Statement of Focus and Our Distinctives
“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”
(Shorter Catechism Question 1)
With these words the Westminster Standards bring into sharp focus the ultimate purpose of human existence and the source of lasting joy. It is the central teaching of the entire system of doctrine called Historic Christianity, which is expressed most fully in the Westminster Confession of Faith. Focus on the praise of God’s glory is the most conscious and consistent form of God-centered life, through which we come to the fullness of Christ who fills everything in every way. The doxological focus on glorifying God, by knowing God’s glory and making God’s glory known, is the origin and goal of the existence of Westminster Fellowship.
The following five points bring together the distinctives of Westminster Fellowship and the doxological focus of the Westminster Confession of Faith.
Creation is revelation.
God has all goodness and blessedness in and of himself. He does not derive any glory from his creatures but only manifests his own glory in, by, unto and upon them (WCF 2.2).
God has decreed all that comes to pass for the manifestation of his glory (WCF 3.3).
For the manifestation of his eternal power, wisdom and goodness, in the beginning, God created all things (WCF 4.1).
God the great creator of all things upholds, directs, disposes and governs all creatures, actions and things, from the greatest even to the least, for the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness and mercy (WCF 5.1).
God, according to his wise and holy counsel, was pleased to permit the Fall of man, having purposed to order it to his own glory (WCF 6.1).
This revelation is full and clear.
Since all that comes to pass was purposed and planned in order to reveal God’s glory, God’s revelation is full, not bare. The whole earth is full of his glory (Isaiah 6:3).
This revelation, both of the divine nature and the moral law, is clear, so that unbelief is without excuse (Romans 1:18-21, 2:14-15, WCF 1:1).
Eternal life is knowing God.
Man’s chief end is the end in itself, the highest good, or, simply, the good for man. This highest good is eternal life, which is to know God (John 17:3). Jesus Christ, the Word of God incarnate, makes God known (John 1:18, 17:26). In him we have eternal life to the full (John 10:10).
The First Commandment requires us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God and our God and to worship and glorify him accordingly (SCQ 46).
The first petition of the Lord’s Prayer is that God would enable us and others to glorify him in all that by which he makes himself known (SCQ 101).
The knowledge of God is through the work of dominion.
From the beginning, man was called to know God’s glory, revealed in the creation, through the work of dominion over the creation (Genesis 1:26-28).
The Fall served to deepen the self-revelation of God’s glory. It does not set aside but deepens the need for the work of dominion (WCF 6:1).
In Christ, man is to exercise dominion over sin (Romans 6:14). We are to take captive every thought which is raised up against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
The earth shall be full of the knowledge of God.
The work given to man in the Garden, to fill the earth with the knowledge of God, will be completed as a result of the rule of Christ (Isaiah 11:9).
The Sabbath is a continual reminder to man of his origin and destiny, and the affirmation of hope that, as God’s work of creation was completed, man’s work of dominion in Christ will be completed (Genesis 2:1- 3).
The Sabbath in the New Testament celebrates the completion of Christ’s work of redemption accomplished in his resurrection from the dead. It anticipates the completion of the application of redemption in our resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:25-26).
The worship of God in the singing of Psalms on the Sabbath Day is required by the Second Commandment and upholds the doxological focus of human existence and the hope of the glory of God (SCQ 49-52, WCF 21.5).