Lord’s Day Four

Question 9

He who requires what is impossible is unjust, unless he first gave the ability to perform what he requires.

  1. Man as created had the ability for himself and his posterity to perform God’s requirements.

  2. That ability was lost for him and his posterity in the fall.

  3. The fault was man’s, not God’s.

  4. God has not lost His right to require obedience to His law from all His creation..

  5. If imputation of the First Adam’s sin isn’t fair, neither is imputation of the Second Adam’s righteousness.

He who requires what is impossible commands in vain, unless he first gave the ability to perform what he requires if obedience is His only aim. But there are other ends in view:

-For the righteous

  1. By the law is the knowledge of sin”; recognize our weakness and inability.

  2. Know what we were pre-fall

  3. Know what we need to ask of God – a renewed nature

  4. Understand what Christ has done in making satisfaction for us.

  5. Know how to act toward God

-For the unrighteous

  1. That they may be justly condemned (Rom. 3:19)

  2. To preserve the fabric of society

Give me the grace to do as you command, and command me to do what you will.
(Augustine, Confessions, BOOK 10, CHAPTER 29, Paragraph 40)

Question 10

Important point:
Justice demands that sin be punished only once.

Two consequences:
Temporal is but the beginning of eternal punishment for the reprobate, several parts of one and the same punishment. Sin is punished either in the guilty or someone else, not both. If our sin was punished in Christ, God would be unjust to punish sin again in us; therefore afflictions we suffer in this life have another purpose than punishment or satisfaction for sin.


Question 11

Every crime deserves punishment in proportion to the majesty of him against whom it is committed. God is merciful but He is at the same time just, perfectly so, and one attribute must not be compromised by another. God can show mercy in two ways – deferring punishment on the reprobate; transferring punishment to a substitute for the elect.

So what are the purposes of temporal affliction?

  1. To correct and improve our character.

  2. To teach us to hate sin, the devil, and the world.

  3. To develop faith, hope, patience, prayer and obedience in us

  4. To show us God’s displeasure with our sinful behavior

  5. To bring glory to God by His delivering us out of affliction

  6. That we may identify with our Savior – the fellowship of His suffering

What will comfort and encourage us in affliction?

  1. The assurance of forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God.

  2. He is a good Father and worthy of our trust and obedience.

  3. True obedience is a true virtue and great blessing from God, especially under great affliction.

  4. A good conscience in knowing God is pleased with us.

  5. The ends of affliction are God’s glory, our good, and the conversion of others.

  6. A little temporal affliction is far better than eternal punishment.

  7. The hope of reward both now and later

  8. The example of Christ and other believers

  9. The presence and help of God – “I will not leave you comfortless”

  10. Complete and final deliverance



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