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

Q. 57. — Which is the fourth commandment?

A. — The fourth commandment is, Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Q. 58. — What is required in the fourth commandment?

A. — The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his word; expressly one whole day In seven to be a holy Sabbath to himself.

Scripture References: Lev. 19:30; Deut. 5:12; Isa.56:2-7.

Questions:

1. How does this commandment apply to worship?

This commandment speaks of the time of worship and naturally follows the first three commandments. The first spoke of the object of worship, the second of the means of worship, the third of the manner of worship.

2. How can one decide what times should be kept for public worship?

The only times that are to be kept for public worship are the times appointed in the Word of God. It is not right before God to add other times, or holy days, to the Word.

3. What does the Bible tell us is the time set aside for worship?

The Bible teaches that one whole day (a day of twenty-four hours) is set aside for the worship of the holy God.

4. What is meant by the word “Sabbath”?

The word “Sabbath” is a Hebrew word, signifying “rest”, as is taught in Heb. 4:9.

5. Why does our question call it a “holy Sabbath”?

It is a “holy” Sabbath because it has been consecrated and set apart by God.

6. Is this particular commandment a part of the ceremonial law or the moral law?

This particular commandment is a part of the moral law and is to be kept by all nations and throughout all generations. It has never been annulled. The Lord Jesus Christ gave testimony to it. He is our Lord and He is also “Lord of the Sabbath”. (Luke 6:5)

A COMPROMISE OF THE CHURCH

In the church of today there are many compromises. In many denominations it is becoming evident that the teaching of the Word of God is less and less recognized as the only infallible rule of faith and practice. It is to the shame of the church that this is true. However, there is another dangerous compromise taking place in the church. This is the compromise allowed in the realm of Sabbath observance, a compromise that is allowing secularism to make great inroads in the church.

It would seem that the commandment, in its practical application, has in effect been rewritten by many to read: “Remember one hour on Sunday morning to keep it holy.” In many churches of today it has been rewritten again to read: “Remember one hour early on Sunday morning to keep it holy”, the convenient early morning service enabling a person to get his “keeping of the commandment” out of the way so he can enjoy the rest of the day in recreation and pleasure. To this type of person the Church means very little, and to the church this type of person means very little.

Church history has quite a lesson to teach us in this regard. Church historians have reported many times that there is a connection between the lack of keeping the commandment the Sabbath and the lack of power in the church. It is the right that such a connection should exist. The Christian’s primary reason for observing the Lord’s Day is the spiritual blessings and privileges that flow from it. They flow from it because the Christian is keeping the commandment of his Lord, a commandment that abides to this day.

The prophets of old spoke out against Israel for her sins and included the “profaning of the Sabbath” as one of the sins which was bringing judgment on the nation. Indeed, such prophets are needed today! Christians are looking more and more to the week-end as an invitation to the secular pursuits, rather than an invitation to the spiritual pursuits. Lip service, by attending one service, is not enough. The Christian Sabbath is a spiritual bulwark to the individual and to the nation. It has been so ordained by God.

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 4 No. 53 (May 1965)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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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. 48. — What are we especially taught by these words, “before me,” in the first commandment?

A. — These words, “before me,” in the first commandment, teach us that God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other god.

Scripture References: I Chron. 28:9; Ps. 44:20-21.

Questions:

1. How is it possible for God to see all things?

It is possible for God is every where present and has infinite understanding. The Bible says, “Can any hide himself in secret places, that I shall not see him? saith the Lord: do not I fill heaven and ,earth?” (Jer. 23:24) He is omniscient (knowing everything) as well as omnipresent (present every where at the same time) – Ps. 139. He knows us with perfect knowledge. o

2. How can Christians commit the sin of having other gods?

Christians can commit this sin by. allowing their interest and their affections to be set upon other things and by allowing those things to hold first place in their thoughts and activities.

3. Why is God so displeased with this sin?

God Is displeased with this sin because He is a jealous and a holy God. The Bible teaches,”I am the Lord, that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” (Isa.42:8)

4. Should not the fact that He is a jealous and a holy God influence our every action?

Yes, our every action should be influenced by this fact. It should keep us from sin; it should give us a hatred of the very thought of sin; it should quicken us moment by moment to make the prayer as stated in the hymn:

“I want a principle within Of watchful, godly fear,
A sensibility of sin, A pain to feel it near.
Help me the first approach to feel
Of pride or wrong desire;
To catch the wandering of my will,
And quench the kindling fire.”
—Charles Wesley.

THE GOD THAT REVEALETH SECRETS

The knowledge that God sees all things should always be recognized by the believer. It should always be held before him as a ·burning lamp. In Daniel 2:28 we read, “There is a God in heaven, that revealeth secrets.” Now the secrets He revealed in that particular case were for His glory. Many times He acts to His glory too in the revealing of the secrets of our hearts. We can not flee Him, we can not hide anything from Him .. There is certainly a good lesson for the believer in

Francis Thompson’s famous words:

“I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.”

But all the fleeing did no good; God continued “with unhurrying chase, and unperturbed pace.” And God will always continue asking us to be honest with Him, to hide nothing from Him, to go all the way with Him. Through it all there is the knowledge, there should be the knowledge on our hearts, that He is in heaven and He revealeth secrets!

There is still another comfort in the fact that He revealeth secrets. This Is the comfort that some day we will understand His ways. He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness. He will make us to understand why He permitted this or that misfortune to come into our ways. He will enable us to see why He delayed so long the coming of His Son, our Savior. He will show us why it was necessary for His true church to be persecuted. 0 blessed Day when the secrets are opened up to us!

The question we have before us is important: Can we be satisfied to live in these days ‘When the counsel of His will is secret? Can we go on day by day trusting Him even when we can not trace the way? Can we live on the one hand knowing that He knows the secrets of our hearts, and on the other hand knowing that there are many things He will not reveal to us? The secret of learning to be content, all to His glory, is found in being able to live ‘With both of these things. The Bible says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Tim. 6:8), May God, the God who revealeth secrets, give us this contentment as we are determined to live before Him with acts of godliness (2 Peter 3:11).

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 4 No. 46 (October 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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

Q. 45. Which is the first commandment?

A. The first commandment is, Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Q. 46. What is required in the first commandment?

A. The first commandment requireth us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God, and to worship and glorify him accordingly.

Scripture References: Exod. 20:3; I Chron. 28:9; Deut. 26:7; Matt. 4:10; Ps. 95:6; Ps. 29:2

Questions:

1. What are the three duties chiefly required in the first commandment?

The three duties are: (1) To know God. (2) To acknowledge God. (3) To worship and glorify God.

2. What is it we are to know regarding God?

We are to know that God is, or that there is a God. In addition we are to know God by acknowledging Him as the only true God as He is presented in His Word.

3. How are we to worship God?

We are to worship God by making Him the object of our desire and our delight.

4. How are we to glorify God?

We are to glorify God by first recognizing, in our heart, Christ as our Saviour and Lord and then living so that every action is aimed at the advancement of His glory and honor here on earth.

5. What are some practical ways by which we worship and glorify God?

We glorify God by putting nothing before Him in our thoughts, words, actions. By loving anything more than God, whether it is pleasure, our bodies, our loved ones, we would not be glorifying God.

6. Can we glorify God both inwardly and outwardly?

Yes, we can glorify God inwardly by trusting, by hoping, by delighting in Him, by thinking and meditating upon Him, by being filled with grief when we sin against Him. We can glorify God outwardly by praying, by praising, by being zealous to walk in the Spirit, by showing forth humility, and by seeking to do His will as expressed in His word. The Bible says, “Delight thyself in the Lord.” (Ps. 37:4). “Trust ye in the Lord forever.” Isa. 26 :4). “This thlng commanded I them, Obey my voice, and walk ye in all the ways I have commanded.” (Jer. 7:23),

THE DEAREST IDOL I HAVE KNOWN

When the Christian reads the first commandment and meditates upon it, a good commentary on it to be noted is one verse of the hymn entitled, “O For a Closer Walk With God”. This particular verse reads:

“The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be,
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.”

In order for the Christian to know, acknowledge, worship and glorify God it is certainly of foremost importance that the Christian know Christ as Saviour. This is indeed the foundation stone. But upon that rock-like foundation there must be added the gold, silver and precious stones of good works. This means a self discipline on the part of the Christian and has a lot to do with the Christian not putting other gods before the Almighty, Sovereign God.

Paul uses an interesting approach to this in 2 Cor. 5:9. “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.” Or, as one translator puts it, “. . . we may be well pleasing to Him.” But it is so easy to put other things before this living solely to the glory of God, even things that seem, in themselves, right and proper. For example, the winning of souls or the leading in great revivals or the establishment of church or so many other things that could be mentioned. But our aim in life as born again believers is to do things purely to the glory of God. If we do otherwise we can be guilty of having little idols built up that become other gods. And such things trespass the first commandment.

Paul approaches the same question in another way: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (disapproved).” Not that he is in danger of losing his salvation, but that he is in danger of losing approval by God, of not living to the glory of God. This means approaching our daily life with an attitude of disciplining ourselves, the disciplining of our thoughts. words, deeds. This means that we must, moment by moment, “mortify” (make dead) those things of the flesh that would not please God. This means that daily we must die to these things and never let them become idols to us. It does not take much for them to reach that state. Satan will see to that if we relax our discipline. May God help us to tear such from ourselves that we have no other gods before Him!

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 4 No. 44 (August 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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

Q.42. — What is the sum of the ten commandments?

A. — The sum of the ten commandments is, to love the Lord our God, with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as ourselves.

Scripture References: Matt. 22:37-40; Matt. 10:27; James 2:10; Rom. 13:10.

Questions:

1. How are the duties of the commandments divided in this answer?

The duties are divided in the following way: Our duties toward God and our duties toward our neighbor.

2. What is the meaning of the word “sum” in this question?

The meaning of the word “sum” is the comprehensive duty of the law which is love; for love is the fulfilling of the law.

3. What is the meaning of loving God with all our heart?

To love God with all our heart means to love him without hypocrisy, to be sincere and honest in our love.

4.
What is the meaning of loving God with all our soul?

To love God with all our soul means to exercise all the faculties we have in fulfilling the duties of our Christian life as we delight in Him and in following His will.

5.
What is the meaning of loving God with all our strength?

To love God with all our strength means to love nothing or no one more than God.

6. Who is our neighbor that we are to love as ourselves?

Every man is our neighbor therefore we are to have a general affection toward all.

7. What is it to love our neighbor as ourselves?.

To love our neighbor as ourselves is to love him with the same truth and constancy of love as we do ourselves, Eph. 5:29.

8. If a standard could be given from Scripture as to this love for others, what could be given?

A good standard from the word of God would be Matt. 7: 12—that we do to others what we would have them do to us, or John 5:12, where Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.”

DELIGHT THYSELF IN THE LORD

“Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Ps. 37:4). When a person is saved by grace one of the results is that he will love the Lord, will have a desire to delight himself in the Lord. There will be a desire on the part of the Christian to love the Lord with the whole heart. This is not always possible because of sin but the desire, the aim is there.

A prayer of Lancelot Andrewes reads, “Thyself, O my God, Thyself for thine own sake, above all things else I love. Thyself I desire. Thyself as my last end I long for. Thyself for thine own sake, not aught else whatsoever, always and in all things I seek, with all my heart and marrow, with groaning and weeping, with unbroken toil and grief.” Someone has well said that the trouble with the church of today is that we do not have enough children of God with the melting, zealous prayer of men like Andrewes.

So many times people will say, “I am sure I love God for after all I did ask His Son to come into my heart and I do go to church, etc.” How can we be sure we are delighting ourselves in the Lord? How can we be sure we love Him? Some of the characteristics of a real love to God are as follows: (1) We can not find contentment outside of Him for He is the health of our countenance. (2) We hate that which would separate us from God, namely sin. The Psalmist said, “I hate every false way.” This is something over which we do not always have the victory for many times the false way wins out but when it does and we realize it we plead for forgiveness from Him. (3) We want to tell others about Him. To say we love God, delight in Him, and keep quiet about Him would be inconsistency of the worst order. (4) We are willing to suffer, If needs be, die for Him. Paul said, “I am ready to be offered up.” We are always willing to go through whatever He would have us go through if only His name might be glorified.

There are indeed many other characteristics but the ones listed above should be sufficient for us to use as a standard regarding our love for Him. It would be good for us to pause right now and pray: “Search me 0 God and know my heart.” The flame of love should always be be burning brightly in our hearts. If it is not it may be that neglect of duty, or too much love of the world, or lack of prayer and Bible study might be putting out that flame. That flame needs to be ever fanned not hindered. If it is not there we shall never receive the desires of our hearts from Him.

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 4 No. 42 (June 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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