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 22, 2017

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q62


What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment? This is our next question of study. To begin, let’s pause to consider the word annex. In essence, it means to add or attach something, to join, unite, or incorporate another element to a larger object; for example, territory might be added to an already established state or country. That which is annexed might be physical material, or it might be a quality, consequence, or condition. So we see in this and other questions about the Ten Commandments that apart from the obvious meaning of the fourth commandment, there are additional reasons attached to the commandment.
May the Lord open our understanding and appreciation for the reasons listed, for our instruction and faithful obedience.
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WSC Q62. What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?
A.   The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments[a], his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the Sabbath day[b].
[a] Ex. 20:9; 31:15; Lev. 23:3
[b] Gen. 2:2-3; Ex. 20:11; 31:17
Question 62 asks what are the reasons attached to the fourth commandment, and answers that the reasons for the fourth commandment are these: God allows us six days of the week to take care of our own affairs; he claims the seventh day as his own; he set the example; and he blesses the Sabbath.
Comments and considerations:
Our fathers chose to use the word challenging in the phrase his challenging a special propriety in the seventh. It is an interesting selection because it means to “contest or claim a right; to demand as something due or rightful.” We understand the word as it is used to issue a legal challenge or a challenge to battle or a contest of skill or strength. But here we see God’s special propriety in the seventh day ordinance, established on day seven of the creation week, and his own example of rest and blessing. To see that day in any other way is to challenge his wisdom, purpose, and authority in calling that day his own—his propriety.
The Westminster Larger Catechism Q120 parallels this Shorter Catechism Question, and gives a more extensive statement. It reads:
“The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it, are taken from the equity of it, God allowing us six days of seven for our own affairs, and reserving but one for himself in these words, Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: from God's challenging a special propriety in that day, The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: from the example of God, who in six days made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: and from that blessing which God put upon that day, not only in sanctifying it to be a day for his service, but in ordaining it to be a means of blessing to us in our sanctifying it; Wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.”
Thus, these are reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, a day intended to be a blessing for God’s people in ceasing from their worldly employment. Let us honor him and be glad for his propriety over it. “This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24).
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.     Read Gen. 2:8-10, 15. What is described in this passage, and what is the purpose defined in verse 15? What are the implications of the circumstance, when someone entrusts the care of property into the hands of another person?
2.     When we think of the fourth commandment, our thoughts naturally gravitate to Sunday Sabbath keeping. But the Sabbath is only one part of the commandment. What is the other significant element of the fourth commandment?
3.     Read Ps. 139:15-16 and I Pet. 1:17-19. Who gives us our days, both as human beings and as believers? What should our attitude be toward those days?
4.     Read Luke 4:16 and Is. 56: 6-7. What are some of the reasons for honoring the Lord’s Day?
5.     Read Is. 58:13-14. What is this passage about, and what blessing is proclaimed?
Harmony of the Standards: WSC Q62, WLC Q120 and 121
WSC Q62. What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?
A.  The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God's allowing us six days of the week for our own employments[a], his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the Sabbath day[b].
      [a]  Ex. 20:9; 31:15, 16; Lev. 23:3
[b]  Gen. 2:2-3; Ex. 20:11; 31:17
WLC Q120. What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it?
A.  The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it, are taken from the equity of it, God allowing us six days of seven for our own affairs, and reserving but one for himself in these words, Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work[a]: from God's challenging a special propriety in that day, The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God[b]: from the example of God, who in six days made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: and from that blessing which God put upon that day, not only in sanctifying it to be a day for his service, but in ordaining it to be a means of blessing to us in our sanctifying it; Wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it[c].
      [a]  Exod. 20:9
      [b]  Exod. 20:10
      [c]  Exod. 20:11
WLC Q121. Why is the Word Remember set in the beginning of the fourth commandment?
A.  The word Remember is set in the beginning of the fourth commandment[a], partly, because of the great benefit of remembering it, we being thereby helped in our preparation to keep it[b], and, in keeping it, better to keep all the rest of the commandments[c], and to continue a thankful remembrance of the two great benefits of creation and redemption, which contain a short abridgment of religion[d]; and partly, because we are very ready to forget it[e], for that there is less light of nature for it[f], and yet it restraineth our natural liberty in things at other times lawful[g]; that it cometh but once in seven days, and many worldly businesses come between, and too often take off our minds from thinking of it, either to prepare for it, or to sanctify it[h]; and that Satan with his instruments labours much to blot out the glory, and even the memory of it, to bring in all irreligion and impiety[i].
      [a]  Exod. 20:8
      [b]  Exod. 16:23; Luke 23:54, 56; Mark 15:42; Neh. 13:19
      [c]  Ps. 92:13-14 (title, A psalm for the Sabbath-day.); Ezek. 20:12, 19-20
      [d]  Gen. 2:2-3; Ps. 118:22, 24; Acts 4:10-11; Rev. 1:10
      [e]  Ezek. 22:26
      [f]  Neh. 9:14
      [g]  Exod. 34:21
      [h] Deut. 5:14-15; Amos 8:5
      [i]  Lam. 1:7; Jer. 17:21-23; Neh. 13:15-23 (See in Question 117.)
Question(s) for further study:

How does the Larger catechism’s teaching here expand our understanding; what might we learn from our fathers use of the word “equity” in Q120; and how does “remembering” as described in Q121 set the tone in our approach in observing the Lord’s commandments and personal piety?

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