Monday, March 1, 2010

Westminster Catechsm, Question 3

Question and answer:

Q: What do the Scriptures principally teach?

A: The Scriptures principally teach, what man is to believe concerning God,[1] and what duty God requires of man.[2]

Reference Scriptures (taken from the New Revised Standard Version):


Genesis 1:1:

1In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth

John 5:39: 

39‘You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf.

John 20:31:

31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Romans 10:17:

17So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.

2 Timothy 3:15:

15and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.


Deuteronomy 10:12-13:

12So now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? Only to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments of the Lord your God and his decrees that I am commanding you today, for your own well-being. 

Joshua 1:8:

8This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful.
Psalm 119:105:

105Your word is a lamp to my feet
   and a light to my path.

Micah 6:8:

8He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
   and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
   and to walk humbly with your God?

2 Timothy 3:16-17:

16All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.


In our previous discussion, we acknowledged the Bible as our sole resource for determining how to glorify God and how to enjoy him. Here, our question and answer seek to make more clear the purpose behind God's Word for us.

The Anglican divine, Ezekiel Hopkins, had perhaps the most succinct statement on this topic:

"The Bible is the statute-book of God's Kingdom, wherein is comprised the whole body of the heavenly law, the perfect rules of a holy life, and the sure promises of a glorious one."

Upon meditating on the reference Scripture for this sections answer, I could find no flaw with Hopkins' statement, nor could I have stated it more truly. "Bible" is, after a fashion B.I.B.L.E.: Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. As our answer is in two parts, so too shall we discuss these instructions.

First, we ponder what the Scriptures teach us concerning God himself. The reference Scripture is by no means exhaustive. To be true, as the Bible is God's special self-revelation, there is no word contained therein that does not speak to us from God's own heart. This was revealed to us that we may come to know God, and enter into the personal relationship he intends for us. We know from the outset that we are entering into a relationship with the God of creation, with "the very spark that birthed the stars". The Bible reveals to us God's works, power, and majesty, and also, key to the Christian life, his love, mercy, and grace. These last three points are accomplished fully in the life, death, resurrection, and purpose of Jesus Christ. God's word, being self-explanatory, reveals to us that it is a testament to Jesus Christ. It is given that we may know, and upon hearing and reading this word, come to faith and relationship with God to accomplish his purpose for us: to love and be loved, and in so doing, be saved from ourselves. The greatest story ever told is in fact a rich and personal love story. It was written once, but written to and for each of us individually.

The preceding part of our answer dealt with what God extends to us, in terms of self-revelation. Our second part informs us of our duty to God. As evidenced from the Scriptures above (and from many others), it is our utmost duty to live in accordance with the revealed truths of the Bible. Being made in the image of God, we must again, image God. God holds no obligation to do as he has done for us out of his love, mercy, and grace. The same is true for us, in our own way. It is not out of obligation that we serve, nor is it any longer out of fear of punishment that we serve, but out of gratitude for that love, mercy, and grace, which were freely given, though wholly undeserved. With grateful hearts, we are to allow the Scriptures to illumine us, and guide us in our walk with God in a manner which places God at the center of our lives, bringing glory to God and sharing in his love. Our duty is to be a living sacrifice to God. To let go of all of our preconceptions and futile personal striving, and make the often difficult leap to paying homage to God in all that we do.

The words of Psalm 19:14 ring continuously in my ears as I ponder my walk with God daily:

14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
   be acceptable to you,
   O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

In this Scripture I believe we find the proper mindset with which to approach our lives and bring them into conformity with Scripture, so that we may share more fully in our purpose and in the loving covenant God has so graciously called us to out of his own abounding love. 

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