Westminster Larger Catechism Study

WLC – Q. 27. What misery did the fall bring upon mankind?

Q. 27. What misery did the fall bring upon mankind?
A. The fall brought upon mankind the loss of communion with God, his displeasure and curse; so as we are by nature children of wrath, bond slaves to Satan, and justly liable to all punishments in this world, and that which is to come.

This question and answer outlines the dire consequences of the first sin and the fall, which unfortunately we learn is imputed to all mankind.

It’s probably best to just read Vos’ comments on some of the points made. This is a hard lesson, but the Catechism has more to say about our sins in the next Q&A’s.

How does our experience parallel that of Adam and Eve after they sinned? (a) They lost conununion with God; we come into the world alienated from God. (b) The woes pronounced upon Adam and Eve are still the common experience of humanity. (c) They lost their access to the tree of life, although its fruit had been almost within their grasp; we are born into the world far from the tree of life, and no human being can ever receive eternal life except through Jesus Christ. (d) They faced a life of perpetual enmity between themselves and Satan; we too must fight a lifelong battle against Satan and against his allies, the world and the flesh.

What is meant by saying that we are by nature children of wrath? This expression, which is taken from Ephesians 2:3, means that we are born into this world with a nature which is sinful and therefore the object of God’s wrath, that is, his righteous displeasure against sin.

What is meant by saying that unsaved people are bond slaves to Satan? This means that God has justly permitted Satan to have a certain power or dominion over all unsaved people, by reason of which they are not spiritually free, but in bondage to sin and Satan, who tyrannizes over their lives and afflicts them both in soul and in body. Satan’s activities are strictly limited by God, however. The believer in Christ, while he may be influenced or tempted by Satan, is no longer a slave of Satan, for he has been liberated by the Son of God (John 8:34-36).

What truth is implied by the statement that sinners are justly liable to all punishments in this world and that which is to come? This statement implies the truth that sin involves guilt, for it renders the sinner liable to penalties. Therefore sin is not a mere misfortune or calamity which would call forth the pity of God; nor is it a mere disease which needs to be cured; nor is it a mere moral pollution which needs to be cleansed; it is guilt which deserves punishment and which needs to be forgiven.

What is the modern “liberal” attitude toward the doctrines stated in this question of the catechism? The modern “liberal” theology denies every one of the truths set forth in the answer to question 27. (a) Modern “Liberalism” teaches that all men are children of God by nature, and therefore anyone can have communion with God by simply realizing that he is already a child of God. (b) “Liberalism” speaks only of the love of God, and objects to the idea of his displeasure and curse. (c) “Liberalism” follows Pelagius and denies that we are horn with a nature that is the object of divine wrath because of its sinfulness. (d) “Liberalism” does not believe in a personal devil, and therefore cannot accept the idea that we are bond slaves to Satan. (e) “Liberalism” defines sin in human and social terms, and therefore rejects the doctrine that sin is guilt before God which deserves divine punishment.

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