Outline of Watson’s Exposition of Shorter Catechism Q&A #1

Here is an outline I created of Thomas Watson’s “A Body of Divinity” from the section on WSC Question & Answer #1:

Westminster Shorter Catechism1:

Question 1: What is the chief end of man?

Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify GodA, and to enjoy him forever2.

A: 1 Corinthians 10:3134 – “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Romans 11:36 – “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”


The Glory of God5:

  1. What is God’s Glory?
    1. Glory is an essential quality of God.
      1. “Glory is the sparkling of the Deity; glory is so co-natural to the Godhead, that God cannot be God without it.”6
        1. Acts 7:2 – “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran…”
      2. God’s glory is perfect, lacking nothing, and nothing can be added to it, and God will not part from it, which he most loves.
        1. Isaiah 48:11b – “My glory I will not give to another.”
    2. Glory is also something that is given to God.
      1. 1 Chronicles 16:29 – “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness”
      2. 1 Corinthians 6:20 – “for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
      3. Philippians 1:19-21 – “19for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
  2. What does it mean to glorify God?

    The Glorification of God consists primarily in four things, Appreciation, Worship, Affection, and Subjection.

    1. Appreciation:
      1. By setting our highest thoughts on God is to glorify Him, having esteem for Him that cannot be matched by anything else. He is the primary cause of our very being, so we delight in him.
        1. Psalm 92:8 – “but you, O LORD, are on high forever.”
        2. Psalm 97:9 – “For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.”
      2. “This is to glorify God, to have God-admiring thoughts; we esteem him most excellent, and search for diamonds only in this rock.”7
    2. Worship:
      1. We revere Him with honor and praise.
        1. Psalm 29:2 – “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.”
      2. “A divine worship which we give to God, is his prerogative royal…This divine worship God is very jealous of; this is the apple of his eye, this is the pearl of his crown, which he guards, as he did the tree of life, with cherubims and a flaming sword, that no man may come near it to violate it; divine worship must be such as God himself hath appointed, else it is offering strange fire…”8 9
        1. Nehemiah 8:6b – “they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.”
    3. Affection:
      1. We give God glory when we love him.
        1. Deuteronomy 6:5 – “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
      2. “Love of Concupiscence”10
        1. Love of self, in which God is loved for his providential works.
          1. Providing a good harvest
          2. Unharmed from an accident
        2. God is not the object, the object is the blessing
      3. “Love of Delight”11
        1. This love is where our heart is focused like a laser on the proper object, the Triune God.
        2. This love is:
          1. Exuberant – Not sparing, but a torrent.
          2. Superlative – The first fruits of our love.
          3. Intense – “burning in holy love to God.”12
        3. “Thus to love God is to glorify him; he who is the chief of our happiness, hath the chief of our affections.”13
    4. Subjection:
      1. By dedicating our lives to Him and his service under His Lordship, we bring him Glory.
      2. This goes back to one of the WCF proof texts: 1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
    5. “A good Christian is like the sun, which doth not only send forth heat, but goes his circuit round the world. Thus, he who glorifies God, hath not only his affections heated with love to God, but he goes his circuit too; he moves vigorously in the sphere of obedience.”14
  3. Why does God require that we glorify Him?
    1. It is God who made us.
      1. Psalm 100:3 – “Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”
      2. Every breath we take, is a gift from God.
      3. He is the founder of our life, our very being.
    2. All things were created, and exist to give glory to God.
      1. Proverbs 16:4 (NASB) – “The LORD has made everything for its own purpose”
      2. Isaiah 43:21 – “the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.”
    3. Creatures bring glory to God.
      1. The inanimate creation itself glorifies God.
        1. Psalm 19:1 – “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
      2. The animate creatures under our dominion glorify God.
        1. “Look into the air; the birds, with their chirping music, sing hymns of praise to God, saith Anselm.”15
        2. Isaiah 43:20 – “The wild beasts will honor me”
      3. The angels give glory and honor to God.
        1. Hebrews 1:14 – “ Are they not all ministering spirits”
      4. So that if the angels bring glory to God, much more should we, being dignified with honour above the angelical spirits.
        1. Man is lower than the angels. (Heb. 2:7)
        2. God sought to reconcile sinful mankind to himself. (1 Cor. 5:21)
    4. He is our one and only true hope.
      1. Psalm 39:7 – “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”
      2. Psalm 62:5 – “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.”
      3. Psalm 87:7 – “All my springs are in you.”
  4. In what ways are we to glorify God?
    1. “God must be the terminus ad quem, the ultimate end of all actions.”16
      1. We must not simply advance God’s glory by some occasional striving.
      2. It must be the thing constantly aimed for.
      3. John 8:50 – Jesus said, “Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.”
      4. 1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
  5. How do we aim for God’s glory?
    1. That we seek it first and foremost above all else.
      1. Luke 14:26 – “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
      2. This is so important that it is intricately connected to discipleship, in that without it, you cannot be his disciple.
      3. It must be our aim for our existence.
    2. With our aim for His glory, we should be content with providence.17
      1. Content with our station, situation, events in our lives.
        1. Matthew 26:39b – “…not as I will, but as you will.”
      2. “We aim at God’s glory, when we can be content to be out-shined by others in gifts and esteem, so God’s glory may be increased.”18
        1. Philippians 1:15 – “Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will.”
      3. “A good Christian argues thus: It is God that hath put me in this condition; he could have raised me higher, if he pleased, but that might have been a snare to me; God hath done it in wisdom and love; therefore I will sit down satisfied with my condition. Surely this doth much glorify God!”19
        1. Psalm 16:5-6 – “The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”
    3. We glorify God by a ingenuous20 confession of our sin.
      1. The Thief on the Cross, Luke 23:41 – “And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”
      2. Achan confession to Joshua, Joshua 7:19-20 – “Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I did”
      3. The Prodigal Son, Luke 15:18 – “I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.’”
      4. Humble confession is exalting to God.
      5. A ingenuous confession is freely done, and not extracted by force.
    4. We glorify God with our believing and trusting Him.
      1. Romans 4:20 – “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God”
      2. 1 John 5:10b – “Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar…”
      3. Psalm 31:5 – “Into your hands I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.”
      4. Daniel 3:17 – “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.”
      5. “Faith knows there are no impossibilities with God, and will trust him where it cannot trace him.”21
    5. We glorify God with our careful handling of His glory.
      1. God’s glory is something he is the most jealous of.
      2. We need to be careful in our handling of it, so as to guard it from reproach.
      3. Psalm 69:9 – “For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.”
      4. “When we hear God reproached, it is as if we were reproached; when God’s glory suffers, it is as if we suffered. This is to be tender of God’s glory.”22
    6. We bring glory to God by our productivity, that is being fruitful.
      1. John 15:8 – “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
      2. Philippians 1:11 – “ filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
      3. Matthew 5:16 – “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
      4. Jeremiah 11:16 – “The LORD once called you ‘a green olive tree, beautiful with good fruit.’ But with the roar of a great tempest he will set fire to it, and its branches will be consumed.”
    7. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,”23 to God’s glory.
      1. His glory and our good are intimately connected for God’s People.
      2. We honor Him in promoting our salvation.
      3. In making him known to an unbelieving world.
    8. When “we live to God” we glorify Him.
      1. 2 Corinthians 5:15 – “he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
      2. Romans 14:8 – “For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.”
      3. 1 Peter 4:10-11 – “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
      4. “The Mammonist lives to his money, the Epicure lives to his belly, the design of a sinner’s life is to gratify lust. But then we glorify God, when we live to God.”24
  6. What is it to live to God?”25
    1. He is glorified when we live to serve Him with our whole life.
      1. Philippians 1:20 – “as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”
    2. He is glorified when we live to God by walking happily in the Lord.
      1. 2 Corinthians 1:4 – “who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
      2. 1 Thessalonians 1:6 – “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit”
      3. Psalm 100:2 – “Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!”
      4. “A Christian’s cheerful looks glorify God; religion doth not take away our joy, but refine and clarify it; it doth not break our viol, but tunes it, and makes the music sweeter.”26
    3. He is glorified when we live to God by “standing up for His truths.”27
      1. In defending truth, we defend Him who is Truth.
      2. Jude 3 – “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”
    4. He is glorified when we live to God by giving him praise.
      1. Psalm 50:23 – “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”
      2. “Doxology, or praise, is a God-exalting work”28
      3. Psalm 86:12 – “I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.”
      4. Christian Apologist and OPC Pastor, Dr. Greg Bahnsen once said, “Everything we do in all of life as Christians should be an act of worship to God.”29
      5. Martin Luther – “The Christian ought to be a living doxology”
      6. “And praising of God is one of the highest and purest acts of religion; in prayer we act like men; in praise we act like angels; this is a high degree of glorifying God. Believers are called ‘temples of God,’ 1 Cor. 3:16.”30
    5. He is glorified when we live to God by being jealous or zealous for God’s name.
      1. Numbers 25:11 (Geneva Bible) – “while he was [zealous] for my sake among them: therefore I have not consumed the children of [Israel]”31
      2. John 2:17 – “His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.””
      3. “A Christian fired with zeal, takes a dishonour done to God worse than an injury done to himself”32
    6. He is glorified when we live to God by having an eye toward God in our actions.
      1. Natural Actions
        1. 1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
      2. Civil Actions
        1. Hosea 12:7 – “A merchant, in whose hands are false balances, he loves to oppress.”
        2. Matthew 7:12 – “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
        3. Acts 24:16 – “So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.”
      3. “This is to glorify God, when we have an eye at God in our civil and natural actions, and will do nothing that may reflect any blemish on religion.”33
    7. He is glorified when we live to God by being Christ’s ambassadors drawing people to Him.
      1. Paul here uses the anguish of child labor, something that is painful, but brings forth something lovely.
      2. Galatians 4:19 – “my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!”
      3. “This is a great way of glorifying God, when we break the devil’s prison, and turn men from the power of Satan to God.”34
    8. He is greatly glorified when we suffer for His sake,
      1. The Restoration of Peter, John 21:18-19 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.””
      2. Michaiah was imprisoned, Isaiah was cut down, Paul was beheaded, and Luke was hanged on a tree, they suffered and by their death they glorified God, making famous the Gospel of Christ to a dark and unbelieving world.
      3. Revelation 12:11 – “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
    9. “We glorify God, when we give God the glory of all we do.”35
      1. Death of Herod, Acts 12:23 – “Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.”
      2. 1 Corinthians 15:10 – “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”
      3. “A Christian when he hath gotten power over any corruption or temptation, sends for Christ, that he may carry away the crown of the victory.”36
      4. John 3:30 – “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
  7. Use 1:
    1. The Folly of Not Seeking God’s Glory
      1. Ecclesiastes 5:16 – “This also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go, and what gain is there to him who toils for the wind?”
  8. Use 2:
    1. To live our whole lives not fulfilling our purpose is to waste our lives on nothingness.
      1. Matthew 25:15 – “To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.”
      2. Matthew 25:30 – “And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”
    2. It is not giving what we owe, in an attempt to steal from God as is written in Malachi 3:8a – “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me.”
      1. Deuteronomy 8:18 – “You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
      2. Matthew 6:5 – “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”
  9. Use 3: An Exhortation: No matter our station remember the design of our chief end.
    1. “Masters of families, do ye glorify God, season your children and servants with the knowledge of the Lord; your houses should be little churches:..You that are masters, know you have a charge of souls under you; for want of the bridle of family-discipline, youth runs wild. Well, let me lay down some motives to glorify God.”
      1. Genesis 18:19 – “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”
  10. Motives:
    1. “It will be a great comfort in a dying hour to think we have glorified God in our lives.”37
      1. John 17:4 – “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”
    2. “If we glorify God, he will glorify our souls for ever; by raising God’s glory, we increase our own; by glorifying God, we come at last to the blessed enjoying of him.”38


1 All Westminster Standard quotations will be from the Westminster Assembly, The Westminster Confession of Faith: Edinburgh Edition (Philadelphia: William S. Young, 1851), 387–388.

2 Psalm 73:25-28

3 Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

4 All Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

5 I created this outline from the text of “A Body of Practical Divinity” from Logos Bible Software Resource: Watson, Thomas. The Select Works of the Rev. Thomas Watson, Comprising His Celebrated Body of Divinity, in a Series of Lectures on the Shorter Catechism, and Various Sermons and Treatises. New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1855. pp. 8-18. I am reading the Banner of Truth Edition of it for part of my devotional readings and highly recommend it.

6 Watson, 8.

7 Watson, 9.

8 Watson, 9.

9 Leviticus 10:1-2:1Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. 2And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.

10 Watson, 9.

11 Watson, 10.

12 Watson, 10.

13 Watson, 10.

14 Watson, 10.

15 Watson, 11.

16 Watson, 11.

17 For those who plan to read “A Body of Divinity”, please note that, I have connected this section with a later section because they are too closely connected to be dealt with separately in Sunday School.

18 Watson, 12.

19 Watson, 13.

20 ingenuous, adjective, [Latin ingenuus native, freeborn, from in- + gignere to beget—more at KIN] 1588

1 obsolete: NOBLE, HONORABLE

2 a: showing innocent or childlike simplicity and candidness 〈her ingenuous thirst for experience—Christopher Rawson〉, definition taken from: Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).

21 Watson, 12.

22 Watson, 12.

23 Philippians 2:12b.

24 Watson, 13.

25 Watson, 14.

26 Watson, 14.

27 Watson, 14.

28 Watson, 14.

29 Bahnsen, Greg L. “A Godly Attitude Towards Worship.” Speech, A Godly Attitude Sermon Series. 1992. Highly recommended and can be purchased at: http://www.cmfnow.com/csg-agodlyattitudetowardworshiprom121-2ps100-1of4.aspx
The whole series here: http://www.cmfnow.com/agodlyattitude.aspx

30 Watson, 14.

31 Geneva Bible (Geneva: Rovland Hall, 1560).

32 Watson, 15.

33 Watson, 15.

34 Watson, 15.

35 Watson, 15.

36 Watson, 16.

37 Watson, 18.

38 Watson, 18.

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