Thursday, August 10, 2017

Scripture: Clarity

Scripture: Clarity
   Scripture is not difficult to understand. Granted, there are some difficult passages, but overall, the Bible is understandable and can be comprehended. The word of God is clear and unambiguous. Scripture is written in such a way that it can be taught to and understood by ordinary believers, even children.
   The clarity of Scripture is grounded in the being of God. Because of who God is, he is able to clearly communicate to his creatures. He knows our abilities, capabilities, weaknesses, and capacities and is able to make himself known and understood.
   God is in control; he is sovereign. If God intends to communicate to his creatures, then he is in perfect control and this communication will be successful. God cannot fail. An unclear revelation from God would not succeed. So, God reveals his will clearly and intelligibly. God always accomplished his purpose. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Is. 55:10-11)
   God is authoritative. If the word of God is authoritative and to be obeyed, then it follows that it must be clear and evident. The clarity of Scripture must be true in order for believers to understand and unbelievers to be without excuse. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Rom. 1:20)
   God is present or near his creation. He is immanent. The presence of God with believers is in and through Christ. Believers meet Christ in the gospel, or the clear words of life. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Jn. 1:1, 14) “For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, 'Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'' (that is, to bring Christ down) or 'Who will descend into the abyss?'' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? 'The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart' (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom. 10:5-9)
   The clarity of Scripture is affirmed by the Bible. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 instructs parents to teach their children the commands of God and to discuss them. God's commands must be clear in order for them to be taught and understood by children. “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
   Psalm 1:2 addresses one who meditates on God's law day and night. Scripture must be clear to be pondered. “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
   Psalm 19:7 and 119:130 teach that even the simple can understand the word of God. “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.”
   Jesus referred his listeners back to the Old Testament. This would be fruitless if they were unable to understand it or if the Old Testament was incomprehensible. “ He said to them, 'Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless?'” (Matt. 12:3-6) “And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.'" (Matt. 22:31)
   The New Testament epistles were written to churches and congregations. The idea was that the believers were to read and understand the word of God communicated through his apostles. “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.” (1Cor. 1:2) “ Paul, an apostle-not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead- and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia.” (Gal. 1:1-2) “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion.” (Jms. 1:1) “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” (1Pet. 1:1-2)
   God even declares that his word is plain. “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.” (Deut. 30:11-14) “But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing.” (2Cor. 4:2-4) “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith.” (Rom. 16:25-26)
   Adults are commanded, no matter how weak or unlearned, to read and meditate on Scripture in order to be instructed. Again, Scripture is clear. “ You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me...” (Jn. 5:39) “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11) “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.” (Ps. 119:15) “Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.” (Ps. 119:27)
   The understanding of Scripture is a spiritual ability, not intellectual. Indeed, it is supernatural. Natural man can read and understand the words in the Bible. They are, after all, words with definitions that anyone can comprehend. But, to really understand the word of God, to truly comprehend, know, enjoy, believe, apprehend, and grasp it, takes the supernatural work of the Spirit. “The natural person does not accept the 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.” (1Cor. 2:14) “But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts.  But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” (2Cor. 3:14-16)
Scripture must be clear because it is to be: food (1Pet. 2:2), taught by believers to other believers (Col. 3:16), a light to our path (Ps. 119:105), loved (Ps. 119:140), used as a weapon (Eph. 6:17), a purifier (1Pet. 1:22), proof of Christ's divinity and that life is in his name (Jn. 20:31), an example (1Cor. 10:11), and a source of assurance (1Jn. 5:13).

   The word of God is clear. It is easily understood when read, prayed over, and meditated upon. Also, the Spirit illumines the minds and hearts of believers giving understanding and comprehension. Take up and read the word of God.