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The Westminster Divines on the Doctrine of Holy Scripture

Scripture

There can be no doubt to the thoughtful, serious reader of the Westminster Confession of Faith but that the framers set before us a very robust doctrine of Holy Scripture. They begin by addressing the subject of revelation in the first paragraph of the first chapter. And in that first paragraph they are careful to distinguish between the revelation of God that He has disclosed to us in nature and providence, and that revelation He has disclosed to us wherein He reveals to us that knowledge necessary for salvation. God’s revelation to us in nature and providence is designated under the theological term of “general revelation.”

Under this category of “general revelation,” the framers speak both of its sufficiency and insufficiency. They inform us that it is sufficient to reveal to us the existence of God, manifesting His “goodness, wisdom, and power of God” so as to leave all men without excuse for denying His reality, but that it is insufficient “to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation.”

Having spoken, then, of God’s “general revelation,” they go on to address the necessity of what has come to be called “special revelation,” that is, how God (in the language of Hebrews 1:1) “at many times and in many ways, spoke to our fathers by the prophets.” And it is this “special revelation,” moreover, wherein it pleased God “to declare that his will unto his church; and afterward, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing.” In other words, they declare to us God’s purpose in giving us the Scriptures! God gave us His scriptures in order that we may come to know Him and His will for us as His People. As the early church writer Augustine put it, “God has provided the Scriptures for us, so that by these letters from him our longing to return home may be aroused.” (His exposition of Psalm 64). The Scriptures were given to us as our directions, our road signs as it were, to point us to heaven! They point us to the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Savior of poor sinners. Are you reading the Scriptures daily, are you searching them (John 5:39)? The Scriptures are necessary because they point us to the Lord Jesus Christ!

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