Thursday, September 07, 2006

WCF 1 - The Sufficient Scriptures

The Westminster Confession (WCF) instructs the Christian Church in summary form concerning what the Bible teaches regarding Holy Scriptures, God, Man, The Church, Sanctification, Prayer , and the Lord’s return. The purpose of the next few blog entries is to post the WCF with scripture texts for your learning and continued discipleship. These texts are the scriptures from which the truths of scripture are stated. I will also post a lettered one sentence or phrase statement concerning the biblical theology taught in each paragraph.

Therefore you can do one of either three things as you go through a summary of what the Bible teaches. You can:

a. read the WCF along with the summary statements

b. read the summary statement given at the end of each chapter

c. follow the given Scriptures and write your own summary

Chapter 1:
Of the Holy Scripture

1:1 Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable (Psa_19:1-3; Rom_1:19, Rom_1:20, Rom_1:32; Rom_2:1, Rom_2:14, Rom_2:15); yet they are not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation (1Co_1:21; 1Co_2:13, 1Co_2:14). Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in diverse manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church (Heb_1:1); and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing (Pro_22:19-21; Isa_8:19, Isa_8:20; Mat_4:4, Mat_4:7, Mat_4:10; Luk_1:3, Luk_1:4; Rom_15:4); which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary(2Ti_3:15; 2Pe_1:19); those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased (Heb_1:1, Heb_1:2).

1:2 Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testament, which are these:

Books of the Old Testament

Genesis

1 Kings

Ecclesiastes

Obadiah

Exodus

2 Kings

Song of Songs

Jonah

Leviticus

1 Chronicles

Isaiah

Micah

Numbers

2 Chronicles

Jeremiah

Nahum

Deuteronomy

Ezra

Lamentations

Habakkuk

Joshua

Nehemiah

Ezekiel

Zephaniah

Judges

Esther

Daniel

Haggai

Ruth

Job

Hosea

Zechariah

1 Samuel

Psalms

Joel

Malachi

2 Samuel

Proverbs

Amos


Books of the New Testament

Matthew

2 Corinthians

1 Timothy

2 Peter

Mark

Galatians

2 Timothy

1 John

Luke

Ephesians

Titus

2 John

John

Philippians

Philemon

3 John

Acts

Colossians

Hebrews

Jude

Romans

1 Thessalonians

James

Revelation

1 Corinthians

2 Thessalonians

1 Peter


All which are given by inspiration of God to be the rule of faith and life (Luk_16:29, Luk_16:31; Eph_2:20; 2Ti_3:16; Rev_22:18, Rev_22:19).

1:3 The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings (Luk_24:27, Luk_24:44; Rom_3:2; 2Pe_1:21).

1:4 The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God (1Th_2:13; 2Ti_3:16; 2Pe_1:19, 2Pe_1:21; 1Jo_5:9)

1:5 We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to a high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture (1Ti_3:15). And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts(Isa_59:21; Joh_16:13, Joh_16:14;1Co_2:10-12; 1Jo_2:20, 1Jo_2:27).

1:6 The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men (Gal_1:8, Gal_1:9; 2Th_2:2; 2Ti_3:15-17). Nevertheless we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word(Joh_6:45; 1Co_2:9, 1Co_2:10, 1Co_2:12): and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed (1Co_11:13, 1Co_11:14; 1Co_14:26, 1Co_14:40).

1:7 All things in Scripture are not alike in plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all (2Pe_3:16): yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them (Psa_119:105, Psa_119:130).

1:8 The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical (Mat_5:18); so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them (Isa_8:20; Joh_5:39, Joh_5:46; Act_15:15). But, because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them (Joh_5:39), therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come (1Co_14:6, 1Co_14:9, 1Co_14:11, 1Co_14:12, 1Co_14:24, 1Co_14:27, 1Co_14:28), that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship Him in an acceptable manner (Col_3:16); and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope (Rom_15:4).

1:9 The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly (Act_15:15; 2Pe_1:20, 2Pe_1:21).

1:10 The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined; and in whose sentence we are to rest; can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture (Mat_22:29, Mat_22:31; Act_28:25; Eph_2:20).

The Westminister Confession (WCF) Chapter One instructs the Christian Church a summary of what the Bible teaches regarding the Holy Scriptures, Commonly Called the Word of God or the Bible.

Summary statements we are taught:

A. God Reveals Himself To Man In 2 Distinct Ways: (WCF 1.1)

a. Natural Revelation (Nature)

b. Special Revelation (Scripture)

B. No Man Can Escape Being Confronted By God Even Without Scripture. (WCF 1.1)

C. All Men Are Without Excuse. (WCF 1.1)

D. Scripture Is Necessary For True Saving Knowledge Since In It God’s Redemptive Provision Is Revealed. (WCF 1.2-5)

E. God Has Revealed Himself And His Will Through A Historical Process. (WCF 1.2-5)

F. God Has Inscriptured His Revelation (WCF1.2-5)

G. Revelation Is Complete (WCF 1.2-5)

H. God’s Revelation Consists In The 66 Canonical Books Of The Bible (WCF 1.2-5)

I. No Other Writings Are Inspired. (WCF 1.2-5)

J. God’s Revelation Is Entirely Sufficient For All Of Man’s Needs (WCF 1.6)

K. It Is Sufficient For All Time Throughout All History. WCF 1.6)

L. The Scriptures Are Sufficient In Principles Rather Than In Details (Leaving The Appeal To General Principles) (WCF 1.6)

M. The Scholarly As Well As The Unscholarly May Attain The Right And Proper Understanding Of The Scriptures. (WCF 1.7)

N. The Scriptures Were Written In The Greek And Hebrew Languages. (WCF 1.8)

O. The Original Manuscripts Are Divinely Inspired (WCF 1.8)

P. Final Authority Rests In The Original Manuscript Texts Alone. (WCF 1.8)

Q. God Has Preserved This Text In A State Of Essential Purity. (WCF 1.8)

R. The Texts Should Be Translated Into The Vocabulary Of The People. (WCF 1.8)

S. The Scriptures Interpret Themselves (WCF 1.9)

T. The Difficult Passages Are Clarified By The Parallel Passages Which Speak Mopre Clearly. (WCF 1.9)

U. There Is Only One Supreme Judge In Religious Controversies - The Scriptures (WCF 1.10)

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