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Catechism Buzz: alone able fully

19 January 2011 by FX Turk

Q. 3. What is the Word of God?
A. The holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the Word of God, the only rule of faith and obedience.

Q. 4. How does it appear that the Scriptures are the Word of God?
A. The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God, by their majesty and purity; by the consent of all the parts, and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God; by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation: but the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the Scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very Word of God.

Q. 5. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.

There's another aspect of this section of Q&A which gets easily overlooked -- and not just by people who want creative solutions to the respectability problems that arise when we start dealing with talking snakes and rivers turning into blood and a man who can cause himself to walk out of his own tomb after 3 days. It's the statement that God bears witness by and through these books to the very heart of man.

See: it's really not enough that we accept the Bible as true or even as truth: we have to receive it as God's way, and in fact God's tool, by which he presents evidence of himself. It's actually God's testimony about what he has meant by all this throughout time. And this statement to us by our Calvinistic betters probably should startle us Calvinists at least as much as it startles the non-calvinist and the unbeliever.

It's not just that the words will make sense if you read them -- that's just the entry point for anything which is written as a credible piece of literature. But there is something here which distinguishes itself from witchcraft, and ouiji boards, and Mormonism, and pneumatological enthusiasm.


John D. Chitty

Indeed, it is the Word inscripturated. It's a fully human book, yet at the same time it is also a fully divine Book. The Spirit alone causes the Word of God to self-attest to its divine source and saving Truth. Just as the Lord Jesus Christ is the Word incarnate.

It's common to assume that "the witness of the Spirit" is referring to a divine voice "speaking" to us apart from Scripture that tells us to believe the Bible, but the confession is clear that what the Bible means by the witness of the Spirit is what I said above, it's the Scriptures themselves that bear this testimony to us, by the power of the Spirit, as we read it. It's called the Self-Attestation of Scripture.

Awesome post!

Strong Tower

1 Cor 2 sets the Holy Spirit in us that we might understand the things given to us. It also says we have the mind of Christ. It is the Spirit who gives the Scripture, no doubt, but it is also the Holy Spirit in us reminding us of all that He spoke. The two, one within and one without who agree as one. That is not to say that it is some eureka moment, chilly bumpy thing, and of course not a product of understanding generated by the imagination. The Spirit is in us in regenereration giving the understand within of that which is revealed without.

Which is why of the the statement of the internal consistency of the Word is among my favorite statements. For the testimony of the Scripture is that we must first have his Spirit in us according to the Word to understand the word.

True enough, it is quite unique among all the writings of antiquity. Yet, that would not be enough, as the confession goes on to say. That unless the Holy Spirit enlightens the resurrected mind to apprehend its true Holy magnificence, we might appreciate it well enough for its beautiful form and purity as nothing more than (en)sculpturated by men's hands.

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