Wes White, fellow Michigander, MARS graduate, and Presbyterian pastor is translating a French translation of Herman Witsius’ book: Practice of Christianity. The work is so excellent that I’d like to repost portions of it here. For the original post go HERE
Chapter 1 – On Holy Scripture
Rule of Faith
- What is the sole and perfect rule of our faith and conduct? It is the Word of God which is now contained in Holy Scripture, that is, in the canonical books of the Old and New Testament. This is the rule to which God Himself sends us in the Old Testament, “To the law and to the testimony” (Is. 8:20). Our Lord Jesus Christ does the same thing in the New Testament, “Search the Scriptures” (Jn. 5:39). Besides, we find in Holy Scripture all the promises of God concerning our salvation and everything that relates to that salvation. Saving faith holds onto these promises without going any further (Jn. 20:31). We also find there the commandments of God, which serve as a rule of our conduct (Ps. 147:19). We can do nothing beyond these (Mt. 22:37) and we ought to do nothing without them (Mt. 15:9), for the law of the Lord is perfect (Ps. 19:8).
- How are you assured that Scripture is the Word of God and that it is truly from heaven? It is not only because Holy Scripture says this about itself, “All Scripture is divinely inspired” (2 Tim. 3:16). “Prophecy did not come about in former times by the will of man, but it is by the movement of the Holy Spirit that holy men of God spoke” (2 Pet. 1:21). We also believe this because Scripture contains such evident marks of its divine inspiration that whoever pays attention to them will find himself powerfully convinced and persuaded of this divine inspiration. But ultimately we believe because the Holy Spirit clearly testifies to it in our hearts. “The Spirit (who speaks in the heart of believers) is the one who witnesses (also in my heart) that the Spirit (who speaks in Scripture) is the truth” (1 Jn. 5:6).
- What are the principal marks of divine inspiration that are so clear and evident in Holy Scripture?
Scripture is the Word of God
Marks of Divine Inspiration
- First, there are a great number of definite predictions of things that were quite uncertain (in relation to second causes) and depended on the free will of men, which after many years happened exactly as predicted in Holy Scripture in all their circumstances. This is something that everyone regards with good reason as a proof of its divine inspiration. God Himself also mocks the idols of the pagans who cannot predict or announce anything that is going to happen. “Let them come near and tells us the things that are going to happen. What happened in the past? Teach us, and we will pay attention and know their outcome. Or make us understand what will happen. Tell us what is going to happen in the future, and then we will know that you are gods” (Is. 41:22-23). Also, in Is. 46:10, God attributes to Himself alone the power to tell what things are going to happen, saying, “I announce from the beginning the things that will follow, and in advance I announce things that have not yet happened.”
- The second mark is the perfect holiness and excellence of the commandments which are contained in it. “The law is spiritual. The commandment is holy, just, and good” (Rom. 7:12). For these commandments forbid the least lust or movement that tends toward evil, even those things that precede man’s will. This is something that no man would have known without the revelation of Holy Scripture. That is, he would not have known that these sorts of inclinations are sins. This is clear from what Saint Paul says in Rom. 7, “I would not have known covetousness (that is, that it is a sin), unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’” These laws of God call mean to an angelic perfection (Mt. 6:10) and even a divine perfection (Mt. 5:48). They make someone “perfect, capable of doing every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17).
- The third mark is the profound and marvelous mysteries that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and which have not entered into the mind of man” (1 Cor. 2:9). They are explained so clearly in Holy Scripture, even painted, so to speak, before our eyes (Gal. 3:1). These mysteries include the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ, and others which no human wisdom or reason could have been able to imagine or discover if God had not revealed them in Holy Scripture.
- The fourth mark is the simple and yet powerful and touching way in which it explains things so that it penetrates the heart of an attentive reader (Heb. 4:12) and causes him to see the finger of God in them just as much as in the miracles that were performed to confirm Holy Scripture. This is an effect that no human word could have produced, at least in the same way.
- The fifth mark is the beautiful harmony and agreement of the diverse parts and teachings that compose Holy Scripture, even though they were written by various authors in different languages, places, and times. This is a clear and infallible proof that there is one and the same Spirit of God who has inspired it.