Pastoral Overview

This monthly blog series contains a brief pastoral overview of each chapter of the 2nd London Confession. Written by a pastor for his flock, this series is a lovely collection of articles aimed at introducing congregations to the confession.

Chapter 1 - Of the Holy Scriptures

The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.

         Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, Ch1, P1.

The Necessity of the Scriptures

It is a fact that there are very few things we can be certain of in life. The truth is, we do not even know ourselves emotionally, mentally or even physically, with discoveries still being made on just how the human body works. Science has its theories about the beginning of life. However, after a while, each theory gives way to new findings and insights. We live in a world that is constantly changing in its learning, thinking and ideas. It seems that everything is relative – what is right for one may be wrong for another. For example, the distinction between male and female is no longer considered absolute. The philosophers and scientists continually, if inconsistently, suggest there is one certain thing: there is

not anything we can be sure about in this world. So, the answers to life’s most fundamental questions go unanswered, such as, who am I? Why am I here? Is there anything after death? Is there a God? Can one be saved, and if so, how? Into a world where nothing is deemed knowable, the opening statement of the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith is like being hit by an oncoming train.

It states, ‘the Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience.’

This statement was written into a context nearly 400 years ago when there were competing claims of authority concerning questions of faith. The Church and tradition were said to hold the trump card on what should be believed and accepted, not only in matters of religion and morality but even in scientific findings. However, the opening statement plainly declares that the Holy Scripture is the sole authority for saving knowledge, faith, and obedience. It was the rallying cry of the Reformation, Scripture Alone. (2 Timothy 3.16-17)

Not only are the Scriptures absolutely authoritative in the matters of salvation, but necessary for saving knowledge. There is a revelation given to us from God in the light of nature, creation, and providence that manifests God’s goodness, wisdom, and power. However, this leaves us inexcusable and declares to us we are under the wrath of God but does not reveal to us the pardon of God. Without the redemptive word of Scripture, human beings are hopelessly lost. (Romans 1.18-22)

The good news is that God has not only given what is necessary but has given everything necessary for salvation. As the Scriptures teach, they are able to make us wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus…that the man of God may be complete thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3.15-16). The Christian does not need to look for any special added revelation for the knowledge of God. Holy Scripture is sufficient! Indeed, due to the wickedness and weakness of human flesh, the malice of Satan and a world against the things of God, it was necessary that those former ways of God revealing his will to his people are now ceased. (Hebrews 1.1-2)

There may be difficult things to understand in certain parts (2 Peter 3.16), and 

many can twist the meaning of its message to their own destruction. However, the Holy Scripture is the only final authority for its interpretation. By the ordinary means of grace, even those with limited learning may attain a sufficient understanding of them. There is no infallible authority of Church councils or creeds which have the right to teach against those truths most clearly taught by Scripture. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself. (John 10.34-36)

Holy Scripture alone is the only authority given by God for the knowledge needed for salvation. Scripture alone is essential as only it carries within itself the sufficient revelation to make a person wise to salvation and the way of salvation. Scripture alone is the final authority in giving clarity to its own message of redemption.

Here is wisdom, this is the Royal law, these are the lively Oracles of God.

Chris Rees

Chris Rees

Minister, Bethesda Baptist Chapel, Narberth, Wales