The Reformed Standard | Theological Questions and Answers from the Reformed Confessional Tradition
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The great confessions, creeds, and catechism are a treasure to those who love the Lord. In this short podcast, Tony Arsenal explains and reflects on these wonderful expressions of theology in quickly digestible chunks. J
Westminster Larger Catechism: Q1
What is the chief and highest end of man?A. Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.Psalm 16:5–115The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;you hold my lot.6The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.7I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;in the night also my heart instructs me.8I have set the LORD always before me;because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.9Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;my flesh also dwells secure.10For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,or let your holy one see corruption.11You make known to me the path of life;in your presence there is fullness of joy;at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.Psalm 69:6–126Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me,O Lord GOD of hosts;let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me,O God of Israel.7For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach,that dishonor has covered my face.8I have become a stranger to my brothers,an alien to my mother’s sons.9For zeal for your house has consumed me,and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.10When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting,it became my reproach.11When I made sackcloth my clothing,I became a byword to them.12I am the talk of those who sit in the gate,and the drunkards make songs about me.Psalm 73:24–2824You guide me with your counsel,and afterward you will receive me to glory.25Whom have I in heaven but you?And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.26My flesh and my heart may fail,but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.27For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.28But for me it is good to be near God;I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,that I may tell of all your works.John 17:21–2321that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.Romans 11:3636For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.1 Corinthians 1:3131so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”1 Corinthians 6:2020for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.Revelation 21:3–4
Westminster Larger Catechism: Q2
A. The very light of nature in man, and the works of God, declare plainly that there is a God; but his word and Spirit only do sufficiently and effectually reveal him unto men for their salvation.Psalm 19:1–31The heavens declare the glory of God,and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.2Day to day pours out speech,and night to night reveals knowledge.3There is no speech, nor are there words,whose voice is not heard.Isaiah 59:2121“And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from this time forth and forevermore.”Acts 17:2828for“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;as even some of your own poets have said,“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’Romans 1:19–2019For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.1 Corinthians 1:20–2120Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.1 Corinthians 2:9–109But, as it is written,“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,nor the heart of man imagined,what God has prepared for those who love him”—10these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.2 Timothy 3:15–1715and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Westminster Larger Catechism: Q3
A. The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the Word of God, the only rule of faith and obedience.Galatians 1:8–98But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.Ephesians 2:2020built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,2 Timothy 3:15–1615and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,2 Peter 1:19–2119And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.2 Peter 3:2–162that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.8But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.11Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.14Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.Revelation 22:18–1918I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
Westminster Larger Catechism: Q4
How doth it appear that the Scriptures are the Word of God?A. The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God, by their majesty and purity; by the consent of all the parts, and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God; by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation: but the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the Scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very Word of God.Psalm 12:66The words of the LORD are pure words,like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,purified seven times.Psalm 19:7–97The law of the LORD is perfect,reviving the soul;the testimony of the LORD is sure,making wise the simple;8the precepts of the LORD are right,rejoicing the heart;the commandment of the LORD is pure,enlightening the eyes;9the fear of the LORD is clean,enduring forever;the rules of the LORD are true,and righteous altogether.Psalm 119:1919I am a sojourner on the earth;hide not your commandments from me!Psalm 119:129129Your testimonies are wonderful;therefore my soul keeps them.Psalm 119:140140Your promise is well tried,and your servant loves it.Hosea 8:1212Were I to write for him my laws by the ten thousands,they would be regarded as a strange thing.Luke 24:2727And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.John 16:13–1413When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.John 20:3131but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.Acts 10:4343To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”Acts 18:2828for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.Acts 20:3232And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.Acts 26:2222To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass:Romans 3:19–2719Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.21But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.27Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.Romans 15:44For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.Romans 16:25–2725Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, accordingto the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.1 Corinthians 2:6–136Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9But, as it is written,“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,nor the heart of man imagined,what God has prepared for those who love him”—10these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.2 Corinthians 3:6–116who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.7Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.Hebrews 4:1212For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.James 1:1818Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.1 John 2:20–2720But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.26I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.
Westminster Larger Catechism: Q5
What do the Scriptures principally teach?A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.WGenesis 1:11In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.Exodus 35:6–76blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen; goats’ hair, 7tanned rams’ skins, and goatskins; acacia wood,Deuteronomy 10:12–1312“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good?Psalm 48:11Great is the LORD and greatly to be praisedin the city of our God!His holy mountain,John 21:2525Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.Acts 16:30–3130Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”2 Timothy 3:15–17
Westminster Larger Catechism: Q6
What do the Scriptures make known of God?A. The Scriptures make known what God is, the persons in the Godhead, his decrees, and the execution of his decrees.Exodus 34:6–76The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”Deuteronomy 6:4–64“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.Isaiah 40:18–2818To whom then will you liken God,or what likeness compare with him?19An idol! A craftsman casts it,and a goldsmith overlays it with goldand casts for it silver chains.20He who is too impoverished for an offeringchooses wood that will not rot;he seeks out a skillful craftsmanto set up an idol that will not move.21Do you not know? Do you not hear?Has it not been told you from the beginning?Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?22It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;23who brings princes to nothing,and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.24Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,when he blows on them, and they wither,and the tempest carries them off like stubble.25To whom then will you compare me,that I should be like him? says the Holy One.26Lift up your eyes on high and see:who created these?He who brings out their host by number,calling them all by name;by the greatness of his mightand because he is strong in power,not one is missing.27Why do you say, O Jacob,and speak, O Israel,“My way is hidden from the LORD,and my right is disregarded by my God”?28Have you not known? Have you not heard?The LORD is the everlasting God,the Creator of the ends of the earth.He does not faint or grow weary;his understanding is unsearchable.Isaiah 46:9–109remember the former things of old;for I am God, and there is no other;I am God, and there is none like me,10declaring the end from the beginningand from ancient times things not yet done,saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,and I will accomplish all my purpose,’Matthew 3:16–1716And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”Matthew 28:18–2018And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”John 4:2424God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”Acts 4:27–2827for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28to do whateveryour hand and your plan had predestined to take place.Acts 15:14–1814Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. 15And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,16“‘After this I will return,and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen;I will rebuild its ruins,and I will restore it,17that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord,and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,says the Lord, who makes these things 18known from of old.’1 Corinthians 8:4–64Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.2 Corinthians 13:1414The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.Hebrews 11:66And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Westminster Larger Catechism: Q7
Q. 7.What is God?A. God is a Spirit, in and of himself infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection; all-sufficient, eternal, unchangeable, incomprehensible, everywhere present, almighty, knowing all things, most wise, most holy, most just, most merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.Genesis 17:117When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless,Exodus 3:1414God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”Exodus 34:66The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,Deuteronomy 32:44“The Rock, his work is perfect,for all his ways are justice.A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,just and upright is he.Deuteronomy 33:2727The eternal God is your dwelling place,and underneath are the everlasting arms.And he thrust out the enemy before youand said, ‘Destroy.’1 Kings 8:2727“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!Job 11:7–97“Can you find out the deep things of God?Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?8It is higher than heaven—what can you do?Deeper than Sheol—what can you know?9Its measure is longer than the earthand broader than the sea.Psalm 90:22Before the mountains were brought forth,or ever you had formed the earth and the world,from everlasting to everlasting you are God.Psalm 117:22For great is his steadfast love toward us,and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.Praise the LORD!Psalm 139:1–131O LORD, you have searched me and known me!2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;you discern my thoughts from afar.3You search out my path and my lying downand are acquainted with all my ways.4Even before a word is on my tongue,behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.5You hem me in, behind and before,and lay your hand upon me.6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;it is high; I cannot attain it.7Where shall I go from your Spirit?Or where shall I flee from your presence?8If I ascend to heaven, you are there!If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!9If I take the wings of the morningand dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,10even there your hand shall lead me,and your right hand shall hold me.11If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,and the light about me be night,”12even the darkness is not dark to you;the night is bright as the day,for darkness is as light with you.13For you formed my inward parts;you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.Psalm 145:33Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,and his greatness is unsearchable.Psalm 147:55Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;his understanding is beyond measure.Isaiah 6:33And one called to another and said:“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;the whole earth is full of his glory!”Isaiah 46:9–109remember the former things of old;for I am God, and there is no other;I am God, and there is none like me,10declaring the end from the beginningand from ancient times things not yet done,saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,and I will accomplish all my purpose,’Malachi 3:66“For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.Matthew 5:4848You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.Matthew 19:2626But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”John 4:2424God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”Acts 4:27–2827for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.Acts 7:22And Stephen said:“Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran,Acts 15:14–1814Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. 15And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,16“‘After this I will return,and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen;I will rebuild its ruins,and I will restore it,17that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord,and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,says the Lord, who makes these things 18known from of old.’Romans 3:55But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)Romans 3:2626It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.Romans 11:33–3433Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!34“For who has known the mind of the Lord,or who has been his counselor?”Romans 11:35–3635“Or who has given a gift to himthat he might be repaid?”36For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.Romans 16:2727to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.1 Timothy 6:1515which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,Hebrews 4:1313And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.1 Peter 1:15–1615but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”Revelation 4:88And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,who was and is and is to come!”Revelation 15:44Who will not fear, O Lord,and glorify your name?For you alone are holy.All nations will comeand worship you,for your righteous acts have been revealed.”