Rev. Kamps is pastor of the Southwest Protestant Reformed Church in Grandville, Michigan.
The Reformed believer makes a most profound confession. He confesses what God has said. The Reformed believer is in agreement with the living God. Most men find themselves at odds with the living God over this book, the Bible. The men of this world cannot say from the heart that they believe “without any doubt, all things contained” in the divine Scriptures (Belgic Confession, Art. V). But the Lord always preserves to Himself a few who enter in at the strait gate and joyfully confess what He has declared to be the truth. “Thy Word is Truth” (John 17:17).
To say that the Bible is the Word of God is to confess its exclusive character. It is not the Word of man, even though men may indeed have penned the words upon parchment and paper. Scripture owes its “becoming” and “existence” as the written record of divine revelation to Jehovah God alone. The Lord asks through the prophet: “Is not my Word…?’ (Jer. 23:29). God claims Scripture to be His Word alone. The Lord God never attributes to man the source of the Word whereby He reveals Himself.
Let us remind ourselves Who this God is, Whose Word we call the Bible. He is Jehovah God. He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. This God alone upholds and governs all His creatures. Man and beast were formed by His hand. Even His enemies, wicked men and devils, receive their daily needs from His almighty hand. He is the eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, perfectly just and good God over all. All His works are done in righteousness. He cannot lie. In Him is no darkness at all. He is the truth. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is Israel’s God, the friend of His people, and the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the sovereign God, Who is “Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Is. 4610). No one can contradict the living God and live. He is GOD. The attribute of perfect justice is His alone, and yet He is infinitely merciful. God is Love. In Him are the fountains of grace and goodness. He is the unchangeably faithful friend of His people in Christ Jesus. He hath decreed that not one whom He hath given to Christ should perish. He is longsuffering to usward (11 Pet. 3:8, 9). He lovingly but firmly holds all His own in His almighty hand (John 10:29). He is the one Who hath redeemed us to Himself by the blood of His Son out of every kindred and tongue and nation. “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness” (Ps. 481). Through the power of His irresistible grace unto faith in Christ Jesus, His dear Son, we can shout triumphantly, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?” (I Cor. 15:55). Over the believer the second death hath no power.
Therefore, let us come reverently, humbly, and thankfully before Him and His eternal Word.
We must recognize that the Bible is the written record of God’s living Word. For before the Bible was written the Word of God was known. Adam in paradise received the Word of God’s grace in the mother promise of Genesis 3:15. We know it as Genesis 3:15 penned by Moses; but our first father heard this blessed promise fall from the lips of his Maker. And before the fall Adam had God’s Word, for he walked with God in that fellowship of perfect righteousness. But the Word precedes not only Moses and Adam but time itself, for “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Word is the eternal, only begotten Son of God, which is in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18). By this Word were “the heavens made and all the host of them…” (Ps. 33:6). By this Word, the second Person of the divine trinity, were the light and the firmament called into being. By that same Word God shall create a new heavens and earth wherein righteousness shall dwell. In the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4), the ‘Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Jesus is the Word. And wherever the text of Scripture is opened, there is the life-blood of our Lord Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and life.” This Word become flesh is the only name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Jesus is the Word, and the Word is Jesus. All that confess Jesus, must confess with the Reformed believer, “I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in his Word” (Heidelberg Catechism, L.D. 7). There is no salvation from sin and guilt except through faith in God’s Word. He that rejects the Word in whole or in part cannot be saved. God will take away his part out of the book of life (Rev. 22:18, 19). We may not add to the VVord, nor may we subtract from the Word. To declare the Word not true is to gainsay the Messiah and. to call God a liar (I John 1:10).
The Bible is God’s Word. This is our confession from the depths of our hearts. We live by this Word. It governs, rules, directs, nourishes, comforts, and strengthens the believer in all his life. He has peace with God through this life-giving Word. This Word in Christ Jesus justifies the believer. It sanctifies him and will glorify him. The Word of God is to him the water and bread of life. This Word is written upon his heart. He takes the Word with him wherever he goes. He fellowships in covenant friendship with the living God through the Word. He worships through the Word. He prays to God for the blessings of salvation on the basis of the promises of the Word. The Bible is his life. Take the Word from the believer and he has no comfort, no peace of soul, no joy, no blessedness. The Word is everything to him, for it is the love letter of Christ to him and to all the church. By that love letter Christ Jesus assures him that all is well, comforts him and all the church with the Word that the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church, and declares that it is His Father’s good pleasure to give unto us the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Bible is God’s Word. The Bible does not have this lofty position because men have so declared it to be. Nor is that our confession because this is the testimony of the church. It is rather our confession because the Holy Spirit testifies in our hearts that the Bible is God’s Word. But the Spirit of God does not make this testimony apart from the Scriptures. Rather He gives this confession to us through the Word. We do not have the abiding testimony of the Spirit apart from the Word but through the Word. The Word is God’s Word, and only God Himself can identify His own Word. The Bible is self-authenticating: “All scripture is given by inspiration (God-breathed forth) of God…” (II Tim. 3:16). And we read in II Peter 2:21, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” The Word itself declares it to be the Word of God. The Holy Spirit does not make a testimony in regard to the Scriptures apart from those Scriptures, then to have us discover that the Word bears this same self testimony; rather, the Spirit of Christ, Who dwells in all those who belong to Christ, when He works faith in us and calls us to the light, also causes us to be convicted of the truth of Scripture and enables us, amidst all the denials of fallen men, to confess that the Bible is God’s written record bf His self revelation in Christ Jesus.
“The only authority, which can declare upon the earth, that the Scripture is God’s Word, is God Himself, the Christ, the Holy Ghost, and therefore, the Scriptures themselves, which is God’s Word. Therefore, the Bible also makes this testimony. It stands in this regard above all men, above the writers themselves, above all the prophets and apostles, yes even above the angels of God” (J.C. Sikkel, De Heilige Scrift en Haar Verklaring, p. 22).
Remember the warning of the apostle Paul: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8). Oh, how heretics like to clothe themselves in the angelic vestures of love and kindness as they deceive the people of God with their high sounding words, by which they reason away the Word of God.
Let us all pray that the Lord may give us the faith to believe His Word and to walk in its light. Let the Word of praise resound in the church of Christ Jesus: “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path…. Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart? (Ps. 119:105, 111).