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

Q. 53. — Which is the third commandment?

A. — The third commandment is, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (Ex. 20:7).

Q. 54. — What is required in the third commandment?

A. — The third commandment requireth the holy and reverent use of God’s names, title, attributes, ordinances, word, and works.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES: Ps.29:2; Matt. 6:9; Rev. 15:34; Mal. 1:14; Ps. 138:2; Ps. 107:21,22.

Questions:

1. What do we mean by the “name of the Lord thy God”?

We mean by the name of “the Lord thy God” any way in which God makes himself known.

2. How is it that God makes himself known?

He makes himself known: by his names, such as God, Lord, I am, Jehovah; by his titles such as Lord of Hosts, Holy One of Israel, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and others; by his attributes which are his perfections and properties (see Question 4); by his ordinances which are the reading, preaching and hearing of the Word, prayer, thanksgiving, praise, the administration of the sacraments; by his word, the scriptures of the Old and New Testament; by his works, which are the works of creation and providence.

3. What is our responsibility toward these general ways by which He makes himself known?

Our responsibility is to show a reverent attitude toward all of them in our words, our thoughts and our actions. We should meditate on o His names and titles. We should make holy use of God’s ordinances seeking God in them. We should be obedient at all times to His Word and recognize His works of creation and providence, blessing Him and praising Him for His mercies and submitting to Him in all things.

4.
Does this question pertain at all to legal oaths and vows to God?

Since the name of God is used in oaths and vows, there is a connection. The reader is urged to consider prayerfully the section of the Confession of Faith entitled: “Of Lawful Oaths and Vows

THE GOD OF ABRAHAM

One of the titles ascribed to God as the God of grace is “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Ex. 3:6). Even as He is the God of grace, even as we experience it day after day, we should praise Him for His wonderful works to the children of men. We should never let a day go by without lifting up voices in praise to that Blessed Name! The hymn writer said:

“The God of Abraham praise!
Who reigns enthroned above,
Ancient of everlasting days,
And God of Love!
Jehovah, great I AM!
By earth and Heaven confest!
I bow, and bless the sacred name,
For ever blest!

The God of Abraham praise!
At whose supreme command
From earth I rise, and seek the joys
At His right hand:
I all on earth forsake,Its wisdom, fame, and power,
And Him my only portion make,
My Shield and Tower.
The God of Abraham praise!

Whose all-sufficient grade
Shall guide me all my happy days
In all my ways:
He called a worm His friend!
He calls Himself my God!
And He shall save me to the end
Through Jesus’ blood!
The whole triumphant host

Give thanks to God on high:
Hail! Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
They ever cry:
Hail! Abraham’s God and mine!
I join the heavenly lays;
All might and majesty are Thine,
And endless praise!”

Abraham bowed in heart and mind before the Lord even after his faith had been sorely tried by the long delay in the fulfilment of the promise. Abraham rested upon the divine pledge, and the sufficiency of the divine power and grace of his Lord. We should do the same-recognize who He is and then remember to give praise to His holy name.

However, this commandment has a reverse side to it. As Calvin puts it so well, “The purpose of this commandment is: God wills that we hallow the majesty of his name. Therefore, it means in brief that we are not to profane his name by treating it contemptously and irreverently.” (Institutes, II, viii, 22). We should always remember that by not standing in awe of Him, by not blessing His name, we can break this commandment.

A good discipline for us would be to promise God that we shall read Psalm 139 at least once each week in order that we might keep ourselves in the right perspective and have the reverent attitude we should have toward the God of Abraham.

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

Q. 52. — What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment?

A. — The reasons annexed to the second commandment are: God’s sovereignty over us, his propriety in us, and the zeal he hath to his own worship.

Scripture References: Ps. 95:2, 3; Ps.45:11; Exod.34:14.

Questions:

1. How many reasons are there involved in the second commandment and of what use are they to us?

There are three reasons:
(1) God’s sovereignty over us.
(2) God’s ownership of us.
(3) God’s zeal regarding his worship.
They are of great use to us for all three can have great influence in our obeying the Lord our God.

2. What do we mean by God’s sovereignty over us?

We mean that by His sovereignty He has the sole authority over us and has the right to make laws for worship. He alone has the right to decide what is good for us. We have the responsibility to worship Him only in the way He appoints for us in His Word.

3. When we speak of God owning us what do we mean by it?

We mean by this that we belong to Him through the right of redemption and therefore, we should cleave to Him and be careful that we do not follow after any sin that would drive us away from Him, especially idolatry and superstition. (Ps. 95:6,7; Ps. 106:19,21).

4. What has God said regarding the zeal he has to his own worship?

He has said, “I am a jealous God.”

5. What effect should this have upon us as born-again believers?

It should give us a great fear of offending Him in any way and especially in the area of false worship. We should pray that we never fail Him as Nadab and Abihu did (Lev. 10:1-4).

6. If we worship Him in a false way what will our punishment be?

His punishment will not only be upon us, but He will visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation.

7. How can God, who has the attribute of justice, do this?

If the children do not follow their father’s sins He will not punish them (Ezek. 18:14, 17). If the children do follow their father’s sins they deserve punishment.

GODLY PARENTS AND THEIR CHILDREN

This particular question of the catechism with its emphasis on. God being a jealous God, visiting iniquity on the children of wicked parents, has a converse lesson in it for godly parents. The children of godly parents could be the recipients of the promise, “I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed after thee” (Gen. 17:7). There is much for which the children of godly parents should thank God and there is great responsibility on the part of godly parents in order that their children may enjoy the great benefits involved.

Whenever those giving allegiance to the Reformed Faith mention the covenant promises though, there are two important facts that should always be remembered. If these two important facts are forgotten there is always the danger of displeasing God. These two facts are: (1) God does not show mercy to children Simply because they are the children of godly parents. (2) The promise God utters is a promise dependent upon the keeping of the promises of the godly parents. God does not show mercy to children simply because they are the children of godly parents-He shows mercy to children simply because it pleases Him, (Rom. 9:15). We can never take the mercy shawn to children of godly parents out of the framework of the whole counsel of God and forget that He is the Almighty, Sovereign One and will not be manipulated or forced by the promises or ways of men. What He does is for His glory and is consistent with His character, that of being Sovereign in all things.

The promise God utters is a promise dependent upon the keeping of the promises of the godly parents-salvation and all its benefits is not an automatic thing that happens to the children of godly parents (or godly parent-I Cor. 7:14; Acts 2:38, 39), John Murray’S statement here is well taken: “Covenant privilege always entails covenant responsibility.” There are conditions that must be kept by the godly parents, promises that are made at the baptism of the infant and promises that must be kept if the parents expect God to keep His promises.

When the godly parents do their part there are indeed great benefits, the benefits of a Christian education, prayers, even the expectation that God will effect their conversion. To be reared by Christian parents bent on keeping their covenant promises is a blessing for which all children should thank God.

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 4 No. 49 (January 1965)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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

Q. 40. What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?

A. The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience, was the moral law.

Scripture References: Rom. 2:14,15; Rom. 10:5.

Questions:

1. How many laws has God given to man?

God gave to his people the moral law, which is still in force today, and ceremonial and judicial laws. These last two, as given to the Jews, have ceased to have any binding force under the Christian economy.

2. Is the moral law a rule of obedience to both believer and non-believer?

Yes the moral law is a rule of obedience to both. Our Confession teaches, “The moral law doth for ever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof.” (Chapter 21, Section V)

3. Can a man be saved by keeping the moral law?

No, a man is only saved by grace through faith. In addition, it would be impossible for man to keep the moral law perfectly.

4. If man cannot be saved by it, and yet is still bound by it, of what use is it?

The use of the moral law is that it is a “schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Gal. 3:24). The word “schoolmaster” is the idea of training and discipline in the passage cited. A pertinent passage here is I Tim. 1 :8.

5. How does the law bring men to Christ?

The law brings men to Christ by convincing men of sin and of convincing them of its consequences if it is not atoned for and forgiven. It also awakens them to their need of a Saviour for that sin. ‘

6. After a man is saved is the law of any further use?

The law is a perpetual reminder of the will of God for His creatures. For the Believer it is intended as a rule of life and conduct which is absolute and unchanging. See Rom. 7:6,12; Titus 2:11,12.

“O HOW I LOVE THY LAW!”

The above declaration is one of the richest fruits of grace that a redeemed soul might have for in it there is the most important connection between the love for his Maker and being obedient to the same Maker. There is nothing incompatible between love and obedience and the Law of God is a wonderful motivator towards each of them.

In our Catechism, as we begin a study of the laws of God, it is important that we have the correct perspective between the law of God and the fact that we are sinners saved by grace. It has been said many times that we are sinners saved by grace but we are still sinners! The sinner therefore has shortcomings, so many times goes the road of sin rather than the road of obedience to Him. And if it were not for the law of God the road of sin would be taken many more times than it is. For the law of God has some very important duties, duties for which we should be praying.

There is the duty of instructing the believer. There is a way of lite that is well-pleasing to God and the believer is instructing in this way of life by the law of God. Paul states in I Cor. 9:21 that he is “in the law to Christ” and that he delights in that law after the inward man. He delights in it as he reads it, is instructed by it, follows it by grace.

There is the duty of humbling the believer. The law of God causes the believer to recognize his shortcomings tor it is a rule against whose measurement the believer so many times comes short. As the believer sees his shortcomings, and grieves over his shortcomings, he begins to be humble under the rule of the Almighty, Sovereign God and thereby gets into right relationship with his Maker, through his enabling grace.

There is the duty of causing the believer to apply to the Lord Jesus Christ for the ever-necessary sanctifying Spirit. The power at the victorious life comes from the Lord Jesus Christ through the indwelling presence and power of His Holy Spirit, enabling the Believer more and more to die unto sin and to live unto righteousness.

Do we love His law? Even better, do we really love Lawgiver? If we do we will recognize that there is no holiness where there is not subjection to the commandments of our Lord. And where there is .subjection to the commandments there is delight, (Psalm 119:35),

Published By: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 3 No. 40 (April, 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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

Q 38. — What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?

A. — At the resurrection, believers, being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged, and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.

Scripture References: I Cor. 15:43, 44; Matt. 25:33, 34; Matt. 10:32; Psa. 15:1; I Thess. 4:14; I Cor. 2:9.

Questions:

1. What are the three benefits of the believers as contained in this question?

(1) The believers shall be raised up in glory.
(2) The believers shall be acknowledged and acquitted at the day of judgment.
(3) The believers shall be made perfectly blessed in the full enjoyment of God to all eternity.

2. What is the glory referred to in this question and what will be the result of it?

The glory referred to in this question is the glory of the resurrection, when the body will be restored and no longer subject to death and dissolution and “be fashioned like unto Christ’s glorious body.” (Phil. 3 :21).

3. What is the meaning of the believers being acknowledged and acquitted?

The believers will hear the Savior’s “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matt. 25:34). Their faith shall be vindicated; they shall be publicly acknowledged as the redeemed children of God, (I Cor. 4:5), and the declaration will be made that all their sins are pardoned.

4. What is the third blessing that will come to the believers?

The third is the greatest blessing of all, the full enjoyment of God. The believers will ever be with the Lord and will receive the inheritance prepared for them. There the believers will behold their Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, and will finally be able to trace the ways in which the Lord has led and saved them. (I Pet. 1:6).

5. What will be the lot of the unbelievers at the resurrection?

Their bodies shall be released from the grave and they shall see Christ as their final judge. They shall stand before His judgment Throne and shall have their sins read out of the books and will be eternally cast into hell. (II Thess. 1:7-8; Rev. 20:11,12).

GOOD STEWARDS OF THE GRACE OF GOD

“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (I Pet. 4: 10). Blessing after blessing has been mentioned in the past few questions; but with blessings come responsibilities. It is a good thing to be reminded of the benefits that come to the believer both in this life and at death and at the resurrection. But it is an important thing that the believer recognize that with these benefits there is a call from the Lord to be good stewards of his grace.

Archbishop Leighton said, “Thinkest thou that thy wealth, or power, or wit, is thine, to do with as thou wilt, to engross to thyself either to retain as useless or to use, to hoard and wrap up, or to lavish out; according as thy humour leads thee? No! All is given as to a steward, wisely and faithfully to lay up and layout, not only the outward estate and common gifts of mind, but even saving grace, which seems most appropriated for thy private good, yet is not wholly for that. Even thy graces are for the good of thy brethren.”

If believers are to live to the glory of God, (going back to the first question), then they must be good stewards of the grace of God. The benefits given now and those to be given to the believers at the resurrection should be daily motivators toward wanting to thank and praise God for them in the way He desires praise—living to his glory. It should be noted by the believer that benefits are given for the purpose of being exercised; that the design of these exercises is not only for the advantage of the believer but is also for that of the body of Christ at large. In addition, when a believer is exercising a gift, a benefit, he ought to consider himself as a steward who must be faithful, being a good manager of the manifold grace of God.

In I Tim. 6:17-18 we have the same teaching: “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate.”

To be a good steward of the manifold grace of God is indeed a way to “redeem the time” in these evil days. May God help us to do so, all to His glory.

Published by: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 3 No. 33 (February, 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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

Q. 27. — Wherein did Christ’s humiliation consist?

A. — Christ’s humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross, in being buried and continuing under the power of death for a time.

Scripture References: Luke 2:7; Phil. 2:6-8; Gal. 4:4; Isa. 53:6; Matt. 27:46; Gal. 3:13; I Cor. 15:3,4.

Questions:

1. In what things did Christ humble himself?

Christ humbled himself in His birth, in his life and in His death.

2. How did Christ humble Himself in His birth?

Christ humbled himself in His birth in that he was born of a virgin in a manger, becoming man who was the eternal Son of God.

3. How did Christ humble Himself In His life?

Christ humbled himself in His life in subjecting Himself to the law; because he entered into conflict with the devil; because He endured the slander of men who were wicked; because He endured the infirmities of the flesh even those endured by all men.

4. How did Christ humble Himself in His death?

Christ humbled himself in His death by submitting himself to the cursed death of the cross (Gal. 3:13) and undergoing the agony described in the Scripture as happening to Him.

5. What does Christ’s humiliation mean to us as Christians?

Christ’s humiliation assured us of our redemption, through the merits of His sufferings (Eph.1 :7).

6. Was the soul or body of Christ separated from Him during His death?

No, his soul or body could not be separated from him since he was divine and the Scripture teaches us that he i. “the same yesterday, and today, and forever”. (He)). 13:8)

GOLGOTHA!

Abraham Kuyper, in his helpful book, “His Decease At Jerusalem”, states, “Even among the most devout only a few are willing to plumb the depths of Golgotha’s real significance. We are mostly occupied with the outward evidences of His dying. That does not disturb us nearly so much. But to endure the heart-breaking, soul-lacerating examination of His conflict with Sin, Satan, and the Sentence of Death, none seem to be willing to do.”

Golgotha! Here our Lord came to the climax of those things done in order that others might live. Nothing was left Him but a cross whereon He could die. And this amid the mocking laughter of His slanderers. Look to the Cross of Christ, where the Christ heard those words of mockery, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.” How very true they were, little did those who said them realize what a profound truth they were uttering. For therein was the truth of His dying, in order to save others He could not save Himself! He paid the final price on the Cross and then He knew that the debt for man’s redemption was paid up in full. He was free then to utter the words, “It is finished!” It was a thunderous cry of victory over the prince of the world and his cohorts.

We sing about the Cross and we speak of it—but do we think deeply in considering the humiliation He suffered there? How little are our thoughts directed towards developing heartfelt understanding of His sacrifice on the Cross. What He suffered there for our sakes, what He did there made the precious gift of eternal life for you and for me!

We need to think more of the scene of Golgotha and let it be a continual remembrance to us of the precious blood He shed, we need to see that Cross in which we find our glory.

We need to examine our hearts before Him and ask Him, with the Psalmist of old, “Search me 0 God and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” We need to remember what He did for us and ask ourselves the question: “What are we doing for Him?” Are we willing to renounce all for His sake? Are we willing to be humiliated by the world as we testify for Him? Are we willing to give up whatever is necessary in order to walk to His glory? Blessed Redeemer, Precious Redeemer is our cry—what do our lives testify?

Published By: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 3 No. 27 (March 1963)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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