Articles of Faith, New National Baptist Hymnal: Entry #606
I. The Scriptures
“We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and that it is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction; that it has God for its Author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture of error for its matter; that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us, and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions shall be tried.”
In my last post, I discussed the theological and doctrinal Statement of Faith located in the back of the New National Baptist Hymnal. Whenever I think about those hymnals and the Articles of Faith, I thank God that although many of our churches have forgotten these truths, God has not forgotten these churches.
Just this past week I was in conversation with a senior saint who was born and raised in the traditional black baptist church. She is a faithful student of the Word and has been in the choir since she was a little girl. She, like me, started out in the Sunshine Band. This faithful saint is quite familiar with many of the songs in her hymnal and can recite from memory several of the responsive readings. I took the opportunity to ask her about the final section, Entry #606, titled “The Articles of Faith.” Although she knew it was back there, she sadly could not ever recall this section being referenced.
For that dear sister and many others who from week to week hold those hymnbooks in their hands unaware of the great doctrines of the faith contained therein, I would like to spend several posts discussing Entry #606, “The Articles of Faith.”
Article 1 is on the Scriptures: This succinct statement regarding the Word of God is loaded. It can be broken down into six sections and many study it that way. However, let me suggest a slightly larger view of the statement.
Taken together this article affirms the Sufficiency, Clarity, Authority, and Necessity of the Scriptures. These four terms are known as the “Attributes of the Bible.” The acronym SCAN will help you remember them.
The Scriptures are Sufficient: Everything we need for knowledge of salvation and godly living is in them. No new revelation is coming or necessary. So when someone approaches you with some new revelation from God, remember this attribute (2 Tim. 3:15).
The Scriptures are Clear: The message of salvation. i.e. the Gospel of Jesus Christ is plainly taught in the Scriptures. You are in no need of a special person with some higher knowledge or ability to tell you what the Bible means. This is not meant to undermine or call into question brothers and sisters who have spent a considerable amount of time and resources formally studying the Scriptures. The clarity of Scripture is meant to emphasize the fact that everyday people are meant to and can understand the Bible, if they have ears to hear (Luke 16:29-31; Acts 11:14).
The Scriptures are Authoritative: God’s Word stands above all earthly powers (see Psalm 138:2). On every matter in which the Bible means to speak, the last word goes to Scripture, not to councils or to catechisms, science or to human experience, but to the Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21).
The Scriptures are Necessary: Personal experience, human philosophy or reasoning, cannot reveal to us truth that will lead us to a saving knowledge of God. Without the Word of God we cannot know how to live godly, who Jesus Christ is, and how we can be saved (John 17:17; Rom. 10:17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Psalm 119:11).
Article 1 can be summed up by saying that God’s Word is final, needed, enough, and understandable. Is there a more fitting way to begin a conversation about doctrine than to start with the Bible itself? Again I am so amazed at what we can learn with a Bible in one hand and the New National Baptist Hymnal in the other. The bonus in using the hymnal is you can also find a good song to go along with the article. Hymn #21 fits quite nicely:
How Firm a Foundation
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
If you would like to do additional study on this article, I highly recommend “Taking God At His Word” by Kevin DeYoung.
Since this is a conversation, let me ask you a question. Can you identify which portion of the Article relates to each Attribute? C’mon, you didn’t expect me to do all the work for you now, did you?