Westminster Larger Catechism (Q 131-135)

Dear Church Family,

A Later Postscript to Mark’s Gospel (Mark 16:9-20)

We concluded our sermon series in the Gospel according to Mark this past Sunday in Mark 16:1-8. Perhaps you have questions regarding that “second ending” of Mark’s Gospel (vv 9-20) and why we concluded in verse 8. One of the best, short explanations of the issues related to this later addition to Mark’s Gospel, in my opinion, is found in Sinclair Ferguson’s commentary, Let’s Study Mark. Here is a scanned pdf of Ferguson’s short and helpful explanation regarding this later addition to Mark’s Gospel: Ferguson – Second Ending of Mark.

Continuing Lessons in the Westminster Larger Catechism

This past Sunday, we continued our Sunday school lessons in the Westminster Larger Catechism (WLC) in questions 131-135 (dealing with the fifth and sixth commandments). Here is a brief review.

WLC 131  What are the duties of equals?
The duties of equals are, to regard the dignity and worth of each other, in giving honour to go one before another; and to rejoice in each others gifts and advancement, as their own.

The duties of equals may be summarized under two headings:

(1) Give dignity and honor to one another (Romans 12:9-13)
(2) Rejoice in each other’s good fortune (Romans 12:15-16)

WLC 132  What are the sins of equals?
The sins of equals are, besides the neglect of the duties required, the undervaluing of the worth, envying the gifts, grieving at the advancement of prosperity one of another;(4) and usurping pre-eminence one over another.

The sins of equals may be summarized under three headings:

(1) The neglect of the required duties (see previous question, WLC 131)
(2) Denigrating, envying, and dismaying over the other’s good fortune (Acts 7:9)
(3) Seeking preeminence (Luke 22:24; 3 John 1:9)

WLC 133  What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment, the more to enforce it?
The reason annexed to the fifth commandment, in these words, That thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, is an express promise of long life and prosperity, as far as it shall serve for God’s glory and their own good, to all such as keep this commandment.

The reason annexed to the fifth commandment contains both a promise and a caveat:

(1) Promise: long life in the land (Exodus 20:12)

In the New Testament, we learn that the promised land of the old covenant was understood by the patriarchs to be pointing to the fully realized kingdom of God in the new heavens and new earth (Hebrews 11:8-10). Thus, the promise of the fifth commandment is slightly modified in the New Testament (Ephesians 6:13). The Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, changes the promise of the fifth commandment just a little bit. In his book, Jesus & Israel: One Covenant or Two?, David Holwerda helpfully explains this New Testament amendment:

“Significantly, Paul’s quotation modifies the original Old Testament form of the promise by omitting the phrase, ‘that the LORD your God is giving to you,’ a phrase referring to the land of Canaan. By omitting this specification, Paul declares that now in Christ the promise applies to any land. The promise has indeed been universalized, but it has been universalized precisely with reference to land. What was once a blessing promised to God’s people in the particular land of Canaan, given by God as a gift, is now promised to God’s people living anywhere on the earth, which was given by God as a gift.” (Jesus & Israel, 102).

(2) Caveat: none of God’s blessings are earned or merited by our keeping of the commandments. So, we must always remember that promises like these are fulfilled as far as it shall serve God’s glory and our good (Romans 8:28).

WLC 134  Which is the sixth commandment?
The sixth commandment is, Thou shalt not kill.

There are three questions in the WLC devoted to the sixth commandment (WLC 134-136).

WLC 135  What are the duties required in the sixth commandment?
The duties required in the sixth commandment are, all careful studies, and lawful endeavours, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; by just defence thereof against violence, patient bearing of the hand of God, quietness of mind, cheerfulness of spirit; a sober use of meat, drink, physick, sleep, labour, and recreations; by charitable thoughts, love, compassion, meekness, gentleness, kindness; peaceable, mild and courteous speeches and behaviour; forbearance, readiness to be reconciled, patient bearing and forgiving of injuries, and requiting good for evil; comforting and succouring the distressed, and protecting and defending the innocent.

The duties required in the sixth commandment may be summarized under four headings:

(1) Lawful endeavors to preserve and defend life (Ephesians 4:26; James 5:7)
(2) Care for one’s physical body (Proverbs 25:16, 27)
(3) Charity, peace-ableness, courteous speech and behavior (1 Peter 3:8-11)
(4) Forbearance, comforting the distressed, defending the innocent (Romans 12:17-21; Proverbs 31:8-9)


As we read and study the required duties and forbidden sins of the ten commandments, we all are certainly convicted of the innumerable ways in which we do not conform to God’s law and the innumerable ways in which we transgress God’s law every day in thought, word, and deed. And, as we are convicted of our sin, we are also reminded of the two special uses of God’s law for the regenerate which we learned in WLC 97.

First, we grow in our assurance of salvation through faith in the Person and work of Christ. The law of God shows us how much we are bound to Christ for His fulfilling the law and enduring the curse of the law in our stead, and for our good. Second, we learn better how to love the Lord and to love our neighbor. The law of God provokes us to thankful obedience, to endeavor to live as becomes the followers of Christ.

Join us on Sunday mornings at 9:15 am as we learn how we may offer up our thankful obedience to our Savior in all that we think, say, and do.

The Lord be with you!
Pastor Peter M. Dietsch