THE

SHORTER CATECHISM

EXPLAINED


QUESTION 21. Who is the Redeemer of God's elect?

ANSWER: The only Redeemer of God's elect, is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was, and continues to be God and man, in two distinct natures, and one person, for ever.


Q. 1. What is the greatest wonder the world has ever beheld?

A. The incarnation of the Son of God, John 1:14; Jer. 31:22.

Q. 2. What makes this the greatest wonder?

A. Because by it two natures, infinitely distant, are united in one person; hence called "a great mystery," 1 Tim. 3:16.

Q. 3. Was this great event foretold before it came to pass?

A. Yes; God spake of it "by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began," Luke 1:70.

Q. 4. By what names did they speak of his coming?

A. By a variety of names, such as Shiloh, Gen. 49:10; Messiah, Dan. 9:25; Immanuel, Isa. 7:14; the Branch, Zech. 6:12; the Messenger of the covenant, Mal. 3:1; and several others.

Q. 5. Is he now actually come into the world?

A. Yes, long since: and "it is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world," 1 Tim. 1:15, "not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved," John 3:17.

Q. 6. How do you prove, that our Lord Jesus Christ is the true promised Messiah?

A. By this one argument: that "all things which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms," concerning the Messiah, are literally fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, Luke 24:44.

Q. 7. How does this appear?

A. By comparing every prophecy and promise concerning him in the Old Testament, with the exact accomplishment of it in the New, Acts 3:18.

Q. 8. What silencing questions may be put to the Jews, who assert that the Messiah is not yet come in the flesh?

A. They may be asked, Where is the sceptre of civil government, which was not to depart from Judah until Shiloh came, according to Gen. 49:10? Where is the second temple, into which the Messiah was to come, and to make the glory of it greater than the glory of the former, by his personal appearance in it, according to Hag. 2:9? Where is the sacrifice and oblation now offered? has it not long since ceased, according to Dan. 9:27? And where is the family of David, out of which Christ was to spring, according to Isa. 11:1? is it not now quite extinct? They are utterly incapable of answering any of these.

Q. 9. What does the title of a Redeemer suppose with reference to the redeemed?

A. Bondage and captivity to sin, Satan, the world, death, and hell, through the breach of the first covenant; hence called lawful captives, Isa. 49:24.

Q. 10. Are all mankind, the elect of God as well as others, by nature under this bondage and captivity?

A. Yes; as is evident from Eph. 2:1-3.

Q. 11. Why is Christ called the only Redeemer of God's elect?

A. Because there was none capable of the vast undertaking but himself, Isa. 53:5.

Q. 12. How does Christ redeem the elect from their spiritual bondage and captivity?

A. By price and power; or by ransom, 1 Pet. 1:19, and conquest, Isa. 49:25.

Q. 13. What ransom or price did he lay down?

A. His own life, Matt. 20:28 -- "The Son of man came, to give his life a ransom for many."

Q. 14. How does Christ redeem by power or conquest?

A. When, by his word and Spirit, he breaks the bonds of the captives, and says "to the prisoners, Go forth; and to them that sit in darkness, Show yourselves," Isa. 49:9; and thus spoils principalities and powers, Col. 2:15.

Q. 15. Why is the Redeemer called Lord?

A. Because, as God, he "whose name alone is JEHOVAH, is most high over all the earth," Psalm 83:18; and, as Mediator, "all power in heaven and earth is given unto him," Matt. 28:18.

Q. 16. Why is he called Jesus?

A. Because he saves his people from their sins, Matt. 1:21.

Q. 17. Why is he called Christ?

A. Christ in the Greek, and Messiah in the Hebrew language, signify one and the same thing, John 1:41, to wit, the Anointed, Acts 10:38; which implies his designation to, and his being fully qualified for his mediatory office.

Q. 18. Upon what is Christ's sufficiency for the great work of our redemption founded?

A. Upon the infinite dignity of his person, as being the eternal Son of God, 1 John 5:20.

Q. 19. Is Christ the Son of God by nature, or only by office?

A. Christ is the eternal Son of God by nature; his Sonship is equally natural and necessary with the Paternity of the Father, Matt. 28:19; 2 John ver. 3.

Q. 20. What would be the danger of asserting, that Christ is called the Son of God only with respect to his mediatory office?

A. This would make his personality depend upon the divine will and good pleasure, as it is certain his mediatory office did, John 3:16; and, consequently, he would not be the self-existent God.

Q. 21. Might not the Sonship of Christ be the result of the divine will, though his personality is not?

A. No; because his Sonship is his proper personality, and therefore to make his Sonship the result of the divine will, is to overturn the personal properties of the Father and Son, and, consequently, to deny both, 1 John 2:23.

Q. 22. How do you prove, from scripture, that Christ's Sonship is distinguished from his office?

A. From John 7:29; where Christ, speaking of his Father, says, "I know him, for I am FROM him, and he hath SENT me." Where it is evident, that his being FROM the Father, as to his eternal generation, is distinguished from his being SENT by him, as to his office.

Q. 23. What did this glorious person, the eternal Son of God, become, that he might be our Redeemer?

A. He became Man, John 1:14; Gal. 4:4.

Q. 24. When he became man did he cease to be God?

A. No; but he became Immanuel, God-man, Matt. 1:23.

Q. 25. What is the import of the name Immanuel?

A. It imports, that God is in our nature; and that a God in our nature is not against us, but a God with us, and for us, to save us from the hands of all our enemies, Luke 1:71.

Q. 26. What moved God to become man, in the person of the Son?

A. Nothing but matchless and undeserved grace and love, 1 John 4:10.

Q. 27. How many natures has Christ?

A. Two: namely, the nature of God, and the nature of man, 1 Tim. 3:16.

Q. 28. Why are they called two distinct natures?

A. In opposition to the error of the Eutychians of old, who maintained, that the two natures were mixed or blended together, so as to make but one nature.

Q. 29. Why is he said to have but one person?

A. In opposition to the error of the Nestorians, who maintained, that each nature was a person; or, that he had two persons.

Q. 30. How does it appear, that the two natures of God and man are united in the person of the Son?

A. From Isa. 9:6 -- "Unto us a child is born -- and his name shall be called -- The mighty God." It neither being possible nor true, that he who is the child born, could be the mighty God, except by union of the divine and human natures in one person, Rom. 9:5; 1 Tim. 3:16.

Q. 31. Will ever the union between the two natures be dissolved?

A. By no means: for he is, and will continue to be our Kinsman, Priest, and Representative, in both natures for ever, Heb. 7:24, 25.

Q. 32. Does not each nature, notwithstanding of this union, still retain its own essential properties?

A. Yes; the divine nature is not made finite, subject to suffering or change; nor is the human nature rendered omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent, as the Lutherans, contrary to scripture and reason, affirm.

Q. 33. Are not the acts and works of either of the two natures, to be ascribed to the person of Christ?

A. Yes; because all he did and suffered, or continues to do, as Mediator, must be considered as personal acts, and from thence they derive their value and efficacy, Acts 20:28.

Q. 34. Why is the union of the two natures called a hypostatical or personal union?

A. Because the human nature is united to, and subsists in the person of the Son of God, Luke 1:35.

Q. 35. What is the difference between the hypostatical union, and the union that takes place among the persons of the adorable Trinity?

A. The union that takes place among the persons of the adorable Trinity, is a union of three persons in one and the same numerical nature and essence; but the hypostatical is a union of two natures in one person.

Q. 36. What is the difference between the hypostatical union, and the union that takes place between the soul and body?

A. Death dissolves the union that is between the soul and the body; but though the soul was separated from the body of Christ, when it was in the grave, yet both soul and body were, even then, united to the person of the Son as much as ever.

Q. 37. What is the difference between the hypostatical union, and the mystical union that is between Christ and believers?

A. Both natures in the hypostatical union are still but one person; whereas, though believers are said to be in Christ, and Christ in them, yet they are not one person with him.

Q. 38. Why was it requisite that our Redeemer should be man?

A. That being our kinsman and blood relation, the right of redemption might devolve upon him; and that he might be capable of obeying and suffering in our nature, Heb. 2:14.[29]

Q. 39. Why was it requisite that our Mediator should be God?

A. That his obedience and sufferings in our nature and room, might be of infinite value for our redemption, Acts 20:28; and that the human nature might be supported under the infinite load of divine wrath; which he had to bear for our sins, Rom. 1:4.[30]

Q. 40. "Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be God and man in one person?"

A. "That the proper works of each nature might be accepted of God for us, and relied on by us, as the works of the whole person, Heb. 9:14; 1 Pet. 2:6."[31]

Q. 41. What may we learn from the indissoluble union of the two natures in the person of Christ?

A. That this union shall be an everlasting security for the perpetuity of the union between Christ and believers: that the one shall never be dissolved more than the other; for he has said, "Because I live ye shall live also," John 14:19.


[29] Larger Catechism, Question 39.

[30] Ibid. Q. 38.

[31] Ibid. Q. 40.


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