Afternoon Sermon: What Things Are Chiefly Contained In The Holy Scriptures?, Baptist Catechism 6, 2 Timothy 3:14–17

Baptist Catechism 6

Q. 6. What things are chiefly contained in the Holy Scriptures?

A. The Holy Scriptures chiefly contain what man ought to believe concerning God, and what duty God requireth of man. (2 Tim. 3:16,17; John 20:31; Acts 24:14; 1 Cor. 10:11; Eccles. 12:13)

Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 3:14–17

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 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 3:14–17, ESV)



Question 6 of our catechism asks, What things are chiefly contained in the Holy Scriptures?

“Chiefly” means mainly, or supremely. So the question is, what are the Holy Scriptures mainly about? 

We have been learning about the Holy Scriptures, haven’t we? We’ve learned that God reveals truth about himself in his Word. We’ve learned that the “Holy Scriptures made up of the Old and New Testaments the Word of God, and the only certain rule of faith and obedience” (BC 4). And we’ve learned that the Holy Scriptures are for all men and women. “All men are not only permitted, but commanded and exhorted, to read, hear, and understand the Holy Scriptures” (BC 5).

Now our catechism attempts to tell us, in a very short space, what the Holy Scriptures are mainly about. That’s a difficult task, don’t you think? The Holy Scriptures are so long and they are so complex. How could we possibly say what they are mainly about in only a few words? I think the answer that our catechism gives is very good. Again, “The Holy Scriptures chiefly contain what man ought to believe concerning God, and what duty God requireth of man.”

So the teaching of Scripture is here divided into two categories.


What Man Ought To Believe Concerning God…

First of all, the Scriptures teach us what we should believe concerning God. I think that is a very good summary of the main message of the Bible. The Scriptures teach us about God.

And consider all of the complex topics that fall under that simple category. The Scriptures teach us about the existence of God, his nature and attributes, his plans and purposes, his work of creation, and his ongoing relationship to this world that he has made. Our catechism is right to say that one of the main things the Scriptures teach us about is God.

And yes, we need to be taught about God. Have you ever thought about this? We could know nothing about God if it were not for God choosing to reveal himself to us. Who knows God perfectly and completely? Answer: Only God knows God perfectly and completely. We will never know God in the way that God knows himself, for we are creatures. And as finite creatures, we do not have the ability to comprehend the Infinite One. 

But we can know God truly, for God has made us in such a way that we can know him. This is a part of what it means to be made in the image of God. We have the capacity to know him. He made us with rational minds and reasonable souls so that we might understand who he is and relate to him. But even so, if we were to know God truly, he had to reveal himself to us.

We have already learned about how he has done this. God has revealed truth about himself to us both in nature and also by giving us his word. When we speak of natural revelation we are saying what the Bible also says, that God has made the world in such a way that it “speaks” truth to us concerning God’s existence and his power. When we speak of Word revelation we are saying that God has also spoken more clearly. He has spoken to men directly. He has spoken through the prophets of old. He has spoken supremely through his Son. And now we have the Scriptures. And what do these Scriptures mainly teach? One, they teach us what we should believe about God.


What Duty God Requireth Of Man

Two, the Scriptures also teach “what duty God requireth of man.” “Duty” means obligation or responsibility. What is man obligated to do before God? The Scriptures reveal it. 

So what are our responsibilities before God? Some are universal and unchanging. Because God is our Creator, and we are his creatures, we are duty-bound to worship and serve him in the way that he has prescribed in his Word. We are also obligated to honor our fellow human beings. In short, we to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. This never changes. It was true for Adam, and it is true for us. 

But there are some obligations that are unique to the times and places in which we live. When God entered into covenants with man, he added laws that were unique to those covenants. Also, some men and women have obligations that differ from others due to their unique callings and situations in life. The Scriptures speak beautifully to all of these things. 



I think this twofold answer to the question, what do the Scriptures mainly teach? is really good. Everything fits under these two categories. 

The Scriptures reveal that God exists. They tell about what he is and what he is like. They reveal what God has done and what he is doing. The Scriptures open up to us the plans and purposes of the LORD. They reveal his names to us.  

And the Scriptures also reveal how we are to live as God’s creatures. In them, we find God’s law. We learn the difference between good and evil, truth and falsehood, wisdom and folly. The Scriptures tell us about how we can have a right relationship with God and life everlasting. They reveal the Christ to us and why me must be found in him. 

Question and answer 6 not only helps us to understand the contents of Holy Scripture, it also summarizes the contents of our catechism. It is not surprising that the content of Scripture matches the content of our catechism, given that our catechism is meant to summarize the teaching of Scripture. 

Questions 7-43 teach us what we are to believe about God.

Questions 44-114 will teach us about the duty that God requires of man. 

Notice that question 7 asks, “What is God?”

Question 44 asks, “What is the duty which God requireth of man?

What things are chiefly contained in the Holy Scriptures?

The Holy Scriptures chiefly contain what man ought to believe concerning God, and what duty God requireth of man. (2 Tim. 3:16,17; John 20:31; Acts 24:14; 1 Cor. 10:11; Eccles. 12:13)

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(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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