Category Archives: New City Catechism

What does God require in the first, second, and third commandments?

Question nine of the New City Catechism asks: What does God require in the first, second, and third commandments?

First, that we know and trust God as the only true and living God. Second, that we avoid all idolatry and do not worship God improperly. Third, that we treat God’s name with fear and reverence, honoring also his Word and works.

Bible on: What does God require in the first, second, and third commandments?

Deuteronomy 6:13–14

Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you.

Commentary on: What does God require in the first, second, and third commandments?

God leads men to see that the God revealed in Scripture, and manifested in the person of the Lord Jesus, is the God who made heaven and earth. Man fashions for himself a god after his own liking; he makes to himself if not out of wood or stone, yet out of what he calls his own consciousness, or his cultured thought, a deity to his taste, who will not be too severe with his iniquities or deal out strict justice to the impenitent. He rejects God as he is, and elaborates other gods, such as he thinks the Divine One ought to be…. The Holy Spirit, however, when he illuminates their minds, leads us to see that Jehovah is God, and beside him there is none else. He teaches his people to know that the God of heaven and earth is the God of the Bible, a God whose attributes are completely balanced, mercy attended by justice, love accompanied by holiness, grace arrayed in truth, and power linked with tenderness. He is not a God who winks at sin, much less is pleased with it…but a God who cannot look upon iniquity, and will by no means spare the guilty. This is the great quarrel of the present day between the philosopher and the Christian. The philosopher says, “Yes, a god if you will, but he must be of such a character as I now dogmatically set before you”; but the Christian replies, “Our business is not to invent a god, but to obey the one Lord who is revealed in the Scriptures of truth.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892). An English Baptist preacher, Spurgeon became pastor of London’s New Park Street Church (later Metropolitan Tabernacle) at 20 years of age. He frequently preached to more than 10,000 people with no electronic amplification. Spurgeon was a prolific writer and his printed works are voluminous—by the time of his death he had preached nearly 3,600 sermons and published 49 volumes of commentaries, sayings, hymns, and devotions.

From the sermon “Heart-Knowledge of God” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit: Sermons Preached and Revised by C.H. Spurgeon During the Year 1874, Volume XX (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1875), 674–675.

John Lin: What does God require in the first, second, and third commandments?

Prayer on: What does God require in the first, second, and third commandments?

Thou commandest “that I should have none other gods in thy sight.” That is to say, as I should have thee for my Lord and God to look for all good things most assuredly at thy hands, and therefore I should put all my trust in thee, be thankful unto thee, love thee, fear thee, obey thee, and call upon thy holy name in all my needs; so should I give this faith, love, fear, obedience, thankfulness, and invocation or prayer, to none other…but only to thee…. All this to do, 0 Lord God, and that with most joyful heart, I have great cause; for what a thing is it, that thou, Jehovah, wouldest vouchsafe…to give thy Son for me, and to become my God!… But, alas! dear Father, what shall I say? As in times past horribly I have broken this thy law in trusting in thy creatures, calling upon them, loving, fearing, and obeying many things besides thee and rather than thee…. 0f thy goodness and great mercy, dear Father…forgive me as well mine idolatry done in times past, as that which of late time I have committed and do commit…[and grant] that I may have none other God in heart but thee, nor do service to any other but only to thee, and for thee…. 0 Lord…thou biddest me not to take thy name in vain, as by…cursing, praying without sense, also by jesting or foolish abusing, or negligent reading or hearing of thy holy word…; and in like manner by denying thy truth and word, or concealing it when occasion is offered to promote thy glory and confirm thy truth. By reason whereof I may well see that thou wouldest have me to use my tongue in humble confessing thee and thy word and truth…in praying heartily, and calling upon thy name; in reading and hearing thy word, and speaking thereof, with all reverence, diligence, and attention; in thanksgiving, and praising thee for thy great mercy…. But, gracious good Lord…I am a miserable transgressor of this thy most holy, good, and blessed commandment, as always I have been in times past…. Dear God, pardon my sins past and present, whereof this law doth accuse me; and grant, most gracious Father, that I may be endued with thy holy Spirit, to know and love thy holy name, word, and truth in Jesus Christ…to call upon thy name in all my need, to give thanks unto thee, praise thee, magnify thee, and to sanctify thy holy name, as a vessel of thy mercy, for ever and ever.

John Bradford (1510–1555). An English Protestant Reformer, Bradford studied at Cambridge University and was made royal chaplain to King Edward VI. When Catholic Mary Tudor came to the throne he was arrested along with Latimer, Ridley and Archbishop Cranmer. Bradford had a great reputation as a preacher and a vast crowd came to his execution. He is most remembered for his statement, “There but for the grace of God goes John Bradford.” His works, some of which were written from prison, include letters, exhortations, eulogies, meditations, sermons, and essays.

From “Godly Meditations: A Meditation upon the Ten Commandments” in The Writings of John Bradford, edited by Aubrey Townsend (Cambridge: University Press, 1868), 150–157.

What is the law of God stated in the Ten Commandments?

Question eight of the New City Catechism asks: What is the law of God stated in the Ten Commandments?

You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below—you shall not bow down to them or worship them. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Honor your father and your mother. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony. You shall not covet.

Bible on: What does the law of God require?

Exodus 20:3 and Deuteronomy 5:7

You shall have no other gods before me.

Commentary on: What is the law of God stated in the Ten Commandments?

Thou shalt not have another God than me:
Thou shalt not to an Image bow thy Knee.
Thou shalt not take the Name of God in vain:
See that the Sabbath thou do not profain.
Honour thy Father and thy Mother too:
In Act or Thought see thou no Murder do.
From Fornication keep thy body clean:
Thou shalt not steal, though thou be very mean.
Bear no false Witness, keep thee without Spot:
What is thy Neighbours see thou Covet not.

The danger doth not lie in the breaking of one or two of these ten [commandments] only, but it doth lie even in the transgression of any one of them. As you know, if a king should give forth ten particular commands, to be obeyed by his subjects upon pain of death; now, if any man doth transgress against any one of these ten, he doth commit treason, as if he had broke them all, and lieth liable to have the sentence of the law as certainly passed on him, as if he had broken every particular of them…. These things are clear as touching the law of God, as it is a covenant of works: If a man do fulfil nine of the commandments, and yet breaketh but one, that being broken will as surely destroy him, and shut him out from the joys of heaven, as if he had actually transgressed against them all…. Though thou shouldst fulfil this covenant or law, even all of it, for a long time, ten, twenty, forty, fifty, or threescore years; yet if thou do chance to slip, and break one of them but once before thou die, thou art also gone and lost by that covenant…. For, my friends, you must understand, that…as they that are under the covenant of grace shall surely be saved by it, so, even so, they that are under the covenants of works and the law, they shall surely be damned by it, if continuing therein…. Again, you must consider that this law doth not only condemn words and actions…but it hath authority to condemn the most secret thoughts of the heart, being evil; so that if thou do not speak any word that is evil, as swearing, lying, jesting, dissembling, or any other word that tendeth to, or savoureth of sin, yet if there should chance to pass but one vain thought through thy heart, but one in all thy lifetime, the law taketh hold of it, accuseth, and also will condemn thee for it…. And so likewise of all the rest of the commands, if there be any thought that is evil do but pass thorough thy heart, whether it be against God, or against man in the least measure, though possibly not discerned of thee, or by thee, yet the law takes hold of thee therefore, and doth by its authority, both cast, condemn, and execute thee for thy so doing.

John Bunyan (1628–1688). Known as the tinker of Elstow, Bunyan underwent a dramatic conversion experience and became a leading Puritan preacher. As his popularity grew, Bunyan increasingly became a target for slander and libel and was eventually imprisoned. It was during his time in prison that he commenced his best known work The Pilgrim’s Progress, first printed in 1678.

The poem is “Upon the Ten Commandments” in A Book for Boys and Girls, or, Country Rhymes for Children (London: Elliot Stock, 1890), 1. The quote is from “The Doctrine of the Law and Grace Unfolded” in The Works of that Eminent Servant of Christ Mr. John Bunyan, Volume 3 (Edinburgh: Sands, Murray & Cochran, 1769), 245–247.

John Yates: What is the law of God stated in the Ten Commandments?

Prayer on: What is the law of God stated in the Ten Commandments?

0 my God and Lord, help me by thy grace to learn and understand thy commandments more fully every day and to live by them…. Preserve my heart so that I shall never again become forgetful and ungrateful, that I may never seek after other gods or other consolation on earth or in any creature, but cling truly and solely to thee, my only God. Amen, dear Lord God and Father. Amen.

Martin Luther (1483–1546). A German Protestant pastor and professor of theology, Luther was the son of a mining family, intended to become a lawyer, and at first took monastic orders. On 31 October 1517 Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, sparking the Reformation. His refusal to retract his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X and Emperor Charles V resulted in his excommunication. Luther wrote many works, including his small and large catechisms, and preached hundreds of sermons in churches and universities.

From Luther’s Prayers, edited by Herbert F. Brokering, from the translation by Charles E. Kistler (Minneapolis: Augsburg Books, 1967), 51.

What does the law of God require?

Question seven of the New City Catechism asks: What does the law of God require?

Personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience; that we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love our neighbor as ourselves.What God forbids should never be done and what God commands should always be done.

Bible on: What does the law of God require?

Matthew 22:37–40

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Commentary on: What does the law of God require?

Loving the Lord God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength is the first great branch of Christian righteousness. You shall delight yourself in the Lord your God; seeking and finding all happiness in Him. You shall hear and fulfill His word, “My son, give me your heart.” And having given Him your inmost soul to reign there without a rival, you may well cry out in the fulness of your heart, “I will love You, O my Lord, my strength. The Lord IS my strong rock; my Savior, my God, in whom l trust.” The second commandment, the second great branch of Christian righteousness, is closely and inseparably connected with the first: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love—embrace with the most tender goodwill, the most earnest and cordial affection, the most inflamed desires of preventing or removing all evil and bringing every possible good. Your neighbor—not only your friends, kinfolk, or acquaintances; not only the virtuous ones who regard you, who extend or return your kindness, but every person, not excluding those you have never seen or know by name; not excluding those you know to be evil and unthankful, those who despitefully use you. Even those you shall love as yourself with the same invariable thirst after their happiness. Use the same unwearied care to screen them from whatever might grieve or hurt either their soul or body. This is love.

John Wesley (1703–1791). An English preacher and theologian, Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles, with founding the English Methodist movement. He travelled generally on horseback, preaching two or three times each day, and is said to have preached more than 40,000 sermons. He also was a noted hymn-writer.

From “The Two Great Commandments” in Renew My Heart: Classic Insights by John Wesley (Uhrichsville, Ohio: Barbour, 2011).

Juan Sanchez: What does the law of God require?

Prayer on: What does the law of God require?

We thank you Heavenly Father that you have not left us to grope in the darkness without any light to show us the way. We thank you that your Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. And we thank you that you have given us in the Holy Spirit an indwelling comforter and strengthener who writes your law in our hearts enabling us to love and to obey it. Grant us in increasing measure the fulness of the Spirit that we may live a life that is pleasing in your holy sight. For the glory of your great name. Amen.

John Stott (1921–2011). An English Anglican preacher who for many years served as rector of All Souls Church in London, Stott was one of the principal framers of the Lausanne Covenant (1974). His numerous books include Why I Am a Christian and The Cross of Christ.

From the end of the sermon “The Call to Fulfil the Law” on Matthew 5:17–20, recorded 15th October 1989, available from www.allsouls.org

How can we glorify God?

The sixth question in the New City Catechism asks: How can we glorify God?

We glorify God by enjoying him, loving him, trusting him,and by obeying his will,commands, and law.

Commentary on: How can we glorify God?

The whole life of a Christian should be nothing but praises and thanks to God. We should neither eat, nor drink, nor sleep, but eat to God, and sleep to God, and work to God, and talk to God, do all to his glory and praise…. As we receive all from God, so we should lay all at his feet, and say, ‘I will not live in a course of sin that will not stand with the favour of my God’…. We glorify God when we exalt him in our souls above all creatures in the world, when we give him the highest place in our love and in our joy, when all our affections are set upon him as the greatest good. This is seen also by opposition, when we will not offend God for any creature, when we can ask our affections, “Whom have I in heaven but thee?”.

God is our God by covenant, because he hath made over himself unto us. Every believing Christian hath the title passed over to him, so that God is his portion, and his inheritance. There is more comfort in this, that God is our God, than the heart of man can conceive. It is larger than his heart, and therefore though we cannot say, that riches, or honours, or friends, &c, are ours, yet if we be able to say by the Spirit of faith that God is ours, then we have all in him. His wisdom is ours to find out a way to do us good;…if under the guilt of sin, his mercy is ours to forgive us; if any want, his all-sufficiency is ours to supply, or to make it good. If God be ours, then whatsoever God can do is ours, and whatsoever God hath is ours…. God will have us make his glory our aim, that he may bestow himself upon us.

Richard Sibbes (1577–1635). An English Puritan theologian, Sibbes was known in London in the early 17th century as “the Heavenly Doctor Sibbes.” Preacher at Gray’s Inn, London and Master of Catherine Hall, Cambridge, his most famous work is The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax.

From “Divine Meditations” in The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume VII (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1864), 185–186, 216, 221.

Joshua HarrisHow can we glorify God?

Prayer on: How can we glorify God?

God grant we may all be of that happy number. If we can call God our God, we shall endeavour, by the Holy Ghost, to be like God, we shall have his divine image stamped upon our souls, and endeavour to be followers of that God who is our Father…whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we shall do all to the glory of God…. You that can call God yours, God help you from this moment to glorify him more and more: and if God be your God…if the love of God abounds in your hearts, you will be willing, on every occasion, to do every thing to promote his honour and glory…. O God, be thou their God! and grant that their God may be their glory. Even so, Lord Jesus! Amen.

George Whitefield (1714 –1770). An English Anglican minister, Whitefield crossed the Atlantic 13 times and for 34 years preached throughout England and America (as part of what is known as the Great Awakening). Whitefield’s voice could be heard over vast distances and was reported at one point to be heard by over thirty thousand people in the open air. Whitefield preached more than 18,000 sermons in his lifetime, fewer than 90 have survived in any form.

From “Sermon LXXIII: God a Believer’s Glory” in Sermons on Important Subjects by the Rev. George Whitfield (London: Fisher, Son & Jackson, 1832), 764–768.

What else did God create?

The fifth question in the New City Catechism asks:  What Else did God Create?

God created all things by his powerful Word, and all his creation was very good; everything flourished under his loving rule.

The Bible on: What Else did God Create?

Genesis 1:31

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

Commentary on: What Else did God Create?

God did by his power create of nothing heaven, earth, and the sea; which he did immediately adorn and enrich with all kinds of good things. And into this world…it pleased him to bring man, to whom he did put all things in subjection….

How great our God is; how great the power of God is; how good, rich, and liberal to man, who never deserved any such thing at his hand, our God is, who hath created so great riches, so exquisite delights, and such furniture as cannot be sufficiently praised, for man alone, and hath made them all subject, and will have them all to obey man as their lord and master…. But here by the way, in the creation of the world, we have to consider the preservation and government of the whole by the same God. For neither doth the world stand and endure by any power of its own; neither do those things move and stir of their own accord….

It is a most absurd thing to say, that God hath created all things, but that he hath no care of the things which he hath made; and that his creature, as a boat destitute of a steersman, is with contrary winds tossed to and fro, and knocked and cracked upon shelves and rocks…. God…doth care for and regard the state of mortal men and of all the things that he hath made for the use of mortal men….

Therefore God hath not only created the world and all things that are in the world; but doth also govern and preserve them at this day, and shall govern and preserve them even till the end.

Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575). A Swiss reformer, and the successor of Zwingli as head of the Zurich church, Bullinger wrote both theological and historical works comprising some 127 titles. There exist about 12,000 letters from and to Bullinger, the most extended correspondence preserved from Reformation times. He corresponded with Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Elizabeth I of England, Christian II of Denmark, and Frederick III Elector Palatine among others.

From “That God is the Creator of All Things: The Fourth Sermon” in “The Other Eight Sermons of the Fourth Decade” in Decades of Henry Bullinger, translated by H.I., Volume 4 (Cambridge: University Press, 1851), 177–179.

R. Kent Hughes on:  What Else did God Create?

Prayer on:  What Else did God Create?

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who wast and art to come; eternal, without beginning or end; immense, without all bounds or measure; the infinite Spirit, Father, Word, and Holy Ghost. The infinite Life, Understanding, and Will, infinitely powerful, wise, and good.

Of thee, and through thee, and to thee, are all things. To thee be glory for evermore. All thy works declare thy glory, for thy glorious perfections appear on all; and for thy glory, and the pleasure of thy holy will, didst thou create them. The heavens, and all the hosts thereof; the sun, and all the glorious stars; the fire, with its motion, light, and heat; the earth, and all that dwell thereon, with all its sweet and beauteous ornaments; the air, and all the meteors; the great deeps, and all that swim therein: all are the preachers of thy praise, and show forth the great Creator’s glory.

How great is that power which made so great a world of nothing; which, with wonderful swiftness, moveth those great and glorious luminaries which in a moment send forth the influences of their motion, light and heat, through all the air, to sea and earth.

Thy powerful life giveth life to all; and preserveth this frame of nature, which thou hast made. How glorious is that wisdom which ordereth all things, and assigneth to all their place and office, and by its perfect laws maintaineth the beauty and harmony of all! How glorious is that goodness and love which made all good, and very good! We praise and glorify thee, our Lord and Owner; for we, and all things, are thine own.

Richard Baxter (1615–1691). An English Puritan, Baxter served as a chaplain in the army of Oliver Cromwell and as a pastor in Kidderminster. When James II was overthrown, he was persecuted and imprisoned for 18 months. He continued to preach, writing at the time that: “I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.” As well as his theological works he was a poet and hymn-writer. He also wrote his own Family Catechism.

From “A Shorter Form of Praise and Prayer for the Lord’s Day” in “The Poor Man’s Family Book” in The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, Volume 19 (London: Paternoster, 1830), 635–636.

How and why did God create us?

The Fourth Question in the New City Catechism asks:  How and why did God create us?

God created us male and female in his own image to know him, love him, live with him, and glorify him.  And it is right that we who were created by God should live to his glory.

Commentary on:  How and why did God create us?

The glory of God is the first thing that God’s children should desire. It is the object of one of our Lord’s own prayers: “Father, glorify thy name.” (John xii. 28.) It is the purpose for which the world was created. It is the end for which the saints are called and converted. It is the chief thing we should seek, that “God in all things may be glorified.” (1 Peter iv. 11.)… He alone deserves to receive all glory…we give Him all honor and praise and rejoice that He is King of kings, and Lord of lords…. Where are our hearts? What do we love best? Are our chiefest affections on things in earth, or things in heaven?… Singleness of purpose is one great secret of spiritual prosperity. If our eyes do not see distinctly, we cannot walk without stumbling and falling. If we attempt to work for two different masters, we are sure to give satisfaction to neither. It is just the same with respect to our souls. We cannot serve [God] and the world at the same time. It is vain to attempt it. The thing cannot be done…. God must be king over our hearts. His law, His will, His precepts must receive our first attention.

We have all talents in God’s sight…. Anything whereby we may glorify God is a talent, our gifts, our influence, our money, our knowledge, our health, our strength, our time, our senses, our reason, our intellect, our memory, our affections, our privileges as members of Christ’s Church, our advantages as possessors of the Bible, —all, all are talents. Whence came these things? What hand bestowed them? Why are we what we are? Why are we not the worms that crawl on the earth? There is only one answer to these questions. All that we have is a loan from God. We are God’s stewards. We are God’s debtors. Let this thought sink deeply into our hearts.

John Charles Ryle (1816–1900). The first Anglican bishop of Liverpool, Ryle’s appointment was at the recommendation of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. As well as being a writer and pastor, Ryle was an athlete who rowed and played cricket for Oxford University. He also was responsible for the building of over forty churches.

From Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: St. Matthew (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1870), 51–56, 336–337.

John Piper on:  How and why did God create us?

A prayer for: How and Why did God create us?

I pray God, for the sake of Christ…to receive me now as entirely his own, and to deal with me, in all respects, as such, whether he afflicts me or prospers me, or whatever he pleases to do with me, who am his. Now, henceforth, I am not to act, in any respect, as my own—I shall act as my own, if I ever make use of any of my powers to any thing that is not to the glory of God, and do not make the glorifying of him my whole and entire business.

Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). A colonial American preacher, theologian, and philosopher, Edwards became pastor of his church in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1726. He is widely known for his famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” as well as his many books including The End For Which God Created the World and A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections. Edwards died from a smallpox inoculation shortly after beginning the presidency at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University).

From “Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 1 (London: William Ball, 1840), lxvii.

How many persons are there in God?

The third question in the New City Catechism asks: How many persons are there in God?

There are three persons inthe one true and living God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

The Bible on: How many persons are there in God?

2 Corinthians 13:14

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Commentary on: How many persons are there in God?

The…Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, beingone God, is…necessary to us to be believed, not only as to the eternal…but especially for the knowledge of God’s three great sorts of works on man: that is, as our Creator, and the God of nature; as our Redeemer, and the God of governing and reconciling grace, and as our Sanctifier, and the Applier and Perfecter of all to fit us to glory.

The Scripture tells us that there are three, and yet but one God.… We are to be baptised into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (Matt. xxviii. 29.) And there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one (1 John v. 7.)… [That] God is one infinite, undivided Spirit; and yet that he is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, must be believed.

We must…know, believe and esteem him to be the only infinite, eternal, self-sufficient Spirit, vital Power, Understanding, and Will, our most perfect Life, Light, and Love; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of whom, and through whom, and to whom, are all things; our absolute Owner, Ruler, and Father; our Maker, our Redeemer, and Sanctifier.

Richard Baxter (1615–1691). An English Puritan, Baxter served as a chaplain in the army of Oliver Cromwell and as a pastor in Kidderminster. When James II was overthrown, he was persecuted and imprisoned for 18 months. He continued to preach, writing at the time that: “I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.” As well as his theological works he was a poet and hymn-writer. He also wrote his own Family Catechism (from which this quote is taken).

From “The Catechising of Families” in The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, Volume 19 (London: Paternoster, 1830), 33, 62, 165.

Kevin de Young on: How many persons are there in God?

Prayer on:  How many persons are there in God?

Not without trembling, we have entreated of the most holy mystery of the reverend Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, which we have learned out of the scriptures: and here now we will stay, humbly worshipping this Unity in trinity and Trinity in unity. And let us keep in mind and acknowledge this distinction or division most manifestly declared in the scriptures, and the unity also commended unto us with exceeding great diligence…. There is but one God…. Therefore when we read that God created the world, we understand that the Father from whom are all things, by the Son by whom are all things, in the Holy Ghost in whom are all things, created the world. And when we read that the Son became flesh, suffered, died, and rose again for our salvation, we believe that the Father and the Holy Ghost, though they were not partakers of his incarnation and passion, yet notwithstanding that they wrought our salvation by the Son…. And when sins are said to be forgiven in the Holy Ghost, we believe that this benefit and all other benefits of our blessedness are unseparably given and bestowed upon us from one, only, true, living, and everlasting God, who is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. To whom be praise and thanksgiving for ever and ever. Amen.

Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575). A Swiss reformer, and the successor of Zwingli as head of the Zurich church, Bullinger wrote both theological and historical works comprising some 127 titles. There exist about 12,000 letters from and to Bullinger, the most extended correspondence preserved from Reformation times. He corresponded with Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Elizabeth I of England, Christian II of Denmark, and Frederick III Elector Palatine among others.

From “Of The Holy Ghost: The Eighth Sermon” in “The Other Eight Sermons of the Fourth Decade” in Decades of Henry Bullinger, translated by H.I., Volume 4 (Cambridge: University Press, 1851), 325–326.

What is God?

The second question of the New City Catechism asks:  What is God?

God is the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything. He is eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in his power and perfection, goodness and glory, wisdom, justice, and truth. Nothing happens except through him and by his will.

What the Bible says about the question:  What is God?

Psalm 86:8–10 and 15

Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God…. You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

Commentary on the question:  What is God?

God is an eternal, independent being…. He gives being to all creatures…. God is an eternal, unchangeable being…. His being is without any limits.

Angels and men have their beings, but then they are bounded and limited;…but God is an immense being that cannot be included within any bounds….

There never was nor shall be time wherein God could not say of himself, ‘I am’…. He is a God that gives being to all things…. He is the Being of beings, subsisting by himself;…‘I am that I am, and as I am, so will I be to all eternity’….

He is infinite in power, sovereign in dominion, and not bounded as creatures are…. He is so strong that he is almighty, he is one to whom nothing is impossible…. He wanteth nothing, but is infinitely blessed with the infinite perfection of his glorious being…self-sufficient, all-sufficient, absolutely perfect….

There is no succession or variation in God, but he is eternally the same…. God ever was, ever is, and ever shall be. Though the manifestations of himself unto the creatures are in time, yet his essence or being never did nor shall be bound up by time. Look backward or forward, God from eternity to eternity, is a most self-sufficient, infinite, perfect, blessed being, the first cause of our being, and without any cause of his own being; an eternal infinite fulness, and possession to himself and of himself. What God is, he was from eternity, and what God is, he will be so to eternity.

Thomas Brooks (1608–1680). An English Puritan preacher, Brooks studied at Cambridge University before becoming rector of a church in London. He was ejected from his post, but continued to work in London even during the Great Plague. He wrote over a dozen books, most of which are devotional in character, The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod being the best known.

From “Christ’s Eternal Deity Proved” in The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, edited by Rev. Alexander Balloch Grosart, Volume 5 (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1866), 150–157.

Don Carson on the question:  What is God?

Prayer on the question:  What is God?

I believe, O sovereign Goodness, O mighty Wisdom, that thou dost sweetly order and govern all things, even the most minute, even the most noxious, to thy glory, and the good of those that love thee.

I believe, O Father of the families of heaven and earth, that thou so disposest all events, as may best magnify thy goodness to all thy children, especially those whose eyes wait upon thee.

I most humbly beseech thee, teach me to adore all thy ways, though I cannot comprehend them; teach me to be glad that thou art king, and to give thee thanks for all things that befall me; seeing thou hast chosen that for me, and hast thereby ‘set to thy seal that they are good.’

And for that which is to come, give me thy grace to do in all things what pleaseth thee; and then, with an absolute submission to thy wisdom, to leave the issues of them in thy hand.

John Wesley (1703–1791). An English preacher and theologian, Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles, with founding the English Methodist movement. He travelled generally on horseback, preaching two or three times each day, and is said to have preached more than 40,000 sermons. He also was a noted hymn-writer.

From “Forms of Prayer: Thursday Morning” in The Works of the Reverend John Wesley, Volume 6 (New York: J. Emory & B. Waugh, 1831), 392.

What is our only hope in life and death?

The first question of the New City Catechism: What is our only hope in life and death?

That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.


The Bible on What is our only hope in life and death?

Romans 14:7–8

For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.


Commentary on What is our only hope in life and death?

If we, then, are not our own but the Lord’s, it is clear what error we must flee, and whither we must direct all the acts of our life.

We are not our own: let not our reason nor our will, therefore, sway our plans and deeds.

We are not our own: let us therefore not set it as our goal to seek what is expedient for us….

We are not our own: in so far as we can, let us forget ourselves and all that is ours.

Conversely, we are God’s: let us therefore live for him and die for him.

We are God’s: let his wisdom and will therefore rule all our actions.

We are God’s: let all the parts of our life accordingly strive toward him as our only lawful goal.

O, how much has that man profited who, having been taught that he is not his own, has taken away dominion and rule from his own reason that he may yield it to God! For, as consulting our self-interest is the pestilence that most effectively leads to our destruction, so the sole haven of salvation is to be wise in nothing and to will nothing through ourselves but to follow the leading of the Lord alone.

John Calvin (1509–1564). A theologian, administrator, and pastor, Calvin was born in France into a strict Roman Catholic family. It was in Geneva however where Calvin worked most of his life and organized the Reformed church. He wrote the Institutes of the Christian Religion (from which this quote is taken), the Geneva Catechism, as well as numerous commentaries on Scripture.

From Institutes of the Christian Religion, edited by John T. McNeill, translated by Ford Lewis Battles, Library of Christian Classics (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960), III.VII.I., 690.

Tim Keller on What is our only hope in life and death?

Prayer on What is our only hope in life and death?

Lord, here am I; do with me what thou pleasest, write upon me as thou pleasest: I give up myself to be at thy dispose….

The ambitious man giveth himself up to his honours, but I give up myself unto thee;…man gives himself up to his pleasures, but I give up myself to thee;…man gives himself up…to his idols, but I give myself to thee….

Lord! lay what burden thou wilt upon me, only let thy everlasting arms be under me…. I am lain down in thy will, I have learned to say amen to thy amen; thou hast a greater interest in me than I have in myself, and therefore I give up myself unto thee, and am willing to be at thy dispose, and am ready to receive what impression thou shalt stamp upon me.

O blessed Lord! hast thou not again and again said unto me…‘I am thine, O soul! to save thee; my mercy is thine to pardon thee; my blood is thine to cleanse thee; my merits are thine to justify thee; my righteousness is thine to clothe thee; my Spirit is thine to lead thee; my grace is thine to enrich thee; and my glory is thine to reward thee’; and therefore…I cannot but make a resignation of myself unto thee.

Lord! here I am, do with me as seemeth good in thine own eyes. I know the best way…is to resign up myself to thy will, and to say amen to thy amen.

Thomas Brooks (1608–1680). An English Puritan preacher, Brooks studied at Cambridge University before becoming rector of a church in London. He was ejected from his post, but continued to work in London even during the Great Plague. He wrote over a dozen books, most of which are devotional in character, The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod (from which this prayer is taken) being the best known.

From “The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod” in The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, edited by Rev. Alexander Balloch Grosart, Volume 1 (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1866), 305–306.