I know us Americans have something else on our mind this morning, but as you experience your tryptophan dreams this afternoon take up this essay on Larger Catechism #30 and it will be an assured help into the land of make-believe. However, to be honest as I sit and write this tonight and contemplate what our lone singular question and answer in this two year-long walk through the beefier Westminster standard I actually had more enjoyment out of this one than any other post I’ve made this year. When Believers really sit down and think about what God the Father has done through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ, and the way the Holy Spirit applies that work from redemption accomplished and applied it just gives me the same feeling I get when I wolf down that can of cranberry sauce I look forward to every year. It’s just the best. Sometimes when you like something that a lot of people around you don’t get it has an even better savor. I’m sure at this point I have you wanting to dive into leftovers, or if you are a hardy soul reading this early to hurry up and eat. So let’s get into the meat:
Q. 30. Doth God leave al l mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A. God doth not leave all men to perish in the estate of sin and misery, into which they fell by the breach of the first covenant, commonly called the Covenant of Works; but of His mere love and mercy delivers His elect out of it, and bringeth them into an estate of salvation by the second covenant, commonly called the Covenant of Grace.
Seeing that our LORD is a divine spirit and we are not He is not able to work with us as a peer, but must, in the right sense of the word, condescend, and come down to our level. That’s one of the most wonderful parts of Philippians 2 and Paul’s seraphic commentary on Christ’s birth. “He did not consider it robbery…” what an amazing testimony. Yet what does that have to do with the catechism question above? Well, one of the things that we see in the Bible is that God works with His people by way of covenant. That is, through an agreement where He sets the terms since we are in no position to demand things of Jehovah. Though when we think about it there is a great blessing to this being the case. When you go back and look at what Q. 30 says it’s because we thought we could dictate to God the way things were going to be that we got into the mess that we are in. Doubting the veracity of the revelation of the Lord is never a good place to be. Satan is always more dangerous as an Angel of Light than as the prince of darkness. He’s always shading the truth rather than outright lying, the old boil the frog in the water trick. Unlike the devil however we have a greater, more just and righteous Father than he.
When we were dead in trespasses and sins Christ died for us. If that don’t make you at the same time yell amen and tear up and jump for joy and be thankful there is something wrong with you. Sometimes the gospel can become either so routine as to be expected or so neutered by words that it seems elemental. The truth of what has happened in the covenant of grace is a mountain of goodness compressed into a spiritual atom heart mother of awesomeness. When our catechism says, “…but of His mere love…” it reminds us that there is no other reason why God has brought us out of sin and misery than for that purpose, to illustrate to all men that He is a deity who seeks not to prove Himself to others, but by His very nature shows His glory to the creation itself for the simple purpose so that His benevolence would be expressed. We chose death in Adam, He has chosen life in Jesus Christ for us. What we could not, nay would never do, He has done so that we might have eternal felicity in Him alone.
As I intimated above it is not uncommon in the Reformed faith to make two different errors here, either we only talk about the covenantal mercy of God in a mechanical, wooden way that tries to describe things the way an accountant gets all high on actuary tables, or we just get all bubbly emotional hippy-dippy. There needs to be a both/and at this point. Presbyterians should know nothing about coldness. We must be the most joyous Christians. We also need to be those who are joyful precisely because we know all the bells and whistles of what makes God’s covenantal love for sinners so wonderful. In the Thanksgiving service devotional last night I described 1 Corinthians as Paul’s “Festivus” epistle. He had a lot of problems with those people and he told them about it. His greatest concern was their lack of desire to be educated in the ways of the Lord. He could not grasp their willingness to just drink milk when there was turkey, stuffing, gravy, potatoes, Waldorf salad, and all the smorgasbord of rich, good food in learning more and more about their Savior. You can’t know Jesus too well, but some folks act like if they spend too much time at church they’ll turn into pumpkin pie. I’m here to give you the good word that ain’t happening. Rest assured the more we go to know the work of redemption the bigger our stomachs will get. We’ll realize we have voracious appetites to feed on Christ by faith.
In closing today I haven’t spent much time or space on the doctrinal parts of the catechism question. That will have to wait until next week as the Westminster Larger gets into it deeper. I know y’all are already dozing off reading this doozy so I’ll show some mercy and end here.
No extra reading this week. Enjoy Jesus.
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church
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With the latest "State of Theology" survey finding that 71% of all "Evangelicals" believe that "everyone is born innocent in the eyes of God" the Augustinian Fourfold Estates of Man doctrine seems to be in dire need of revival.