How the Preface Teaches Us to Love By Grace Through Faith

Good Morning,

In this week’s Larger Catechism lesson we are going to begin to get into the Ten Commandments themselves after spending several weeks in preparation. We looked at the benefits of the law for the believer (and the unbeliever) as well as how we are to use the law wisely. Ironically enough our first foray into the Mosaic Ten isn’t actually one of the commandments at all. Yet, it is impossible to understand the context of what the LORD is doing at Sinai if you don’t begin with His premise, His reasoning for providing the law written on stone upon the mountain.

To call the first verse of Exodus 20 a preface is to use that word in the same way you would in any other circumstance. It is a help to focus the readers (or hearers) mind as to how we are to approach this portion of Scripture. There is a redemptive purpose, which we’ll get into here in a second, that is inescapably part of the Lord’s work. The therefore at the beginning of the First Command tells us everything we need to know about this opening testimony to God’s love to the very people He saved. Remembering the place of the Mosaic Covenant in the wider administration of the covenant of grace is central to seeing how the law in its third use helps us in our daily application of what is being taught in the first and second tables at Sinai.

So to better understand all that let us get into the Q/A’s:

Q. 101: What is the preface to the ten commandments?

A. The preface to the ten commandments is contained in these words, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Wherein God manifests his sovereignty, as being JEHOVAH, the eternal, immutable, and almighty God; having his being in and of himself, and giving being to all his words and works: and that he is a God in covenant, as with Israel of old, so with all his people; who, as he brought them out of their bondage in Egypt, so he delivers us from our spiritual thralldom; and that therefore we are bound to take him for our God alone, and to keep all his commandments.

Q. 102: 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.

The right and privilege of God to declare His will to His people is sacrosanct. It is a just application of His being the Creator. It is vital, however, that we comprehend completely that the giving of the Ten Commandments is not done in the context of His Sovereignty as Creator, but as Redeemer. This difference is monumental in what it says to those of us who have been redeemed. Go to Ephesians 1:7-9:

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.

Here as we read of Jehovah’s plan of salvation and the promise in the work that He has in His grace revealed to us what it is to be wise, prudent, and knowledgeable of His will for His people. I realize that is a lot of His’s, yet that pronoun is central to how we should approach His word. There is ownership and belonging to found here.

This sense of belonging should be what motivates us to not only pay attention to what God has commanded, but it should tell us something as well about why God would have us to do or y or z rather than bc, or d. There is no randomness or coincidence in the Lord’s good creation. There is also a need to bring Romans 9 into the conversation, specifically verse 20 where Paul writes, “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’”. Look back up at Q. 101 for a moment. God manifests Himself to His people in that in calling them out of bondage to slavery He has made them more than conquerors for His glory and purpose. Keeping the covenantal promise of Abraham bound (no pun intended) with what He is doing through Moses in Exodus 19-21 and the establishment of this administration of the covenant of grace gives us pause as to how we are to apply everything that comes next. It is an act of pure divine love that has gotten us to this point and the response all redeemed men and women are to give to this gift and grant of covenantal blessing is to not obey out of slavish fear, but simply due to a thankful and grateful heart for the enormity of what God has done for His people. He heard their cries in Egypt and He provided an answer for their pain in sending a Redeemer. Sounds familiar.

This is one of the reasons for why Q. 102 is part of this week’s catechism lesson. Jesus Christ as He is teaching the disciples through the inquiry of the Scribes reminds all who are present that true faith in Him is born out of the electing grace of God and results not just in the bare keeping of the commandments, but keeping them for the glory of the one who has breathed the life of eternity into their souls. There is no sense in which the Ten Commandments are given to return a works principle into the gracious mercy of the Father. Why are we to have no other gods before the one true and living God? For the same reason why we are not to make false idols, or misuse His name, or fail to remember the Sabbath Day.

As we close today think upon the leper whom Jesus healed, well if you recall He healed more than one, yet what was the latter’s response to this mercy in Luke 17:15-16? “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.” You, a Samaritan, an alien to the covenant promises, have been born again in His love. What more does He ask of you in return than to keep His commandments, not for newness of life, but because of the newness of life found in the gospel?

Here is something else to consider:

Blessings in Christ,

Rev. Benjamin Glaser

Pastor, Bethany ARP Church

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