THE

SHORTER CATECHISM

EXPLAINED


QUESTION 36. What are the benefits which, in this life, do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?

ANSWER: The benefits which, in this life, do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.


OF ASSURANCE

Q. 1. Are not justification, adoption, and sanctification, pregnant with many blessings?

A. Yes; their name may well be called GAD, (Gen. 30:11,) for troops of blessings attend them; some in this life, some at death, but the best of all in the life to come.

Q. 2. What are the benefits which flow from them in this life?

A. There are five of them mentioned in the answer; namely, "assurance of God's love," Rom. 5:5; "peace of conscience," Rom. 5:1; "joy in the Holy Ghost," Rom. 14:17; "increase of grace," Prov. 4:18; and "perseverance therein to the end," 1 Pet. 1:5.

Q. 3. Which of these benefits flow from a sight and sense of justification, adoption, and sanctification?

A. Assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Q. 4. Which of them belong to the being of a justified, adopted, and sanctified state?

A. Increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.

Q. 5. Do all justified, adopted, and sanctified persons, enjoy assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy Ghost, at all times?

A. Though they have them radically in their justification, adoption, and sanctification, yet they are not always sensible of the possession of them, but are frequently filled with doubts and fears about their gracious state, Job 23:8, 9; Isa. 49:14.

Q. 6. Whence is it that they who have assurance, peace, and joy in the root, have not always the sensible possession of these benefits?

A. This flows sometimes from a sovereign cause in God, to keep down a spirit of pride after special manifestations, 2 Cor. 12:7; and sometimes from a sinful cause in believers; such as, untenderness in their walk, Isa. 59:2; resting upon a manifestation, Luke 9:33, 34; or quenching the gracious motions and operations of the Spirit, Eph. 4:30.

Q. 7. Is it the assurance of sense, or the assurance of faith, that is mentioned in this answer?

A. It is the assurance of sense, or the sensible assurance of God's love.

Q. 8. What is the difference between the assurance of faith, and the assurance of sense?

A. The object of the assurance of faith is "Christ in the promise," James 2:23; but the object of the assurance of sense is "Christ formed in the soul," 2 Tim. 2:12; or, which is the same thing, the assurance of faith is founded on the infallible word of God, who cannot lie; but the assurance of sense upon the person's present experience of the communications of divine love.

Q. 9. How may assurance of God's love be said to accompany or flow from justification?

A. Because in it we see his love to us, in pardoning our sins, and receiving us into his favour, Psalm 103:3, 4.

Q. 10. How may it be said to accompany or flow from adoption?

A. Because we see in it his love to us, in bringing us into his family, and pitying us, "like as a father pitieth his children," Psalm 103:13.

Q. 11. How may it be said to accompany or flow sanctification?

A. Because in it we see his love to us, in killing our corruptions, and quickening his graces, Rom. 8:11, 14.

Q. 12. How do you prove that the sensible assurance of God's love is attainable?

A. From the command to give diligence to attain it, 2 Pet. 1:10; and from its being actually attained, by many of the saints; such as, Job 19:25, 26; David, Psalm 73:26; Paul, 2 Tim. 4:7, 8, and others.

Q. 13. How are the saints brought to this privilege?

A. Sometimes by a course of holy and self-denied diligence in the way of commanded duty, Isa. 32:17; and sometimes by the Spirit itself bearing witness with their spirits, that they are the children of God, Rom. 8:16.

Q. 14. What may afford comfort to a believer, when at any time he loses this assurance?

A. That the covenant stands fast with Christ, Psalm 89:28; that the love of God is invariably the same, Zeph. 3:17; and that he will in his own time return with wonted loving-kindness, Isa. 54:7, 8.

Q. 15. What is incumbent on believers for recovering the assurance of God's love when they have lost the present sense of it?

A. To be humbled for sin, as the procuring cause of the Lord's departure, Psalm 40:12; to justify God, and to condemn themselves, Dan. 9:7, 8; and to wait in the exercise of prayer and fasting, for the returns of his love, Isa. 8:17.

Q. 16. Of what advantage to believers is the assurance of God's love?

A. It animates to the practice of every commanded duty, Psalm 119:32; it supports under all trials and afflictions, Psalm 23:4; and it fills the soul with the love of God, "because he first loved us," 1 John 4:19.

Q. 17. How may we know if we have the well-rounded assurance of God's love?

A. If it flow from faith on Christ in the promise, Eph. 1:13; if it fill the soul with an humble and holy wondering at the condescending goodness of God, 2 Sam. 7:18; and if it beget ardent desires after nearer conformity to God here, and the full enjoyment of him hereafter, 1 John 3:2, 3.

Q. 18. What is the difference between a true assurance of God's love and a false and presumptuous confidence?

A. True assurance makes a man more humble and self-denied, Gal. 2:19, 20; but presumptuous confidence puffs up with spiritual pride and self-conceit, 2 Kings 10:15, 16:the one excites to the practice of every commanded duty, Psalm 119:32; but the other encourages sloth and indolence, Luke 11:21:the man who has true assurance, wants to be searched and tried as to the reality thereof, Psalm 26:1, 2; but they who are stuffed with presumptuous confidence hate the light, "neither come to the light, lest their deeds should be reproved," John 3:20.

OF PEACE OF CONSCIENCE


Q. 1. What is peace of conscience?

A. It is the inward quiet and tranquillity of the mind arising from the faith of being justified before God, Rom. 5:1.

Q. 2. Why is peace of conscience said to accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?

A. Because none can have true peace of conscience who are not justified, adopted, and sanctified: there being "no peace to the wicked," Isa. 57:21.

Q. 3. When may we be said to have that peace of conscience which flows from justification.

A. When the conscience, being sprinkled with the blood of Christ, is set free from the fear of vindictive wrath, Heb. 10:22.

Q. 4. When have we that peace which flows from adoption?

A. When we have soul-quiet and composure, through the faith of God's being our friend and father in Christ, Jer. 3:4, 19.

Q. 5. When have we that peace which accompanies or flows from sanctification?

A. When we have the Spirit of God shining on us, in the exercise of grace, and assisting us in the performance of duty, Psalm 138:3.

Q. 6. Whether is the peace of sanctification, or that of justification, most stable and permanent?

A. The peace of sanctification, having many imperfections cleaving to it, is more fluctuating and unstable than the peace of justification, which is founded upon a righteousness that is everlasting, and always the same, Isa. 45:24, 25.

Q. 7. Have all believers peace in their consciences at all times?

A. They have ground of peace, being in a state peace; but have not always the sense of it, Job 6:4.

Q. 8. What is it that hinders or mars the sense of peace in those who are in a state of peace?

A. Their not improving the promises by faith, for promoting their sanctification, Isa. 40:27, 28; their sitting down upon present or former attainments, Psalm 30:6, 7; and their giving way to the temptations of Satan, who is an enemy both to their grace and comfort, Isa. 56:11.

Q. 9. What are the marks of true peace of conscience, which distinguish it from carnal security

A. A continual warfare against all known sin, Psalm 119:104; and a sincere endeavour to please God, verse 165; with a constant fear of offending him, Gen. 39:9.

OF JOY IN THE HOLY GHOST


Q. 1. What is joy in the Holy Ghost?

A. It is that inward elevation and enlargement of soul which flows from the lively exercise of faith, feasting on Christ in the promise, 1 Pet. 1:8 -- "Believing, ye rejoice, with joy unspeakable, and full of glory."

Q. 2. Why is this joy said to be in the Holy Ghost?

A. Because the Holy Ghost is the author of it; as personally inhabiting, or residing in the believer, John 14:16, 17.

Q. 3. What is the matter or ground of this joy?

A. God in Christ as the everlasting portion of the believing soul, Psalm 16:5, 6.

Q. 4. What are the properties of it?

A. It is a hidden joy, Prov. 14:10; it is permanent, John 16:22; and it is unspeakable, 1 Pet. 1:8.

Q. 5. What are the peculiar seasons of this joy?

A. The time of special manifestations after a dark night of desertion, Isa. 54:7, 8; the time of tribulation for Christ's sake, Acts 16:25; the time of God's remarkable appearance for his church, Ex. 15:1; and sometimes in or about the time of death, Psalm 23:4.

Q. 6. When may believers be said to have that joy in the Holy Ghost, which accompanies or flows from justification?

A. When they have "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus," Heb. 10:19.

Q. 7. When may they be said to have that joy which flows from adoption?

A. When the "Spirit itself beareth witness with their spirit, that they are the children of God;" and enables them to "cry, Abba, Father," Rom. 8:15, 16.

Q. 8. When may they be said to have the joy that flows from sanctification?

A. When they have the testimony of their conscience bearing witness to their sincerity, and to the uprightness of their aims and endeavours in all the duties of religion, 2 Cor. 1:12 -- "For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world."

Q. 9. What are the signs and evidences of joy in the Holy Ghost, which distinguish it from that joy which temporary believers, or hypocrites, may sometimes have in the word? Matt. 13:20.

A. Joy in the Holy Ghost has an enlivening, Neh. 8:10; enlarging, Psalm 45:1; humbling, Job 42:5, 6; and sanctifying influence upon the soul, 2 Cor. 3:18; whereas the joy of hypocrites has no such effects.

OF INCREASE OF GRACE


Q. 1. What do you understand by increase of grace?

A. The gradual advances which the saints are helped to make, in the exercise of grace, and experimental godliness, Psalm 92:12, 13.

Q. 2. To what is the increase of grace compared in scripture?

A. To "the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day," Prov. 4:18.

Q. 3. What is the spring or cause of the believer's growth?

A. Union with Christ, John 15:4; and participation of vital influences from him, Col. 2:19.

Q. 4. Why is it ordered that believers shall grow in grace?

A. Because there is a particular stature, at which every member of the mystical body is appointed to arrive, even "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ," Eph. 4:13.

Q. 5. How does growth in grace flow from justification?

A. In as much as the justified person is delivered from a legal incapacity to grow, Psalm 116:16; and is made free and unfettered for the service of God, Gal. 5:1.

Q. 6. How does it flow from adoption?

A. In as much as the sincere milk of the word is desired by the new-born babes, that they may grow thereby, 1 Pet. 2:2.

Q. 7. How does it flow from sanctification?

A. In as much as the image of God, drawn upon the soul, is in sanctification, carried on to a nearer conformity, till we shall be perfectly like him, when we shall see him as he is, 1 John 3:2.

Q. 8. Do believers grow in grace at all times?

A. They have a principle of growth, the seed of God remaining in them, 1 John 3:9; but they do not grow at all times; they have their winters, Song 2:11, in which the influences of grace, necessary for growth, are ceased, 5:2.

Q. 9. Whence is it that the believer's growth ceases at any time?

A. Faith being like the pipe that received the oil from the bowl to each lamp in the candlestick, Zech. 4:2; if that pipe be stopped, or the saint's faith lie dormant and inactive, then all the rest of the graces will also languish and decay, Psalm 27:13.

Q. 10. How is growth in grace revived, after the languishings and decays of it?

A. The pipe of faith remaining still at the Fountain, as a bond of union between Christ and the soul, the Lord Jesus clears this mean of conveyance, and then the influences for growth flow, and the believer's graces look fresh and green again, Hos. 14:7 -- "They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine."

Q. 11. Since the tares have their growth, as well as the wheat, Matt. 13:26, how shall we distinguish between the growth of hypocrites, and the growth of the true Christian?

A. The distinction lies in the nature of the growth: the growth of the true Christian is regular and proportionable in all the parts of the new man; it is a "growing up into him in all things who is the head," Eph. 4:15; whereas, hypocrites when they get more knowledge into their heads, and no more holiness into their hearts, may be more taken up with the externals of religion than formerly, and yet as great strangers to the power of godliness as ever, 2 Tim. 3:5.

Q. 12. What are the several ways in which believers grow at once?

A. They grow inwardly and outwardly; upward and downward, Isa. 37:31.

Q. 13. How do believers grow inwardly?

A. By uniting more closely to Christ, and cleaving more firmly to him as the head of influences, which is the spring of all other true Christian growth, Eph. 4:15.

Q. 14. How do they grow outwardly?

A. By being fruitful in good works in their life and conversation, Tit. 3:8.

Q. 15. How do they grow upward?

A. In heavenly-mindedness and contempt of the world, Phil. 3:20 -- "Our conversation is in heaven?"

Q. 16. How do they grow downward?

A. In humility and self-abasement; the branches of the largest growth in Christ, are, in their own eyes, "less than the least of all saints," Eph. 3:8; yea, "the chief of sinners," 1 Tim. 1:15; they see that they can do nothing, 2 Cor. 3:5; that they deserve nothing, Gen. 32:10; and that they are nothing, 2 Cor. 12:11.

Q. 17. May not Christians mistake their case, by measuring their growth in one of these ways, exclusively of the rest of them?

A. Yes; if,, for instance, they measure it upwards, and not at all downwards; for, though a Christian may want the sweet consolations and flashes of affection, which he has sometimes had, yet, if he be growing in humility, self-denial, and a sense of needy dependence on the Lord Jesus, he is a growing Christian, Hos. 14:5 -- "I will be as the dew unto Israel; he shall -- cast forth his roots as Lebanon."

Q. 18. When believers cannot perceive their growth, how may they know if they have true grace at all, how ever weak?

A. If they have any measure of self-loathing on account of sin, Ezek. 36:31; if they have a desire for grace, Neh. 1:11; if they prize Christ above all things, Phil 3:8; and if they love his members for his sake, 1 John 5:1.

OF PERSEVERANCE


Q. 1. What is meant by perseverance in grace?

A. A continuing still in the state of grace, and the habitual practice of godliness, to the end, John 10:28.

Q. 2. Can none who are justified, adopted, and sanctified, fall totally and finally from grace?

A. No; they can neither fall totally from all grace nor finally without recovery; for, "those that thou gavest me, says Christ, I have kept, and none of them is lost," John 17:12.

Q. 3. How is the perseverance of the saints infallibly secured?

A. By the immutability of electing love, Jer. 31:3; by an indissoluble union with Christ, Rom. 8:38, 39; by the merit of his purchase, 1 Pet. 1:18, 19; by the prevalency of his intercession, Luke 22:32; by the inhabitation of the Spirit, John 14:16; and by the power of a promising God, 1 Pet. 1:5.

Q. 4. What promise, among others, have believers for their perseverance in grace to the end?

A. They have that remarkable promise, in Jer. 32:40 -- "I will not turn away from them to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me."

Q. 5. What security have believers by this promise?

A. They are secured on every side; both that God will never cast them off, and that they shall never depart from him?

Q. 6. What is the ground, in law, upon which believers are secured, that God will never cast them off, and that they shall never depart from him?

A. Christ's perseverance in obedience to the law for them, till the condition of the covenant was perfectly fulfilled, Phil. 2:8, by which their perseverance was purchased, and infallibly secured, Tit. 2:14.

Q. 7. Do all who make a zealous profession of religion persevere in it?

A. No; many of them afterwards fall away, John 6:66.

Q. 8. What may we conclude about those who fall totally and finally from their profession?

A. That they were never in reality what they professed themselves to be, 1 John 2:19 -- "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest, that they were not all of us."

Q. 9. What are the chief branches of the promise of perseverance?

A. A promise of the continued influence of grace, Isa. 27:3; and a promise of continued pardon for the sins of the believer's daily walk, Jer. 33:8.

Q. 10. Why is the promise of the continued influences of grace necessary?

A. Because the stock of inherent grace would soon fail: of itself, it would wither away, and die out, if it were not fed, John 15:16.

Q. 11. Why is the promise of continued pardon necessary to the perseverance of saints already justified?

A. Not as if there were any need of new pardons with respect to their state; because none of their sins can bring them afterwards under the guilt of eternal wrath, Rom. 8:1; but only with respect to the sins of their daily walk, which bring them under the guilt of fatherly anger, Psalm 89:30-32.

Q. 12. How is the pardon of the sins of their daily walk granted to believers?

A. Upon their renewed actings of faith in Jesus Christ, and of repentance towards God; yet not FOR their believing and repenting, but for Christ's sake, 1 John 2:1, 2, even as the first pardon is given, chap. 1:7.

Q. 13. Does repentance then go before the pardon of sin?

A. Although repentance does not go before, but follows after the pardon of sin in justification; yet not only faith but repentance also, goes before the pardons given to those who are already justified, 1 John 1:9 -- "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins."

Q. 14. How does the perseverance of the saints flow from their justification?

A. In as much as they who are once justified, and accepted in the Beloved, are always so; for "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance," Rom. 11:29.

Q. 15. How does their perseverance flow from adoption?

A. In as much as he who has adopted them as his children, is their everlasting Father, Isa. 9:6; and therefore they shall abide in his house for ever, John 8:35.

Q. 16. How does it flow from their sanctification?

A. In as much as the sanctifying Spirit is given them to abide with them for ever, John 14:16; and to be in them a well of water, springing up into everlasting life, John 4:14.

Q. 17. What improvement should be made of this connexion of the benefits and blessings that accompany and flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?

A. It should excite in us a desire after the saving knowledge of the truth, as it is in Jesus, in whom all the lines of divine truth meet, as in their centre, Eph. 4:21; and to admire the infinite goodness and wisdom of God, who has so linked all the blessings of the covenant into one another, that they who are possessed of one, are possessed of all, 1 Cor. 3:22, 23.


Return to Documents at CRTA