Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.
The Bible Alone Is the Word of God
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Tim. 3:16-17NKJV
Question 3 of the Westminster Larger Catechism asks, “What is the word of God?” It gives the answer, “The Holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the word of God, the only rule of faith and obedience.” The first thing to notice in this answer is that the Bible alone is the word of God. Other books may be profitable, good, and godly, but only the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are the very word of God. As the verse above puts it, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” or to more literally render it into English, “All Scripture is God-exhaled.” And everything else; every other word, in every other book, is not.
Obviously, that does not mean that every word in every other book is false or wrong! But it does mean that Scripture alone is God’s word, as distinguished from all other words, which are man’s word. Man can speak the truth, man can even speak without error. If I say to you, “My name is Ray,” I have just spoken without error! But man is also able to err. Man is able to err because man is a sinner and because man does not know all things. Due to his sin man sometimes speaks falsely. Due to his lack of knowledge man sometimes speaks erroneously. But God has no sin and He has all knowledge. God never says a false word. He never says an errant word. God alone is infallible, that is, God alone is not able to err. This truth is why the Catechism identifies the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as “the only rule of faith and obedience.”
Many other books, lectures, sermons, etc., can strengthen your faith and obedience, but they cannot serve as the rule of anyone’s faith and obedience. The Westminster divines knew and believed that it was good and necessary for men to speak and teach. They spent five years writing the Confession of Faith with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms! But they also were well aware that they were not writing Scripture. They did not hesitate to identify the Bible alone as the only rule, that is, the only standard or law of faith and obedience. All other words are to be measured and examined by the light of Scripture. All actions of men are to be judged by God’s word alone. God’s word alone is the bar against which every word, deed, and thought of man must, and indeed shall be judged.
Thus, the second thing we notice in the Catechism’s answer is that God’s word is sufficient to equip us to serve God in every circumstance of our lives. There will never arise a situation where we will need to bring in a supplement to God’s word for our faith and obedience. No one can ever rightly say, “God’s word doesn’t cover this issue. For this problem we need a different rule, some other source of knowledge and information, in order to know the right thing to do.” That cannot happen. As the verse above notes, “All Scripture … is profitable … that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The Scriptures are sufficient for each person in every place and in all times to believe and do the right thing. The Bible does not always show us what will bring us the most pleasure, success, or advantage in this world. It was not written to satisfy our temporal desires. But it will always show us what we should do in order to please and obey God. Christian, in the Bible, you have the revealed will of God for how you are to live every moment of your life. It can never steer you wrong. It can never fail to address your situation. The Bible is infallible, inerrant, and sufficient. It is God speaking to us. May He grant that we would listen to Him!