WCF 1.4-5

The Westminster Confession of Faith

4. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, does not depend on the testimony of any human or of the Church, but wholly on God (who is truth itself), the author of it. Therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God.

5. We may be moved and induced to a high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture by the testimony of the Church; other arguments by which it abundantly evidences itself to be the Word of God are:

  • the heavenliness of the subject matter,
  • the effects of its teaching,
  • the majesty of its style,
  • the agreement of all its parts,
  • the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God),
  • the full presentation it makes of the only way of the salvation of mankind,
  • and its many other incomparable excellences, and the entire perfection of it.

Nevertheless, our full persuasion and assurance of the unerring truth and divine authority of Holy Scripture is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts. (WCF 1.4-5)

How do we know that the 66 books that make up the protestant canon are the inspired words of God? How do we know what we have is really from God? Well this is what the confession is setting out to answer for us here; we know that what we have in our bibles is from God because God Himself has told us that what we have is from Him (1 Jn 5:9). Now why is that important for us to know? Well because if the Church, a pastor, a pope or a council tells you what we have is from God, then the final authority on the bible actually lays in human authority and not in God Himself, that’s the argument here…In other words we have the bible because God Himself has spoken (2 Tim 3:16-17 c.f. 1 Pet 1:10-11, 2 Pet 1:20-21) and all the church did was receive, collect and recognise His revelation for what it is (Rom 3:2, 1 These 2:13, 2 Pet 3:15b-16), thats why we dare not take away or add to it (Deut 4:2, Rev 22:18-19). And so in light of that, that means the church’s final authority on anything actually doesn’t come from the church itself, but from God Himself.

This is the ramifications of that understanding; we believe and trust the bible not because anyone has told us to, but because God Himself has spoken, and we dare not ignore our creator (Jer 7:22-24, Hos 4:6, Rom 1:18) and thus this truth keeps everyone, including any church, denomination, teacher or preacher accountable - not to a human institution - but to God Himself because God’s word stands over and judges all their work and our lives and not the other way round.

However, some folk might not be so convinced of that argument, so the confession pretty much challenges us to investigate “the fingerprints of God” in His written word for ourselves - Like how no other body of work is so internally constant in showing us who God is, how its teaching is not clouded in human opinions, how there are no contradictions, how when one reads God’s words their minds are casted heavenward, how the plan of salvation is so clear but so not how we would go about it (among many other things) - And this is no small coincidence if you think about it. The bible is actually a library of books that was 1,500 years in the making with 66 books from 40 authors using 3 languages, with loads of cultural contexts, talking about one God, one covenant, one saviour, one way and one truth 1.5 ends by saying that the church can take a horse to water (and even make the oats salty) to encourage a great thirst, but it is ultimately the Holy Spirit of God that draws one to drink deeply and take it in for what it is - God’s very words to us.

Published: March 15, 2024

Updated: March 15, 2024