Westminster Wednedsday

THE WESTMINSTER LARGER CATECHISM

Question 3:

Q. What is the Word of God?

A. The holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:19–21), the only rule of faith and obedience (Eph. 2:20; Rev. 22:18–19; Isa. 8:20; Luke 16:19, 21; Gal. 1:8–9; 2 Tim 3:15–16).

question 2

THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH

Chapter I: Of Holy Scripture

III. The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture, and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.

ARTICLE 2

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When Life is Reduced to a Choice

ABORTION AND THE BIBLE

“Ever since the Supreme Court decided against the unborn, abortion as a medical practice has been widely accepted in American society. But does the legalization of abortion in the eyes of the government make it right in the sight of God? To answer this question, one must begin by determining God’s view of the human fetus. Does He consider the fetus a person or mere protoplasm? If the Bible fails to grant personhood to the unborn fetus, then perhaps the premature extermination of such life is morally inconsequential. But, if God’s Word demonstrates that the unborn fetus is indeed a person, then abortion is nothing less than murder (Gen. 9:6; Ex. 20:13).

A number of Bible passages make it clear that God regards conception as the moment at which personhood begins. Job 10:8–12 and 31:13–15, for example, attribute divine value and human qualities. Psalm 139:13–16 similarly exalts God for His creative work in the fashioning of the unborn baby. Isaiah 49:1–5, Jeremiah 1:4–5, and Galatians 1:15–16 all note that God can work in the lives of His chosen servants even before they are born. Furthermore, Luke 1:41–45 documents the emotional joy of the unborn John the Baptist when Mary visited Elizabeth. And Psalm 51:5 points to conception as the beginning of a person’s sinful nature. None of these things would be possible if personhood did not come until after birth.

In some passages, the Bible speaks of an unborn child in the same way that it does of those who have been born—thereby showing that God views them both the same way. For example, in Exodus 21:4 and 21:22 the same Hebrew word translated ‘child’ or ‘children’ is used, despite the fact that verse 4 refers to a postnatal child while verse 21 refers to an unborn life. The New Testament also uses the same Greek word for life before birth (Luke 1:41, 44) as it does for life outside the womb (Acts 7:19). It is not surprising, therefore, to learn that the unborn are often described in the same ways as those who are born (Gen. 25:22–23; Job 31:15; Isa.44:2; Hos. 12:3). For that matter, the prophet Jeremiah notes that had his death been prenatal, the womb would have been his grave (Jer. 20:17); and the prebirth death of one of God’s prophets cannot be equated with the death of a nonperson.

Scripture further espouses the fact that all human persons are the offspring of other human persons. After all, Genesis 1:24–25 decisively mandates that each ‘kind’ within creation is to reproduce solely after its own ‘kind.’ The procreation of existing human persons, therefore, is limited solely to the generation of new human persons. In other words, via the reproductive process, it is impossible for existing persons to even produce a nonperson.

God’s image in man (see Gen. 1:26; James 3:9) is particularly attacked by abortion. After all, abortion not only destroys the image of God in the fetus by killing the baby, but also disregards God’s command to multiply His image in future generations by terminating the reproductive process. In the end, because the fetus results from two persons, each made in the image of God, Scripture indicates that he or she is also a person found in God’s image.

The Bible overwhelmingly argues for the personhood of the prenatal fetus, while simultaneously denouncing the horrible murder of unborn humans (cf. Ex. 21:22–23). When all the facts are in, abortion may have been legalized by the Supreme Court, but it cannot be viewed as anything less than a direct assault on the moral law of God.” (Bill Shannon)

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The Person of Christ

THE PERSON OF CHRIST

“Our Lord, speaking in the most solemn manner, not only presents Himself, as the Son, as the sole source of knowledge of God and of blessedness for men, but places Himself in a position, not of equality merely, but of absolute reciprocity and interpenetration of knowledge with the Father. ‘No one,’ He says, ‘knoweth the Son, save the Father; neither doth any know the Father, save the Son…’ varied in Luke so as to read: ‘No one knoweth who the Son is, save the Father; and who the Father is, save the Son…’ as if the being of the Son were so immense that only God could know it thoroughly; and the knowledge of the Son was so unlimited that He could know God to perfection. The peculiarly pregnant employment here of the terms ‘Son’ and ‘Father’ over against one another is explained to us in the other utterance (Matt. 28:19). It is the resurrected Lord’s commission to His disciples. Claiming for Himself all authority in heaven and on earth–which implies the possession of omnipotence–and promising to be with His followers ‘always, even to the end of the world’ which adds the implications of omnipresence and omniscience–He commands them to baptize their converts ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.’ The precise form of the formula must be carefully observed. It does not read: ‘In the names’ (plural)—as if there were three beings enumerated, each with its distinguishing name. Nor yet: ‘In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost,’ as if there were one person, going by a threefold name. It reads: ‘In the name [singular] of the Father, and of the [article repeated] Son, and of the [article repeated] Holy Ghost,’ carefully distinguishing three persons, though uniting them all under one name. The name of God was to the Jews Jehovah, and to name the name of Jehovah upon them was to make them His. What Jesus did in this great injunction was to command His followers to name the name of God upon their converts, and to announce the name of God which is to be named on their converts in the threefold enumeration of ‘the Father’ and ‘the Son’ and ‘the Holy Ghost.’ As it is unquestionable that He intended Himself by ‘the Son,’ He here places Himself by the side of the Father and the Spirit, as together with them constituting the one God. It is, of course, the Trinity which He is describing; and that is as much as to say that He announces Himself as one of the persons of the Trinity. This is what Jesus, as reported by the Synoptics, understood Himself to be.” (B.B. Warfield)

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