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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism
of the Westminster Assembly
Explained and Proved
from Scripture

Thomas Vincent

LXXXIX. Ques. How is the Word made effectual to salvation?
The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the Word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation.

Q. 1. What is the ordinance or appointment of the Lord, in reference unto the Word, that it may be effectual unto salvation?
A. The ordinance or appointment of the Lord, in reference unto the Word, that it may be effectual unto salvation, is— 1. That we read the Word. "He shall read therein all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law, and those statutes to do them."— Deut. 17:19. "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and these are they which testify of me."— John 5:39. 2. That we hear the Word preached. "Indine your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live."— Isa 55:3. "It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."— l Cor. 1:21.

Q. 2. How is the Word made effectual unto salvation?
A. The Word is made effectual unto salvation, First, In reference unto sinners and ungodly, as the Word is a mean— 1. To convince them of sin, and to affect them with remorse for it. "But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all; and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth."— l Cor. 14:24, 25. "For the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two.edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."— Heb. 4:12. "Now, when they heard this, they were pricked in their hearts."— Acts 2:37. 2. To convert them from sin, and join them unto Christ and his people. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul."— Ps. 19:7. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and there were added unto them about three thousand souls."— Acts 2:41. "Howbeit many of them which beard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand." — Acts 4:4. Secondly, In reference unto those that are converted, the Word is effectual unto salvation, as it is a mean of building them lip in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation. "And now, brethren. I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified."— Acts 20:32. "And he gave some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."— Eph. 4:11-13.

Q. 3. How doth the Word build up the saints in holiness?
A The Word doth build up the saints in holiness— 1. As it is a mean to work them into a greater conformity unto the image of God, and to cause an increase of every grace in them. "We all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory."— 2 Cor. 3:18. "As new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby."— 1 Pet. 2:2. 2. As it doth reprove, correct, instruct in righteousness, and thereby perfect them more and more, and fit them for good works. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work."— 2 Tim. 3:16, 17. 3. As it is a mean of pulling down strongholds in the soul, and more and more subduing all thoughts and affections unto the obedience of Christ. "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the know-ledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."— 2 Cor. 10:4, 5. 4. As it is a mean to strengthen the saints against the temptations of the devil and the corruptions of their own hearts. "Take to you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day. Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."— Eph. 6:13, 17. "Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God," &c.— Matt. 4:10. "Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way I by taking heed thereto according to thy word."— Ps. 119:9. 5. As it is a mean to establish the saints in the truths and ways of God, and to strengthen them against error and seduction. "Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ," &c.— Rom. 16:25. "That we be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive."— Eph. 4:14.

Q. 4. How doth the Word build up the saints in comfort?
A. The Word doth build up the saints in comfort— 1. As it doth reveal and hold forth the chiefest grounds of comfort, such as the promises of pardon and eternal life. "Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her sins are pardoned."— Isa. 40:1, 2. "This is the promise that he hath promised, even eternal life."— 1 John 2:25. 2. As it is the means of conveying to the soul the most sweet and unutterable joy of the Holy Ghost. "And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost."— 1 Thess. 1:6.

Q. 5. Is the Word effectual unto salvation by any virtue or power in itself?
A. The Word is not effectual unto salvation by any virtue or power in itself, but by the operation of the Spirit of God, in and by the Word. "Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament, not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."— 2 Cor. 3:6.

Q. 6. How doth the Word work effectually unto salvation?
A. The Word doth work effectually unto salvation through faith. "Ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe."— l Thess. 2:13. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth."— Rom. 1:16.

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