01 May 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Wow, it's already Wednesday again and time for Westminster Wednesday! So here we go with Q&A #2:

Q: 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.

Thomas Vincent, educated at Christ Church, Oxford, has left us an excellent commentary on the catechism. On this question he eloquently penned the following:
How do you prove the word in the Scriptures to be the word of God? Because of the power and efficacy of the Scriptures. (1.) The Scriptures are powerful to convince,and awaken, and wound the conscience. "The Word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword "— Heb. 4:12. (2.) The Scriptures are powerful to convert and change the heart. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul."— Ps. 19:7. (3.) They are powerful to quicken men out of spiritual death and deadness. "Hear, and your souls shall live."— Isaiah 55:3. "Thy Word hath quickened me."— Ps. 119:50. (4.) They are powerful to rejoice and comfort under the deepest distresses. "The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart."— Ps. 19:8. The Scriptures opened and applied are made effectual to produce such powerful effects as do exceed the power of nature, and can be effected only by the power of God; which showeth that God only is the author of the Scriptures, which he would Dot so far own and honour if they were not his own. Because of the design and contrivement of the Scriptures. (1.) The design of the Scriptures is to give God all the glory; the design is not to exalt any, but to debase and empty all men, and exalt God's name and grace in the world. (2.) The marvellous contrivement ofwisdom, in finding out a way for man's recovery and salvation by Jesus Christ,when fallen by sin into such astate of misery, which no mortal brain could have invented; this doth show, not only that this contrivance was from the infinitely wise God, but also that the Scriptures, which have revealed this, are his book.8. Because the Scriptures were confirmed by miracles. We read of many miracles in the Scriptures, especially those which were wrought by Jesus Christ and his disciples, to confirm their doctrine, that it was from God; such as curing some who were born blind, raising the dead, calming the sea with a word, and many more. Now, these and the like miracles were from the immediate hand of God; and the relation we have faithfully handed down unto us, as appeareth by the writings still amongst us, of several holy men upon them and concerning them, as also by the several copies of them (which could not be forged, and not be found out) agreeing in the same relation. And as surely as God did effect those miracles, so surely is God the author of the Scriptures, which are confirmed by them.

John Flavel, my favorite Puritan, has written the following concerning this question:

What is their [the Scriptures] Authority and Efficacy on the Soul? and how doth that prove them Divine?A. Their Authority and Efficacy on the Soul, consists in three things: First, In the power they have to search and discover the secrets of men. Hebrews 5:12. The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged Sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of Soul and Spirit, of the Joints and Marrow; and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the Heart. Secondly, In their converting Efficacy, changing and renewing the Soul. Psalm 19:7. The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the Soul. Thirdly, in their cheering and restoring Efficacy, when the soul is cast down under any inward or outward trouble. Psalm 19:8. The Statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the Heart. No human Power can do such things as these. John 17:17. Sanctify them through they truth, thy word is truth.

And finally, Thomas Watson reminds us to Be exhorted to prize the written Word (Job 23:12). David valued the Word more than gold. What would the martyrs have given for a leaf of the Bible! The Word is the field where Christ the pearl of price is hid. In this sacred mine we dig, not for a wedge of gold, but for a weight of glory. The Scripture is a sacred collyrium, or eye-salve to illuminate us. 'The commandment is a lamp, and the law is light' (Prov. 6:23). The Scripture is the chart and compass by which we sail to the new Jerusalem. It is a sovereign cordial in all distresses. What are the promises but the water of life to renew fainting spirits? Is it sin that troubles? Here is a Scripture cordial. 'Iniquities prevail against me; as for our transgressions thou shalt purge them away' (Ps. 65:3); or, as it is in the Hebrew, 'thou shalt cover them.' Do outward afflictions disquiet thee? Here is a Scripture cordial. 'I will be with him in trouble' (Ps. 91:15); not only to behold, but to uphold. Thus, as in the ark manna was laid up, so promises are laid up in the ark of Scripture. The Scripture will make us wise. Wisdom is above rubies. 'By thy precepts I get understanding' (Ps. 119:104). What made Eve desire the tree of knowledge? 'It was a tree to make one wise' (Gen. 3:6). The Scriptures teach a man to know himself. They discover Satan's snares and stratagems (2 Cor. 2:11). 'They make one wise to salvation' (2 Tim. 3:15). Oh, then, highly prize the Scriptures. I have read of Queen Elizabeth, that at her coronation, she received the Bible presented to her, with both her hands, and kissing it, laid it to her breast, saying, that that book had ever been her chief delight.

How we must savor and enjoy God's Word that He has given us. With our easy access to the Word in this age we often take it far too lightly. Let us all learn to prize the written Word.

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