July 19: WSC Q. 36

This Day in Presbyterian History:  

Benefits of God’s Grace

Without any historical person, place, or thing found  in Presbyterian history, we turn back to one of the more comforting Shorter Catechisms in our Westminster Standards. Question and answer 36 speaks of those benefits which flow during our lifetime from justification and adoption and sanctification. These latter benefits are the three great foundational benefits.   But God has also given us from them five other benefits in this life. They are: assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance unto the end.  Let’s briefly look at each one.

Assurance of God’s love is promised to believers. All through Scripture we have many precious promises that nothing can separate us from the love of God.  Romans chapter 8 is filled with such promises, especially verses 28 – 39. He assures us of His love by His written word and His wonderful providence in our life. No believer should be content to go through life without the assurance of God’s love.

Peace of conscience is closely associated with the last benefit.  Being assured of God’s love, we know that we are the son or daughter of God, that all judgment against us has been paid by Christ’s own death, burial, and resurrection, that nothing can accuse us successfully, our sins are under the blood of Christ, and we have the promise of eternal life.  If God can be for us, who then can be against us? Answer: No one!  That produces peace of conscience.

Joy in the Holy Ghost or Spirit is the third benefit in this life.  All of the above which is written about the three foundational benefits plus the two above which flow from them causes us to rejoice in the Holy Ghost.  This is a Scriptural expression, found in Romans 14:17, where we read of “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (KJV)  It is true that being still sinners, though not under its power any more, we still sin.  And that causes sorrow to us.  But the joy of our salvation can be restored to us.  David prayed that in Psalm 51.  And the entire book of First John is to cause us to have joy in the Holy Spirit.

Increase of grace is to be our daily experience.  We are to be growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus.  It is true that on some days we may be advancing in grace and other days declining in grace.  It may be one step forward and two steps backwards. But this increase in grace is to be our disposition always.

Last, we are to persevere to the end.  We are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.  But at the same time, we as believers must  persevere in holiness.  We must press on to the prize of the high calling of God in salvation.

All these are benefits in this life.

Words to Live By: 
What a great catechism for self-examination.  Which of these benefits do we enjoy in this life?  What has occurred in our life that has caused us to lose any of them?  How must we re-possess them?  These questions cannot be answered by anyone else except you?  Pastors may help.  Parents may be a guide.  Close personal friends can encourage.  But essentially it comes down to you, your Bible, prayer, and other means of grace which will help you.  What are you waiting for?

Through the Scriptures: Isaiah 37 – 39

Through the Standards: The significance of father and mothers of the fifth commandment

WLC 124 — “Who are meant by father and mother in the fifth commandment?  A. By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant, not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts, and especially such as, by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth.”

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