THE PERSPICUITY OF SCRIPTURE

So called “men of God” or “theologians” have long claimed that the Scriptures are unclear and/or open to numerous interpretations, or that the interpretation of Scripture changes with the changing of times and morals; this simply is not so except to the spiritually blind and dead.

Our Lord makes that clear when He tells us; For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. Colossians 2:1-10 (NKJV)

And again; And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:19-21 (NKJV)

   That the Scriptures are clear and understandable by the “common person” is self-evident!  There is only one Spirit intended meaning of the Bible, not many as commonly held in our day. People have been fooled and satan has won a great victory by casting doubt on the perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture. The doctrine of the perspicuity or clarity of Scripture is simply this; our Lord has revealed to us in a clear and understandable manner all things necessary for salvation. The Psalms abound with statements affirming the clarity of Scripture.

Psalms 19:7-8 (NKJV) The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;  The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;

Psalms 94:12 (NKJV) Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law,

Psalms 119:104 (NKJV) Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.

Psalms 119:130 (NKJV) The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

   Only because the Word of God, the Holy Scripture, possesses clarity can it make wise, impart blessedness, move us to hate every false way, and give understanding to the simple.

Again, through the Apostle Peter we have a statement of the clarity of Scripture.

And so we have the prophetic Word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 2 Peter 1:19 (NKJV)

In the following is a reminder of the certainty of the clarity of Scripture.

And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:15-17 (NKJV)

   The Scripture had come to Timothy; yet, by virtue of its own clarity this Scripture had imparted full wisdom unto salvation.

   Scripture clearly sets forth all that we need to know for salvation. That is why it is able to make people wise for salvation through faith in Jesus. Probably even more abundantly Scripture asserts its clarity by simply presupposing it as a self-evident fact in various situations. In the Savior’s parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus, Abraham counters the rich man’s plea that Lazarus be sent from beyond the grave to enlighten his five living brothers, with the statement “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” (Luke 16:29)This shows that these Old Testament Scriptures clearly presented everything that they needed to know in order to be saved.

   Jesus encourages His Jewish hearers in their searching of the Scriptures. He assured them they would indeed find life eternal thereby because the Scriptures testified of Him as their Savior. Such encouragement would be meaningless without a Scripture that is clear! You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me(John 5:39 NKJV).

   The Bereans, just “ordinary” members of a Christian congregation, carefully compared everything Paul had preached to them with what they themselves found in their diligent searching of the Scriptures. They believed that the Scriptures were clear; by commending their activity and designating it as noble, Paul attested to the clarity of Scripture. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Acts 17:11) (NKJV) Every admonition of Scripture to beware of false prophets “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15 NKJV), every exhortation to hold fast the sound doctrine ; Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; (2 Timothy 1:13 NKJV),  and to hold fast the faithful Word (Titus 1:9 NKJV) holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict, presupposes a Scripture which is clear!

   This clarity is also asserted in every earnest warning against adding anything to God’s verbally inspired, inerrant, infallible Word or against subtracting anything from it.

Deuteronomy 4:2 (NKJV) You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.

Matthew 5:19 (NKJV) Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Revelation 22:18-19 (NKJV) For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

   How could anyone know whether he was adding or subtracting to Scripture if It were not clear? Jesus states in John 8:31-32 (NKJV) Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” This again implies explicitly that Jesus has given us a clear Word so that it is possible to know whether we are continuing in it or not.

The clarity which Scripture ascribes to itself is, first of all, an outward clarity. It consists in this, that in the words and sentences of intelligible, comprehensible human language, Scripture clearly expresses all the truths which God has been pleased to reveal to us and which we need to know for our Christian faith and life now and for our eternal salvation hereafter. Scripture clearly expresses the truths which God wishes to convey and teach!

PERSPICUITY UNDERPINS ALL OTHER DOCTRINES

   Paul tells Timothy: 2 Timothy 3:15 (NKJV) and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Scripture and Scripture alone makes us wise unto salvation and it makes us wise through faith in Jesus alone! There is only one way of salvation for sinful mankind and that is through the free gift of God’s grace, through the gift of the perfect righteousness which His Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, has won for us with His holy life and innocent suffering and death.  Acts 4:12 (NKJV) “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

   The one great Message of Scripture is the Message of this gift of salvation through Jesus. All that the Scriptures tell us serves the purpose of imparting this gift of salvation to us through faith and of making us blessed, rich, and fruitful in Its possession for time and eternity. Through the Gospel Message it creates faith in the sinner’s heart and in such faith comforts us with the assurance of unconditional forgiveness, life, and salvation. It constantly nourishes, strengthens, preserves the believer in faith, enables us to fight against all that is sinful, constrains and guides us in ever striving anew and more fully after all that is pleasing in God’s sight. Scripture and Scripture alone has such power to reprove, to correct, to instruct, such power to produce and sustain spiritual life.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. Scripture has this power because It (the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testaments) is the verbally inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God from beginning to end. Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63 NKJV). That is the spiritual clarity of Holy Scripture!

   When one reads the Scriptures, hears the Scriptures, it is the same as though God Himself were standing before you in person in all His holy majesty and were addressing only to you the Words of His love. The Scriptures are not merely a record of the past revelation of God; they are also and above all His ever present and powerful revelation. The Gospel of Christ is ever filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. It is well that we never lose sight of this spiritual clarity of the Holy Scriptures. We should constantly remember that none of these truths or any other point of Christian faith and life can be certain and remain certain for us unless we hold firmly to the fact and doctrine of the perspicuity of the Scriptures. For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes… Romans 1:16 (NKJV). We are, by the Spirit’s strength and power working in us, to hold fervently to the clarity of Scripture, by doing so we know that we are dealing with certainties and not the fallacious philosophies of men.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8 (NKJV)

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:19-21 (NKJV)  

   In our day many have relegated the Scriptures to “just another holy writing of men,” open to various interpretations and meanings. If the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture were lost, and has been by many, then all doctrines will fall! Is that not obvious from the troubles we see in “mainline Christianity” today?

   Ravi Zacharias in his book called; “Jesus Among Other Gods” (Nashville: Wolfe Publishing, 2000) wrote: “We are living in a time when you can believe anything, as long as you do not claim it to be true. In the name of ‘tolerance’ our post modern culture embraces everything from Eastern mysticism to new Age spirituality. But such unquestioning acceptance of all things spiritual is absurd. All religions, plainly and simply, cannot be true.”

   The Lord tells us quite simply and clearly, A little leaven leavens the whole lump Galatians 5:9 (NKJV). We have seen the deterioration of what were once commonly held doctrines; creation, virgin birth, physical resurrection, even the central teaching of Scripture-Justification by Faith, be replaced by the false and damning teachings of men! And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men Matthew 15:9 (NKJV). When the clear teaching of Scripture is called into doubt it creates a domino effect, first one doctrine and then, given time, all will fall. What you have left is a vain and foolish religion of man, for man, by man! A common example of this is the “social gospel” of which our Lord clearly says; But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed Galatians 1:8 (NKJV). Our Lord warns us again quite clearly; For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NKJV).

   How can or does this impact us when we try to engage in doctrinal discussions with other denominations? We find ourselves talking to people who have little or no spiritual or moral absolutes. For most, all things are “relative”. This makes it very difficult, from a human point of view, to converse intelligently about matters of faith with these misled souls as they are not standing on the same level ground of Scripture. It is not impossible however, as we never limit the Spirit’s ability to shatter spiritual blindness through the “simple” Gospel message shared. Keep in mind, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it Isaiah 55:11 (NKJV). The Lord does not hold us responsible for the effect His Word has on others, but He does hold us responsible for sharing that Word! But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear! 1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV) We are to continue to; Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching 2 Timothy 4:2 (NKJV). Many times, it may seem as if we are beating our heads against a wall; but ours is to plant, the Lord gives the increase!

CONCLUSION

   A precious and clear passage of Scripture such as; For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life John 3:16 (NKJV), is a glorious, simple, and clear proclamation of the Gospel. This passage has been called the Gospel in a nutshell, it is a passage even our children know and understand. We are reminded that God’s Word was never intended to be a “Book” that only the clergy or spiritually elite could understand. The Bible was written for you and me and all people. It is the Word of God, the way our Lord speaks to us and guides us. Our Savior tells us; “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” Romans 10:17 (NKJV). It is that simple because the Holy Spirit who works through the Word giving us understanding and guidance and through that same Word creates, strengthens, and preserves us in the Christian faith.

   There is only one Spirit intended meaning of God’s Word, one reason why our Lord gave us His Word, to reveal to us our Savior and thereby the Way of Salvation! You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me John 5:39 (NKJV). And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3 (NKJV). That is what is revealed to us in the Word, our Savior Jesus Christ and the forgiveness and life He offers to all! Scripture is clear on all points of faith and doctrine. Scripture clearly expresses the truths which God wishes to convey and teach! The Word must ever be preserved in its truth, purity, and clarity by God’s grace and guidance. Our Lord has revealed to us in a clear and understandable manner all things necessary for salvation; to concede the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture is to concede all!

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