Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Yesterday, I had a wonderful evangelistic lunch with a young man who has been coming to church regularly. He is a transparent man with no guile. He mentioned that he sometimes reads the Bible and finds parts difficult to understand. This morning I'm reminded of two comments Grudem makes about the Scripture's clarity:
The New Testament writers frequently state that the ability to understand Scripture rightly is more a moral and spiritual than an intellectual ability: "The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts (literally 'things') of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14; cf. 1:18-3:4; 2 Cor. 2:14-16; 4:3-4, 6; Heb. 5:14; James 1:5-6; 2 Peter 3:5; cf. Mark 4:11-12; John 7:17; 8:43). Thus, although the New Testament authors affirm that the Bible in itself is written clearly, they also affirm that it will not be understood rightly by those who are unwilling to receive its teachings. Scripture is able to be understood by all unbelievers who will read it sincerely seeking salvation, and by believers who will read it while seeking God's help in understanding it. This is because in both cases the Holy Spirit is at work overcoming the effects of sin, which otherwise will make the truth appear to be foolish (1 Cor. 1:18-25; 2:14; James 1:5-6, 22-25).

In order the summarize this biblical material, we can affirm that the Bible is written in such a way that all things necessary for our salvation and for our Christian life and growth are very clearly set forth in Scripture. Although theologians have sometimes defined the clarity of Scripture more narrowly (by saying, for example, only that Scripture is clear in teaching the way of salvation), the texts cited above apply to many different aspects of biblical teaching and do not seem to support any such limitation on the areas to which Scripture can be said to speak clearly. It seems more faithful to those biblical texts to define the clarity of Scripture as follows: The clarity of Scripture means that the Bible is written in such a way that its teachings are able to be understood by all who will read it seeking God's help and being willing to follow it. Once we have stated this, however, we must also recognize that many people, even God's people, do in fact misunderstand Scripture. (Grudem, Bible Doctrine, pp. 51-52).

After our really good lunch meeting, I returned to a pre-marital counseling session with a young couple, the young lady being a very young Christian. What joy it was for to hear her excitedly exclaim, "Everything I am called to do as a wife is so clearly written right here in Scripture! I didn't know that. This is all so new to me but it is all so very clear!"

Then in our evening devotions last night (John 8:21-39), my oldest daughter asked why the people didn't understand Jesus when it seemed so clear to her.

It all reminded me of Matthew 11:25-26 and 13:11-17, 34-35.

1 comment:

obsessiveskier said...

Thank you for this post.