WCF 1.6 — Pastoral Comments

Posted on Nov 29, 2017 by admin

1.6 The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, mans salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.1 Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word:2 and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.3
1 2 Tim 3:1517; Gal 1:89; 2 Th 2:2; 2 Jn 6:45; 1 Cor 2:912; 3 1 Cor 11:1314; 14:26, 40.

All Reformed Christians affirm that the Scripture is sufficient. But what do we mean by that?

In the first place, it is plain that we do not mean that we do not need anything else other that the Scripture for our life. For one thing, we do need food and water! What we do mean when we say that the Scripture is sufficient is that all that God wants us to know, and therefore all that we need to know, for our salvation, faith and life in order that we may glorify Him, is found in the Scripture.

In the second place, we do not mean that everything that we need to know is plainly stated in Scripture. Rather, we believe that all we need to know is either expressly set down in Scripture or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture. That is to say that some things that God wants us to know must be derived logically from the Scripture. We can think of the doctrine of the Trinity as an example.

In the third place, we do not mean that Christians should not use commentaries or follow any church traditions. What we do mean, rather, is that since the Canon was completed in the first century AD, God no longer reveals any new information whether by His Spirit or any other means. So no one, Charismatic or otherwise, should claim that God has spoken to him or her in an extraordinary way. And neither may the church, whether Roman Catholic or otherwise, claim any tradition (whether of history, doctrine or practice) that is not found in the Scripture, to be authoritative or on par with Scripture. Traditions are only necessary if they can be proven from Scripture.

In the fourth place, by sufficiency of Scripture, we do not mean that anyone reading the Bible can understand it by his own natural ability. No, no; we believe that the inward illumination of the Holy Spirit is necessary for the saving understanding of all things revealed in Gods Word. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. Therefore we should always pray that the Spirit illumines our heart and gives us understand when we read Gods Word.

In the fifth place, while we confess that the worship and government of the church must be strictly ordered according to the Scripture, we do not believe that it deals with these areas exhaustively. Rather there are some things, such as, timing and arrangement of worship or frequency of meetings, etc, that are left to common sense and Christian prudence (or in other words, sanctified common sense).

Westminster Confession of Faith — With Brief Pastoral Comments
© 2017 by Pilgrim Covenant Church