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 31, 2018

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q27

The Doctrinal Heading for this section of questions (Q27-28)is The Humiliation and Exaltation of Jesus Christ.(see Harmony Index)

“The Cross and the Crown” – “No Crown without the Cross”
These two statements have been bannered over the pavilion of the Christian faith from its very inception. That all men, in some way, seek victory, glory, and exaltation is certainly evident. That all men are willing to bear a cross to achieve a crown is, however, another thing.
Can it be otherwise? Can we find true blessing without first denying ourselves? The answer is clear to every one of us, if we denyour natural impulse to suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Adam’s first sin involved choosing himself first, grasping for the crown of “knowledge” apart from the path of obedience. His fall plunged all mankind into the depths of sin, resulting in death and the need for an atoning sacrifice. The way back to the life that Adam lost is the way of death and self-sacrifice. But who is able to walk that path?
Praise God, it is Christ Jesus who is both able and willing to save to the uttermost those who are under the pavilion banner of his love, where holy justice is satisfied. That banner displays the Cross on which he died and the Crown which he wears; ruling heaven and earth in the hearts of his people in his kingdom of righteousness and glory.
In this catechism lesson we observe the travail that preceded the victory of our Lord and Savior.
WSC Q27. Wherein did Christ’s humiliation consist?
A. Christ’s humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition[a], made under the law[b], undergoing the miseries of this life[c], the wrath of God[d], and the cursed death of the cross[e], in being buried and continuing under the power of death for a time[f].
[a] Luke 2:7; II Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:6-8
[b] Gal. 4:4
[c] Is. 53:3; Luke 9:58; John 4:6; 11:35; Heb. 2:18
[d] Ps. 22:1; Matt. 27:46; Luke 22:41-44; Is. 53:10; I John 2:2
[e] Gal. 3:13; Phil. 2:8
[f] Matt. 12:40; I Cor. 15:3, 4
Question 27 asks about Christ’s humiliation and answers that Christ was humiliated by being born as a man and born into a poor family; by being made subject to the law and suffering the miseries of this life, the anger of God, and the curse of death on the cross; and by being buried and remaining under the power of death for a time.
Comments and considerations:
Within a short reach from where I sit here at my desk are several commentaries and lesson books on our Confession and Catechisms. Often as I begin one of these weekly reviews, I wonder, “What can be said that has not already been said?” Yet our Savior is infinite, and his Word so wondrous, that there can be no end to our discovery of the grace and truth of our Lord. As we consider his incarnation, his submission and suffering for our redemption, which was his joy (Heb. 12:2), there is no end to the things we can learn. So, where to begin?
The Larger Catechism covers the topic of Christ’s humiliation in five questions (WLC Q46-50 - see below), beginning with “that low condition, wherein he for our sakes, emptying himself of his glory, took him the form of a servant.” It then examines the aspects of his humiliation—“his conception and birth, life, death, [estate] after his death, until his resurrection.” Thus the Larger Catechism gives an excellent summary of what our Lord traversed. He is the King of Glory who “took him the form of a servant” to become our Redeemer King.
The word “humiliation” aptly describes the Lord’s path downward from glory. In fact, a dictionary might say “see Jesus” as the single best example of what humiliation really means and does; no one else has faced humiliation to the degree that our Lord faced it in humbling himself to rescue his own from “the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death.” The Psalmist put it this way: “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people” (Ps. 22:6). The reference here to “a worm” is to no ordinary worm, but to one known as the crimson-grub, used for its scarlet color as a clothing dye. On this point we go to Matthew Henry:
Our fathers were honoured, the patriarchs in their day, first or last, appeared great in the eye of the world, Abraham, Moses, David; but Christ is a worm, and no man.It was great condescension that he became man, a step downwards, which is, and will be, the wonder of angels; yet, as if it were too much, too great, to be a man, he becomes a worm, and no man. He was Adam—a mean man,and Enosh—a man of sorrows,but lo Ish—not a considerable man:for he took upon him the form of a servant, and his visage was marred more than any man’s,Is. 52:14. Man, at the best, is a worm; but he became a worm, and no man.If he had not made himself a worm, he could not have been trampled upon as he was. The word signifies such a worm as was used in dyeing scarlet or purple, whence some make it an allusion to his bloody sufferings. See what abuses were put upon him.
1. He was reproached as a bad man, as a blasphemer, a sabbath-breaker, a wine-bibber, a false prophet, an enemy to Caesar, a confederate with the prince of the devils.
2. He was despised of the people as a mean contemptible man, not worth taking notice of, his country in no repute, his relations poor mechanics, his followers none of the rulers, or the Pharisees, but the mob.
3. He was ridiculed as a foolish man, and one that not only deceived others, but himself too. Those that saw him hanging on the cross laughed him to scorn. So far were they from pitying him, or concerning themselves for him, that they added to his afflictions, with all the gestures and expressions of insolence upbraiding him with his fall. They make mouths at him, make merry over him, and make a jest of his sufferings: They shoot out the lip, they shake their head,saying, This was he that said he trusted God would deliver him; now let him deliver him.David was sometimes taunted for his confidence in God; but in the sufferings of Christ this was literally and exactly fulfilled. Those very gestures were used by those that reviled him (Matt. 27. 39); they wagged their heads, nay, and so far did their malice make them forget themselves that they used the very words (v.43), He trusted in God; let him deliver him.Our Lord Jesus, having undertaken to satisfy for the dishonour we had done to God by our sins, did it by submitting to the lowest possible instance of ignominy and disgrace.
Such humiliation and shame! Our fathers truly understood the Scriptures. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary got it right, too: humiliation is “The act of humbling; the state of being humbled. 1. Descent from an elevated state or rank to one that is low or humble; i,e, The former was a humiliation of deity; the latter, a humiliation of manhood.” Read that carefully. How did Matthew Henry put it? “Man, at the best, is a worm; but he became a worm, and no man.If he had not made himself a worm, he could not have been trampled upon as he was.”
He was no mere man, this Savior of ours, “....the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.    Read Phil. 2:5-11. Consider it carefully and state it in your own words.
2.    How does Is. 40:14-17 describe God and compare him against the things of this world? Also see Ps. 95.
3.    Considering the above Scriptures, what was Christ’s position and relationship to the creation prior to his incarnation? Now look at John 7:1; 7:5; 8:48; 8:59; 12:27. After becoming a man, what was his relationship to these same created things?
4.    Jesus took to himself many difficult things in becoming a man. What might we to consider the most difficult thing he endured? See Is. 53:4-6, 10a.
5.    In becoming a man, what did Jesus do and provide for his own, that they could not do or obtain for themselves? See Gal. 3:13; II Cor. 8:9.
Harmony of the Standards:WSC Q# 27, WLC Q# 46 – 50 and WCF VIII.IV
WSC Q27. Wherein did Christ's humiliation consist?
A.  Christ's humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition[a], made under the law[b], undergoing the miseries of this life[c], the wrath of God[d], and the cursed death of the cross[e], in being buried and continuing under the power of death for a time[f].
[a] Luke 2:7; II Cor. 8:9; Phil 2:6-8.
[b] Gal. 4:4.
[c] Isa. 53:3; Luke 9:58; John 4:6; 11:35; Heb. 2:18.
[d] Ps. 22:1; Matt. 27:46; Luke 22:41-44; Isa. 53:10; I John 2:2.
[e] Gal. 3:13; Phil. 2:8.
[f] Matt. 12:40; I Cor. 15:3,4.
WLC Q46. What was the estate of Christ's humiliation?
A.  The estate of Christ's humiliation was that low condition, wherein he, for our sakes, emptying himself of his glory, took upon him the form of a servant, in his conception and birth, life, death, and after his death, until his resurrection[a].
[a] Phil. 2:6, 7, 8; Luke 1:31; II Cor. 8:9; Acts 2:24, Gal. 4:4.
WLC Q47. How did Christ humble himself in his conception and birth?
A.  Christ humbled himself in his conception and birth, in that, being from all eternity the Son of God in the bosom of the Father, he was pleased in the fullness of time to become the son of man, made of a woman of low estate, and to be born of her; with divers circumstances of more than ordinary abasement[a] .
[a] John 1:14, 18; Gal. 4:4; Luke 2:7.  See citations under Q.46.
WLC Q48. How did Christ humble himself in his life?
A.  Christ humbled himself in his life, by subjecting himself to the law[a], which he perfectly fulfilled[b], and by conflicting with the indignities of the world[c], temptations of Satan[d], and infirmities in his flesh; whether common to the nature of man, or particularly accompanying that his low condition[e].
[a] Gal. 4:4.
[b] Matt. 3:15; John 19:30; Rom. 5:19.
[c] Ps. 22:6; Heb. 12:2, 3;  Isa. 53:2.
[d] Matt. 4:1.  See verses 2-12; Luke 4:1-14.
[e] Heb. 2:17, 18; 4:15; Isa. 52:13, 14.
WLC Q49. How did Christ humble himself in his death?
A.  Christ humbled himself in his death, in that having been betrayed by Judas[a], forsaken by his disciples[b], scorned and rejected by the world[c], condemned by Pilate, and tormented by his persecutors[d]; having also conflicted with the terrors of death and the powers of darkness, felt and borne the weight of God's wrath[e], he laid down his life an offering for sin[f], enduring the painful, shameful, and cursed death of the cross[g].
[a] Matt. 27:4.
[b] Matt. 26:56.
[c] Luke 18:32, 33; Isa. 53:2-3
[d] Mat. 27:26; John 19:34; Luke 22:63, 64.
[e] Luke 22:44; Matt. 27:46; Rom. 8:32.
[f] Rom. 4:25; I Cor. 15:3; Isa. 53:10.
[g] Phil. 2:8; Heb. 12:2; Gal. 3:13.
WLC Q50. Wherein consisted Christ's humiliation after his death?
A.  Christ's humiliation after his death consisted in his being buried[a], and continuing in the state of the dead, and under the power of death till the third day[b], which hath been otherwise expressed in these words, He descended into hell.
[a] I Cor. 15:3, 4.
[b] Matt. 12:40;  Luke 18:33.
Of Christ the Mediator.
IV.This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake[a], which, that he might discharge, he was made under the law[b], and did perfectly fulfill it[c]; endured most grievous torments immediately in his soul[d], and most painful sufferings in his body [e]; was crucified, and died[f]; was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption[g].  On the third day he arose from the dead[h], with the same body in which he suffered[i]; with which also he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of his Father[j], making intercession[k]; and shall return to judge men and angels, at the end of the world[l].
[a] Ps. 40:7, 8; Phil. 2:5, 6, 7, 8.
[b] Gal. 4:4
[c] Matt. 3:15; John 17:4.
[d] Matt. 26:37, 38; Luke 22:44; Matt. 27:46.
[e] Matthew, chapters 26 and 27.
[f] Phil. 2:8.
[g] Acts. 2:24, 27; Acts 13:37.
[h] I Cor. 15:4.
[i] John 20:25, 27.
[j] Luke 24:50, 51; Acts 1:9; Acts 2:33, 34, 35, 36.
[k] Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25.
[l] Acts 10:42; Matt. 13:40-42; Matt. 16:27; Matt. 25:31, 32, 33; II Tim. 4:1.
Questions for further study:
There is so much here to ponder.  But consider this, when we think upon the humiliation of our Lord Jesus Christ, what is our immediate focal point?  The Shorter Catechism answer paints a very broad picture, yet quite often we think in terms centering upon the Cross.  But observe how each Larger Catechism question describes the breathe of Christ’s journey, saying even by conflicting with the indignities of the world, temptations of Satan, and infirmities in his flesh; whether common to the nature of man, or particularly accompanying that his low condition(WLC Q48).

When you consider that statement in the light of all that our fathers have captured here for our instruction, what ought to be, or how might we describe, the focal point for our humiliation as his disciples? How does Christ’s humiliation described in WSC Q27 give us pause to think more carefully about His command - the depth and breathe of it - when He tells us to take up our cross in our love for Him and one another?  

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