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.
(Westminster Shorter Catechism, 1648, Question 2)
The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world – Hebrews 1:1-2
You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you. – Deuteronomy 4:2
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. – Luke 24:27
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 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. – 2 Peter 1:19-21
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. – John 20:30-31
The Only Rule to Direct Us
How We May Glorify and Enjoy Him
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. – 1 Timothy 4:6-9
Rule in this context means standard, think of a ruler. A ruler is a fixed instrument (a standard) by which you can reliably measure. So the scriptures, Old and New, are the reliable instrument by which we are to measure our faith, our doctrine, our religious practice, and so forth.
This is in stark contrast to the Roman Catholic Church, which places the Church herself on equal standing with the Word. The Church, according to Rome, has the authority to bind our consciences with new laws, commandments, standards, expectations, religious observances, etc. And to Rome, to be outside of good standing with her is to be outside of good standing with God.
This is why the Reformation burned through Europe 500 years ago, and the Protestant church was birthed. We believe that we are submitted finally and above all else to God himself. And that God has revealed his expectations, his character, his plan, and his ways in Holy Scripture. And he has done so plainly so that anyone with a spiritual eye opened can discern and rightly obey.
Having said all that, practically, why is this question important? Because it’s easy to forget we are to judge the world, our life, our experiences, our decisions, and everything we do by scripture first and foremost. If we have a desire contrary to scripture, we can condemn that desire (Gal 5). If we have a faith without works, we can condemn that faith (James). If we desire to exercise our Christian liberty despite the harm we cause brothers, we can condemn that foolishness (Romans 14, 1 Cor 8). If new doctrine divides the church, we turn to scripture (Acts 15).
We must be trained to always go to the scripture to have our powers of discernment exercised (Hebrews 5:14). How should we marry? How should we eat? How should we pray? How should we sing? How should we preach? How should we evangelize? How should we work? How should we rest? How should we play? Everything necessary for a godly life pleasing to God is found in scripture (1 Tim 3:16-17). It is not to his word alone we submit, since God commands we submit to one another, but to his word alone do we ultimately submit.
Trust scripture over your experiences, preferences, desires, denomination, tradition, family, etc. Scripture is not A rule. It is THE rule.
Question 1 – What is the Chief End of Man?