Monday, April 26, 2010

Good News Drawn from the Westminster Shorter Catechism

One of my typing projects in high school was to write a gospel tract.  I've tried my hand at this a few times since and it is such a rewarding exercise.  This past weekend I was working on a brochure for the Clayton churches where I am serving as pulpit supply with one other preacher, and this is what I wrote for the gospel presentation to be included in the brochure.  We are planning on distributing these brochures during the Clayton small-town festival scheduled for this coming weekend.  I'd be glad to receive any feedback on this that you might be willing to offer.

1. Man’s primary purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. (Psalm 86:8) Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise! (Psalm 66:1-2)

2. By their fall all mankind lost fellowship with God and brought his anger and curse on themselves.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Romans 1:18) [F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23) Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— (Romans 5:12)

3. God did not leave all mankind to die in sin and misery.

And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. (Genesis 17:7) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

4. The only Redeemer is Jesus Christ who, having suffered the miseries of life, the anger of God, and the curse of death on the cross, was raised again from the dead, ascended up into heaven and is now sitting at the right hand of God the Father.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

5. To escape God’s anger and curse, which we deserve for our sin, God requires from us faith in Jesus Christ and repentance unto life. 

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

6. Among the many benefits of salvation are assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit, and growing and persevering in grace to the end of our lives. 

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God…and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-2, 5) But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

7. At the resurrection, believers will be raised in glory, will be publicly recognized and declared not guilty on the day of judgment and will be made completely happy in the full enjoyment of God forever.

Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. 

Notes: In the interest of full disclosure, I want it to be clear that this presentation has been influenced by a handful of excellent resources.  The challenge in writing a gospel tract is both scriptural fidelity and prosaic clarity.  Wanting to produce a tract that is consistent with the Westminster Standards (believing these Standards to be faithful to the scriptures) using language that is current and understandable to the majority of modern readers, I drew heavily from the wording of The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English.

I begin with the "primary purpose" of man, which is a modernization of the WSC question 1.  This is something I've appreciated about the WSC but hadn't find this to be the starting point in gospel tracts until I came across John Piper's Quest for Joy: Six Biblical Truths.  

Statement #2 draws upon WSC question 19 and its answer. 
Statement #3 draws upon WSC question 20.
Statement #4 draws upon WSC question 21 and its answer.
Statement #5 draws upon WSC question 85 and its answer.
Statement #6 draws upon WSC question 36 and its answer.
Statement #7 draws upon WSC question 30 and its answer.