The Centrality of Scripture in the Life of the Church
If you’ve been around Westgate Church for a while, it’s pretty obvious that the Bible plays a central role in virtually everything we do. The value we want to ascribe to Scripture is reflective of New England’s early Puritan heritage, which J. I. Packer summarizes like this:
To the Puritan the Bible was in truth the most precious possession that this world affords. His deepest conviction was that reverence for God means reverence for Scripture, and serving God means obeying Scripture. To his mind, therefore, no greater insult could be offered to the Creator than to neglect his written word; and, conversely, there could be no truer act of homage to him than to prize it and pore over it, and then to live out and give out its teaching.
For this reason, our Sunday morning worship centers on the preaching of the Word. We usually work our way through whole books of the Bible during a series, and the goal of every sermon is to say what the biblical passage is saying—nothing more, nothing less. Even the songs we sing and the prayers we pray emphasize the same message as the passage being preached.
We also teach the Bible during our Sunday School classes. We discuss it during our Home Groups and men’s and women’s Bible studies. It’s the centerpiece of our discipleship relationships and any pastoral counsel we give. Even our by-laws emphasize the authority and centrality of the Bible for everything from what we believe to how we operate and what kind of people we hire. The Bible is central to the life of Westgate Church.
And so it’s worthwhile every now and then to stop and ask, why? Why does it play such a central role in who we are and what we do? What should we believe about the Bible? What does it tell us about itself? Is it true? Is it still relevant today? How should it impact our lives, relationships, and ministries? And what’s at stake if we neglect it, replace it, or subject it to some other authority in our life and ministry?
The apostle Peter tells us that what we have in the Bible is “something more sure”—a witness to who God is and what he has done that is more reliable than even Peter’s own eye witness testimony of Jesus (2 Pet. 1:19). This is because “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 Pet. 1:20-21).
Join us during the month of June as we explore together “something more sure”—the centrality of Scripture in the life of the church.
1. J.I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1990), 98.