Archive for September, 2017

Westminster Confession, week 39

September 30, 2017

Chapter 23: Of the Civil Magistrate

1: God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, has ordained civil magistrates, to be, under Him, over the people, for His own glory, and the public good: and, to this end, has armed them with the power of the sword, for the defence and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evil doers.[460]

2: It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called thereunto:[461] in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth;[462] so, for that end, they may lawfully, now under the New Testament, wage war, upon just and necessary occasion.[463]

3: Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments[4641]; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven[4642]; or, in the least, interfere in matters of faith[4643]. Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest in such a manner, that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging, every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger[4644]. And, as Jesus Christ hath appointed a regular government and discipline in his church, no law of any commonwealth, should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief[4645]. It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretence of religion or infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance[4646].

4: It is the duty of people to pray for magistrates,[467] to honor their persons,[468] to pay them tribute or other dues,[469] to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority, for conscience’ sake.[470] Infidelity, or difference in religion, does not make void the magistrates’ just and legal authority, nor free the people from their due obedience to them:[471] from which ecclesiastical persons are not exempted,[472] much less has the Pope any power and jurisdiction over them in their dominions, or over any of their people; and, least of all, to deprive them of their dominions, or lives, if he shall judge them to be heretics, or upon any other pretence whatsoever.[473]

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Canons of Dordt, week 39

September 29, 2017

The Fifth Head of Doctrine: The Perseverance of the Saints

Article 1: The Regenerate Not Entirely Free from Sin

Those people whom God according to his purpose calls into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord and regenerates by the Holy Spirit, he also sets free from the reign and slavery of sin, though in this life not entirely from the flesh and from the body of sin.

Article 2: The Believer’s Reaction to Sins of Weakness

Hence daily sins of weakness arise, and blemishes cling to even the best works of God’s people, giving them continual cause to humble themselves before God, to flee for refuge to Christ crucified, to put the flesh to death more and more by the Spirit of supplication and by holy exercises of godliness, and to strain toward the goal of perfection, until they are freed from this body of death and reign with the Lamb of God in heaven.

Larger Catechism, week 39

September 28, 2017

Q. 154. What are the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation?
A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to his church the benefits of his mediation, are all his ordinances; especially the Word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for their salvation.[992]

Q. 155. How is the Word made effectual to salvation?
A. The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the Word, an effectual means of enlightening,[993] convincing, and humbling sinners;[994] of driving them out of themselves, and drawing them unto Christ;[995] of conforming them to his image,[996] and subduing them to his will;[997] of strengthening them against temptations and corruptions;[998] of building them up in grace,[999] and establishing their hearts in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation.[1000]

Belgic Confession, week 13

September 27, 2017

Article 20: The Justice and Mercy of God in Christ

We believe that God– who is perfectly merciful and also very just– sent his Son to assume the nature in which the disobedience had been committed, in order to bear in it the punishment of sin by his most bitter passion and death. So God made known his justice toward his Son, who was charged with our sin, and he poured out his goodness and mercy on us, who are guilty and worthy of damnation, giving to us his Son to die, by a most perfect love, and raising him to life for our justification, in order that by him we might have immortality and eternal life.

Article 21: The Atonement

We believe that Jesus Christ is a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek– made such by an oath– and that he presented himself in our name before his Father, to appease his wrath with full satisfaction by offering himself on the tree of the cross and pouring out his precious blood for the cleansing of our sins, as the prophets had predicted. For it is written that “the chastisement of our peace” was placed on the Son of God and that “we are healed by his wounds.” He was “led to death as a lamb”; he was “numbered among sinners”[45] and condemned as a criminal by Pontius Pilate, though Pilate had declared that he was innocent. So he paid back what he had not stolen,[46] and he suffered– the “just for the unjust,”[47] in both his body and his soul– in such a way that when he senses the horrible punishment required by our sins his sweat became like “big drops of blood falling on the ground.”[48] He cried, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”[49] And he endured all this for the forgiveness of our sins. Therefore we rightly say with Paul that we “know nothing but Jesus and him crucified”;[50] we consider all things as “dung for the excellence of the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”[51] We find all comforts in his wounds and have no need to seek or invent any other means to reconcile ourselves with God than this one and only sacrifice, once made, which renders believers perfect forever. This is also why the angel of God called him Jesus– that is, “Savior”– because he would save his people from their sins.[52]

Shorter Catechism, week 39

September 26, 2017

Q. 76. Which is the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment is, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.[164]

Q. 77. What is required in the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment requireth the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man, and of our own and our neighbor’s good name,[165] especially in witness-bearing.[166]

Q. 78. What is forbidden in the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever is prejudicial to truth, or injurious to our own, or our neighbor’s, good name.[167]

Children’s Catechism, week 39

September 25, 2017

Q. 110. What is the first petition?
A. “Hallowed be thy name.”

Q. 111. What do we pray for in the first petition?
A. That God’s name may be honored by us and all men.

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s day 39

September 24, 2017

39. Lord’s Day

Q. 104. What does God require in the fifth commandment?
A. That I show all honour, love and fidelity, to my father and mother, and all in authority over me, and submit myself to their good instruction and correction, with due obedience; [a] and also patiently bear with their weaknesses and infirmities, [b] since it pleases God to govern us by their hand. [c]

Westminster Confession, week 38

September 23, 2017

Chapter 22: Of Lawful Oaths and Vows

4: An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation, or mental reservation.[452] It cannot oblige to sin; but in any thing not sinful, being taken, it binds to performance, although to a man’s own hurt.[453] Not is it to be violated, although made to heretics, or infidels.[454]

5: A vow is of the like nature with a promissory oath, and ought to be made with the like religious care, and to be performed with the like faithfulness.[455]

6: It is not to be made to any creature, but to God alone:[456] and that it may be accepted, it is to be made voluntarily, out of faith, and conscience of duty, in way of thankfulness for mercy received, or for the obtaining of what we want, whereby we more strictly bind ourselves to necessary duties: or, to other things, so far and so long as they may fitly conduce thereunto.[457]

7: No man may vow to do any thing forbidden in the Word of God, or what would hinder any duty therein commanded, or which is not in his own power, and for the performance whereof he has no promise of ability from God.[458] In which respects, popish monastical vows of perpetual single life, professed poverty, and regular obedience, are so far from being degrees of higher perfection, that they are superstitious and sinful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself.[459]

Canons of Dordt, week 38

September 22, 2017

The Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine: Human Corruption, Conversion to God, and the Way It Occurs

Having set forth the orthodox teaching, the Synod rejects the errors of those

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Who teach that grace and free choice are concurrent partial causes which cooperate to initiate conversion, and that grace does not precede — in the order of causality — the effective influence of the will; that is to say, that God does not effectively help man’s will to come to conversion before man’s will itself motivates and determines itself.

For the early church already condemned this doctrine long ago in the Pelagians, on the basis of the words of the apostle: It does not depend on man’s willing or running but on God’s mercy (Rom. 9:16); also: Who makes you different from anyone else? and What do you have that you did not receive? (1 Cor. 4:7); likewise: It is God who works in you to will and act according to his good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).

Larger Catechism, week 38

September 21, 2017

Q. 152. What doth every sin deserve at the hands of God?
A. Every sin, even the least, being against the sovereignty,[982] goodness,[983] and holiness of God,[984] and against his righteous law,[985] deserveth his wrath and curse,[986] both in this life,[987] and that which is to come;[988] and cannot be expiated but by the blood of Christ.[989]

Q. 153. What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us by reason of the transgression of the law?
A. That we may escape the wrath and curse of God due to us by reason of the transgression of the law, he requireth of us repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,[990] and the diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation.[991]