Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Westminster Shorter Catechism -- Question 1

Here begins a discourse on the Westminster Shorter Catechism, a series of 107 questions and answers on the foundations of the Christian faith. I hope to add a new question every few days, with commentary. My wife Jean is setting the catechism to music with chords and lyrics to help younger children memorize the Catechism. The words to the music are based on on the "Westminster Shortest Catechism" written by J.A. Tosti. The music and arrangement is the work of Jean Hall.

The first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism is "What is the chief end of man?". The answer is "The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever."

So what exactly does glorify mean? To understand this, let's look at the opposite -- to condemn or rebuke.

Job 40 is a continuation of a dialog between God and Job, who is questioning whether God has the right to condemn him and remove all he has and holds dear.

40 The Lord said to Job:
“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
    Let him who accuses God answer him!”
Then Job answered the Lord:
“I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
    I put my hand over my mouth.
I spoke once, but I have no answer—
    twice, but I will say no more.”
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm:
“Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.
“Would you discredit my justice?
    Would you condemn me to justify yourself?

To be justified is to be made righteous. Job wishes to justify and excuse himself before God, even going so far as to question God's right and authority. His problem though is one of self righteousness. He is glorifying himself at God's expense. He is not giving all the glory to God.

God, in stark contrast, and in the fulness of time, sent His Son, and condemned Him to death, so that those who trust and believe Him, are made righteous through faith. Our own righteousness is as filthy rags. We cannot hope to share in God's righteousness and glory through our own strength. But God, being merciful and kind, saw fit to share his righteousness with those who don't deserve it, who repent and place their trust in Him.

Our chief end, therefore is not to rebuke or condemn God, but to glorify Him. What other god would humble himself out of Love, condemn Himself in our place, suffer the shame and humiliation of death on a cross, and rise again in glory? Could a Jupiter, or a Zeus, or a sun god like Ra do that? How about a Molech?

Questions for thought:
What do I value? What idols have taken control of my life? What should my response be to the creator of the universe?

Lord, thank you for loving me so much that you would pay the ultimate price. To you be the glory, forever and ever.

References for further study:
Fisher's Catechism 1


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