On the Scriptures

books2.pngRead the series on the 1833 New Hampshire Confession of Faith so far.

The 1833 New Hampshire Confession of Faith has always been my personal favorite. It is relatively short, Baptist, Reformed, extraordinarily well-written and powerful. It will encourage any Christian’s heart. Here is the first article:

Of the Scriptures

We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction;[1] that it has God for its author, salvation for its end,[2] and truth without any mixture of error for its matter;[3] that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us;[4] and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true centre of Christian union,[5] and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried.[6]

Here are some brief thoughts on this article:

We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired,

The Bible was not written by ordinary men. It was written by “men moved by the Holy Spirit [who] spoke from God,” (2 Peter 1:21). The Apostle Peter said that “God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets,” (Acts 3:21). This is why the early church considered the Scriptures “the word of God,” (Acts 6:2). The writer of Hebrews quoted Psalm 95:7-11 (Heb 3:7-11), and specifically identified the Holy Spirit as the author of that psalm, even though it was written by a man!

The point is that the Bible is a special book, a unique book. That special book was written by God, through men “divinely inspired,” who were moved to pen precisely what God wanted through the filter of their own personality and character.

and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction; that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture of error for its matter;

The Holy Scriptures are God’s special revelation to men, containing all that is necessary for us to know Him, understand our just condemnation for sin and wickedness, the provision of salvation through Christ’s life, death, burial and resurrection, and for Christian life and godliness (cf. 2 Peter 1:3).

The Bible’s “end” is to teach men about salvation; why they need it, how it is possible, what Christ has done to secure it for His children, and the means God uses to bring men, women, boys and girls to saving faith in His Son.

The Bible is completely truthful, and does not contain any error.[7]

that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us;

The Bible is the sole, infallible rule of faith for God’s people. This means it tells us all about ourselves; how we ought to act, and how we actually act. How we should love God, and how we actually love Him. The way men and women were originally made to serve God, and the way we actually rebel against Him, like the criminals, spiritual terrorists and children of wrath we actually are.

The Bible tells us why we’re sinful and unacceptable to God, explains His holiness and righteousness, and therefore explains the basis for our eternal condemnation and just punishment – if we reject the only way of salvation in Jesus Christ, who said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me,” (Jn 14:6).

and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true centre of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried.

The Bible is at the center of the Christian life, and therefore it is the universal point of contact which makes fellowship and cooperative ministry possible between all brothers and sisters in Christ – regardless of where they hail from.

Some Christians have a bizarre understanding of what the Reformation-era motto “Scripture Alone” means. Some think it implies a Christians needs literally nothing except the Bible. I’ve heard of people who shun exegetical commentaries and other reference books; “I don’t need them! I have the Holy Spirit and my Bible! I don’t want man’s opinion.” What silliness.

The principle of “Scripture Alone” has never meant this. It simply means that, although books, Pastors, creeds and confessions may be very helpful, the Bible is the only infallible rule of faith and practice for God’s people. It is the yardstick. It is the goalpost. As this confession explains, the Bible is “the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried.”

Ps119:97 Oh, how I love thy law!
    It is my meditation all the day.
98 Thy commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
    for it is ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
    for thy testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged,
    for I keep thy precepts.
101 I hold back my feet from every evil way,
    in order to keep thy word.
102 I do not turn aside from thy ordinances,
    for thou hast taught me.
103 How sweet are thy words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through thy precepts I get understanding;
    therefore I hate every false way.

Notes

[1] 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; 2 Pet. 1:21; 1 Sam. 23:2; Acts 1:16; 3:21; John 10:35; Luke 16:29–31; Psa. 119:111; Rom. 3:1. 2.

[2] 2 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 1:10–12; Acts 11:14; Rom. 1:16; Mark 16:16; John 5:38, 39.

[3] Prov. 30:5, 6; John 17:17; Rev. 22:18, 19; Rom. 3:4.

[4] Rom. 2:12; John 12:47, 48; 1 Cor. 4:3, 4; Luke 10:10–16; 12:47, 48.

[5] Phil. 3:6; Eph. 4:3–6; Phil. 2:1, 2; 1 Cor. 1:10; 1 Pet. 4:11.

[6] 1 John 4:1; Isa. 8:20; 1 Thess. 5:21; 2 Cor. 13:5; Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:6; Jude 3:5; Eph. 6:17; Psa. 119:59, 60; Phil. 1:9–11.

[7] See the excellent discussion about inerrancy Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998), 246-265.

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