The Bible is the very word of God. That means the one who made the Heavens and the Earth speaks to us in His word. I’m not keen on repeating terms, but I think it apropos at this point. God speaks to you in His word, and applies that word to your soul, to the very inner part of your being as a human. We can almost not overstate how radical that is, and how much we sin against Him by not coming to the Bible with a humble heart, born out of love and grace.
If there is anything that rubs people the wrong way in today’s culture, I don’t care if you are conservative or liberal or somewhere in between, it is to insist on authority. Everyone is at least a little bit egalitarian. Some of that is the still rippling effects of the French Revolution, where the cry was to strangle the last nobleman with the entrails of the last priest. We spend a lot of time and energy bewailing the breaking of the seventh commandment (and we should), but really all of that is downstream from our failure to give honor to whom honor is due and to recognize the natural law of superiors and inferiors. Again, just writing those words out is likely to cause some heartburn. However, there is no escaping that not everyone is allowed to do whatever they want.
There are rules and procedures established by the Lord which are good and holy, and that are given by reason of His wisdom. In the days of the Reformation there were a sect of protestants who desired that all people, regardless of age or sex, would have the right to preach, teach, and distribute and oversee the sacraments of the Church. We sometimes think these ideas were born out of the Nineteenth and Twentieth century feminist movements, but they have been with us for as long as there has been opportunity to engage in preaching and teaching.
Concern over who is allowed to read the Scriptures publicly in the Lord’s Day worship service is part of the reason why the two catechism questions before us today are in the WLC to begin with. Sometimes we tend to think that these ideas are new, but they are not. To confirm that only those set apart by God through the keys of the kingdom given to the Church are to read the Bible in front of the congregation of Christ’s sheep is to step on some toes. The logical end of that is to say that only ordained men (and students licensed and approved by the Presbytery), not women or children, are authorized by the Lord to feed His people with the word as they gather together on Sunday to praise His name. That’s what the first clause of the opening Q/A is saying, and anyone who confesses the Standards of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church should be able to say yeah and amen. Let’s read the two questions for today and come back:
Q. 156. Is the word of God to be read by all?