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, March 12, 2018

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q101



Thinking back on Christmas shopping…our seasonal trek into the forests of humanity to track down and bring home just that right little “necessity” for those near and dear. In some ways the landscape has changed since my youth; but there is still that overstuffed centerpiece dressed in red and white clothing, listening to eager and not-so-eager little heart desires. (I still have a mental picture, if not an actual photograph somewhere in a family album, of one of my son’s tearful outbursts while he sat in the lap of a department store Santa.) Again, some things haven’t changed, but others have…like all these specialty shops that sell just one item or brand. I actually saw a mall store recently that sold only baseball caps. That’s it. How many hats does one need to sell to pay the rent in one of those malls, and still stay in business? But I noticed a lot of people in that store, each looking for “their” team’s logo and colors.
We daily hallow, honor, give priority to, or center our lives in conversation and investment upon the fleeting things of this world. Our whole Madison Avenue culture is based upon name recognition, honor, and allegiance. We glory in material things the way we ought to glory in God; we cite statistics and recount sporting events the way we ought to glory in things eternal. Over and over in Scripture we are instructed and commanded to set first things first, confessing both corporately and individually, “Hallowed be thy name.” We know what this means, but the doing it is quite hard—the practice of what we glory in every day says much if not everything about the central desires of our hearts.
As we prayerfully approach this study in the Lord’s Prayer, may the Lord impress his glory upon us, and enable us…to glorify him in all that whereby he makes himself known; and that he would dispose all things to his own glory.
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WSC Q101. What do we pray for in the first petition?
A.   In the first petition, which is, Hallowed be thy name, we pray, that God would enable us, and others, to glorify him in all that whereby he maketh himself known[a]; and that he would dispose all things to his own glory[b].
[a]  Ps. 67:1-3; 99:3; 100:3-4
[b]  Rom. 11:33-36; Rev. 4:11
Catechism question 101 asks what we pray for in the first request, and answers that in the first request (hallowed be your name) we pray that God will enable us and others to glorify him in everything he uses to make himself known, and that he will work out everything to his own glory.
Comments and considerations:
There are six petitions and a conclusion within the Lord’s Prayer. We will close out our catechism study by looking at each in turn, starting with the first petition, Hallowed be thy name. What are we actually praying in this first request?
Hallowed is not a familiar word. Yet more recent translations than the King James Version retain this word. The particular Greek word from which it is derived is used only twice in Scripture, both times by our Lord as he teaches this prayer in Matt 6:9 and Luke 11:2. There are other similar words related to holy or sacred, but only in reference to the Lord’s Prayer is this word used, and it specifically means to make holy, to sanctify or set apart for God, pure from defilement. It can be understood as opposite to the Greek word koine, which means common. To make something hallowed or holy is to set it apart because of its unique and uncommon value, purity, and inherent worth—its intrinsic value; its value stands alone, immeasurable, of its own worth.
Sometimes we can find the essence of a word in its usage. Hear the meaning of hallowed as it is caught in the passion and reality of this historic utterance: “But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract...” (Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address). The value of that hallowed ground is beyond the power of others to add or detract. To use a modern phrase, it is what it is. Yet, even knowing that fact and in the face of our own weakness, we are still called to deeper devotion in promoting and advancing “the great task remaining before us—that from [those] honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion” (ibid).
From this earthly example we see the same daunting task that resides within this word hallow. By our mere efforts we are without power to add to or detract from the infinite, eternal, unchangeable name of the great I AM. We may be undone as Isaiah was when he beheld the inexpressible holiness of God in his great vision in Isa. 6, but it is nonetheless still our humble duty to see the name of our God glorified in all things: “Let them praise Your great and awesome name—He is holy” (Psa. 99:3). Thus we pray that God would enable us, and others, to glorify him in all that whereby he maketh himself known; and that he would dispose all things to his own glory.
This thought brings us to another: “Give, O Lord, what Thou commandest, and then command what Thou wilt” (Augustine).
We pray for the Lord’s enabling, for this we know to be true: apart from him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). Augustine’s famous statement is based on the knowledge that God imposes contingencies upon us, but he does not leave us alone to flounder in our impotence; he provides the grace and means to obey. He commands what he wills; and in his grace, he gives what he commands.
Our fathers chose the word enable to describe our need here, and it is a good selection. It means power or ability within; to make able, provide the means and/or competence. Webster’s 1913 Dictionary defines it as to make able, to confer sufficient power, strength, force, skill, means, or resources of any kind to accomplish the object. And, the object always before us (WSC Q1) is that everyone would glorify [God] in all that whereby he makes himself known; and that he would dispose all things to his own glory.
To that end we pray, considering one final note. See how the Lord’s Prayer begins and ends: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. Like bookends to a library of treasured thought, or covers to a volume of truth, it begins and ends with one priority and goal in mind—the glory of God.
“For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36).
To God alone be the glory!
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.    Read Mal. 1:11. There are six requests in the Lord’s Prayer. Only one of them is concerned with making us comfortable in our daily life. The first request is for God’s name to be hallowed. This is a request that we know God will answer, because we know God wants his name to be honored. The catechism says that God’s name includes his “names, titles, qualities, regulations, word, and works.” If God’s name stands for all these things, in what ways may we hallow or honor God’s name in prayer and daily activities?
2.    What does it mean to hallow (or fail to hallow) God’s name according to Rom. 2:23-24?
3.    In what way can we hallow God’s name according to Psa. 86:11?
4.    This catechism answer speaks of asking God to make us able to hallow his name. How does Paul do this in Phil. 1:20?
5.    How is creation set and established to honor God? See Psa. 19:1 and Eph. 1:11.
Harmony of the Standards: WSC Q101, WLC Q190
WSC Q101. What do we pray for in the first petition?
A.  In the first petition, which is, Hallowed be thy name, we pray, that God would enable us, and others, to glorify him in all that whereby he maketh himself known[a]; and that he would dispose all things to his own glory[b].
[a] Ps. 67:1-3; 99:3; 100:3-4
[b] Rom. 11:33-36; Rev. 4:11
WLC Q190. What do we pray for in the first petition?
A.  In the first petition, (which is, Hallowed by thy name[a],) acknowledging the utter inability and indisposition that is in ourselves and all men to honor God aright[b], we pray, that God would by his grace enable and incline us and others to know, to acknowledge, and highly to esteem him[c], his titles[d], attributes[e], ordinances, Word[f], works, and whatsoever he is pleased to make himself known by[g]; and to glorify him in thought, word[h], and deed[i]: that he would prevent and remove atheism [j], ignorance[k], idolatry[l], profaneness[m], and whatsoever is dishonorable to him[n]; and, by his over-ruling providence, direct and dispose of all things to his own glory[o].
[a]   Mat. 6:9
[b]   2Cor. 3:5; Ps. 51:15
[c]   Ps. 67:2-3
[d]   Ps. 83:18
[e]   Ps. 86:10-13, 15
[f]   2Thes. 3:1; Ps. 147:19-20; 138:1-3; 2Cor. 2:14-15
[g]   Ps. 145 throughout; Ps. 8 throughout
[h]  Ps. 103:1; 19:14
[i]    Phil. 1:9, 11
[j]    Ps. 67:1-4
[k]  Eph. 1:17-18
[l]    Ps. 97:7
[m] Ps. 74:18, 22-23
[n]  2Kng. 19:15-16
[o]  2Chro. 20:6, 10-12; Ps. 83 throughout; 140:4, 8
Question(s) for further study:
The Larger Catechism expands on the answer to the Shorter by listing how many scriptural proofs compared to the two in the Shorter; and starts with what basic assumption?  

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