Thursday, March 30, 2017

WCF LC Commentary

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Westminster Larger Catechism #7

Q7. What is God?

A7. God is a Spirit, in and of himself infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection, all-sufficient, eternal, unchangeable, incomprehensible, every where present, almighty, knowing all things, most wise, most holy, most just, most merciful, and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.

References: John 4:24; Ex.3:14; Job 11:7-9; Acts 7:2; 1 Tim.6:15; Mt.5:48; Gen.17:1; Ps.90:2; Mal.3:6; 1 Kings 8:27; Ps. 139:1-13; Rev.4:8; Heb.4:13; Rom.16:27; Isa.6:3; Rev.15:14 Deut.6:4; 1 Cor. 8:4,6

I used the comments about this question in trying to shed light upon question six, where I directed your attention to the attributes of God as the way to learn what the Scriptures teach of about God.

I found it interesting that the Divines too answered question six with the opening of their definition of what God is with His physical properties, or lack of same as we see it from earth then pointed to the fact that God is. As noted under question six I find the statement, “That God is,” move valid than “What God is.” The divines were also forced at this point to give the references declaring God attributes in their attempt to answer the question, “what is God?”

Nonetheless, I would point out here that this is also where we should list “positions” that God fills in relation to His creation and its continuing existence. Thus we would find that God is the sustainer of all things, That God is a Sovereign King, God is our Heavenly Father; and the list could continue. I would direct our attention to two of these as worthy of much thought and study, for I think they are the key to being able to grasp, and more important use the other knowledge of God revealed in the Bible; God is the Creator and God is Sovereign. God’s sovereignty could be a one answer to the question of “What does the Reformed Church believe? I have often spoken to people who knew this answer that were not of the Reformed church and considered it a negative. Someway tied to predestination which they thought might be some contagious disease. As I pondered this question anew to prepare this commentary my mind was drawn to a time when I was taking my first faltering steps toward entering the ordained ministry. I was invited to preach at a “large” local Methodist church. Prior to this I had spoken in a few smaller churches, primarily in evening services. To be able to preach in an “uptown” church was exciting. Then the wife of a friend came by the office and told me they were glad I was getting the opportunity to preach in their church, but they wouldn’t be there Sunday. Upon inquiry, I was told they wouldn’t be there because I was “Presbyterian” and into all that “pre-destination” stuff. I assured her it wasn’t catching and my sermon had nothing to do with this and her family would be safe. Needless to say, they were conspicuous in their absence.

While I would agree one could move to a “hyper-Calvinist” position and perhaps even enter into error here; we must some way bring the fullness of God’s sovereignty into focus in a way we can understand and apply to our daily lives. Knowing and understanding God’s attribute, and in my opinion the “positions” He fills in the life of His people establishes us on firm ground for the understanding and right application of our beloved Reformed doctrines, which are Scripture. It is only from this knowledge of God that we can arrive at the proper respect and reverence for the Bible, so it in reality does become the only guide of faith and life. It is here where we find the answers so desperately needed by a struggling church, faced with the onslaught of modern humanism, preaching a Jesus who appears more as a sixties flower child than the Creator, King, and Judge, having all authority over all things the Lord of Scripture is revealed to be. “All hail King Jesus” is not heard often enough, nor loud enough from the pulpits of the Reformed church.

The awesome truth revealed here cannot be grasped and understood in its fullness by the finite mind of man. That which we don’t understand we are either indifferent toward, or ignore altogether. These are luxuries the reformed church cannot afford, and the source of the illness that has beset us for the last hundred and fifty years. These precious truths presented so beautifully by our forefathers, have taken back seat to so called scholarship, as the devil himself having become a member of the church, now sends forth his children to take their place in the leadership of the church. The church wears a human face, but her heart must not be of this world. The consideration of one of the foremost attributes of God would bring the healing needed to return us to our moorings in the Bible. God is Holy! We sing it, but do we understand it? I dare say not. God is almighty! Then why do we run at the shadow of the enemy? God is unchangeable! Then why do we distort the “Reformed and always reforming” creed of our forefathers to mean shifting with humanity and denying God’s sovereignty? God is all-sufficient! Then why are so many of His children hungry, and eating at the table of Satan? God is incomprehensible! Then why do we attempt to define Him in human terms and supposedly good deeds taken on to soothe our hurting conscience? God is omnipresent! Yet we live as if we can hide a portion of our lives from Him makes no sense. But we do love the ones that speak of love, mercy, goodness, and most of all long-suffering. We use these to justify our failure to learn of Him and use the attributes most needed to face the world, and through Christ be more than conquerors. But the former require us to get off our duffs and do something. To take responsibility for our actions. The latter lets grace reign supreme, and presents a bleeding savior, that makes no demands of those He has purchased with this blood.

I thank God it never had to be proven, but I have no doubt in my mind that I would have shot the first soldier that failed to do what I said or follow me into battle. His rebellion would have spread and caused the loss of all. I do not think the Commander of the host of heaven will take any less action, and how fearful the words of our Lord saying “depart from Me, ye that work iniquity, for I never knew you.” should be cause enough for all to hunger for the truth revealed here, and “work out their salvation in fear and trembling!”

Here in the person of God, our Reformed faith was born. In this fertile soil our TULIP was planted deep to be watered by the Spirit of God. Here she has stood for over 450 years. This is the touchstone we need to carry us into whatever the future may bring, in the hope of the Glory of God. Here is our strength and salvation!

Read again all of the references for this question. Look up each of the attributes listed in the Scriptures in a good theological dictionary. Feed here until you receive that power from on high. Return here often to receive the salve needed to bring comfort and healing from the scars of spiritual warfare. Here in the person of God we were born, are sustained, and will abide forever.

by Dr. Chuck Baynard

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