For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full (II Cor. 10:3-6).

Captive Thoughts” is dedicated to bringing every thought captive to Christ through the study of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, with primary focus on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. This effort is a compilation of several years of catechetical study conducted at Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Westminster, California, by its Christian Education Committee and the author of this site.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q26

The Doctrinal Heading for this section of questions (Q25-26)is The Offices of the Mediator: The Priestly and the Kingly.(see Harmony Index)
We have been learning about how Christ fulfills the work of redemption for his people. Our study has looked at Christ’s offices of Prophet and Priest; we now come to the third aspect, Christ’s office of a King.
Throughout Scripture—in fact, throughout human history and our daily experience—human beings tend to refuse to have “this man (or any) to rule over us.” We are by nature rebels in our hearts; we hate the mere thought of kings or authorities with the power to command. It is now the natural thing in Western culture to think in terms of democracy, and of individual choice and freedom. Yet we also see the opposite extreme in places where dictators and tribal “strong men” retain their authority over others through intimidation. We must approach this particular study with caution, that we may hear and receive a Biblical view of kingly authority and humble submission.
When I was a young boy, many people enjoyed a newspaper cartoon called “Pogo.” It was known for silly, but sometimes profound, statements and parodies; these were often quite to the point regarding culture and politics. Pogo is famous for this line: “We have seen the enemy, and he is us!” Of course the ironic humor of that statement needs a context; but the truth of Pogo’s profound words are not lost on those who understand that we are by nature our own worst enemy. Left to ourselves, our own choices will ultimately lead to our destruction. That is why we need a Shepherd King to rule and guide us in every way.
In her catechism devotional used in this study, Starr Meade discusses King David, a shepherd king who led God’s people but also demonstrated a heart that sometimes rebelled against the King of Kings. “At times he sinned miserably. At times he put what he wanted for himself before the will of God. He did some foolish and even sinful things that put his people in danger to get what he wanted for himself. In this, he showed the need for a sinless King who would always seek the will of God and the good of God’s people without ever failing.”
As you consider what follows, you ought to ask, “How goes it with me?” Will I embrace this “sinless King” as my own, or will rebellion and self-centeredness rule my thinking, attitude, and actions? Your answer has both temporal and eternal implications. May God bless this study for his glory in your life.
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WSC Q26. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?
A. Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself[a], in ruling and defending us[b], and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies[c].
[a] Ps. 110:3.
[b] Is. 33:22; Matt. 28:18-20; John 17:2; Col. 1:13.
[c] I Cor. 15:24-26; Acts 12:17; 18:9, 10; Ps. 2:6-9; 110:1-2; Matt. 12:28; Col. 2:15.
Question #26 asks how Christ performs the office of a king, and answers that as a king, Christ brings us under his power, rules and defends us, and restrains and conquers all his and all our enemies.
Comments and considerations:
It might seem to us in these modern times that kings are outdated, out of sync with current thoughts on individual liberty and democratic forms of governing. Yet many nations still retain monarchies in fact or as a figurehead of state. Why is it that?
The word kingmeans “a male sovereign or monarch; a man who holds by life tenure, and usually by hereditary right, the chief authority over a country and people.” More could be added, but please notice the phrase “usually by hereditary right.”Webster’s 1828 Dictionary includes this statement: “Kings are hereditary sovereigns, when they hold the powers of government by right of birth or inheritance, and elective, when raised to the throne by choice.”Although there are two ways to become a king, the primary way is “by right of birth or inheritance.”Why is that? Well, the definition goes on to say that the king is a “male,” which gives a hint. If we study the etymology of the word, we find that it comes from the word kin, which means  “a person’s relatives; kinfolk; a group of persons descended from a common ancestor or constituting a family, clan, tribe, or race.” Thus the concept of kingship grew from the concept of family headship, or “preeminence in a particular group, category, or sphere.” And so we see that the kingly office grew out of a group’s need for identity, cohesion, leadership, and protection.
Secular, religious, and biblical history is full of stories of the making and breaking of kings—the rise and fall of competent and incompetent, willing and unwilling, humble and tyrant alike; some worthy of respect, others only disdained and hated. Modern societies have abandoned the concept for more “enlightened” self-rule concepts that are fraught with their own dangers and which can enslave the unwary and naïve just as much as an incompetent or evil monarch. It is said that an enlightened monarchy is the best form of government, even better than a democracy that could lose its moral direction. But where to find and how to keep a wise, enlightened king, has always been the problem!
Christians, however, have such a King. And we are of his family, bought and born of his blood; his is the kinsman redeemer who in his wisdom has subdued our rebellious hearts to himself, and is willing to rule and defend us in righteousness. Furthermore, our kinsman redeemer also restrains and conquers all our enemies, as they are his—enemies of the family, the clan of the triune God to which we belong.
In I Samuel 8, Israel complained, wanting a king like the other nations. It’s interesting that the Lord did not make a bigger issue over this apparent rebellion; he gave in to their request to be like the nations that surrounded them. But there was a bigger point to be made, and it would take decades, centuries, even ages to learn it. Yes, we do need a king, an authority, a big brother, a kinsman, a father, a just head of state, a king of the kingdom to lead, subdue, rule, and defend us against all enemies within and without. Like Israel of old, whose heart was cold and indifferent to their true King (I Sam 8:7), having lost sight of the omnipotent Monarch, we too need to learn that lesson. We need to confess, as doubting Thomas finally did, “My Lord and My God”... “My Kurios*, My LORD, My Master, My King.” Even so, rule, Lord Jesus, both now and forevermore!
*Greek: Lord
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.    Read Is. 9:6-7. How does the existence of OT kings and ruling authorities help us understand the sovereign rule of God over his creation? What prophecy and promise is made in Is. 9:6-7, and to whom does this refer?
2.    In the answer to this catechism question, what is the first thing listed that Christ does in performing his office of King? How did Christ make a rebellious enemy a faithful servant in Acts 9:1-7?
3.    Read the rest of the story in Acts 9:10-17. Who was the other person who needed to recognize the rule and Lordship Jesus Christ? What did Jesus direct him to do?
4.    A king rules his people and can command them to do whatever he wishes. Sometimes in their warfare and life the servant may face difficulties or even death. But even in this, what promise is found in Rom. 8:31-39 concerning our righteous Savior King?
5.     What does Eph. 1:20-23 say will be the outcome of all of history? Also see Rev. 19: 11-16 and 17:14.
Harmony of the Standards:WSC Q# 26 and WLC Q# 45
WSC Q26. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?
A.  Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself[a], in ruling and defending us[b], and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies[c].
[a] Ps. 110:3
[b] Isa. 33:22; Matt. 28:18-20; John 17:2; Col. 1:13
[c] I Cor. 15:24-26; Acts 12:17; 18:9, 10; Ps. 2:6-9; 110:1-2; Matt. 12:28; Col. 2:15
WLC Q45. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?
A.  Christ executeth the office of a king, in calling out of the world a people to himself[a]; and giving them officers[b], laws[c], and censures, by which he visibly governs them[d]; in bestowing saving grace upon his elect[e], rewarding their obedience[f], and correcting them for their sins[g], preserving and supporting them under all their temptations and sufferings[h]; restraining and overcoming all their enemies[i], and powerfully ordering all things for his own glory[j], and their good[k]; and also in taking vengeance on the rest, who know not God, and obey not the gospel[l].
[a] Isa. 55:4-5; John 10:16; Acts 15:14-16; Gen. 49:10; Ps. 110:3.
[b] Eph. 4:11, 12; I Cor. 12:28.
[c] Matt. 28:19, 20;  Isa. 33:22
[d] Matt. 18:17, 18; I Cor. 5:4, 5; I Tim. 5:20; Tit. 3:10.
[e] Acts 5:31.
[f] Rev. 22:12; 2:10; Matt. 25:34-36; Rom. 2:7.
[g] Rev. 3:19; Heb. 12:6, 7.
[h] II Cor. 12:9, 10; Rom. 8:35-39; Isa. 63:9.
[i] I Cor. 15:25; Acts 12:17, Acts 18:9, 10; Ps. 110:1-2.
[j] Rom. 14:10-11; Col. 1:18; Matt. 28:19, 20.
[k] Rom. 8:28.
Questions for further study:

We note again how the Larger Catechism asks the same question as the Shorter as did the previous two questions, yet see here how extensively longer is the answer to the Larger.  What observations might we make from this longer answer?  What benefits and blessings are derived from Christ’s Kingship?

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