Category Archives: Practical Theology

Joseph Caryl on God Answering Prayer

Isaiah 65:24, “And it shall come to pass that before they call I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear.”

In the very act of praying, the answer came forth; yea, the answer sometimes antedates our asking, and the grant comes before the petition. The giving out of the answer may be deferred, but the answer is not deferred. We may be heard, and heard graciously, and yet, not presently receive the thing we ask; but every prayer is heard and laid up as soon as put up; he hangs it upon the file, he has it safe by him. Prayer receives an answer in heaven, as soon as spoken upon earth, though the answer be not returned to us on earth. God sleeps not at the prayer of those who are awake in prayer.[1]

[1] Joseph Caryl, Bible Thoughts (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 1995), 110. This wonderful book was originally published in the Nineteenth Century and republished by Don Kistler. The book presents selections from Caryl’s twelve volume expositions on Job, his magnum opus. Joseph Caryl was one of the Westminster Assembly divines. Each selection expounds a passage of Scripture which the editor arranged in its canonical order. Unfortunately, the original work never cited the volume from which these selections came.

CCPC Reading Groups for 2019 (DV)

CGG                                                                           CCC

Christian Growth Group                                            Christian Classics Club

1St Sunday of the Month                                              3rd Sunday of the Month


William Gurnall                                                          Wilhelmus a’Brakel

The Christian in Complete Armour                       The Christian’s Reasonable Service

3 Vols. (Abridged) BOT                                             4 Vols. (Unabridged) RHB


Jan.                                                                             Jan. (Vol. 1)

2:21-58                                                                        1:381-425



Feb.                                                                             Feb.

2:58-94                                                                        1:427-463



March                                                                         March

2:94-137                                                                      1:465-491



April                                                                          April

2:137-172                                                                    1:493-537



May                                                                            May

2:172-208                                                                    1:539-574



June                                                                            June

2:209-244                                                                    1:575-623



July                                                                            July

2:245-281                                                                    1:625-658



Aug.                                                                            Aug. (Vol. 2)

2:281-314                                                                    2:3-54



Sept.                                                                           Sept.

2:314-348                                                                    2:55-106



Oct.                                                                             Oct.

2:348-371                                                                    2:107-155



Nov.                                                                            Nov.

2:372-398                                                                    2:157-187

CCPC Reading Groups

Here is the reading schedule for the next several months! Outlines of each reading section will be provided on the day we meet. Please try to read as much as you can. If you cannot read all the material, show up anyway because you can still learn from the outline and discussion. DV, we’ll meet after lunch, around 3PM or so.

CCPC Reading Groups, 2018

CGG                                                                           CCC

Christian Growth Group                                            Christian Classics Club

1St Sunday of the Month                                              3rd Sunday of the Month


William Gurnall                                                          Wilhelmus a’Brakel

The Christian in Complete Armour                       The Christian’s Reasonable Service

3 Vols. (Abridged) BOT                                             4 Vols. (Unabridged) RHB


Feb.                                                                             Feb.

1:23-58                                                                            1:3-46



March                                                                         March

1:59-93                                                                             1:46-81



April                                                                          April

1:93-123                                                                         1:83-138



May                                                                            May

1:124-161                                                                        1:139-191



June                                                                            June

1:161-1867                                                                       1:193-250



July                                                                            July

1:186-219                                                                       1:251-303



Aug.                                                                            Aug.

1:219-247                                                                        1:307-354

John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, A Study Guide, Lesson 11


Introduction (pp. 145-154)

Christian and Hopeful come to Beulah land and then enter the gates of the celestial city. Their death before entering heaven and their struggles with their own personal failures also come to light.



Narrator (145) – does most of the reading

Gardener (146-7) — a few lines

Christian & Hopeful have very little apart from the summary statements made by the narrator.

Shining ones, Heavenly Host, etc. — several lines here and there



“Beulah” (145 †) — “married” in Hebrew [from Isaiah 62:4, “but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.”]


Questions (pp. 145-154)

Page #

145      What do you think the “Country of Beulah” represents?

146      Explain the “pangs” or sickness that overcame Christian and Hopeful.

147      What does the river represent? How is the depth (148) dependent upon the Pilgrim’s faith? (“You shall find it deeper or shallower, as you believe in the King of the place.”)

148      What frightened Christian as he crossed the river?

153-4   Ignorance comes up again. What was his problem? How did he get across the river of death? Explain what “Vain-hope a Ferry-man” represented.

154      Why is this sentence so important, “Then I saw that there was a way to Hell, even from the Gates of Heaven, as well as from the City of Destruction.” (154)


Observations & Notes

BEULAH (145)

Bunyan seems to view Beulah as those last sweet peaceful moments some believers face before their death. What he says of this place is remarkable: “…this was beyond the Valley of the shadow of death, and also out of the reach of Giant Despair; neither could they from this place so much as see Doubting Castle.” (146) It is a scent of heaven before entering heaven (“…within the sight of the City they were going to”). It is “almost a suburb of heaven” (Horner, 273) or the “foretastes of heaven as we draw near to the River of Death” (Cheever, 454) — Bunyan calls it “the Borders of Heaven” (146). Not all believers experience this but some do. (cf. Thomas Scott, 202-3)

Horner takes this to mean the kind of pastoral ministry ministers utilize to comfort senior saints as they prepare for death (Horner, 74, 274). His interpretation seems to make sense of the experience but it could simply be the comforting grace many believers receive before they die.


This is considered spiritual love sickness. At times mystical in character, such language characterized the Puritan way of viewing the Song of Solomon. The love of the bride represented the love of the Saint/church for Christ. Thomas Scott explained “sick of love” in these words: “In the immediate view of heavenly felicity, Paul ‘desired’ to depart hence and be with Christ, as far better than life; and David ‘fainted for God’s salvation.’ In the lively exercise of holy affections, the believer grows weary of this sinful world; and longs to have his faith changed for sight, his hope swallowed up in enjoyment, and his love perfected, and secured from all interruption and abatement.” (203)


Each man must die on his own; he alone can cross the river and go to the gates of the celestial city. There is no proxy dying. A king and a pauper must both cross the river on their own and each shall obtain salvation as he looks in faith to Christ.

VAIN-HOPE (153-154)

“Vain-hope ever dwells in the bosom of fools, and is ever ready to assist Ignorance. He wanted him at the last, and he found him. He had been his companion through life, and will not forsake him in the hour of death. You see Ignorance had no bands in his death, no fears, doubts, and sorrows, no terror from the enemy, but all was serene and happy. Vain-hope was his ferryman, and he, as the good folk say, died like a lamb: ah ! but did such lambs see what was to follow, when Vain-hope had wafted them over the river — they would roar like lions!” (Mason, 190)


He was supposed to present his certificate. He did not have one. He willfully resisted all the gospel teaching he received and believed it will fare well with him. “His final fumbling for a certificate that he does not have represents Ignorance searching his heart for a faith that he never possessed. Ignorance stands for the cool, skeptical modern person who wants to ground his or her faith in conscience and conduct, not in the grace of God to an unworthy sinner.” (Calhoun, 78)


Some unacquainted with genuine saving grace die composed and assured of their salvation. But their faith is delusional. “But what do they prove? What evidence is there, that such men are saved? Is it not far more likely that they continued to the end under the power of ignorance and self-conceit; that Satan took care not to disturb them; and that God gave them over to a strong delusion, and left them to perish with a lie in their right hand? Men, who have neglected religion all their lives, or have habitually for a length of years disgraced an evangelical profession, being when near death visited by pious persons, sometimes obtain a sudden and extraordinary measure of peace and joy, and die in this frame. This should in general be considered as a bad sign: for deep humiliation, yea distress, united with some trembling hope in God’s mercy through the gospel, is far more suited to their case, and more likely to be the effect of spiritual illumination.” (Thomas Scott, 211)



John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, A Study Guide, Lesson 10


Introduction (pp. 137-145)

            Christian and Hopeful discourse about good spiritual matters. Hopeful gave a wonderful account of the Lord’s dealings with his soul. Ignorance is also invited to the conversation and his misunderstanding of God’s method of justifying sinners comes to light. After this, they discuss how or why a man would end up turning away from the faith.



Narrator (137) — not much

Christian (137) — a good amount

Hopeful (140) — not as much as Christian but a fair amount

Ignorance (137) — a good amount



tro (137; 40, 69) = trow (believe, think)

Halter (145) = noose, a rope for hanging criminals


Questions (pp. 137-145)

Page #

137-8   How does ignorance come to believe he is going to heaven? Does he believe God’s judgment of his sinfulness? Can a person be a Christian and not have the same judgment on this matter? Explain.

140      What is justification? Ignorance says he believes in it. Does he? Is anything wrong with his view? How does he respond to Christian’s explanation of what justifying faith is?

140-1   Explain the point Hopeful and Christian were trying to make regarding a need for “revelation”?

142-3   Christian and Hopeful discourse about right and godly fear. They talk about conviction of sin. What purpose does a conviction of sin serve before one comes to Christ?

143-4   In their journey, they talk about Temporary,[1] Turnback, and Save-self. Mr. Temporary’s own backsliding is rehearsed. Four reasons are given for the backsliding into hell. What are they (put them into your own words as best as you can)?

145      Christian also describes what happens once those four reasons for backsliding occur. Explain why #1 is #1. Also, explain how #1 leads to #2. Explain why #5 works. What advantage is there in doing such a thing?


Observations & Notes


Ignorance’s response indicates that he understood what Christian was saying. He draws a different (and wrong) conclusion. Ignorance believed that if we looked solely to Christ for justification, then what we do would not matter at all. He is saying that Christian’s view of justification would lead to licentiousness (or antinomianism – “lawlessness”).

All unbelievers believe the same; the wonderful doctrine of justification, if rightly preached, always prompts Rom. 6:1, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” or Rom. 3:31, “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith?”

Neonomians in Bunyan’s time along with Roman Catholics all responded as ignorance did in reaction to the biblical view of justification by faith. Many modern Protestants do not understand this glorious doctrine and would find ignorance’s own view to be theirs.


This is not a word we use very often. It was a common word in Bunyan’s time and a generation of two after. It denotes the experience of sinner who has been arrested by conviction and alarmed by his predicament through the preaching of the Gospel. The question for most of them was over how deep the awakening went. Did it issue in new life or did it only issue in a shallow temporary faith? Too often, people confuse awakening with conversion. One could be awakened and not converted.


This is a reference to apostasy. Depending on how one defines backslide, Bunyan has in mind the ultimate backsliding, namely, the falling away from the faith (apostasy). Christians can stumble and slide back for a season but their recovery alone will show that it was a set back and not a final fall.

FOUR REASONS (143-145)

Christian explains how a person can come under conviction and yet turn away from the Lord.

  1. The conscience is awakened but the mind is not changed. Like a man feeling guilty because he was caught, he intends to mend his ways. Once the “danger” of being caught, exposed, implicated, etc. passes away, then the guilt recedes. When this happens, his religion disappears. Fear must not be the only motivation.
  2. Once the fear recedes, the fear of man dominates. They don’t want to be too religious and hazard everything (trying to be “wise” about all this).
  3. Once the sense of Hell abates, their sense of shame increases — shame of religion.
  4. They don’t like to see their guilt and sense their misery.


“See how gradually, step by step, apostates go back. It begins in the unbelief of the heart, and ends in open sins in the life. Why is the love of this world so forbidden? why is covetousness call idolatry? Because, whatever draws away the heart from God, and prevents enjoying close fellowship with him, naturally tends to apostasy from him. Look well to your hearts and affections. Daily learn to obey that command, ‘Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.’ (Prov. iv. 23) If you neglect to watch, you will be sure to smart — under the sense of sin on earth, or its curse in hell. ‘See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.’ (Eph. v. 15, 16)” (Mason, 179)

[1] “Temporary was doctrinally acquainted with the gospel, but a stranger to its sanctifying power. Such men have been forward in religion, but that is now past; for they were always graceless, and came short of honesty in their profession, if not in their moral conduct, and were ever ready to turn back into the world as convenient season.” (T. Scott, 199)

John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, A Study Guide, Lesson 9


Introduction (pp. 119-137)

            Christian and Hopeful leave the delectable mountain and run into several unique characters on their way towards the Celestial City. Ignorance, Flatterer, and the Enchanted ground await them. One altercation between the two (Christian and Hopeful) is very instructive for all of us.



Narrator (119) – a good amount

Christian (120) — large amount

Ignorance (120) — very little (he’ll show up again later)

Hopeful (122) — large amount

man in the Robe -Flatterer (127) — a sentence or two

The Shining One (128) — a few lines

Atheist (129-30) — short (a few lines)



“white as a clout” († 121) = “a proverbial expression, more usually in the form ‘as place as a clout’. (A clout was a sheet.)” (p. 305)

mist (122) = missed

Caytiff (123) = a coward

“he went to the walls” († 125) = “the weakest go to the wall” was proverbial. In medieval churches, which did not have pews, benches were set along the walls for the aged and infirm.” (pp. 305-6)

Habergeon (126) = (pronounced, ha’ bur jun) “a medieval jacket of mail shorter than a hauberk” (Webster) or “a short, sleeveless coat of mail”

brunts (127) = shock or stress (as of an attack)

tro (69, 137) = trow (believe, think)


Questions (pp. 119-137)

Page #

120      How does Ignorance intend to get into the Celestial city (cf. Luke 18:12)? What is his response to Christian’s challenge?

121      Describe “little faith.” What happened to him? What did Christian mean when he said that the “Thieves got most of his spending Money”?

123      Why did Christian more or less rebuke Hopeful? Explain the nature of the issue.[1]

123      How does Christian distinguish Little Faith from Esau? What is meant by “typical” (“Esau’s Birth-right was Typical”)?

125      Christian and Hopeful discuss the differences between believers and that some are of little faith while others have great grace. We are all different when tried. How should we respond when we see other believers struggle so much?[2] Read below:

“Young converts often view temptations, conflicts, and persecutions, in a very different light than experienced believers do. Warm with zeal, and full of confidence, which they imagine to be wholly genuine, and knowing comparatively little of their own hearts, or the nature of the Christian conflict, they resemble new recruits, who are apt to boast what great things they will do: but the old disciple, though much stronger in faith, and possessing habitually more vigour of holy affection, knows himself too well to boast, and speaks with modesty of the past, and diffidence of the future…” (Scott, 178)

130      They encountered “Inchanted grounds” in their journey. What does this represent? How does this show up in our generation? What does it look like now? How does one know that he or she has not fallen prey to the woes of the enchanted ground?

132      Hopeful explains what experiences he had before coming to Christ. Are these the regular experiences of coming to Christ? Must a person undergo all of them? What ones (if any) do you think must happen?

He also talks about his attempts to mend his life (133). Why do most people respond this way? Is this conversion?

Explain the illustration of the debt to the Shop-keeper (133). Is it true to say “I have committed sin enough in one duty to send me to Hell” (134)? Explain.

135      How is this “Sinner’s Prayer” (as it were) different from the modern version? Did this one prayer convert him?

135      Bunyan revealed his remarkable pastoral and theological insight into the nature of conversion when answering why he didn’t leave off praying. Why didn’t he leave off praying when it didn’t “stick” or “work” the first time? What lessons should we learn from this?

136      NOTE: “believing and coming was all one” — two different verbs but the same idea. Coming to Christ is to believe in Him (it is not the same as coming to the “altar”).


Observations & Notes


The notation takes this to mean the Christian’s (“Little Faith’s”) sense of assurance. Faint-heart, Mistrust, and Guilt all conspired to ruin “Little Faith.” Scott says that “these robbers represent the inward effects of unbelief and disobedience” (Scott, 172). Kelman says, “It may be permissible, without pressing the allegory too far, to see in the detailed account of the attack a very definite sequence of spiritual experiences. Faint-heart speaks, Mistrust robs, Guilt strikes down.” (cited in Calhoun, 73)

JEWELS (122, 123)

All believers have jewels, namely, that they are meet for heaven and are accepted by the Lord on account of Christ. The jewel represents that they are true believers and perhaps this is the “seed of God” spoken of in 1 Jn. 3:9. Nonetheless, “But he may by sin lose his comforts, and not be able to perceive the evidences of his own safety: and even when again enabled to hope that it will be well with him in the event; he may be so harassed by the recollection of the loss he has sustained, the effects of his misconduct on others, and the obstructions he hath thrown in the way of his own comfort and usefulness, that his future life may be rendered as constant scene of disquietude and painful reflections.” (Scott, 174) David Calhoun (74) cites a passage from another author regarding this allusion:

A Scottish woman ‘underwent a dangerous operation that might have robbed her of her speech. After the operation, [her] pastor visited her in the hospital. Turning to him, she whispered, ‘The jewels are all safe!’ Her phrase refers to a scene in which the character Little Faith is robbed. The assailants make off with his spending money but fail to find his jewels—his belief in Christ. The woman in hospital uses the image to signal that both her voice and her faith have survived the operation. (Hofmeyr, The Portable Bunyan, 100)

NOTE (127): “a man black of flesh, but covered with a very light Robe” — this is a reference to a false teacher, a false minister of the gospel (cf. 2 Cor. 11:13-14) as p. 128 indicates. Unfortunately, this wicked figure (false apostle) misled Christian and Hopeful and entrapped them in a net.

ATHEIST (129-130)

This is a very curious encounter because atheism wasn’t as prominent in that generation. There were some but most of them were not very influential or popular.


Christiana will encounter this ground as well. The Guide explains what it means: “For this inchanted Ground is one of the last Refuges that the Enemy to Pilgrims has; wherefore it is as you see, placed almost at the end of the Way, and so it standeth against us with the more advantage.” (278) One is most tired at the journey’s end and entertains a little rest. In resting, one falls asleep and never awakes. Alexander Whyte said that this enchanted ground “proved so fatal to so many false pilgrims, and so all but fatal to so many true pilgrims” (Bunyan Characters, 2:273).

Spurgeon’s initial word on this is searching and worth pondering. “There are, no doubt, many of us who are passing over this plain; and I fear that this is the condition of the majority of churches in the present day. They are lying down on the settles of Lukewarmness in the Arbours of the Enchanted Ground.” (Pictures from Pilgrim’s Progress, 182)

[1] “Bunyan, as a Calvinist, was, of course, a firm believer in the perseverance of the saints; so he could not have had Little-faith lose his jewels. Hope was not the first or last to be ‘almost angry’ in an argument about the doctrine of perseverance.” (Calhoun, 73-74)

[2] “But for such footmen as thee and I are, let us never desire to meet with an enemy, nor vaunt as if we could do better, when we hear of others that they have been foiled, nor be tickled at the thoughts of our own manhood, for such commonly come by the worst when tried.” (Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress, 126)


John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, A Study Guide, Lesson 8


Introduction (pp. 115-119)

Christian and Hopeful escaped Giant Despair’s Doubting Castle. In this session, we will read of Christian’s experience of the “delectable Mountain.” He encounters four shepherds (Knowledge, Experience, Watchful, and Sincere) on that mountain.



Narrator (115) – a good normal amount

Christian (115) — normal amount

Shepherds (115, 117) — relatively short

Hopeful (119) — short



stile (115) = a step or set of steps for passing over a fence or wall (a small ladder)

staves (115) = staffs

thither (115) = to that place; there


Questions (pp. 115-119)

Page #

117      Christians come upon the “delectable Mountains” and gain some respite. What do you think these mountains represent?

117      Though the name is simple, explain the description given to the Hill called “Errour.” See 2 Tim. 2:17, 18. What kind of “errors” should we avoid in our generation?

118      Christian and Hopeful are led to Mount Caution, the very mountain in which they almost died. After that, they are shown “a By-way to Hell.” Explain what this represents.

118      Why is it important to recognize that a door to Hell can be found right in the middle of the delectable mountain? What lessons should we learn here?

119      They were given a sight of the Celestial City through the “Perspective Glass.” When did they best see the celestial city? When in peace or when afraid? Is getting a glimpse of the “Celestial City” a vital necessity? Why or why not? If someone has never gotten a sight of it, can he or she persevere?[1] Why or why not?


Observations & Notes


Maureen Bradley lists many interpretations (below, pp. 74-75). Thomas Scott says, “The Delectable Mountains seem intended to represent those calm seasons of peace and comfort, which consistent believers often experience in their old age.” (Scott, 163) Horner takes it to be “a fellowship in association with the Palace Beautiful. Instruction, comfort and rest are to be found here” (p. 271).

Various meanings have been applied to the Delectable Mountains. Some see them as representing nothing in particular other than a time of quiet rest. Others see these mountains as a picture of the local church. Still others say that the mountains represent the ministry of the Word of God by godly pastors and its effect on pilgrims. While all these are good interpretations of the Delectable Mountains, might I add another possibility? The Puritans called the Sabbath a ‘market day for the soul.” Could these mountains represent the Sabbath and all that Sabbath rest entails (i.e., a day set aside for instruction in Sunday school, for sitting under the preaching of godly ministers, and for meditation on Scripture and prayer)? If this is what they represent, how do the Delectable Mountains remind you of a market day for the soul? (Bradley, 74-5)


Whyte sees these four shepherds (Knowledge, Experience, Watchful, and Sincere) as the basic characteristics of a good pastor. Thomas Scott takes these names to be “the more extensive acquaintance of many aged Christians with the Ministers and Churches of Christ…” (Scott, 163)

[1] “Sometimes this vision is revealed to Pilgrims much more clearly than at other times; but no language can describe the glory of the vision, whenever and however it is manifested to the soul; for eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God reveals them by his Spirit, and sometimes doubtless with such a revelation as language cannot compass” (Cheever, 420).

John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, A Study Guide, Lesson 6


Introduction (pp. 83-95)

Christian and Faithful come upon the Town of Vanity. Evangelist had already warned them of its dangers. In Vanity Fair, our Pilgrims meet with men and women who are greatly offended by their speech and lifestyle. Their faith is tried and Faithful dies as a martyr.



Narrator (83) – a good amount

Christian (83) — normal amount

Faithful (83) – normal amount (he dies)

Evangelist (83) —about two pages

a citizen of Vanity (87) — one line

Lord Hate-good – a judge (90) — not too much

Envy (91) — half a page

Superstition (91) — very short

Pickthank (92) — very short

Mr. Blind-man, No-good, etc. (94-5) — short statements



“quit your selves” (85) = conduct yourselves

thorow (86, 87) = through

Bedlams (87) = madman, lunatic

Pillory (88) = “a device formerly used for publicly punishing offenders consisting of a wooden frame with holes in which the head and hands can be locked” (Merrian-Webster)

on’t (90) = “of it”

Pickthank (91 — see †) = “one who ‘picks a thank’, i.e. flatters, or curries favour” (302)

Runagate (92) — a vagabond, fugitive, runaway

Sirrah (92) — “sir” (pronounced “seer –rah”)


Questions (pp. 83-95)

Page #

85        Both the town and the fair were called “vanity.” Simple as the question might be, what does “Vanity Fair” represent? Why must all Pilgrims go through (“thorow”) it? Isn’t there a way to avoid it?

86        Explain what Bunyan is referring to on p. 86 (the exchange between Beelzebub and the Prince of Princes).[1]

87        Why was there such a “hubbub” over the Pilgrims’ arrival into the Town of Vanity? What “three” things made these Pilgrims so different from the rest of the people? Should that be the case with all Christians? Why or why not?

87-88   Why would the people of Vanity think that the Pilgrims were lunatics (“Bedlams”)? Is their anger against the Pilgrims reasonable? Is this depiction realistic? Why or why not?

88        When the Pilgrims were beaten, they did not respond in anger. Why was that? Can all Christians do that? Ought they? Why or why not? How will you know if you will be able to when the time comes?

91-94   The Judge[2] along with witnesses against the Pilgrims present their case. Explain how they come across as sane and lawful in this court of law? Are all “legal” matters necessarily holy and good? Could a trial like this happen in America? Why or why not?

95        We are told that Christian escaped. How did that happen?[3] What does this teach us?


Observations & Notes


Christian called “Evangelist” a “Prophet.” Why? Reformers and Puritans often called preachers and/or evangelists “Prophets.” Preaching was a form of prophesying. Prophesying meant either foretelling (speaking about future events) or forth-telling (setting forth God’s truth as revealed in His Word). Many of them believed that eminent godly men could prophesy regarding the future. Though we may disagree with them, some of the anecdotes are quite interesting if not persuasive.


Calhoun says that this Vanity Fair represents “the days of Charles II and the Restoration. Kelman comments that ‘in the figures of these two pilgrims austerely walking through the noisy streets of Vanity, we can see the forms of such men as Owen, Baxter, Goodwin, and Howe, walking apart amidst the dance of contemporary English life.” (Calhoun, 65)[4] Cheever gets at the essence of this city: “Vanity Fair is the City of Destruction in its gala dress, in it most seductive sensual allurements. It is this world in miniature, with its various temptations.” (Cheever, 363)

Barry Horner makes an important observation from this (something we must always remember). When the Pilgrims entered Vanity Fair, they did not “incorporate the lifestyle of Vanity into their methodology; they are not to reach out with the media that are so popular in Vanity.” Rather, they witnessed by their holy lifestyle, by speaking the truth of Scripture and by their manifest graciousness. “In this situation, it is particularly the uncluttered consistency of the truth, its uncompromising proclamation, even unto death, that begins to make inroads into Satan’s entrenched domain.”[5]

Cheever perceives another danger in Vanity Fair. It is something against which our own generation must fight. “Vanity Fair itself may be full of professed pilgrims, and the pilgrimage itself may be held in high esteem, and yet the practice of the pilgrimage, as Christian and Faithful followed it, may almost have gone out of existence. With the increase of nominal Christians there is always an increase of conformity to the world; and the world appears better than it did to Christians, not so much because it has changed, as because they have changed; the wild beasts and tame ones dwell together, not so much because the leopards eat straw like the ox, as because the ox eats flesh like the leopard.…there is not so such a marked and manifest distinction between the church and the world as there should be; their habits, maxims, opinions, pursuits, amusements, whole manner of life, are too much the same; so that the Pilgrims in our day have lost the character of a peculiar people, not so much because they have become vastly more numerous than formerly, as because they have become conformed to the world, not like strangers, but natives in Vanity Fair” (Cheever, 371-2).


Following Bishop Ussher and other similar divines, almost all the Puritans calculated the year of the earth from Adam unto their present time to be a bit over 5,000 years old. Bunyan is stating that the town of Vanity existed from the beginning.


These three “contrived here to set up a Fair…” The town is a trap, it is the world in which we live; it is seduction of the world (“This Fair therefore is an Ancient thing, of long standing, and a very great Fair.” p. 87). It is remarkably similar to the role of Babylon in the book of Revelation (chs. 17-18). The beast carries Babylon (Rev. 17:3, 7, 8) and Beelzebub, Apollyon, and Legion erected this Fair. The world and its “stuff” present themselves to us. Will we yield to vanity or will we reject her wares? That was the question Christian and Faithful had to answer with their very lives.

[1] Note, this small episode is not found in some versions of Pilgrim’s Progress, for example, it is not found in The Pilgrim’s Progress from this World to That which is to Come, Special Tercentenary Edition (New York: American Tract Society, n.d.).

[2] Apparently, the Judge’s words and manners mirror some of the judges who served on King Charles, cf. Cheever, 368.

[3] “But he that over-rules all things, having the power of their rage in his own hand, so wrought it about, that Christian for that time escaped them, and went his way.” (95)

[4] Calhoun is citing Kelman, The Road, A Study of John Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ (Port Washington, NY, 1970), 1:205.

[5] Horner, 368-370.


John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, A Study Guide, Lesson 4


Introduction (pp. 55-66)

            In this study, Christian will go through two valleys, the Valley of Humiliation and the Valley of the Shadow of Death. He will be confronted by the dreaded Apollyon and will also encounter two men who will give a bad report. Christian’s conflicts in the Valleys represent the kinds of trials through which each believer must go.



Narrator (55)

Christian (57)

Apollyon or ‘foul Fiend’ (57) — three pages

“two Men” (62) — one page



Apollyon (55) = destroyer, the Devil

strodled (59) = straddled

bestir (59) = to rouse to action, to get going

amain (59) = with all his strength (adv.)

brast (61) = burst

dint (61) = stroke, blow; “by dint of” means “by force of” or “because of the sword”

Satyr (62) = Greek mythology, half horse/goat and man; can mean a lascivious or lewd man

Quagg (63) = quagmire

Gin (66) = a snare or trap


Questions (pp. 55-66)

Page #

55        What does the “Valley of Humiliation” represent? Why does it follow his stay in the “house Beautiful”?

57        Explain what this encounter with Apollyon (Rev. 9:11) represents in a Christian’s life.

57        Why would Apollyon call himself “Prince and God”? What might he be referring to when he mentions “after a while to give him the slip; and return again to me…”? Would you say that this was common?

58        What does Apollyon mean when he says that THE PRINCE (Christ) “never came …to deliver any that served him out of our hands”? Is that true? What was Christian’s answer?

58        Apollyon accused Christian of many failures. The second sentence helpfully explains why Christian had to carry the burden so long. He says, “Thou didst attempt wrong ways to be rid of thy burden, whereas thou shouldest have stayed till thy Prince had take it off.” Explain this accusation, this (shall we say) “insightful” statement — or what would this look like in someone’s experience?

59        When Christian was beaten down by Apollyon, he “nimbly reached” out to grab the “Sword” to stab Apollyon. What does this represent? What does the sword represent (cf. Eph. 6).

62        Christian meets “two Men” who give a bad report about what is ahead. Who do they represent? Are there people like that on every Christian’s journey?

63        What does the Valley of the Shadow of Death represent? Is it a metaphor of spiritual death or a picture of literal physical death? Something else? Explain the kind of ditches mentioned on pp. 62-63. What is Bunyan talking about when he mentions King David?

63        In this Valley, Christian takes up the weapon “All-prayer.” Why didn’t the sword work? Also, explain how this is different from the occasional prayers found in religious people and many professing Christians.

65        What kind of struggle did Christian have with these voices? Do all believers go through this? Have you?


Observations & Notes


As Spurgeon notes, Christian was equipped with his armor. Spurgeon believed that Christians are led to this point when they slowly depart from God (Pictures from Pilgrim’s Progress, 133). We do read that “he caught a slip or two” (p. 55). However, it is not uncommon for Christians to fall into such a valley after fellowshipping with the saints in the church of Jesus Christ. Quite often, we go down to the Valley of Humiliation after enjoying a mountain experience in the Lord’s assembly. In that valley, we often meet our enemy, Satan who accuses us (and has ample ammunition on account of slips and falls).


When Christian “nimbly reached” for the sword, he was able to thrust Apollyon with it to ensure his safety. Thomas Scott says, “The Christian, therefore, ‘almost pressed to death,’ and ready ‘to despair of life,’ will, by the special grace of God, be helped again to seize his sword, and to use it with more effect than ever. The Holy Spirit will bring to his mind, with the most convincing energy, the evidences of the divine inspiration of the Scripture, and enable him to rely on the promises: and thus at length the enemy will be put to flight, by testimonies of holy writ pertinently adduced, and more clearly understood than before.” (pp. 83-84)


Thomas Scott says that this represents “the present benefits of the redemption of Christ.” (p. 85) He notes that the Lord often heals the Christian, pardons his sins, and renews his strength and comforts after his victory over temptations.

TWO MEN (62)

“These men were spies, not Pilgrims: and they related what they had observed at a distance, but had never experienced.— They represent those who have been conversant with godly people and ‘bring an evil report on the good land,’ to prejudice the minds of numbers against the right ways of the Lord.” (Thomas Scott, 97)


In this valley, men and women may fall into heresy (‘deep Ditch’) or despairing of God’s mercy (‘Quagg’) which is similar to the “Slough of Despond.”[1] It is often a “dark” time (p. 63) and the believer is not sure which way to go. It is “night in Christian’s soul” (says Cheever, p. 334) and one that tries most Christians. “In these opposite ways,” says Thomas Scott, “multitudes continually perish; some concluding that there is no fear, others is no hope.” (p. 99) The editor takes the Quagg to mean moral failures, like David’s sin with Bathsheba (p. 299).

This valley represents “a variation of inward discouragement, distress, conflict and alarm, which arises from prevailing darkness of mind, and want of lively spiritual affections; by which a man is rendered reluctant to religious duties and heartless in performing them…” (Thomas Scott, 85).


Maureen Bradley’s words on this are very helpful. “Christian passes hard by the mouth of hell in the midst of the valley. Such were the sparks and hideous noises coming out of this hole, which cared not for Christian’s sword (the Word of God), that he was forced to use another weapon, which was called All-prayer. Many are the times when a person is so distressed that he is not even able to read the Word of God but can only cry out in agonizing prayer to God and cling to Christ.” (The Pilgrim’s Progress: Study Guide, 43)


As the editor of this edition of Pilgrim’s Progress notes (p. 299), Bunyan struggled with blaspheming against God. The Puritans often spoke of this and one of the methods to distinguish between one’s own voice and the voice of the “Fiend” was to consider two things. Did this wicked thought rush upon you out of no-where? If yes, then they rightly suggested that the thought did not erupt from our nature (most likely). Second, Did you embrace the thought or suggestion? In other words, once this “voice” was heard, did you consider it and make it your own or did you reject it with holy hatred? If you rejected it and ran from the thought, then you are not guilty, they would have argued. (cf. Thomas Brook’s Precious Remedy Against Satan’s Devices)

[1] Mason says, “The ditch on the right hand is error in principle, into which the blind— as to spiritual truths, blind guides — lead the blind, who were never spiritually enlightened. The ditch on the left hand, means outward sins and wickedness, which many fall into. Both are alike dangerous to pilgrims; but the Lord will keep the feet of his saints. (1 Sam. ii. 9)” (p. 74)

Larger Catechism, #102-104, pt. 1

The Larger Catechism

Questions 102-104

102. Q. What is the sum of the four commandments which contain our duty to God?

A. The sum of the four commandments containing our duty to God is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind.[444]

103. Q. Which is the first commandment?

A. The first commandment is, Thou shall have no other gods before me.[445]

104. Q. What are the duties required in the first commandment?

A. The duties required in the first commandment are, the knowing and acknowledging of God to be the only true God, and our God;[446] and to worship and glorify him accordingly,[447] by thinking,[448] meditating,[449] remembering,[450] highly esteeming,[451] honouring,[452] adoring,[453] choosing,[454] loving,[455] desiring,[456] fearing of him;[457] believing him;[458] trusting[459] hoping,[460] delighting,[461] rejoicing in him;[462] being zealous for him;[463] calling upon him, giving all praise and thanks,[464] and yielding all obedience and submission to him with the whole man;[465] being careful in all things to please him,[466] and sorrowful when in any thing he is offended;[467] and walking humbly with him.[468]

[444] Luke 10:27. And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. [445] Exodus 20:3. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. [446] 1 Chronicles 28:9. And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever. Deuteronomy 26:7. And when we cried unto the LORD God of our fathers, the LORD heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression. Isaiah 43:10. Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. Jeremiah 14:22. Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things. [447] Psalm 95:6-7. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice. Matthew 4:10. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Psalm 29:2. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. [448] Malachi 3:16. Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. [449] Psalm 63:6. When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. [450] Ecclesiastes 12:1. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them. [451] Psalm 71:19. Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee! [452] Malachi 1:6. A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? [453] Isaiah 45:23. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. [454] Joshua 24:15, 22. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD…. And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses. [455] Deuteronomy 6:5. And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. [456] Psalm 73:25. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. [457] Isaiah 8:13. Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. [458] Exodus 14:31. And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses. [459] Isaiah 26:4. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength. [460] Psalm 130:7. Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. [461] Psalm 37:4. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. [462] Psalm 32:11. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. [463] Romans 12:11. Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord. Numbers 25:11. Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. [464] Philippians 4:6. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. [465] Jeremiah 7:23. But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. James 4:7. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. [466] 1 John 3:22. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. [467] Jeremiah 31:18. I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God. Psalm 119:136. Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law. [468] Micah 6:8. He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?


The Sum of the Four Commandments

LC # 98 stated that the first four commandments contained our duty to God and that the last six pertained to our duty to man. The LC #102 answer copies the lawyer’s response to Jesus’ question of what is written in the law. In terse fashion, the answer summarizes the first four commandments or our duty to God (Lk. 10:27): “The sum of the four commandments containing our duty to God is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind.” Jesus said, “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Mt. 22:40)[1]

First of all, let us observe how our duty to God is defined in terms of loving Him. This command comes from Deut. 6:5 and it perfectly summarizes our duty to God. Watson defined this love: “It is a holy fire kindled in the affections, whereby a Christian is carried out strongly after God as the supreme good.”[2] This “holy fire” goes out “strongly after God.” Watson faithfully captures the essential teaching of Scripture. Loving God never meant just an emotional attachment or deference. It required our whole being. Vos explained it like this:

This means not merely an emotional attitude toward God, but an all-inclusive practical devotion to God that leads us to honor and obey him in every element, sphere, and relationship of our life. Everything in our life must be determined by our love to God. Thus there can be nothing in our life separate from our religion. We may not draw a boundary line and mark off any sphere or area of life and say that in that area our relation to God does not count. Whatsoever we do, we must do all to the glory of God.[3]

This makes perfect sense once we consider how love often affects us. If we truly love something, it consumes our attention, affections, goals, mind, strength, imagination, etc. We use the word loosely when we say the following things: “I love snow.” “I love it when he smiles.” “I love eating pizza.” But we understand God calls us to love Him much more differently than that. What we love most drives and captivates us. No one else can call us to love Him as He does because no one else is worthy of it.

Secondly, we should also observe the quality (and quantity) of love God requires of us. We must love God “with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind.” Our whole being must be involved. All our heart, soul, strength, and mind mean our total allegiance and devotion. The full bent of the individual’s personality (and/or personhood) is towards God. Some take the heart to be the emotions, the soul to be one’s consciousness, the strength to be the person’s drive, and the mind to be the individual’s intelligence or cognitive abilities.[4] However we label the differing faculties of a human soul, all of them must be engaged in loving God. In practical terms, this means (as Vos noted above), we cannot just love God with our emotions and yet despise him with our mind. Furthermore, if we neglect spending any energy and strength in loving and serving him, then our professed “love” to God fails. To love Him with all our strength means that some energy must be expended towards God. Here we meet with a challenge — have we expended any energy on Him? Some church-goers seek the minimalist approach — neither “all our strength” nor “any of our strength” is expended. Easy religion with no demands typifies their love. Life demands so much energy from them that they could hardly spare any for God! May our Lord preserve us from such foolishness. The same could be said for loving God with all our mind (more on this in LC #104). Some pew sitters believe nothing should be required of their minds — they want entertainment and not thought!

Loving God with all our mind demands that we submit our reason to His revelation. Just like submitting our wills to His commands, so we must submit our reason to His Word. If our minds reject His revelation as foolishness or as nonsense then what are we saying? What is it that we love? We can only know God through His Word and to discount it means we reject God. Too many people say they love God but look down on the “petty” and “narrow” demands of the Bible. Surely, God wouldn’t want me to be a fundamentalist? To love God with all our mind embraces all that He teaches and our reason submit, believes, and accepts His revelation — we believe in order to understand and we believe all that He teaches because we love Him with all our mind.

Thirdly, if we love God wholeheartedly, then surely it will manifest itself concretely. A man’s love for his wife rings hollow if he never manifests it in any discernable and concrete manner. He could profess to love her but his actions say something else. Though this logically follows, yet the Bible also expressly teaches this point: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1Jn. 5:3) That is, our love to God must concretely show itself by our obedience. One’s seemingly cheerful demeanor, exuberant emotions, jubilant happiness, etc. as a professing Christian without obedience to God’s Word express nothing less than ungodly hypocrisy. Wholehearted love to God of course involves emotions and this love also becomes evident in the believer’s personality (cheerfulness, etc.) but it must first emerge in one’s obedience to God’s commandments.


The First Commandment

The first commandment is, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3) We do not believe it was by accident that this is the first commandment. In fact, the first four commandments focus on our duty to God because that is the most important. Vos explains why this is the very first commandment: “Because this commandment is the foundation upon which the others depend. Our obligation to God is the source and basis of all to other obligations. It is the primary and fundamental obligation of our life.”[5] Without this commandment, the other three commandments make little sense. As God possesses our exclusive allegiance, it paves the way for the other duties. If God is our God exclusively, then it makes perfect sense why we ought not to take His name in vain.

Given our sinful idolatrous nature, we must first be prohibited from pursuing other deities.[6] In marriage, the man must first be devoted exclusively to his wife. If that is not in place, then all his kind acts and gestures would be meaningless. Similarly, the first commandment is indeed “the foundation upon which the others depend.”


Duties Required in the First Commandment

One of the rules we must remember in order to rightly understand this commandment is, “where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded…” (LC #99). Of course the prohibition from having other gods entails the command to have God as our God. If not, the first commandment implicitly could call for either atheism or indecision. Someone could have “no other gods” and yet not have the true God as his God and this would be atheism. It could also be argued that the person is not supposed to have any other god as their god and yet remain undecided about the true God. This is not merely a logical possibility but actually a constant problem in the church. Many profess to not believe in other gods (Allah, Hindu gods, etc.) and yet remain aloof, “respectfully” distant from, or indifferent to the true God. They acknowledge that God is their creator and that He exists but it goes no further than that.

This is why we must understand the commandment to be more than a prohibition. Using the marriage analogy again, a married man may not pursue other women and yet be utterly indifferent to the woman he married. She is merely a woman to him, not his wife (not withstanding the vows, etc.). This sad state of affairs happens enough in marriages. In this commandment, God does not only push away other suitors but commands the exclusive allegiance of His people because He redeemed them and made them His. The LC therefore offers a very full account of those positive duties to God in the first commandment.


1. Know and acknowledge God

The duties required in the first commandment are, the knowing and acknowledging of God to be the only true God, and our God…” In order to acknowledge God, we must first know Him. Solomon was instructed to “know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind…” (1Chron. 28:9). As we know Him, we acknowledge Him, that is, we acknowledge God to be who He is. Notice how the catechism phrases it. We are called to acknowledge God “to be the only true God, and our God…

Looking at this from the opposite perspective will help us to understand its importance. If we acknowledge God to be one of the gods, then we have not truly acknowledged Him. Many in Israel were willing to do this but that is insufficient. Furthermore, our subtle modern method also supplants the teaching of this commandment. Could we not acknowledge God to the true God for me? Making no absolute truth claims, the post-modern novice claims God to his God and is the true God for himself — he never ventures away from his personal claim. “You may claim another to be the true God for yourself and I claim this God for myself. Neither one of us is right or wrong; we are both happy and religious.” There is yet a third way of evading the point (a version similar to the post-modern position). As long as we acknowledge a god to be our god then we are safe! This third option stays clear of atheism but opens itself to polytheism, pantheism, generic theism, etc. Many modern pundits believe we just need to be religious (since all religions are about the same, they claim). The first view is polytheism, the second is subjectivism, and the third is modern (false) spirituality.

To acknowledge or recognize God “to be the only true God, and our God” means that we truly call upon Him as the true God that He has revealed Himself to be. When Israel was mistreated harshly by the Egyptians, the Israelites “cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers…” (Deut. 26:7). To acknowledge Him entails calling upon Him. We dishonor God if we profess to know Him and to not call upon Him. It does not differ from not acknowledging Him. God tells Israel that He had chosen them “that you may know and believe and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there by any after me.” (Is. 43:10) God wanted Israel to know that He is God and that there never was and never will be any other god. All the other “gods” are “false gods” (Jer. 14:22).

The phrase also means that God is also our God! Not only is He alone the true God but He is also our God — by faith, we place our trust and dependence upon God through Jesus Christ. To say God is our God means He is ours through the covenant. A “relationship” exists between God and the individual through the terms God determined. Using the preface of the Ten Commandments, He is our God because He saved us! So the first commandment can only begin to make sense to those who have been saved by God’s grace. With the Psalmist we declare, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” (Ps. 73:25)


2. Worship and Glorify Him

The catechism states that we are “to worship and glorify him accordingly.” It is a duty to worship and glorify God: “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” (Ps. 95, 6, 7); “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” (Ps. 29:2) Jesus refuted Satan by saying, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” (Mt. 4:10)

To have God as our God and not worship Him would deny the essential thrust of the first commandment. God is the Creator and our God and by virtue of being an Infinite glorious being, He must be worshipped. God is not an equal to be merely acknowledged or noticed — to truly know Him and acknowledge Him necessitates worship. We are to glorify and enjoy Him forever. That would be the natural response had we not fallen into sin. In Isaiah 6, we see the seraphim worshipping God and the sight of God in Rev. 4 evoked worship (Rev. 4:8-11). A truly refined musician acknowledges and adores wonderful music while an untrained individual hearing the same music might be bored by the musical piece. In a similar way (albeit a very weak analogy), sinners do not naturally worship and glorify God — they cannot recognize God as worthy of worship and honor.

For that reason, God commands and summons His people to worship Him. When in the Spirit, believers yearn for all of creation to praise Him (cf. Pss. 113 & especially 148). To truly acknowledge God means we worship and glorify Him. Again, “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” (Ps. 95:6, 7) This is what believers want to do!

[1] The second part is of course our duty to man, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mt. 22:39)

[2] Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1970), 6.

[3] Johannes G. Vos, The Westminster Larger Catechism: A Commentary (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2002), 260.

[4] Cf. Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke, The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1970), 880.

[5] Vos, The Westminster Larger Catechism, 260.

[6] Cf. James Fisher, The Assembly’s Shorter Catechism Explained, By Way of Question and Answer. In Two Parts. (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, nd), 224.