February 5: Van Horn on Westminster Doctrines

“To God’s Glory” : A Practical Study of a Doctrine of the Westminster Standards
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

THE SUBJECT : The Primary Concern of Man

THE BIBLE VERSES TO READ : I Cor. 10:31; Psalm 73:24-26; John 17:22, 24; Psalm 42:1-2a; Romans 11:36.

REFERENCE TO THE STANDARDS : Confession : Chap. I.1; Larger Catechism : Q. 1; Shorter Catechism :  Q. 1.

It is a fact to be much regretted that the average believer who gives allegiance to the Westminster Standards is a believer that many times ignores the living of these Standards in the daily pursuits of life. These people would attest to the fact that it is good to believe, and it is good to have a creed in which to believe. But too many times there is not the urgency to make use of the beliefs in the day by day living.

There is much harm that can result from believing in a creed and not living it out in the life. From such an existence there comes a low standard of Biblical living and the professing believer becomes cold, formal, and without spiritual power.

It should be recognized that the first lesson to be learned from the Shorter Catechism is that the primary concern of the person saved by God is that of being of service to the Sovereign God. The Westminster Shorter Catechism does not begin with the salvation of man. It does not begin with God’s promises to His children. It begins with placing the believer in the right relationship with the Sovereign God. James Benjamin Green said years ago that the answer to the first question of the Catechism asserts two things :
“The duty of man, ‘to glorify God,’ The destiny of man, ‘to enjoy Him.'”

A sad commentary on our times is that many of those committed to the principles of the Reformed Faith, who have made much of their inheritance of the Creeds of their forefathers, have failed to inherit the desire of those same forefathers to make use of their faith in their daily living. The glorification of God in the daily life is the only possible proof of a living belief of the Reformed Faith.

Our forefathers understood this and daily were striving to make use of it in their lives. John Owen said in his writings, “But to separate more in the holiness of our lives and conversations, to keep more from the uncleanness and vanities of the world, all the abominations of it;—God’s call is upon us all for this.” (The Works of John Owen, Vol. 9, page 295).

Of course, many today will attempt to excuse themselves by stating that we live in a different age, that the temptations and pressures of today’s world tend to divert us from spiritual things. Again and again the barrier is raised by many professing believers against separation from evil unto holiness. There is very little desire to pay whatever costs might be involved in order to live wholly to the glory of God.

The question needs to be asked, How do we glorify God? What are some characteristics we can look for in our lives?

1. A daily desire to glorify Him. (I Cor. 10:31)

2. A Biblical view of sin in that we show true repentance and a burden to hate sin as sin against a Holy God. (Isa. 55:7)

3. A constant examination of our lives to be certain we are showing forth the fruits of the Spirit. (John 15:8)

4. A conviction that God’s providence is at work in our lives and letting God work it out in His way. (Rom. 8:28)

5. An urgency within us to live holy lives. (II Peter 3:11)

6. A willingness to be persecuted for righteousness sake, to accept it with joy. (Heb. 11:25)

7. A burden to share the Christ of the Scriptures with all those with whom we come in contact. (Mark 16:15)

8. A love of praising God for His Son and all He means to us. (Psalm 50:23)

There could be many others to be added to such a list. However, if all of us would strive to be consistent with the above eight characteristics God would be glorified in our lives, all to His glory.

Augustine once said, “Thou hast created us for Thyself, O God, and our heart is restless until it finds repose in Thee.” We can only find our contentment, satisfaction, and joy when we find it in glorifying Him. We can glorify Him by believing in Him, by confessing Him before men, by praising Him, by defending His truth, by showing fruit, by worshiping Him.

Our primary purpose in life is to glorify God. It is good for us to have knowledge of doctrine. But our knowledge of doctrine should be a motivator for us to glorify God. For such we were made by Him. Let us say with the Psalmist, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2a)


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