As with all wars, there were multiple reasons for the fighting during the English Civil War. Fought 200 years before our own civil war, the English Civil War had economic causes, political causes, and social causes. But, at its core, the English Civil War was a religious war—a war between two different types of Christians. It seems absurd to us today, and terribly un-Christian, to fight and kill over different theological beliefs, but for a decade war raged across the British Isles.
As so often happens, out of the darkness, God raised up many marvelous things. Out of the English Civil War, one bright light was the creation of a statement of faith, a description of what we believe, entitled, “The Westminster Confession of Faith”. Some of you will easily guess that I am a fan. Indeed I am. I believe that the Confession wonderfully and accurately captures so much of the biblical witness to the Gospel and Truth. The authors of the Confession were trying to describe what the Bible teaches—and they were convinced that the Bible teaches truth. While everything in the world (including the Confession itself) is subject to error, only the Bible reliably speaks that which is true.
But, how do we know this? How do we know that what the Bible says is accurate? The Confession acknowledges the importance of this question and lists numerous reasons why we should trust it—the respect of history, the value given by the Church, the unified goal of glorifying God, the agreement of all its parts, and many more. But after listing all these things, the Confession says this:
“However, we are completely persuaded and assured of the infallible truth and divine authority of the Bible only by the inward workings of the Holy Spirit, who testifies by and with the Word in our hearts.”
You might want to read that again. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
So, how do we know the Bible is what it claims to be, the true witness to God? “By the inward workings of the Holy Spirit.” There are lots of supporting evidences, there are lots of good reasons in the Bible to trust what it says. But, the only sure reason? “The work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.” Where does that come from? How can we be assured by the Spirit in our hearts?
This week in worship, we are looking at the last two verses in John’s Gospel. As we read these together, you might think… “What a weird way to end it all”. And, you might be right! But, there is a reason John wraps up his Gospel account this way. There is a reason, after talking all about Jesus’ life and ministry, that he ends by talking about his own truthfulness and the manifold works of Jesus not recorded in the Bible. If you have read John’s account this far, I think he is counting on you to experience exactly the blessings of the Holy Spirit we are talking about here.
Join us in worship on Sunday as we explore these verses together!
As you prepare for worship this week, please read John 21:24-25.
1. What three things about the author does he want us to know in verse 24?
2. How does the author’s self-description advance the Gospel’s call?
3. Why does the author tell us that there are many other things Jesus did (vs. 25)? Why would he feel compelled to tell us that?
4. The end of verse 25 certainly sounds like hyperbole. Is it appropriate for Scripture to use hyperbole, or is the Bible actually claiming that the world couldn’t hold the books that detail Jesus’ full life?
5. In verse 24, the author says that we know his testimony is true. How do we know that? Do you know that? If so, how?6. Would these verses have been received differently by John’s original audience than we hear them now? If so, how?