12 January 2003
2 Timothy 3:16, Isaiah 8:20, 1 John 1:3 & Luke 16:29
The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 2. What rule has 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.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English
Q.2. What authority from God directs us how to glorify and enjoy Him?
A. The only authority for glorifying and enjoying Him is the Bible, which is the word of God and is made up of the Old and New Testaments.
1. What is the meaning of the word “rule” in this question?
When this word is used in a religious sense it means a direction or a command. It naturally implies the idea of straightness by which a man may attain the best possible end.
2. Why is it necessary to have such a rule?
It is necessary as man needs an objective standard by which he may pattern his life. The Word of God, as his rule, must be the supreme authority in the life of the man. It should be noted that if man has placed something else above the Word of God, whether it is conscience or tradition or the church, he will tend to use that authority to interpret the Word of God in many facets of his life.
3. What do we mean when we say the Scriptures are the Word of God?
We mean that they are the Word of God in written form. We place no limitations on that statement. We mean that the Bible is the Word of God and the words in the Bible are the very words of God. We mean that the Bible is trustworthy because God inspired it and inspiration includes the very words of Scripture.
4. Some say that the Bible “contains” the Word of God. Is this true?
If they mean by it that the word of God forms the contents of the Bible it is true. But if they mean that the word of God forms only a part of the contents of the Bible and the rest makes up the words of men, they are not speaking the truth. Or if they mean by it that the Bible only becomes the Word of God when the Holy Spirit makes some portions of it applicable to the hearer, they are not speaking the truth. This would make man the judge of the Word of God. When our Shorter Catechism speaks of “the word of God” it means what the Westminster Standards have historically meant, that is, the Bible, is the Word of God as to both its contents and its form, so that there is nothing in it that God did not want to be in it, and reversely, it contains all that the Lord wanted to be contained therein.
5. Since this Word of God is to be our only rule, how can we know that it is the Word of God?
We know it by our simple acceptance of God’s statement that it is the word of God and that it is perfect. The Holy Spirit shows us Christ as our Saviour and brings the conviction to our hearts that it is the Word of God and we accept it by faith. Our Confession teaches us that our full assurance of the fact that the Bible is infallible and has the authority of God is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.