (October 17, 2021) Prayer 88-107

Q. 88.  What are the outward means by which Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption?
A. The outward and ordinary means by which Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are His ordinances, especially the Word, sacraments, and prayer, all of which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.1

Mt. 28:19-20  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Acts 2:42, 46-47  “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  …  And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

Q. 89.  How is the Word made effectual to salvation?
A. The Spirit of God makes the reading, but especially the preaching, of the Word an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith to salvation.1

 Neh. 8:8  “They read from the book from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.”

Ps. 19:8  “. . . the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.”

Acts 20:32  “And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”

Rom. 1:16

Rom. 10:13-17

Rom. 15:4

2 Tim. 3:15-17  “. . . and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. Do you value “ordinary” things?  Sometimes we do but often we likely don’t; however, when those things are taken away from us we learn their value and stop taking them for granted!  What if you were no longer able to read the Bible?  Would you miss it?
  2. If you honestly answered the above question by acknowledging that “no, not really” then you are depriving yourself of necessary nourishment for your spiritual life!  Do you desire to grow as a Christian, to mature, exercise stronger faith, bear much fruit?  Then daily and diligently give your time and attention to God’s Word and prayer; attend Church every week and come hungry for more of Jesus, eagerly look to see Him visibly symbolized in the sacraments and receive God’s grace through faith by the power of the Holy Spirit!
  3. Do you pray before you read the Bible or come to church to listen to the preacher?  Won’t you earnestly ask the Spirit of God to work great redemptive changes in your life through the reading and preaching of God’s Holy Word? 

Q90 (October 24, 2021)

Q.90. How is the word to be read and heard in order to become effective for salvation?
A. That the Word may become effectual to salvation we must attend to it with diligence,1 preparation,2 and prayer;3 receive it with faith and love;4 lay it up in our hearts;5 and practice it in our lives.6 

Prov. 8:34  “Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.”

2 1 Pet. 2:1-2  “So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.  Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.”

3 Ps. 119:18  “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”

4 2 Thess. 2:10  “. . . and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”  Heb. 4:2  “For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit the, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.”

5 Ps. 119:11  “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

6 Lk. 8:15  “As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.”   Jas. 1:25  “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. We often plan and prepare for important or anticipated events in our lives, from weddings to vacations to what we’re having for dinner or which restaurant we want.  Do we plan and prepare to read and hear God’s Word?
  2. Proverbs 8 shares the blessing that comes from hearing and heeding the call of Wisdom; how attentive are we to listening and learning from Holy Scripture as we seek the benefits and blessings of our salvation?
  3. Are we not only preparing to receive this daily bread for our lives, but what are we doing with God’s Word once its in our hands, minds, hearts, and life?  Is it bearing fruit?  Are we living differently because we, by God’s grace and the wonder working power of the Holy Spirit, know God’s revealed will?

Q91 (October 31, 2021)

Q.91. How do the sacraments become effective means of salvation?
A.The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him who administers them, but only by the blessing of Christ,1 and the working of His Spirit in those who by faith receive them.2 

Mt. 3:11  “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

1 Cor. 3:6-7  “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”

1 Pet. 3:21  “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

2 1 Cor. 12:13  “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. Did you notice the two negative assertions?  Many have wrong views of baptism and the Lord’s Supper (the two Biblical sacraments) because of the errors of the Roman church’s teaching that the sacraments are effective (effectual) in themselves (see, for example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1263)).  The Westminster Assembly, following the Reformation along with most other Protestants—with the Bible alone as our authority—continue to teach the importance of obeying Christ in observing the two sacraments but we do not believe that grace is conferred automatically by the sacrament.  For further study, see chapters 27-29 of The Westminster Confession of Faith and the various commentaries (e.g. R. C. Sproul’s Truths We Confess).
  2. But notice also the two positive propositions: the sacraments do become effectual means of salvation by the blessing of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in those who by faith receive them.  How so?  Because baptism and communion (or the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist) point us to Jesus Christ—who He is and what He has done/accomplished for us!
  3. Too often, when we think about the sacraments (or even participate in them) we think PRIMARILY about what we are doing; how does the catechism help us shift our thoughts to consider first and foremost how they proclaim God’s promises which are grounded in what He has done on our behalf?  How might that help us understand the sacraments as “means of grace”, i.e., outward ordinances “by which Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption”?

Q92-93 (November 7, 2021)

Q.92. What is a sacrament?
A.     A sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ, in which, by perceptible signs, Christ and the benefits of the new covenant are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.1 

1 Gen. 17:7, 10  “And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.  …  This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.”

1 Cor. 11:23, 26  “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread. . . .  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

Q. 93. Which are the sacraments of the New Testament?
A.     The sacraments of the New Testament are Baptism1 and the Lord’s Supper.2
1 Mt. 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
2 Mt. 26:26-28 “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. As we learned with the last question (#91), the sacraments are of no value apart from the blessing and work of God.  But when we receive them by faith, the two New Testament sacraments are of great benefit!  How much time and effort do we spend thinking about these things?  Do we pray and prepare our hearts before participating?  Do we look back on and benefit from meditating on the truths that are represented in and through the sacraments?
  2. Question 92 may raise more questions in your mind; good!  Take time to pray and study Scripture; read good commentaries and systematic theologies.  Use The Westminster Larger Catechism (questions 162-177) and The Westminster Confession of Faith (chapters 27-29) as a help to your Christian life and growth.*
  3. Regarding the number of sacraments in the New Covenant, we differ from the Church of Rome here but agree with all other Protestants.  Instead of 7 we see Biblical warrant for only 2 (and I’m happy to talk to anyone who has questions about why we believe that).  However, we are persuaded that these two sacraments are important, which regrettably is in contrast to some non-denominational churches today (and I’m happy to talk to anyone who has questions about this too!).  Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are precious helps to God’s People, important signs and seals of God’s Gracious Promises, His Faithful Covenant Love.  Will you pray that the Lord will increase your love for Him through the right administration of them?

*Let me recommend three good commentaries on The Westminster Confession of Faith:  R. C. Sproul’s Truths We Confess; Robert Shaw, An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith; and A. A. Hodge, The Confession of Faith.

Q94-95 (November 14, 2021)

Q. 94.  What is Baptism?
A. Baptism is a sacrament, in which the washing with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,1 does signify and seal our grafting into Christ, and receiving of the benefits of the Covenant of Grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.2  

Mt. 28:19  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

2 Rom. 6:4  “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

Gal. 3:27  “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

Q. 95.  To whom is Baptism to be administered?
A. Baptism is not to be administered to any who are out of the visible Church, till they profess their faith in Christ and obedience to him;1 but the infants of those who are members of the visible Church are to be baptized.2

1 Acts 2:38  “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”

Acts 8:36-38

2 Gen. 17:10  “This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.”

Acts 2:39  “For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

1 Cor. 7:14

Col. 2:11-12

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. While baptism is not necessary for salvation, it is an explicit command of Christ and so necessary for obedience.  And since our Lord and Savior has commanded us to baptize, it behooves us to understand what it signifies as well as the benefits of it.  Have you taken time to study this sacrament, its Scriptural basis and what it symbolizes?*
  2. Did you notice that there were two parts to the answer to the question of who should be baptized?  The first part is negative, so who should not be baptized?  Do you know why not?  What’s the implication of the little word “till”?  How does baptism publicly set apart those who are in the covenant from those who are outside of it?
  3. The second part is positive, in addition to adults who profess faith in Christ and commitment (obedience) to Him, who else is included in the covenant community (family)?  How does 1 Cor. 7:14 help us understand that wonderful blessing?  How do the children of believers have an interest in God’s covenant?  Do we dedicate them to the Lord and commit to raising them to obey “in the Lord” (Eph. 6:1)?
  4. Circumcision in the Abrahamic Covenant was the sign given to every male infant.  How is the sign of God’s Promise a privilege that is now expanded in its administration?  What blessings do both girls and boys enjoy as part of God’s visible Covenant family?

Q96-97 (November 21, 2021)

Q.96. What is the Lord’s Supper?
A. The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament, in which by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ’s direction, His death is shown forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of His body and blood, with all His benefits, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.1  

1 Cor. 11:23-26  “For I received of the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.’  In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood.  Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

Q.97. What is the right way to receive the Lord’s Supper?
A. It is required of those who would receive the Lord’s Supper worthily that they examine themselves, as to their knowledge to discern the Lord’s body,1 as to their faith to feed on Him,2 and as to their repentance,3 love,4 and new obedience;5 lest, coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment on themselves.6

1  1 Cor. 11:28-29  “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.”

2 2 Cor. 13:5  “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

3 1 Cor. 11:31  “But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.”

4 1 Cor. 10:16-17  “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?  The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?  Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”

5 1 Cor. 5:7-8  “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened.  For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.  Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

6 1 Cor. 11:28-29

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. Do you anticipate the celebration of Communion?  Many churches call it the “Eucharist” from the Greek word for Thanksgiving; do you come with Thankful hearts to the Communion table?
  2. Because Jesus died once for all (see Hebrews 9:25-28 & 10:10-14) we do not have an altar in the front of the sanctuary.  But members of God’s household are invited to commune with our Lord around the table and by faith we are nourished and grow.  Do you come hungry and thirsty to the Lord’s Supper?  Have you observed your heart and soul nourished as you partake of the sacramental signs and seals of His body and blood?
  3. If not—if the Lord’s Supper is practically useless in your Christian life—won’t you take some additional time to think carefully through WSC 97?

Q98-99 (November 28, 2021)

Q. 98.  What is prayer?

A.     Prayer is an offering up of our desires to God,1 for things agreeable to His will,2 in the name of Christ,3 with confession of our sins,4 and thankful acknowledgment of His mercies.5  

1 Ps. 62:8  “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”

2 1 Jn. 5:14  “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”

3 Jn. 16:23

4 Ps. 32:5-6 & Dan. 9:4

5 Phil. 4:6  “. . . do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God.”

Q.99. How does God direct us to pray?

A.     The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in prayer;1 but the special rule of direction is the form of prayer that Christ taught His disciples, commonly called “the Lord’s Prayer.”2

1  1 Jn. 5:14 

2 Mt. 6:9-13  “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. G. I. Williamson, in his study on the WSC, says that “nothing shows the difference between true and false religion as does prayer” (p. 310).  Why do you think he says that?  Do you agree?  Where do you see the difference?  He goes on to explain: “For in true religion alone is prayer ‘an offering up of our desires unto God . . . in the name of Christ.’”  Do you know other religions which offer prayers to someone/something other than God in the name of Christ?
  2. Which part of true prayer do you struggle with in your daily prayers?  Even though we know that God knows all things, and sees even the intentions of our hearts, do you find it difficult to confess your sins?  Why is that such an important part of prayer?  How often do we go through our day forgetting to recognize and give thanks to God for His mercies (even in mundane things)?  Unless our hearts and minds are filled with God’s Word, we will find it very hard to pray for things “agreeable to His will”—do we even consider this in asking for things?
  3. What a blessing that the disciples saw Jesus praying one day and said to Him: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk. 11:1)!  We regularly say The Lord’s Prayer, but are our daily prayers patterned after it?  Do we understand it as a rule to direct and teach us how we are to pray all the time?

Q100-101 (December 5, 2021)

Q.100. What does the beginning of the Lord’s prayer teach us?

A.     The preface of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, “Our Father in heaven,”1 teaches us to draw near to God with all holy reverence and confidence, as children to a father, able and ready to help us;2 and that we should pray with and for others.3  

1 Mt. 6:9  “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”

2 Lk. 11:13  “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Rom. 8:15  “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”

3 Acts 12:5  “So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.”

1 Tim. 2:1-2  “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

Q. 101.  What do we pray for in the first petition?

A.     In the first petition, which is, “Hallowed be your name,”1 we pray that God would enable us, and others, to glorify Him in all the means by which he makes Himself known,2 and that he would arrange all things to His own glory.3

1  Mt. 6:9  “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.’” 

2 Ps. 67:2-3  “. . . that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!”

3 Ps. 83

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. We pray the Lord’s Prayer as a church family almost every week; do you every use it in your own or family devotions?  How do we keep the words from becoming meaningless phrases and empty forms?  Here is where the Shorter Catechism is so helpful in making us slow down and understand what we are praying!
  2. Q. 100 reminds us that how we approach the Lord in prayer matters and we are reminded how God has revealed Himself to all who are His—as our heavenly Father who is ready and willing and able to help us!  We are also reminded (with the little plural pronoun “Our”) that we are united to brothers and sisters in Christ and should pray with and for them.  How shall we put these things into practice?  Are there ways you can grow in your prayer life based on these things?
  3. The first petition is perhaps for us the one we most likely don’t even see as a petition; we may skim over it as some kind of religious mumbo-jumbo if we’re not careful.  We more easily resonate with bread and being delivered from temptations than this.  But being placed first in the Lord’s Prayer gives it both prominence and importance; we really do need to take this petition seriously in our lives as well as in our prayers.  How does the WSC help us here?  Do your daily prayers reflect this emphasis?  If not, why not?  If so, how so?

Q102-103 (December 12, 2021)

Q.102. For what do we pray in the second request?

A.  In the second petition, which is, “Your kingdom come,”1 we pray that Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed,2 and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced,3 ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it,4 and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.5  

1 Mt. 6:10  “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

2 Ps. 68:1, 18  “God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered; and those who hate him shall flee before him!  …  You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious, that the Lord God may dwell there.”

3 Rev. 12:10-11  “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.  And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.’”

4 Jn. 17:9, 20  “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.  …  I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.”

Rom. 10:1  “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.”

5 Rev. 22:20  “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’  Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”

Q.103. For what do we pray in the third request?

A.  In the third petition, which is, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,”1 we pray that God, by His grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey and submit to His will in all things,2 as the angels do in heaven.3

1  Mt. 6:10  “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” 

2 2 Sam. 15:25 

Job 1:21

Ps. 67

Ps. 119:36

Mt. 26:39

3 Ps. 103:20-21  “Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers who do his will!”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. The Lord’s prayer teaches us how to address God when we come to him in prayer, directs us to six comprehensive petitions, and gives us a significant conclusion; but what is a petition anyway?  Have you ever stopped to consider why Jesus taught His disciples to request these things?  And if God already knows what we need, why do we need to ask?*
  2. When we pray the second petition, we are acknowledging the reality of the spiritual realm and implicitly praying against Satan’s deceptive rule as well as explicitly asking that the kingdom of God would advance (the kingdom of grace through the proclaiming of the Gospel and the making of disciples) and we also eagerly anticipate the consummation/final arrival of His kingdom (the kingdom of glory coming when Jesus Christ returns!).  What is your role in all this?  Are you actively seeking to be used by God in fulfilling this request?
  3. We often run the 2nd and 3rd petitions together when we pray, but the Shorter Catechism helps us think carefully about each one.  The question for us is this:  are we serious when we pray this?  If we are, then how specifically would God’s working in our lives look?  How would our daily decisions and activities change if our obedience to God’s revealed will was as prompt and steadfast as the angel’s in heaven?

*See Douglas Kelly’s book If God Already Knows Why Pray?

Q104-105 (December 19, 2021)

Q.104. For what do we pray in the fourth request?
A. In the fourth petition, which is, “Give us this day our daily bread,”1 we pray that, of God’s free gift, we may receive a sufficient portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy His blessing with them.2  

1 Mt. 6:11  “Give us this day our daily bread.”

2 Prov. 30:8-9  “Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.”

1 Tim. 4:4-5  “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.”

Q. 105.  For what do we pray for in the fifth petition?
A.  In the fifth petition, which is, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors,”1 we pray that God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins;2 which we are more encouraged to ask because by His grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.3

1  Mt. 6:10  “. . . and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” 

2 Ps. 51:1-2, 7, 9  “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!  …  Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  …  Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.”

Dan. 9:17-19 

3 Mt. 18:21-35 

Eph. 4:32  “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Questions to bring what we believe home where we live:

  1. As we come to the end of the catechism, we also come to the end of the year and the two holidays in our culture which are often known for their excess—Christmas and New Year’s Eve.  There is the temptation to over-indulge in a culture which has little restraint and is focused on material abundance and doing whatever feels good at the moment.  Have you seriously considered the impact of this fourth petition on our daily lives as really quite counter-cultural?
  2. Even as there are seasons of feasting by God’s grace, how do you continue to acknowledge and share your dependence and hope of God’s blessing for true and lasting enjoyment of the things God has given you to sustain your daily life?
  3. We say the Lord’s Prayer together every week, but we must put it into practice every day!  We need God’s forgiveness and we need to forgive others daily; how does this look in your public and private life and prayers? 
  4. Do you resist forgiving others when they have sinned against you? Jesus’ words of Matthew 6:14-15 are plain: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  Heed the warning!  (see also The Westminster Larger Catechism #194 for further help and hope as we pray)

Q106-107 (December 26, 2021)

Q.106. For what do we pray in the sixth request?

A. In the sixth request (And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one) we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin or support and deliver us when we are tempted.

Q.107. What does the conclusion of the Lord’s prayer teach us?

A. The conclusion of the Lord’s prayer (for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever) teaches us to be encouraged only by God in our prayers and to praise Him by acknowledging that kingdom, power, and glory are His. To show that we want to be heard and have confidence that we are, we say “Amen”.

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