Catechism Insight – Doctrinal Standard WSC #47 & 48

Doctrinal Standard #47 & 48

  • Q. What does the first commandment forbid?
  • A. The first commandment forbids denying God or not worshipping and glorifying Him as the true God and our God. It also forbids giving worship and glory, which He alone deserves, to anyone or anything else.
  • Q. What are we specifically taught in the first commandment by the words before me?
  • A. The words before me in the first commandment teach us that God, Who sees everything, notices and is very offended by the sin of having any other god.

Memory Verses

  • “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good” (Psalm 14:1, ESV).


  • Study Passage: Jeremiah 44:1-23
  • Support Passages: Psalms 14 and 53; Hebrews 11:6; Jeremiah 2:20-28
  • Bible Story: Acts 19:23-41


  • Below is a few excerpts from C.I. Williamson’s book, The Westminster Shorter Catechism regarding doctrinal standards 47 and 48.
  • “Syncretism is the attempted blending of irreconcilable principles. Religious syncretism is the attempt to harmonize the true religion with any of the many false religions of this world. And it is this sin that the first commandment warns us against. We may not, under any circumstance, act as if the God of the Bible and any of the false gods of this world are one and the same. This, for example, is the basic evil in many secret organizations such as the Order of Freemasons (commonly called the Masonic Lodge). Freemasonry is, in its own words, ‘that natural religion in which all men agree.’ In other words, according to the teaching of this lodge, the Christian, the Jew, the Muslim, and so on, can assemble together as a religious fellowship, and unite in prayer to the Great Architect of the Universe. This is possible, says Freemasonry, because men of all faiths worship the same deity under different forms. Thus it is said that Freemasonry ‘in no way conflicts with any other religion, unless that religion holds that no one outside its portals can be saved’ (J.S.M Ward, Freemasonry: Its Aims, and Ideals, p. 187). Or in other words, Freemasonry is the religion which says – as its most basic principle – that all ‘gods’ are equal.  But the Bible denies this very thing above all. ‘For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men’ (1 Tim. 2:5). ‘No man can come to God except through Jesus Christ’ (John 14:6).”
  • “We must mention the strong temptation that comes to us today from the commonly accepted idea of religious neutrality. Much of what we see in modern life, in various aspects of society, is molded by the idea that it is possible to be neither for nor against any particular religion. Much of what our government is doing is ruled by this concept: it takes no stand for, or against, any particular religion. This is the theory, the idea. But Jesus said, ‘He that is not with me is against me’ (Luke 11:23). And this means that religious neutrality is simply impossible. If we do not profess Jesus Christ as the one true God, then – by not doing so – we show that we refuse His claims. If we profess nothing verbally, in other words, we still profess much – because actions speak as loudly (at least) as words. It is for this reason that Christian people have begun to realize that those who are not for Christ are really against Him. They are beginning to realize that Christ has been denied in one sphere of life and society after another under the innocent-sounding claim of religious neutrality.” [1]

Discussion Questions

  • Do Christians, Jews, Muslims, and all the other religions worship the same God? Explain.
  • Look up John 14:6. How many ways are there to God?
  • If there is only one true God and one true religion how are we to treat the people of other religions?
  • What does the Bible say about people that are “neutral” about believing in God? Refer to Luke 11:23.
  • In what ways have you given worship or glory to something other than God? Explain.

[1] Williamson, C.I. (2003). The Westminster Shorter Catechism – 2nd Edition. Phillipsburg, New Jersey, USA; P&R Publishing Company.

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warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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