‘Gift of the Gospel’: The Gospel by the numbers

I have recently come across the Westminster catechisms, it is the best orthodox Confession ever produced and is a “must read” for every Christian.However, today we are going to take a walk through the “Westminster shorter catechism” as it was written to be shared with lay people and young children, to give people a handle on huge parts of Christian theology, all while being spread over 107 small questions and answers.

The first 12 questions concern God as Creator.

Questions 13-20 deal with original sin and the fallen state of man’s nature.

Questions 21-38 concern Christ the Redeemer and the benefits that flow from redemption.

Questions, 39-84, discuss the ten commandments.

Questions 85-97 teach concerning the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. The final set of questions

98-107 teach and explain the Lord’s prayer.

So lets explore WSC for a clear, accurate, deep yet simple telling of the gospel spread over 22 of the questions

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?

A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Q. 2. What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?

A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

Q. 12. What special act of providence did God exercise towards man in the estate wherein he was created?

A. When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death.

Q. 13. Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?

A. Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.

Q. 14. What is sin?

A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.

Q. 15. What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?

A. The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created, was their eating the forbidden fruit.

Q. 18. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?

A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.

Q. 16. Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression?

A. The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity; all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression.

Q. 17. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?

A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

Q. 19. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?

A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever. Q.

20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?

A. God, having out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer.

Q. 21. Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?

A. The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was, and continues to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, forever.

Q. 22. How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?

A. Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to himself a true body, and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin.

Q. 23. What offices doth Christ execute as our Redeemer?

A. Christ, as our Redeemer, executes the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation.

Q. 27. Wherein did Christ’s humiliation consist?

A. Christ’s humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.

Q. 28. Wherein consisteth Christ’s exaltation?

A. Christ’s exaltation consisteth in his rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.

Q. 30. How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?

A. The Spirit applies to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.

Q. 31. What is effectual calling?

A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

Q. 33. What is justification?

A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoned all our sins, and accepted us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

Q. 85. What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse, due to us for sin?

A. To escape the wrath and curse of God, due to us for sin, God requires of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicated to us the benefits of redemption.

Q. 86. What is faith in Jesus Christ?

A. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.

Q. 87. What is repentance unto life?

A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.

Well if you have read the above 22 questions and answers, you have read the GOOD NEWS of how God chose to redeem a portion of mankind for Himself. To people who are getting saved by the Gospel, the gospel is amazing, wonderful, beautiful thing.

But to the lost it is foolishness.

So I ask: What do you think of the Gospel?

Link to the shorter Westminster catechisms http://www.reformed.org/documents/WSC.html

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One Response to ‘Gift of the Gospel’: The Gospel by the numbers

  1. Thanks Scott.

    There is a lot in this post. It’s very tempting to skim or gloss over the truth written in those questions and answers. You asked me if there was a modern version of the full Westminster Catechism. Well I’ve just found one that might be of some use. Its not a perfect ‘everyman’ translation, but it’s a good start. It’s available online through the OPC and they have called it the Modern English Study Version.

    http://www.opc.org/documents/MESV_frames.html

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