Scripture References Deut

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STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 49 — Which is the second commandment?

A. — The second commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (Exod.20:4-6)

Q. 50. — What is required in the second commandment?

A. — The second commandment requireth the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath appointed in his word. 

Scripture References: Deut. 12:32; Deut.32:46; Matt. 28:20.

Questions:

1. Both the first and second commandments have to do with worship. In what way do they differ?

The first commandment has to do with the object of worship, the true and living God; the second commandment has to do with the means of worship, and the manner in which we worship Him.

2. What are these means of worship?

The means of worship are the ordinances which God has appointed in His word.

3. What are these ordinances?

The Larger Catechism lists these as “prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the word, the administration and receiving of the sacraments; church government and discipline; the ministry and maintenance thereof; religious fasting; swearing by the name of God, and vowing to Him.” (Q. 108)

4. How are we as Christians to receive these ordinances?

We are to receive them by approving them and embracing them; observing them by doing what is required in them; keeping them pure and entire by keeping them from corruption.

5. What does it mean by not making any graven image?

It means that we are not to attempt to represent God through material objects nor to worship Him through the use of such imagery.

THE JEALOUS GOD

” … for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:5). The word Jealous has changed in meaning somewhat since it was written. For the original word meant “zealous” and signified “righteous zeal.” It is the teaching that He alone has a claim upon the love of His people. 

There are really two senses in which this description of God can be taken. In a good sense He is zealous for His people. He will watch over them, He will protect them, He will defend them against all enemies. His people, who are His through faith in Jesus Christ, are very dear to His heart. As He looks down on His people, sees them in their attempts to walk with Him day by day, He has a tender feeling toward them. He does so want them to get into the stride of walking with Him, never running ahead nor behind, taking each step with a moment by moment knowledge that they are kept in His love. Whatever happens to His people happens to Him, He feels it, has a true feeling of empathy for His children.

There is another sense in which this can be taken. In this sense God is jealous for His people. He is jealous in that He does not want them to worship graven images, or worship false gods, or scurry after those things that would draw them from Himself. It is as if He cannot bear to have a rival in any way. He does not want His children to follow after anything-good or bad-that would hinder their worship of Him. Our love, our highest adoration must be given to Him only.

Daily we need to examine ourselves to see whether or not w. are following hard after Him. There are so many ways that our love can be drawn away. It is good for us to remind ourselves time and time again that He is a jealous God and keep ourselves free from entanglements. We should never give Him cause to be jealous. We should be praying, moment by moment, that He will keep us so close to Him that we will sense the very second our love for Him is being cooled by things contrary to His will for us. If we will but do this He will be jealous of us instead of jealous for us. And then blessings will flow from Him to us, all to His glory.

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vo!. 4 NO.47 (November 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

 

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STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 39. — What is the duty which God requireth of man?

A. — The duty which God requireth of man, is obedience to his revealed will.

Scripture References: Deut. 29:29. Micah 6:8. I Sam. 15:22.

Questions:

1. Why do believers have duties toward God?

(1) God is the Creator and Preserver of all men, but believers belong to Him also by right of redemption and have added reason for obedience.
(2) God has made it very plain in His Word that the duties of the believers are the responsibilities that go with the privileges. In our catechism we have studied the privileges, now we o come to the responsibilities.

2. What is the revealed will of God?

The revealed will of God is found in the scripture of the Old and New Testaments.

3. Could not the Holy Spirit lead a believer to act apart from the Scriptures ?

Any leading by the Holy Spirit will be consistent with the Word of God. A Bible teacher put it this way: There are three main characteristics of the leading of the Holy Spirit:
(1) It is controlling, not compelling.
(2) It is continuous, it always “Puts to death”.
(3) It is mediate, always by and with the Word, “Into the truth”.

4. Should believers obey God rather men?

There is a responsibility on the part of believers to “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord’s sake”, (I Pet. 2: 13) but if the duty required of us by man would cause us to disobey God (according to His revealed will) we must obey God. (Acts 5:29).

5. Does God require of the believer what is impossible for the individual believer?

No, God only requires of the believer what he will give the believer the strength, wisdom, courage and power to perform. (Ezekiel 36:27. I Cor. 10:13).

HOLINESS AND TRUTH

We learn in this question that our duty is obedience to the revealed will of God. This brings forth the teaching that we as believers need to be reminded of again and again: to simply know the truth is not enough, there must be a working out of the truth in our lives every day. This teaching is vital, for the real test of Christian discipleship is continuance in Christ and in His Word. (John 8:31, 32).

In this day and age, among conservative circles, there is much teaching about the Truth. Well should there be for the battleground today is over the Truth, whether it is verbally inspired or not, whether or not it is the authority for the believer. We recognize the importance of the Word and are always ready to do battle for it. But are we: ready, always ready, to live it day by day? Possibly our trouble is that of making the process too difficult. We feel it is too hard to do and so end up doing little or nothing. Would it not be good for us·to get back to the simple principles of obedience to the revealed will of God? Let us check a few of them again, all to the glory of God.

First, remember that we are God’s children. Since we have been born into His family we should no longer seek to do our will but His will. If we will but settle right now, once and for all, the important principle that we are to do all to the glory of God we will avoid many difficulties. Remember that doing His will in no sense depends on feeling, it is simply a self-discipline.

Second we should be steadfast Christians. We can do this by always abiding in the vine. The Spirit of Christ dwells in the true believer and is ready every moment to impart wisdom, courage, patience and give victory over sins from within and without. Keeping close to. Him will help us to be steadfast.

Third, honor God’s Word. It would be better to give up one meal a day than to miss one day without reading the Word. Remember ever to turn to the authoritative Word of the sovereign God, remember it is our objective authority and from it we learn how to live.

Fourth, pray without ceasing. Prayer can . lay hold of the throne and spiritual forces are set into motion far beyond the understanding of man. It is an offensive weapon.

Fifth, be faithful in the little things. Faithfulness is the great test of true discipleship. He that is faithful in that which is least will be faithful also in much.

Published By: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 3 No. 39 (March, 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard Van Horn.

Q. 5. Are there more gods than one?

A. There is but one only, the living and true God.

Scripture References: Deut. 6:4. Jer. 10:10.

Questions:

1. What proofs can we offer that there is only one true and living God? We can offer proof from Scripture as it says, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.” (Deut. 6:4). We can offer proof from reason since there can be only one first cause and ultimate end of all things. Scripture is logical when it states as the first verse: “In the beginning God . . .” Many have called this one of the important verses of the Bible.

2. Why not begin our study of God with the Trinity?

We begin with God since this is the method the Scripture uses. The Bible presents first the truth of the one true and living God and then proceeds to unfold the mystery of the Trinity.

3. What does it mean when it says “one only” in this Question?

The teaching here does not deny the fact of the Trinity or the deity of Christ or the Holy Spirit. It rather points out that absolutely none other person or being shares the attributes of the “one only” true God. He cannot be compared to anything else in the entire uni­verse, all of which He alone created and governs.

4. What may we learn from this truth?

We may learn to recognize Him as Almighty and Sovereign. Our at­tention is thereby called to the fact that there is only One Supreme Being, Maker, Designer and Lawgiver of the world and that He is the only One.

5. What do we call the doctrine of one God?

This teaching is called “Monotheism” in opposition to “Polytheism”, the teaching that there are many gods. The pagan world is Poly­theistic. In contrast to this, Paul says, “. . . we know that air idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.” (I Cor. 8:4b)

6. What is the meaning of the word “living” in this Question?

The word “living” emphasizes that He alone has life in Himself and is therefore the Fountain of life to all His creatures. Dr. William Childs Robinson points out that “He calls Himself the LIVING God. Our Lord Jesus speaks of God as the LIVING Father, Peter con­fesses the Saviour as the Son of the LIVING God, Paul calls the Church the Church of the LIVING God and believers the children of the LIVING God.” He further states that “He has life in and of Himself and He gives life to everything else.”

THE ONE GOD and CHRISTIAN LIVING

Bavinck states in his treatise on “The Being of God”: “The first thing that the Holy Scripture wants to give us, in its use of all those descriptions and names of the Divine Being, is an ineradicable sense of the fact that Jehovah, the God, who has revealed Himself to Israel and in Christ, is the very, the true, and the living God. The idols of the heathen and the idols (panthesistic and polytheistic, deistic and athe­istic) of the philosophers, are the work of men’s hands: they cannot speak nor see, they cannot hear, nor taste nor go . . . People want to make God a dead God so that they may treat Him as they please.”

There should be a definite relationship between our belief in the “one only, the living and true God” and our Christian living. We can not treat our God as the world desires to treat Him. Those of us who have been redeemed by the sovereign grace of the Sovereign God should recognize that our belief in Him implicates us in serious responsibilities.

There is our responsibility for Prayer and Bible Study. This is basic in order for us to be good stewards of our responsibilities. It is fine to have definite beliefs and to be able to recite the Catechism. It is fine to be known as those who are committed to the Standards of our Church, who are Calvinistic to the core. But without diligence in prayer and in the study of God’s Word, the committed one becomes a weak sound for the Saviour. Too many of us are in such a hurry about material things, about duties of the church, that we do not have time for private de­votion. If a person is wrong here he becomes wrong all the way through.

There is our responsibility for God-centered living. The Christian who is dedicated to the Westminster Standards, the Reformed point of view, is a Christian who in his world and life view must stand in direct contrast to the non-Christian in all of his actions, words and thoughts. One of the greatest hindrances to the testimony of the church today is that it is too difficult for an unbeliever to tell the difference between himself and the nominal Presbyterian who has merely professed to believe.

Many other responsibilities could be mentioned. However, if all of us would make a covenant with God, the living God, to fulfill the above two in the months to come, the living God would make use of His peo­ple in a mighty way. The result would be something all churches need. The result would be REVIVAL of religious living!

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