STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn
A. To escape the wrath and curse of God, due to us for sin, God requireth of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption.
Scripture References: Acts. 20:21. Mark 1:15. John 3:18.
1. Is it possible for us to escape the wrath of God by anything we can do of ourselves?
No, it is impossible for the Bible says, “all our righteousness are as filthy rags” Isa. 64:6).
2. How can we say then that God requires certain things of us?
We can say this because although God appoints that these duties are necessary, He in turn enables us to perform them. That is, it is God that works in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil. 2:12,13).
3. Why does God require “faith in Jesus Christ” of the sinner?
He requires faith in Jesus Christ because there is no other way to salvation. We are taught this very plainly in Acts 4:12.
4. Why does God require “repentance unto life” of the sinner?
He requires repentance unto life because it is the fruit of believing in Him.
5. Why does God require the “diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption” of the sinner?
He requires the diligent use of these outward means because the neglect of those means would be, in essence, proof of no faith or repentance having taken place in us. These are the ways in which the benefits of redemption are communicated to us.
6. Are you saying then that these three things God requires of us are an important part of salvation?
Yes, they are a part of salvation and evidences of it (2 Thess. 2:13).
THE FINALITY OF THE GOSPEL
“Do you really believe that a person can be saved apart from Jesus Christ?” was the question asked of a candidate of the ministry. The answer given was theologically sound, that no one can be saved apart from Jesus Christ. “Well, then”, said the old minister of the Gospel, “Be sure that you never forget it and preach as if you believe it!” Afterwards I heard the veteran minister tell the young minister that he felt so many people do not really believe in the finality of the Gospel. What he meant was that if people really believed it, they would be more about their Master’s business of witnessing for Jesus Christ.
We are busily engaged, or should be busily engaged, in preaching the only message that—when believed—can enable man to escape the wrath and curse of God. The Bible teaches, as so ably pointed out by Charles Hodge in 1855, that:
(1) “Nothing on this earth is sufficient to save man apart from Christ;
(2) Faith in Jesus Christ is necessary:
(3) God commanded the Gospel to be preached to all nations as the means of saving people.”
And yet so very many people go through day after day without f.elling those they meet that Jesus Saves!
This bellef in the Finality of the Gospel seems to be missing today in so many circles of the church. There seems to be more of a concern for the things of this world than a concern for the souls of men. All of us need to stop and think once more of the teaching of the Bible regarding the way of salvation. We need to be moved once again as men were moved in another day when they sang,
“Where will you spend eternity
Those years that have no end?
Will it be ‘Where the angels sing?
Will it be with the glorious King?
What a sublime and solemn thing! A solemn thing!”
There is no other way to be saved! Theologically speaking we know this to be true. We know the Bible says, “Except ye be converted … ” it person cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That is the final ‘Word. There is no other way. Do we really believe it? If so, time is fleeing! We must be up and about our Master’s business!
Published by The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Dedicated to instruction in the Westminster Standards for use as a bulletin insert or other methods of distribution in Presbyterian churches.
Vol. 6, No. 2. (February 1967)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor.