(Click here for part 1 and here for part 2.)
What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.
Yesterday, I commended the Bible to you as the only source where we may know all that is needed to know true joy while glorifying God. The Westminster Shorter Catechism question above says it is the only rule to direct us. While thinking through this you might be thinking, how do I know the Bible is the Word of God? How can I trust it? Those are good questions. A pastor who was alive during the writing of the Catechism, named James Fisher, wrote a commentary to help understand the catechism. His commentary was itself a Catechism, it’s like the movie inception, a catechism within a catechism. His catechism though is helpful in answer that question. Here is what he said:
Q. How do you know the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the word of God? A. By the print of God that is evidently to be seen upon them: for, as none works like God, Isa. 43:13; so none speaks like him, John 7:46.
In other words, we know this is the word of God because when God speaks we know it. It is self-evident. That might sound a bit circular but there is no one else’s word we could appeal to other than God’s to show us what is God’s word. The imprint of God’s word is discernable to all who know God. By imprint we mean the majesty, holiness, light, life, and efficacy, which shine in the Bible. This doesn’t mean that we don’t have rational arguments that we can appeal to about the Bible. There are rational arguments Fisher says “drawn from their antiquity; the heavenliness of the matter; the majesty of the style; the harmony of all the parts, though written in different ages; the exact accomplishment of prophecies; the sublimity of the mysteries and matters contained in the word; the efficacy and power of it, in the conviction and conversion of multitudes; the scope of the whole, to guide men to attain their chief end, the glory of God in their own salvation; and the many miracles wrought for the confirmation of the truth of the doctrines contained in them.” These are good reasonable arguments but ultimately what convinces us of the truth of Scripture is the Spirit of God, who is the author of Scripture, testifies in our hearts that this is the Word of God. Fisher says "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.”
Therefore, we can have all the most rational arguments there are and yet if our eyes are blinded by our sin and the devil, we cannot come to faith. We need to have God open our eyes and make us see. The good news is that the reading, teaching, and preaching of His word is how He opens His people’s eyes.
So what does this mean for us today? What can we practically do? What if you read the bible and have a hard time with it? Well you can start by reading with humility and faith. Fisher says “Whenever one looks into the word of God, he should look up to God, the author of it, saying, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law," Psalm 119:18. "O send out thy light and thy truth; let them lead me," Psalm 43:3.