QUESTION 85. What doth God require of us that we may escape his wrath and curse, due to us for sin?
ANSWER: To escape the wrath and curse of God, due to us: for sin, God requireth of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption.
Q. 1. What weighty argument or motive (among many others,) does the scripture afford, for essaying the practice of what God requires of us?
A. That though we are enjoined, to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling; yet, we are at the same time assured, that "it is God which worketh in us, both to will and to do, of his good pleasure," Phil. 2:12, 13.
Q. 2. Does God require any thing of us in point of duty, without promising suitable furniture, for the performance of it?
A. No; for he has said, "I will cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them," Ezek. 36:27.
Q. 3. Can we escape the wrath and curse of God, due to us for sin, by any thing we can do of ourselves?
A. No, surely; for "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags," Isa. 64:6; and, "by the works of the law, shall no flesh be justified," Gal. 2:16.
Q. 4. Why then does the answer say, that to escape the wrath and curse of God, due to us for sin, God requires of us, faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, and a diligent use of all the outward means?
A. Because, though these duties, as performed by us, can neither give a title to, nor possession of eternal life; yet God appoints and requires them, both as they are MEANS of conveying and improving the salvation purchased, 1 Cor. 1:21, and likewise, as they are EVIDENCES of our interest in it, when conveyed, John 6:47.
Q. 5. Why does God require faith in Jesus Christ as the sovereign means of escaping his wrath and curse?
A. Because there is salvation in no other; there being "none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved," Acts 4:12.
Q. 6. What encouragement have we to essay believing in Jesus Christ?
A. There cannot be a greater encouragement than this, that faith "is the gift of God," Eph; 2:8; and accordingly the promise runs, "I will say, It is my people, and they shall say, The Lord is my God," Zech. 13:9.
Q. 7. Why is repentance unto life required?
A. Because it is the inseparable fruit and effect of faith or believing, Zech. 12:10 -- "They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him."
Q. 8. What encouragement have sinners of mankind, privileged with gospel light, to look for, or expect this blessing of repentance unto life, which God requires of them?
A. They are warranted to expect it on this ground, that as Christ has "received gifts for men," Psalm 68:18, so "him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel," Acts 5:31.
Q. 9. Why does God require of us the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption?
A. Because a neglect or contempt of the means of divine appointment, for communicating the benefits of redemption, is, in the sight of God, the same thing as a neglect or contempt of these inestimable benefits themselves, Luke 10:16 -- "He that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me."
Q. 10. Can our believing, repenting, and diligent use of means, as they are acts of ours, be the procuring cause of our escaping wrath, or found our title to life and salvation?
A. No; for, "by the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in his sight," Rom. 3:20. Our security from wrath and title to heaven, are founded on the imputation of the surety righteousness alone, Isa. 45:25.
Q. 11. What would be the consequence of making our faith, repentance, and good works, the procuring cause of our escaping the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin?
A. This would be setting aside the satisfaction of Christ, and making a saviour of our duties, than which nothing could nail us more effectually down under the curse, Gal. 3:10 -- "As many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse."
Q. 12. Have unbelieving and impenitent sinners any warrant to conclude, that they have escaped the wrath and curse of God, due to them for sin?
A. No, surely; for "he that believeth not, is condemned already," John 3:18; and our Lord says, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish," Luke 13:3.
Q. 13. Is our escaping the wrath and curse of God suspended on the condition of our faith, repentance, and diligent use of the outward means?
A. No; for, if any promised blessing were suspended upon the condition of our personal obedience, it would be the very form of the covenant of works, Rom. 10:5 -- "Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, that the man which doth these things, shall live by them."
Q. 14. When do carnal and unregenerate men turn the dispensation of the covenant of grace into the form of the covenant of works?
A. When they separate the duties of faith, repentance, and the diligent use of the means, from the promises of the Covenant, and hope to make themselves accepted with God by their personal performance of these duties, Rom. 10:3.
Q. 15. What CONNEXION have faith, repentance, and the use of outward means, with salvation?
A. They have the connexion of APPOINTED MEANS prescribed by God himself, which, by his blessing, are subservient for such a valuable end; being themselves a part of salvation, and evidences of it, 2 Thess. 2:13.
Q. 16. How are the means of salvation usually distinguished?
A. Into internal and external.
Q. 17. What are the internal means?
A. Faith and repentance, with the other graces that accompany or flow from them.
Q. 18. Why called internal, or inward?
A. Because they are wrought in the hearts of the elect, by the Spirit of God, as the fruits and effects of Christ's purchase and mediation, Zech. 12:10.
Q. 19. What are the external or outward means?
A. They are the ordinances of Divine institution, and appointment; such as, the word, sacraments, and prayer.
Q. 20. How is faith in Jesus Christ connected with salvation?
A. As it is the hand that receives Christ and his righteousness, as the all of our salvation, Psalm 68:31; John. 1:12.
Q. 21. How is repentance unto life connected with salvation?
A. As it consists in that godly sorrow for sin, flowing from faith, which is both the exercise and ornament (in some measure) of all the travellers Zion-ward, while in this world, Jer. 50:4; 2 Cor. 7:11.
Q. 22. How is the diligent use of outward means connected with salvation?
A. As it is by them that Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption, Prov. 2:1-16.
Q. 23. Could he not communicate the benefits of redemption, without the outward means?
A. Whatever he could do, yet his ordinary method is to honour his own ordinances, as the means of communicating these benefits to us, which we are not to expect but in the use of them, Prov. 8:34; Rom. 10:17.
Q. 24. What USE does God require us to make of the outward means?
A. He requires us to make a diligent use of them.
Q. 25. What is a diligent use of the outward means?
A. It is an embracing every opportunity offered in providence, for attending upon God in them, looking earnestly for his blessing upon them, by which alone they become efficacious for our spiritual benefit, 1 Cor. 3:6, 7.