WCF, Chapter 1, Section 2-5
Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testament, which are these,
Of the Old Testament.
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk , Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
Of the New Testament.
The Gospels according to Matthew, to Mark, to Luke, to John, the Acts of the Apostles, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Epistle of James, the first and second Epistles of Peter, the first, second, and third Epistles of John, the Epistle of Jude, the Revelation of John.
All which are given by inspiration of God to be the rule of faith and life (Luke 16:29, 31; Eph. 2:20; Rev. 22:18–19; 2 Tim. 3:16).
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 (Luke 24:27, 44; Rom. 3:2; 2 Pet. 1:21).
Revelation 22:18-19 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
2 Peter 1:21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
The canonicity of the books of the Bible is a confessional issue for classical Protestants. These books, and not other books, are the only infallible and ultimate rule of faith and life.
This is not a rejection of the Apocrypha; it is a rejection of the Apocrypha as Scripture. The Apocrypha has many valuable things to teach us, but just not with the authority of Scripture.
This part of the Confession is an example of the Reformed cry “ad fonts”; “back to the sources.” The Apocrypha comes to us courtesy of the Septuagint (LXX), and was not contained in the form of the Old Testament as it was used by Christ when He read the Scripture lesson in the synagogue.
The Apocrypha as Scripture is part of the legacy of Hellenism and, as such, needs to be rejected. But the Apocrypha can and should be read for edification. There are things in there that are pretty silly, but most of it is better than what you can get in a modern Christian bookstore.
The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God (2 Pet. 1:19, 21; 2 Tim. 3:16; 1 John 5:9; 1 Thess. 2:13).
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
1 John 5:9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
There were other writings, some apostolic, extant in the first-century church – Paul refers to a letter he wrote to Laodicea – besides prophetic utterances, some of which are recorded in the New Testament, others of which are reported, and many more of which are unmentioned. Hence the Assembly could hardly regard all inspired utterance as canonical.
Naturally then, we ask why did they consider canonical, what they considered canonical?
First, the authority of the Apostles and prophets. The name signed at the end and handwriting initially went a long way. Paul sent letters to subdue controversies, shine light on the dark misunderstandings and to be read with many churches which were lessons they continually needed.
Secondly, the Internal consistency.
Thirdly, tradition. The Christian faith is a faith handed from father to daughter, from Mother to son; from generation to generation. This includes the manuscript tradition. Wycliffe and Erasmus were not starting from scratch but they did cut off the mold that had grown onto the scriptures.
Systematics developed around the internal consistencies. The Holy Spirit reminded them of all that Christ had spoken and illuminated converts to understand the truth.
We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.
John 10: 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
John 12:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
The Word of God is to be believed and obeyed because it is self- authenticating.
The words of God are self-authenticating by their contents and the witnesses of their miracles and facts initially; then they are sustained by the authority of the Church as a means of the spirit and providence of God.
No other book of any other religion makes God the hero and men anti-heroes. Man is in desperate need for a rescuer. If man wrote this book, why would he make himself an anti-hero in need of a hero? Mohamed, Buddha, joseph smith all wrote books making themselves heroes. God wrote the bible and told the story aright. Man is desperate need of a Hero, a rescuer, a restorer; the mediator; the God who makes a self-maledictory oath.
In many styles, over thousands of years, from many authors the scripture tells one story. It begins with origins and a promise of the seed through one family, a prophet like Moses; the lamb of God; the Son of David; the sun of righteousness that will rise with healing in his wings who in Isaiah takes on many details, like a virgin birth, going down to Egypt culminating in the passages on the suffering servant. The story moves further up and further in. We see it fulfilled. We see its effects on everything. We read and see its already-not-yet character that is still overcoming all things from the rivers to the ends of the earth. The scripture is self-authenticating in power, truth, consistency and beauty. Just like Christ.
John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
As John does not establish the authority of Jesus, he recognizes it, so the church does not bestow authority and power on scripture, the church recognizes its self-authenticating authority.
The authority that establishes all other authorities is the Scriptures, the chief magistrate in the Kingdom of God. The Final word. The Supreme Court.
Where the authorities go astray is abdicating, denying or replacing the ultimate rule of Faith and life.
The Scriptures are not a member of the Godhead, but they are The Godhead’s commands. The Two edged sword.
The faithful know the voice of their shepherd, they adhere to His commands. The spirit reveals the canon to the faithful and the faithful throughout time adhere to the same list of Books.
The church is not the authority that establishes the Canon. The canon establishes the Church through the Church’s recognition of Her Husband’s voice.