Posts Tagged ‘Scripture’


No doctrine is more despised by the natural mind than the truth that God is absolutely sovereign. Human pride loathes the suggestion that God orders everything, controls everything, rules over everything. The carnal mind, burning with enmity against God, abhors the biblical teaching that nothing comes to pass except according to His eternal decrees. Most of all, the flesh hates the notion that salvation is entirely God’s work. If God chose who would be saved, and if His choice was settled before the foundation of the world, then believers deserve no credit for their salvation.

But that is, after all, precisely what Scripture teaches. Even faith is God’s gracious gift to His elect. Jesus said, “No one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father” (John 6:65). “Nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matt. 11:27). Therefore no one who is saved has anything to boast about (cf Eph. 2:8, 9). “Salvation is from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).

The doctrine of divine election is explicitly taught throughout Scripture. For example, in the New Testament epistles alone, we learn that all believers are “chosen of God” (Titus 1:1). We were “predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11, emphasis added). “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world . . . He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (vv. 4, 5). We “are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son . . . and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Rom. 8:28–30).

When Peter wrote that we are “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1 Peter 1:1, 2), he was not using the word “foreknowledge” to mean that God was aware beforehand who would believe and therefore chose them because of their foreseen faith. Rather, Peter meant that God determined before time began to know and love and save them; and He chose them without regard to anything good or bad they might do. We’ll return to this point again, but for now, note that those verses explicitly state that God’s sovereign choice is made “according to the kind intention of His will” and “according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will”—that is, not for any reason external to Himself. Certainly He did not choose certain sinners to be saved because of something praiseworthy in them, or because He foresaw that they would choose Him. He chose them solely because it pleased Him to do so. God declares “the end from the beginning . . . saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’” (Isa. 46:10). He is not subject to others’ decisions. His purposes for choosing some and rejecting others are hidden in the secret counsels of His own will.

Moreover, everything that exists in the universe exists because God allowed it, decreed it, and called it into existence. “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Ps. 115:3). “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps” (Ps. 135:6). He “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11). “From Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Rom. 11:36). “For us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” (1 Cor. 8:6).

What about sin? God is not the author of sin, but He certainly allowed it; it is integral to His eternal decree. God has a purpose for allowing it. He cannot be blamed for evil or tainted by its existence (1 Sam. 2:2: “There is no one holy like the Lord”). But He certainly wasn’t caught off-guard or standing helpless to stop it when sin entered the universe. We do not know His purposes for allowing sin. If nothing else, He permitted it in order to destroy evil forever. And God sometimes uses evil to accomplish good (Gen. 45:7, 8; 50:20; Rom. 8:28). How can these things be? Scripture does not answer all the questions for us. But we know from His Word that God is utterly sovereign, He is perfectly holy, and He is absolutely just.

Admittedly, those truths are hard for the human mind to embrace, but Scripture is unequivocal. God controls all things, right down to choosing who will be saved. Paul states the doctrine in inescapable terms in the ninth chapter of Romans, by showing that God chose Jacob and rejected his twin brother Esau “though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls” (v. 11). A few verses later, Paul adds this: “He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy” (vv. 15, 16).

Paul anticipated the argument against divine sovereignty: “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’” (v. 19). In other words, doesn’t God’s sovereignty cancel out human responsibility? But rather than offering a philosophical answer or a deep metaphysical argument, Paul simply reprimanded the skeptic: “On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use?” (vv. 20, 21).

Scripture affirms both divine sovereignty and human responsibility. We must accept both sides of the truth, though we may not understand how they correspond to one another. People are responsible for what they do with the gospel—or with whatever light they have (Rom. 2:19, 20), so that punishment is just if they reject the light. And those who reject do so voluntarily. Jesus lamented, “You are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life” (John 5:40). He told unbelievers, “Unless you believe that I am [God], you shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). In John chapter 6, our Lord combined both divine sovereignty and human responsibility when He said, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (v. 37); “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life” (v. 40); “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (v. 44); “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life” (v. 47); and, “No one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father” (v. 65). How both of those two realities can be true simultaneously cannot be understood by the human mind—only by God.

Above all, we must not conclude that God is unjust because He chooses to bestow grace on some but not to everyone. God is never to be measured by what seems fair to human judgment. Are we so foolish as to assume that we who are fallen, sinful creatures have a higher standard of what is right than an unfallen and infinitely, eternally holy God? What kind of pride is that? In Psalm 50:21 God says, “You thought that I was just like you.” But God is not like us, nor can He be held to human standards. “‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isa. 55:8, 9).

We step out of bounds when we conclude that anything God does isn’t fair. In Romans 11:33 the apostle writes, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?” (Rom. 11:33, 34).


Prays Mill Baptist Church

Every year during the fall, the air becomes crisp, the days shorter, and the end of October is marked by a celebration known to us as Halloween. However, on October 31st – something greater than Halloween should be recognized – especially by the protestant church. In the year 1517, on October 31st, a man named Martin Luther nailed a document to the Castle door in Whittenberg. That single document, known to us as The 95 Theses, literally sparked the great Reformation and led to the intense hatred of Martin Luther by the Pope and all of Rome.

The Catholic Church was guilty of perverting the message of grace by offering the forgiveness of sins through the sale of indulgences. Martin Luther had seen enough. After being saved by the grace of God, he was moved by the Holy Spirit to take a stand against the teachings of Rome. That passion was based upon his love for Holy Scripture.

Luther’s love prompted the sacrifice of himself

In order for us to understand the magnitude of Luther’s stand in 1517, we must understand the religious climate and rule under which Luther lived. He was involved in the Catholic religious system. All persons within the Catholic Church were forced to submit to the Pope and his rule or face excommunication – or even death! Luther’s love for the Word of God (which he called the external Word) prompted him to reject the indulgences and false sense of forgiveness provided by the Catholic Church. When Luther said, “Here I stand…” it was a pure stand of opposition – not one of selfish ambition. Luther never intended to receive fame, spark a reformation, or get his name “tagged” on thousands of blog sites in the years to come! Luther was motivated by a love for the Word which drove him to stand up in the face of a powerful giant – even if it cost him everything. Even if it cost him his life.

Luther’s love prompted the sacrifice of his time and energy

Luther’s deep love produced rigorous labor in the Word. Martin Luther was not a lazy man. No man can lead a reformation while approaching ministry casually. Luther’s love for the Word of God produced labor that shaped the German language and enriched it with his translation of God’s Word. Luther did not have the ability to utilize Logos or any other computer program in his translation work. Intense and unwavering labor was the product of Luther’s love for God’s Word.

“Sunday 5:00 a.m. worship with a sermon on the Epistle, 10:00 a.m. with a sermon on the Gospel, an afternoon message on the Old Testament or catechism. Monday and Tuesday sermons were on the Catechism; Wednesdays on Matthew; Thursdays and Fridays on the Apostolic letters; and Saturday on John.”1 Although times have changed since the 1500′s, it should be noted that Luther was passionate about preaching the Word. It drove and powered his desires. Luther called the Word of God – “The external Word” – and that External Word dominated Luther’s passions.

“In 1522 he preached 117 sermons in Wittenberg and 137 sermons the next year. In 1528 he preached almost 200 times, and from 1529 we have 121 sermons. So the average in those four years was one sermon every two-and-a-half days.”2 It should also be noted that Luther’s preaching was not the same message warmed up each week. His preaching was the byproduct of his intense study which took place each day. Martin Luther translated, wrote, and preached without modern “helps” that are available through computers, the internet, and the thousands of commentaries that we have available to us at the click of a button. When it comes down to it, Martin Luther was a “work horse” who lived to preach the Word – and as a result – we are still talking about him today. Luther’s life has left a mark on the world and it has also provided writings that are still worth reading. John MacArthur once said in a sermon – “You cannot just role out of bed and lead a reformation.”3 I believe he is correct. Luther did not just wake up and seek to lead a reformation. The Reformation was the byproduct of relentless study and passionate preaching straight from the Word of God.

Luther’s love prompted the proclamation of God’s Word

Luther called the Word of God the “external Word” because it was outside of man and his ability to mold it into something of his own thinking. God’s Word was not the product of man – it was the divine revelation of God. Therefore, Luther would often refer to it as the external Word in order to make that point. Luther was not a secluded theologian who only came out of his office for personal pleasure. Luther spent years faithfully preaching and teaching the Word to people. It was not enough to study, translate, and write for Luther! He had a burning desire to preach the Word of God. “Luther was one of the greatest preachers in the history of Christendom … Between 1510 and 1546 Luther preached approximately 3,000 sermons. Frequently he preached several times a week, often two or more times a day.”4 Luther put emphasis on the Book! He loved it and he preached it! “Luther had one weapon with which to rescue the incarnate Word form being sold in the markets of Wittenberg. He drove out the money changers—the indulgence sellers—with the whip of the “external Word,” the Book.”5

Luther’s love prompted the Reformation

The goal of Martin Luther was not the Reformation. However, God used a man who had an intense and unwavering love for Him to spark it. How did Luther come to know God and His love? It was through the Word of God – the divine revelation – the external Word – that God revealed Himself to Luther. It changed Luther from a religious Catholic scholar to a man who loved God and became saturated with His Word. This spark turned into a flame that roared through Wittenberg and through the world liberating our worship from the rule of the Catholic system and spreading the Word to the common person. It was not a superficial love or a selfish love. It was a genuine love for God that was rooted in a Book – the Word of God! October 31st 1517 should always be remembered. It changed the Luther and it changed the world – for the glory of God.

We should be forever grateful that God raised up a man who would risk everything to stand up against the perverted teachings of Rome. Today, we experience ultimate religious freedom. It wasn’t the case in 1517! Although Pope Leo X called Luther “a wild boar (pig)” – he should be remembered as a faithful soldier of the cross who sparked something greater than Halloween known to us as the Reformation!

Luther wrote, It is vain to rely on salvation by letters of indulgence, even if the commissary, or indeed the pope himself, were to pledge his own soul for their validity (#52 of 95).6

Pastor Josh Buice

*You can see why we miss Pastor Josh…

Our church is looking for a Pastor. I hope and pray God sends us a man that fits these qualifications.

The first and principal duty of a pastor is to feed the flock by diligent preaching of the word. It is a promise relating to the new testament, that God would give unto his church “pastors according to his own heart, which should feed them with knowledge and understanding” (Jer. 3:15). This is by teaching or preaching the word, and no otherwise. This feeding is of the essence of the office of a pastor, as unto the exercise of it; so that he who doth not, or can not, or will not feed the flock is no pastor, whatever outward call or work he may have in the church. The care of preaching the gospel was committed to Peter, and in him unto all true pastors of the church, under the name of “feeding” (John 21:15-17). According to the example of the apostles, they are to free themselves from all encumbrances, that they may give themselves wholly unto the word and prayer (Acts 6:1-4). Their work is “to labour in the word and doctrine (I Tim. 5:17); and thereby to “feed the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers” (Acts 20:28): and it is that which is everywhere given them in charge.

This work and duty, therefore, as was said, is essential unto the office of a pastor. A man is a pastor unto them whom he feeds by pastoral teaching, and to no more; and he that doth not so feed is no pastor. Nor is it required only that he preach now and then at his leisure, but that he lay aside all other employments, though lawful, all other duties in the church, as unto such a constant attendance on them as would divert him from this work, that he give himself unto it—that he be in these things labouring to the utmost of his ability. Without this no man will be able to give a comfortable account of the pastoral office at the last day.

It is incumbent on [pastors] to preserve the truth or doctrine of the gospel received and professed in the church, and to defend it against all opposition. This is one principal end of the ministry, one principal means of the preservation of the faith once delivered unto the saints. This is committed in an especial manner unto the pastors of the churches, as the apostle frequently and emphatically repeats the charge of it unto Timothy, and in him unto all to whom the dispensation of the word is committed (I Tim. 1:3-4, 4:6-7, 16, 6:20; II Tim. 1:14, 2:25, 3:14-17). The same he giveth in charge unto the elders of the church of Ephesus (Acts 20:28-31). What he says of himself that the “glorious gospel of the blessed God was committed unto his trust” (I Tim. 1:11) is true of all pastors of churches, according to their measure and call; and they should all aim at the account which he gives of his ministry herein: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Tim. 4:7). The church is the “pillar and ground of the truth;” and it is so principally in its ministry. And the sinful neglect of this duty is that which was the cause of most of the pernicious heresies and errors that have infested and ruined the church. Those whose duty it was to preserve the doctrine of the gospel entire in the public profession of it have, many of them, “spoken perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Bishops, presbyters, public teachers, have been the ringleaders in heresies. Wherefore this duty, especially at this time, when the fundamental truths of the gospel are on all sides impugned, from all sorts of adversaries, is in an especial manner to be attended unto.

Sundry things are required hereunto; as—(1) A clear, sound, comprehensive knowledge of the entire doctrine of the gospel, attained by all means useful and commonly prescribed unto that end, especially by diligent study of the Scripture, with fervent prayer for illumination and understanding. Men cannot preserve that for others which they are ignorant of themselves. Truth may be lost by weakness as well as by wickedness. And the defect herein, in many, is deplorable. (2) Love of the truth which they have so learned and comprehended. Unless we look on truth as a pearl, as that which is valued at any rate, bought with any price, as that which is better than all the world, we shall not endeavour its preservation with that diligence which is required. Some are ready to part with truth at an easy rate, or to grow indifferent about it; whereof we have multitudes of examples in the days wherein we live. It were easy to give instances of sundry important evangelical truths, which our forefathers in the faith contended for with all earnestness, and were ready to seal with their blood, which are now utterly disregarded and opposed, by some who pretend to succeed them in their profession. If ministers have not a sense of that power of truth in their own souls, and a taste of its goodness, the discharge of this duty is not to be expected from them. (3) A conscientious care and fear of giving countenance or encouragement unto novel opinions, especially such as oppose any truth of whose power and efficacy experience hath been had among them that believe. Vain curiosity, boldness in conjectures, and readiness to vent their own conceits have caused no small trouble and damage unto the church. (4) Learning and ability of mind to discern and disprove the oppositions of the adversaries of the truth, and thereby to stop their mouths and convince gainsayers. (5) The solid confirmation of the most important truths of the gospel, and whereinto all others are resolved, in their teaching and ministry. Men may and do ofttimes prejudice, yea, betray the truth, by the weakness of their pleas for it. (6) A diligent watch over their own flocks against the craft of seducers from without, or the springing up of any hitter root of error among themselves. (7) A concurrent assistance with the elders and messengers of other churches with whom they are in communion, in the declaration of the faith which they all profess …

It is evident what learning, labour, study, pains, ability, and exercise of the rational faculties, are ordinarily required unto the right discharge of these duties; and where men may he useful to the church in other things, but are defective in these, it becomes them to walk and act both circumspectly and humbly, frequently desiring and adhering unto the advices of them whom God hath intrusted with more talents and greater abilities.

(John Owen, Works, vol. 16, pp. 74-75, 81-83).

I am posting this because some people assume they know what I’m about and what I believe and 9 times out of 10 they are wrong. Many people that I associate with have been taught a wrong view of what “Calvinism” really is and apply that opinion to me. I hope that through this post and maybe a couple of more people will see that I’m not an enemy and I’m not out to convert anyone to any theological system, but at the same time I will defend what has been revealed to me as truth. To give an example of why I feel this is necessary I was recently informed that a friend of my daughter is not allowed to come to our house because her mom is afraid I will “brainwash” her. And yet this parent (that I see on a weekly basis) has never said more than “hi” to me. Mr. DeYoung says in this particular article exactly what I hope I would say if ask the question “Why are you a “Calvinist?”

“Here are the two most important things you need to know about the rise of the New Calvinism: it’s not new and it’s not about Calvin. Of course, some of the conferences are new. The John Piper–packed iPods are new. The neo-reformed blog blitz is new. The ideas, however, are not. “Please God, don’t let the young, restless, and reformed movement be another historically ignorant, self-absorbed, cooler-than-thou fad.”

And while I’m praying: “Please God, don’t let the New Calvinism ever, ever be about the New Calvinism.” Don’t get me wrong. I’m not afraid to be called a Calvinist. I’ve read the Institutes multiple times, most of Calvin’s commentaries, and was voted “Calvin Clone” by my peers at seminary. I thank God for Calvin. But if the New Calvinism is to continue as a work of God, which I think it has been, it must continue to be about God. Young Christians have been drawn to Calvinism not because they were looking for Calvin or an “ism,” but because they were drawn to a vision of a massive, glorious, fall-down-before-Him-as-though-dead kind of God who loves us because He wants to.

The influence of Calvinism is growing because its God is transcendent and its theology is true. In a day when “be better” moralism passes for preaching, self-help banality passes for counseling, and “Jesus is my boyfriend” music passes for worship in some churches, more and more people are finding comfort in a God who is anything but comfortable. The paradox of Calvinism is that we feel better by feeling worse about ourselves, we do more for God by seeing how He’s done everything for us, and we give love away more freely when we discover that we have been saved by free grace.

I’d like to think that we are Calvinists because of what we see in the Bible. We see a God who is holy, independent, and unlike us. We glory in God’s goodness, that He should save miserable offenders, bent toward evil in all our faculties, objects of His just wrath. We rejoice in God’s electing love, which He purposed for us before the ages began. We are grateful for God’s power by which He caused us, without our cooperation, to be born again and enabled us to believe His promises. We take comfort in God’s all-encompassing providence, whereby nothing happens according to chance, but all things—prosperity or poverty, health or sickness, giving or taking away—are sent to us by our loving heavenly Father.

As Calvinists and Christians, we praise God for His mercy, shown to us chiefly on the cross where His Son died, not just to make a way for us to come to Him, but effectually for us such that our sins, our guilt, and our punishment all died in the death of Christ. We find assurance in God’s preserving grace, believing with all our might that nothing—not even ourselves—can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. We delight in the glory of God and in God’s delight for His own glory, which brings us, on our best days, unspeakable joy, and on all other days, still gives purpose and order to an otherwise confusing and seemingly random world.

What draws people to Reformed theology is the belief that God is the center of the universe and we are not, that we are worse sinners than we imagine and God is a greater Savior than we ever thought possible, that the Lord is our righteousness and the Lord alone is our boast.

The attraction of the New Calvinism is not Calvin, but the God Calvin saw—not some new fad, but something old with new life blowing through it from the Spirit of God.”

Here are few links to articles that captured my attention this week that I think are worth your time to check out as well……….

The Forgotten Sin-What Worldliness Looks Like–Phil Johnson

Depravity Biblically Defined–Josh Buice

Arminianism–J.I.Packer

John Piper’s Exposition From The Third Lausanne Congress

 

Genesis 5:3

When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.

Matthew Henry

II. The birth of his son Seth,

 

He was born in the hundred and thirtieth year of Adam’s life; and probably the murder of Abel was not long before. Many other sons and daughters were born to Adam, besides Cain and Abel, before this; but no notice is taken of them, because an honourable mention must be made of his name only in whose loins Christ and the church were. But that which is most observable here concerning Seth is that Adam begat him in his own likeness, after his image. Adam was made in the image of God; but, when he was fallen and corrupt, he begat a son in his own image, sinful and defiled, frail, mortal, and miserable, like himself; not only a man like himself, consisting of body and soul, but a sinner like himself, guilty and obnoxious, degenerate and corrupt. Even the man after God’s own heart owns himself conceived and born in sin, This was Adam’s own likeness, the reverse of that divine likeness in which Adam was made; but, having lost it himself, he could not convey it to his seed. Note, Grace does not run in the blood, but corruption does. A sinner begets a sinner, but a saint does not beget a saint.

John Calvin “We have lately said that Moses traces the offspring of Adam only through the line of Seth, to propose
for our consideration the succession of the Church. In saying that Seth begat a son after his own image, he refers in part to the first origin of
our nature: at the same time its corruption and pollution is to be noticed, which having been contracted by Adam through the fall, has
flowed down to all his posterity. If he had remained upright, he would have transmitted to all his children what he had received: but now we
read that Seth, as well as the rest, was defiled; because Adams who had fallen from his original state, could beget none but such as were like
himself. If any one should object that Seth with his family had been elected by the special grace of God: the answer is easy and obvious;
namely, that a supernatural remedy does not prevent carnal generation from participating in the corruption of sin. Therefore, according to the
flesh, Seth was born a sinner; but afterwards he was renewed by the grace of the Spirit. This sad instance of the holy patriarch furnishes us with
ample occasion to deplore our own wretchedness.


 

 

It seems like alot of people, including “minister’s of the Gospel”, have forgotten the importance of sound doctrine. I’m all for being “missional” but unless you know what you’re being “missional” for……you’re wasting you time. Look at what  A.W.Tozer has to say about this subject and see if you can’t see how we (as the church) are falling short in this area…………..

IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE to overemphasize the importance of sound doctrine in the life of a Christian. Right thinking about all spiritual matters is imperative if we would have right living. As men do not gather grapes of thorns nor figs of thistles, sound character does not grow out of unsound teaching.

The word doctrine means simply religious beliefs held and taught. It is the sacred task of all Christians, first as believers and then as teachers of religious beliefs, to be certain that these beliefs correspond exactly to truth. A precise agreement between belief and fact constitutes soundness in doctrine. We cannot afford to have less.

The apostles not only taught truth but contended for its purity against any who would corrupt it. The Pauline epistles resist every effort of false teachers to introduce doctrinal vagaries. John’s epistles are sharp with condemnation of those teachers who harassed the young church by denying the incarnation and throwing doubts upon the doctrine of the Trinity; and Jude in his brief but powerful epistle rises to heights of burning eloquence as he pours scorn upon evil teachers who would mislead the saints.

Each generation of Christians must look to its beliefs. While truth itself is unchanging, the minds of men are porous vessels out of which truth can leak and into which error may seep to dilute the truth they contain. The human heart is heretical by nature and runs to error as naturally as a garden to weeds. All a man, a church or a denomination needs to guarantee deterioration of doctrine is to take everything for granted and do nothing. The unattended garden will soon be overrun with weeds; the heart that fails to cultivate truth and root out error will shortly be a theological wilderness; the church or denomination that grows careless on the highway of truth will before long find itself astray, bogged down in some mud flat from which there is no escape.

In every field of human thought and activity accuracy is considered a virtue. To err ever so slightly is to invite serious loss, if not death itself. Only in religious thought is faithfulness to truth looked upon as a fault. When men deal with things earthly and temporal they demand truth; when they come to the consideration of things heavenly and eternal they hedge and hesitate as if truth either could not be discovered or didn’t matter anyway.

Montaigne said that a liar is one who is brave toward God and a coward toward men; for a liar faces God and shrinks from men. Is this not simply a proof of unbelief? Is it not to say that the liar believes in men but is not convinced of the existence of God, and is willing to risk the displeasure of a God who may not exist rather than that of man who obviously does?

I think also that deep, basic unbelief is back of human carelessness in religion. The scientist, the physician, the navigator deals with matters he knows are real; and because these things are real the world demands that both teacher and practitioner be skilled in the knowledge of them. The teacher of spiritual things only is required to be unsure in his beliefs, ambiguous in his remarks and tolerant of every religious opinion expressed by anyone, even by the man least qualified to hold an opinion.

Haziness of doctrine has always been the mark of the liberal. When the Holy Scriptures are rejected as the final authority on religious belief something must be found to take their place. Historically that something has been either reason or sentiment: if sentiment, it has been humanism. Sometimes there has been an admixture of the two, as may be seen in liberal churches today. These will not quite give up the Bible, neither will they quite believe it; the result is an unclear body of beliefs more like a fog than a mountain, where anything may be true but nothing may be trusted as being certainly true.

We have gotten accustomed to the blurred puffs of gray fog that pass for doctrine in modernistic churches and expect nothing better, but it is a cause for real alarm that the fog has begun of late to creep into many evangelical churches. From some previously unimpeachable sources are now coming vague statements consisting of a milky admixture of Scripture, science and human sentiment that is true to none of its ingredients because each one works to cancel the others out.

Certain of our evangelical brethren appear to be laboring under the impression that they are advanced thinkers because they are rethinking evolution and reevaluating various Bible doctrines or even divine inspiration itself; but so far are they from being advanced thinkers that they are merely timid followers of modernism-fifty years behind the parade.

Little by little evangelical Christians these days are being brainwashed. One evidence is that increasing numbers of them are becoming ashamed to be found unequivocally on the side of truth. They say they believe but their beliefs have been so diluted as to be impossible of clear definition.

Moral power has always accompanied definitive beliefs. Great saints have always been dogmatic. We need right now a return to a gentle dogmatism that smiles while it stands stubborn and firm on the Word of God that liveth and abideth forever.

I found this on Desiring God and I think this will be used for our family worship time for next few weeks.

(Adapted by John Piper)

A Catechism?

I.                    What is a catechism?

In 1 Corinthians 14:19 Paul says, “In the church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” In Galatians 6:6 he says, “Let him who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches.” Acts 18:25 says that Apollos “has been instructed in the way of the Lord.”

In each of these verses the Greek word for “instruct” or “teach” is katecheo. From this word we get our English word “catechize”. It simply means to teach Biblical truth in an orderly way. Generally this is done with questions and answers accompanied by Biblical support and explanation.

II.                  What is the history of this catechism?

This is a slightly revised version of “The Baptist Catechism” first put forth by Baptists in 1689 in Great Britain. It was adopted by the Philadelphia Baptist Association in 1742. It is patterned on the well-known reformed Westminster Catechism. The few comments in the earlier questions are meant to help parents make things plain to their children.

III.                Is there a Biblical pattern of doctrine?

Several texts teach that there is. For example, in Romans 6:17 Paul gives thanks that “you have become obedient from the heart to the pattern of teaching to which you were committed.” 2 Timothy 1:13 says, “Follow the pattern of sound words which you heard from me.” Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15 says, “Stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us.” And Acts 20:27 says, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.”

So it appears that there was a body of authoritative instruction and even a way of teaching it in the early church.

IV.                Why is it important? 

1)       We are required to “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast” (Col. 1:23).

2)       We are urged to “attain to the unity of the… knowledge of the Son of God…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:13-14).

3)       There are many deceivers (1 John 2:26).

4)       There are difficult doctrines “which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).

5)       Leaders must be raised up who can “give instruction in sound doctrine and also confute those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9).

V.                  How shall we begin?

Make them part of your family routine or just use them for yourself. I am excited about being a partner with you in building a “stable and firm” generation who hopes in God.

Learning and teaching with you,
Pastor John

 

The Catechism

Sometimes there are other ways to express a true answer to these questions. Feel free to use Scripture to formulate other true answers where possible and helpful. The aim of a catechism is not to be exhaustive but to give a solid tease from which to “keep growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:17).

Question 1: Who is the first and best of beings?

Answer: God is the first and best of beings.

Scripture: Isaiah 44:6; Psalm 8:1; 96:4; 97:9, 1 Samuel 2:2

Question 2: What is the chief end of man?

Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:31; Psalm 16:11; 37:4; 73:25-26; Isaiah43:7.

Comment: “Glorify” does not mean make glorious. It means [to] reflect or display as glorious. Other words you could use for “end” are “goal” or “purpose”.

Question 3: How do we know there is a God?

Answer: The light of nature in man, and the works of God, plainly declares that there is a God; but his word and Spirit only, do effectually reveal him unto us for our salvation.

Scripture: Romans 1:18-20; Psalm 19:1-2; 2 Timothy 3:15; 1 Corinthians 1:21-24; 2:9, 10; Matthew 11:27.

Comment: The question distinguishes two kinds of knowledge: one is natural and comes from conscience (“the light of nature in man”) and from the works of God in nature; the other is spiritual or saving, and comes from the recognition of the true value of God and the beauty of his character. Natural knowledge is possessed by all people and thus makes all people accountable to honor and thank God. Spiritual knowledge is possessed only by those whose natural blindness has been overcome by the Spirit of God. (1 Cor. 2:14-16). Our children must come to see the difference between these lest they think they are saved by much natural knowledge about God—which the devils also have James 2:19).

Question 4: What is the Word of God?

Answer: The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, being given by divine inspiration, are the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17; Isaiah 8:20; Matthew 5:17- 18; 1 Corinthians 2:13; Psalm 19:7-8.

Comment: “Scriptures” is a special word for the “writings” of the OT and NT. Perhaps you will want to explain that the OT deals with God’s word that came before Jesus was born; and the NT is the word of God that came after Jesus was born. “Infallible” means it will never lead us astray in what it teaches. It is true and does not err. It can be trusted. “Faith” refers to right thinking and feeling; and “practice” refers to right doing. We measure our thoughts and emotions and actions by the rule of the Bible. “Inspiration” means that it is God-breathed: by his Spirit he guided his spokesmen to speak his word in their language.

Question 5: How do we know that the Bible is the Word of God?

Answer: The Bible evidences itself to be God’s Word by the heavenliness of its doctrine, the unity of its parts, and its power to convert sinners and to edify saints. But only the Spirit of God can make us willing to agree and submit to the Bible as the Word of God.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 2:6-7,13-16; Psalm 19:7-9; 119:18,129; Acts 10:43; 26:22; 18:28; Hebrews 4:12; Romans 15:4; John 16:13,14; 1 John 2:20-27; 2 Corinthians 3:14-17; 4:4, 6.

Comment: “Heavenliness” refers to the fact [that] the teachings of Scripture are of such a nature that they cannot be explained by mere human resources. They bear the marks of the supernatural. “No man ever spoke like this man” (John 7:46). The “unity of its parts” has to do especially with the way all Scripture points to Christ. “To him all the prophets bear witness” (Acts 10:43). There are detailed and scholarly historical arguments for the reliability of the Bible, but these are generally beyond the acquaintance of ordinary Christians, and so do not serve as widespread support for Scripture. They are needed, however, in the scholarly arena. [See "Is the Bible a Reliable Guide to Lasting Joy" in Desiring God by John Piper (Multnomah Press, 1986).]

Question 6: May all men make use of the Scriptures?

Answer: All men are not only permitted, but commanded and exhorted, to read, hear, and understand the Scriptures.

Scripture: John 5:39; Luke 16:29; Acts 8:28-30; 17:11.

Question 7: What do the Scriptures mainly teach?

Answer: The Scriptures mainly teach what man is to believe about God and what duty God requires of man.

Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:16, 17; John 20:31; Acts 24:14; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Ecclesiastes 12:13.

Question 8: What is God?

Answer: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

Scripture: John 4:24; Psalm 89:14; 90:2; 147:5; James 1:17; Revelation 4:8; Exodus 34:6, 7; 1 Timothy 1:17; Numbers 23:19.

Comment: Ask what “infinite” means (there is no limit to how great he is!). What does “eternal” mean? (He never had a beginning and will never have an ending!) Talk about how God can respond to us and yet not be “changeable.” (His character never changes; he acts consistently on the same principles always. Even his responses to us are known and planned long before so that his purposes are unchanging.)

Question 9: Are there more Gods than one?

Answer: There is only one living and true God.

Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:4; Jeremiah 10:10; Psalm 96:4-5.

Comment: There are “gods” which are idols, but they are not “living”. And there are “gods” which are angels or demons, but they are not “true” God, that is they are not eternal, infinite and unchanging. Only one God is living and true.

Question 10: How many persons are there in the Godhead?

Answer: There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one God, the same in essence, equal in power and glory.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 2:11; 8:6; John 1:1; 10:30; 14:9; 20:28; Acts 5:3,4; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:3.

Comment: The word “Godhead” is needed because we shouldn’t say that there are three persons in God. No, there are three persons who are God. Nor should we say that there are three Gods. There is one God. They are distinct persons with special roles in creation and redemption. But they are in perfect harmony and are (in ways beyond our comprehension) perfectly One God. (See The Pleasures of God, by John Piper, Multnomah Press, pp. 38, 42-44 for one explanation of the Trinity.)

Question 11: What are the decrees of God?

Answer: The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby for his own glory, he has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.

Scripture: Ephesians 1:11; Romans 11:36; Daniel 4:35; Isaiah 46:10; Psalm 115:3; Amos 3:6.

Comment: You might shorten it to: “God’s decrees are his own plans for history. And they always happen.” His purpose for the world is eternal because there never was a time when he didn’t know what he was going to do. His purpose accords with the counsel of HIS will–that is he did not consult anyone else. He thought it ALL up. All plans were made in order to maximize the display of his glory. NOTHING falls outside the decrees of God.

Question 12: How does God execute his decrees?

Answer: God executes his decrees in the works of creation and providence.

Scripture: Genesis 1:1; Revelation 4:11; Matthew 5:45; 6:26; Acts 14:17: Proverbs 16:9, 33; 19:21; 20:24; 21:1, 31.

Comment: Instead of “execute” you can say “perform” or “accomplish” or “bring about”. The word “providence” will be taken up in a later question. For now it refers to the way God preserves and governs all his creatures and all their actions (like the fall of a bird or the election of a president). It refers to God’s general rule over the world he has created.

Question 13: What is the work of creation?

Answer: The work of creation is God’s making all things [out] of nothing, by the word of his power and all very good.

Scripture: Genesis 1:1, 31; Hebrews 11:3; Exodus 20:11; Romans 4:17.

Comment: Before creation there was only God in the holy fellowship of the Trinity. Therefore his creation is always different from ours: we start with something.

Question 14: How did God create man?

Answer: God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.

Scripture: Genesis 1:27-28; Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24.

Comment: In saying that we were created after his image “in knowledge, righteousness and holiness,” we do not mean we know all God knows, nor that we are a fountain of righteousness and holiness the way he is. We mean that we were capable of sharing his knowledge and righteousness and holiness in a relationship of trust and love unlike any other creature under the angels.

Question 15: What are God’s works of providence?

Answer: God’s works of providence are the holy, wise, and powerful acts which he preserves and governs all his creatures, and all their actions.

Scripture: Nehemiah 9:6; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3; Psalm 103:19; Matthew 10:29-30.

Comment: It would be helpful to discuss this with your child in relation to the common concept of “luck.” Is there such a thing as luck in a world ruled by the providence of God? “The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is wholly from the Lord” (16:33). You will also need to stress that many of God’s acts of providence may not look “holy and wise” (like storms that kill thousands of people). But then stress that God has his secret purposes (Deut. 29:29) that we are never great enough to see, and the Judge of all the earth always does right (Genesis 18:25).

Question 16: What special act of providence did God exercise towards man when he was first created?

Answer: When God had created man, he made a covenant with him that he should live and enjoy all the benefits of creation, but that he would die if he forsook the obedience that comes from faith. God commanded him not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and thus forsake his child-like dependence upon God for all things.

Scripture: Genesis 2:15-17; Galatians 3:12; Romans 5:12.

Comment: The “knowledge of good and evil” is the ability to judge independently what is beneficial (good) and harmful (evil) for yourself. What God is forbidding is that man should choose to be independent from God in his evaluation of things. He is commanding man to walk by faith in the wise and loving care of his heavenly Father. (See the use of this phrase in Gen. 3:5, 22; 2 Sam. 14:17; Is. 7:15; 2 Sam 19:35.)

Question 17: Did our first parents continue in the glad obedience for which they were created?

Answer: No, but desiring to be like God, our first parents forsook the obedience of faith, ate of the forbidden tree, sinned against God, and fell from the innocence in which they were created.

Scripture: Genesis 3:1-7; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Romans 5:12.

Question 18: What is sin?

Answer: Sin is transgression of the revealed will of God which teaches that we are to act in perfect holiness from a heart of faith to the glory of God.

Scripture: 1 John 3:4; Romans 5:13; 14:23; 1 Peter 1:16; Matthew 5:48; 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Comment Simplified: Sin is any attitude or desire or action that explicitly breaks a commandment of Scripture, or comes from a heart of unbelief or is not done for the glory of God.

Question 19: What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?

Answer: The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created, was their eating the forbidden fruit

Scripture: Genesis 3:6, 12, 13.

Question 20: Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first sin?

Answer: All mankind, descending from Adam by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in his first sin.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:21-22; Romans 5:12, 18-19.

Comment: God considered all mankind as being in Adam so that when Adam went bad we all went bad in him. The nature that we have by virtue of belonging to Adam’s race is morally corrupt. We are under the wrath of God “by nature” (Ephesians 2:3) from the time we were conceived in the womb. This is why conversion and salvation must be much more than a “decision” for Christ. It must be a new creation, a rebirth, an exchange of hearts.

Question 21: Into what condition did the fall bring mankind?

Answer: The fall brought mankind into a condition of sin and misery.

Scripture: Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:18-19; 7:18; Isaiah 53:6; 64:6; John 3:6-7; Ephesians 2:1-3; 1 Corinthians 2:14.

Question 22: What is the sinfulness of that condition into which all mankind has fallen?

Answer: The sinfulness of the condition into which all mankind fell is the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the lack of original righteousness, and the corruption of our whole nature (which is commonly called original sin), together with all actual transgressions which come from this nature.

Scripture: Romans 5:19; 3:10; Ephesians 2:1; Isaiah 53:6; Psalm 51:5; Matthew 15:19.

Comment: The Bible says that “in Adam all die” (1 Cor. 15:22) and that “one transgression yields condemnation for all men” (Rom. 5:18) and that “one man’s disobedience made many sinners” (Rom. 5:19). These statements lead us to conclude that God, in a way beyond our comprehension, established a unity between Adam and his posterity which makes it just for us to receive the imputation of his guilt and corruption. He was in some sense our representative head. We sinned in him and fell with him.

Question 23: What is the misery into which all mankind fell through Adam’s first sin?

Answer: All mankind, by their fall, lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.

Scripture: Genesis 3:8, 24; Ephesians 2:3; Galatians 3:10; Romans 6:23; Matthew 25:41-46; Psalm 9:17.

Comment: Keep in mind that “liable to” means that these miseries will indeed befall all people unless a special work of God’s grace intervenes.

Question 24: Did God leave all mankind to perish in the condition of sin and misery?

Answer: God, out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, having chosen a people to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the condition of sin and misery, and to bring them into a condition of salvation, by a Redeemer.

Scripture: Ephesians 1:3-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Romans 5:21; 8:29-30; 9:11-12; 11:5-7; Acts 13:48; Jeremiah 31:33.

Comment: The term “covenant of grace” is filled with sweet and precious hope. It refers to the free decision, commitment and oath of God to employ all his omnipotence and wisdom and love to rescue and glorify his people from sin and misery. It is wholly initiated and carried through by God. It cannot fail.

It is valid for all who believe. WHOSOEVER WILL MAY COME AND ENJOY THIS GRACE! And, since this “believing” and this “willing” is a work of God’s sovereign grace, those who believe and come are the elect, “chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). Thus the covenant was sealed in the heart of God before the world was.

This “covenant of grace” is the cry of victory over all the battle strife in missions. THE GRACE OF GOD WILL TRIUMPH! He is covenant-bound, oath-bound to save all those who are foreordained to eternal life (Acts 13:48)! “Jesus died for the nation (of Jews), and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (John 11:52).

The battle cry of missions is, “The Lord has other sheep that are not of this fold: He MUST (covenant-bound!!) bring them also. They WILL (sovereign grace!!) heed his voice!” John 10:16.

Question 25: Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?

Answer: The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was and continues to be God and man, in two distinct natures and one person, forever.

Scripture: Galatians 3:13; 1 Timothy 2:5; 3:16; John 1:14; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9.

Question 26: How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?

Answer: Christ, the Son of God became man by taking to himself a true body and a reasonable soul. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and was born of her, yet without sin.

Scripture: Hebrews 2:14; 4:14; 7:26; Matthew 26:38; Luke 2:52; John 1:14; 12:27; Luke 1:31, 35; 2:52; Colossians 2:9.

Comment: I am typing this on a Personal Computer. I have virtually no idea how it works. That it works I am certain: I have typed hundreds of sermons on it. So it is with the “incarnation”–the “how” is (as the old theologians used to say) “ineffable”. We believe it because the Scriptures teach it and because it “works” to make sense out of God’s whole redemptive plan.

Question 27: What offices does Christ perform as our Redeemer?

Answer: Christ, as our Redeemer, performs the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both in his condition of humiliation and exaltation.

Scripture: Acts 3:22; Hebrews 5:6; Psalm 2:6.

Question 28: How does Christ perform the office of a prophet?

Answer: Christ performs the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his Word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.

Scripture: John 1:18; 14:26; 15:15.

Question 29: How does Christ perform the office of a priest?

Answer: Christ performs the office of a priest by once offering himself as a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and to reconcile us to God; and by making continual intercession for us before God.

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:24; Hebrews 2: 17; 7:25; 9:28; Ephesians 5:2; Romans 8:34.

Question 30: How does Christ perform the office of a king?

Answer: Christ performs the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.

Scripture: Psalm 110:1-2; Matthew 2:6; Luke 1:32-33; 1 Corinthians 15:25.

Question 31: What do we mean by Christ’s humiliation?

Answer: By Christ’s humiliation we mean that he was born, and that in a low condition; that he was made under the law, and underwent the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; that he was buried, and continued under the power of death for a time.

Scripture: Luke 2:7; Galatians 4:4; Isaiah 53:3; Luke 22:44; Matthew 12:40; 27:46; Philippians 2:8; Mark 15:45-6.

Question 32: What do we mean by Christ’s exaltation?

Answer: By Christ’s exaltation we mean his rising again from the dead on the third day, ascending up into heaven, sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and coming to judge the world at the last day.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:4; Acts 1:11; Mark 16:19; Acts 17:31.

Question 33: How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?

Answer: We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effective application of it to us, by his Holy Spirit.

Scripture: John 3:5, 6; Titus 3:5, 6.

Question 34: How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?

Answer: The Spirit applies to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.

Scripture: 1 John 5:1; Philippians 1:29; Ephesians 2:8; Acts 16:14; 18:27; John 3:8; 6:64f.

Question 35: What is effectual calling?

Answer: Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, to convince us of our sin and misery, to enlighten our minds in the knowledge of Christ, to renew our wills, and thus persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

Scripture: 2 Timothy 1:9; John 6:44, 45; 16:8-11; Acts 2:37; 26:18; Ezekiel 36:26; Romans 8:30; 1 Corinthians 1:24; 12:3.

Question 36: What benefits do those who are effectually called receive in this life?

Answer: Those who are effectually called receive in this life justification, adoption, sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life accompany or flow from them.

Scripture: Romans 8:30-32; Galatians 3:26; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 6:11; Ephesians 1:5.

Comment: We must distinguish effectual calling from the general call of the gospel. Not all who hear the gospel believe. But all who are effectually called by God do believe. The call creates what it commands.

Question 37: What is justification?

Answer: Justification is an act of God’s free grace, by which he pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

Scripture: Romans 3:24; 5:19; Ephesians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9; Galatians 2:16.

Question 38: What is adoption?

Answer: Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, by which we are received into the company of God’s children and have a right to all the privileges of his sons.

Scripture: 1 John 3:1; John 1:12; Romans 8:16, 17.

Question 39: What is sanctification?

Answer: Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace by which we are renewed in the whole person after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.

Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Ephesians 4:23, 24; Romans 6:11.

Question 40: What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?

Answer: The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, fellowship with Christ, joy in the Holy Spirit, increase of grace, the privilege of prayer, and perseverance therein to the end.

Scripture: Romans 5:1-5; 14:17; Proverbs 4:18: 1 Peter 1:5; 1 John 5:13; 1 Corinthians 1:9; John 15:7.

Question 41: What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?

Answer: At death the souls of believers are made perfect in holiness, and immediately pass into glory. Their bodies rest in their graves till the resurrection.

Scripture: Hebrews 12:23; Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Luke 23:43; 1 Thessalonians 4:14; Isaiah 57:2; Job 19:26.

Question 42: What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the Resurrection?

Answer: At the resurrection, believers are raised up in glory; they shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the Day of Judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoyment of God to all eternity.

Scripture: Philippians 3:20, 21; 1 Corinthians 15:42, 43; Matthew 10:32; 1 John 3:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

Question 43: What shall be done to the wicked at death?

Answer: The souls of the wicked shall at death, be cast into the torments of hell, and their bodies lie in their graves till the resurrection and judgment of the great day.

Scripture: Luke 16:22-4; Daniel 12:2; John 5:29; Revelation 20:11- 15.

Question 44: What shall be done to the wicked at the Day of Judgment?

Answer: At the Day of Judgment, the bodies of the wicked, being raised out of their graves shall be sentenced, together with their souls, to unspeakable torments with the devil and his angels forever.

Scripture: Daniel 12:2; John 5:28, 29; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:14-15.

Question 45: What is the duty which God requires of man?

Answer: The duty which God requires of man is the obedience that comes from faith.

Scripture: Galatians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:11; Romans 1:5; 16:26; 15:18.

Comment: See questions 16-18.

Question 46: What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?

Answer: The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience was the moral law.

Scripture: Rom. 2:14; 15; 5:13, 14.

Question 47: Where is the obedience of faith given in summary form?

Answer: A summary form of the obedience of faith is given in the Ten Commandments.

Scripture: Hebrews 3:18-19; 4:2; Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 10:4; Romans 9:32.

Question 48: What is the sum of the Ten Commandments?

Answer: The sum 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 our neighbor as ourselves.

Scripture: Matthew 22:36-40; Mark 12:28-33.

Question 49: What is the preface to the Ten Commandments?

Answer: The preface to the Ten Commandments is, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”

Scripture: Exodus 20:2.

Question 50: What does the preface to the Ten Commandments teach us?

Answer: The preface to the Ten Commandments teaches us that because God is the LORD, and our gracious Redeemer, his commandments are for our good and he does not will for us to depend on ourselves in keeping them, but to trust his grace and power.

Scripture: Deuteronomy 10:13, 16; 30:6.

Question 51: Which is the first commandment?

Answer: The first commandment is, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

Scripture: Exodus 20:3.

Question 52: What is required in the first commandment?

Answer: The first commandment requires us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God, and to worship and glorify him accordingly.

Scripture: Joshua 24:15; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Deuteronomy 26:17; Psalm 29:2; Matthew 4:10.

Question 53: What is forbidden in the first commandment?

Answer: The first commandment forbids us to deny or not to worship and glorify the true God as God and our God; and to give that worship and glory to any other, which is due unto him alone.

Scripture: Joshua 24:27; Romans 1:20-21, 25; Psalm 14:1.

Question 54: What are we especially taught by these words, “before me,” in the first commandment?

Answer: 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.

Scripture: Deuteronomy 30:17, 18; Psalm 44:20-21; 90:8.

Question 55: Which is the second commandment?

Answer: The second commandment is, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.”

Scripture: Exodus 20:4-6.

Question 56: What is required in the second commandment?

Answer: The second commandment requires the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances, as God has appointed in his word.

Scripture: Deuteronomy 12:32; 32:46; Matthew 28:20.

Question 57: What is forbidden in the second commandment?

Answer: The second commandment forbids the worshipping of God by images, or any other way that draws the heart away from his glory rather than toward his glory.

Scripture: Romans 1:22, 23; Deuteronomy 4:15, 16; Colossians 2:18; 3:17; 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Question 58: What are the reasons added to the second commandment?

Answer: The reasons added to the second commandment are God’s holy jealousy for his name, and the zeal he has for his own worship.

Scripture: Exodus 20:4-6; Exodus 34:14; 1 Corinthians 10:22.

Question 59: Which is the third commandment?

Answer: The third commandment is, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”

Scripture: Exodus 20:7.

Question 60: What is required in the third commandment?

Answer: The third commandment requires the holy and reverent use of God’s name, titles, attributes, ordinances, words, and works.

Scripture: Psalm 29:2; 111:9; 138:2; Deuteronomy 32:1-4; 28:58-59; Matthew 6:9; Ecclesiastes 5:1; Job 36:24; Revelation 4:8; 15:3, 4.

Question 61: What is forbidden in the third commandment?

Answer: The third commandment forbids all profaning and abusing of anything whereby God makes himself known.

Scripture: Exodus 20:7; Malachi 1:6, 7; Leviticus 20:3; 19:12; Matthew 5:34-37; Isaiah 52:5.

Question 62: What is the reason annexed to the third commandment?

Answer: The reason annexed to the third commandment is, that however the breakers of this commandment may escape punishment from men, yet the Lord our God will not suffer them to escape his righteous judgment.

Scripture: Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 28:58, 59; Malachi 2:2.

Question 63: Which is the fourth commandment?

Answer: The fourth commandment is, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

Scripture: Exodus 20:8-11.

Question 64: What is required in the fourth commandment?

Answer: The fourth commandment requires the keeping holy to God such set times as he has appointed in his word, expressly one whole day in seven to be a holy Sabbath to himself.

Scripture: Leviticus 19:30; Deuteronomy 5:12.

Question 65: Which day of the seven has God appointed to be the weekly Sabbath?

Answer: From the creation of the world to the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly Sabbath; and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian Sabbath.

Scripture: Genesis 2:3; John 20:19; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2; Revelation 1:10.

Question 66: How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?

Answer: One day in seven should be especially devoted to corporate worship and other spiritual exercises that restore the soul’s rest in God and zeal for His name. It should provide physical refreshment and fit one for a week of devoted service to Christ.

Scripture: Leviticus 23:3; Isaiah 58:13, 14; Matthew 12:1-14; Mark 2:27; Romans 14:5-6.

Question 67: What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?

Answer: The fourth commandment forbids dishonoring the Lord’s Day by actions or thoughts that divert the soul from spiritual refreshment, or deprive the body of renewed energy or distract the mind from its special Sabbath focus on the Lord.

Scripture: Ezekiel 22:26; 23:38; Jeremiah 17:21; Nehemiah 13:15, 17; Acts 20:7; Mark 2:23-28; Romans 14:5-6.

Question 68: What are the reasons attached to the fourth commandment?

Answer: The reasons attached to the fourth commandment are, God’s creating the world in six days and resting on the seventh and his blessing the Sabbath day.

Scripture: Exodus 20:9-11; 31:16, 17; Genesis 2:2, 3.

Question 69: Which is the 5th commandment?

Answer: The fifth commandment is, “Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God gives thee.”

Scripture: Exodus 20:12.

Question 70: What is required in the fifth commandment?

Answer: The fifth commandment requires that we preserve the honor and perform the duties which belong to every one in their various roles as authorities, subordinates or equals.

Scripture: Leviticus 19:32; 1 Peter 2:17; Romans 12:10; 13:1; Ephesians 5:21-22; 6:1, 5, 9; Colossians 3:19-22; 1 Thessalonians 5:12; Hebrews 13:7, 17.

Question 71: What is forbidden in the fifth commandment?

Answer: The fifth commandment forbids neglecting or offending the honor and duty which belongs to every one in their various places and relations.

Scripture: Proverbs 30:17; Romans 13:7, 8.

Question 72: What is the reason added to the fifth commandment?

Answer: The reason added to the fifth commandment is a promise of long life and prosperity (as far as it shall serve God’s glory and their own good), to all who keep this commandment.

Scripture: Exodus 20:20; Ephesians 6:2, 3.

Question 73: What is the sixth commandment?

Answer: The sixth commandment is, “Thou shalt not kill.”

Scripture: Exodus 20:13.

Question 74: What is required in the sixth commandment?

Answer: The sixth commandment requires all lawful efforts to preserve our own life and the life of others.

Scripture: Ephesians 5:29, 30; Psalm 82:3, 4; Proverbs 24:11, 12; Acts 16:28.

Question 75: What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?

Answer: The sixth commandment forbids the taking of our own life, or the life of our neighbor unjustly, including whatever acts tend to this loss.

Scripture: Genesis 4:10, 11; 9:6; Matthew 5:21-26.

Question 76: Which is the seventh commandment?

Answer: The seventh commandment is, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

Scripture: Exodus 20:14.

Question 77: What is required in the seventh commandment?

Answer: The seventh commandment requires that we preserve our own and our neighbor’s chastity, in heart, speech, and behavior.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 6:18; 7:2; 2 Timothy 2:22; Matthew 5:28; 1 Peter 3:2.

Question 78: What is forbidden in the seventh commandment?

Answer: The seventh commandment forbids all unchaste thoughts, words and actions.

Scripture: Matthew 5:28-32; Job 31:1; Ephesians 5:3, 4; Romans 13:13; Colossians 4:6.

Question 79: Which is the eighth commandment?

Answer: The eighth commandment is, “Thou shalt not steal.”

Scripture: Exodus 20:15.

Question 80: Which is required in the eighth commandment?

Answer: The eighth commandment requires that we pursue lawful and useful work to provide for our needs and for those unable to provide for themselves.

Scripture: Ephesians 4:28; Proverbs 27:23; Leviticus 25:35; Deuteronomy 15:10; 22:1-4.

Question 81: What is forbidden in the eighth commandment?

Answer: The eighth commandment forbids whatever would unjustly withhold or diminish a person’s possessions or attainments.

Scripture: Malachi 3:8; Ephesians 4:28; Romans 13:7.

Question 82: Which is the ninth commandment?

Answer: The ninth commandment is, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

Scripture: Exodus 20:16.

Question 83: What is required in the ninth commandment?

Answer: The ninth commandment requires that we maintain and promote truth between persons and that we preserve the good name of our neighbor and ourselves.

Scripture: Zechariah 8:16; Acts 25:10; Ecclesiastes 7:1; 3 John 12; Proverbs 14:5, 25.

Question 84: What is forbidden in the ninth commandment?

Answer: The ninth commandment forbids whatever dishonors truth, or injures our own, or our neighbor’s good name.

Scripture: Ephesians 4:25; Psalm 15:3; 2 Corinthians 8:20, 21.

Question 85: What is the tenth commandment?

Answer: The tenth commandment is, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his man servant, nor his maid servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.”

Scripture: Exodus 20:17.

Question 86: What is required in the tenth commandment?

Answer: The tenth commandment requires contentment with our own condition, with a right and charitable frame of spirit towards our neighbor, and all that is his.

Scripture: Hebrews 13:5; 1 Timothy 6:6; Romans 12:15; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Leviticus 19:18.

Question 87: What is forbidden in the tenth commandment?

Answer: The tenth commandment forbids all murmuring over our own condition and all envying or grieving at the good of our neighbor, and all inordinate affections for anything that is his.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:10; James 5:9; Galatians 5:26; Colossians 3:5.

Question 88: Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?

Answer: No mere man, since the fall, is able in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God, but daily falls short of inward and outward perfection.

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 7:20; Genesis 6:5; 8:21; 1 John 1:8; James 3:2, 8; Romans 3:23; 7:15; Philippians 3:12.

Question 89: What then is the purpose of the law since the fall?

Answer: The purpose of the law, since the fall, is to reveal the perfect righteousness of God, that his people may know the path of faith that leads to life, and that the ungodly may be convicted of their sin, restrained from evil, and brought to Christ for salvation.

Scripture: Psalm 19:7-11; Romans 3:20, 31; 7:7; 8:13; 9:32; 12:2; Titus 2:12-14; Galatians 3:22, 24; 1 Timothy 1:8; Luke 10:25-28.

Question 90: Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?

Answer: Some sins in themselves and by reason of several aggravations are more heinous in the sight of God than others.

Scripture: Ezekiel 8:13; John 19:11; 1 John 5:16.

Question 91: What does every sin deserve?

Answer: Every sin deserves God’s wrath and curse, both in this life, and in that which is to come.

Scripture: Ephesians 5:6; Galatians 3:10; Proverbs 3:33; Psalm 11:6; Revelation 21:8.

Question 92: What does God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse, due to us for sin?

Answer: To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin, God requires of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption.

Scripture: Acts 20:21; 16:30, 31; 17:30.

Question 93: What is faith in Jesus Christ?

Answer: Faith in Jesus Christ is saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, trusting him to forgive our sins, and guide us to eternal joy, on the basis of his divine power and atoning death.

Scripture: Hebrews 10:39; John 1:12; 6:35; Philippians 3:9; Galatians 2:15-16, 20; Matthew 14:31.

Question 94: What is repentance unto life?

Answer: Repentance unto life is a saving grace, by which a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, does, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it to God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.

Scripture: Acts 2:37; Joel 2:13; Jeremiah 31:18, 19; 2 Corinthians 7:10, 11; Romans 6:18.

Question 95: What are the outward and ordinary means by which Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption?

Answer: The outward and ordinary means by which Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are his ordinances, especially the Word, Baptism, the Lord’s Supper and Prayer; all of which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.

Scripture: Romans 10:17; James 1:18; 1 Corinthians 3:5; Acts 14:1; 2:41, 42.

Question 96: How is the Word made effective for salvation?

Answer: 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 unto salvation.

Scripture: Psalm 19:7; 119:11, 18; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 Peter 2:1, 2; Romans 1:16.

Question 97: How is the Word to be read and heard that it may become effective for salvation?

Answer: That the Word may become effective for salvation we must attend to it with diligence, preparation and prayer, receive it in faith and love, lay it up in our hearts and practice it in our lives.

Scripture: Proverbs 8:34; 1 Peter 2:1, 2; 1 Timothy 4:13; Hebrews 2:1, 3; 4:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:10; Psalm 119:11; James 1:21, 25.

Question 98: How do Baptism and the Lord’s Supper become effective means of salvation?

Answer: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper become effective means of salvation, not from any virtue in them or in him that administers them, but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of his Spirit in those who by faith receive them.

Scripture: 1 Peter 3:21; 1 Corinthians 3:6, 7; 12:13.

Question 99: How do Baptism and the Lord’s Supper differ from the other ordinances of God?

Answer: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper differ from the other ordinances of God in that they were specially instituted by Christ to represent and apply to believers the benefits of the new covenant by visible and outward signs.

Scripture: Acts 22:16; Matthew 26:26-28; 28:19; Romans 6:4.

Question 100: What is Baptism?

Answer: Baptism is a holy ordinance, in which immersion in the water in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, signifies our being joined to Christ and our sharing the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.

Scripture: Matthew 28:19; Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12; Galatians 3:27.

Question 101: To whom is Baptism to be administered?

Answer: Baptism is to be administered to all those who actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ; and to no other.

Scripture: Acts 2:38; 8:12, 36; 10:47, 48; Matthew 3:6; Mark 16:16.

Question 102: Are the infants of professing believers to be baptized?

Answer: The infants of believers are not to be baptized; because there is neither command nor example in the Holy Scriptures, nor implication from them to baptize such. But baptism is made an expression of faith.

Scripture: Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21; Galatians 3:26, 27.

Question 103: How is Baptism rightly administered?

Answer: Baptism is rightly administered by immersion, or dipping the whole body of the person in water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Scripture: Matthew 3:16; John 3:23; Acts 8:38, 39.

Question 104: What is the duty of those who are rightly baptized?

Answer: It is the duty of those who are rightly baptized to give themselves to some visible and orderly church of Jesus Christ, that they may walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

Scripture: Acts 2:46, 47; 9:26; 1 Peter 2:5; Hebrews 10:25; Romans 16:5.

Question 105: What is the visible church?

Answer: The visible church is the organized society of professing believers, in all ages and places, wherein the gospel is truly preached and the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper administered in true faith.

Scripture: Acts 2:42; 20:7; 7:38; Ephesians 4:11, 12.

Question 106: What is the invisible church?

Answer. The invisible church is the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ the head.

Scripture: Ephesians 1:10; 1:22, 23; John 10:16; 11:52.

Question 107: What is the Lord’s Supper?

Answer: The Lord’s Supper is a holy ordinance of the church. By eating bread and drinking the cup according to Christ’s appointment we show forth his death. Those who eat and drink in a worthy manner partake of Christ’s body and blood, not physically, but spiritually in that by faith they are nourished with the benefits he purchased, and grow in grace.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; 10:16.

Question 108: What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord’s Supper?

Answer: It is required of those who would worthily (that is, suitably) partake of the Lord’s Supper, that they examine themselves–of their knowledge, that they discern the Lord’s body; their faith, that they feed upon him; and their repentance, love, and new obedience; lest, coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 5:8; 11:27-31; 2 Corinthians 13:5.

Question 109: What is Prayer?

Answer: Prayer is an offering up of our desires to God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.

Scripture: 1 John 5:14; 1:9; Philippians 4:6; Psalm 10:17; 145:19; John 14:13, 14.

Question 110: What rule has God given for our direction in prayer?

Answer: The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in prayer, but the special rule of direction is that prayer, which Christ taught his disciples, commonly called the Lord’s Prayer.

Scripture: Matthew 6:9-13; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17.

Question 111: What does the preface of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?

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

Scripture: Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:13; Romans 8:15; Acts 12:5; 1 Timothy 2:1-3.

Question 112: What do we pray for in the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer?

Answer: In the first petition, which is “Hallowed be thy name,” we pray that God would enable us and others to glorify him in all of life, and that he would dispose all things to his own glory.

Scripture: Matthew 6:9; Psalm 67:1-3; Romans 11:36; Revelation 4:11; 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Question 113: What do we pray for in the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer?

Answer: In the second petition, which is, “Thy kingdom come,” we pray that Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed, and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced; that ourselves and others be brought into it, and kept in it; and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.

Scripture: Matthew 6:10; 9:37,38; Psalm 68:1-18; Romans 10:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:1; Revelation 22:20.

Question 114: What do we pray for in the third petition of the Lord’s Prayer?

Answer: In the third petition, which is, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we pray that God, by his grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey, and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.

Scripture: Matthew 6:10; Psalm 103:20, 21; 25:4, 5; 119:26.

Question 115: What do we pray for in the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer?

Answer: In the fourth petition, which is, “Give us this day our daily bread,” we pray that of God’s free gift, we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life and enjoy his blessing with them.

Scripture: Matthew 6:11; Proverbs 30:8, 9; 1 Timothy 6:6-8; 4:4, 5.

Question 116: What do we pray for in the fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer?

Answer: In the fifth petition, which is, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” we pray that God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins; which we are rather encouraged to ask, because by his grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.

Scripture: Matthew 6:12; 18:35; Psalm 51:1, 3, 7; Mark 11:25.

Question 117: What do we pray for in the sixth petition?

Answer: In the sixth petition, which is, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.

Scripture: Matthew 6:13; 26:41; Psalm 19:13; 1 Corinthians 10:13; John 17:15.

Question 118: What does the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?

Answer: The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen,” teaches us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only, and in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to him; and in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say AMEN.

Scripture: Matthew 6:13; Daniel 9:18, 19; 1 Chronicles 29:11-13; 1 Corinthians 14:16; Philippians 4:6; Revelation 22:20.

The Lord’s Prayer
(Matthew 6, RSV)

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy 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. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: and in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy Christian Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

The Ten Commandments
(Exodus 20, RSV)

And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or served them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. 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. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you. You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

We are going to look at the difference between what it means to be legalistic, and what it means to be obedient. There is a wide gulf between the two. But it seems many people have fallen short of what both of these mean.

There is an argument in the 21sth century church that goes like this: Jesus came to fulfill the Law, thus, we do not need to keep the Law. The idea continues as such: And we do not need to keep the Law because we are under the grace of Christ; we cannot earn salvation for ourselves in any way, so the Old Testament is invalid for rules of life and practice. As a matter of fact, there are many people who would throw out the Sermon on the Mount because Jesus expounds on the Law in that instance. They would place everything which alluded to or stated the Law in any way, out with the garbage. They do not give a satisfactory answer why God, in His providence, allowed the Old Testament to be included in our Bible since it deals with the Law. They are adamant that they do not need it, but cannot give a good answer to “why”. These people feel that observance to the Law, in any way, is an act of Legalism. And they do not want to become the church of Galatia again. So they have flown to grace, and thrown away the Law.

To define Legalism in a Biblical way would be to say “any person who takes the Law and uses it in a way which would merit salvation“. Legalism is an attempt at salvation. Yet, we often hear the term used like this, “Oh, those people are Legalists.” The Puritans were often stereotyped in this way. They were so forceful in bringing forth the meaning of the Law, that they were deemed legalists, and then subtitled puritanical. But if we really understand the definition above, then we find that people who follow the Law of God in a way which does not see it adding to the meritorious work of Jesus Christ and His cross are not Legalists. Legalists, by definition, would be saying that the Law helps us to gain salvation. This was the problem with the Judiaizers. They thought that by keeping the Law, plus believing in the work of Christ, made a person saved. In Galatians 5:3, Paul says, “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by Law; you have fallen from grace.” There were some who thought that being circumcised helped in salvation. But Paul says that the moment you add anything to the work of Christ, then you have fallen from grace. Christ’s work alone justifies the ungodly (Gal. 2:16; 3:11-13, 24; 6:13-14). (Sola Christus-Christ alone.)

Legalists are wrong. You cannot use the Law to be saved. You cannot keep the commandments as a means to justification because no one always does what is right and never sins (Eccl. 7:20). And those who stumble at one point are guilty of the whole Law (James 2:10). The Law shows us our sin, but it cannot save us. It only makes us aware of our need (Rom. 7:7).

Being a Legalist is not biblical. It is not an option for the Christian. So what do we say then? Are those who throw away the Law right? If Christ issues grace to us, and we cannot keep the Law, then why use it? What good is the Law? Should we be a “New Testament Church?”

It is true that Legalism is wrong and will send a person to hell for believing that keeping the law in and of itself will save them in their own works. Galatians 1:8 states, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” But throwing away the Law will also send you to hell as well. Rev. 22:14 states, “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” The book of Revelation makes it clear that those who shall enter the New Jerusalem and spend eternity with God are those who “do His commandments.” The word “commandments” is plural. That means God requires we keep more than one commandment. And often people will tell us to keep the greatest commandment and that is all. But Christ wants us to keep all His commandments.

Rev. 22:18-19 also helps to show that God does not want anyone to subtract from His Word in any way, “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” No one is to take away or add to God’s Word. Does that mean we have to keep the Ceremonial Law too since it is part of God’s Word? And do we have to sacrifice animals again because the Ceremonial Law shows us this in the Old Testament? These are good questions, and the answers to these and similar questions are answered in a balanced knowledge of the work of Christ.

Christ has come and completed the Law. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus says He has come to “fulfill the Law”. The word fulfill is plhro,w, {play-ro’-o}. It means “to make full, to fill up; to make complete in every particular, to render perfect; to carry through to the end, to accomplish, carry out, (some undertaking); to fulfill, i.e. to cause God’s will (as made known in the Law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God’s promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfillment.” Jesus came to fill up the Law and complete it in our stead. This does not mean He has done away with it, or made it void. That is not the meaning of the word used. In Matthew 5:18, one verse later, He states, “For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no way pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled.” Not only does Jesus not nullify the Law for us, but rather He does just the opposite: that in view of His work to fulfill it, not one jot or tittle shall be removed. Jesus has given Christians the ability in salvation, because of His work as the sinless Savior, to make moral choices once again on behalf of the Law. He kept the Law so we could keep it as well. Jesus’ work enables us to run the race in a way worthy to win the prize. He does not invalidate the Law, but places it before us knowing that He will be working through us to keep it. And though we stumble in keeping it, He is ever working in us to overcome the stumbling blocks.

The Legalistic notion here is dispelled. For we do not keep the Law to be saved. But rather, in keeping the Law we show ourselves to already have gained salvation through the cross of Christ. In light of the cross of Christ and the liberation from the power of sin we receive from Christ’s work, we are now free to keep the Law (Gal. 4:31).

Christ requires obedience. We are not to become Antinomians. And those who say we must rid ourselves of the Law are nothing but heretical Antinomians. An Antinomian is someone who is “anti”, “against” or “instead of”, the “nomos” or “law”. He says that a person can be saved and never have to worry about living a life of obedience because we are under the grace of Christ. But Paul so quickly dispels this notion in Romans when he says, “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the Law, but under grace? God forbid (6:15). We are not given liberty to sin, but we are given liberty not to sin. And how shall we not sin unless we know what sin is? And how shall we know what sin is unless we follow the Law? “Is the Law sin, God forbid.” (Rom. 7:7) God has given us His commandments that we may become obedient to His commands. And we are able to be obedient through the blood-sacrifice of His Son on the cross for us. Without a thorough washing in the blood of Christ, no man is able to follow the Law in any capacity. No, we are not Legalists, and we are not Antinomians. We are Christians who wish to do the will of the Father. We are those who can say along with Paul, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Tim. 3:16-17).” The Antinomians cannot say this. The Legalist cannot say this. Only those who are liberated by Christ to keep the Law can say this, for he finds all of the Word of God profitable. Why? To be equipped for every good work.  Jesus says that those who are “anti-law” go to hell, no matter if they even preached in His name, or did miracles, or even cast out demons.  Jesus says in Matthew 7:23, “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'”  What is someone who is “lawless?”  It is someone that lives their life without the Law of God.  It is someone “law-less”. 

We are not Legalists when we keep the Law, because we do not look to the Law for life. Rather the Law shows us we have true life in our hearts. We keep the Law to be obedient to Christ and show Him how much we love Him for rescuing us from the damning influences of trying to keep the Law to gain eternal life. Obedience is a far cry from Legalism.

“What is obedience?” would be the next question to answer. Obedience is expressing the love of Christ to Christ in keeping the Law. Christ works in us the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25). The Spirit works through us the love of Christ for good works; for this is what we were created to do. God created us for good works (Eph. 2:10). Christ’s love in us motions us to good works as we study and observe the Law. In our enjoyment of this labor before God, God is pleased, and He is glorified. When we enjoy following all God’s commands He is pleased. Shall we not be obedient when God, in numerous passages, commands obedience from us as stewards of His Word? (Num. 27:20; Isaiah 1:19; Acts 6:7; Rom. 6:16; 16:19; 16:26; 2 Cor. 7:15; 9:13; Phil 1:21; 1 Peter 1:2) God requires us to be obedient in every circumstance, and those who would say otherwise are evil wolves disguised in sheep’s clothing to deceive the people of God. And it is interesting to see that in Matthew 7:15 Jesus calls those who would hurt the sheep “ravenous wolves”. He said this at the end of the Sermon on the Mount which is an exposition of the Ten Commandments and of Kingdom living. This is no coincidence. God does not want false prophets coming into the church telling her that she does not need to keep the Law. That is nothing but blasphemy and heresy against the Word of God. We must endeavor to keep the Law in a holy manner through Christ.

So we see that there is a large gulf between what it means to be Legalistic (keeping the Law for salvation) and obedient (keeping the Law because we have been saved). We need the Law to show us our sin. We need the Law to direct us into righteousness. We need the commands of Christ which are laid all through the Scriptures to further our sanctification and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14). Salvation does not depend on keeping the Law, but rather, our salvation is seen in us when we do keep the Law.

Walk into any 21st Century church this Sunday and inquire about what it means to keep the Sabbath holy? How does a person follow the 4th commandment? The people would look at you perplexed. They would see you as a Legalist. And if you had not raised the question, it would have never entered their mind at all. Even as they sit through the Sunday School lesson, the singing of a psalm or two, and the hearing of the sermon, they await the final benediction during Sunday Church and never realize what the Sabbath is even about. That is a travesty; it is sin.

May we become people of the Word, the whole Word and nothing but the Word. May we throw away the heresy of Legalism, and embrace obedience to Christ. For unless we obey Christ, we have no part in Him. For He says, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say? (Luke 6:46, from the Sermon on the plain).” It is not that we are Legalists when we obey Christ, rather, we are Christians when we obey Him.

This epistle is styled (as are some few others) general or Catholic, because it is not immediately directed to any particular person, family, or church, but to the whole society of Christians of that time, lately converted to the faith of Christ, whether from Judaism or paganism: and it is, and will be, of standing, lasting, and special use in and to the church as long as Christianity, that is, as time, shall last. The general scope of it is much the same with that of the second chapter of the second epistle of Peter, which having been already explained, the less will need to be said on this. It is designed to warn us against seducers and their seduction, to inspire us with a warm love to, and a hearty concern for, truth (evident and important truth), and that in the closest conjunction with holiness, of which charity, or sincere unbiased brotherly-love, is a most essential character and inseparable branch.

The truth we are to hold fast, and endeavour that others may be acquainted with and not depart fRom. has two special characters: – It is the truth as it is in Jesus (

 

Eph_4:21; and it is truth after (or which is according to) godliness, Tit_1:1. The gospel is the gospel of Christ. He has revealed it to us, and he is the main subject of it; and therefore we are indispensably bound to learn thence all we can of his person, natures, and offices: indifference as to this is inexcusable in any who call themselves Christians; and we know from what fountain we are wholly and solely to draw all necessary saving knowledge. Further, it is also a doctrine of godliness.

 

Whatever doctrines favour the corrupt lusts of men cannot be of God, let the pleas and pretensions for them be what they will. Errors dangerous to the souls of men soon sprang up in the church. The servants slept and tares were sown. But such were the wisdom and kindness of Providence that they began sensibly to appear and show themselves, while some, at least, of the apostles were yet alive to confute them, and warn others against them. We are apt to think, If we had lived in their times, we should have been abundantly fenced against the attempts and artifices of seducers; but we have their testimony and their cautions, which is sufficient; and, if we will not believe their writings, neither should we have believed or regarded their sayings, if we had lived among them and conversed personally with them.