Archive for the ‘Westminster Larger Catechism’ Category

Leithart Asks – on Justification and Baptism

December 3, 2014

Peter Leithart has a question that every child who has memorized the Westminster Shorter Catechism should be able to answer: “If baptism is not a public declaration of justification, where and when does that public declaration take place?” (link)

Westminster Shorter Catechism #38
Q: What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
A: At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory,1 shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment,2 and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God,3 to all eternity.4

[1] 1 Corinthians 15:42-43. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.
[2] Matthew 25:33-34. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Matthew 10:32. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
[3] Psalm 16:11. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
1 Corinthians 2:9. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
[4] 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. [See preceding context.]

As Matthew Henry puts it:

4. Shall they be openly acknowledged in the day of judgment? Yes: Him will I confess before my Father which is in heaven, Matt. 10:32. Will God own them as his own? Yes: They shall be mine, saith the Lord, in that day when I make up my jewels, Mal. 3:17. And will that be their honour? Yes: If any man serve me, him will my Father honour, John 12:26. Shall they be openly acquitted? Yes: for their sins shall be blotted out when the times of refreshing come, Acts 3:19.

Westminster Larger Catechism

Q. 90. What shall be done to the righteous at the day of judgment?

A. At the day of judgment, the righteous, being caught up to Christ in the clouds,[389] shall be set on his right hand, and there openly acknowledged and acquitted,[390] shall join with him in the judging of reprobate angels and men,[391] and shall be received into heaven,[392] where they shall be fully and forever freed from all sin and misery;[393] filled with inconceivable joys,[394] made perfectly holy and happy both in body and soul, in the company of innumerable saints and holy angels,[395] but especially in the immediate vision and fruition of God the Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, to all eternity.[396] And this is the perfect and full communion, which the members of the invisible church shall enjoy with Christ in glory, at the resurrection and day of judgment.

[390] Matthew 25:33. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Matthew 10:32. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

[391] 1 Corinthians 6:2-3. Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

[392] Matthew 25:34, 46. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

[393] Ephesians 5:27. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. Revelation 14:13. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

[394] Psalm 16:11. Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

[395] Hebrews 12:22-23. But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.

[396] 1 John 3:2. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 1 Corinthians 13:12. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

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Revised Wesminster Standards vs. R2K

September 21, 2010

The radical separation of church and state proposed by some folks that I would designate as “R2K” rather than “2K,” is contrary to the Westminster Standards. Practically everyone knows that such positions are contrary to the original Westminster Standards (and, of course, to the Standards as modified by the RPCNA testimony), but these positions are also contrary to the standards as amended by the Americans.

Westminster Confession of Faith (American Revisions)

Chapter 23

2. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called thereunto: in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth; so, for that end, they may lawfully, now under the new testament, wage war, upon just and necessary occasion.

3. Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; or, in the least, interfere in matters of faith. Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger. And, as Jesus Christ hath appointed a regular government and discipline in his church, no law of any commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief. It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance.

Chapter 31
4. Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.

Westminster Larger Catechism
Q. 191. What do we pray for in the second petition?
A. In the second petition (which is, Thy kingdom come), acknowledging ourselves and all mankind to be by nature under the dominion of sin and Satan, we pray, that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed, the gospel propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fullness of the Gentiles brought in; the church furnished with all gospel officers and ordinances, purged from corruption, countenanced and maintained by the civil magistrate; that the ordinances of Christ may be purely dispensed, and made effectual to the converting of those that are yet in their sins, and the confirming, comforting, and building up of those that are already converted: that Christ would rule in our hearts here, and hasten the time of his second coming, and our reigning with him forever: and that he would be pleased so to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world, as may best conduce to these ends.

Q. 108. What are the duties required in the second commandment?
A. The duties required in the second commandment are, the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath instituted in his word; particularly prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the word; the administration and receiving of the sacraments; church government and discipline; the ministry and maintenance thereof; religious fasting; swearing by the name of God, and vowing unto him: as also the disapproving, detesting, opposing, all false worship; and, according to each one’s place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry.

Q. 118. Why is the charge of keeping the sabbath more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors?
A. The charge of keeping the sabbath is more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors, because they are bound not only to keep it themselves, but to see that it be observed by all those that are under their charge; and because they are prone ofttimes to hinder them by employments of their own.

Q. 124. Who are meant by father and mother in the fifth commandment?
A. By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant, not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts; and especially such as, by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth.

Q. 129. What is required of superiors towards their inferiors?
A. It is required of superiors, according to that power they receive from God, and that relation wherein they stand, to love, pray for, and bless their inferiors; to instruct, counsel, and admonish them; countenancing, commending, and rewarding such as do well; and discountenancing, reproving, and chastising such as do ill; protecting, and providing for them all things necessary for soul and body: and by grave, wise, holy, and exemplary carriage, to procure glory to God, honor to themselves, and so to preserve that authority which God hath put upon them.

Q. 130. What are the sins of superiors?
A. The sins of superiors are, besides the neglect of the duties required of them, an inordinate seeking of themselves, their own glory, ease, profit, or pleasure; commanding things unlawful, or not in the power of inferiors to perform; counseling, encouraging, or favoring them in that which is evil; dissuading, discouraging, or discountenancing them in that which is good; correcting them unduly; careless exposing, or leaving them to wrong, temptation, and danger; provoking them to wrath; or any way dishonoring themselves, or lessening their authority, by an unjust, indiscreet, rigorous, or remiss behavior.

(these are from the revised Westminster Confession of Faith and the revised Westminster Larger Catechism, as adopted by the OPC)

The Westminster standards, as revised by the Americans, do not have some of the stronger language regarding the civil magistrate’s duties, but even the American revisions have language that specifically calls for the civil magistrate to be involved in maintaining piety and justice, protecting the church of the Lord, disapproving and removing false worship, enforcing the sabbath, and providing things necessary for the souls of the populace. Likewise, the Westminster standards permit the churches, as synods, to petition the civil magistrate in extraordinary cases.

That does not mean that the American revisions of the Westminster standards require a reconstructionist view, nor does it mean that the American revisions require the views of 17th century Massachusetts. On the other hand, it does mean that those who are teaching that the civil magistrate is not called to maintain piety in the land, is forbidden to enforce the external provisions of the first table of God’s law, or is not required to observe justice, are outside the confessional bounds.

-TurretinFan

Thomas Ridgley on the Second Commandment

August 30, 2010

The following is an excerpt from Thomas Ridgley’s, “A Body of Divinity, wherein the doctrines of the Christian religion are explained and defended: being the substance of several lectures on the Assembly’s Larger catechism” (pp. 328-335 of Volume 2 of the 1855 edition)

THE SECOND COMMANDMENT.

Question CVII. 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 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.”

Question CVIII. What are the duties required in the second commandment?

Answer. The duties required in the second commandment are the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religions worship and ordinances as God hath instituted in bis word, particularly prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ, the reading, preaching, and hearing of the word, the administration and receiving of the sacraments, church government and discipline, the ministry and maintenance thereof, religious fasting, swearing by the name of God, and vowing unto him; as also the disapproving, detesting, opposing, all false worship, and, according to each one’s place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry.

Question CIX. What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?

Answer. The sins forbidden in the second commandment, are all devising, counselling, commanding, using, and any ways approving any religious worship not instituted by God himself, tolerating a false religion, the making any representation of God, of all, or of any of the three Persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly, in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever, all worshipping of it, or God in it, or by it; the making of any representation of feigned deities, and all worship of them, or service belonging to them, all superstitious devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others; though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretence whatsoever, simony, sacrilege, all neglect, contempt, hindering and opposing the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed.

Question CX. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment the more to enforce it?

Answer. The reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it, contained in these words, “For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities 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,” are, besides God’s sovereignty over us, and propriety in us, his fervent zeal for his own worship, and his revengeful indignation against all false worship, as being a spiritual whoredom, accounting the breakers of this commandment such as hate him, and threatening to punish them unto divers generations, and esteeming the observers of it, such as love him, and keep his commandments, and promising mercy to them unto many generations.

Difference between the First and the Second Commandment.

Before we proceed to consider the matter of this commandment, we shall premise something, in general, concerning the difference between it and the first commandment. The first commandment respects the object of worship; the second, the manner in which it is to be performed. Accordingly, the former forbids our not owning God to be such an one as he has revealed himself to be in his word, and also the substituting of any creature in his room, or acknowledging it, either directly or by consequence, to be our chief good and happiness; the latter obliges us to worship God, in such a way as he has prescribed, in opposition to that which takes its rise from our own invention. These two commandments, therefore, being so distinct, we cannot but think the Papists to be chargeable with a very great absurdity, in making the second to be only an appendix to the first, or an explanation of it. The design of their doing so seems to be, that they may exculpate themselves from the charge of idolatry, in setting up image-worship, which they think to be no crime; because they are not so stupid as to style the image a god, or make it a supreme object of worship. This commandment, however, in forbidding false worship, is directly contrary to their practice of worshiping God by images.

The method in which this commandment is laid down, is the same with that of several others; we have an account of the duties required, the sins forbidden, and the reasons annexed to enforce it.

The Duties Enjoined in the Second Commandment.

We shall first consider the duties commanded. These are contained in two Heads.

1. We are under an obligation to observe, or attend upon, such religious worship and ordinances as God has appointed. Religious worship is that whereby we address ourselves to God, as a God of infinite perfection; profess an entire subjection and devotedness to him as our God; put our trust in him for a supply of all our wants; and ascribe to him that praise and glory which is his due, as our chief good, most bountiful benefactor, and only portion and happiness. As for the ordinances, our attendance on them depends on a divine command, to which God has annexed a promise of his gracious presence, whereby our expectations are raised that we shall obtain some blessings from him, when we engage in them in a right manner. In this respect they are instituted means of grace, and pledges of that special favor which he designs to bestow on his people. This is that which more especially renders a duty enjoined an ordinance. Accordingly, our Savior says, ‘ Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.’ [Matthew 18:20] Now, these ordinances are either solitary or social; such as we are obliged to perform, either in our closets, [Matthew 6:6] in our families, or in those public assemblies where God is worshiped. They are particularly mentioned in this Answer; and they are prayer, thanksgiving, reading, preaching and hearing the word, the administration and receiving of the sacraments, to which we may add, praising God by singing. All these will be insisted on in a following Answer, and therefore we pass by them at present.

Now, as these are duties which are daily incumbent on us, so there are other duties or ordinances, which are to be performed only as the necessity of affairs requires. One of these is religious fasting, whereby we express public tokens of mourning and humiliation, and perform other duties corresponding with these, when God is provoked by crying sins, or when his judgments are upon us and our families, or the church of God in general. Thus the prophet Joel, when speaking concerning several desolating judgments to which Israel was exposed, commands them ‘to sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly; and to weep between the porch and the altar; and say, Spare thy people, 0 Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach.’ [Joel 2: 15, 17] This is not to be done at all times; but only when the providence of God calls for it. Hence, we have no warrant for the observance of annual fasts, when that which was the first occasion of them is removed; much less for those weeks of fasting which the Papists observe, which they call Lent. No sufficient reason can be assigned why Lent should be observed at the season fixed on by the Papists, rather than at any other time of the year. Nor can their fasting on certain days of the week be vindicated, much less their doing so without joining other religious duties to it; or their abstaining from some kinds of food, while they indulge themselves in eating others which are equally grateful to the appetite. This is a ludicrous and superstitious way of fasting.—Again, another occasional duty or ordinance, is our setting apart time for thanksgiving to God for deliverances from public or national calamities, or those which more immediately respect ourselves and families. In observing this ordinance, those religious duties are to be performed which tend to express our spiritual joy and thankfulness to God, who is the Author of our deliverances; and, at the same time, we are to pray that he would enable us to walk as those who are hereby laid under renewed engagements to be his. Thus the Jews observed some days of thanksgiving for their deliverance from Haman’s conspiracy. [Esther 9:20, et seq.] Such public thanksgiving for providential deliverances, is to be religiously observed ; and so it differs from that carnal joy which is generally expressed by those who receive mercies, but do not give glory to God, the sole author of them.

But besides these occasional ordinances, there is another mentioned in this Answer, namely, vowing to God. Thus the psalmist says, ‘ Vow and pay unto the Lord.’ [Psalm 76:11] This language either, more especially, respects God’s ancient people entering into a solemn obligation or promise to give something which was to be applied to the support of the public and costly worship which was performed under the ceremonial law, on which account it is said, in the following words,’ Bring presents unto him;’ or it may be considered as to the moral reason of the tiling, as including our resolution to set apart or apply some portion of our worldly substance, as God has prospered us in our secular affairs, to the maintaining and promoting of his cause and interest in the world. But we ought, at the same time, to devote ourselves to him, whereby we acknowledge his right to us, and all that we have. Thus the apostle says, concerning the churches of Macedonia, not only that they devoted their substance to God, but that they ‘ gave themselves’ also ‘unto the Lord.'[2 Corinthians 8:5] This duty does not include our resolving to do those things which are out of our own power, or that we will exercise those graces which are the special gift of the Spirit of God; but it is rather a dedication of ourselves to him, in hope of obtaining that grace from him which will enable us to perform those duties which are indispensably necessary to salvation, and inseparably connected with it. This is such a vowing to God, as will not have a tendency to ensnare our consciences, or detract from his glory who is alone the Author of all grace. Nor does it contain the least instance of presumption; but is a duty which we ought to perform by faith, to his glory and our own edification.

We might notice another ordinance, mentioned in this Answer; namely, swearing by the name of God. This, as we have elsewhere expressed it, includes a swearing fealty to him, and our consecrating and devoting ourselves to him. [See more of this in the Section ‘The Covenant of Grace as made with Man,’ under Question 31] As to swearing, as a religious duty to be performed in subservience to civil duties, we shall have occasion to speak of it under the third commandment; and therefore we pass it over at present.

2. We proceed to observe that the religious duties or ordinances which we have noticed, and all others which God has enjoined, are to be kept pure and entire. As we are not to cast off the ordinances of God in general, so we must take heed that we do not, while we perform some, live in the neglect of others; for that is not to keep them entire. Thus private duties are not to shut out those which are social in our families or the public assemblies, nor intrench on that time which ought to be allotted for them; and, on the other hand, it is not sufficient for us to worship God in public, and, at the same time, cast off all secret duties. This reproves the practice of some modern enthusiasts, who pray not, unless moved by the Spirit, as they pretend; and deny their obligation to observe the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s supper. Moreover, as we are to keep the ordinances of God entire, we are also to keep them pure, that is, to allow, or practice nothing but what is warranted by the rules which God has given us in his word; in opposition to those who corrupt his worship, by intruding those ordinances into it which are of their own invention, and pretending that, though God has not commanded these, yet the service which we perform, which can be no other than will-worship, will be acceptable to him.

The Sins Forbidden in the Second Commandment.

We now proceed to consider the sins forbidden in this commandment. The general scope and design of the commandment, as to the negative part of it, is God’s prohibiting all false worship, either in our hearts, or in our outward actions or gestures, whereby we adhere to our own imaginations rather than his revealed will, which is the only rule of instituted worship. The things forbidden in this commandment may be reduced to three Heads.

1. A not attending on the ordinances of God with that holy, humble, and becoming frame of spirit which the solemnity of the duties themselves, or the authority of God enjoining them, or the advantages which we may expect to receive by them, call for. When we do not seriously think what we are going about before we engage in holy duties, or watch over our hearts and affections, or when we worship God in a careless and indifferent manner; we may be said to draw nigh to him with our lips, while our hearts are far from him.

2. We farther break this commandment, when we invent ordinances which God has nowhere in his word commanded; or think to recommend ourselves to him by gestures, or modes of worship, which we have no precedent or example for in the New Testament. This is what is generally called superstition and will-worship. Thus we read in the degenerate age of the church, that ‘ the statutes of Omri were kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab; [Micah 6:16] referring to that false worship which was practiced by them. Here we cannot but observe, that there are many things in which the Papists are chargeable with superstition and will-worship, if not with idolatry. For example, they worship the bread in the sacrament, supposing it to be the real body and blood of Christ, and not merely the sign of him. They understand the words of our Savior when instituting this ordinance, ‘This is my body,’ [Matthew 26:26] in a literal sense, though they ought to be understood in a figurative sense.—Again, they lift up the bread in the sacrament, pretending that their doing so is a real offering of Christ; and, at the same time, the people are obliged to show all possible marks of sorrow, such as beating their breasts, shaking their heads, &c, as though they really saw Christ on the cross. But it is a profaning of the Lord’s supper, to say that Christ is really and visibly offered in it by the hands of the priest; and is contrary to what the apostle says of his having been but ‘once offered to bear the sins of many.’ [Hebrews 10:28] —Moreover, they use several superstitious ceremonies in baptism, which have, indeed, a show of religion, but want a divine sanction, and are no other than an addition to Christ’s institution. Thus they use spittle, salt, and cream, besides the water with which the child is to be baptized; and anoint it with oil, and use exorcism, commanding the unclean spirit to depart out of it, and signing it with the sign of the cross; at which they suppose the devil to be so terrified, that he is obliged to leave it, being by this means, as it were, frightened away. The principal reason, however, which they give for their adding this ceremony to Christ’s institution, is to signify that the child is hereby obliged to fight manfully under Christ’s banner. But this ceremony neither increases nor diminishes the child’s obligation; and it is a sign which Christ makes no mention of.—We may mention also their frequent crossing of themselves, as a preservative against sin, and as a means to keep them from the power of the devil, and to render their prayers acceptable in the sight of God; the splendor and magnificence of their churches, and especially the shape and figure of them, as accommodated to that of Solomon’s temple, and their situation east and west; also their bowing to the altar, which is placed in the east,—a practice for which there is not the least shadow of argument in scripture, or example in the purest ages of the Church; the ludicrous and unwarrantable ceremonies used in the consecration of churches, and the reverence which every one must show to places thus consecrated, even at other times than that of divine worship. We may add, that there are many superstitious ceremonies in consecrating all the vessels and utensils which are used in their churches. Yea, the very bells are baptized, or, as they express it, consecrated, in order that the devil may be afraid of the sound of them, and keep his distance from those places of worship in which they are fixed. But such charms can be reckoned only the sport of the powers of darkness, or looked on by them with contempt.—Again, the Papists ascribe a divine, yea, a meritorious virtue, to the frequent repeating of the Lord’s prayer in Latin, commonly called ‘ Pater noster,’ and the angel’s salutation of the Virgin Mary, [Mentioned in Luke 1:28] called ‘Ave Maria.’ The words of this salutation they put a corrupt sense upon, contrary to their proper meaning and the recitation of them; and whether they be understood or not, it is reckoned acceptable service.—We may mention likewise the distinction of garments, and the relative holiness of the persons who wear them, as signified by that distinction. We may mention, too, the canonical hours which are appointed for the performing of divine service; especially if we consider the reason which they allege for the practice, namely, that there was something remarkable done or suffered by Christ at those hours in the day. These things argue them guilty of superstition.—We might take notice also of the many things which they make merchandise of, as consecrated bread, wax-candles, &c. They ascribe to these a spiritual virtue, or some advantage to be received by those who purchase them; and so they advance the price of them. There are also the relics which they call the church’s treasure, or those rarities which they purchase at a great rate; though some of the wiser Papists have made but a jest of them.— We pass by, for brevity’s sake, many other superstitious ceremonies used by them, and observe only their bowing at the name of Jesus. This practice can hardly be vindicated from the charge of superstition, especially as no extraordinary expression of reverence is made at the mention of those incommunicable attributes of God which are ascribed to him; nor, indeed, do they bow the knee at the mentioning of the word ‘Savior,’ ‘Christ,’ or ‘Emmanuel,’ or when any other divine characters are given him. The only scripture they make use of to vindicate this practice, is Philippians 2:10, ‘That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.’ But it is plain that this ‘bowing the knee’ does not signify a bodily gesture, but only a subjection of soul to Christ, as ‘angels, authorities, and powers’ are said to be ‘made subject unto him.’ [1 Peter 3:22] These, indeed, are a very considerable part of the inhabitants of heaven, but they have no knees to bow; and as for ‘things under the earth,’ that is, the powers of darkness, they do not bow to him in a way of worship, but are subjected to him as conquered enemies.

3. We now proceed to consider that they are guilty of the breach of this commandment, who frame an image of any of the persons of the Godhead, or of any creature in heaven or earth, as a means or help made use of in order to their worshiping God. Here it must be inquired whether the making of images, absolutely or in all respects, be unlawful. It is generally answered that, if pictures representing creatures, either in heaven or earth, be made with no other design but, in an historical way, to propagate the memory of persons and their actions to posterity, the making of them seems not to be a breach of this commandment. But the sin forbidden in it, expressed in those words, ‘Making to ourselves the image or likeness of creatures in heaven or earth,’ is committed when we design to worship God by the images. Accordingly, the using of bodily gestures to them, such as those which were used in the worship of God, as bowing, uncovering the head, &c, wherein a person designs an act of worship, is idolatry. Even if nothing else is intended but the worshiping of God by the images, the use of them can hardly be excused from at least the appearance of idolatry; so that, according to one of the rules before laid down for understanding the ten commandments, it is to be reckoned a breach of the second commandment; which is what we are now considering. [see page 312] —Again, it must be inquired whether it be unlawful to represent any of the persons in the Godhead, by pictures or carved images? We answer, that, God being infinite and incomprehensible, it is impossible to frame any image like him. [Isaiah 40:18; 46:5; Acts 17:29] Moreover, he assigns as a reason why Israel should make no image of him, that ‘they saw no manner of similitude when he spake to them in Horeb, out of the midst of the fire;’ and adds, ‘lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image.’ [Deuteronomy 4:15, 16] And the apostle styles the representing of God by an image, an offering the highest affront to him, when he speaks of some who ‘changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man.’ [Romans 1:23] But there are some who, though they do not much care to defend the practice of making pictures of God, yet plead for describing an emblem of the Trinity, such as a triangle, with the name Jehovah in the midst of it. Now, I would observe concerning this practice, that if the design of it be to worship God by the emblem, it is idolatry; but if not, it is unwarrantable, and, indeed, unnecessary; since a Trinity of persons in the unity of the divine essence, is to be understood as revealed in scripture, and not brought to our remembrance by an emblem, which is an ordinance of our own invention. It is farther inquired whether we may not describe our Saviour, as he sometimes is by the Papists, in those things which respect his human nature? whether we may not portray him as an infant in his mother’s arms, or as conversing on earth, or hanging on the cross? The Papists not only describe him thus, but adore the image or representation of Christ crucified, which they call a crucifix. But whatever of Christ comes within the reach of the art of man to delineate or describe, is only his human nature, which is not the object of divine adoration; so that the practice of describing him in the way mentioned tends rather to debase, than to give us raised and becoming conceptions of him as such.

As God is sometimes represented as having a body or bodily parts, and as the prophet Daniel describes God the Father as ‘the Ancient of days;’ [Daniel 7:9] some suppose that it is not unlawful for them to make such representations of him by images. But God’s being described by the parts of human bodies, is in condescension to the weakness of our capacities, or agreeable to human modes of speaking; according to which the eye signifies wisdom, the arm power, the heart love, &c. We are, notwithstanding these modes of expression, to abstract, in our thoughts, every thing which is carnal or applicable to the creature, when conceiving of God; and therefore not to give occasion to any to think that he is like ourselves, by describing him in such a way. The Papists not only plead for making such images, but set them up in churches, calling them the laymen’s books, with a design to instruct them in those things which the images represent. But such a method of instruction is without any warrant from scripture, as well as contrary to the practice of the purest ages of the church; who always thought that the word of God was sufficient to lead them into the knowledge of himself, without making use of a picture for that purpose.— Yet though this color is put on the practice of setting up such images in churches, there are some of the Papists who plead for the worship of images only with this distinction, that it is a subordinate or a relative worship which they give to them, while, at the same time, the highest worship is given to God only. But they cannot thus exculpate themselves from the charge of idolatry. Indeed, in some of their books of devotion, we find the same expressions used when they address themselves to the creature, as if they were paying divine adoration to God; particularly in the book, which is well known among them, called the Virgin Mary’s Psalter, in which her name is often inserted instead of the name of God, which is the highest strain of blasphemy. Thus when it is said,’O come let us kneel before the Lord our Maker,’ [Psalm 95:6] instead of ‘the Lord,’ they put ‘the Virgin Mary;’ and when it is said, ‘Have mercy upon me, 0 God,’ [Psalm 51:1] they pray, ‘Have mercy upon me, O Lady,’ &c. These expressions cannot be read without detestation ; and there are in that book many more of a similar kind. When this has been objected against them as a specimen of their idolatry, all the reply they make is, that the book was written by a private person as an help to devotion, but not established by the authority of the church, which is not to be charged with every absurdity which some of their communion may advance. We reply, that the church of Rome has been very ready to condemn better books, written by those who were not in her communion; while she has never publicly condemned this book, but rather commended it as written with a good design. Besides, there are many blasphemous expressions given to the Virgin Mary, in their Breviaries and Missals, which are used by public authority. Thus she is often addressed in such characters as these,—’the mother of mercy,’ ‘the gate of heaven,’ ‘the queen of heaven,’ ‘the empress of the world;’ and sometimes she is desired not only to pray her son to help them, but, by the authority of a mother, to command him to do it. At other times, they desire her to help and save them herself; and accordingly they give her the title of Redeemer and Savior, as well as our Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes also they profess to put their trust and confidence in her. Now, if this be not idolatry, where is there any to be found in the world?

We may notice, likewise, that idolatry which is practiced by them in their devotion to the images of other saints. Every saint in their calendar is called upon in his turn. Among those, indeed, some were good men, as the martyrs, who refused to be worshiped while on earth; how much soever the Papists worship them now that they are in heaven. But there are others whom the Popes have canonized as saints, who were little better than devils incarnate, while they were upon earth; and others were rebels and traitors to their king and country, and suffered the just reward of their wickedness. Such as these are found among those whom they pay this worship to. There are also others whom they worship as saints, concerning whom it may be much questioned whether there ever were such persons in the world. These may be called fabulous saints; yet images are made to their honor, and prayers directed to them. There are also things worshiped by them which never had life, as the picture of the cross, and many pretended relics of the saints. Upon the whole, therefore, we cannot but think that we have, in this mode of worship, a notorious instance of the breach of the second commandment; and we cannot but conclude that, in rendering this worship, they have apostatized or turned aside from the purity of the gospel.

It may be observed, that the church, for the first three hundred years after Christ, had comparatively but little superstition and no idolatry. But in the fourth century, superstition began to insinuate itself into it. Then it was that the pictures of the martyrs, who had suffered in Christ’s cause, were first set up in churches, though without any design of worshiping them; and the setting of them up was not universally approved of. As for image-worship, it was not brought into the church till above seven hundred years after Christ; and then there was a considerable opposition made to it by some. This kind of worship was set up in one reign, and prohibited in another; but afterwards it universally prevailed in the Romish church, when arrived at that height of impiety and idolatry, without opposition, which it maintains at this day.

The Reasons annexed to the Second Commandment.

We now proceed to observe the reasons annexed to this Commandment. These are taken from the consideration of what God is in himself: ‘I am the Lord,’ or ‘Jehovah.’ This being a name never given to any creature, is expressive of all his divine perfections, which render him the object of worship, and oblige us to perform that worship which he requires, in such a way as is agreeable to his character. He also styles himself a God to his people: ‘I am thy God.’ Hence, to set up strange gods, or to worship him in a way not prescribed by him, is a violation of his covenant, as well as not performing the duty we owe to him, and would render us unfit to be owned by him as his people. Moreover, they who thus corrupt themselves, and pervert his worship, are styled haters of him, and therefore can expect nothing but to be dealt with as enemies. This he gives them to understand, in his styling himself ‘a jealous,’ or sin-revenging God, ‘visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children.’ For understanding this language, let it be considered that, though God does not punish children with eternal destruction for the sins of their immediate parents, yet these often bring temporal judgments on families. Thus all the children of Israel who murmured and despised the good land, so far bare their fathers’ iniquity, that they wandered in the wilderness nearly forty years. Again, these judgments fall more heavily on those children who make their parents’ sins their own. This was the case of the Jews. Hence, our Savior tells them that ‘all the blood that was shed upon the earth, should come upon them, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, whom they slew between the temple and the altar.’ [Matthew 23:35] They approved and committed the same sins which their fathers were guilty of, and consequently are said to have ‘filled up the measure of their sins.’ Hence, the judgments of God which they exposed themselves to, were most terrible. Further, whatever temporal judgments may bo inflicted on children for their parents’ sins, shall be sanctified, and redound to their spiritual advantage, as well as end in their everlasting happiness, if they do not follow their bad example. Accordingly, it is farther observed that God ‘shows mercy unto thousands of them that love him and keep his commandments.’ These are very great motives and inducements to enforce the observance of all God’s commandments, and this in particular.

Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms on the Second Commandment

August 15, 2010

From the Westminster Shorter Catechism

Q. 49. Which is the second commandment?
A. 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 shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.[126]

Q. 50. What is required in the second commandment?
A. The second commandment requireth the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath appointed in his Word.[127]

Q. 51. What is forbidden in the second commandment?
A. The second commandment forbiddeth the worshiping of God by images,[128] or any other way not appointed in his Word.[129]

Q. 52. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment?
A. The reasons annexed to the second commandment are, God’s sovereignty over us,[130] his propriety in us,[131] and the zeal he hath to his own worship.[132]

[126] Exodus 20:4-6. 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. Deuteronomy 5:8-10. Thou shalt not make 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 waters beneath the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto 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.

[127] Deuteronomy 12:32. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. Matthew 28:20. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

[128] Deuteronomy 4:15-19. Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven. Romans 1:22-23. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

[129] Leviticus 10:1-2. And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. Jeremiah 19:4-5. Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents; They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind: Colossians 2:18-23. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

[130] Psalm 95:2-3, 6-7. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods…. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, Psalm 96:9-10. O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth. Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.

[131] Exodus 19:5. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: Psalm 45:11. So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him. Isaiah 54:5. For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

[132] Exodus 34:14. For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: 1 Corinthians 10:22. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?


From the Westminster Larger Catechism

Q. 107. Which is the second commandment?

A. The second commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any 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. 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.[517]

Q. 108. What are the duties required in the second commandment?

A. The duties required in the second commandment are, the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath instituted in his Word;[518] particularly prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ;[519] the reading, preaching, and hearing of the Word;[520] the administration and receiving of the sacraments;[521] church government and discipline;[522] the ministry and maintainance thereof;[523] religious fasting;[524] swearing by the name of God;[525] and vowing unto him;[526] as also the disapproving, detesting, opposing all false worship;[527] and, according to each one’s place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry.[528]

Q. 109. What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?

A. The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising,[529] counselling,[530] commanding,[531] using,[532] and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself;[533] tolerating a false religion; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever;[534] all worshipping of it,[535] or God in it or by it;[536] the making of any representation of feigned deities,[537] and all worship of them, or service belonging to them,[538] all superstitious devices,[539] corrupting the worship of God,[540] adding to it, or taking from it,[541] whether invented and taken up of ourselves,[542] or received by tradition from others,[543] though under the title of antiquity,[544] custom,[545] devotion,[546] good intent, or any other pretence whatsoever;[547] simony;[548] sacrilege;[549] all neglect,[550] contempt,[551] hindering,[552] and opposing the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed.[553].

Q. 110. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it?

A. The reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it, contained in these words, 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;[554] are, besides God’s sovereignty over us, and propriety in us,[555] his fervent zeal for his own worship,[556] and his revengeful indignation against all false worship, as being a spiritual whoredom;[557] accounting the breakers of this commandment such as hate him, and threatening to punish them unto divers generations;[558] and esteeming the observers of it such as love him and keep his commandments, and promising mercy to them unto many generations.[559].

[517] Exodus 20:4-6. 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.

[518] Deuteronomy 32:46-47. And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it. Matthew 28:20. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Acts 2:42. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 1 Timothy 6:13-14. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[519] Philippians 4:6. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Ephesians 5:20. Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[520] Deuteronomy 17:18-19. And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them. Acts 15:21. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. 2 Timothy 4:2. Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. James 1:21-22. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. Acts 10:33. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.

[521] Matthew 28:19. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. 1 Corinthians 11:23-30. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

[522] Matthew 18:15-17. Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican. Matthew 16:19. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 1 Corinthians 5 (entire). 1 Corinthians 12:28. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

[523] Ephesians 4:11-12. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. 1 Timothy 5:17-18. Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. 1 Corinthians 9:7-15. Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.

[524] Joel 2:12, 18. Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning…. Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people. 1 Corinthians 7:5. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

[525] Deuteronomy 6:13. Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.

[526] Psalm 76:11. Vow, and pay unto the LORD your God: let all that be round about him bring presents unto him that ought to be feared.

[527] Acts 17:16-17. Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. Psalm 16:4. Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.

[528] Deuteronomy 7:5. But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. Isaiah 30:22. Ye shall defile also the covering of thy graven images of silver, and the ornament of thy molten images of gold: thou shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth; thou shalt say unto it, Get thee hence.

[529] Numbers 15:39. And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring.

[530] Deuteronomy 13:6-8. If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him.

[531] Hosea 5:11. Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment. Micah 6:16. For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab, and ye walk in their counsels; that I should make thee a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing: therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people.

[532] 1 Kings 11:33. Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father. 1 Kings 12:33. So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.

[533] Deuteronomy 12:30-32. Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

[534] Deuteronomy 4:15-19. Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven. Acts 17:29. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. Romans 1:21-23, 25. Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things…. Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

[535] Daniel 3:18. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Galatians 4:8. Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.

[536] Exodus 32:5. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.

[537] Exodus 32:8. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

[538] 1 Kings 18:26, 28. And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made…. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. Isaiah 65:11. But ye are they that forsake the LORD, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number.

[539] Acts 17:22. Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. Colossians 2:21-23 (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

[540] Malachi 1:7-8, 14. Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts….But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.

[541] Deuteronomy 4:2. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

[542] Psalm 106:39. Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions.

[543] Matthew 15:9. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

[544] 1 Peter 1:18. Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers.

[545] Jeremiah 44:17. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.

[546] Isaiah 65:3-5. A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick; Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day. Galatians 1:13-14. For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

[547] 1 Samuel 13:11-12. And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering. 1 Samuel 15:21. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.

[548] Acts 8:18. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money.

[549] Romans 2:22. Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Malachi 3:8. Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

[550] Exodus 4:24-26. And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.

[551] Matthew 22:5. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise. Malachi 1:7, 13. Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible…. Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD.

[552] Matthew 23:13. But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

[553] Acts 13:44-45. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16. Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

[554] Exodus 20:5-6. 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.

[555] Psalm 45:11. So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him. Revelation 15:3-4. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.

[556] Exodus 34:13-14. But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

[557] 1 Corinthians 10:20-22. But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he? Deuteronomy 32:16-20. They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee. And when the LORD saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters. And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.

[558] Hosea 2:2-4. Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms.

[559] Deuteronomy 5:29. O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!

Arminius’ Supposed Impact on Calvinism

December 5, 2009

Dan (aka GodIsMyJudge) has provided a post alleging another impact of Arminius on Calvinism (link to his post). The first part of his post I’ll pass over, since I feel my previous post (link to my previous post) has adequately addressed that issue.

However, Dan states:

TF notes well the WCF is open to supra, but WCF is also open to unlimited atonement. It was written such that both 5 point Calvinists and 4 pointers would be satisfied. TF himself has noted Arminius’ influence on Amyraldianism. So that’s another way in which Arminius impacted Calvinism.

No, the WCF is not open to unlimited atonement. The WCF states:

To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, and revealing unto them, in and by the Word, the mysteries of salvation; effectually persuading them by his Spirit to believe and obey; and governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit; overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner and ways as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.

– Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 8, Paragraph 8

Similarly, the Westminster Larger Catechism explains:

Q. 59. Who are made partakers of redemption through Christ?

A. Redemption is certainly applied, and effectually communicated, to all those for whom Christ hath purchased it; who are in time by the Holy Ghost enabled to believe in Christ according to the gospel.

– Westminster Larger Catechism, Question/Answer 59

So, no. While Arminius may have been an influence on Amyraut and the school of Saumur, the Amyraldian position is excluded by the Westminster Confession of Faith.

-TurretinFan

Justification – Part III

July 28, 2008

We now continue our consideration of Justification by examining some of the Reformed catechisms and their discussion on justification. Part I of this series (link) dealt with some of the major Reformed creedal statements, and Part II of this series (link) addressed the Helvetic Consensus. I have omitted many catechisms that could be added, which would mostly repeat (with minor variation) one or more of the following (especially the Catechism for Young Children and the Westminster Shorter Catechism).

Catechism for Young Children
Q. 50. What is justification?
A. It is God’s forgiving sinners, and treating them as if they had never sinned.

Catechism of the Church of Geneva
M. As we understand the foundation on which faith ought to rest, it will be easy to extract from it a true definition of faith.

S. It will. It may be defined — a sure and steadfast knowledge of the paternal goodwill of God toward us, as he declares in the gospel that for the sake of Christ he will be our Father and Savior.

M. Do we conceive faith of ourselves, or do we receive it from God

S. Scripture teaches that it is the special gift of God, and this experience confirms.

M. What experience do you mean?

S. Our mind is too rude to be able to comprehend the spiritual wisdom of God which is revealed to us by faith, and our hearts are too prone; either to diffidence or to a perverse confidence in ourselves or creatures, to rest in God of their own accord. But the Holy Spirit by his illumination makes us capable of understanding those things which would otherwise far exceed our capacity, and forms us to a firm persuasion, by sealing the promises of salvation on our hearts.

M. What good accrues to us from this faith, when we have once obtained it?

S. It justifies us before God, and this justification makes us the heirs of everlasting life.

M. What! are not men justified by good works when they study to approve themselves to God, by living innocently and holily?

S. Could any one be found so perfect, he might justly be deemed righteous, but as we are all sinners, guilty before God in many ways, we must seek elsewhere for a worthiness which may reconcile us to him.

M. But are all the works of men so vile and valueless that they cannot merit favor with God?

S. First, all the works which proceed from us, so as properly to be called our own, are vicious, and therefore they can do nothing but displease God, and be rejected by him.

M. You say then that before we are born again and formed anew by the Spirit of God, we can do nothing but sin, just as a bad tree can only produce bad fruit? (Matthew 7:18.)

S. Altogether so. For whatever semblance works may have in the eyes of men:. they are nevertheless evil, as long as the heart to which God chiefly looks is depraved.

M. Hence you conclude, that we cannot by any merits anticipate God or call forth his beneficence; or rather that all the works which we try or engage in, subject us to his anger and condemnation?

S. I understand so; and therefore mere mercy, without any respect to works, (Titus 3:5,) embraces and accepts us freely in Christ, by attributing his righteousness to us as if it were our own, and not imputing our sins to us.

M. In what way, then, do you say that we are justified by faith?

S. Because, while we embrace the promises of the gospel with sure heartfelt confidence, we in a manner obtain possession of the righteousness of which I speak.

M. This then is your meaning — that as righteousness is offered to us by the gospel, so we receive it by faith?

S. It is so.

M. But after we have once been embraced by God, are not the works which we do under the direction of his Holy Spirit accepted by him?

S. They please him, not however in virtue of their own worthiness, but as he liberally honors them with his favor.

M. But seeing they proceed from the Holy Spirit, do they not merit favor?

S. They are always mixed up with some defilement from the weakness of the flesh, and thereby vitiated.

M. Whence then or how can it be that they please God?

S. It is faith alone which procures favor for them, as we rest with assured confidence on this — that God wills not to try them by his strict rule, but covering their defects and impurities as buried in the purity of Christ, he regards them in the same light as if they’ were absolutely perfect.

M. But can we infer from this that a Christian man is justified by works after he has been called by God, or that by the merit of works he makes himself loved by God, whose love is eternal life to us?

S. By no means. We rather hold what is written — that no man can be justified in his sight, and we therefore pray, “Enter not into judgment with us.” (Psalm 143:2)

M. We are not therefore to think that the good works of believers are useless?

S. Certainly not. For not in vain does God promise them reward both in this life and in the future. But this reward springs from the free love of God as its source; for he first embraces us as sons, and then burying the remembrance of the vices which proceed from us, he visits us with his favor.

M. But can this righteousness be separated from good works, so that he who has it; may be void of them?

S. That cannot be. For when by faith we receive Christ as he is offered to us, he not only promises :us deliverance from death and reconciliation with God, but also the gift of the Holy Spirit, by which we are regenerated to newness of life; these things midst necessarily be conjoined so as not to divide ,Christ from himself.

M. Hence it follows that; faith is the root from which all good works spring, so far is it from taking us off from the study of them?

S. So indeed it is; and hence the whole doctrine of the gospel is comprehended! under the two branches, faith and repentance.

James Boyce’s Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine
1. What is Justification?

It is an act of God, by which He fully acquits us of all sin.

2. Is it based upon any works of our own?

It is not; by our own works we could never secure it.

3. Is it not, however, intimately connected with some act of ours?

Yes, with the exercise of faith.

4. Is it due to our faith in Christ?

It is not; that faith becomes the instrument only, not the cause of our justification.

5. To what, then, is it due?

Simply to the merits and sufferings of Christ, which are accounted by God as ours.

6. What do the Scriptures mean when they say that we are justified by faith?

In part, they are teaching that our justification is not by works.

7. What else do they mean?

They also speak thus, because in the act of faith the believer takes hold of the meritorious work of Christ, which is the ‘true ground of justification.

8. Why does the Apostle James say that we are justified by works and not by faith only?

He refers to the fact that every one that has true faith also performs good works.

A Catechism of Bible Teaching (1892)
1. What is meant in the Bible by justification?
A. God justifies a sinner in treating him as just, for Christ’s sake.

2. Can any person be justified by his own works
A. By works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (Rom. 3:20)

3. How are we justified by path?
A. Believing in Christ our Savior, we ask and receive justification for His sake alone. (Rom. 3:24; 5:1)

4. Has this faith that justifies any connection with our works?
A. The faith that justifies will be sure to produce good works. (Gal. 5:6; James 2:17)

5. What is meant by sanctification
A. To sanctify is to make holy in heart and life.

6. What connection is there between sanctification and regeneration?
A. The new birth is the beginning of a new and holy life.

7. Is justification complete at once?
A. Yes, the moment a sinner really believes in Christ he is completely justified.

8. Is sanctification complete at once?
A. No, sanctification is gradual, and ought to go on increasing to the end of the earthly life. (Phil. 3:13; 14)

9. Is it certain that a true believer in Christ will be finally saved?
A. Yes, God will preserve a true believer in Christ to the end. (John 10:28; Phil. 1:6)

10. What is the sure proof of being a true believer?
A. The only sure proof of being a true believer is growing in holiness and in usefulness, even to the end. (2 Pet. 1:10)

11. To what will justification and sanctification lead at last?
A. Justification and sanctification will lead at last to glorification in heaven. (Rom. 5:2; 8:30; Matt. 25:21)

Q. A. How can it be right for God to treat a believing sinner as just, when he has only began a holy life?
A. God treats a believing sinner as just for Christ’s sake, and God will be sure to make him completely holy in the end. (Rom. 3:26)

Q. B. Does faith in Christ procure justification by deserving it?
A. No, faith does not deserve justification; it only brings us into union with Christ, for whose sake we are justified. (Rom. 8:1)

Compend of Christian Doctrines Held by Baptists
Q. (26) What is justification?
A. Pardoning the believer and accepting him as righteous through the name and righteousness of Christ. Rom. iii: 24 and v: 1; Gal. ii: 16; 1 Cor. v: 11; Tit. iii: 7.

Philadelphia Baptist Catechism
Q. 98. What immediately follows when we believe the Gospel?
A. Justification
Scr. “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law — Romans 3:28 See also Romans 5:1

Q. 99. What does it mean to be justified?
A. To be justified is to be counted just, or righteous, before God.
Scr. “To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus.” — Romans 3:26

Q. 100. How can sinful men be counted just before God?
A. Only when he appears before God in the righteousness of Christ
Scr. “not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith :“ — Philippians 3:9 See also Roman5 3:25; 5:17

Q. 101. Is this righteousn~55 of Christ poured into the saints so that they become Personally righteous before God?
A. No, for if they were Personally righteous they would not live by faith.
Scr. “The just shall live by faith.” — Galatians 3:11 See also Philippians 3:9; Galatians 5:5; Romans 4:5-8

Q. 102. Then how can a man ever be Clothed with the righteousne55 of Christ?
A. Christ Jesus took our nature that He might live and die for His people, and be able to present them before God clothed in His righteousness
Scr. “And again, Behold I and the children which God has given Me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. — Hebrews 2:13, 14 See also verse17; Romans 4:25; 1 Peter 2:24

Q. 103. How does God justify the elect by the righteousness of Christ?
A. By crediting them with the righteousnc55 of Christ’s life while Lie was on earth.
Scr. “For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” — 2 Corinthians 5:21 See also Romans 4:22-25; 8:1, 2, 4; 5:21

Q. 104. When is a man actually justified?
A. Immediately when he has believed in Christ.
Scr. “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other:” — Luke 18:14

Q. 105. What is the instrument by which we receive justification?
A. Faith
Scr. “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law Romans 3:28

Q. 106. If a man is once justified before God, can he ever be counted unrighteous again?
A. No, because God accepts the righteousness of Christ for ever.
Scr. “Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” — Romans 8:30 See also verses 33, 34

Q. 107. Can a man justify his sin because he is eternally justified before God.
A. No, in no way, but he must humble himself, confess his sin, repent, and renew his faith.
Scr. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all urighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His ward is not in us.” — 1 John 1:8-10 See also Romans 6:1, 2; Psalm 32:5

Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 33. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace,[91] wherein he pardoneth all our sins,[92] and accepteth us as righteous in His sight,[93] only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us,[94] and received by faith alone.[95]

[91] Romans 3:24. Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

[92] Romans 4:6-8. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. 2 Corinthians 5:19. To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

[93] 2 Corinthians 5:21. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

[94] Romans 4:6, 11. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works…. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: Romans 5:19. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

[95] Galatians 2:16. Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Philippians 3:9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.

Westminster Larger Catechism
Q. 70. What is justification?

A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace unto sinners,[286] in which he pardoneth all their sins, accepteth and accounteth their persons righteous in his sight;[287] not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them,[288] but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them,[289] and received by faith alone.[290]

Q. 71. How is justification an act of God’s free grace?

A. Although Christ, by his obedience and death, did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice in the behalf of them that are justified;[291] yet in as much as God accepteth the satisfaction from a surety, which he might have demanded of them, and did provide this surety, his own only Son,[292] imputing his righteousness to them,[293] and requiring nothing of them for their justification but faith,[294] which also is his gift,[295] their justification is to them of free grace.[296]

Q. 72. What is justifying faith?

A. Justifying faith is a saving grace,[297] wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit[298] and Word of God,[299] whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition,[300] not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel,[301] but receiveth and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin,[302] and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.[303]

Q. 73. How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?

A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it,[304] nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification;[305] but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.[306]

[287] 2 Corinthians 5:19, 21. To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation…. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Romans 3:22, 24-25, 27-28. Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference…. Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God…. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

[288] Titus 3:5, 7. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost…. That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Ephesians 1:7. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.

[289] Romans 5:17-19. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Romans 4:6-8. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

[290] Acts 10:43. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. Galatians 2:16. Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Philippians 3:9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.

[291] Romans 5:8-10, 19. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life…. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

[292] 1 Timothy 2:5-6. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Hebrews 10:10. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Matthew 20:28. Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Daniel 9:24, 26. Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy…. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. Isaiah 53:4-6, 10-12. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all…. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Hebrews 7:22. By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. Romans 8:32. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 1 Peter 1:18-19. Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

[293] 2 Corinthians 5:21. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

[294] Romans 3:24-25. Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.

[295] Ephesians 2:8. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.

[296] Ephesians 1:17. That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.

[297] Hebrews 10:39. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

[298] 2 Corinthians 4:13. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak. Ephesians 1:17-19. That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.

[299] Romans 10:14-17. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

[300] Acts 2:37. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Acts 16:30. And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? John 16:8-9. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me. Romans 6:6. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Ephesians 2:1. And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. Acts 4:12. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

[301] Ephesians 1:13. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.

[302] John 1:12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. Acts 16:31. And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. Acts 10:43. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

[303] Philippians 3:9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. Acts 15:11. But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

[304] Galatians 3:11. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. Romans 3:28. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

[305] Romans 4:5. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Romans 10:10. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

[306] John 1:12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. Philippians 3:9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. Galatians 1:16. To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.

-TurretinFan


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