Social Justice and Knowing God
Can we find God in just looking around us at creation? Can we know what He wants us to do?
Q3 of the Catechism points us to knowing about God - and what He wants us to do.
With what shall I come to the Lord
And bow myself before the God on high?
Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings,
With yearling calves?
Does the Lord take pleasure in thousands of rams,
In ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give Him my firstborn for my wrongdoings,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has told you, mortal one, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
John 3:16 - 21
16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him. 18 The one who believes in Him is not judged; the one who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, so that his deeds will not be exposed. 21 But the one who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds will be revealed as having been performed in God.”
Q3: What do the scriptures principally teach?
A: The scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.
The problem with Special Revelation, though, is that we often - more than not - get it wrong. The problem is not primarily with the revelation through creation - it is more a problem with us. Romans 3 verse 23 explains it perfectly. All have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God. That sin - the sin of disobedience that is an inherent part of our nature - effects everything that we do or say or think. We are kind of like the guy with the broken lens in his glasses. We kinda, sorta can see - but not really. We get hints of truth - but only partially. Paul in I Corinthians 13:12 seems to complete this thought:
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Therefore, we cannot know every aspect about God - or even get much right - through General Revelation because the tools that we have - our brains, our hearts, our reason - all are damaged from the outset. The picture we get of God from creation around is at the best incomplete - because we ourselves are lacking through sin.
That is where Special Revelation comes in. Special Revelation is that direct message given to us from God - and it is about God - and what He wants us to do. Because it is directly from Him - and guided by His spirit in both the preservation of that revelation and the interpretation of it - Special Revelation is authoritative and complete. Any misinterpretation of what God has given us is not the fault of His revelation - but our own.
That Special Revelation - of course - is Scripture. You can see why this question must come after the question declaring and asserting the authority of the Bible in all aspects of our lives. Because it is authorative - it contains everything we need to know about God and his purpose for us for this lifetime. It is not a complete picture of God - it cannot be - for the eternal God will not be contained - even in descriptions of Himself. But God has given to us everything we need to know to walk in faith - including about Himself.
Studies in the Westminster Shorter Catechism
The Westminster Confession of Faith is perhaps the most notable expression in creedal form of the truths of the Bible. It was the work of that assembly of divines which was called together by Parliament and met in London, at Westminster Abbey, during the years 1643-1648. It was this assembly which also produced the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. The Confession and the Catechisms are used by many churches as their doctrinal standards, subordinate to the Word of God.
It can be said that few things in the course of history have had such a shaping influence in the lives of Christians as the Westminster Shorter Catechism. What is the Catechism, and where did it come from? The Westminster Shorter Catechism, consisting of a summary of Christian doctrine in 107 questions and answers, was written by the Westminster Assembly in London over 350 years ago. After being written, it was adopted immediately by the Church of Scotland and put into use. When Presbyterianism came over the Atlantic Ocean to the shores of this country, the Catechism came as well. And it has been the chief staple of instruction within Presbyterian families ever since. Throughout history, the number of children receiving their religious instruction from the Shorter Catechism has been in the millions.
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