How do we know that the Bible is God’s Word?

Chris —  July 2, 2014 — 2 Comments

The Westminster Standards (Longer Catechism) gives this concise and beautiful statement regarding how we know that the Bible is God’s Word.

Q 4. How doth it appear that the Scriptures are the Word of God?

A. The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God, by their majesty and purity, by the consent of all the parts, and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God; by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation: but 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.

Break it down:

The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God – The Bible is God’s Word because it says so. You might be inclined to object that this is a circular argument. And you would be right if you did! Ultimate authority must be self-authenticating (See the Frame link at the end of this post). Otherwise, the authority to which one appealed when verifying itself would be the authority. The Bible, then, is God’s Word because it tells us its God’s word. This is a circular argument, but it is not “narrowly circular” but broadly so. Consider the rest of the statement.

A number of aspects of Scripture demonstrate the basis on which Scripture is self-authenticating:

  • by their majesty and purity,
  • by the consent of all the parts,
  • and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God;
  • by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation

Having pointed out the clear and compelling beauty of God’s Word which grants assurance that it is the Word of God, the Westminster answer to the question quickly clarifies:

but 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.

Which is to say – – only the Spirit, working in conjunction with the Word, can give us assurance that the Bible is God’s Word.

See also:

Presuppositional Apologetics by John Frame

 

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2 responses to How do we know that the Bible is God’s Word?

  1. So…..a question. Very popular today to say “If Jesus didn’t say it, it’s not important.” In the Greek it means “Do you want fries with that?” It was the culture this, the culture that, Jesus came primarily for social justice, written by “men with an agenda” yadda yadda yadda, i.e. I’m only taking the parts I like and that ain’t much. I have very liberal friends, some of them pastors, who claim to honor the bible yet disagree with it at every turn so obviously the Spirit has not convinced them of the veracity of scripture. Would I go so far as to say those people are not true believers, or do I just say bless their hearts, they ain’t got it yet? I don’t want to “judge” anyone but I do scratch my head and wonder how a pastor can preach out of a book that he/she deems to be only partly true.

  2. Mark,

    It’s such a broad question. True believers disagree about some points. But the central points of the gospel are clear for all to see.

    But like you – – I wonder, why would anyone preach from a book they don’t believe? And what authority are they calling on?

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