QUESTION 39. What is the duty which God requires of man?
ANSWER: The duty which God requires of man, is obedience to his revealed will.
Q. 1. Why are the principles of faith, in the Shorter Catechism, treated of, before duties of obedience?
A. To show, that man's duty cannot be rightly performed, unless it flow from a belief of these principles, as the root and spring of it, Heb. 11:6.
Q. 2. What do you understand by man's duty?
A. That which he owes to God, out of love and gratitude, Luke 17:10.
Q. 3. What is it that man thus owes to God?
A. Constant and universal obedience, 1 Sam. 15:22.
Q. 4. From whence does our obligation of obedience to God arise?
A. From his universal supremacy, and sovereign authority over us, as rational creatures, Lev. 18:5, who depend entirely upon him, for our "life, and breath, and all things," Acts 17:25.
Q. 5. What motive or excitement have Christians, above others, to the duties of obedience?
A. They have the revelation of God's free love, mercy, and grace in Christ, bringing salvation to them, which should teach them to "live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world," Tit. 2:12.
Q. 6. What is the only rule and measure of our obedience?
A. The revealed will of God, Isa. 8:20.
Q. 7. Why is our obedience limited to God's revealed will?
A. Because it is necessary that God should signify to us, in what instances he will be obeyed, and the manner how our obedience is to be performed; otherwise, it would rather be a fulfilling of our own will than his, Mic. 6:8.
Q. 8. Where has God revealed his will, as the rule and measure of our obedience?
A. In the scriptures of the Old and New Testament, 2 Tim. 3:16.
Q. 9. What is the difference between God's secret and revealed will?
A. His secret will is reserved to himself, as the rule of his own procedure; but his revealed will is made known to us, as the rule of our faith and obedience, Deut. 29:29 -- "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law."
Q. 10. Is it not agreeable to the revealed will of God that we give obedience to the just commands of our lawful superiors?
A. Yes; for thus we are commanded, 1 Pet. 2:13 -- "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake."
Q. 11. What is the difference between the obedience we should yield to God, and that which we should give to our lawful superiors?
A. We should obey God for himself, or out of regard to his own authority, as the very ground and reason of our obedience; but we should obey our superiors, only in the Lord; or, as their commands are agreeable to his will, Eph. 6:1 -- "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."
Q. 12. What is our duty, when the commands of superiors are contrary to the commands of God?
A. In that case we ought, without the least hesitation, "to obey God rather than men," Acts 5:29; Dan. 3:18.
Q. 13. Why ought God to be obeyed rather than men, when their commands are opposite?
A. Because, "God alone is the Lord of the conscience, James, 4:12, and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are in any thing contrary to his word," Acts 4:19.
Q. 14. What is the nature of that obedience which is acceptable to God?
A. It is such as flows from a vital union with Christ, and faith in him, as the principle of it, John 15:4, 5; is performed in a due manner, Psalm 5:7; and aims at the glory of God, as its highest and ultimate end, 1 Cor. 10:31.
Q. 15. What encouragement does God give us to essay a universal obedience to his revealed will?
A. That he requires nothing of us in point of duty, but what he promises strength and furniture for the performance of, Ezek. 36:27 -- "I will -- cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgements, and do them."