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, May 13, 2019

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q42


The Doctrinal Heading for this section of questions (Q39-42) is The Law of God; Christian Liberty. (see Harmony Index)
Believers and unbelievers alike have trouble viewing the law from God’s perspective; they see it as strict, harsh, and unreasonable. As we will see in this present mediation, Jesus viewed the Ten Commandments as an expression of love. Several NT passages (Gal 5:22-23ff; Rom. 8:3-4; Rom. 8:1; I John 4:18 and its context) remind us that “in Christ” the law is not a fearful thing, but rather the revelation of God’s grace, love, and blessing for his people (Deut. 29:29). Consider Larger Catechism Q95: “Of what use is the moral law to all men?” Answer: “The moral law is of use to all men, to inform them of the holy nature and the will of God, and of their duty, binding them to walk accordingly; to convince them of their disability to keep it, and of the sinful pollution of their nature, hearts, and lives; to humble them in the sense of their sin and misery, and thereby help them to a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and of the perfection of his obedience.”
The key phrase for our current study is “the need they have of Christ, and of the perfection of his obedience.” Again, may our Lord continue to work in us individually and as a covenant body of confessing followers of Christ, not only to know his will, but to do it with a joyful and glad heart (Phil. 2:13).
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WSC Q42. What is the sum of the Ten Commandments?
A. The sum of the Ten Commandments is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as ourselves[a].
[a] Matt. 22:37-40
Question #42 asks what is the essence of the Ten Commandments, and answers that the essence of the Ten Commandments is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind, and to love everyone else as we love ourselves.
Comments and considerations:
It has been said that the Ten Commandments reveal the character of God, or that which distinguishes him from all others. If that is the case, then our Redeemer King would have inscribed upon his breastplate, shield, and sword, “Abide in Love” (John 15:10) and “Faith, Hope, and Charity—the greatest of these is Charity” (I Cor. 13:13). We might find also inscribed John 13:34; Rom. 13:8; I Thess. 4:9; and I John 3:11, 16-4:19.
“We love him because he first loved us” (I John 4:19) is the reality that ought to distinguish God’s people, because that is what distinguishes him. The character of God does not differ from Old to New Testament; his character was revealed in both tables of the law given to Moses. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind: 1) having no god but God as our own, 2) possessing no idols to distract or lead us into ungodliness and sin, 3) refraining from the abuse and misuse of the name of God which we bear as a precious possession, and 4) keeping the Sabbath Day holy, resting and rejoicing in the provisions and sovereign providence of our God. And we are to love our neighbor by gratefully and gladly: 5) honoring our father and mother, and respecting all authorities as unto the Lord, 6) not murdering, but rather protecting life, 7) not committing adultery, but being chaste, honorable, and respectful towards others, 8) not stealing, but laboring to provide, protect, and enhance the commonwealth, 9) not giving false witness, but loving truth and mercy and doing justice, and 10) not coveting, but rejoicing in the prosperity and good providence enjoyed by our neighbor. There is no conflict between the law and love. The law justly and joyfully performed is the expression of Christian love and charity. It has always been so. The law shows where we go astray in sin and what is required: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic. 6:8)
In this study, we examine the word love. Much has been written on the various Greek words which are translated love in our English Bibles. Earlier, I used the KJV for I Cor. 13:13, in which charity is used for the Greek word agapao, the same word which is used in Matt. 22:37, 39. The use of the word charity as an expression of relational love has waned over the years, with the correct definition focused on benevolence. However, as it was used in the earlier translations, charity is worth considering. Older dictionaries define it not only as love and benevolence, but as “good will; that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow men, and to do them good.” The dictionary goes on to state that “it includes supreme love to God, and universal good will to men.” This implies costliness; charity comes with a price, a personal sacrifice; it is more than the benevolence of the wealthy toward the poor. As it was once understood, charity was a broad expression of love in action. Surely this was the intent of the early English translators of I Cor. 13—“that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow men, and to do them good,” despite personal sacrifice and out of a “supreme love to God.” Notice how both tables of the law are included there. The full meaning of charity should be recaptured, if not literally in the English language, then at least in spirit. We would do well if every thought, word, and deed proceeded from the charity, that which God requires unto his glory and well-pleasing praise.
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.     Preface: Have you ever memorized the Ten Commandments? If you have, repeat them now. If you have not, here they are in short form: (1) Have no god but God, (2) Make no idols, (3) Do not misuse the name of God, (4) Keep the Sabbath Day holy, (5) Honor your father and mother, (6) Do not murder, (7) Do not commit adultery, (8) Do not steal, (9) Do not give false witness, and (10) Do not covet.
2.     Read Matt. 22:37-39 and its context. What question (v36) is Jesus being asked? How does his answer relate to the Ten Commandments? Read Matt. 22:40.
3.     The Ten Commandments can be divided into two lists, one dealing with our relationship with God, and the other with our relationship with each other. Look at Deut. 6:4-7 and review Matt. 22:37-40. How does keeping the first list help us keep the second?
4.     Read Lev. 19:11-18. Where is the statement “Love your neighbor as yourself”? Verse ____. How else could this be stated? See Phil. 2:3-4.
5.     The last six commandments command us to do nothing to harm others. How else could this be stated? See Rom. 13:8-10 (especially v10) and Matt. 7:12.
6.     What did Jesus command of his disciples in John 15:12-14, and how did he demonstrate what he commanded?
Harmony of the Standards: WSC Q42, WLC Q102, 122, & WCFXX
WSC Q42. What is the sum of the Ten Commandments?
A. The sum of the Ten Commandments is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as ourselves[a].
[a] Matt. 22:37-40
WLC Q102. What is the sum of the four commandments which contain our duty to God?
A.  The sum of the four commandments containing our duty to God is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind[a].
[a]  Luke 10:27
WLC Q122 What is the sum of the six commandments which contain our duty to man?
A.  The sum of the six commandments which contain our duty to man, is, to love our neighbor as ourselves[a], and to do to others what we would have them to do to us[b].
[a]  Mat. 22:39
[b]  Mat. 7:12
CHAPTER. XX.
Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience.
I.    The liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the gospel consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, the curse of the moral law;[a] and, in their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin;[b] from the evil of afflictions, the sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting damnation;[c] as also, in their free access to God,[d] and their yielding obedience unto him, not out of slavish fear, but a child-like love and willing mind.[e]  All which were common also to believers under the law.[f]  But, under the new testament, the liberty of Christians is further enlarged, in their freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Jewish church was subjected;[g] and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace,[h] and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of.[i]
[a]  Titus 2:14; I Thess. 1:10; Gal. 3:13
[b]  Gal. 1:4; Col. 1:13; Acts 26:18; Rom. 6:4
[c]  Rom. 8:28; Ps. 119:71; II Cor. 4:15-18; I Cor. 15:54- 57; Rom. 5:9; Rom. 8:1; see I Thess. 1:10
[d]  Rom. 5:1-2
[e]  Rom. 8:14-15; Gal. 4:6; I John 4:18
[f]  Gal. 3:8-9, 14; Rom. 4:6-8; I Cor. 10:3-4; Heb. 11:1- 40
[g]  Gal. 4:1-7; Gal. 5:1; Acts 15:10-11
[h].Heb. 4:14-16; Heb. 10:19-22
[i]  John 7:38-39; Acts 2:17-18; II Cor. 3:8, 13, 17-18; see Jer. 31:31-34
II.  God alone is Lord of the conscience,[k] and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in any thing, contrary to his Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship.[l]  So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience:[m] and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.[n]
[k] James 4:12; Rom. 14:4, 10; I Cor. 10:29
[l]  Acts 4:19; Acts 5:29; I Cor. 7:22-23; Matt. 15:1-6; Matt. 23:8-10; II Cor. 1:24; Matt. 15:9
[m]            Col. 2:20-23; Gal. 1:10; Gal. 2:4-5; Gal. 4:9-10; Gal. 5:1
[n] Rom. 10:17; Isa. 8:20; Acts 17:11; John 4:22; Rev. 13:12, 16-17; Jer. 8:9; I Pet. 3:15
III. They who, upon pretense of Christian liberty, do practice any sin, or cherish any lust, do thereby destroy the end of Christian liberty, which is, that being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, we might serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.[o]
[o] Gal. 5:13; I Pet. 2:16; II Pet. 2:19; Rom. 6:15; John 8:34; Luke 1:74-75
IV. And because the powers which God hath ordained, and the liberty which Christ hath purchased, are not intended by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and preserve one another, they who, upon pretense of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God.[p]  And, for their publishing of such opinions, or maintaining of such practices, as are contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity (whether concerning faith, worship, or conversation), or to the power of godliness; or, such erroneous opinions or practices, as either in their own nature, or in the manner of publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace and order which Christ hath established in the church, they may lawfully be called to account, and proceeded against by the censures of the church.[q]
[p] I Pet. 2:13-14, 16; Rom. 13:1-8; Heb. 13:17; I Thess. 5:12-13
[q]  Rom. 1:32; I Cor. 5:1, 5, 11-13; II John 10-11; II Thess. 3:6, 14; I Tim. 6:3-4; Titus 1:10-11, 13-14; Titus 3:10; Rom. 16:17; Matt. 18:15-17; I Tim. 1:19-20; Rev. 2:2, 14-15, 20
Questions for further study:
This harmony brings into view WCF XX - Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience.  How does this connect with the question as to how we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind; and how we are to love others?

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