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, August 5, 2019

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q54

The Doctrinal Heading for this section of questions (Q43-62) is The Means of Grace: The Commandments: The First Table. (see Harmony Index)
Our study continues with the consideration of the third commandment. As we approach this study, it might be helpful to look at the word use. What does it mean to use something? One dictionary meaning is “to put into service or apply for a purpose, to employ; the act of using; the application or employment of something for a purpose.” Examples include the use of a tool to make or repair something; the use of a word in writing or speech; or the use of an ingredient in a recipe. In each of these examples, using the right tool, word, or ingredient is very important if we’re going to achieve the intended results. Even when we apply the right object to a situation, there is always the hazard to misuse, using it in the wrong way.
Here’s another thought concerning the word use, particularly as it may apply to this catechism lesson. Have you ever been “used” by another person? This could be either positive or negative. We might invite a person to use our name or position to gain a special privilege. But sometimes a person abuses our name or reputation, using it in an unauthorized, self-serving way.
This simple word use has significant implications in our study of the third commandment, especially as we consider how we represent the name of our God in our daily activities. This particular commandment goes beyond the mere use of foul or abusive language. May the Lord grant us proper appreciation for his name, so that we use it in a holy and reverent way, as we prayerfully consider this week’s meditation.
WSC Q54. What is required in the third commandment?
A.  The third commandment requireth the holy and reverent use of God’s names, titles[a], attributes[b], ordinances[c], Word[d], and works[e].
[a] Deut. 10:20; Ps. 29:2; Matt. 6:9
[b] I Chron. 29:10-13; Rev. 15:3-4
[c] Acts 2:42; I Cor. 11:27-28
[d] Ps. 138:2; Rev. 22:18-19
[e] Ps. 107:21-22; Rev. 4:11
Question 54 asks what the third commandment requires and answers that the third commandment requires the holy and reverent use of God’s names, titles, qualities, regulations, word, and works.
Comments and considerations:
The first of the Ten Commandments tells us who to worship—God, and God alone. The second commandment tells us how we are to approach God in worship. The third commandment focuses our attention on the attitude we are to have, not only when we worship God, but in all areas of our life, as we bear the name of our God.
A closer examination of two words in the answer might help us to understand the commandment more deeply. They are rather remote, if not foreign, to our everyday, modern usage: holy and reverent.
We ought to be familiar with the word holy. The older dictionaries define it as set apart to the service or worship of God; hallowed.” The root to our English word also carries with it the idea of health, wholeness, and wellness. As such, our dictionary provides a second definition: “spiritually whole or sound; free from sinful affections; pure in heart; godly; pious; irreproachable; guiltless; acceptable to God.” The word affections as we just read it is interesting; it means “fond attachments; sentiment or disposition.” So the definition of holy may be given like this: whole or perfect in a moral sense; pure in heart, temper, or dispositions; free from sin and sinful attachments; that which is hallowed; consecrated or set apart to a sacred use, or to the service or worship of God.
The word reverent has its source in reverence, defined as “fear mingled with respect and esteem; veneration.” It is interesting however to see that the definition of reverent differs a little from reverence; it means “worthy of reverence; entitled to respect mingled with fear and affection.” There’s that word affection again, only this time our affections are targeted in the proper direction. And notice the word veneration:
The highest degree of respect and reverence; respect mingled with some degree of awe; a feeling or sentiment excited by the dignity and superiority of a person, or by the sacredness of his character, and with regard to place, by its consecration to sacred services. As in: “We find a secret awe and veneration for one who moves above us in a regular and illustrious course of virtue.” –Addison (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary).
We could go on with these definitions. But we see, at least in part, how we are to set apart and revere the names, titles, attributes (WSC Q4), ordinances, Word, and works of our God in all that we think, say, and do.
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.     Read Ps. 99:1-5. How are we to represent our God in worship in all our life? (1)
2.     The answer to the above question speaks not only to the use of God’s name, but to other aspects of his being and works. How should we respond to these various expressions of who God is and what he does? See Ps. 138:1-2 and Ps. 145:1-5.
3.     Reverence is treating something with the highest respect and value. To keep something holy is to treat it in a special way, setting it apart as a respected treasure. How does God desire we show, and how did the early church demonstrate and add to, the value and respect for the things of God? See Acts 2:42-47.
4.     As humans, we are prone to sin, indifference, and to giving less and less of ourselves, our thoughts, and our energies to active reverence and respect for our God, his Word and his ways. When we find that this has occurred, what ought to be our reaction? See II Chron. 34:19-21, 31.
5.     As we experience providential care and blessings in our daily encounters with God’s grace and tender mercies (Ps. 69:16), how ought we to respond individually and as the family of God? See Rev. 15:3b-4.
1)    With holy reverence.
Harmony of the Standards: WSC Q54, WLC Q112, and WCF XXII.II
WSC Q 54. What is required in the third commandment?
A.  The third commandment requireth the holy and reverend use of God's names, titles[a], attributes[b], ordinances[c], Word[d], and works[e].
[a]  Deut. 10:20; Ps. 29:2; Matt. 6:9
[b]  IChron. 29:10-13; Rev. 15:3-4
[c]  Acts 2:42; ICor. 11:27-28
[d]  Ps. 138:2; Rev. 22:18-19
[e]  Ps. 107:21-22; Rev. 4:11
WLC Q112. What is required in the third commandment?
A.  The third commandment requires, that the name of God, his titles, attributes[a], ordinances[b], the Word[c], sacraments[d], prayer[e], oaths[f], vows[g], lots[h], his works [i], and whatsoever else there is whereby he makes himself known, be holy and reverently used in thought[j], meditation[k], word[l], and writing[m]; by an holy profession[n], and answerable conversation[o], to the glory of God[p], and the good of ourselves[q], and others[r].
      [a]  Mat. 6:9; Deut. 28:58; Ps. 29:2; 68:4; Rev. 15:3-4 (See in number 110.)
      [b]  Mal. 1:14; Ecc. 5:1
      [c]  Ps. 138:2
      [d]  1Cor. 11:24-25, 28-29
      [e]  1Tim. 2:8
      [f]  Jer. 4:2
      [g]  Ecc. 5:2, 4-6
      [h]  Acts 1:24, 26
      [i]   Job 36:24
      [j]   Mal. 3:16
      [k]  Ps. 8:1, 3-4, 9
      [l]   Col. 3:17; Ps. 105:2, 5
      [m] Ps. 102:18
      [n]  1Pet. 3:15; Mic. 4:5
      [o]  Phil. 1:27
      [p]  1Cor. 10:31
      [q]  Jer. 32:39
      [r]  1Pet. 2:12
Of Lawful Oaths and Vows.
II.  The name of God only is that by which men ought to swear, and therein it is to be used with all holy fear and reverence[c].  Therefore, to swear vainly, or rashly, by that glorious and dreadful Name; or, to swear at all by any other thing, is sinful, and to be abhorred[d].  Yet, as in matters of weight and moment, an oath is warranted by the Word of God, under the new testament as well as under the old[e]; so a lawful oath, being imposed by lawful authority, in such matters, ought to be taken[f].
      [c]  Deut. 6:13; Josh. 23:7
      [d]  Exod. 20:7; Jer. 5:7; Matt. 5:33-37; James 5:12
      [e]  Heb. 6:16; II Cor. 1:23; Isa. 65:16
      [f]  I Kings 8:31; Neh. 13:25; Ezra 10:5
Question(s) for further study:

Here our fathers expanded considerably upon the Shorter Catechism question with the parallel Larger and Confessional statements. What lesson(s) ought we to draw from this?  How does the world generally view or limit the application of the Third Commandment?  Just how expansive is this commandment to our life, conversations, communion, and dealings with one another?   

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