Thomas Watson
Doctrine

1) What is the chief end of man?

Introduction – Thomas Watson

Thomas WatsonThomas Watson (1620 – 1686), a 17th Century English Puritan, states in his Body of Divinity –Knowledge of principles is to the soul as the anchor to the ship, that holds it steady in the midst of the rolling waves of error, or the violent winds of persecution. First grounded and then settled.

Watson, concluded that the best way to “ground and settle” believers is through systematically teaching the oracles of our faith – “Catechising is the best expedient for the grounding and settling of people…To preach and not to catechise is to build without foundation. This…is not novel, it is apostolic.

Thus, Thomas Watson went on to author “Body of Divinity” to do just that – to expand and expound on the major teachings of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which was written in 1646/47, by English and Scottish theologians, and consisted of a summary of Christian doctrine in 107 questions and answers.

Historical Perspective

Let’s put Thomas Watson, again, 1620 – 1686, into a historical perspective.

  • In 1454 the Gutenberg press was discovered which replaced wooden blocks. Now, the first book printed on the Gutenberg press was the Bible – in Latin – which obviously appealed to the Catholic clergy.
  • In 1517, the Reformation is born under Martin Luther who challenges Catholicism. It could be argued that the availability of the written word to the common man helped propel the Reformation.
  • Also, the dealings of the Catholic Popes was fresh on Watson’s mind, and he stated the papal were “ignorant and vicious…therefore…not fit interpreters of Scripture.” Remember, the lines between Church and Religion were somewhat non existent at that time.
  • In 1525 William Tyndale completed an English version of the New Testaments and up to 2 Chronicles of the Old Testament. In 1535 he was martyred and burned at the stake for his efforts. He was the first to turn Greek into readable English.
  • In 1611 the King James Bible was released to address the conflict of The Bishops Bible, which was used by the clergy, and The Geneva Bible, which was used by the people. Much of what Tyndale had done was used in the development of the King James. Thomas Watson, quotes from the KJV.

Without question, this was a rich period of church history and reformation growth. These men knew the Bible, they knew Greek and Hebrew and yet without computers and the Internet. Their insights are of a level deeper than what we commonly read today. They are worthy of studying and emulating.

Note: One of the presentation rules I appreciate with the NASB is they 1) capitalize all pronouns that relate to God; such as Him, He, Who, Me, My etc., and 2) all New Testament references to  Old Testament verses are in all caps; “BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME…” Matthew 15:9.

I believe this not only honors God’s word, but it makes it clearer, and is the format that I use in these posts.

 

Continue in the faith grounded and settled (Col 1:23)

If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; ” KJV

… firmly established and steadfast,…” NASB

It is our responsibility, as believers, to be settled in our faith. To be settled, we must be well grounded, to be steadfast, we must first be established, for we face obstacles daily from “damnable heresies” (2 Pet 2:1) to even “antichrists” (1 John 2:18.)

We are to be grounded in the knowledge of the fundamentals, and thus settled that as Ephesians 4:14 states we be “no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine…”

This was a consistent theme in the New Testament. Hebrews 5:12 admonishes believers that “…you need someone to teach you the basic principles (oracles) of God’s revelation…” and in 6:1-3 states “Therefore…let us go on to maturity (or perfection)…”

The great end of preaching is to bring this settlement in our understanding, without which we would never grow nor would our armor be as effective as a defense. Ephesians 11-13:

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,  for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

This post explores the first half of the very first question of the Westminster Catechism – What is the chief end of Man? [to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever]

Man’s chief end is to glorify God…

Glorifying God respects all persons of the Trinity. It respects:

  • God the Father, Who gave us life,
  • God the Son, Who gave His life for us, and
  • God the Holy Spirit, Who produces a new life in us.

What is “God’s glory?”

  • There is God’s intrinsic glory.
    • Acts 7:2 “And he said, “Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory…”
    • Isaiah 48:11 “And My glory I will not give to another.
    • What other intrinsic characteristics does God have?
  • There is the Glory due God.
    • 1 Chronicles 16:8-10 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wonders. Glory in His holy name;”
    • 1 Corinthians 6:20 “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

What is glorifying God?

  1. Appreciation – set God highest in our thoughts.
    1. Psalm 8:1 “O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!”  Read all of Psalm 8 to see this appreciation.
    2. Psalm 29:2(a) “Ascribe to the Lord glory due to His name;”
  2. Adoration (or worship) – as opposed to “strange fire” we are to worship God according to His commands.
    1. What is “strange fire?” Leviticus 10:1 “…[they] took their respective fire pans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them.”
      1. Can you name another example of strange fire? Read Genesis 4:3-8.
      2. Hebrew 11:4 “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain…”
        1. What is the opposite of “faith” – “works.”
        2. 2 Corinthians 5:7 “for we walk by faith, not by sight…”
    2. Psalm 29:2(b) “Worship the Lord in holy array.
    3. Nehemiah 8:6 “…while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
  3. Affection – God counts Himself glorified when He is loved.
    1. Deuteronomy 6:5 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.”
  4. Subjection – dedicated to God and stand ready dressed for His service.
    1. Matthew 2:11 “after coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

Why must we glorify God?

  1. Because He gives us our existence.
    1. Psalm 100:1-3 “Shout joyfully to the Lord…It is He who made us…
    2. Romans 11:36 “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
  2. Because God made everything for His glory.
    1. Isaiah 43:21 “The people whom I formed for Myself
      Will declare My praise.
    2. 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”
  3. Because creatures above and below glorify God – we need to do likewise. Or as Watson states “do we think we sit rent free?”
    1. Psalm 19:1 “The heavens are telling of the glory of God;…”
    2. Isaiah 43:20 ““The beasts of the field will glorify Me,…”
  4. Because all our hopes are in Him, just as a child’s expectation of all their needs are in their parents.
    1. Psalm 39:7(a) “My hope is in You.
    2. Psalm 62:7-8 “My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation,…”

How can we glorify God (when) –

  1. We prefer God’s glory above all other things.
    1. We prefer it above credit to ourselves, and even family. When the glory of God comes into competition with them, we prefer His glory before others. Deuteronomy 33:9 “Who said of his father and his mother, ‘I did not consider them’; And he did not acknowledge his brothers, Nor did he regard his own sons, For they observed Your word, And kept Your covenant.
  2. We are content that God’s will should take place even though it may cross our will. Matthew 26:39 “… “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.
    1. If Christ was willing to glorify the Father by doing His will over Christ’s own will, should not we? 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
  3. We are content to be out shined by others in gifts and esteem, so that His glory may be increased. Philippians 1:15 – 19 “Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.
  4. We confess our sin. One of the most interesting stories in the New Testament is the Thieves on the Cross. Luke 23:39-43 “One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!”  But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom! And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
    1. The abusive thief told Christ to save Himself. Who else in the Bible said that? See Matt 4:6
    2. What is “we indeed are suffering justly?”
    3. How does the thief’s statements square with Roman’s 10:9? – if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
    4. Joshua 7:19 “My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide [it] not from me.
  5. We believe by faith. Romans 4:20 “He [Abraham] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
    1. Daniel 3:17 “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.
    2. God honors faith because faith honors God!
  6. We are tender (sensitive and protective) of His glory.
    1. Psalm 69:9 “the reproaches of those who reproach Thee have fallen on me.”
    2. Since Gods glory is dear to Him, when His glory suffers we likewise suffer.
  7. We are fruitful. It is dishonoring to be barren, but fruitfulness honors God and gives Him glory. John 15:8 “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
    1. Matthew 5:16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
    2. Jeremiah 11:16 “The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit:” This was the calling, but because of “offering up sacrifices to Baal” “He has kindled fire on it, and its branches are worthless.” There are consequences to being barren.
  8. We are content in that state in which Providence has placed us. “We give God the glory of his wisdom, when we rest satisfied with what he carves out for us.” “Body of Divinity.” In Thomas Watson’s “All things for good” he believed he faced two great difficulties in his ministry. The first was making the unbeliever sad, in the recognition of his need of God’s grace. The second was making the believer joyful in response to Gods grace. Contentment is that joy in response to the providence God has placed us.
    1. Providence is a word used often in the writings of 17th Century Puritans and 18th and 19th Century early Americans. Providence is the power of God to sustain and guide human destiny. Another word used often during that time and which is closely related is felicity or the quality or state of being happy and a pleasing manner.
    2. Paul expressed this contentment regardless of which providence God has placed him when he says in Philippians 4:11-12 “…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.“-
  9. We work out our own salvation. This is an interesting observation. If we glorify God by growing in our salvation – in other words by our sanctification, and our rewards in heaven is predicated on the fruits of this sanctification, then while I am furthering my own glory in heaven, I am glorifying God. This may be the greatest “win/win” ever. Think about that for a while.
  10. We live unto God. 1 Corinthians 5:15 “He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”
    1. Romans 14:8 “for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”
    2. Romans 14:11 “For it is written,AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.
    3. Paul wished to be found in Christ, be with Christ and to magnify Christ – where does the bible record this?
  11. We walk cheerfully. We have grounds for joy, we are justified and adopted, and this should create an inner peace. 1 Thessalonians 1:6 “You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example…”
    1. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 “ Rejoice always;…
  12. We pray. 1 Thessalonians 1:11 states:  To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power,  so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
    1. Notice something – “Pray always that you may be worthy of your calling, fulfilling your desire for goodness and the work of faith in power and to the glory of God.
    2. This is how you pray. Worthy of your calling is worthy of an effectual calling. Not “many are called but…” You were not worthy before your calling, but out of gratitude, love and obedience, you need to be worthy now. Walk in purity, contentment, faith, unity, righteousness etc.
    3. Psalm 37:4 reads ““Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” This is the desire for goodness and the work of faith. Your will and God’s will are aligned to such a degree that your desires are realized.
      1. Works of faith are those which Ephesians 2:10 discusses “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Good works do not produce salvation, salvation produces good works.
    4. In power is Ephesians 3:16 “…according to the riches of His glory…”
    5. And, all this is to glorify God.
      1. “and you in Him” remember, we are justified, sanctified and glorified.
    6. Reversed. “We glorify God, according to His riches, by producing works of faith and fulfilling the desires of our heart, by walking worthy of His calling through unceasing prayer.”
    7. My pray:“I pray always that God would count me worthy of my calling, fulfilling my good desires and works of faith, in power, to His glory.”
  13. We stand up for His truths. Jude 17 states “In the last time there shall be mockers…” and Jude 3 appeals to us “that you contend earnestly for the faith…”
    1. There is an article published Jan 26, 2019 about bills being proposed in Texas. “Four of the Texas bills – numbered HB 224, HB 254, HB 850 and SB 151 – would force Christian business owners to affirm homosexuality and transgenderism with their business practices…” “Two other bills take the LGBTQ activism straight into the health care field,”  “HB 517 forces Christian counselors to affirm transgenderism, and SB 154 would force doctors to violate their conscience by creating retroactive birth certificates with new gender identities for patients.”
    2. How did this happen? In a Statesman article published Jan 25, 2019 “A yearlong investigation of Texas voter rolls has indicated that about 95,000 non-U.S. citizens might have improperly registered to vote, including about 58,000 who cast a ballot “in one or more Texas elections” since 1996, state officials announced Friday.
    3. Furthermore, the new Texas ballot whereby you can check only one box for a party vote was effective in removing a large number of conservative judges.
    4. This is the last times and for the Glory of God, we need to contend earnestly for the truth of the faith.
  14. We praise Him. Psalm 50:23 in the KJV states “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me:…”
    1. The New Testament is full of doxologies which praise God and give Him glory.
    2. Romans 11:33, 36 is a great example: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?  Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again?  For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen”
    3. And from Revelation 1:5b-6 “To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to is God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
    4. “heresthe.link/doxology” to 28 doxologies and benedictions in the New Testament.
  15. We are zealous for His name. Zeal is a combination of love and anger. Love for the Lord and anger for anything that would dishon0r Him. Zeal then gives glory.
    1. In John 2:14-17 we see the zeal of the Lord “And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables.  And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.”  His disciples remembered that it was written, “ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME.
    2. This is from Psalm 69:9 “For zeal for Your house has consumed me,
      And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.
  16. We have an eye to God in all our natural and civil actions. In all we do, we should do to the Glory of God. As such everything reflects on God and any evil action will cast a dispersion. Therefore we are to ensure that every action is glorifying.
    1. 1 Corinthians 10:31 states “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
  17. We labor to draw others to God. Drawing others to God is obedience to His great commission – that is glorifying. Also, leading others into salvation, to which they will glorify God, is in itself glorifying.
  18. We are obedient. Paul’s request that we imitate him as he imitates Christ is a lesson on obedience.
    1. 2 Corinthians 9:13 states “Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all,
  19. We suffer for God. Many time throughout history and even now in many parts of the world, standing for God is an invitation to suffering and even suffering unto death.
    1. 1 Peter 2:20 “For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.”
  20. We give God the glory for all that we do. Even with the rewards we are give for being faithful servants, we give God all the glory.
    1. Revelation 4:10-11

      the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

      “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”

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