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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

A Commentary
on the
Shorter Catechism

Alexander Whyte

Q. 30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.

The Spirit applieth — The word literally means to join or fold together, also to lay on, as of an emollient on a diseased or injured part In the scriptural and doctrinal use of the word in the text, it describes that blessed work of the Holy Ghost by which the fruits of Christ’s redemption are laid upon the soul, and effectually and indissolubly made ours. In Hooker’s great sermon on Justification the following passage occurs, and it is here quoted as stating in noblest words the doctrine both of Christ’s purchase of redemption and the manner of its application to us: — “Christ hath merited righteousness for as many as are found in Him. In Him God findeth us, if we be faithful; for by faith we are incorporated into Him. Then, although in ourselves we be altogether sinful and unrighteous, yet even the man which in himself is impure, full of iniquity, full of sin; him being found in Christ through faith, and having his sin in hatred through repentance, him God beholdeth with a gracious eye, putteth away his sin by not imputing it, taketh quite away the punishment due thereuuto by pardoning it; and accepteth him in Jesus Christ as perfectly righteous, as if he had fulfilled all that is commanded him in the law; shall I say more perfectly righteous than if he himself had fulfilled the whole law? I must take heed what I say; but the apostle saith, ‘God made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.’ Such we are in the sight of God the Father, as is the very Son of God Himself. Let it be counted folly, or frenzy, or fury, or whatsoever. It is our wisdom and our comfort; we care for no other knowledge in the world but this, that man hath sinned, and God hath suffered; that God hath made Himself the sin of men, and that men are made the righteousness of God.”

redemption — The act of redeeming or buying back, effecting a ransom. Thus we speak of the redemption of prisoners taken in war, and of the redemption of an estate that bad been mortgaged. In the scriptural and theological language before us, it means the deliverance of sinners from the bondage of sin and from the sentence of condemnation. (See Answers 21, 29.)

purchased by Christ — Christ effected the redemption, paid the ransom, and hence He is called the Redeemer. His work is called a purchase because He did and paid all that God’s justice demanded for our pardon and release. “Christ hath merited to make us just; but as a medicine that is made for health doth not heal by being made, but by being applied; so, by the merits of Christ, there can be no justification without the application of His merits” (Hooker).

by working faith — For faith see Question 86. See also, for a full exhibition of the Spirit’s work in our salvation, Goodwin, vol. vi.

uniting us to Christ — To unite is to make two or more into one. Now the text teaches that the subjects of effectual calling are made one with Christ. This union is set forth under many beautiful and instructive figures in Holy Scripture.


1. “Let us apply ourselves to the Holy Ghost, let us glorify Him in our hearts, let us dart forth beams of special and peculiar love to Him, let us converse with Him, and fear to grieve Him.”

2. “Is He the author of conversion? Then lament and bewail the hardness of thy heart, which, though it hath so often had good motions put into it by the Spirit, yet hath not followed them, but given a deaf ear to them “ (Goodwin).


1. Explain the wording in the parallel clause in the Larger Catechism: The elect are spiritually and mystically, but really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband.

2. Give the leading passages in Scripture where Christ is called The Redeemer; also the more familiar figures under which the union that subsists between Him and His people is set forth.

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