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

Q. 29. — How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?

A. — We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.

Scripture References: John 1:12-13; John 3:5-6; Titus 3:5-6.

Questions:

1. What do we mean by the word “redemption” in this particular question?

The word redemption in this question could be labeled as the complete doctrine of salvation that is revealed in the Scripture. The “broad” use of the word is in use here. Warfield states, “He died as a ransom certainly; but the salvation purchased by this ransom-price works itself out steadily in its successive stages unto the very end.” (Biblical Foundations, Pg. 244).

2. How was this redemption purchased?

This redemption was purchased by the precious blood of Christ, I Pet. 1:19.

3. Is it not possible in some way for the believer to make of himself a partaker?

No, it is impossible for the believer to make of himself a partaker of redemption. The Bible teaches that we are totally unable to save ourselves, much less to deserve It.

4. By whom is our redemption applied?

Our redemption Is applied by the Holy Spirit. It is his effectual working on us that brings it to pass.

5. How does this question help to make complete the doctrine of the Trinity?

It helps to make the doctrine of the Trinity complete by showing the work of the Holy Spirit in the work of redemption. We have seen how the Father ordains, the Son purchases and now the Spirit applies. Spurgeon had a favorite saying for the end of many of his sermons:

“We have heard the preacher,
Truth by him has been made known;
But we need a greater Teacher
From the everlasting Throne.
Application Is the work of God alone.”

THE PROCESS OF REDEMPTION

The above title may seem strange to many readers and yet it is theologically true. Warfield, in his book, “The Plan of Salvation”, states: . . . God’s plan is to save, whether the individual or the world, by process . . .  Redeemed by Christ, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, justified through faith, received into the very household of God as his sons, led by the Spirit into the flowering and fruiting activities of the new life, our salvation is still only in process and not yet complete.”

The process of redemption is taking place and yet there are so many Christians who insist that there is no room in others for mistakes and will criticize their brethren in the Lord greatly if sin is committed. This is a strange and dangerous happening in the church of today.

A. A. Hodge had a favorite saying, “The Lord leads us, you know, by devious ways through our pilgrimage, and he appoints for us all our changes.” Many times these “devious ways” are ways in which we fall prey to temptation. Now this in no way gives us any right to compromise with evil. The standard the Lord has placed before us is a standard of absolute perfection. The Christian can not live knowing there is a process going on, and then take advantage of it and use it as his ever-present excuse when he sins. This should be understood by all who name the name of Christ.

However, there is a danger that when the Christian recognizes the facts of the last paragraph he will, at the same time, come down with the disease of refusing to excuse, tolerate, or understand sin in other people. He forgets the Bible teaches that it is only when the last trump will sound that the incorruptible body shall enter into the glory for God’s children, and that then the process of redemption will be complete. A great Christian had the right perspective when he said, “Toward God, a heart of fire. Toward myself, a heart of steel. Toward others, a heart of love.” He recognized that he must put God first in all things. He recognized to do this he must rule out anything that would hinder him. He further recognized that others would be going through the same process as himself and his attitude toward them should be one of love.

Published By: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 3 No. 29 (March 1963)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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

Q. 24. How does Christ execute the office of a prophet?

A. Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.

Scripture References: John 1:1-4; John 15:15; John 20:31; II Pet. 1:21; John 14:26.

Questions:

1. Is Christ called a “prophet” in Scripture and if so, why?

He is called a prophet in Acts 3 :22. He is called a prophet because He has made a full revelation of the whole counsel of God.

2. How does Christ reveal to us the will of God?

He reveals God’s will to us in two ways: outwardly, by His Word and o inwardly, by His Spirit.

3. What is the word of Christ?

The word of Christ is the whole Bible, the Scripture, containing the Old and New Testaments.

4. How can it be that the whole Scripture is the word of Christ since His words constitute only a small portion of it?

The whole Bible is called the word of Christ because those who wrote it wrote the word they had from the Spirit of Christ (1 Pet. 1:10-11)

5. Is it possible to be saved simply by means of the Word of God without the Spirit?

No, it is not possible to be saved simply through the Word apart from the Spirit. The teaching concerning this is found in I Cor. 2: 14.

6. Is it possible to be saved by the Spirit apart from the Word?

There is a difference here from the previous question in that the Word can not save you apart from the Spirit and the Spirit will not save you apart from the Word. The Bible teaches that the whole will of God necessary to our salvation is revealed in His Word.

7. How does the Spirit of Christ make us wise unto salvation?

The Spirit of Christ makes us wise unto salvation by opening up our understandings, for the entrance of His word gives us light so that the soul is enabled to see the way of salvation and the way offered.

THE WORD AND OUR SALVATION

Every once in a while the Christian is called upon to present a defense of the position that the knowledge for man’s salvation comes only from the Word of God. This defense is necessary for many sects and heretical groups deny the teaching and insist upon their belief in the man-made doctrine that God has and does save and reveal His will apart from the Word of God.

The poet put the truth very well when he said:

“The starry firmament on high
And all the glories of the sky
Yet shine not to thy praise, a Lord,
So brightly as thy written word.

“Almighty Lord, the sun shall fail,
The moon forget her nightly tale,
And deepest silence hush on high,
The radiant chorus of the sky;

“But, fixed for everlasting years,
Unmoved amid the wreck of spheres,
Thy word shall shine in cloudless day,
When heaven and earth have passed away.”

There are many today who insist that salvation can be obtained apart from the Word of God. It is the modern, popular way to believe today to Lay aside the Scriptures and discover the way to God through self, with philosophical or mystical overtones. The Reformed faith stands in opposition to this. In one of the Reformed catechisms the question is asked: “Whence do you know your misery?” The answer is: “Out of the law of God.” (Heidelberg Catechism, Question No. 3). The mirror is ever present with us, the mirror of the Word of God, and because it is the revelation of God it shows us our sin.

The danger to the church today is from those who profess Christ but who do not take the Word of God seriously. There are too many Christians who do not read it, study it, or fill their very hearts and minds with it. Humanly speaking, if it were possible to receive all the answers to life by a human means that could be gathered together in a small book we would never be found without it. And yet that is exactly what we have in the Word of God. In it we have our salvation and all that is necessary for us to please God and therefore enjoy Him forever.

Published By:
THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 2 No. 24 (December, 1962)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

 

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

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.

Scripture References: John 1:14; Luke 1:31,35,41,42; Heb. 2:14; Matt. 26:38; Gal. 4:4; Heb. 4:15; Heb. 7:26.

Questions:

1. Was Christ’s birth a voluntary act of Christ?

Yes, it was a voluntary act. He took upon himself the human nature so that he might be fitted to be our Redeemer.

2. Did he assume the nature of a real man?

Yes, he assumed the nature of a real man. He had the two essential parts of a man, possessing a real body of flesh and blood and bones and that of possessing a soul.

3. How can we prove that he had a real body?

The Bible tells us that he is called “Man”. He was subject to hunger, weariness and thirst like other men. He was also crucified, dead and buried and rose again in his body. Luke 24:39 teaches that his was a body, not just mere spirit.

4. How can we prove that he had a soul, a reasonable soul?

The Bible tells that he had such and that his divine nature did not take the place of, or supply the place of, a soul. Matt. 26:38 teaches that his “soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.”

5. Was the birth of Christ like the birth of other men?

No, his birth came about by the miraculous power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

6. Why was Christ born of a virgin?

Christ was born of a virgin in order that he might be conceived and born without sin, that he might be free of the original sin which was passed on to all Adam’s posterity by natural generation.

7. Is it really important that we believe Christ was born of a virgin?

Yes, this is very important. (This is treated in the article below):

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE VIRGIN BIRTH OF CHRIST

In many church courts today the question is asked, “Is it really necessary for a person to believe in the virgin birth of Christ?” The statement, or sentiment, behind the question is the thought that it is not necessary to believe in this doctrine to become a Christian, or, it is not necessary to believe in this doctrine to be ordained to the Gospel ministry. Actually, the answer to the question is very simple if the one answering regarding his belief in the virgin birth is a member of a church subscribing to the Westminster Standards. Our Bible-founded Standards teach the virgin birth and if a minister does not believe in it he is not qualified to be in the Presbyterian church.

Dr. Benjamin B. Warfield answers these important questions regarding the virgin birth when he says, “It is only in its relation to the New Testament doctrine of redemption that the necessity of the virgin birth of Jesus comes to its full manifestation. For in this Christianity the redemption that is provided is distinctly redemption from sin; and that He might redeem men from sin it certainly was imperative that the Redeemer Himself should not be involved in sin.” Could it be stated in a clearer fashion that the redemptive work of Christ depends upon His virgin birth?

It is very difficult for a person to end up with much at all when he starts to doubt essential doctrines of the Christian system. There are strong connecting links between the different doctrines of Christianity and the doctrine of the Virgin Birth is an integral link. Certainly it is true that a person need not have a perfect understanding or conviction regarding the virgin birth to be saved but anyone that ignores it or denies it is a person that is denying the divinity of Christ and is therefore a person without hope in this world. Such a person has no business in the pulpit, pretending to preach the whole, redeeming Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is interesting to note that the fourth General Council, convened in Chalcedon in 451 A.D. stated: ” … our Lord Jesus Christ … begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, according to the manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only begotten … ” Our Confession of Faith affirms the same in Section II. This we believe! And for it we praise God!

Published By:
THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 2 No. 22 (October 1962)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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