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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel


Of What God Requires of Us.

Q. 85. What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us for sin ?
A. 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 out ward means, whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption.


Q. 1. What are the things required of us to escape Godís wrath and curse due to us for sin?
A. The things required of us are, (1.) Faith in Jesus Christ; Acts 16:31. And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (2.) Repentance for sin; Acts 3:19. Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, &c. (3.) Diligent striving in the use of all Godís appointed means; Luke 13:24. Strive to enter in at the strait gate: For many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

Q. 2. Are these things in manís power to perform, that God requires of him ?
A. Though they are our duties, yet we have no power in ourselves by nature to perform them, but the power is of God; 2 Corinthians 3:5. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God

Q. 3. But if men be in Christ, and justified from eternity, what need of this?
A. Though God from eternity decreed, and Christ long since purchased the salvation of the elect; yet have they no union with Christ till they believe; Ephesians 3:17. That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye being rooted and grounded in love. Nor remission of sin; Acts 3:19. That your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. But lie under wrath as others do; Ephesians 2:3, 12. And were by nature the children of wrath, even as othersÖ That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the common-wealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.

Q. 4. If it be God that can only work these graces in us, to what purpose is our striving?
A. Godís working doth not exclude manís striving, but more excites and obliges us to it; Philippians 2:12-13. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling: For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do, of his own good pleasure.

Q. 5. To what purpose is it to strive in the use of means, except we knew we were elected?
A. The knowledge of our election is not antecedent to our diligence, but our diligence is required antecedently to that knowledge; 1 Peter 1:10. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure, &c.

Q. 6. Is it not legal to put natural men upon striving in the use of means?
A. No, it is not; for Christ himself enjoins it? Luke 13:24. Strive to enter in at the strait gate, &c. And so did the apostles after him; Acts 8:22. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thy heart may be forgiven thee.

Q. 7. Is there no escaping of Godís wrath and curse without faith and repentance?
A. No, it is impossible to escape them; John 3:18. He that believeth not, is condemned already. Hebrews 2:3. How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?

Q. 8. But if a man reform his life, and live soberly and justly for time to come, may he not that way escape Godís wrath and curse?
A. No; sobriety and reformation are duties, but it is faith and regeneration that puts men into Christ, and out of danger; Matthew 5:20. Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Titus 3:5. Not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

Q. 9. Do all believing and penitent sinners escape Godís wrath and curse?
A. Yes, they do, and shall for ever escape it; Romans 8:1. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, &c. Colossians 1:12-13. Giving thanks unto God the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. John 5:24. He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Q. 10. What is the first inference hence?
A. Hence it appears how false and dangerous the Antinomian doctrine is, which teaches that our sins are pardoned before they are committed, or we either believe or repent; contrary to Acts 26:18. To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sin, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. James 5:20. He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, &c. Acts 10:43. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

Q. 11. What is the second inference hence?
A. Hence it follows, that it is dangerous on the one side not to strive in all the ways of duty for Christ and salvation, contrary to Luke 13:24. Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. And as dangerous, on the other side, to rest in, and depend on our own works and duties; Philippians 3:9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.

Q. 12. What is the third inference hence?
A. Hence we learn the miserable state of all unbelievers, and impenitent persons; the curse and wrath of God lies upon them; Galatians 3:10. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse, &c. And their mittimus for hell is already made; John 3:18. He that believeth not, is condemned already.

Q. 13. What is the fourth inference hence?
A. Hence we learn the happy state into which faith and repentance bring the souls of men; Acts 13:38-39. By him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

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