CON Contact Us DON Donate
Our History General Assembly Worldwide Outreach Ministries Standards Resources

Question and Answer

Is the New Testament the Word of God?


I have been asked the following question about the Bible a number of times by various non-Christians and have not been able to give a solid, convincing answer. I am hoping you can.

The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter I, paragraph VI, states, "The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men."

I take that statement to imply that what constitutes the Bible can be deduced from reading the Bible. Being "sufficient," the Bible should tell you what belongs in it and what does not.

The problem is, the list of books belonging to the New Testament neither is "expressly set down in Scripture" nor can be "deduced from Scripture." Common sense and logic would seem to say that the list of New Testament books must be then considered merely a "tradition of men."

Can you tell me, in a manner consistent with the Christian belief that Scripture is "sufficient" for salvation and with the Westminster Confession of Faith, why Christians accept the extra-biblical "list" of New Testament books as an infallible revelation from God and not a "man-conceived tradition"?


I am not sure that I can answer your question in the way you would like. But I am more than willing to answer you in this way: simply telling you the truth.

In the book of Ephesians the Apostle Paul expresses his hope "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know . . . " (Ephesians 1:17,18). He expressed himself in that way because he knew what the real problem was (and is). The Bible—including the New Testament—is the inspired word of God. A vast multitude of people (including the author of this note to you) have been enabled to see that it is. This is not because they are smarter than other people, or more educated, etc. No, it is simply because they have had the eyes of their heart enlightened. And it was that way right from the start.

When the Apostles were on earth, faithfully telling people about the life, death and resurrection of the Son of God, there were some people who could not accept it. And there were others who could not reject it! The difference in those who could not reject it was this enlightening work of the Holy Spirit. It was this same enlightening work that led the early Christians to recognize the writings of the Apostles as the foundation of their faith. You see, the Church did not create the Canon (the list of inspired books that we have in the New Testament). No, it was the Canon that really created the Church. The Church was constrained by the fact that it could see (with a heart enlightened) that these books were divinely inspired.

It is for this reason that our Confession of Faith says "The authority of the Holy Scriptures, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the word of God." (1:4) And while the witness of men—and of the historic church—does have weight, yet "our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts."

My own experience confirms what the Confession of Faith says. For years (in my early life), though I sat in church and heard Bible reading and sermons, it made little impression on me. But then, one day, the eyes of my own heart were enlightened. And then I too could see that the Bible (including the 27 books of the New Testament) are indeed the inspired word of God. And now after more than 50 years as a pastor—with constant study of the Bible and preaching of its contents—I can see it ever more clearly. Yes, in the spiritual realm, "seeing is believing."

May the Lord grant this incomparable gift to you also.

About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those people who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.

You will receive an answer by e-mail. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two (2) weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references or from some source may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

© 2020 The Orthodox Presbyterian Church



Chaplains and Military Personnel

Diaconal Ministries


Inter-Church Relations

Ministerial Care

Planned Giving

Short-Term Missions


Church Directory

Daily Devotional

Audio Sermons

Trinity Hymnal

Camps & Conferences

Gospel Tracts

Book Reviews



Presbyterian Guardian