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, January 21, 2019

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q30


The Doctrinal Heading for this section of questions (Q29-31) is Regeneration; Union with Christ; Effectual Calling. (see Harmony Index)

Our study in the catechism now takes us to see how the Holy Spirit applies the redemption purchased by our Savior. As we ponder this wonderful statement, let’s add to our consideration Phil. 4:19—“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Truly, those who by grace claim the name of Christ as Lord and Savior have much reason to rejoice and give thanks.
May God strengthen our understanding, faith, and union in Christ to his praise, honor, and glory this very day as we spend time in this study.
***********
WSC Q30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us[a], and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling[b].
[a] Rom. 10:17; I Cor. 2:12-16; Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29
[b] John 15:5; I Cor. 1:9; I Cor. 6:17; Eph. 3:17; I Pet. 5:10
Question 30 asks how the Holy Spirit applies to us the redemption Christ bought, and answers that the Spirit applies to us the redemption Christ bought by producing faith in us and so uniting us to Christ in our effective calling.
Comments and considerations:
Do we rightly understand that our confessions and catechisms are our secondary standards, and that our primary standard—the first source for truth, faith, and practice—is the Bible, God’s Word? The best way to understand these statements of faith is to go meditate upon the supporting Scripture verses. I invite you to open your Bible to these familiar texts and consider them afresh. They are often referenced in sermons and devotionals; they are foundational to our faith and understanding.
Notice how, from these texts, our fathers weaved and worded this statement: The Spirit applies to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling. See how they understood from Scripture that this redemption is wholly the work of God; the Spirit provides—more than that—works into us a faith that wasn’t there before, thereby uniting, or engrafting, us into Christ in our effectual calling.
I love that phrase “effectual calling.” There is nowhere else in literature or language where that phrase can be used in a meaningful way. It is unique to the realities of redemption accomplished by Christ and applied by the Holy Spirit. I refer to John Murray again in Redemption Accomplished and Applied regarding “effectual calling”: 1) God is the author and 2) the specific agent. In this it has a 1) determinate purpose, 2) is eternal, 3) is in Christ alone, 4) bound with our union with Him, 5) and according to his sovereign will and act alone.
Now let’s step back and look at the question and answer. This time I would draw your attention to “apply” and “unite.” There are so many ways “apply” can be defined, but without going into a deep word study here, suffice it to say that its root form comes from the Latin applico, to fold or knit together; the Greek to knit, or twist; from which we get the English words ply, or employ. We might think here of plywood where various sheets of unwieldy wood are laminated, pressed, and glued together to form one unit. With this analogy we see how faith is the glue worked into that stubborn substance, the rebellious, even spiritually dead heart of the unregenerate; it unites us—bonds us—to Christ, effecting something new and useful in the craftsman’s hands.
Look at those proof texts again. What other verses can you think of which teach our union with Christ? How about II Cor. 5:17? “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.     This catechism question brings up the teaching regarding our being united to Christ, and the subsequent change in our identity and relationship to the first man, Adam. Adam is the father of the whole human race. Simply by being born, we are united to Adam, united with him in his sin. When Adam disobeyed God, it was counted as though we had disobeyed God, resulting in our sinful nature, wanting our own way rather than God’s, subject to death and condemnation. Read II Cor. 5:17 again. What is the result of our being united to Christ through faith by the Holy Spirit?
2.     Being spiritually dead in our sins, apart from Christ, we cannot please God (Rom. 8:8). Faith is the basis upon which we come to God and please him. But dead, without the ability to believe, how can we come? Where do we get the faith we need? See Eph. 2: 8-9.
3.     By faith in Christ and union with him, what happened to the believer upon the cross of Christ, and what was the result? See Gal. 2:20 and Rom 8:1. (1)
4.     By faith in Christ and union with him, what other significant event(s) occurred? See II Cor. 5:21; I Cor. 15:22; Rom. 6:4-7. (2)
5.     Having died and been made alive in Christ, what other blessings do we share as a result of our union with Christ? See Eph. 1:3 and 2:6-7; Col. 3:4.
(1) We died with him and are no longer subject to condemnation.
(2) We live with him and are being made free from sin.
Harmony of the Standards: WSC Q# 30 & WLC Q# 59
WSC Q30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A.  The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us[a], and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling[b].
[a] Rom. 10:17; I Cor. 2:12-16; Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29.
[b] John 15:5; I Cor. 1:9; I Cor. 6:17; Eph. 3:17; I Peter 5:10.
WLC Q59. 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[a]; who are in time by the Holy Ghost enabled to believe in Christ, according to the gospel[b].
[a] Eph. 1:13-14; John 6:37, 39; John 10:15, 16; Rom. 8:29, 30.
[b] I Peter 1:2; II Thess. 2:13; Eph. 2:8; II Cor. 4:13.
Questions for further study:

Note the different way these two questions are being asked.  In what ways do they differ, and in what ways are they fundamentally the same?

No comments:

Post a Comment