WSC Q1 Part 2

I am a bit clueless when it comes to the practical aspects of theology.  I love the more detached, technical aspects of theology, but when it comes to making more practical connections, I have a more difficult time of it.

When I posted on the first question to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, over 7 months ago, I thought what I posted was sufficient, but over a couple of months I began to become dissatisfied with it.  I realized, that my thoughts on it were very incomplete.

I have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what needed to be added to my previous post.  A couple of weeks ago, I found it.  My pastor found a quote that just floored me.  The quote is by Jonathan Edwards:

“We must, therefore, be careful that our primary joy is in God, as he is in and of himself, and not in our experience of God. That we have been made recipients of his grace and are enabled to behold his beauty is a marvelous thing indeed. But it is secondary and consequential to a recognition of God’s inherent excellency. What brings you greatest and most immediate delight: your experience of a revelation of Christ, or Christ revealed?”

My first reaction when I read this was to repent of my obsession with theology that gets in the way of enjoying Him, not just His presence, not just His people, not just His Word, but Him. 

Psalm 73

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength [1] of my heart and my portion forever.

27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
28 But 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.

Here the Psalmist Asaph cries out for his own need for God.  Not just to enjoy His presence, but to enjoy Him.  Asaph’s reward is God Himself.  It is God who Asaph takes refuge in.

Me?  My tendency is to take refuge in my stack of theological books on my nightstand.  I certainly delight in His truth, and in His presence, and in His people.  I truly do enjoy Christ revealed, as Jonathan Edwards mentions.  But to just simply enjoy Him is not something I have been confronted with before. 

None of this means that enjoying His presence, or studying His Word for all it’s worth are things we should not pursue.  Quite the contrary, as a husband and wife should enjoy each other’s presence, and learn about each other, it is not a substitute for knowing Him, and enjoying Him.

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The Westminster Shorter Catechism (WSC) Question 1

Q) What is man’s primary purpose?

A) Man’s primary purpose is to glorify God (1 Cor10:31; Rom 11:36), and enjoy Him forever (Psalm 73:25-28).

I have decided to go through the Westminster Shorter Catechism, because it’s, well, shorter, and I have a reference for the Shorter Catechism in modern English instead of the 16th century English. I also am putting the Scripture proof references where they are placed in the catechism, and linking them to the ESV Online Bible. Now to the first question.

I find it comforting to know that there really is nothing new under the sun (Ecc 1:9). The same questions have been asked by every generation since the beginning of time; why are we here? What do we exist for? Where, in the grand scheme of life, de we fit in? In the mid 1600’s the Westminster Divines (not that any of these men were actually divine as we understand the term today, it was just how the word was used back then) made this the first question of both the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. Three hundred fifty years later, we still ask the question.

Before I get too far, let me start with this presupposition; we are here for a purpose. Having said that, we have a place to start to understand whose purpose we are created for, what that purpose is, and how that purpose is achieved.

Whose Purpose?

This is really an easy question, with an easy answer. We are here for Gods purpose. He created all of what we see, and experience. He is the One that all of creation points to. It is His glory that is displayed in His creation, and while He has given us charge to be good stewards of His creation, ultimately it is God, not us that does it. (1 Th 5:24).

What Purpose?

While Rick Warren’s book “The Purpose Driven Life” is a good start, we need to be reminded that Gods purpose is far more than just a set of five life principles for success, or for church growth. We need to be reminded that the Gospel calls us to live for the glory of God (1 Cor10:31). It is His purpose and plan to make all things new (Rev 21:5), and we are the instruments in His hands that expand His Kingdom, for His glory.

Ultimately, His purpose is for His Kingdom to be fully realized in every sphere of life. We live in what is called the “already and the not yet”. While that seems like a contradictory phrase, it is where we are. We “already” live in the Kingdom. Jesus told His disciples that the Kingdom was near (Luke 10:9), not some 2,000 plus years off in the future. (Luke 9:27).

How is This Purpose Accomplished?

Jesus accomplished this purpose on earth by preaching the Good News of the Kingdom (Luke 4:43). Jesus advances His Kingdom now, through us. (Luke 9:2; John 20:21; Mat 28:18-20) It is by preaching the Gospel, first to ourselves. Then, by word and deed we preach the Gospel to the watching world.

So, what are your thoughts? How should we then live?