The Gospel Coalition

 
A joint adult and children's catechism consisting of 52 questions and answers adapted by Timothy Keller from the Reformation catechisms.

Part One

  1. Q1:   What is our only hope in life and death?

    A:  

    That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to god and to our savior Jesus Christ.


    Commentary

    If we, then, are not our own but the Lord’s, it is clear what error we must flee, and whither we must direct all the acts of our life. We are not our own: let not our reason nor our will, therefore, sway our plans and deeds. We are not our own: let us therefore not set it as our goal to seek what is expedient for us…. We are not our own: in so far as we can, let us forget ourselves and all that is ours. Conversely, we are God’s: let us therefore live for him and die for him. We are God’s: let his wisdom and will therefore rule all our actions. We are God’s: let all the parts of our life accordingly strive toward him as our only lawful goal. O, how much has that man profited who, having been taught that he is not his own, has taken away dominion and rule from his own reason that he may yield it to God! For, as consulting our self-interest is the pestilence that most effectively leads to our destruction, so the sole haven of salvation is to be wise in nothing and to will nothing through ourselves but to follow the leading of the Lord alone.

    John Calvin (1509–1564). A theologian, administrator, and pastor, Calvin was born in France into a strict Roman Catholic family. It was in Geneva however where Calvin worked most of his life and organized the Reformed church. He wrote the Institutes of the Christian Religion (from which this quote is taken), the Geneva Catechism, as well as numerous commentaries on Scripture.

    From Institutes of the Christian Religion, edited by John T. McNeill, translated by Ford Lewis Battles, Library of Christian Classics (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960), III.VII.I., 690.

    Further Reading

    "Salvation" in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Romans 14:7–8

    For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

    Prayer

    Lord, here am I; do with me what thou pleasest, write upon me as thou pleasest: I give up myself to be at thy dispose…. The ambitious man giveth himself up to his honours, but I give up myself unto thee;…man gives himself up to his pleasures, but I give up myself to thee;…man gives himself up…to his idols, but I give myself to thee…. Lord! lay what burden thou wilt upon me, only let thy everlasting arms be under me…. I am lain down in thy will, I have learned to say amen to thy amen; thou hast a greater interest in me than I have in myself, and therefore I give up myself unto thee, and am willing to be at thy dispose, and am ready to receive what impression thou shalt stamp upon me. O blessed Lord! hast thou not again and again said unto me…‘I am thine, O soul! to save thee; my mercy is thine to pardon thee; my blood is thine to cleanse thee; my merits are thine to justify thee; my righteousness is thine to clothe thee; my Spirit is thine to lead thee; my grace is thine to enrich thee; and my glory is thine to reward thee’; and therefore…I cannot but make a resignation of myself unto thee. Lord! here I am, do with me as seemeth good in thine own eyes. I know the best way…is to resign up myself to thy will, and to say amen to thy amen.

    Thomas Brooks (1608–1680). An English Puritan preacher, Brooks studied at Cambridge University before becoming rector of a church in London. He was ejected from his post, but continued to work in London even during the Great Plague. He wrote over a dozen books, most of which are devotional in character, The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod (from which this prayer is taken) being the best known.

    From "The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod" in The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, edited by Rev. Alexander Balloch Grosart, Volume 1 (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1866), 305–306.

    Songs for Kids

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  2. Q2:   WHAT IS GOD?

    A:  

    GOD IS THE CREATOR AND SUSTAINER OF EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING. HE IS ETERNAL, INFINITE, AND UNCHANGEABLE IN HIS POWER AND PERFECTION, GOODNESS AND GLORY,


    Commentary

    God is an eternal, independent being…. He gives being to all creatures…. God is an eternal, unchangeable being…. His being is without any limits. Angels and men have their beings, but then they are bounded and limited;…but God is an immense being that cannot be included within any bounds…. There never was nor shall be time wherein God could not say of himself, 'I am'…. He is a God that gives being to all things…. He is the Being of beings, subsisting by himself;…‘I am that I am, and as I am, so will I be to all eternity’…. He is infinite in power, sovereign in dominion, and not bounded as creatures are…. He is so strong that he is almighty, he is one to whom nothing is impossible…. He wanteth nothing, but is infinitely blessed with the infinite perfection of his glorious being…self-sufficient, all-sufficient, absolutely perfect…. There is no succession or variation in God, but he is eternally the same…. God ever was, ever is, and ever shall be. Though the manifestations of himself unto the creatures are in time, yet his essence or being never did nor shall be bound up by time. Look backward or forward, God from eternity to eternity, is a most self-sufficient, infinite, perfect, blessed being, the first cause of our being, and without any cause of his own being; an eternal infinite fulness, and possession to himself and of himself. What God is, he was from eternity, and what God is, he will be so to eternity.

    Thomas Brooks (1608–1680). An English Puritan preacher, Brooks studied at Cambridge University before becoming rector of a church in London. He was ejected from his post, but continued to work in London even during the Great Plague. He wrote over a dozen books, most of which are devotional in character, The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod being the best known.

    From “Christ’s Eternal Deity Proved” in The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, edited by Rev. Alexander Balloch Grosart, Volume 5 (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1866), 150–157.

    Further Reading

    “Self-existence”, “Transcendence”, and “Almightiness” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Psalm 86:8–10 and 15

    Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God…. You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

    Prayer

    I believe, O sovereign Goodness, 0 mighty Wisdom, that thou dost sweetly order and govern all things, even the most minute, even the most noxious, to thy glory, and the good of those that love thee. I believe, O Father of the families of heaven and earth, that thou so disposest all events, as may best magnify thy goodness to all thy children, especially those whose eyes wait upon thee. I most humbly beseech thee, teach me to adore all thy ways, though I cannot comprehend them; teach me to be glad that thou art king, and to give thee thanks for all things that befall me; seeing thou hast chosen that for me, and hast thereby ‘set to thy seal that they are good.’ And for that which is to come, give me thy grace to do in all things what pleaseth thee; and then, with an absolute submission to thy wisdom, to leave the issues of them in thy hand.

    John Wesley (1703–1791). An English preacher and theologian, Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles, with founding the English Methodist movement. He travelled generally on horseback, preaching two or three times each day, and is said to have preached more than 40,000 sermons. He also was a noted hymn-writer.

    From “Forms of Prayer: Thursday Morning” in The Works of the Reverend John Wesley, Volume 6 (New York: J. Emory & B. Waugh, 1831), 392.

    Songs for Kids

  3. Q3:   HOW MANY PERSONS ARE THERE IN GOD?

    A:  

    THERE ARE THREE PERSONS IN THE ONE TRUE AND LIVING GOD: THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT. THEY ARE THE SAME IN SUBSTANCE, EQUAL IN POWER AND GLORY.


    Commentary

    The…Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, being one God, is…necessary to us to be believed, not only as to the eternal…but especially for the knowledge of God's three great sorts of works on man: that is, as our Creator, and the God of nature; as our Redeemer, and the God of governing and reconciling grace, and as our Sanctifier, and the Applier and Perfecter of all to fit us to glory.

    The Scripture tells us that there are three, and yet but one God.… We are to be baptised into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (Matt. xxviii. 29.) And there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one (1 John v. 7.)… [That] God is one infinite, undivided Spirit; and yet that he is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, must be believed.

    We must…know, believe and esteem him to be the only infinite, eternal, self-sufficient Spirit, vital Power, Understanding, and Will, our most perfect Life, Light, and Love; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of whom, and through whom, and to whom, are all things; our absolute Owner, Ruler, and Father; our Maker, our Redeemer, and Sanctifier.

    Richard Baxter (1615–1691). An English Puritan, Baxter served as a chaplain in the army of Oliver Cromwell and as a pastor in Kidderminster. When James II was overthrown, he was persecuted and imprisoned for 18 months. He continued to preach, writing at the time that: "I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men." As well as his theological works he was a poet and hymn-writer. He also wrote his ownFamily Catechism (from which this quote is taken).

    From “The Catechising of Families” in The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, Volume 19 (London: Paternoster, 1830), 33, 62, 165.

    Further Reading

    "Trinity” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    2 Corinthians 13:1

    May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

    Prayer

    Not without trembling, we have entreated of the most holy mystery of the reverend Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, which we have learned out of the scriptures: and here now we will stay, humbly worshipping this Unity in trinity and Trinity in unity. And let us keep in mind and acknowledge this distinction or division most manifestly declared in the scriptures, and the unity also commended unto us with exceeding great diligence…. There is but one God…. Therefore when we read that God created the world, we understand that the Father from whom are all things, by the Son by whom are all things, in the Holy Ghost in whom are all things, created the world. And when we read that the Son became flesh, suffered, died, and rose again for our salvation, we believe that the Father and the Holy Ghost, though they were not partakers of his incarnation and passion, yet notwithstanding that they wrought our salvation by the Son…. And when sins are said to be forgiven in the Holy Ghost, we believe that this benefit and all other benefits of our blessedness are unseparably given and bestowed upon us from one, only, true, living, and everlasting God, who is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. To whom be praise and thanksgiving for ever and ever. Amen.

    Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575). A Swiss reformer, and the successor of Zwingli as head of the Zurich church, Bullinger wrote both theological and historical works comprising some 127 titles. There exist about 12,000 letters from and to Bullinger, the most extended correspondence preserved from Reformation times. He corresponded with Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Elizabeth I of England, Christian II of Denmark, and Frederick III Elector Palatine among others.

    From “Of The Holy Ghost: The Eighth Sermon” in “The Other Eight Sermons of the Fourth Decade” in Decades of Henry Bullinger, translated by H.I., Volume 4 (Cambridge: University Press, 1851), 325–326.

    Songs for Kids

  4. Q4:   HOW AND WHY DID GOD CREATE US?

    A:  

    GOD CREATED US MALE AND FEMALE IN HIS OWN IMAGE TO KNOW HIM, LOVE HIM, LIVE WITH HIM, AND GLORIFY HIM. AND IT IS RIGHT THAT WE WHO WERE CREATED BY GOD SHOULD LIVE TO HIS GLORY.


    Commentary

    The glory of God is the first thing that God's children should desire. It is the object of one of our Lord's own prayers: "Father, glorify thy name." (John xii. 28.) It is the purpose for which the world was created. It is the end for which the saints are called and converted. It is the chief thing we should seek, that "God in all things may be glorified." (1 Peter iv. 11.)… He alone deserves to receive all glory…we give Him all honor and praise and rejoice that He is King of kings, and Lord of lords…. Where are our hearts? What do we love best? Are our chiefest affections on things in earth, or things in heaven?… Singleness of purpose is one great secret of spiritual prosperity. If our eyes do not see distinctly, we cannot walk without stumbling and falling. If we attempt to work for two different masters, we are sure to give satisfaction to neither. It is just the same with respect to our souls. We cannot serve [God] and the world at the same time. It is vain to attempt it. The thing cannot be done…. God must be king over our hearts. His law, His will, His precepts must receive our first attention.

    We have all talents in God’s sight…. Anything whereby we may glorify God is a talent, our gifts, our influence, our money, our knowledge, our health, our strength, our time, our senses, our reason, our intellect, our memory, our affections, our privileges as members of Christ’s Church, our advantages as possessors of the Bible, —all, all are talents. Whence came these things? What hand bestowed them? Why are we what we are? Why are we not the worms that crawl on the earth? There is only one answer to these questions. All that we have is a loan from God. We are God’s stewards. We are God’s debtors. Let this thought sink deeply into our hearts.

    John Charles Ryle (1816–1900). The first Anglican bishop of Liverpool, Ryle’s appointment was at the recommendation of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. As well as being a writer and pastor, Ryle was an athlete who rowed and played cricket for Oxford University. He also was responsible for the building of over forty churches.

    From Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: St.

    Further Reading

    “What is Man?” in A Faith to Live By, by Donald Macleod.

    
“Humanness” and “Creation” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Genesis 1:27

    So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

    Prayer

    I pray God, for the sake of Christ…to receive me now as entirely his own, and to deal with me, in all respects, as such, whether he afflicts me or prospers me, or whatever he pleases to do with me, who am his. Now, henceforth, I am not to act, in any respect, as my own—I shall act as my own, if I ever make use of any of my powers to any thing that is not to the glory of God, and do not make the glorifying of him my whole and entire business.

    Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). A colonial American preacher, theologian, and philosopher, Edwards became pastor of his church in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1726. He is widely known for his famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" as well as his many books including The End For Which God Created the World and A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections. Edwards died from a smallpox inoculation shortly after beginning the presidency at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University).

    From "Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards" in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 1 (London: William Ball, 1840), lxvii.

    Songs for Kids

  5. Q5:   WHAT ELSE DID GOD CREATE?

    A:  

    GOD CREATED ALL THINGS BY HIS POWERFUL WORD, AND ALL HIS CREATION WAS VERY GOOD; EVERYTHING FLOURISHED UNDER HIS LOVING RULE.


    Commentary

    God did by his power create of nothing heaven, earth, and the sea; which he did immediately adorn and enrich with all kinds of good things. And into this world…it pleased him to bring man, to whom he did put all things in subjection…. How great our God is; how great the power of God is; how good, rich, and liberal to man, who never deserved any such thing at his hand, our God is, who hath created so great riches, so exquisite delights, and such furniture as cannot be sufficiently praised, for man alone, and hath made them all subject, and will have them all to obey man as their lord and master…. But here by the way, in the creation of the world, we have to consider the preservation and government of the whole by the same God. For neither doth the world stand and endure by any power of its own; neither do those things move and stir of their own accord…. It is a most absurd thing to say, that God hath created all things, but that he hath no care of the things which he hath made; and that his creature, as a boat destitute of a steersman, is with contrary winds tossed to and fro, and knocked and cracked upon shelves and rocks…. God…doth care for and regard the state of mortal men and of all the things that he hath made for the use of mortal men…. Therefore God hath not only created the world and all things that are in the world; but doth also govern and preserve them at this day, and shall govern and preserve them even till the end.

    Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575). A Swiss reformer, and the successor of Zwingli as head of the Zurich church, Bullinger wrote both theological and historical works comprising some 127 titles. There exist about 12,000 letters from and to Bullinger, the most extended correspondence preserved from Reformation times. He corresponded with Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Elizabeth I of England, Christian II of Denmark, and Frederick III Elector Palatine among others.

    From “That God is the Creator of All Things: The Fourth Sermon” in “The Other Eight Sermons of the Fourth Decade” in Decades of Henry Bullinger, translated by H.I., Volume 4 (Cambridge: University Press, 1851), 177–179.

    Further Reading

    “Creation” in A Faith to Live By, by Donald Macleod.


    “Providence” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Genesis 1:31

    God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

    Prayer

    Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who wast and art to come; eternal, without beginning or end; immense, without all bounds or measure; the infinite Spirit, Father, Word, and Holy Ghost. The infinite Life, Understanding, and Will, infinitely powerful, wise, and good. Of thee, and through thee, and to thee, are all things. To thee be glory for evermore. All thy works declare thy glory, for thy glorious perfections appear on all; and for thy glory, and the pleasure of thy holy will, didst thou create them. The heavens, and all the hosts thereof; the sun, and all the glorious stars; the fire, with its motion, light, and heat; the earth, and all that dwell thereon, with all its sweet and beauteous ornaments; the air, and all the meteors; the great deeps, and all that swim therein: all are the preachers of thy praise, and show forth the great Creator's glory. How great is that power which made so great a world of nothing; which, with wonderful swiftness, moveth those great and glorious luminaries which in a moment send forth the influences of their motion, light and heat, through all the air, to sea and earth. Thy powerful life giveth life to all; and preserveth this frame of nature, which thou hast made. How glorious is that wisdom which ordereth all things, and assigneth to all their place and office, and by its perfect laws maintaineth the beauty and harmony of all! How glorious is that goodness and love which made all good, and very good! We praise and glorify thee, our Lord and Owner; for we, and all things, are thine own.

    Richard Baxter (1615–1691). An English Puritan, Baxter served as a chaplain in the army of Oliver Cromwell and as a pastor in Kidderminster. When James II was overthrown, he was persecuted and imprisoned for 18 months. He continued to preach, writing at the time that: "I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men." As well as his theological works he was a poet and hymn-writer. He also wrote his own Family Catechism.

    From “A Shorter Form of Praise and Prayer for the Lord's Day” in “The Poor Man’s Family Book” in The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, Volume 19 (London: Paternoster, 1830), 635–636.

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  6. Q6:   HOW CAN WE GLORIFY GOD?

    A:  

    WE GLORIFY GOD BY ENJOYING HIM, LOVING HIM, TRUSTING HIM, AND BY OBEYING HIS WILL, COMMANDS, AND LAW.


    Commentary

    The whole life of a Christian should be nothing but praises and thanks to God. We should neither eat, nor drink, nor sleep, but eat to God, and sleep to God, and work to God, and talk to God, do all to his glory and praise…. As we receive all from God, so we should lay all at his feet, and say, ‘I will not live in a course of sin that will not stand with the favour of my God’…. We glorify God when we exalt him in our souls above all creatures in the world, when we give him the highest place in our love and in our joy, when all our affections are set upon him as the greatest good. This is seen also by opposition, when we will not offend God for any creature, when we can ask our affections, "Whom have I in heaven but thee?".

    God is our God by covenant, because he hath made over himself unto us. Every believing Christian hath the title passed over to him, so that God is his portion, and his inheritance. There is more comfort in this, that God is our God, than the heart of man can conceive. It is larger than his heart, and therefore though we cannot say, that riches, or honours, or friends, &c, are ours, yet if we be able to say by the Spirit of faith that God is ours, then we have all in him. His wisdom is ours to find out a way to do us good;…if under the guilt of sin, his mercy is ours to forgive us; if any want, his all-sufficiency is ours to supply, or to make it good. If God be ours, then whatsoever God can do is ours, and whatsoever God hath is ours…. God will have us make his glory our aim, that he may bestow himself upon us.

    Richard Sibbes (1577–1635). An English Puritan theologian, Sibbes was known in London in the early 17th century as "the Heavenly Doctor Sibbes." Preacher at Gray's Inn, London and Master of Catherine Hall, Cambridge, his most famous work is The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax.

    From “Divine Meditations” in The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume VII (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1864), 185–186, 216, 221.

    Further Reading

    “Glory”, “Enterprise”, and “Holiness” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Deuteronomy 11:1

    Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.

    Prayer

    God grant we may all be of that happy number. If we can call God our God, we shall endeavour, by the Holy Ghost, to be like God, we shall have his divine image stamped upon our souls, and endeavour to be followers of that God who is our Father…whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we shall do all to the glory of God…. You that can call God yours, God help you from this moment to glorify him more and more: and if God be your God…if the love of God abounds in your hearts, you will be willing, on every occasion, to do every thing to promote his honour and glory…. O God, be thou their God! and grant that their God may be their glory. Even so, Lord Jesus! Amen.

    George Whitefield (1714 –1770). An English Anglican minister, Whitefield crossed the Atlantic 13 times and for 34 years preached throughout England and America (as part of what is known as the Great Awakening). Whitefield’s voice could be heard over vast distances and was reported at one point to be heard by over thirty thousand people in the open air. Whitefield preached more than 18,000 sermons in his lifetime, fewer than 90 have survived in any form.

    Songs for Kids

  7. Q7:   WHAT DOES THE LAW OF GOD REQUIRE?

    A:  

    PERSONAL, PERFECT, AND PERPETUAL OBEDIENCE; THAT WE LOVE GOD WITH ALL OUR HEART, SOUL, MIND, AND STRENGTH; AND LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR AS OURSELVES. WHAT GOD FORBIDS SHOULD NEVER BE DONE AND WHAT GOD COMMANDS SHOULD ALWAYS BE DONE.


    Commentary

    Loving the Lord God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength is the first great branch of Christian righteousness. You shall delight yourself in the Lord your God; seeking and finding all happiness in Him. You shall hear and fulfill His word, "My son, give me your heart." And having given Him your inmost soul to reign there without a rival, you may well cry out in the fulness of your heart, "I will love You, O my Lord, my strength. The Lord IS my strong rock; my Savior, my God, in whom l trust.'' The second commandment, the second great branch of Christian righteousness, is closely and inseparably connected with the first: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love—embrace with the most tender goodwill, the most earnest and cordial affection, the most inflamed desires of preventing or removing all evil and bringing every possible good. Your neighbor—not only your friends, kinfolk, or acquaintances; not only the virtuous ones who regard you, who extend or return your kindness, but every person, not excluding those you have never seen or know by name; not excluding those you know to be evil and unthankful, those who despitefully use you. Even those you shall love as yourself with the same invariable thirst after their happiness. Use the same unwearied care to screen them from whatever might grieve or hurt either their soul or body. This is love.

    John Wesley (1703–1791). An English preacher and theologian, Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles, with founding the English Methodist movement. He travelled generally on horseback, preaching two or three times each day, and is said to have preached more than 40,000 sermons. He also was a noted hymn-writer.

    From “The Two Great Commandments” in Renew My Heart: Classic Insights by John Wesley (Uhrichsville, Ohio: Barbour, 2011).

    Further Reading

    “Law” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Matthew 22:37–40

    Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    Prayer

    We thank you Heavenly Father that you have not left us to grope in the darkness without any light to show us the way. We thank you that your Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. And we thank you that you have given us in the Holy Spirit an indwelling comforter and strengthener who writes your law in our hearts enabling us to love and to obey it. Grant us in increasing measure the fulness of the Spirit that we may live a life that is pleasing in your holy sight. For the glory of your great name. Amen.

    Songs for Kids

  8. Q8:   WHAT IS THE LAW OF GOD STATED IN THE TEN COMMANDMENTS?

    A:  

    YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME. YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FOR YOURSELF AN IDOL IN THE FORM OF ANYTHING IN HEAVEN ABOVE OR ON THE EARTH BENEATH OR IN THE WATERS BELOW—YOU SHALL NOT BOW DOWN TO THEM OR WORSHIP THEM. YOU SHALL NOT MISUSE THE NAME OF THE LORD YOUR GOD. REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY BY KEEPING IT HOLY. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER. YOU SHALL NOT MURDER. YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY. YOU SHALL NOT STEAL. YOU SHALL NOT GIVE FALSE TESTIMONY. YOU SHALL NOT COVET.


    Commentary

    Thou shalt not have another God than me:
Thou shalt not to an Image bow thy Knee. 
Thou shalt not take the Name of God in vain: 
See that the Sabbath thou do not profain. 
Honour thy Father and thy Mother too:
In Act or Thought see thou no Murder do. 
From Fornication keep thy body clean:
Thou shalt not steal, though thou be very mean.
Bear no false Witness, keep thee without Spot:
What is thy Neighbours see thou Covet not.

    The danger doth not lie in the breaking of one or two of these ten [commandments] only, but it doth lie even in the transgression of any one of them. As you know, if a king should give forth ten particular commands, to be obeyed by his subjects upon pain of death; now, if any man doth transgress against any one of these ten, he doth commit treason, as if he had broke them all, and lieth liable to have the sentence of the law as certainly passed on him, as if he had broken every particular of them…. These things are clear as touching the law of God, as it is a covenant of works: If a man do fulfil nine of the commandments, and yet breaketh but one, that being broken will as surely destroy him, and shut him out from the joys of heaven, as if he had actually transgressed against them all…. Though thou shouldst fulfil this covenant or law, even all of it, for a long time, ten, twenty, forty, fifty, or threescore years; yet if thou do chance to slip, and break one of them but once before thou die, thou art also gone and lost by that covenant…. For, my friends, you must understand, that…as they that are under the covenant of grace shall surely be saved by it, so, even so, they that are under the covenants of works and the law, they shall surely be damned by it, if continuing therein…. Again, you must consider that this law doth not only condemn words and actions…but it hath authority to condemn the most secret thoughts of the heart, being evil; so that if thou do not speak any word that is evil, as swearing, lying, jesting, dissembling, or any other word that tendeth to, or savoureth of sin, yet if there should chance to pass but one vain thought through thy heart, but one in all thy lifetime, the law taketh hold of it, accuseth, and also will condemn thee for it…. And so likewise of all the rest of the commands, if there be any thought that is evil do but pass thorough thy heart, whether it be against God, or against man in the least measure, though possibly not discerned of thee, or by thee, yet the law takes hold of thee therefore, and doth by its authority, both cast, condemn, and execute thee for thy so doing.

    John Bunyan (1628–1688). Known as the tinker of Elstow, Bunyan underwent a dramatic conversion experience and became a leading Puritan preacher. As his popularity grew, Bunyan increasingly became a target for slander and libel and was eventually imprisoned. It was during his time in prison that he commenced his best known work The Pilgrim’s Progress, first printed in 1678.

    The poem is “Upon the Ten Commandments” in A Book for Boys and Girls, or, Country Rhymes for Children (London: Elliot Stock, 1890), 1. The quote is from “The Doctrine of the Law and Grace Unfolded” in The Works of that Eminent Servant of Christ Mr. John Bunyan, Volume 3 (Edinburgh: Sands, Murray & Cochran, 1769), 245–247.

    Further Reading

    “Revelation” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Exodus 20:3 and Deuteronomy 5:7

    You shall have no other gods before me.

    Prayer

    0 my God and Lord, help me by thy grace to learn and understand thy commandments more fully every day and to live by them…. Preserve my heart so that I shall never again become forgetful and ungrateful, that I may never seek after other gods or other consolation on earth or in any creature, but cling truly and solely to thee, my only God. Amen, dear Lord God and Father. Amen.

    Martin Luther (1483–1546). A German Protestant pastor and professor of theology, Luther was the son of a mining family, intended to become a lawyer, and at first took monastic orders. On 31 October 1517 Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, sparking the Reformation. His refusal to retract his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X and Emperor Charles V resulted in his excommunication. Luther wrote many works, including his small and large catechisms, and preached hundreds of sermons in churches and universities.

    From Luther’s Prayers, edited by Herbert F. Brokering, from the translation by Charles E. Kistler (Minneapolis: Augsburg Books, 1967), 51.

    Songs for Kids

  9. Q9:   WHAT DOES GOD REQUIRE IN THE FIRST, SECOND, AND THIRD COMMANDMENTS?

    A:  

    FIRST, THAT WE KNOW AND TRUST GOD AS THE ONLY TRUE AND LIVING GOD. SECOND, THAT WE AVOID ALL IDOLATRY AND DO NOT WORSHIP GOD IMPROPERLY. THIRD, THAT WE TREAT GOD’S NAME WITH FEAR AND REVERENCE, HONORING ALSO HIS WORD AND WORKS.


    Commentary

    God leads men to see that the God revealed in Scripture, and manifested in the person of the Lord Jesus, is the God who made heaven and earth. Man fashions for himself a god after his own liking; he makes to himself if not out of wood or stone, yet out of what he calls his own consciousness, or his cultured thought, a deity to his taste, who will not be too severe with his iniquities or deal out strict justice to the impenitent. He rejects God as he is, and elaborates other gods, such as he thinks the Divine One ought to be…. The Holy Spirit, however, when he illuminates their minds, leads us to see that Jehovah is God, and beside him there is none else. He teaches his people to know that the God of heaven and earth is the God of the Bible, a God whose attributes are completely balanced, mercy attended by justice, love accompanied by holiness, grace arrayed in truth, and power linked with tenderness. He is not a God who winks at sin, much less is pleased with it…but a God who cannot look upon iniquity, and will by no means spare the guilty. This is the great quarrel of the present day between the philosopher and the Christian. The philosopher says, "Yes, a god if you will, but he must be of such a character as I now dogmatically set before you"; but the Christian replies, "Our business is not to invent a god, but to obey the one Lord who is revealed in the Scriptures of truth."

    Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892). An English Baptist preacher, Spurgeon became pastor of London's New Park Street Church (later Metropolitan Tabernacle) at 20 years of age. He frequently preached to more than 10,000 people with no electronic amplification. Spurgeon was a prolific writer and his printed works are voluminous—by the time of his death he had preached nearly 3,600 sermons and published 49 volumes of commentaries, sayings, hymns, and devotions.

    From the sermon “Heart-Knowledge of God” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit: Sermons Preached and Revised by C.H. Spurgeon During the Year 1874, Volume XX (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1875), 674–675.

    Further Reading

    “Self-disclosure” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Deuteronomy 6:13–14

    Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you.

    Prayer

    Thou commandest "that I should have none other gods in thy sight." That is to say, as I should have thee for my Lord and God to look for all good things most assuredly at thy hands, and therefore I should put all my trust in thee, be thankful unto thee, love thee, fear thee, obey thee, and call upon thy holy name in all my needs; so should I give this faith, love, fear, obedience, thankfulness, and invocation or prayer, to none other…but only to thee…. All this to do, 0 Lord God, and that with most joyful heart, I have great cause; for what a thing is it, that thou, Jehovah, wouldest vouchsafe…to give thy Son for me, and to become my God!… But, alas! dear Father, what shall I say? As in times past horribly I have broken this thy law in trusting in thy creatures, calling upon them, loving, fearing, and obeying many things besides thee and rather than thee…. 0f thy goodness and great mercy, dear Father…forgive me as well mine idolatry done in times past, as that which of late time I have committed and do commit…[and grant] that I may have none other God in heart but thee, nor do service to any other but only to thee, and for thee…. 0 Lord…thou biddest me not to take thy name in vain, as by…cursing, praying without sense, also by jesting or foolish abusing, or negligent reading or hearing of thy holy word…; and in like manner by denying thy truth and word, or concealing it when occasion is offered to promote thy glory and confirm thy truth. By reason whereof I may well see that thou wouldest have me to use my tongue in humble confessing thee and thy word and truth…in praying heartily, and calling upon thy name; in reading and hearing thy word, and speaking thereof, with all reverence, diligence, and attention; in thanksgiving, and praising thee for thy great mercy…. But, gracious good Lord…I am a miserable transgressor of this thy most holy, good, and blessed commandment, as always I have been in times past…. Dear God, pardon my sins past and present, whereof this law doth accuse me; and grant, most gracious Father, that I may be endued with thy holy Spirit, to know and love thy holy name, word, and truth in Jesus Christ…to call upon thy name in all my need, to give thanks unto thee, praise thee, magnify thee, and to sanctify thy holy name, as a vessel of thy mercy, for ever and ever.

    John Bradford (1510–1555). An English Protestant Reformer, Bradford studied at Cambridge University and was made royal chaplain to King Edward VI. When Catholic Mary Tudor came to the throne he was arrested along with Latimer, Ridley and Archbishop Cranmer. Bradford had a great reputation as a preacher and a vast crowd came to his execution. He is most remembered for his statement, “There but for the grace of God goes John Bradford.” His works, some of which were written from prison, include letters, exhortations, eulogies, meditations, sermons, and essays.

    From “Godly Meditations: A Meditation upon the Ten Commandments” in The Writings of John Bradford, edited by Aubrey Townsend (Cambridge: University Press, 1868), 150–157.

    Songs for Kids

  10. Q10:   WHAT DOES GOD REQUIRE IN THE FOURTH AND FIFTH COMMANDMENTS?

    A:  

    FOURTH, THAT ON THE SABBATH DAY WE SPEND TIME IN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE WORSHIP OF GOD, REST FROM ROUTINE EMPLOYMENT, SERVE THE LORD AND OTHERS, AND SO ANTICIPATE THE ETERNAL SABBATH. FIFTH, THAT WE LOVE AND HONOR OUR FATHER AND OUR MOTHER, SUBMITTING TO THEIR GODLY DISCIPLINE AND DIRECTION.


    Commentary

    The word of God…commands things against the grain which you don’t do. It tells you: Your God is one (Dt 6:4); worship one God. What you want is to put away the one God.… You are told to observe the Sabbath in a spiritual way, in hope of the future rest which the Lord has promised you.… But you, the reason you want to rest is in order to work, whereas you ought to be working in order to rest. You are told, Honor you father and mother (Ex 20:12). [But] you heap insults on your parents, which you certainly don’t want to endure from your children.

    In the Holy Spirit, that is, in the gift of God, everlasting rest is promised us.… Of that we have already received the pledge. That’s what the apostle says: Who gave us the Spirit as a pledge (2 Cor 1:22). If we have received a pledge so that we may be at peace in the Lord and in our God…we shall also in him from whom we have received the pledge be at rest forever. That will be the sabbath of sabbaths.… So the…commandment about the Sabbath…we should acknowledge in a spiritual way.… God hallowed the seventh day when he had made all his work, as we read it written in Genesis…God rested from his works (Gn 2:2–3). It was not because God was tired that it had to say God rested from his works, but that word contains a promise of rest for you as you toil away.… God rested, to give you to understand that you too will rest…and rest without end.

    Honor you father and mother (Ex 20:12). It’s your parents you see when you first open your eyes.… If anyone fails to honor his parents, is there anyone he will spare?… Change you ways. You used to love the world; love God. You used to love the futilities of wickedness, you used to love passing, temporary pleasures; love your neighbor.

    Augustine of Hippo (354–430). Bishop of Hippo in Roman North Africa, philosopher, and theologian, Augustine is considered a saint and Doctor of the Church by both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He wrote an account of his conversion in his Confessions, his most known work, but he is also one of the most prolific Latin authors in terms of surviving works with hundreds of separate titles (including apologetic works, texts on Christian doctrine, and commentaries) and more than 350 preserved sermons.

    From “Sermon 9” in Saint Augustine: Essential Sermons, edited by Daniel Doyle, translated by Edmund Hill (New York: New City Press, 2007), 27–28, 30–32.

    Further Reading

    “Worship” and “The Family” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Leviticus 19:3

    Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the LORD your God.
     

    Prayer

    With Christ nothing is impossible. He can soften hearts which seem hard as a millstone. He can bend stubborn wills which for…years have been set on pleasing the self, on sin, and on the world. He can create and transform and renew and break down and build and bring to life with irresistible power. Let us hold to this blessed truth and never let it go…. Let us pray for a right understanding of the law of the Sabbath. Let us…keep the day holy and give it to God.

    John Charles Ryle (1816–1900). The first Anglican bishop of Liverpool, Ryle’s appointment was at the recommendation of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. As well as being a writer and pastor, Ryle was an athlete who rowed and played cricket for Oxford University. He also was responsible for the building of over forty churches.

    From Luke by J. C. Ryle, series editor Alister E. McGrath (Wheaton: Crossway, 1997), 187.

    Songs for Kids

  11. Q11:   WHAT DOES GOD REQUIRE IN THE SIXTH, SEVENTH, AND EIGHTH COMMANDMENTS?

    A:  

    SIXTH, THAT WE DO NOT HURT, OR HATE, OR BE HOSTILE TO OUR NEIGHBOR, BUT BE PATIENT AND PEACEFUL, PURSUING EVEN OUR ENEMIES WITH LOVE. SEVENTH, THAT WE ABSTAIN FROM SEXUAL IMMORALITY AND LIVE PURELY AND FAITHFULLY, WHETHER IN MARRIAGE OR IN SINGLE LIFE, AVOIDING ALL IMPURE ACTIONS, LOOKS, WORDS, THOUGHTS, OR DESIRES, AND WHATEVER MIGHT LEAD TO THEM. EIGHTH, THAT WE DO NOT TAKE WITHOUT PERMISSION THAT WHICH BELONGS TO SOMEONE ELSE, NOR WITHHOLD ANY GOOD FROM SOMEONE WE MIGHT BENEFIT.


    Commentary

    Man cannot even keep the Ten Commandments. And yet he talks glibly about keeping the Sermon on the Mount, and of imitating Christ…. The Jews were a race of people to whom God had already given his law through his servant Moses and they could not keep it. They could not keep the Ten Commandments. Nobody has ever kept them perfectly…. And if a man cannot keep the Ten Commandments, as they understand them, what hope have they of keeping the Ten Commandments as they have been interpreted by the Lord Jesus Christ? That was the whole trouble with the Pharisees, who so hated him and who finally crucified him. They thought they were keeping the Ten Commandments and the moral law. Our Lord convinced them and convicted them of the fact that they were not doing so. They claimed that they had never committed murder. Wait a minute, said our Lord. Have you ever said to your brother, 'Thou fool’? If you have, you are guilty of murder. Murder does not only mean actually, physically, killing a man, it means that bitterness and hatred in your heart…. And he taught the same, you remember, with regard to adultery. They claimed that they were guiltless. But wait a minute, says our Lord, you say you have never committed adultery? ‘But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart’ (Mt 5:28). He is guilty; he has coveted, he has desired.… A thought and an imagination are as reprehensible in the sight of God as the act committed.

    David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981). A Welsh medical doctor and Protestant minister, Lloyd-Jones is best known for preaching and teaching at Westminster Chapel in London for thirty years. He would take many months, even years, to expound a chapter of the Bible verse by verse. Perhaps his most famous publication is a 14 volume series of commentaries on Romans.

    From The Cross (Wheaton: Crossway, 1986), 176–177.

    Further Reading

    “Teacher” and “Love” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Romans 13:9

    The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
     

    Prayer

    O MOST merciful God and Father, who dost vouchsafe to build Thy spiritual temple among us, not with wood and stone, but with the edifying of the Holy Ghost, who abideth in those that believe, grant, we heartily beseech Thee, that we may not be left, under the power of any temptation, to defile that temple by our sins, but yielding ourselves to God as dear children, may continually glorify Thee by holy obedience, till we come to behold as with open face Thy glory, which we now only see reflected in Thy word, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    John Calvin (1509–1564). A theologian, administrator, and pastor, Calvin was born in France into a strict Roman Catholic family. It was in Geneva however where Calvin worked most of his life and organized the Reformed church. He wrote The Institutes of the Christian Religion, the Geneva Catechism, as well as numerous commentaries on Scripture.

    From “A Prayer of John Calvin” in General Liturgy and Book of Common Prayer, prepared by Samuel Miles Hopkins (New York: Barnes, 1883), 47.

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  12. Q12:   WHAT DOES GOD REQUIRE IN THE NINTH AND TENTH COMMANDMENTS?

    A:  

    NINTH, THAT WE DO NOT LIE OR DECEIVE, BUT SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE. TENTH, THAT WE ARE CONTENT, NOT ENVYING ANYONE OR RESENTING WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN THEM OR US.


    Commentary

    Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbour. Now dost thou, most gracious Lord, instruct me in this commandment, how I should use my tongue towards my neighbour, and behave myself concerning his name, forbidding me to bear false witness; in the which thou forbiddest me all kinds of slandering, lying, hypocrisy, and untruth. And why? Because, as "members of one body," thou wouldest we should "speak truth one to another," and be careful every one to cover other's infirmity, and with our tongue defend the names of others, even as we would that others should defend ours: so that in this commandment, as thou forbiddest me all kind of evil, perilous, calumnious and untrue speaking, so dost thou command to me all kind of godly, honest, and true report and talk…. 0 how great a good thing is this unto me! If we consider the hurt that cometh by untruth, and by words wherethrough many are deceived, easily may we see a wonderful benefit and care of thee for us in this commandment.

    Thou Shalt Not Covet…. Here, 0 most gracious Lord God, thou givest me the last commandment of thy law who having taught me what outward actions I shall avoid, that I do not thereby offend or undo my neighbour, as murder, adultery, theft, and false witness, now thou teachest me a rule for my heart, to order that well, from the abundance whereof all our works and words proceed, that I shall not covet any thing that is my neighbour's. I know hereby that, if he have a fairer house than I, I may not wish for it; if he have a more beautiful wife than I, I may not desire her…. I may not desire to take from him his ox, nor his ass, no, not his dog, no, not the meanest thing he hath in his possession. So that, in the other commandments as thou hast forbidden all injuries and evil practice against my neighbour, so now thou chargest me to beware of thinking any evil thought against him…. The apostle said well, when he taught us, saying, "Cast all your care upon God, for he careth for you." It is true, I find it true: thus thou "carest for us," and wouldest have us to "care one for another."

    John Bradford (1510–1555). An English Protestant Reformer, Bradford studied at Cambridge University and was made royal chaplain to King Edward VI. When Catholic Mary Tudor came to the throne he was arrested along with Latimer, Ridley and Archbishop Cranmer. Bradford had a great reputation as a preacher and a vast crowd came to his execution. He is most remembered for his statement, “There but for the grace of God goes John Bradford.” His works, some of which were written from prison, include letters, exhortations, eulogies, meditations, sermons, and essays.

    From “Godly Meditations: A Meditation upon the Ten Commandments” in The Writings of John Bradford, edited by Aubrey Townsend (Cambridge: University Press, 1868), 170–172.

    Further Reading

    “Oaths and Vows” and “Antinomianism” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    James 2:8

    If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.

    Prayer

    Almighty God, who art the Father of lights and who has promised by thy dear Son that all who do thy will shall know thy doctrine: give me grace so to live that by daily obedience I daily increase in faith and in understanding of thy Holy Word, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    C. S. Lewis (1898–1963). A fellow in English literature at Oxford University as well as chair of English at Cambridge University, Lewis wrote literary criticism, children's literature, fantasy literature, as well as theology. His most well known works are Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and The Chronicles of Narnia. A member of the Church of England, his conversion to Christianity was influenced by his Oxford colleague and friend J.R.R. Tolkien.

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  13. Q13:   CAN ANYONE KEEP THE LAW OF GOD PERFECTLY?

    A:  

    SINCE THE FALL, NO MERE HUMAN HAS BEEN ABLE TO KEEP THE LAW OF GOD PERFECTLY, BUT CONSISTENTLY BREAKS IT IN THOUGHT, WORD, AND DEED.


    Commentary

    As a traveller, in his way meeting with a violent storm of thunder and rain, immediately turns out of his way to some house or tree for his shelter; but yet this causeth him not to give over his journey; so soon as the storm is over he returns to his way and progress again. So it is with men in bondage to sin: the law meets with them in a storm of thunder and lightning from heaven, terrifies and hinders them in their way; this turns them for a season out of their course; they will run to prayer or amendment of life, for some shelter from the storm of wrath which is feared coming upon their consciences. But is their course stopped? are their principles altered? Not at all; so soon as the storm is over…they return to their former course, in the service of sin again.

    Never let us reckon that our work in contending against sin, in crucifying, mortifying, and subduing of it, is at an end. The place of its habitation is unsearchable; and when we may think that we have thoroughly won the field, there is still some reserve remaining that we saw not, that we knew not of. Many conquerors have been ruined by their carelessness after a victory; and many have been spiritually wounded after great successes against this enemy…. There is no way for us to pursue sin in its unsearchable habitation but by being endless in our pursuit.

    John Owen (1616–1683). An English Puritan theologian, Owen went to Oxford University at 12 years of age, gained his MA at 19, and became a pastor at 21. Years later he was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University. He preached to parliament the day after the execution of King Charles I, fulfilling the task without directly mentioning that event. He wrote numerous and voluminous works including historical treatises on religion and several studies on the Holy Spirit.

    From “The Nature, Power, Deceit, and Prevalency of the Remainders of Indwelling Sin in Believers” in The Works of John Owen, edited by Thomas Russell, Volume XIII (London: Richard Baynes, 1826), 200–201, 26.

    Further Reading

    “Original Sin” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Romans 3:10–12

    There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.
     

    Prayer

    O thou whose name is Emmanuel, our Lord and Sovereign: grace is poured into thy lips, and to thee belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against thee. We, who are no more worthy to be called thy servants, beseech thee to do away our transgressions. We confess that thou mightest cast us away for them, but do it not for thy name's sake. Our wisdom is gone, our power is gone, nor have we what we may call our own but sin, shame, and confusion of face for sin. Take pity upon us, 0 Lord, take pity upon us.

    John Bunyan (1628–1688). Known as the tinker of Elstow, Bunyan underwent a dramatic conversion experience and became a leading Puritan preacher. As his popularity grew, Bunyan increasingly became a target for slander and libel and was eventually imprisoned. It was during his time in prison that he commenced his best known work The Pilgrim’s Progress, first printed in 1678.

    From The Westminster Collection of Christian Prayers, by Dorothy M. Stewart (Louisville: John Knox, 2002), 49.

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  14. Q14:   DID GOD CREATE US UNABLE TO KEEP HIS LAW?

    A:  

    NO, BUT BECAUSE OF THE DISOBEDIENCE OF OUR FIRST PARENTS, ADAM AND EVE, ALL OF CREATION IS FALLEN; WE ARE ALL BORN IN SIN AND GUILT, CORRUPT IN OUR NATURE AND UNABLE TO KEEP GOD’S LAW.


    Commentary

    I believe, that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, with all their numerous inhabitants. Last of all, and nobly conspicuous amongst the amazingly diversified productions of his almighty power and infinite skill…he created man, and constituted him lord of this…world. Male and female created he them, after his own image and in his own likeness: upright, innocent, and holy; capable of serving and glorifying their bountiful Creator…. I believe, that man did not long continue in these holy and happy circumstances; but, being left to the freedom of his own will, he transgressed the law which his Maker and Sovereign had given him; in consequence of which he fell into a state of guilt, depravity, and ruin. And as he was not only the natural but federal head and representative of his unborn posterity, he sinning, all his offspring sinned in him and fell with him, the guilt of his first sin being imputed, and a corrupt nature derived, to all who descend from him by natural generation. Hence it is that all men are by nature the children of wrath; averse to all that is spiritually good, and prone to evil; dead in sin, under the curse of the righteous law…. From which state of complicated misery there is no deliverance but by Jesus Christ, the second Adam.

    Abraham Booth (1734–1806). An English Baptist minister, Booth served as pastor of Prescot Street Church in Whitechapel, London for 35 years as well as founding what is now Regents Park College for ministerial training in Oxford. He is most known for his work The Reign of Grace.

    From “Confession of Faith” in Works of Abraham Booth: Late Pastor of the Baptist Church, Volume 1 (London: Button, 1813), xxxi–xxxii.

    Further Reading

    “The Fall” and “Inability” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Romans 5:12

    Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.

    Prayer

    OUR Father, when we read Thy description of human nature we are sure it is true, for Thou hast seen man ever since his fall, and Thou hast been grieved at heart concerning him…. It has become a wonder to us that Thou shouldst look upon man at all; the most hateful object in creation must be a man, because he slew Thy Son, because he has multiplied rebellions against a just and holy law. And yet truly there is no sight that gives Thee more pleasure than man, for Jesus was a man; and the brightness of His glory covers all our shame; and the pureness and perfectness of His obedience shine like the sun in the midst of the thick darkness. For His sake Thou art well pleased, and Thou dost dwell with us…. And now, Lord, during the few days that remain to us here below, be it all our business to cry, "Behold the Lamb!" Oh! teach our hearts to be always conscious of Thy love; and then our lips, that they may set out as best they can by Thy divine help the matchless story of the Cross…. Lord, forgive us our sins; Lord, sanctify our persons; Lord, guide us in difficulty; Lord, supply our needs. The Lord teach us; the Lord perfect us; the Lord comfort us; the Lord make us meet for the appearing of His Son from heaven!

    Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892). An English Baptist preacher, Spurgeon became pastor of London's New Park Street Church (later Metropolitan Tabernacle) at 20 years of age. He frequently preached to more than 10,000 people with no electronic amplification. Spurgeon was a prolific writer and his printed works are voluminous—by the time of his death he had preached nearly 3,600 sermons and published 49 volumes of commentaries, sayings, hymns, and devotions.

    From “Prayer VII: Let All the People Praise Thee" in Prayers from Metropolitan Pulpit: C. H. Spurgeon's Prayers (New York, Revell, 1906), 43–47.

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  15. Q15:   SINCE NO ONE CAN KEEP THE LAW, WHAT IS ITS PURPOSE?

    A:  

    THAT WE MAY KNOW THE HOLY NATURE AND WILL OF GOD, AND THE SINFUL NATURE AND DISOBEDIENCE OF OUR HEARTS; AND THUS OUR NEED OF A SAVIOR. THE LAW ALSO TEACHES AND EXHORTS US TO LIVE A LIFE WORTHY OF OUR SAVIOR.


    Commentary

    After God gave the promise to Abraham, he gave the law to Moses. Why? Simply because he had to make things worse before he could make them better. The law exposed sin, provoked sin, condemned sin. The purpose of the law was…to lift the lid off man's respectability and disclose what he is really like underneath—sinful, rebellious, guilty, under the judgment of God, and helpless to save himself. And the law must still be allowed to do its God-given duty today. One of the great faults of the contemporary church is the tendency to soft-pedal sin and judgment…. We must never bypass the law and come straight to the gospel. To do so it to contradict the plan of God in biblical history…. No man has ever appreciated the gospel until the law has first revealed him to himself. It is only against the inky blackness of the night sky that the stars begin to appear, and it is only against the dark background of sin that the gospel shines forth. Not until the law has bruised and smitten us will we admit our need of the gospel to bind up our wounds. Not until the law has arrested and imprisoned us will we pine for Christ to set us free. Not until the law has condemned and killed us will we call upon Christ for justification and life. Not until the law has driven us to despair of ourselves will we ever believe in Jesus. Not until the law has humbled us even to hell will we turn to the gospel to raise us to heaven.

    John Stott (1921–2011). An English Anglican preacher who for many years served as rector of All Souls Church in London, Stott was one of the principal framers of the Lausanne Covenant (1974). His numerous books include Why I Am a Christian and The Cross of Christ.

    From The Message of Galatians in The Bible Speaks Today Series (London and Downers Grove: IVP, 1968), 93.

    Further Reading

    “Law in Action” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Romans 3:20

    No one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

    Prayer

    The Lord reveal himself more and more unto us in the face of his Son, Jesus Christ, and magnify the power of his grace…and of his tender mercy encourage us; and persuade us, that since he hath taken us into the covenant of grace, he will not cast us off for those corruptions, which as they grieve his Spirit, so they make us vile in our own eyes: and…the Lord add this to the rest of his mercies…to let the prevailing power of his Spirit in us, be an evidence of the truth of grace begun, and a pledge of final victory, at that time when he will be all in all, in all his, for all eternity. Amen!

    Richard Sibbes (1577–1635). An English Puritan theologian, Sibbes was known in London in the early 17th century as "the Heavenly Doctor Sibbes." Preacher at Gray's Inn, London and Master of Catherine Hall, Cambridge, his most famous work is The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax (from which this prayer is taken).

    From “The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax” in The Works of the Reverend Richard Sibbes, Volume 1 (Aberdeen: Chalmers, 1809), 80.

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  16. Q16:   WHAT IS SIN?

    A:  

    SIN IS REJECTING OR IGNORING GOD IN THE WORLD HE CREATED, REBELLING AGAINST HIM BY LIVING WITHOUT REFERENCE TO HIM, NOT BEING OR DOING WHAT HE REQUIRES IN HIS LAW


    Commentary

    From the moment a creature becomes aware of God as God and of itself as self, the terrible alternative of choosing God or self for the centre is opened to it. This sin is committed daily by young children and ignorant peasants as well as by sophisticated persons, by solitaries no less than by those who live in society: it is the fall in every individual life, and in each day of each individual life, the basic sin behind all particular sins: at this very moment you or I are either committing it, or about to commit it, or repenting it. We try, when we wake, to lay the new day at God’s feet; [but] before we have finished shaving, it becomes our day and God’s share in it is felt as a tribute which we must pay out of ‘our own’ pocket, a deduction from the time which ought, we feel to be ‘our own’.

    C. S. Lewis (1898–1963). A fellow in English literature at Oxford University as well as chair of English at Cambridge University, Lewis wrote literary criticism, children's literature, fantasy literature, as well as theology. His most well known works are Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, andThe Chronicles of Narnia. A member of the Church of England, his conversion to Christianity was influenced by his Oxford colleague and friend J.R.R. Tolkien.

    From The Problem of Pain (New York: HarperCollins, 1940), 70.

    Further Reading

    “Sin” in A Faith to Live By, by Donald Macleod.

    Verse

    1 John 3:4

    Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

    Prayer

    O Lord Jesus Christ, enroll me thy servant in the book of life.

    O Lord my God, even though I have done nothing good in thy sight, yet grant me, according to thy grace, to make a beginning of good. 
    O Lord, sprinkle on my heart the dew of thy grace. 
    O Lord of heaven and earth, remember me thy sinful servant, cold of heart and impure, in thy kingdom.
    O Lord, receive me in repentance. 
    O Lord, leave me not. 
    O Lord, lead me not into temptation. 
    O Lord, grant me thought of good.
    O Lord, grant me tears, a remembrance of death, and a sense of peace. 
    O Lord, grant me mindfulness to confess my sins. 
    O Lord, grant me humility, charity, and obedience. 
    O Lord, grant me endurance, magnanimity, and gentleness. 
    O Lord, plant in me the root of all blessings, the fear of thee in my heart. 
    O Lord, vouchsafe that I may love thee with all my heart and soul and in all things obey thy will. 
    O Lord, shield me from evil men and devils and passions and all other unlawful things. 
    O Lord, who knowest thy creation and what thou hast willed for it; may thy will also be fulfilled in me a sinner; for thou art blessed for evermore. Amen.

    John Chrysostom (347–407). Archbishop of Constantinople, John was born in Antioch. He was given the title Chrysostom which means “golden mouth” because of his eloquent preaching. He is recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church as a saint and Doctor of the Church. Chrysostom is known for his Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his vast homiletical works including 67 homilies on Genesis, 90 on the Gospel of Matthew, and 88 on the Gospel of John.

    From “A Prayer by John Chrysostom: According to the Number of the Hours of the Day and Night” (notice there are 24 of them) in A Manual of Eastern Orthodox Prayers (New York: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1983), 14–15.

    Songs for Kids

  17. Q17:   WHAT IS IDOLATRY?

    A:  

    IDOLATRY IS TRUSTING IN CREATED THINGS RATHER THAN THE CREATOR FOR OUR HOPE AND HAPPINESS, SIGNIFICANCE AND SECURITY.


    Commentary

    What is it to have a god? Or, what is one's god? Answer: To whatever we look for any good thing and for refuge in every need, that is what is meant by "god"…it is the trust and faith of the heart, nothing else, that make both God and an idol…. To whatever you give your heart and entrust your being, that…is really your god…. Many a person imagines that he has God and everything he needs, provided he has money and property. He relies upon these, boasts about them, and feels…immovably secure…. But look, he too has a god, named mammon, that is the money and property to which he has given his whole heart. Mammon is the world's favorite idol. One who has money and property has a sense of security and feels…happy and fearless…. On the other hand, one who has nothing is as insecure and anxiety-ridden as if he had never heard of God…. Similarly, one who congratulates himself on his great learning, intelligence, power, special advantages, family connections, and honor and trusts in them also has a god, only not the one true God. The evidence for this appears when people are arrogant, secure, and proud because of such possessions, but desperate when they lack them or lose them. I repeat, to have a god means to have something on which one's heart depends entirely.

    So now you can easily understand what it is and how much it is that this [first] commandment requires. It requires that man's whole heart and all his confidence be given to God alone and no one else…. The true worship and service of God, the kind that pleases Him and which He also commands on pain of everlasting wrath…takes place when your heart directs all its trust and confidence only toward God and does not let itself be torn away from Him; it consists in risking everything on earth for Him and abandoning it all for His sake. You can easily judge how, in contrast to this, the world practices nothing but false worship and idolatry…. Everyone has set up for himself some particular god to which he looks for benefits, help, and comfort…. For idolatry does not consist simply in setting up an image and worshiping it; it takes place primarily in the heart, which looks elsewhere than to the one God, seeks help and comfort in created things…. Besides this there is also that false worship, that height of idolatry, which…involves…those who seek comfort and salvation in their own works and presume to capture heaven by putting God under the pressure of an obligation…, they wish to earn everything themselves or merit it by works…. What is this but turning God into an idol, into a plaster image, while the worshiper actually is setting himself up as his own god. However:…We are to trust in God alone, look to Him, and expect to receive nothing but good things from Him…. Question and explore your own heart thoroughly, and you will find out if it embraces God alone or not. Do you have it in your heart to expect nothing but good things from God, especially when you are in trouble and in need? And does your heart in addition give up and forsake everything that is not God? Then you have the one true God. On the other hand, is your heart attached to and does it rely on something else, from which you hope to receive more good and more help than from God? And when things go wrong, do you, instead of fleeing to Him, flee from Him? Then you have another god, a false god, [an idol].

    Martin Luther (1483–1546). A German Protestant pastor and professor of theology, Luther was the son of a mining family, intended to become a lawyer, and at first took monastic orders. On 31 October 1517 Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, sparking the Reformation. His refusal to retract his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X and Emperor Charles V resulted in his excommunication. Luther wrote many works, including his small and large catechisms (from which this quote is taken), and preached hundreds of sermons in churches and universities.

    From Luther’s Large Catechism, translated by F. Samuel Janzow (St. Louis, MO.: Concordia, 1978), 13–17.

    Further Reading

    “General Revelation” and “Guilt” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Romans 1:21 and 25

    For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened…. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.

    Prayer

    O God, the light of every heart that sees thee, the life of every soul that loves thee, the strength of every mind that seeks thee, grant me ever to continue steadfast in thy holy love. Pour thyself into my heart, and let it overflow, and be so entirely filled with thy pleasures, that there may be no room left for the trifling vanities here below. I am ashamed and tired of living after the way of the world; the very sight and hearing of transitory objects is troublesome: help me, my God, against the insinuations of such, and be thou the joy of my heart: take it all to thyself, and keep thy continual residence there…that I may leave all here below, and serve, and fix, and dwell upon thee alone.

    Augustine of Hippo (354–430). Bishop of Hippo in Roman North Africa, philosopher, and theologian, Augustine is considered a saint and Doctor of the Church by both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He wrote an account of his conversion in his Confessions, his most known work, but he is also one of the most prolific Latin authors in terms of surviving works with hundreds of separate titles (including apologetic works, texts on Christian doctrine, and commentaries) and more than 350 preserved sermons.

    From Pious Breathings: Being the Meditations of St Augustine, his Treatise of the Love of God, Soliloquies and Manual, translated by Geo. Stanhope (London: J. Nunn & Co., 1818), 29–31.

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  18. Q18:   WILL GOD ALLOW OUR DISOBEDIENCE AND IDOLATRY TO GO UNPUNISHED?

    A:  

    NO, EVERY SIN IS AGAINST THE SOVEREIGNTY, HOLINESS, AND GOODNESS OF GOD, AND AGAINST HIS RIGHTEOUS LAW, AND GOD IS RIGHTEOUSLY ANGRY WITH OUR SINS AND WILL PUNISH THEM IN HIS JUST JUDGMENT BOTH IN THIS LIFE, AND IN THE LIFE TO COME.


    Commentary

    If Jesus Christ did not take care to secure our standing, we should fall to our ruin. Adam fell, and, being our federal head, we fell in him…. "God (says the apostle) included all under sin." What is sin but a breach, that is, a transgression, of the law; "the wages of sin is death;" every transgression of the law incurs damnation…. We must die, we are legally dead…. We have broken God's law, and are liable to eternal condemnation…every one of us without distinction; we are all upon a level…. It is not greatness of station, nor external differences, that make a difference in the internal state of the soul…. This is our state towards God, we have lived in trespasses and sins, [and] are legally dead now…. But, besides this legal death, there is a spiritual death, and the consequence of that is eternal death; if I die in that state, I must die for ever; that is, I must be a creature living eternally banished from God…. It is impossible to know, or to value, that life that Jesus Christ came into the world to impart to us, and procure for us without considering the nature of the death he delivers us from.

    George Whitefield (1714 –1770). An English Anglican minister, Whitefield crossed the Atlantic 13 times and for 34 years preached throughout England and America (as part of what is known as the Great Awakening). Whitefield’s voice could be heard over vast distances and was reported at one point to be heard by over thirty thousand people in the open air. Whitefield preached more than 18,000 sermons in his lifetime, fewer than 90 have survived in any form.

    From “Sermon LXXI: Neglect of Christ, The Killing Sin” in Sermons on Important Subjects by the Rev. George Whitfield (London: Fisher, Son & Jackson, 1832), 741–743.

    Further Reading

    “Mortality” and “Judgment Seat” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Ephesians 5:5–6

    For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.

    Prayer

    Did the Son of God become incarnate, and expire on a cross, merely to lay the foundation of a new religious denomination in the world, and to become the subject of occasional conversation? Or was it that he might be the hope of the guilty, and the Saviour of sinners—the object of their confidence, of their love, and of their unreserved obedience?… If Christ be not yours; if your hearts be not devoted to him; and if you die in that condition, you had better never have been born. May the Lord save you from the wrath to come, and prepare you for the heavenly state! Amen.

    Abraham Booth (1734–1806). An English Baptist minister, Booth served as pastor of Prescot Street Church in Whitechapel, London for 35 years as well as founding what is now Regents Park College for ministerial training in Oxford. He is most known for his work The Reign of Grace.

    From “An Address at the Interment of Mr. Joseph Swain” in Works of Abraham Booth: Late Pastor of the Baptist Church, Volume 3 (London: Button, 1813), 289–290.

    Songs for Kids

  19. Q19:   IS THERE ANY WAY TO ESCAPE PUNISHMENT AND BE BROUGHT BACK INTO GOD'S FAVOR?

    A:  

    YES, TO SATISFY HIS JUSTICE, GOD HIMSELF, OUT OF MERE MERCY, RECONCILES US TO HIMSELF AND DELIVERS US FROM SIN AND FROM THE PUNISHMENT FOR SIN, BY A REDEEMER.


    Commentary

    But is there any thing which Christians can find in heaven or earth, so worthy to be the objects of their admiration and love, their earnest and longing desires, their hope and their rejoicing, and their fervent zeal, as those things that are held forth to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ? in which not only are things declared most worthy to affect us, but they are exhibited in the most affecting manner. The glory and beauty of the blessed Jehovah, which is most worthy in itself to be the object of our admiration and love, is there exhibited in the most affecting manner that can be conceived of, as it appears, shining in all its lustre, in the face of an incarnate, infinitely loving, meek, compassionate, dying Redeemer. All the virtues of the Lamb of God, his humility, patience, meekness, submission, obedience, love and compassion, are exhibited to our view in a manner the most tending to move our affections of any that can be imagined; as they all had their greatest trial, and their highest exercise, and so their brightest manifestation, when he was in the most affecting circumstances; even when he was under his last sufferings, those unutterable and unparalleled sufferings he endured from his tender love and pity to us. There also, the hateful nature of our sins is manifested in the most affecting manner possible; as we see the dreadful effects of them in what our Redeemer, who undertook to answer for us, suffered for them. And there we have the most affecting manifestation of God's hatred of sin, and his wrath and justice in punishing it; as we see his justice in the strictness and inflexibleness of it, and his wrath in its terribleness, in so dreadfully punishing our sins, in one, who was infinitely dear to him and loving to us. So has God disposed things in the affair of our redemption, and in his glorious dispensations, revealed to us in the gospel, as though every thing were purposely contrived in such a manner as to have the greatest possible tendency to reach our hearts in the most tender part, and move our affections most sensibly and strongly. How great cause have we therefore to be humbled to the dust that we are no more affected!

    Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). A colonial American preacher, theologian, and philosopher, Edwards became pastor of his church in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1726. He is widely known for his famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" as well as his many books including The End For Which God Created the World and A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections (from which this quote is taken). Edwards died from a smallpox inoculation shortly after beginning the presidency at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University).

    From A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections (Philadelphia: James Crissy, 1821), 48–49.

    Further Reading

    “Obedience” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Isaiah 53:10–11

    Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

    Prayer

    Ah Lord, that thou shouldest be so patient, and so full of forbearance, as not to send me to hell at such an instant! But, oh Lord, that thou shouldest go farther, and blot out mine iniquities for thine own sake…. Lord, what shall I say it is? It is the free grace of my God. What expression transcendeth that, I know not.

    John Owen (1616–1683). An English Puritan theologian, Owen went to Oxford University at 12 years of age, gained his MA at 19, and became a pastor at 21. Years later he was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University. He preached to parliament the day after the execution of King Charles I, fulfilling the task without directly mentioning that event. He wrote numerous and voluminous works including historical treatises on religion and several studies on the Holy Spirit.

    From the sermon “A Vision of Unchangeable Free Mercy” in The Works of John Owen, edited by Thomas Russell, Volume 15 (London: Richard Baynes, 1826), 37.

    Songs for Kids

  20. Q20:   WHO IS THE REDEEMER?

    A:  

    THE ONLY REDEEMER IS THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, THE ETERNAL SON OF GOD, IN WHOM GOD BECAME MAN AND BORE THE PENALTY FOR SIN HIMSELF.


    Commentary

    I behold a new and wondrous mystery. My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn. The Angels sing. The Archangels blend their voice in harmony. The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise. The Seraphim exalt His glory. All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised…. And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed; He had the power; He descended; He redeemed; all things yielded in obedience to God…. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became He God from man; but being the Word He became flesh, His nature, because of impassability, remaining unchanged…. The Only Begotten, Who is before all ages, Who cannot be touched or be perceived, Who is…without body, has now put on my body, that is visible and liable to corruption. For what reason?… The Ancient of days has become an infant. He Who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger. And He Who cannot be touched…now lies subject to the hands of men. He Who has broken the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infants bands. But He has decreed that ignominy shall become honor, infamy be clothed with glory, and total humiliation the measure of His Goodness. For this He assumed my body, that I may become capable of His Word; taking my flesh, He gives me His spirit; and so He bestowing and I receiving, He prepares for me the treasure of Life. He takes my flesh, to sanctify me; He gives me His Spirit, that He may save me…. For…the power of death is broken…the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back…. Why is this? Because God is now on earth.

    John Chrysostom (347–407). Archbishop of Constantinople, John was born in Antioch. He was given the title Chrysostom which means “golden mouth” because of his eloquent preaching. He is recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church as a saint and Doctor of the Church. Chrysostom is known for his Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his vast homiletical works including 67 homilies on Genesis, 90 on the Gospel of Matthew, and 88 on the Gospel of John.

    From the sermon “Christmas Morning” in The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, Volume 1 (Swedesboro, NJ: Preservation Press, 1996), 110–115.

    Further Reading

    “Covenant” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.
“The Covenant” in A Faith to Live By, by Donald Macleod.

    Verse

    1 Timothy 2:5

    For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.

    Prayer

    May God grant that we know…that being born of God, we do not continue in sin. May God grant that we know that the Son of God is keeping an eye on us and is watching over us and is protecting us. May God grant that we may always know…that we can have this assurance that…we belong to God our Heavenly Father, to the Lord Jesus Christ, His precious Son and our Saviour, and to the Holy Ghost, whom He has given to us to form Christ in us and to prepare us for the glory that awaits us.

    David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981). A Welsh medical doctor and Protestant minister, Lloyd-Jones is best known for preaching and teaching at Westminster Chapel in London for thirty years. He would take many months, even years, to expound a chapter of the Bible verse by verse. Perhaps his most famous publication is a 14 volume series of commentaries on Romans.

    From Life in Christ: Studies in 1 John (Wheaton: Crossway, 2002), 690.

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Part Two

  1. Q1:   WHAT SORT OF REDEEMER IS NEEDED TO BRING US BACK TO GOD?

    A:  

    ONE WHO IS TRULY HUMAN AND ALSO TRULY GOD.


    Commentary

    Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, the true Sun of Justice, so shone upon the earth as not to leave the heavens, remaining there eternally, but coming hither for a time; there determining the everlasting day, here enduring the day of humanity; there living perpetually without the passage of time, here dying in time…; there remaining in life without end, here freeing our life from the destruction of death…. There God is with God; here He is God and Man. There He is Light of Light; here, the Light which enlightens every man…. The Lord took the form of a servant so that man might be turned to God…. The Word of the Father, by whom all time was created, was made flesh and was born in time for us. He, without whose divine permission no day completes its course, wished to have one day for His human birth. In the bosom of His Father He existed before all the cycles of ages; born of an earthly mother…. The Maker of man became man that He…the Bread, might be hungry; that He, the Fountain, might thirst; that He, the Light, might sleep; that He, the Way, might be wearied by the journey; that He, the Truth, might be accused by false witnesses; that He, the Judge of the living and the dead, might be brought to trial by a mortal judge; that He, Justice, might be condemned by the unjust; that He, Discipline, might be scourged with whips; that He, the Foundation, might be suspended upon a cross; that Courage might be weakened; that Security might be wounded; that Life might die. To endure these and similar indignities for us, to free us, unworthy creatures, He who existed as the Son of God before all ages, without a beginning, deigned to become the Son of Man…. He did this although He who submitted to such great evils for our sake had done no evil and although we, who were the recipients of so much good at His hands, had done nothing to merit these benefits.

    Augustine of Hippo (354–430). Bishop of Hippo in Roman North Africa, philosopher, and theologian, Augustine is considered a saint and Doctor of the Church by both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He wrote an account of his conversion in his Confessions, his most known work, but he is also one of the most prolific Latin authors in terms of surviving works with hundreds of separate titles (including apologetic works, texts on Christian doctrine, and commentaries) and more than 350 preserved sermons.

    From “Sermon 191” in The Fathers of the Church: St. Augustine, Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons, translated by Sister Mary Sarah Muldowney (Catholic University of America Press, 1959), 27–29.

    Further Reading

    “The Deity of Christ” in A Faith to Live By, by Donald Macleod.

    Verse

    Isaiah 9:6

    For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

    Prayer

    Lord Jesus, eternal Son of God made man, eternal Word of God made flesh, break our stubborn hearts at the foot of your cross, humble our proud hearts at the foot of your cross. Grant that we may linger there for time and eternity, for your name's sake. Amen.

    John Stott (1921–2011). An English Anglican preacher who for many years served as rector of All Souls Church in London, Stott was one of the principal framers of the Lausanne Covenant (1974). His numerous books include Why I Am a Christian and The Cross of Christ.

    From the end of the sermon “The Cross and Sin” on Romans 5, recorded 24th July 1983, available from www.allsouls.org.

    Songs for Kids

  2. Q2:   WHY MUST THE REDEEMER BE TRULY HUMAN?

    A:  

    THAT IN HUMAN NATURE HE MIGHT ON OUR BEHALF PERFECTLY OBEY THE WHOLE LAW AND SUFFER THE PUNISHMENT FOR HUMAN SIN; AND ALSO THAT HE MIGHT SYMPATHIZE WITH OUR WEAKNESSES.


    Commentary

    The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God…. The Second Person in God, the Son, became human Himself was born into the world as an actual man—a real man of a particular height, with hair of a particular colour, speaking a particular language, weighing so many stone. The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby…. The result of this was that you now had one man who really was what all men were intended to be…. And because the whole difficulty for us is that the natural life has to be, in a sense, 'killed,' He chose an earthly career which involved the killing of His human desires at every turn—poverty, misunderstanding from His own family, betrayal by one of His intimate friends, being jeered at and manhandled by the police, and execution by torture. And then, after being thus killed—killed every day in a sense—the human creature in Him, because it was united to the divine Son, came to life again. The Man in Christ rose again: not only the God. That is the whole point. For the first time we saw a real man…had come fully and splendidly alive. What, then, is the difference which He has made to the whole human mass? It is just this; that the business of becoming a son of God, of being turned from a created thing into a begotten thing, of passing over from the temporary biological life into timeless 'spiritual' life, has been done for us…. Of course, you can express this in all sorts of different ways. You can say that Christ died for our sins. You may say that the Father has forgiven us because Christ has done for us what we ought to have done…. You may say that Christ has defeated death. They are all true.

    C. S. Lewis (1898–1963). A fellow in English literature at Oxford University as well as chair of English at Cambridge University, Lewis wrote literary criticism, children's literature, fantasy literature, as well as theology. His most well known works are Mere Christianity (from which this quote is taken), The Screwtape Letters, and The Chronicles of Narnia. A member of the Church of England, his conversion to Christianity was influenced by his Oxford colleague and friend J.R.R. Tolkien.

    From “Mere Christianity” in The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics (New York: Harper Collins, 2002), 145–146.

    Further Reading

    “The Incarnation” in A Faith to Live By, by Donald Macleod.

    Verse

    Hebrews 2:17

    For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

    Prayer

    Who can deliver me out of the Hands of…God? What measures can I take, or who will be my Defence? Is there not one, who is call'd…the Saviour, and mighty Deliverer? Upon his Name I will call aloud; Jesus, the blessed Jesus. This, this is He, the Judge at whom I tremble, but the Saviour in whom I trust too…. O Jesus, Jesus, by this most blessed name I beg, that thou wouldst deal with me according to the importance of this name. For this is a name full of love, full of delight, full of comfort, and holy confidence to every sinner, that takes sanctuary in it. For what does Jesus signify but a Saviour? and why didst thou take that name upon thee but to declare that thou wouldst make it good to the uttermost, by saving thy people from their Sins? For thy own sake I implore thee to be my Jesus indeed: Thou hast created me, destroy not then the work of thine own hands. Thou hast redeemed me, do not cast away the purchase of thy own precious blood…. My Iniquities, I confess, are many and grievous, yet do they admit both of number and measure; thy goodness and thy power know no bounds; and therefore beseech thee, by all the past demonstrations of thy love and Condescension, as thy majesty is in itself, so let thy Mercy be to me, infinite. Remember, Lord, that I am thine…. Even thine, O dearest, kindest Saviour; who, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, art worshipped and glorified, ever one God World without end. Amen.

    Augustine of Hippo (354–430). Bishop of Hippo in Roman North Africa, philosopher, and theologian, Augustine is considered a saint and Doctor of the Church by both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He wrote an account of his conversion in his Confessions, his most known work, but he is also one of the most prolific Latin authors in terms of surviving works with hundreds of separate titles (including apologetic works, texts on Christian doctrine, and commentaries) and more than 350 preserved sermons.

    From Pious Breathings: Being the Meditations of St Augustine, his Treatise of the Love of God, Soliloquies and Manual, translated by Geo. Stanhope (London: J. Nunn & Co., 1818), 311–313.

    Songs for Kids

  3. Q3:   WHY MUST THE REDEEMER BE TRULY GOD?

    A:  

    THAT BECAUSE OF HIS DIVINE NATURE HIS OBEDIENCE AND SUFFERING WOULD BE PERFECT AND EFFECTIVE; AND ALSO THAT HE WOULD BE ABLE TO BEAR THE RIGHTEOUS ANGER OF GOD AGAINST SIN AND YET OVERCOME DEATH.


    Commentary

    Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon hath shone forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Saviour's death hath set us free. In as much as he was held captive of it, he hath annihilated it…. He made Hell captive. He angered it when it tasted of his flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was angered, when it encountered thee…. It was angered, for it was abolished. It was angered, for it was mocked. It was angered, for it was slain. It was angered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was visible, and fell upon the invisible. O Death, where is thy sting? O Hell, where is thy victory? Christ is risen, and thou art overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the Angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigneth.

    John Chrysostom (347–407). Archbishop of Constantinople, John was born in Antioch. He was given the title Chrysostom which means “golden mouth” because of his eloquent preaching. He is recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church as a saint and Doctor of the Church. Chrysostom is known for his Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his vast homiletical works including 67 homilies on Genesis, 90 on the Gospel of Matthew, and 88 on the Gospel of John.

    From “Easter Sermon by John Chrysostom” in Service Book of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic (Greco-Russian) Church translated by Isabel Florence Hapgood (New York: Riverside Press, 1906), 235–236.

    Further Reading

    “Incarnation” and “Two Natures” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Acts 2:24

    But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold of him.

    Prayer

    I can do no more than pray for you…. I pray God to pity you, and take care of you, and provide for you the best means for the good of your souls; and that God himself would undertake for you, to be your heavenly Father, and the mighty Redeemer of your immortal souls. Do not neglect to pray for yourselves…. Constantly pray to God in secret; and often remember that great day when you must appear before the judgment-seat of Christ.

    Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). A colonial American preacher, theologian, and philosopher, Edwards became pastor of his church in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1726. He is widely known for his famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" as well as his many books including The End For Which God Created the World and A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections. Edwards died from a smallpox inoculation shortly after beginning the presidency at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University).

    From "Farewell Sermon: Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards" in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 1 (London: William Ball, 1839), ccxlviii.

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  4. Q4:   WHY WAS IT NECESSARY FOR CHRIST, THE REDEEMER, TO DIE?

    A:  

    SINCE DEATH IS THE PUNISHMENT FOR SIN, CHRIST DIED WILLINGLY IN OUR PLACE TO DELIVER US FROM THE POWER AND PENALTY OF SIN AND BRING US BACK TO GOD. BY HIS SUBSTITUTIONARY ATONING DEATH, HE ALONE REDEEMS US FROM HELL AND GAINS FOR US FORGIVENESS OF SIN, RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND EVERLASTING LIFE.


    Commentary

    The righteous, loving Father humbled himself to become in and through his only Son’s flesh, sin and a curse for us, in order to redeem us without compromising his own character…. The biblical gospel of atonement is of God satisfying himself by substituting himself for us…. The concept of substitution may be said, then, to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accepts penalties which belong to man alone.

    John Stott (1921–2011). An English Anglican preacher who for many years served as rector of All Souls Church in London, Stott was one of the principal framers of the Lausanne Covenant (1974). His numerous books include Why I Am a Christian and The Cross of Christ (from which this quote is taken).

    From The Cross of Christ (Downer’s Grove: IVP, 1986), 159–160.

    Further Reading

    “The Atonement” in A Faith to Live By, by Donald Macleod.

    Verse

    Colossians 1:21–22

    Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.

    Prayer

    O God the Father, who canst not be thought to have made me only to destroy me, have mercy upon me. O God the Son, who, knowing thy Father's will, didst come into the world to save me, have mercy upon me. O God the Holy Ghost, who to the same end hast so often since breathed holy thoughts into me, have mercy upon me. O holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, whom in three persons I adore as one God, have mercy upon me. Lord, carest thou not that I perish? thou that wouldest have all men to be saved? thou that wouldest have none to perish? And wilt thou now show thine anger against a worm, a leaf? against a vapour that vanisheth before thee? O remember how short my time is, and deliver not my soul into the power of hell…. Forget me as I have been disobedient, provoking thee to anger; and regard me as I am distressed, crying out to thee for help. Look not upon me as I am a sinner; but consider me as I am thy creature…. How proper is it for thee to save! for it is thy name. How suitable is it to thy coming into the world! for it is thy business. And when I consider that I am the chief of sinners, may I not urge thee farther, and say, Shall the chief of thy business be left undone? Far be that from thee! Have mercy upon me!… Father, accept my imperfect repentance, compassionate my infirmities, forgive my wickedness, purify my uncleanness, strengthen my weakness, fix my unstableness, and let thy good Spirit watch over me for ever, and thy love ever rule in my heart, through the merits and sufferings and love of thy Son, in whom thou art always well pleased.

    John Wesley (1703–1791). An English preacher and theologian, Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles, with founding the English Methodist movement. He travelled generally on horseback, preaching two or three times each day, and is said to have preached more than 40,000 sermons. He also was a noted hymn-writer.

    From “Forms of Prayer: Friday Evening” in The Works of the Reverend John Wesley, Volume 6 (New York: J. Emory & B. Waugh, 1831), 397–398.

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  5. Q5:   DOES CHRIST'S DEATH MEAN ALL OUR SINS CAN BE FORGIVEN?

    A:  

    YES, BECAUSE CHRIST’S DEATH ON THE CROSS FULLY PAID THE PENALTY FOR OUR SIN, GOD GRACIOUSLY IMPUTES CHRIST’S RIGHTEOUSNESS TO US AS IF IT WERE OUR OWN AND WILL REMEMBER OUR SINS NO MORE.


    Commentary

    Though one sin was enough to bring condemnation, yet the free gift of grace in Christ is of many offences unto justification. And we have a sure ground for this, for the righteousness of Christ is God's righteousness, and God will thus glorify it, that it shall stand good to those that by faith apply it against their daily sins, even till at once we cease both to live and sin. For this very end was the Son of God willingly made sin, that we might be freed from the same. And if all our sins laid upon Christ could not take away God's love from him, shall they take away God's love from us, when by Christ's blood our souls are purged from them? O mercy of all mercies, that…he would vouchsafe to…make us his by such a way, as all the angels in heaven stand wondering at; even his Son not only taking our nature and miserable condition, but our sin upon him, that that being done away, we might through Christ have boldness with God as ours, who is now in heaven appearing there for us, until he bring us home to himself, and presents us to his Father for his for ever!

    Richard Sibbes (1577–1635). An English Puritan theologian, Sibbes was known in London in the early 17th century as "the Heavenly Doctor Sibbes." Preacher at Gray's Inn, London and Master of Catherine Hall, Cambridge, his most famous work is The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax.

    From the sermon “Of Confirming this Trust in God” in The Soul's Conflict and Victory over Itself by Faith (London: Pickering, 1837), 325–326.

    Further Reading

    “Sinlessness” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    2 Corinthians 5:21

    God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

    Prayer

    O Lord, I do not deserve a glimpse of heaven, and I am unable with my works to redeem myself from sin, death…and hell. Nevertheless, you have given me your Son, Jesus Christ, who is far more precious and dear than heaven, and much stronger than sin, death…and hell. For this I rejoice, praise, and thank you, O God. Without cost [to me] and out of pure grace you have given me this boundless blessing in your dear Son. Through whom you take sin, death…and hell from me, and do grant me all that belongs to him. Amen.

    Martin Luther (1483–1546). A German Protestant pastor and professor of theology, Luther was the son of a mining family, intended to become a lawyer, and at first took monastic orders. On 31 October 1517 Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, sparking the Reformation. His refusal to retract his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X and Emperor Charles V resulted in his excommunication. Luther wrote many works, including his small and large catechisms, and preached hundreds of sermons in churches and universities.

    From Luther’s Prayers, edited by Herbert F. Brokering, from the translation by Charles E. Kistler (Minneapolis: Augsburg Books, 1967), 15–16.

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  6. Q6:   WHAT ELSE DOES CHRIST'S DEATH REDEEM?

    A:  

    CHRIST’S DEATH IS THE BEGINNING OF THE REDEMPTION AND RENEWAL OF EVERY PART OF FALLEN CREATION, AS HE POWERFULLY DIRECTS ALL THINGS FOR HIS OWN GLORY AND CREATION’S GOOD.


    Commentary

    Jesus is a Redeemer, that is his name; he came into the world on this very business to redeem…. He hath shed his precious blood…. Therefore let us act faith on [i.e. rely on; believe in; trust in] our dear Redeemer and upon his redemption; and let us believe that shortly the day of our full redemption will come, when we shall be delivered fully and for ever from sin, Satan, and the world; from all our burdens, fears, and sorrows, temptations and tribulations…. Either God is ours, or he is not; either Christ is ours, or he is not; if God and Christ be not ours, we have cause enough of heart trouble…. But if God be ours, and if Christ be ours…and if we have rightly and truly received Jesus Christ the Lord, for our only Lord and Saviour; and have unfeignedly given up our whole selves to him; then may we act our faith upon God, as our God, and upon Jesus Christ as ours, and may claim our right in God and in Christ, and in all that God and Christ is and hath, as our own; and then, what cause of any heart trouble? If God be ours, if Christ be ours, all his ours, life ours, death ours: what if we want relations and friends, honour, wealth and health, is not the all-sufficient God enough? Is not Jesus, in whom dwells all fullness, enough to supply the want of all?… Jesus Christ is all and in all; and if Christ be yours, all is yours; God is yours, and the good of both worlds are yours; and what can you desire more.

    John Bunyan (1628–1688). Known as the tinker of Elstow, Bunyan underwent a dramatic conversion experience and became a leading Puritan preacher. As his popularity grew, Bunyan increasingly became a target for slander and libel and was eventually imprisoned. It was during his time in prison that he commenced his best known work The Pilgrim’s Progress, first printed in 1678.

    From “Heart's Ease in Heart Trouble” in Bunyan’s Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners; Heart's Ease in Heart Trouble; The World to Come; and Barren Fig-tree (Philadelphia: JJ Woodward, 1828), 191–211.

    Further Reading

    “Goodness” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

    Verse

    Colossians 1:19–20

    For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

    Prayer

    Our heavenly Father…give us…a call…to bow our hearts more completely and not let other things get in the way…and then, Heavenly Father, to realize that everything belongs to the Lord Jesus. That He died not only to take our souls to heaven—but that our bodies will be raised one day from the dead. The one day, as Peter said, just right after His ascension, "He's going to heaven until He comes back to restore all things." That His death there on Calvary's cross is for us individually, but it's not egotistically individualistic. Our individual salvation will one day be a portion of the restoration of all things. It is our calling until He comes back again that happy day, to do all we can—while it won't be perfect as when He comes back—to see substantial healing in every area that He will then perfectly heal…. That if there is a true preaching of the Gospel, it carries with it then an action out into the social life around us into the world. That the Church is to preach the Gospel, but it is also to live the Good News…. Help us! Forgive us! Use us!… Help Thou us, so we ask, and we ask it in no lesser name than the Lord Jesus Christ, our Lamb and our God. Amen.

    Francis Schaeffer (1912–1984). An American Presbyterian pastor and philosopher, Schaeffer is most famous for his writing and his establishment of the L’Abri ("The Shelter") community in Switzerland. He wrote 22 books, the best known being the trilogy The God Who Is There, Escape from Reason, and He Is There and He Is Not Silent as well as his A Christian Manifesto.

    From an address “A Christian Manifesto” at the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 1982, available from www.intothyword.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=36268

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  7. Q7:   ARE ALL PEOPLE, JUST AS THEY WERE LOST THROUGH ADAM, SAVED THROUGH CHRIST?

    A:  

    NO, ONLY THOSE WHO ARE ELECTED BY GOD AND UNITED TO CHRIST BY FAITH. NEVERTHELESS GOD IN HIS MERCY DEMONSTRATES COMMON GRACE EVEN TO THOSE WHO ARE NOT ELECT, BY RESTRAINING THE EFFECTS OF SIN AND ENABLING WORKS OF CULTURE FOR HUMAN WELL-BEING.


    Commentary

    Common grace is the term applied to those general blessings which God imparts to all men and women indiscriminately as He pleases, not only to His own people, but to all men and women, according to His own will. Or, again, common grace means those general operations of the Holy Spirit in which, without renewing the heart, He exercises a moral influence whereby sin is restrained, order is maintained in social life, and civil righteousness is promoted. That is the general definition. The Holy Spirit has been operative in this world from the very beginning and He has had His influence and His effect upon men and women who are not saved and who have gone to perdition. While they were in this life and world they came under these general, non-saving operations of the Holy Spirit…. It is not a saving influence, nor is it a redemptive influence, but it is a part of God's purpose…. If the Holy Spirit were not operative in men and women in this general way, human beings, as a result of the Fall and of sin, would have festered away into oblivion long ago…. Next to that is what is generally described as culture. By that I mean arts and science, an interest in the things of the mind, literature, architecture, sculpture, painting and music. Now, there can be no question at all but that cultivation of the arts is good. It is not redemptive, but it improves people, it makes them live better lives. Now, where do all these things come from? How do you explain men like Shakespeare or Michelangelo? The answer from the Scripture is that all these people had their gifts and were able to exercise them as the result of the operation of common grace, this general influence of the Holy Spirit.

    David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981). A Welsh medical doctor and Protestant minister, Lloyd-Jones is best known for preaching and teaching at Westminster Chapel in London for thirty years. He would take many months, even years, to expound a chapter of the Bible verse by verse. Perhaps his most famous publication is a 14 volume series of commentaries on Romans.

    From "Creation and Common Grace" in Great Doctrines of the Bible, “Volume 2: God the Holy Spirit” (Wheaton: Crossway, 2003), 24–25.

    Further Reading

    “Divine Pre-ordination” in A Faith to Live By, by Donald Macleod.
“Predestination” and “Definitive Redemption” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Romans 5:17

    For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

    Prayer

    From all my lame defeats and oh! much more
From all the victories that I seemed to score;

From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf

At which, while angels weep, the audience laugh;
 
From all my proofs of Thy divinity,

Thou, who wouldst give no sign, deliver me.

Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust, instead
 
of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.

From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee,
 
O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free.

Lord of the narrow gate and needle's eye,
Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.

    C. S. Lewis (1898–1963). A fellow in English literature at Oxford University

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  8. Q8:   WHAT HAPPENS AFTER DEATH TO THOSE NOT UNITED TO CHRIST BY FAITH?

    A:  

    AT THE DAY OF JUDGMENT THEY WILL RECEIVE THE FEARFUL BUT JUST SENTENCE OF CONDEMNATION PRONOUNCED AGAINST THEM. THEY WILL BE CAST OUT FROM THE FAVORABLE PRESENCE OF GOD, INTO HELL, TO BE JUSTLY AND GRIEVOUSLY PUNISHED, FOREVER.


    Commentary

    Painful as the subject of hell is, it is one about which I dare not, cannot, must not be silent…. I know that some do not believe there is any hell at all…. They call it inconsistent with the mercy of God…. I know furthermore that some do not believe that hell is eternal. They tell us it is incredible that a compassionate God will punish men for ever…. I know also that some believe there is a hell, but never allow that anybody is going there…. There is but one point to be settled, "what says the word of God." Do you believe the Bible? Then depend upon it, hell is real and true. It is as true as heaven—as true as justification by faith—as true as the fact that Christ died upon the cross…. There is not a fact or doctrine which you may not lawfully doubt if you doubt hell. Disbelieve hell, and you unscrew, unsettle, and unpin everything in Scripture. You may as well throw your Bible aside at once. From "no hell" to "no God" there is but a series of steps. Do you believe the Bible? Then depend upon it hell will have inhabitants…. The same blessed Saviour who now sits on a throne of grace, will one day sit on a throne of judgment, and men will see there is such a thing as the wrath of the Lamb…. Do you believe the Bible? Then depend upon it, hell will be intense and unutterable woe.… The pit, the prison, the worm, the fire, the thirst, the blackness, the darkness, the weeping, the gnashing of teeth, the second death—all these…Bible figures mean something…. Do you believe the Bible? Then depend upon it, hell is eternal. It must be eternal, or words have no meaning at all. For ever and ever, everlasting, unquenchable, never-dying—all these are expressions used about hell, and expressions that cannot be explained away…. If a man may escape hell at length without faith in Christ, or sanctification of the Spirit, sin is no longer an infinite evil, and there was no such great need for Christ making an atonement.—And where is there warrant for saying that hell can ever change a heart, or make it fit for heaven? It must be eternal, or hell would cease to be hell altogether…. It is striking to observe the many texts about it in Scripture. It is striking to observe that none say so much about it as our Lord Jesus Christ, that gracious and merciful Saviour, and the apostle John, whose heart seems full of love.

    John Charles Ryle (1816–1900). The first Anglican bishop of Liverpool, Ryle’s appointment was at the recommendation of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. As well as being a writer and pastor, Ryle was an athlete who rowed and played cricket for Oxford University. He also was responsible for the building of over forty churches.

    From Consider Your Ways (London: Hunt & Son, 1849), 23–26.

    Further Reading

    “Hell” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    
“Hell” in A Faith to Live By, by Donald Macleod.

    Verse

    John 3:16–18 and 36

    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son…. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

    Prayer

    Our heavenly Father…we want Thee to look among the thousands and millions round about us who know Thee not. Lord, look on the masses who go nowhere to worship. Have pity upon them; Father forgive them…. Give a desire to hear Thy Word. Send upon the people some desire after their God. O Lord take sinners in hand Thyself. Oh! come and reach obstinate, obdurate minds; let the careless and the frivolous begin to think upon eternal things. May there be an uneasiness of heart, a sticking of the arrows of God in their loins, and may they seek too the great Physician and find healing this very day. Ah! Lord, Thou sayest "To-day, if ye will hear His voice" and we take up the echo. Save men today, even to day. Bring them Thy Spirit in power that they may be willing to rest in Christ. Lord hear, forgive, accept and bless, for Jesus' sake. Amen.

    Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892). An English Baptist preacher, Spurgeon became pastor of London's New Park Street Church (later Metropolitan Tabernacle) at 20 years of age. He frequently preached to more than 10,000 people with no electronic amplification. Spurgeon was a prolific writer and his printed works are voluminous—by the time of his death he had preached nearly 3,600 sermons and published 49 volumes of commentaries, sayings, hymns, and devotions.

    From “Prayer XI: Under the Blood" in Prayers from Metropolitan Pulpit: C. H. Spurgeon's Prayers (New York, Revell, 1906), 65.

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  9. Q9:   HOW CAN WE BE SAVED?

    A:  

    ONLY BY FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST AND IN HIS SUBSTITUTIONARY ATONING DEATH ON THE CROSS; SO EVEN THOUGH WE ARE GUILTY OF HAVING DISOBEYED GOD AND ARE STILL INCLINED TO ALL EVIL, NEVERTHELESS, GOD, WITHOUT ANY MERIT OF OUR OWN BUT ONLY BY PURE GRACE, IMPUTES TO US THE PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST WHEN WE REPENT AND BELIEVE IN HIM.


    Commentary

    Being justified by faith, we have peace with God…. Judgment now decides for the sinner instead of against him. Memory looks back upon past sins, with deep sorrow for the sin, but yet with no dread of any penalty to come; for Christ has paid the debt of his people to the last jot and tittle, and received the divine receipt; and unless God can be so unjust as to demand double payment for one debt, no soul for whom Jesus died as a substitute can ever be cast into hell. It seems to be one of the very principles of our enlightened nature to believe that God is just; we feel that it must be so, and this gives us our terror at first; but is it not marvellous that this very same belief that God is just, becomes afterwards the pillar of our confidence and peace! If God is just, I, a sinner, alone and without a substitute, must be punished; but Jesus stands in my place and is punished for me; and now, if God is just, I, a sinner, standing in Christ, can never be punished. God must change his nature before one soul for whom Jesus was a substitute can ever by any possibility suffer the lash of the law. Therefore, Jesus having taken the place of the believer—having rendered a full equivalent to divine wrath for all that his people ought to have suffered as the result of sin, the believer can shout with glorious triumph, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” Not God, for he has justified; not Christ, for he has died, “yes rather has risen again.” My hope does not live because I am not a sinner, but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died; my trust is not that I am holy, but that being unholy, he is my righteousness. My faith does not rest upon what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ is, in what he has done, and in what he is now doing for me. On the lion of justice the fair maid of hope rides like a queen.

    Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892). An English Baptist preacher, Spurgeon became pastor of London's New Park Street Church (later Metropolitan Tabernacle) at 20 years of age. He frequently preached to more than 10,000 people with no electronic amplification. Spurgeon was a prolific writer and his printed works are voluminous—by the time of his death he had preached nearly 3,600 sermons and published 49 volumes of commentaries, sayings, hymns, and devotions.

    From the reading for September 25 morning in Morning & Evening, Daily Reading by C.H. Spurgeon (Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 1994).

    Further Reading

    “Mediation” and “Sacrifice” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Ephesians 2:8–9

    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

    Prayer

    Offended Sovereign! I am justly under sentence of death, and should I eternally perish, yet thou art righteous…. But is there nothing in thy revealed character that may encourage a miserable creature and a guilty criminal, to look for mercy and hope for acceptance? Art thou not a compassionate Saviour, as well as a just God? Is not Jesus thy only Son, and hast thou not set him forth as a propitiation through faith in his blood? To him, therefore, as my only asylum from divine wrath, I would flee…. I have no claim on thy mercy. Only, if it seemed good to thee to save the vilest of sinners, the most wretched of creatures; if it please thee to extend infinite mercy to one who deserves infinite misery and is obliged to condemn himself; the greater will be the glory of thy compassion…boundless grace shall have the glory.

    Abraham Booth (1734–1806). An English Baptist minister, Booth served as pastor of Prescot Street Church in Whitechapel, London for 35 years as well as founding what is now Regents Park College for ministerial training in Oxford. He is most known for his work The Reign of Grace (from which this prayer is taken).

    From "The Reign of Grace" in Works of Abraham Booth: Late Pastor of the Baptist Church, Volume 1 (London: Button, 1813), 87–88.

    Songs for Kids

  10. Q10:   WHAT IS FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST?

    A:  

    FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST IS ACKNOWLEDGING THE TRUTH OF EVERYTHING THAT GOD HAS REVEALED IN HIS WORD, TRUSTING IN HIM, AND ALSO RECEIVING AND RESTING ON HIM ALONE FOR SALVATION AS HE IS OFFERED TO US IN THE GOSPEL.


    Commentary

    Upon the whole, the best, and clearest, and most perfect definition of justifying faith, and most according to the Scripture, that I can think of, is this, faith is the soul's entirely embracing the revelation of Jesus Christ as our Saviour…. It is called believing, because believing is the first act of the soul in embracing a narration or revelation: and embracing, when conversant about a revelation or thing declared, is more properly called believing, than loving or choosing…. The definition might have been expressed in these words: faith is the soul's entirely adhering and acquiescing in the revelation of Jesus Christ as our Saviour—Or thus: faith is the soul's embracing that truth of God, that reveals Jesus Christ as our Saviour—Or thus: faith is the soul's entirely acquiescing in, and depending upon, the truth of God, revealing Christ as our Saviour. It is the whole soul according and assenting to the truth, and embracing of it. There is an entire yielding of the mind and heart to the revelation, and a closing with it, and adhering to it, with the belief, and with the inclination and affection.

    Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). A colonial American preacher, theologian, and philosopher, Edwards became pastor of his church in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1726. He is widely known for his famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" as well as his many books including The End For Which God Created the World and A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections. Edwards died from a smallpox inoculation shortly after beginning the presidency at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University).

    From “Concerning Faith” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 2 (London: Ball, 1839), 580.

    Further Reading

    “What is Faith?” in A Faith to Live By, by Donald Macleod.
“Knowledge” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Galatians 2:20

    I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

    Prayer

    Let us pray with the disciples, "Lord increase our faith” and with the poor man in the gospel, "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief."

    Richard Sibbes (1577–1635). An English Puritan theologian, Sibbes was known in London in the early 17th century as "the Heavenly Doctor Sibbes." Preacher at Gray's Inn, London and Master of Catherine Hall, Cambridge, his most famous work is The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax.

    From the sermon "Fountain Opened: or The Mystery of Godliness Revealed" in The Works of the Reverend Richard Sibbes, Volume 1 (Aberdeen: Chalmers & Co., 1809), 213.

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  11. Q11:   WHAT DO WE BELIEVE BY TRUE FAITH?

    A:  

    EVERYTHING TAUGHT TO US IN THE GOSPEL. THE APOSTLES’ CREED EXPRESSES WHAT WE BELIEVE IN THESE WORDS: WE BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH; AND IN JESUS CHRIST HIS ONLY SON OUR LORD, WHO WAS CONCEIVED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY, SUFFERED UNDER PONTIUS PILATE, WAS CRUCIFIED, DIED, AND WAS BURIED. HE DESCENDED INTO HELL. THE THIRD DAY HE ROSE AGAIN FROM THE DEAD. HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN, AND IS SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY; FROM THERE HE WILL COME TO JUDGE THE LIVING AND THE DEAD. WE BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH, THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS, THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS, THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY, AND THE LIFE EVERLASTING.


    Commentary

    But what is faith? Not an opinion, no more than it is a form of words; not any number of opinions put together, be they ever so true. A string of opinions is no more Christian faith, than a string of beads is Christian holiness. It is not an assent to any opinion, or any number of opinions. A man may assent to three, or three-and-twenty creeds: he may assent to all the Old and New Testament, (at least, as far as he understands them) and yet have no Christian faith at all…. Christian faith…is a divine evidence or conviction wrought in the heart, that God is reconciled to me through his Son; inseparably joined with a confidence in him, as a gracious reconciled Father, as for all things, so especially for all those good things which are invisible and eternal. To believe (in the Christian sense) is, then, to walk in the light of eternity; and to have a clear sight of, and confidence in, the Most High, reconciled to me through the Son of his love.

    John Wesley (1703–1791). An English preacher and theologian, Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles, with founding the English Methodist movement. He travelled generally on horseback, preaching two or three times each day, and is said to have preached more than 40,000 sermons. He also was a noted hymn-writer.

    From “Letter to the Rev. Dr. Middleton” in The Works of the Reverend John Wesley, Volume 5 (New York: Emory & Waugh, 1831), 757.

    Further Reading

    “Apostles” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Jude 1:3

    I…urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.

    Prayer

    Meet and just is it to worship Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Trinity consubstantial and undivided. Meet and just is it to hymn Thee, to bless Thee, to praise Thee, to thank Thee, to worship Thee in all places of Thy dominion. For Thou art God unspeakable, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, always I AM, still I AM: Thou, and Thy Only-Begotten Son, and Thy Holy Spirit. Thou it was that from non-existence to existence broughtest us; and when we were fallen aside raisedst us again, and leftest nothing undone to bring us to heaven and bestow on us Thy kingdom to come. For all these things we thank Thee, and Thine Only Begotten Son, and Thy Holy Spirit, for all that we know, and for all that we do not know, of the seen and of the unseen benefits that are come upon us…. We also, O tender Lord, cry and say: Holy Thou art and All-holy, Thou and Thine Only-Begotten Son and Thy Holy Spirit. Holy Thou art and All-holy, and great is Thy glory: Who didst so love Thy world as to give Thine Only Begotten Son, that every one that believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life…. Remembering…all that came to pass for us, the Cross, the Tomb, the Resurrection on the third day, the Ascension into the heavens, the Throne at the right hand, the second and glorious Coming again…thee we hymn, thee we bless, to Thee do we give thanks, Lord our God. Amen.

    John Chrysostom (347–407). Archbishop of Constantinople, John was born in Antioch. He was given the title Chrysostom which means “golden mouth” because of his eloquent preaching. He is recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church as a saint and Doctor of the Church. Chrysostom is known for his Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (from which this prayer is taken), and his vast homiletical works including 67 homilies on Genesis, 90 on the Gospel of Matthew, and 88 on the Gospel of John.

    From The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom Archbishop of Constantinople (London: Joseph Masters, 1866), 61–63.

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  12. Q12:   WHAT DO JUSTIFICATION AND SANCTIFICATION MEAN?

    A:  

    JUSTIFICATION MEANS OUR DECLARED RIGHTEOUSNESS BEFORE GOD, MADE POSSIBLE BY CHRIST’S DEATH AND RESURRECTION FOR US. SANCTIFICATION MEANS OUR GRADUAL, GROWING RIGHTEOUSNESS, MADE POSSIBLE BY THE SPIRIT’S WORK IN US.


    Commentary

    Though justification and sanctification are both blessings of grace, and though they are inseparable, yet they are distinct acts of God; and there is, in various respects, a wide difference between them. The distinction may be thus expressed.—Justification respects the person in a legal sense, is a single act of grace, and terminates in a relative change; that is, a freedom from punishment, and a right to life; sanctification regards him in a physical sense, is a continual work of grace, and terminates in a real change, as to the quality both of habits and actions. The former is by a righteousness without us; the latter is by holiness wrought in us. That precedes as a cause; this follows as an effect. Justification is by Christ as a priest, and has regard to the guilt of sin; sanctification is by him as a king, and refers to its dominion. The former deprives of its damning power, the latter of its reigning power. Justification is instantaneous and complete in all its subjects; sanctification is progressive and perfecting by degrees.

    Abraham Booth (1734–1806). An English Baptist minister, Booth served as pastor of Prescot Street Church in Whitechapel, London for 35 years as well as founding what is now Regents Park College for ministerial training in Oxford. He is most known for his work The Reign of Grace (from which this quote is taken).

    From The Reign of Grace: From its Rise to its Consummation (Glasgow: Collins, 1827), 247–248.

    [Note that the sanctification word-group in the New Testament commonly refers to what is nowadays often called positional or definitional sanctification.]

    Further Reading

    “Justification” and “Sanctification” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    1 Peter 1:1–2

    To God’s elect…who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

    Prayer

    Grant, Almighty God, that as we carry on a warfare in this world, and as it is thy will to try us with many contests,—O grant, that we may never faint, however extreme may be the trials which we may have to endure: and as you have favored us with so great an honor as to make us the framers and builders of thy spiritual temple, may everyone of us present and consecrate himself wholly to thee…so that thou mayest be worshipped among us perpetually; and especially, may each of us offer himself wholly as a spiritual sacrifice to thee, until we shall at length be renewed in thine image and be received into a full participation of that glory, which has been attained for us by the blood of your thy only-begotten Son. Amen.

    John Calvin (1509–1564). A theologian, administrator, and pastor, Calvin was born in France into a strict Roman Catholic family. It was in Geneva however where Calvin worked most of his life and organized the Reformed church. He wrote The Institutes of the Christian Religion, the Geneva Catechism, as well as numerous commentaries on Scripture.

    From Calvin's Bible Commentaries: Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and Haggai, translated by John King (Forgotten Books, 1847), 251.

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  13. Q13:   SHOULD THOSE WHO HAVE FAITH IN CHRIST SEEK THEIR SALVATION THROUGH THEIR OWN WORKS, OR ANYWHERE ELSE?

    A:  

    NO, THEY SHOULD NOT, AS EVERYTHING NECESSARY TO SALVATION IS FOUND IN CHRIST. TO SEEK SALVATION THROUGH GOOD WORKS IS A DENIAL THAT CHRIST IS THE ONLY REDEEMER AND SAVIOR.


    Commentary

    We maintain that of whatever kind a man’s work may be, he is regarded as righteous before God simply on the ground of gratuitous mercy; because God, without any respect to works, freely adopts him in Christ, by imputing the righteousness of Christ to him as if it were his own. This we call the righteousness of faith, that is when a man, empty and drained of all confidence in works, feels convinced that the only ground of his acceptance with God is a righteousness which is wanting in himself, and is borrowed from Christ. The point on which the world goes astray (for this error has prevailed in almost every age), is in imagining that man, however partially defective he may be, still in some degree merits the favour of God by works…. God reconciles us to himself, from regard not to our works but to Christ alone, and by gratuitous adoption makes us his own children instead of children of wrath. So long as God regards our works, he finds no reason why he ought to love us. Wherefore it is necessary that he should bury our sins, impute to us the obedience of Christ which alone can stand his scrutiny, and adopt us as righteous through his merits. This is the clear and uniform doctrine of Scripture, “witnessed,” as Paul says, “by the law and the prophets” (Rom. 3:21).

    John Calvin (1509–1564). A theologian, administrator, and pastor, Calvin was born in France into a strict Roman Catholic family. It was in Geneva however where Calvin worked most of his life and organized the Reformed church. He wrote The Institutes of the Christian Religion, the Geneva Catechism, as well as numerous commentaries on Scripture.

    From “The Necessity of Reforming the Church” in Theological Treatises, edited and translated by J.K.S. Reid, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville: WJKP, 1954), 199.

    Further Reading

    “Legalism” and “Works” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Galatians 2:16

    Know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

    Prayer

    Glory in Christ. Glory not in your own faith, your own feelings, your own knowledge, your own prayers, your own amendment, your own diligence. Glory in nothing but Christ. Alas! The best of us know but little of that merciful and mighty Saviour. We do not exalt Him and glory in Him enough. Let us pray that we may see more of the fullness there is in Him.

    John Charles Ryle (1816–1900). The first Anglican bishop of Liverpool, Ryle’s appointment was at the recommendation of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. As well as being a writer and pastor, Ryle was an athlete who rowed and played cricket for Oxford University. He also was responsible for the building of over forty churches.

    From Holiness (Lightning Source, 2001), 115.

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  14. Q14:   SINCE WE ARE REDEEMED BY GRACE ALONE, THROUGH CHRIST ALONE, MUST WE STILL DO GOOD WORKS AND OBEY GOD?

    A:  

    YES, BECAUSE CHRIST, HAVING REDEEMED US BY HIS BLOOD, ALSO RENEWS US BY HIS SPIRIT; SO THAT OUR LIVES MAY SHOW LOVE AND GRATITUDE TO GOD; SO THAT WE MAY BE ASSURED OF OUR FAITH BY THE FRUITS; AND SO THAT BY OUR GODLY BEHAVIOR OTHERS MAY BE WON TO CHRIST.


    Commentary

    As the earth bringeth not forth fruit except it be watered first from above; even so by the righteousness of the law, in doing many things we do nothing, and in fulfilling the law we fulfil it not, except first we are made righteous by the Christian righteousness, which appertaineth nothing to the righteousness of the law.… But this [Christian] righteousness is heavenly, which we have not of ourselves, but receive it from heaven; we work not for it, but by grace it is wrought in us, and is apprehended by faith…. Why, do we then nothing? Do we work nothing for the obtaining of this righteousness? I answer, Nothing at all. For this is perfect righteousness, to do nothing, to hear nothing, to know nothing of the law, or of works, but to know and believe this only, that Christ is gone to the Father, and is not now seen; that He sitteth in heaven at the right hand of His Father…as…our high priest intreating for us, and reigning over us, and in us, by grace…. He that strayeth from this Christian righteousness, must needs fall into the righteousness of the law; that is to say, when he hath lost Christ, he must fall into the confidence of his own works. But…when I have Christian righteousness reigning in my heart…I do good works, how and wheresoever occasion arise…. Whosoever is assuredly persuaded that Christ alone is his righteousness, doth not only cheerfully and gladly work well in his vocation, but also submitteth himself…to all manner of burdens, and to all dangers of the present life, because he knoweth that this is the will of God, and that this obedience pleaseth Him.

    Martin Luther (1483–1546). A German Protestant pastor and professor of theology, Luther was the son of a mining family, intended to become a lawyer, and at first took monastic orders. On 31 October 1517 Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, sparking the Reformation. His refusal to retract his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X and Emperor Charles V resulted in his excommunication. Luther wrote many works, including his small and large catechisms, and preached hundreds of sermons in churches and universities.

    From Commentary on Galatians, translated by Erasmus Middleton (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1979), xv–xviii.

    Further Reading

    “Election” and “Repentance” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    1 Peter 2:9–12

    But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

    Prayer

    There is so much mercy in the heart of God for his people, and…Jesus his Son has by his blood made so living a way for us that we might enjoy it, and the benefit of it for ever…. To that end is this goodness revealed: "Let Israel hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption." Hope! who would not hope to enjoy life eternal?… Did but the people of God see to what they are born, and how true the God of truth will be to what by his word they look for at his hands, they would…groan earnestly under all their enjoyments to be with him, who is their life, their portion, and their glory for ever. But we profess, and yet…long not for the coming of the day of God; we profess the faith, and yet by our whole life show to them that can see, how little a measure of it we have in our hearts. The Lord lead us more into the power of things; then shall the virtues of him that has saved us, and called us out of darkness into his marvelous light, and the favour of his good knowledge, be made known to others far otherwise than it is. Amen.

    John Bunyan (1628–1688). Known as the tinker of Elstow, Bunyan underwent a dramatic conversion experience and became a leading Puritan preacher. As his popularity grew, Bunyan increasingly became a target for slander and libel and was eventually imprisoned. It was during his time in prison that he commenced his best known work The Pilgrim’s Progress, first printed in 1678.

    From “Israel’s Hope Encouraged” in The Works of that Eminent Servant of Christ Mr. John Bunyan, Volume 3 (Edinburgh: Sands, Murray & Cochran, 1769), 416–417.

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  15. Q15:   SINCE WE ARE REDEEMED BY GRACE ALONE, THROUGH FAITH ALONE, WHERE DOES THIS FAITH COME FROM?

    A:  

    ALL THE GIFTS WE RECEIVE FROM CHRIST WE RECEIVE THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT, INCLUDING FAITH ITSELF.


    Commentary

    We must realize that Christianity is the easiest religion in the world, because it is the only religion in which God the Father and Christ and the Holy Spirit do everything. God is the Creator; we have nothing to do with our existence, or the existence of other things. We can shape other things, but we cannot change the fact of existence. We do nothing for our salvation because Christ did it all. We do not have to do anything. In every other religion we have to do something…but with Christianity we do not do anything; God has done it all: He has created us and He has sent His Son; His Son died and because the Son is infinite, therefore he bears our total guilt. We do not need to bear our guilt, nor do we even have to merit the merit of Christ. He does it all. So in one way it is the easiest religion in the world.

    Francis Schaeffer (1912–1984). An American Presbyterian pastor and philosopher, Schaeffer is most famous for his writing and his establishment of the L’Abri ("The Shelter") community in Switzerland. He wrote 22 books, the best known being the trilogy The God Who Is There (from which this quote is taken), Escape from Reason, and He Is There and He Is Not Silent as well as his A Christian Manifesto.

    From “The God Who Is There” in The Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy: The Three Essential Books in One Volume (Wheaton: Crossway, 1990), 182–183.

    Further Reading

    “Effectual Calling” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.
“Full Assurance” in A Faith to Live By, by Donald Macleod.

    Verse

    Titus 3:4–6

    But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.

    Prayer

    May God have mercy upon us all, and by his Spirit open our eyes to see the glory of the cross.

    David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981). A Welsh medical doctor and Protestant minister, Lloyd-Jones is best known for preaching and teaching at Westminster Chapel in London for thirty years. He would take many months, even years, to expound a chapter of the Bible verse by verse. Perhaps his most famous publication is a 14 volume series of commentaries on Romans.

    From The Cross (Wheaton: Crossway, 1986), 83.

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Part Three

  1. Q1:   WHAT DO WE BELIEVE ABOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT?

    A:  

    THAT HE IS GOD, COETERNAL WITH THE FATHER AND THE SON, AND THAT GOD GRANTS HIM IRREVOCABLY TO ALL WHO BELIEVE.


    Commentary

    Wherefore, when our Lord breathed on His disciples, and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost,” He certainly wished it to be understood that the Holy Ghost was not only the Spirit of the Father, but of the only begotten Son Himself. For the same Spirit is, indeed, the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, making with them the trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit, not a creature, but the Creator.

    Augustine of Hippo (354–430). Bishop of Hippo in Roman North Africa, philosopher, and theologian, Augustine is considered a saint and Doctor of the Church by both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He wrote an account of his conversion in his Confessions, his most known work, but he is also one of the most prolific Latin authors in terms of surviving works with hundreds of separate titles (including apologetic works, texts on Christian doctrine, and commentaries) and more than 350 preserved sermons.

    From The City of God, translated by Marcus Dods (Digireads, 2009), 329–330.

    Further Reading

    “Be Filled with the Spirit” in A Faith to Live By, by Donald Macleod.

    Verse

    John 14:16–17

    I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

    Prayer

    We desire to thank you heavenly Father for the marvelous resources that you have given to us through the Holy Spirit. We thank you that each of us who has come to put our trust in Jesus Christ has the privilege of the indwelling Spirit. We pray that he may so fill us as to show Christ to us and to form Christ in us from day to day. We ask these things for ourselves and for one another for the glory of your great name.

    John Stott (1921–2011). An English Anglican preacher who for many years served as rector of All Souls Church in London, Stott was one of the principal framers of the Lausanne Covenant (1974). His numerous books include Why I Am a Christian and The Cross of Christ.

    From the end of the sermon “The Work of the Spirit” on John 16:5–15, recorded 18th August 2002, available from www.allsouls.org.

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  2. Q2:   HOW DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT HELP US?

    A:  

    THE HOLY SPIRIT CONVICTS US OF OUR SIN, COMFORTS US, GUIDES US, GIVES US SPIRITUAL GIFTS AND THE DESIRE TO OBEY GOD; AND HE ENABLES US TO PRAY AND TO UNDERSTAND GOD’S WORD.


    Commentary

    The Holy Spirit dwelling in us gives guidance and direction. Fundamentally, habitually, he enlightens our minds, give us eyes, understandings, shines into us, translates us from darkness into marvellous light, whereby…we are able to see our way, to know our paths, and to discern the things of God…. He gives a new light and understanding, whereby, in general, we are enabled to "discern, comprehend, and receive spiritual things."… There is more required to the receiving, entertaining, embracing, a particular truth, and rejecting of what is contrary unto it, than a habitual illumination. This also is the work of the Spirit that dwells in us…he puts upon every truth a new glory, making and rendering it desirable to the soul…. Strength comes as well as light, by the pouring out of the Spirit on us; strength for the receiving and practice of all his gracious discoveries to us…. [Also] from this indwelling of the Spirit we have supportment. Our hearts are very ready to sink and fail under our trials; indeed, a little thing will cause us so to do: flesh, and heart, and all that is within us, are soon ready to fail…. The Spirit helpeth, bears up that infirmity which is ready to make us go double. How often should we be overborne with our burdens, did not the Spirit put under his power to bear them and to support us.… He is a Spirit of grace…He is a Spirit of holiness…He is a Spirit of joy and consolation…He is the High and the Holy One who dwells in eternity, and he hath chosen to inhabit with me also.

    John Owen (1616–1683). An English Puritan theologian, Owen went to Oxford University at 12 years of age, gained his MA at 19, and became a pastor at 21. Years later he was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University. He preached to parliament the day after the execution of King Charles I, fulfilling the task without directly mentioning that event. He wrote numerous and voluminous works including historical treatises on religion and several studies on the Holy Spirit.

    From “The Indwelling of the Spirit” in “The Doctrine of the Saints’ Perseverance Explained and Confirmed” in The Works of John Owen, edited by William Goold, Volume XI (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1853), 343 – 361.

    Further Reading

    “Paraclete” and “Inward Witness” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Ephesians 6:17–18

    Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

    Prayer

    And now, O Holy Spirit, love of God, who proceedest from the Almighty Father and his most blessed Son, powerful advocate, and sweetest comforter, infuse thy grace, and descend plentifully into my heart; enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling, and scatter there thy cheerful beams! dwell in that soul which longs to be thy temple; water that barren soil, over-run with weeds and briars, and lost for want of cultivating, and make it fruitful with thy dew from heaven…. O that it may please thee to come to me, thou kindest comforter of mourning souls, thou mighty defence in distresses, and ready help in time of need. O come thou purger of all inward pollutions, and healer of spiritual wounds and diseases. Come, thou strength of the feeble, and raiser of them that fall. Come, thou putter down of the proud, and teacher of the meek and humble…. Come, come, thou hope of the poor, and refreshment of them that languish and faint…. Come, Holy Spirit, in much mercy, come, make me lit to receive thee, and condescend to my infirmities, that my meanness may not be disdained by thy greatness, nor my weakness by thy strength: all which I beg for the sake of Jesus Christ, my only Saviour, who in the unity of thee, O Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth with the Father, one God, world without end.

    Augustine of Hippo (354–430). Bishop of Hippo in Roman North Africa, philosopher, and theologian, Augustine is considered a saint and Doctor of the Church by both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He wrote an account of his conversion in his Confessions, his most known work, but he is also one of the most prolific Latin authors in terms of surviving works with hundreds of separate titles (including apologetic works, texts on Christian doctrine, and commentaries) and more than 350 preserved sermons.

    From Pious Breathings: Being the Meditations of St Augustine, his Treatise of the Love of God, Soliloquies and Manual, translated by Geo. Stanhope (London: J. Nunn & Co., 1818), 29–31.

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  3. Q3:   WHAT IS PRAYER?

    A:  

    PRAYER IS POURING OUT OUR HEARTS TO GOD IN PRAISE, PETITION, CONFESSION OF SIN, AND THANKSGIVING.


    Commentary

    As the enemies of your soul are inveterate, subtle, and powerful, and your spiritual frames inconstant, it is highly necessary you should live under a continual remembrance of those awakening considerations. What more advisable, what so necessary for you, as to walk circumspectly; to watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation? A sense of your own weakness and insufficiency, should ever abide on your mind and appear in your conduct. As the corruption of nature is an enemy that is always near you, and always in you, while on earth; and as it is very strongly disposed to second every temptation from without; you should "keep your heart with all diligence." Watch, diligently watch, over all its imaginations, motions, and tendencies. Consider whence they arise and to what they incline, before you execute any of the purposes formed in it…. This consideration should cause every child of God to bend the suppliant knee, with the utmost frequency, humility, and fervour: to live, as it were, at the throne of grace; nor depart thence till far from the reach of danger. Certain it is, that the more we see of the strength of our adversaries and of the danger we are in from them, the more shall we exercise ourselves in fervent prayer.—Can you, O Christian, be cool and indifferent, be dull and careless, when the world, the flesh, and the devil are your implacable and unwearied opposers?

    Abraham Booth (1734–1806). An English Baptist minister, Booth served as pastor of Prescot Street Church in Whitechapel, London for 35 years as well as founding what is now Regents Park College for ministerial training in Oxford. He is most known for his work The Reign of Grace (from which this quote is taken).

    From “The Reign of Grace” in Booth's Select Works (London: Chidley, 1839), 187–188.

    Further Reading

    “Prayer” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Psalm 62:8

    Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

    Prayer

    Let us pray daily, "Lord, increase my faith." Let us not doubt, then, that when God says a thing, that thing will be fulfilled.

    John Charles Ryle (1816–1900). The first Anglican bishop of Liverpool, Ryle’s appointment was at the recommendation of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. As well as being a writer and pastor, Ryle was an athlete who rowed and played cricket for Oxford University. He also was responsible for the building of over forty churches.

    From Luke by J. C. Ryle, series editor Alister E. McGrath (Wheaton: Crossway, 1997), 24.

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  4. Q4:   WITH WHAT ATTITUDE SHOULD WE PRAY?

    A:  

    WITH LOVE, PERSEVERANCE, AND GRATEFULNESS; IN HUMBLE SUBMISSION TO GOD’S WILL, KNOWING THAT, FOR THE SAKE OF CHRIST, HE ALWAYS HEARS OUR PRAYERS.


    Commentary

    Before you enter into prayer, ask thy soul these questions: To what end, O my soul, art thou retired into this place? Art thou not come to discourse the Lord in prayer? Is he present; will he hear thee? Is he merciful; will he help thee? Is thy business slight; is it not concerning the welfare of thy soul? What words wilt thou use to move him to compassion? To make thy preparation complete, consider that thou art but dust and ashes, and he the great God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that clothes himself with light as with a garment; that thou art a vile sinner, he a holy God; that thou art but a poor crawling worm, he the omnipotent Creator. In all your prayers forget not to thank the Lord for his mercies. When thou prayest, rather let thy hearts be without words, than thy words without a heart. Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.

    John Bunyan (1628–1688). Known as the tinker of Elstow, Bunyan underwent a dramatic conversion experience and became a leading Puritan preacher. As his popularity grew, Bunyan increasingly became a target for slander and libel and was eventually imprisoned. It was during his time in prison that he commenced his best known work The Pilgrim’s Progress, first printed in 1678.

    From “Mr. John Bunyan’s Dying Saying: Of Prayer” in The Works of That Eminent Servant of Christ John Bunyan, Volume 1 (Philadelphia: John Ball, 1850), 47.

    Further Reading

    “Omniscience” and “Sovereignty” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Philippians 4:6

    Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

    Prayer

    The prayer preceding all prayers is "May it be the real I who speaks. May it be the real Thou that I speak to."

    C. S. Lewis (1898–1963). A fellow in English literature at Oxford University as well as chair of English at Cambridge University, Lewis wrote literary criticism, children's literature, fantasy literature, as well as theology. His most well known works are Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and The Chronicles of Narnia. A member of the Church of England, his conversion to Christianity was influenced by his Oxford colleague and friend J.R.R. Tolkien.

    From Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (Orlando: Harcourt, 1964), 82.

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  5. Q5:   WHAT SHOULD WE PRAY?

    A:  

    THE WHOLE WORD OF GOD DIRECTS AND INSPIRES US IN WHAT WE SHOULD PRAY, INCLUDING THE PRAYER JESUS HIMSELF TAUGHT US.


    Commentary

    Great is the profit to be derived from the…Scriptures and their assistance is sufficient for every need. Paul was pointing this out when he said, 'Whatever things have been written have been written for our instruction, upon whom the final age of the world has come, that through the patience and the consolation afforded by the Scriptures we may have hope.' (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11) The divine words, indeed, are a treasury containing every sort of remedy, so that, whether one needs to put down senseless pride, or…to trample on the love of riches, or to despise pain, or to cultivate cheerfulness and acquire patience—in them one may find in abundance the means to do so.

    John Chrysostom (347–407). Archbishop of Constantinople, John was born in Antioch. He was given the title Chrysostom which means “golden mouth” because of his eloquent preaching. He is recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church as a saint and Doctor of the Church. Chrysostom is known for his Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his vast homiletical works including 67 homilies on Genesis, 90 on the Gospel of Matthew, and 88 on the Gospel of John (from one of which this quote is taken).

    From “Homily 37: On John” in The Fathers of the Church: Commentary on Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist: Homilies 1–47 by John Chrysostom, translated by Sister Thomas Aquinas Goggin (The Catholic University of America Press, 1957), 359.

    Further Reading

    The Conclusion of “The Humanness of Scripture” in A Faith to Live By, by Donald Macleod.

    Verse

    Ephesians 3:14–21

    For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

    Prayer

    Gracious and holy Father!… Unworthy we are in ourselves to appear in thy most holy presence, both by reason of the sins of our nature, and the sins of our lives, even since that time that we have had some knowledge of thy blessed truth; which holy truth we have not entertained nor professed as we should have done, but oftentimes against the light that thou hast kindled in our hearts by thy Word and Spirit, we have committed many sins…. But thou art a gracious and merciful Father unto us in Jesus Christ, in the abundance of thy love and mercy. In him we come unto thee, beseeching thee, for his sake, not to give us up to these inward and spiritual judgments; but vouchsafe us a true insight into our own estates, without deceiving of our own souls, and from thence, true humiliation. And then we beseech thee to speak peace unto us in thy Christ, and say to our souls by thy Holy Spirit, that thou art our salvation. And for clearer evidence that we are in thy favour, let us find the blessed work of thy Holy Spirit opening our understandings, clearing our judgments, kindling our affections, discovering our corruptions, framing us every way to be such as thou mayest take pleasure and delight in. And because thou hast ordained thy holy word 'to be a light unto our feet, and a guide and direction to all our ways and paths,' and to be a powerful means to bring us more and more out of the thraldom of sin and Satan, to the blessed liberty of thy children, we beseech thee, therefore, to bless thy word to these and all other good ends and purposes for which thou hast ordained it. And grant, we beseech thee, that now at this time out of it we may learn thy holy will; and then labour to frame our lives thereafter, as may be most to thy glory…for Jesus Christ his sake, thine only Son, and our blessed Saviour. Amen.

    Richard Sibbes (1577–1635). An English Puritan theologian, Sibbes was known in London in the early 17th century as "the Heavenly Doctor Sibbes." Preacher at Gray's Inn, London and Master of Catherine Hall, Cambridge, his most famous work is The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax.

    From “The Author's Prayer Before his Sermon” in The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume 7 (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1864), 337.

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  6. Q6:   WHAT IS THE LORD'S PRAYER?

    A:  

    OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN, HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME, YOUR KINGDOM COME, 
YOUR WILL BE DONE, ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN. GIVE US TODAY OUR DAILY BREAD. AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS, AS WE ALSO HAVE FORGIVEN OUR DEBTORS. AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL.


    Commentary

    Do you…feel weak and timid?…or do you doubt whether God has heard you, because you are a sinner? then cling to the word and say: Though I am a sinner and unworthy, yet I have the command of God, that tells me to pray, and his promise that he will graciously hear me, not because of my worthiness, but for the sake of the Lord Christ. By this means you can drive away the thoughts and doubts, and cheerfully kneel down and pray, not regarding your worthiness or unworthiness, but your need and his word upon which he tells you to build; especially since he has placed before you and put into your mouth the words how and what you are to pray for, so that you joyously send up these prayers through him, and can lay them in his bosom, that he may lay them by his own worthiness before the Father…. The Lord's Prayer is…as has often been said, surely the very best prayer that was ever uttered upon earth, or that any one could conceive, since God the Father gave it through his Son, and laid it upon his lips; so that we dare not doubt that it is extremely pleasing to him. He admonishes us at the very beginning, both concerning his command and his promise, in the word: "Our Father," etc., as the one who demands from us this honor, that we are to ask from him, as a child from its father, and he wants us to have the confidence that he will gladly give us what we need; and this is further also a part of it, that we glory in being his children through Christ; and thus we come in accordance with his command and promise, and in the name of the Lord Christ, and appear before him with all confidence.

    Martin Luther (1483–1546). A German Protestant pastor and professor of theology, Luther was the son of a mining family, intended to become a lawyer, and at first took monastic orders. On 31 October 1517 Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, sparking the Reformation. His refusal to retract his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X and Emperor Charles V resulted in his excommunication. Luther wrote many works, including his small and large catechisms, and preached hundreds of sermons in churches and universities.

    From Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, translated by Charles A. Hay (Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1892), 246, 253–254.

    Further Reading

    “Hope” and “The World” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Matthew 6:9

    This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…”

    Prayer

    Our Father which in heaven art,

    Thy name be always hallowed;

    Thy kingdom come, thy will be done;

    Thy heavenly path be followed

    By us on earth as 'tis with thee,

         We humbly pray;

    And let our bread us given be,

         From day to day.

    Forgive our debts as we forgive

    Those that to us indebted are:

    Into temptation lead us not,

    But save us from the wicked snare.

    The kingdom's thine, the power too,

         We thee adore;

    The glory also shall be thine

         For evermore.

    John Bunyan (1628–1688). Known as the tinker of Elstow, Bunyan underwent a dramatic conversion experience and became a leading Puritan preacher. As his popularity grew, Bunyan increasingly became a target for slander and libel and was eventually imprisoned. It was during his time in prison that he commenced his best known work The Pilgrim’s Progress, first printed in 1678.
    From “Upon the Lord’s Prayer” in Divine Emblems (London: Bicker and Son, 1867), 14.
                  

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  7. Q7:   HOW IS THE WORD OF GOD TO BE READ AND HEARD?

    A:  

    WITH DILIGENCE, PREPARATION, AND PRAYER; SO THAT WE MAY ACCEPT IT WITH FAITH, STORE IT IN OUR HEARTS, AND PRACTICE IT IN OUR LIVES.


    Commentary

    As you read your Bible day by day, do you apply the truth to yourself? What is your motive when you read the Bible? Is it just to have a knowledge of it so that you can show others how much you know, and argue with them, or are you applying the truth to yourselves?… As you read…say to yourself, ‘That is me! What is it saying about me?’ Allow the Scripture to search you, otherwise it can be very dangerous. There is a sense in which the more you know of it, the more dangerous it is to you if you do not apply it to yourself…. We must apply the truth to ourselves and be humbled by it. We must be very careful that we are not talking about things theoretically, without troubling about the application of them to our personal lives…. People…are judging Christ by you and by me. They say, ‘Look at those Christians!… They can talk marvelously when the sun is shining and when the business is going well, and when there is no trouble in the family, but the moment anything goes wrong they do not seem to have anything, they are even worse than many who are not Christians. Is that Christianity?’ —[they make a] perfectly logical, perfectly fair deduction.

    David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981). A Welsh medical doctor and Protestant minister, Lloyd-Jones is best known for preaching and teaching at Westminster Chapel in London for thirty years. He would take many months, even years, to expound a chapter of the Bible verse by verse. Perhaps his most famous publication is a 14 volume series of commentaries on Romans (from which this quote is taken).

    From Romans Chapters 2:1–3:20 “The Righteous Judgment of God” (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989), 147–149.

    Further Reading

    “The Interpretation of Scripture” in A Faith to Live By, by Donald Macleod.
“Interpretation” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    2 Timothy 3:16–17

    All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

    Prayer

    Almighty and everlasting God, we pray in the name of your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. First, send a spiritual kingdom and a blessed gospel ministry. Give us devout and faithful preachers who communicate the wealth of your divine Word in truth and clarity. Graciously guard us against divisions and heresies. Do not focus on our ingratitude, by which we have long deserved that you take your word away from us. Do not punish us as severely as we deserve. Again we ask you to give us thankful hearts that we may love your holy Word, prize it highly, hear it reverently, and improve our lives accordingly. And so may we not only understand your Word rightly but also meet its demands by our deeds. May we live in accordance with it and day by day increase in good works. Thereby may your name be hallowed, your kingdom come, and your will be done. Amen.

    Martin Luther (1483–1546). A German Protestant pastor and professor of theology, Luther was the son of a mining family, intended to become a lawyer, and at first took monastic orders. On 31 October 1517 Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, sparking the Reformation. His refusal to retract his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X and Emperor Charles V resulted in his excommunication. Luther wrote many works, including his small and large catechisms, and preached hundreds of sermons in churches and universities.

    From Luther’s Prayers, edited by Herbert F. Brokering, from the translation by Charles E. Kistler (Minneapolis: Augsburg Books, 1967), 97–98.

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  8. Q8:   WHAT ARE THE SACRAMENTS OR ORDINANCES?

    A:  

    THE SACRAMENTS OR ORDINANCES GIVEN BY GOD AND INSTITUTED BY CHRIST, NAMELY BAPTISM AND THE LORD’S SUPPER, ARE VISIBLE SIGNS AND SEALS THAT WE ARE BOUND TOGETHER AS A COMMUNITY OF FAITH BY HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION. BY OUR USE OF THEM THE HOLY SPIRIT MORE FULLY DECLARES AND SEALS THE PROMISES OF THE GOSPEL TO US.


    Commentary

    So say I of baptism and of the Lord's Supper: ‘In their proper and appointed use they cannot be too highly valued: but, if abused to purposes for which they were not given, and looked to as containing in themselves, and conveying of themselves, salvation to man, they are desecrated.'… Let us Learn, then, from hence, how to use God's ordinances—We should be thankful for them: we should honour them: we should look to God in them, and expect from God through them the communications of his grace and peace. They are to be reverenced, but not idolized; to be used as means, but not rested in as an end. No one is to imagine himself the better, merely because he has attended on any ordinances.

    The Lord's Supper…as instituted by Christ…upon this subject I would ground the following advice: 1. Get just views of this ordinance—…none who desire to serve and honour God should abstain from it. Yet no one should think that the performance of this duty has any such charm in it, as to recommend him to God…it is Christ alone that can save us…by whom we are strengthened for all holy obedience…. 2. Seek to realize the great truths declared in it—Here you behold Christ giving himself for you. In the bread broken, and the wine poured forth, you behold his agonies even unto death, even those agonies which have expiated your guilt, and obtained the remission of your sins. Let the sight fill you with holy joy and gratitude; and let it encourage your access to God.… 3. Look forward to the feast prepared for you in heaven—Soon, very soon, shall you be called to "the supper of the Lamb in heaven," and there see the Redeemer and his redeemed all feasting together in endless bliss…. Anticipate, then, this blessed day…and let it be your one endeavour now to get "the wedding garment," that shall qualify you to be acceptable guests at that table.

    Charles Simeon (1759–1836). Rector of Trinity Church, Cambridge for 49 years, Simeon was offered the leadership of the church as he was preparing to graduate from the University. At first, the congregants showed their displeasure at his preaching by frequent interruptions and by locking the small doors of their pews so that no one could sit down. Simeon is best known for his 21 volume Horae Homilecticae—a collection of expanded sermon outlines from all 66 books of the Bible (from which this quote is taken).

    From “The Bible Standard of Religion” and “The Lord’s Supper” in Horae Homilecticae: or Discourses (Principally in the Form of Skeletons) and Forming a Commentary upon Every Book of the Old and New Testament (London: Holdsworth & Ball, 1832), Volume III, 542–543 and Volume XI, 557–559.

    Further Reading

    “Sacraments” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Romans 6:4 and Luke 22:19–20

    We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

    And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

    Prayer

    O Jesus, poor and abject, unknown and despised, have mercy upon me, and let me not be ashamed to follow thee. O Jesus, hated, calumniated, and persecuted; have mercy upon me, and let me not be afraid to come after thee. O Jesus, betrayed and sold at a vile price, have mercy upon me; and make me content to be as my Master…. O Jesus, clothed with a habit of reproach and shame, have mercy upon me, and let me not seek my own glory. O Jesus, insulted, mocked, and spit upon, have mercy upon me, and let me run with patience the race set before me. O Jesus, dragged to the pillar, scourged, and bathed in blood, have mercy upon me, and let me not faint in the fiery trial. O Jesus, crowned with thorns and hailed in derision; O Jesus, burdened with our sins, and the curses of the people; O Jesus, affronted, outraged, buffeted, overwhelmed with injuries, griefs, and humiliations; O Jesus, hanging on the accursed tree, bowing the head, giving up the ghost, have mercy upon me, and conform my whole soul to thy holy, humble, and suffering spirit. O thou, who for the love of me hast undergone such an infinity of sufferings and humiliations, let me be wholly "emptied of myself," that I may rejoice to take up my cross daily and follow thee.

    John Wesley (1703–1791). An English preacher and theologian, Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles, with founding the English Methodist movement. He travelled generally on horseback, preaching two or three times each day, and is said to have preached more than 40,000 sermons. He also was a noted hymn-writer.

    From “Forms of Prayer: Friday Morning” in The Works of the Reverend John Wesley, Volume 6 (New York: J. Emory & B. Waugh, 1831), 395–396.

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  9. Q9:   WHAT IS BAPTISM?

    A:  

    BAPTISM IS THE WASHING WITH WATER IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT; IT SIGNIFIES AND SEALS OUR ADOPTION INTO CHRIST, OUR CLEANSING FROM SIN, AND OUR COMMITMENT TO BELONG TO THE LORD AND TO HIS CHURCH.


    Commentary

    The society into which the Christian is called at baptism is not a collective but a Body. It is in fact that Body of which the family is an image on the natural level. If anyone came to it with the misconception that membership of the Church was membership in a debased modern sense—a massing together of persons as if they were pennies or counters—he would be corrected at the threshold by the discovery that the Head of this Body is so unlike the inferior members that they share no predicate with Him save by analogy. We are summoned from the outset to combine as creatures with our Creator, as mortals with immortal, as redeemed sinners with sinless Redeemer. His presence, the interaction between Him and us, must always be the overwhelmingly dominant factor in the life we are to lead within the Body, and any conception of Christian fellowship which does not mean primarily fellowship with Him is out of court.

    C. S. Lewis (1898–1963). A fellow in English literature at Oxford University as well as chair of English at Cambridge University, Lewis wrote literary criticism, children's literature, fantasy literature, as well as theology. His most well known works are Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and The Chronicles of Narnia. A member of the Church of England, his conversion to Christianity was influenced by his Oxford colleague and friend J.R.R. Tolkien.

    From Weight of Glory (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), 166.

    Further Reading

    “Vocation” and “Baptism” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Matthew 28:19

    Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

    Prayer

    May God open our eyes and give us a certainty that we are true believers, born again, born of the Spirit of God, and therefore children of God, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.

    David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981). A Welsh medical doctor and Protestant minister, Lloyd-Jones is best known for preaching and teaching at Westminster Chapel in London for thirty years. He would take many months, even years, to expound a chapter of the Bible verse by verse. Perhaps his most famous publication is a 14 volume series of commentaries on Romans.

    From Compelling Christianity (Wheaton: Crossway, 2007), 149.

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  10. Q10:   IS BAPTISM WITH WATER THE WASHING AWAY OF SIN ITSELF?

    A:  

    NO, ONLY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST AND THE RENEWAL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT CAN CLEANSE US FROM SIN.


    Commentary

    “He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” It is asked, why did not John equally say, that it is Christ alone who washes souls with his blood? The reason is, that this very washing is performed by the power of the Spirit, and John reckoned it enough to express the whole effect of baptism by the single word Spirit. The meaning is clear, that Christ alone bestows all the grace which is figuratively represented by outward baptism, because it is he who “sprinkles the conscience” with his blood. It is he also who mortifies the old man, and bestows the Spirit of regeneration. The word fire is added as an epithet, and is applied to the Spirit, because he takes away our pollutions, as fire purifies gold.

    John Calvin (1509–1564). A theologian, administrator, and pastor, Calvin was born in France into a strict Roman Catholic family. It was in Geneva however where Calvin worked most of his life and organized the Reformed church. He wrote The Institutes of the Christian Religion, the Geneva Catechism, as well as numerous commentaries on Scripture.

    From Calvin's Bible Commentaries: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Part I, translated by John King (Forgotten Books, 2007), 187.

    Further Reading

    “Illumination” and “Regeneration” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Luke 3:16

    John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

    Prayer

    Our Father.… We come to Thee and pray that, for Jesus' sake, and through the virtue of the blood once shed for many for the remission of sins, Thou wouldest give us perfect pardon of every transgression of the past. Blot out, O God, all our sins like a cloud, and let them never be seen again. Grant us also the peace-speaking word of promise applied by the Holy Spirit, that being justified by faith we may have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us be forgiven and know it, and may there remain no lingering question in our heart about our reconciliation with God, but by a firm, full assurance based upon faith in the finished work of Christ, may we stand as forgiven men and women against whom transgression shall be mentioned never again forever. And then, Lord, we have another mercy to ask which shall be the burden of our prayer. It is that Thou wouldest help us to live such lives as pardoned men should live. We have but a little time to tarry here, for our life is but a vapour; soon it vanishes away; but we are most anxious that we may spend the time of our sojourning here in holy fear, that grace may be upon us from the commencement of our Christian life even to the earthly close of it.

    Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892). An English Baptist preacher, Spurgeon became pastor of London's New Park Street Church (later Metropolitan Tabernacle) at 20 years of age. He frequently preached to more than 10,000 people with no electronic amplification. Spurgeon was a prolific writer and his printed works are voluminous—by the time of his death he had preached nearly 3,600 sermons and published 49 volumes of commentaries, sayings, hymns, and devotions.

    From “Prayer XIII: The Wings of Prayer" in Prayers from Metropolitan Pulpit: C. H. Spurgeon's Prayers (New York, Revell, 1906), 71–72.

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  11. Q11:   WHAT IS THE LORD'S SUPPER?

    A:  

    CHRIST COMMANDED ALL CHRISTIANS TO EAT BREAD AND TO DRINK FROM THE CUP IN THANKFUL REMEMBRANCE OF HIM AND HIS DEATH. THE LORD’S SUPPER IS A CELEBRATION OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD IN OUR MIDST; BRINGING US INTO COMMUNION WITH GOD AND WITH ONE ANOTHER; FEEDING AND NOURISHING OUR SOULS. IT ALSO ANTICIPATES THE DAY WHEN WE WILL EAT AND DRINK WITH CHRIST IN HIS FATHER’S KINGDOM.


    Commentary

    The Lord's supper…is purposely provided by the King of saints for…his family, for the refreshing of the weary, and the making glad the mournful soul. The night before his bitter death, he instituted this sacramental feast! He caused his disciples to sit down with him, and when they had partaken of the passover, the sacrament of promise, and had their taste of the old wine, he giveth them of the new, even the sacrament of the better covenant, and of the fuller Gospel grace. He teacheth them that his death is life to them; and that which is his bitterest suffering, is their feast; and his sorrows are their joys…. The slain Lamb of God our passover that was sacrificed for us, that taketh away the sins of the world, was the pleasant food which sacramentally he himself then delivered to them, and substantially the next day offered for them…. O what…treasures of mercy are here presented to us in a sacrament! Here we have communion with a reconciled God, and are brought into his presence by the great Reconciler. Here we have communion with our blessed Redeemer, as crucified, and glorified, and offered to us, as our quickening, preserving, strengthening Head. Here we have communion with the Holy Ghost, applying to our souls the benefits of redemption, drawing us to the Son, and communicating light, and life, and strength from him unto us; increasing and actuating his graces in us. Here we have communion with the body of Christ, his sanctified people, the heirs of life.… The sealed message of God's reconciliation with us, and a sealed pardon of all our sins, and a sealed grant of everlasting life…the sacrament is sweet that doth convey them…. And though in this low communion of imperfect saints, we see but in a glass, and have but some small imperfect tastes of the glorious things which hope expecteth; yet this is more than all that earth and flesh can yield; and it is most pleasure that by these is revealed, sealed, and represented.

    Richard Baxter (1615–1691). An English Puritan, Baxter served as a chaplain in the army of Oliver Cromwell and as a pastor in Kidderminster. When James II was overthrown, he was persecuted and imprisoned for 18 months. He continued to preach, writing at the time that: "I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men." As well as his theological works he was a poet and hymn-writer. He also wrote his own Family Catechism.

    From “A Saint or a Brute” in The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, Volume 10 (London: Paternoster, 1830), 316–320.

    Further Reading

    “The Lord’s Supper” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    1 Corinthians 11:23–26

    The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

    Prayer

    To Thee, Lord. To Thee we commend our whole life and our hope, tender Lord, and invoke Thee, and pray Thee, and supplicate Thee: make us worthy to participate in…this…Table with a pure conscience, to remission of sins, to forgiveness of transgressions, to communion of the Holy Spirit, to inheritance of the kingdom of the heavens, to boldness toward Thee, not to judgment, nor to condemnation. And make us worthy, Lord, with boldness, to dare to call upon Thee, the heavenly God, as Father.

    John Chrysostom (347–407). Archbishop of Constantinople, John was born in Antioch. He was given the title Chrysostom which means “golden mouth” because of his eloquent preaching. He is recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church as a saint and Doctor of the Church. Chrysostom is known for his Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (from which this prayer is taken), and his vast homiletical works including 67 homilies on Genesis, 90 on the Gospel of Matthew, and 88 on the Gospel of John.

    From The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom Archbishop of Constantinople (London: Joseph Masters, 1866), 70–71.

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  12. Q12:   DOES THE LORD'S SUPPER ADD ANYTHING TO CHRIST'S ATONING WORK?

    A:  

    NO, CHRIST DIED ONCE FOR ALL. THE LORD’S SUPPER IS A COVENANT MEAL CELEBRATING CHRIST’S ATONING WORK; AS IT IS ALSO A MEANS OF STRENGTHENING OUR FAITH AS WE LOOK TO HIM, AND A FORETASTE OF THE FUTURE FEAST. BUT THOSE WHO TAKE PART WITH UNREPENTANT HEARTS EAT AND DRINK JUDGMENT ON THEMSELVES.


    Commentary

    Let us settle it firmly in our minds that the Lord's Supper was not given to be a means either of justification or of conversion. It was never meant to give grace where there is no grace already, or to provide pardon when pardon is not already enjoyed. It cannot possibly provide what is lacking with the absence of repentance to God, and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. It is an ordinance for the penitent, not for the impenitent,—for the believing, not for the unbelieving,—for the converted, not for the unconverted. The unconverted man, who fancies that be can find a shortcut road to heaven by taking the Sacrament, without treading the well-worn steps of repentance and faith, will find to his cost one day that he is totally deceived. The Lord's Supper was meant to increase and help the grace that a man has, but not to impart the grace that he has not. It was certainly never intended to make our peace with God, to justify, or to convert. The simplest statement of the benefit which a truehearted communicant may expect to receive from the Lord's Supper…is the strengthening and refreshing of our souls. Clearer views of Christ and His atonement, clearer views of all the offices which Christ fills as our Mediator and Advocate, clearer views of the complete redemption Christ has obtained for us by His vicarious death on the cross, clearer views of our full and perfect acceptance in Christ before God, fresh reasons for deep repentance for sin, fresh reasons for lively faith, fresh reasons for living a holy, consecrated, Christ-like life,—these are among the leading returns which a believer may confidently expect to get from his attendance at the Lord’s Table. He that eats the bread and drinks the wine in a right spirit will find himself drawn into closer communion with Christ, and will feel to know Him more, and understand Him better…. In eating that bread and drinking that cup, such a man will have his repentance deepened, his faith increased, his knowledge enlarged, his habit of holy living strengthened. He will realise more of the "real presence" of Christ in his heart. Eating that bread by faith, he will feel closer communion with the body of Christ. Drinking that wine by faith, he will feel closer communion with the blood of Christ. He will see more clearly what Christ is to him, and what he is to Christ. He will understand more thoroughly what it is to be "one with Christ, and Christ one with him." He will feel the roots of his soul's spiritual life watered, and the work of grace in his heart established, built up, and carried forward. All these things may seem and sound like foolishness to a natural man, but to a true Christian these things are light, and health, and life, and peace.

    John Charles Ryle (1816–1900). The first Anglican bishop of Liverpool, Ryle’s appointment was at the recommendation of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. As well as being a writer and pastor, Ryle was an athlete who rowed and played cricket for Oxford University. He also was responsible for the building of over forty churches.

    From “Thoughts on the Supper of the Lord” in Principles for Churchmen (London: William Hunt, 1884), 267 – 270.

    Further Reading

    “The Lord’s Supper” in A Faith to Live By, by Donald Macleod.

    Verse

    1 Peter 3:18

    For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.

    Prayer

    O thou gracious and ever-blessed God, "who hast formed us for thyself," and hast moreover redeemed us by the blood of thine only dear Son, thine we are by every tie. We are conscious that "we are not our own; and that, having been bought with a price, we are bound to glorify thee with our bodies and our spirits, which are thine." We desire then now to consecrate ourselves to thee; and engage, as in thine immediate presence, "no longer to live unto ourselves, but unto Him that died for us and rose again." May we never forget this vow, or act for a moment inconsistent with it! We avouch thee this day to be our God; and we give up ourselves to thee as thy people: and we desire, that "thou wouldest sanctify us wholly; and that our whole spirit, and soul, and body, may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

    Charles Simeon (1759–1836). Rector of Trinity Church, Cambridge for 49 years, Simeon was offered the leadership of the church as he was preparing to graduate from the University. At first, the congregants showed their displeasure at his preaching by frequent interruptions and by locking the small doors of their pews so that no one could sit down. Simeon is best known for his 21 volume Horae Homilecticae—a collection of expanded sermon outlines from all 66 books of the Bible (from which this prayer is taken).

    From “Asa’s Covenant with God” in Horae Homilecticae: or Discourses (Principally in the Form of Skeletons) and Forming a Commentary upon Every Book of the Old and New Testament, Volume IV (London: Holdsworth & Ball, 1832), 111.

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  13. Q13:   WHAT IS THE CHURCH?

    A:  

    GOD CHOOSES AND PRESERVES FOR HIMSELF A COMMUNITY ELECTED FOR ETERNAL LIFE AND UNITED BY FAITH, WHO LOVE, FOLLOW, LEARN FROM, AND WORSHIP GOD TOGETHER. GOD SENDS OUT THIS COMMUNITY TO PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL AND PREFIGURE CHRIST’S KINGDOM BY THE QUALITY OF THEIR LIFE TOGETHER AND THEIR LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER.


    Commentary

    My brethren, let me say, be ye like Christ at all times. Imitate him in public. Most of us live in some sort of publicity; many of us are called to work before our fellow-men every day. We are watched; our words are caught; our lives are examined, taken to pieces. The eagle-eyed, argus-eyed world observes everything we do, and sharp critics are upon us. Let us live the life of Christ in public. Let us take care that we exhibit our Master, and not ourselves—so that we can say, "It is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me." Take heed that you carry this into the church too…. Be like Christ in the church. How many there are of you…seeking pre-eminence? How many are trying to have some dignity and power over their fellow Christians, instead of remembering that it is the fundamental rule of all our churches, that there all men are equal—alike brethren, alike to be received as such. Carry out the spirit of Christ, then, in your churches, wherever ye are; let your fellow members say of you, "He has been with Jesus."

    Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892). An English Baptist preacher, Spurgeon became pastor of London's New Park Street Church (later Metropolitan Tabernacle) at 20 years of age. He frequently preached to more than 10,000 people with no electronic amplification. Spurgeon was a prolific writer and his printed works are voluminous—by the time of his death he had preached nearly 3,600 sermons and published 49 volumes of commentaries, sayings, hymns, and devotions.

    From the sermon “Christ’s People—Imitators of Him” in Sermons of the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon (New York: Sheldon, Blakeman & Co.,1858), 263–264.

    Further Reading

    “Church” and “The Kingdom of God” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    2 Thessalonians 2:13

    But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

    Prayer

    My daily prayer, honoured brethren, shall be…that in the days wherein we see so many fall from the truth, and oppose it, on the one hand; a great indifference as to the things of God, leading captive so many on the other; so few remaining, made useful to God in their generations by a conjunction of zeal for the truth, and ability unto its defence;…you may receive help from above, and encouragement to engage you by all means possible to spread abroad a savour of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to labour continually that the truths of God…may not be cast down, nor trampled on under the feet of men…. That you may not faint, nor wax weary, notwithstanding all the opposition, contempt, scorn, you do or may meet withal: nor even be turned aside to corrupt dalliances with error and falsehood…but keeping close to the form of wholesome words, and answering the mould of gospel doctrine, whereunto you have been cast, may shine as lights, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; knowing that it is but yet a little while, and he that shall come, will come, and will not tarry; yea, come, Lord Jesus, come.

    John Owen (1616–1683). An English Puritan theologian, Owen went to Oxford University at 12 years of age, gained his MA at 19, and became a pastor at 21. Years later he was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University. He preached to parliament the day after the execution of King Charles I, fulfilling the task without directly mentioning that event. He wrote numerous and voluminous works including historical treatises on religion and several studies on the Holy Spirit.

    From “The Doctrine of the Saints’ Perseverance Explained and Confirmed” in The Works of John Owen, edited by Thomas Russell, Volume VI (London, 1826), xxix–xxx.

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  14. Q14:   WHERE IS CHRIST NOW?

    A:  

    CHRIST ROSE BODILY FROM THE GRAVE ON THE THIRD DAY AFTER HIS DEATH AND IS SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER, RULING HIS KINGDOM AND INTERCEDING FOR US, UNTIL HE RETURNS TO JUDGE AND RENEW THE WHOLE WORLD.


    Commentary

    God, he is, 'I am that I am,'…and Christ he is 'yesterday, to-day, to-morrow, and the same for ever'.… A man cannot say of any creature in the world, that it was yesterday, and shall be to-morrow and for ever. We may say it of Christ, 'he is Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, he was, and is, and is to come,' and, therefore, those that are founded upon him, that have their happiness in him, they are firm as he is firm; and those that build upon any other thing, they vanish as the thing vanisheth. There is nothing in the world hath such a being, but it is subject in time not to be. It is only a Christian that is in Christ, who is as firm as Christ is; and Christ can never be but that which he is; for of necessity God must be always like himself. He is Jehovah, 'I am, I am' at all times; and Christ he is Jehovah. A Christian therefore, and none but a Christian, hath a firm establishing in Christ. Without this establishing in Christ, what are we? what are wicked men? Chaff, that the wind blows away! They are grass, &c., things of nothing, carried away with every blast. But a Christian is a stone, a rock, built upon Christ Jesus.

    Richard Sibbes (1577–1635). An English Puritan theologian, Sibbes was known in London in the early 17th century as "the Heavenly Doctor Sibbes." Preacher at Gray's Inn, London and Master of Catherine Hall, Cambridge, his most famous work is The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax.

    From “Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 1” in The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume 3 (Edinburgh, James Nichol, 1862), 426.

    Further Reading

    “Session” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Ephesians 1:19–21

    That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

    Prayer

    O God, stamp eternity on my eyeballs!

    Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). A colonial American preacher, theologian, and philosopher, Edwards became pastor of his church in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1726. He is widely known for his famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" as well as his many books including The End For Which God Created the World and A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections. Edwards died from a smallpox inoculation shortly after beginning the presidency at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University).

    From Edwards’ prayer quoted in Holman Old Testament Commentary: Psalms 76–150, by Steven Lawson (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2006), 81.

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  15. Q15:   WHAT DOES CHRIST'S RESURRECTION MEAN FOR US?

    A:  

    CHRIST TRIUMPHED OVER SIN AND DEATH BY BEING PHYSICALLY RESURRECTED, SO THAT ALL WHO TRUST IN HIM ARE RAISED TO NEW LIFE IN THIS WORLD AND TO EVERLASTING LIFE IN THE WORLD TO COME. JUST AS WE WILL ONE DAY BE RESURRECTED, SO THIS WORLD WILL ONE DAY BE RESTORED. BUT THOSE WHO DO NOT TRUST IN CHRIST WILL BE RAISED TO EVERLASTING DEATH.


    Commentary

    The most stately cities on earth, however magnificent their buildings, yet have their foundations in the dust, and their streets dirty and defiled, and made to be trodden under foot; but the very streets of this heavenly city are of pure gold, like unto transparent glass, and its foundations are of precious stones, and its gates are pearls…. There are many principles contrary to love, that make this world like a tempestuous sea. Selfishness, and envy, and revenge, and jealousy, and kindred passions keep life on earth in a constant tumult.… But oh! what rest is there in that world which the God of peace and love fills with his own gracious presence, and in which the Lamb of God lives and reigns, filling it with the brightest and sweetest beams of his love; where there is nothing to disturb or offend, and no being or object to be seen that is not surrounded with perfect amiableness and sweetness…where there is no enemy and no enmity; but perfect love in every heart and to every being; where there is perfect harmony among all the inhabitants, no one envying another, but everyone rejoicing in the happiness of every other…where love is always mutual and reciprocated to the full; where there is no hypocrisy or dissembling, but perfect simplicity and sincerity; where there is no treachery, or unfaithfulness, or inconstancy, or jealousy in any form…where there is no division through different opinions or interests, but where all in that glorious and loving society shall be most nearly and divinely related, and each shall belong to every other, and all shall enjoy each other in perfect prosperity and riches, and honor, without any sickness, or grief, or persecution, or sorrow, or any enemy to molest them, or any busybody to create jealousy or misunderstanding, or mar the perfect, and holy, and blessed peace that reigns in heaven!

    Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). A colonial American preacher, theologian, and philosopher, Edwards became pastor of his church in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1726. He is widely known for his famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" as well as his many books including The End For Which God Created the World and A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections. Edwards died from a smallpox inoculation shortly after beginning the presidency at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University).

    From the sermon “Heaven, a World of Love”, available from www.biblebb.com/files/edwards/charity16.htm

    Further Reading

    “Resurrection” and “General Resurrection” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    1 Thessalonians 4:13–14

    Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

    Prayer

    Grant, Almighty God, since we have already entered in hope upon the threshold of our eternal inheritance, and know that there is a certain mansion for us in heaven after Christ has been received there, who is our head, and the first-fruits of our salvation: Grant that we may proceed more and more in the course of thy holy calling until at length we reach the goal, and so enjoy that eternal glory of which you afford us a taste in this world, by the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

    John Calvin (1509–1564). A theologian, administrator, and pastor, Calvin was born in France into a strict Roman Catholic family. It was in Geneva however where Calvin worked most of his life and organized the Reformed church. He wrote The Institutes of the Christian Religion, the Geneva Catechism, as well as numerous commentaries on Scripture.

    From Calvin's Bible Commentaries: Ezekiel, Part II, translated by John King (Forgotten Books, 1847), 304.

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  16. Q16:   OF WHAT ADVANTAGE TO US IS CHRIST'S ASCENSION?

    A:  

    CHRIST PHYSICALLY ASCENDED ON OUR BEHALF, JUST AS HE CAME DOWN TO EARTH PHYSICALLY ON OUR ACCOUNT, AND HE IS NOW ADVOCATING FOR US IN THE PRESENCE OF HIS FATHER, PREPARING A PLACE FOR US, AND ALSO SENDS US HIS SPIRIT.


    Commentary

    Hail the day that sees Him rise,

    Ravish'd from our wishful eyes!

    Christ, awhile to mortals given, 

    Re-ascends His native heaven! 


    There the pompous triumph waits: 

    "Lift your heads, eternal gates,
    
Wide unfold the radiant scene, 

    Take the King of Glory in!
    "

Circled round with angel powers, 

    Their triumphant Lord, and ours, 

    Conqueror over death and sin, 

    Take the King of Glory in! 


    Him though highest heaven receives, 

    Still He loves the earth He leaves; 

    Though returning to His throne, 

    Still He calls mankind His own. 


    See! He lifts His hands above! 

    See! He shows the prints of love!
    
Hark! His gracious lips bestow
    
Blessings on His church below! 


    Still for us His death He pleads; 

    Prevalent, He intercedes; 

    Near Himself prepares our place, 

    Harbinger of human race. 


    Master, (will we ever say,)
    
Taken from our head to-day;
    
See Thy faithful servants, see! 

    Ever gazing up to Thee. 


    Grant, though parted from our sight, 

    High above yon azure height, 

    Grant our hearts may thither rise, 

    Following Thee beyond the skies.
    

Ever upward let us move, 

    Wafted on the wings of love; 

    Looking when our Lord shall come,
    
Longing, gasping after home.
    

There we shall with Thee remain, 

    Partners of Thy endless reign; 

    There Thy face unclouded see, 

    Find our heaven of heavens in Thee!

    John Wesley (1703–1791). An English preacher and theologian, Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles, with founding the English Methodist movement. He travelled generally on horseback, preaching two or three times each day, and is said to have preached more than 40,000 sermons. He also was a noted hymn-writer.
    From “Hymn for Ascension-Day” in The Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley, by John Wesley, Charles Wesley, arranged by George Osborn, Volume 1 (London: Paternoster, 1868), 187–188.
     

    Further Reading

    “Ascension” in Concise Theology, by J. I. Packer.

    Verse

    Romans 8:34

    Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

    Prayer

    We praise thee, we glorify thee, our merciful God and gracious Redeemer! Our souls have now refuge from thy revenging wrath. Thy promise is sure; Satan, and the world, and death, are overcome; our Lord is risen; he is risen, and we shall rise through him. O death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory? Our Saviour is ascended to his Father and our Father, to his God and our God, and we shall ascend! To his hands we may commit our departing souls! Our head is glorified, and it is his will and promise that we shall be with him where he is, to see his glory. He hath sealed us thereunto by his Holy Spirit. We were dead in sins, and he hath quickened us. We were dark in ignorance and unbelief, and he hath enlightened us. We were unholy and carnal, sold under sin, and he hath sanctified our wills…. We praise and glorify this Spirit of life, with the Father and the Son, from whom he is sent, to be life, and light, and love to our dead, and dark, and disaffected souls. We are created, redeemed, and sanctified, for thy holy love, and praise, and service: O let these be the very nature of our souls, and the employment and pleasure of all our lives! O perfect thy weak and languid graces in us, that our love and praise may be more perfect!… O bring us nearer thee in faith and love, that we may be more suitable to the heavenly employment of thy praise!… Prepare us all for that world of peace where the harmony of universal love and praise shall never be interrupted by sins, or griefs, or fears, or discord, but shall be everlastingly perfect, to our joy and to thy glory.… Amen.

    Richard Baxter (1615–1691). An English Puritan, Baxter served as a chaplain in the army of Oliver Cromwell and as a pastor in Kidderminster. When James II was overthrown, he was persecuted and imprisoned for 18 months. He continued to preach, writing at the time that: "I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men." As well as his theological works he was a poet and hymn-writer. He also wrote his own Family Catechism.

    From “A Shorter Form of Praise and Prayer for the Lord's Day” in “The Poor Man’s Family Book” in The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, Volume 19 (London: Paternoster, 1830), 637–639.

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  17. Q17:   WHAT HOPE DOES EVERLASTING LIFE HOLD FOR US?

    A:  

    IT REMINDS US THAT THIS PRESENT FALLEN WORLD IS NOT ALL THERE IS; SOON WE WILL LIVE WITH AND ENJOY GOD FOREVER IN THE NEW CITY, IN THE NEW HEAVEN AND THE NEW EARTH, WHERE WE WILL BE FULLY AND FOREVER FREED FROM ALL SIN AND WILL INHABIT RENEWED, RESURRECTION BODIES IN A RENEWED, RESTORED CREATION.


    Commentary

    Scripture begins with the original creation of the universe and ends in its last chapters with the creation of a new universe. And in between, the perspective is overshadowed by this Alpha and Omega, this Beginning and End. The first outspoken expression of this is God’s word in Isaiah 65: "Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth" (v.17). Then Jesus himself spoke of the palingenesia, literally ‘the new birth,’ but translated by the NIV "the renewal of all things" (Matt. 19:28). In the rest of the New Testament the three major apostolic authors (Paul, Peter, and John) all allude to the same theme. Paul writes that the whole creation will one day be liberated from its bondage to pain and decay (Rom. 8:18–25). Peter prophesies that the present heavens will be replaced by a new heaven and earth, which will be the home of righteousness and peace (2 Pet. 3:7–13). Next, John writes that he saw the same replacement, together with the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God (Rev. 21:1–2). And in the same chapter John writes that the kings of the earth and the nations will bring their glory into the city, though "nothing impure will ever enter into it" (Rev. 21:27). We need to be cautious in our interpretation of these verses, but they seem to mean that human culture will not all be destroyed but, once purged of every taint of evil, will be preserved to beautify the New Jerusalem. To sum up, just as in the resurrection of the body, so in the renewal of the universe, the old will not all be destroyed but will be transformed. This is our living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

    John Stott (1921–2011). An English Anglican preacher who for many years served as rector of All Souls Church in London, Stott was one of the principal framers of the Lausanne Covenant (1974). His numerous books include Why I Am a Christian and The Cross of Christ.

    From Through the Bible, Through the Year: Daily Reflections from Genesis to Revelation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006), 285.

    Further Reading

    “Heaven” in A Faith to Live By, by Donald Macleod.

    Verse

    Revelation 21:1–4

    Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

    Prayer

    And now to Him who purchased the church with his own blood, who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, and exercises a tender care over the weakest and meanest of his flock;—to Him…do I now desire to devote my strength, my life, my all; to be employed how, and as long, as his unerring wisdom shall direct and appoint. And the Lord grant! that I may obtain mercy to be found faithful…. And as it is in Him I desire to be found, at the last, the universal audit; so it is in his name I humbly go forth…. Oh my God! my adored Redeemer! my infinite, eternal All! Let my own soul…be ever precious in thy sight! And grant, that after the exercise of much fervent, mutual love, and the enjoyment of many spiritual comforts, in these thy lower courts; we may finally arrive at those blissful regions, where love is perfect, and joy perpetual; where hymns of holy wonder, and songs of devoutest praise, shall be our uninterrupted and everlasting employ! Amen and Amen.

    Abraham Booth (1734–1806). An English Baptist minister, Booth served as pastor of Prescot Street Church in Whitechapel, London for 35 years as well as founding what is now Regents Park College for ministerial training in Oxford. He is most known for his work The Reign of Grace.

    From “Confession of Faith” in Works of Abraham Booth: Late Pastor of the Baptist Church, Volume 1 (London: Button, 1813), xxxvi–xxxvii.

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