#2 – What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him? The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.
What is the final authority – in life, in church, in family, in work, in education, in entertainment, etc., etc.? How do we set, direct, and change course in life? Is there a final standard? Is there a universal standard?
We ask all of these questions and a million similar ones, everyday. The standard by which we define various aspects of life (e.g. morality, beauty, value, love, justice, language) cannot simply be left up to each individual to decide for himself, for we may arrive at different conclusions, rendering the conclusions pointless. If defining justice is up to you and me (and everyone else) individually and equally then on what grounds can we interact in any meaningful way? There simply must be a standard to which everything refers. There must be an absolute, or life is unlivable.
Throughout history, men have sought to define this standard in different ways. Some seek to define the standard through something that is common to every individual. Some attempt to isolate a principle common to a community. Others look for some standard outside of mankind.
Defining the standard in terms of something that is common to individuals, such as pleasure, fails because there is not a common understanding of pleasure. One person’s pleasure may be another’s misery. Seeking a broader principle common to a community, such as the common good, fails in the same way. Not every member of the community may have the same idea of the common good, and one community’s common good may be another’s destruction. Defining the standard in terms of something outside of us, such as the Word of God, offers hope for progress.
The Protestant Reformation raised these questions in regards to the church. Are the clergy the final authority? Is tradition the final authority? Is the Bible the final authority? We would do good to ask these same questions of authority again. Do ministers hold the authority? Do denominations hold the authority? Do popular preachers hold the authority? Does Christian culture hold the authority?
The Westminster Divines, the guys who wrote the Westminster Confession and Catechisms, were answering these questions when they penned the second question of the Shorter Catechism. The Word of God is the standard. Whether we are debating doctrine, studying ethics, or discussing life in light of the Gospel, we must be bound by the Word of God.