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 27, 2019

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q44


The Doctrinal Heading for this section of questions (Q43-62) is The Means of Grace: The Commandments: The First Table. (see Harmony Index)
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Take a moment to meditate upon the instruction of I Cor. 6:19-20, and as always, pray that the Lord would grant you the grace and understanding that is to be gleaned from this particular study.
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WSC Q44. What doth the preface to the ten commandments teach us?
A.   The preface to the ten commandments teacheth us, that because God is the Lord, and our God, and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments[a].
[a]   Luke 1:74-75; I Pet. 1:14-19
Question 44 asks what the introduction of the ten commandments teach us, and answers that the introduction of the ten commandments teaches us that because God is Lord and is our God and redeemer, we must keep all his commandments.
Comments and considerations:
Why should we obey God? The answer ought to be obvious; but sin clouds our thinking and blinds our understanding, so we need to be reminded, as God does in the preface of the ten commandments, as to why we are “bound to keep all his commandments.” The first proof text associated with this answer is this: To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life (Luke 1:74-75). Scripture repeats this theme over and over again:
Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing.
Know that the LORD, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture (Ps. 100:2-3).  
... as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (I Pet. 1:14-19).
The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
“Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face. Therefore you shall keep the commandment, the statutes, and the judgments which I command you today, to observe them (Deut. 7:7-11).
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works (Tit. 2:11-14).
It is good to look at these Scriptures, without comment, and to be reminded that by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:8-10). Paul tells us elsewhere ...or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s (I Cor. 6:19-20).
There is yet another reason we as the redeemed of Christ ought to obey God’s law, one found in Matt. 28:19-20. There, our sovereign Lord proclaimed the end goal of the believers’ great commission: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen. We are not only to be doers of the law, but teachers as well, by example and through instruction.
Much more could be said on this, but here is just one more point to consider: Christ makes us free from the law, but that liberty is not a license to do as we wish or want; rather, it is freedom from the bondage of sin, so that we can do as we ought in loving the Lord our God with heart, soul, mind and strength, as we are filled and empowered by the Spirit. For this reason, the liberated soul’s prayer is, “Lord, grant what you command and command what you will” (Augustine).
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.     Why should we obey God? What reasons can be found in the following passages?
a.     Ps. 100:2-3
b.     Deut. 26:16-19
c.     I Pet. 1:14-17
d.     Deut. 7:7-11
e.     Tit. 2:11-14
2.     What is the reason, found in Matt. 28:19-20, that we, as redeemed followers of Christ, ought to obey God’s law?


Harmony of the Standards: WSC Q44 only

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