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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel

Of the Increase of Grace.

Q. 1. Doth all true grace increase and grow?
A. Yes, it doth, like the morning light; Proverbs 4:18. The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. And for that end God hath appointed ministers and ordinances: Ephesians 4:11-12. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

Q. 2. Cannot false or seeming grace grow?
A. It may spring up, and seem to flourish for a time, but comes not to perfection; Luke 8:14. And that which fell among thorns, are they, which when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with the cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

Q. 3. What is the first respect in which grace grows?
A. It grows by deeper rooting itself in the soul; Ephesians 3:17. That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able, &c.

Q. 4. What is the second respect or manner of its growth?
A. It grows in respect of its greater fitness and readiness for acts of obedience; Colossians 1:11. Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness.

Q. 5. What is the third respect or manner of its growth?
A. It grows in respect of its abilities to fix the mind more steadily on spiritual things. Hence grown Christians are called spiritual men; Galatians 6:1. Ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness.

Q. 6. Why must all true grace grow?
A. Because there is a stature to which Christians are appointed; Ephesians 4:13. Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

Q. 7. What are the causes of a Christianís growth?
A. Union with Christ; John 15:4. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. And his blessings on the ordinances; Isaiah 55:10-11. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. And providences; Philippians 1:19. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayers, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Q. 8. May not true grace sometimes decay?
A. Yes, it may; Revelation 2:4. Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. But not utterly; 1 John 2:9. Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him.

Q. 9. What is the first inference from hence?
A. To bless God for gospel ordinances; Psalm 92:13-14. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God; they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing.

Q. 10. What is the second inference?
A. Hence we see the miserable state of them that grow worse and worse; Jude 12. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: Clouds they are without water, carried about of winds: Trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the root.

Q. 11. What is the third inference?
A. Christians should not be discouraged at their weakness in grace, for they have a merciful Christ; Isaiah 42:3. A bruised reed shall he not break; and the smoking flax shall he not quench; he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. And a sure promise; Job 17:9. The righteous also shall hold on his way; and he that bath clean bands shall be stronger and stronger.

Q. 12. What is the last inference?
A. That all true Christians draw daily nearer and nearer to the heavenly and perfect state; 2 Corinthians 4:16. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day; Romans 13:11. For now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

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