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WCF 1:3-4 Inspiration is the measure of, and God is the authority behind, the Word.

March 30, 2017

 

 

Westminster Confession

Chapter 1, Articles 3 and 4 

"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."

 

"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."

 

Note, the apocryphal books referred to are those written by Hebrews in the intra-testamental period.  There were also apocryphal books written in the New Testament times.  Many are apocalyptic writing, some are wisdom literature, a few are called gospels, and others are primarily historical; but none bear the marks of inspiration.

 

WHAT DO THESE ARTICLES TEACH

 

1) Inspiration was the standard of reception into the canon.

Books were recognized as inspired, not made inspired by the decision of the church.  Books written by the prophets, or written or approved by the apostles are accepted.  There are many books that have been tested and failed.  If you read these books you can usually discern an evidence difference from the canonical books.

 

2) Human writings are of no binding authority in the Church of God.

The church and the people of God are free from enslavement to the opinions and weak wisdom of men.  The recognized authority of the Bible sets us free.  Apocryphal books can be read and profited by, but they are not revelation from God.  Human writing of all kinds; sermons, confessions, etc, can be profitable, but they are not Scriptural.

 

3) God is the authority behind the Bible.

By faith we understand.  Although proofs and evidences that the Bible is the word of God (fulfilled prophecy, consistent teaching, God-glorifying nature, power to convict and convert, etc) are useful to gain a hearing, faith alone receives the Bible as the Word of God.  The authority is not human testimony or experiential power; the authority comes from God and only faith rests there.

 

WHAT IS THE BIBLICAL FOUNDATION FOR THIS ARTICLE?

 

Romans 3:2; Jeremiah 23:25-32

 

WHAT ERRORS DOES IT CORRECT?

 

1) Other books may safely be added to the word of God.

Book of Mormon, the Gospel of Judas, the apocryphal books.

 

2) The Bible is to be treated and valued only as other human writings are.

The Bible is not merely a book, or even the best or greatest of books.  The Bible is sui generis, one of a kind, unique, in a class of its own.  It is not even to be classified with other “religious” books or scriptures.  We believe that the Scriptures are the unique and sufficient self-revelation of God and his will.

 

3) The church determined the Scriptures so the church stands over the Scriptures.

Inspiration is recognized, not granted by the church.  We acknowledge the majesty of a mountain, but we do not create it.

 

WHAT PRACTICAL BENEFIT CAN WE FIND?

 

1) The promises of the Word are guaranteed by God.

Because God stands behind His word, we can stand on it.  God is the authority behind the Word; it cannot fail.

 

2) Our trust in the Word rests on the foundation of God, not the church or even Godly men in the church.

Our confidence in the Word of God is based on the testimony of God himself, not on the power of the church nor the influence of godly men.

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