Nearly 400 years ago, a group of Puritan preachers and elders came together and produced The Westminster Shorter Catechism. This document was written by people who knew their God and knew their Bibles from cover to cover.
Over the centuries since then this Catechism has been used all over the English-speaking world, to teach the basic doctrines of Christianity. It has rather gone out of fashion nowadays – and that’s a great pity.
Chief end explained
The Shorter Catechism is laid out as a series of questions-and-answers. And the very first question is: “What is the chief end of man?” In other words: What are we here for? What is my purpose and duty in life?
The answer given is simply this: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”
Depth of Wisdom
That is the core of the Christian life. Our ultimate purpose, our duty; the thing God created us to do; and what Jesus has redeemed us for. It is to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever”.
Yet in that short statement is a depth and width of wisdom, meaning and practical implications that could never be contained in a Gospel tract.
John 17:3 tells us that “this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
Before we can “glorify God and to enjoy Him forever” we need to know Him in Jesus. How can we glorify or enjoy God if we don’t know Him?
Surely we need to know God if we are to make any sense of the dark world we’re living in right now! We absolutely need our own personal assurance that God is working out His eternal plans and purposes.
So how can we truly know God? How can we see his glory, His power, His perfect justice, the perfection of His holiness, the beauty of His character?
The answer is – we can’t!
That’s what a Gospel tract doesn’t explain. The loss of this critical insight is the reason why so many who have accepted the modern Gospel message struggle for years with doubts and fears, fail to grow spiritually, and produce little spiritual fruit.
They know about God, intellectually – but they don’t have a heart-knowlege of Him. How can they? They are very keen on what Jesus can do for them – but aren’t excited about who He is. How can they be?
God says, “Love me – just love me – not for what I can do for you. Love me for Who I Am. And I will be with you – and my presence shall go with you.”
How can we do that? Well – we can begin by praying “Open the eyes of my heart Lord, I want to see you.”
Open The Eyes Of My Heart by Paul Baloche
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:17-18)
Of course I knew nothing of all this back in 1979 when took my bundle of Gospel leaflets to the lady on the marked stall. And yet – I’d unwittingly prayed exactly the right prayer just months earlier.