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, July 22, 2019

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q52


The Doctrinal Heading for this section of questions (Q43-62) is The Means of Grace: The Commandments: The First Table. (see Harmony Index)
We come to a fourth consideration of the second commandment. As we will see in coming studies, a similar question is asked concerning several of the commandments, showing why each is commanded. In this particular list of reasons, we are given a sort of “divine because.” We are to obey the second commandment "because" God is who he says he is, we are who he made us to be, and this is what he desires. Of course, this answer will meet with one of two reactions. We will either receive and embrace the reasons, or rebel and reject them. That is what determines whether we will experience the blessings or the curses attached to the covenant commandments of our God.
As we prayerfully reflect upon both the second commandment and the implications of this study, may our Lord help us to rejoice in and embrace the true worship of our God. And may we then know the abundant blessings of Christ offered freely to the obedient heart of faith.
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WSC Q52. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment?
A.   The reasons annexed to the second commandment are, God’s sovereignty over us[a], his propriety in us[b], and the zeal he hath to his own worship[c].
[a]  Ps. 95:2-3. 6-7; 96:9-10
[b]  Ex. 19:5; Ps. 45:11; Is. 54:5
[c]   Ex. 34:14; I Cor. 10:22
Question 52 asks what the reasons are for the second commandment and answers that the reasons for the second commandment are that God totally rules over us, that we belong to him, and that he is eager to be worshiped correctly.
Comments and considerations:
We said in an earlier study that we would soon need to look at the word annexed so that we can understand this question and similar questions that follow. The word means to tie or bind, to join or be united; it is used for a thing that is joined to something larger as an attachment; connected, affixed, or joined in a subordinate capacity. It has been used in terms of nation-states acquiring territory, or in documents with appended conditions or clauses. So the catechism question asks what are the reasons attached or joined to the second commandment, and adds to what has already been stated; it emphasizes God’s sovereign rule and ownership of his own, and his passionate desire for his own worship.
As we consider these three elements, it is good to look at some of the associated references:
Sovereign rule
Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth. Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns; the world also is firmly established, it shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously” (Ps. 96:9-10). 
Propriety - ownership of His own
Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine (Ex. 19:5).
So the King will greatly desire your beauty; because He is your Lord, worship Him (Ps. 45:11).
Zeal - passionate desire for his own worship
...for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God (Ex. 34:14). 
John Piper wrote an extensive treatise on this in his book titled Desiring God. The opening preface speaks about Ps. 37:4—“Delight yourself in the Lord”—and adds Jeremy Taylor’s comment on this verse: “God threatens terrible things if we will not be happy,” to which we might add “in him.” But Piper goes on to state his premise that God is most glorified in his people when we are most satisfied in him; that he is most passionate for his glory and worship. These are the fundamental reasons annexed to the second commandment, and they follow the reasoning established in the first catechism question: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” To this we would say, Amen!
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.     Read Ps. 145:1-3, 10-13a. What are some of the reasons given in this passage for praising God? What words are used to describe the worship and praise of God, and how would you expand on the meaning of those phrases?
2.     Read Ps. 95:1-7a. According to verse 7, why should we perform what proceeds from verses 1-6?
3.     What do Ex. 19: 5 and 34:14 tell us about God’s thoughts and desires toward his own, those who worship him in spirit and in truth?
4.     What do John 14:21 and Deut. 5:29 tell us will result from our obedience and love for keeping God’s commandments?
Harmony of the Standards: WSC Q52 and WLC Q110
WSC Q52. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment?
A.  The reasons annexed to the second commandment are, God's sovereignty over us[a], his propriety in us[b], and the zeal he hath to his own worship[c].
[a]  Ps. 95:2-3, 6-7; 96:9-10
[b]  Ex. 19:5; Ps. 45:11; Isa. 54:5
[c]  Ex. 34:14; I Cor. 10:22
WLC Q110. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it?
A.  The reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it, contained in these words, For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments[a]; are, besides God's sovereignty over us, and propriety in us[b], his fervent zeal for his own worship[c], and his revengeful indignation against all false worship, as being a spiritual whoredom[d]; accounting the breakers of this commandment such as hate him, and threatening to punish them unto divers generations[e]; and esteeming the observers of it such as love him and keep his commandments, and promising mercy to them unto many generations[f].
[a]  Exod. 20:5-6
[b]  Ps. 45:11; Rev. 15:3-4
[c]  Exod. 34:13-14
[d]  1Cor. 10:20-22; Jer. 7:18-20; Ezek. 16:26-27; Deut. 32:16-20
[e]  Hos. 2:2-4
[f]  Deut. 5:29
Question(s) for further study:

As is to be expected WLC Q110 expanded on WSC Q52 in the words the more to enforce it, referencing the cursing and blessing inscribed in Exod. 20:5-6.  How are the mercies of God manifest in proportion to his hostiles, a manifestation and measure of his love for his own and fervent zeal for his own worship.

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