Scripture is clear with regard to its primary message: salvation.

In this post, we are still under the doctrine of Scripture. We’ve explored canon, inspiration, manuscripts, inerrancy, and sufficiency. In today’s post, we will explain the clarity of Scripture.

We need to recognize some caveats about the clarity of Scripture. First, not all texts in the Bible are equally clear. The original autographs were in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Translating from the original autographs is challenging at times because some words from one language do not have specific equivalent words in another language. Some texts of Scripture require more diligent study than others based on context and meaning. Some passages are plainly more difficult to grasp than others (see 2 Peter 3:16).

Second, the relative clarity of Scripture is also affected by the reader of Scripture. I’m indebted to Robert Letham’s Systematic Theology for this post, and he wrote on this issue:

“Some readers are less able to understand than others, whether by lack of knowledge or education, lack of Christian experience, or a deficit of intelligence… Hard work is needed to explain it. The role of the human interpreter, the knower in the process of knowing, is significant.”

Robert Letham, Systematic Theology, 207.

But just because some Scriptures might not be as clear as we’d like them to be or we may not be as certain of our interpretation of some passages as we’d like, does not mean that Scripture lacks clarity. Amazingly, the 66 books of the Bible, 40 different authors, and a variety of themes throughout these books, the primary message of the Bible is clear.

Even with the above caveats, we can nevertheless affirm the clarity or perspicuity of Scripture. Perspicuity is the theological term for lucidity or clarity. (The following affirmations are just a sampling, and they are far from exhaustive in the Scripture references that address them).

  • With regard to who God is and what God wants us to know about himself, Scripture is clear (Genesis 1:1).
  • With regard to who mankind is and what God expects of us, Scripture is clear (Genesis 1:28, OT Law).
  • With regard to who Jesus Christ is and what he did to secure salvation, Scripture is clear (Gospels, John 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1).
  • With regard to what it means to experience salvation, Scripture is clear (John 3:16, Romans 3:23, 5:8; 6:23, 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-9).

See previous posts on the doctrine of salvation: soteriology, atonement, redemption, regeneration, election, justification, adoption, union with Christ, sanctification, and glorification.

Scripture itself is the primary means for communicating the gospel. It is clear unto salvation. Two examples will suffice.

First, Scripture is clear enough for both children and adults to experience salvation. As a pastor, I preach Scripture regularly and share it personally when witnessing. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of leading both of my children to Christ as well as other children and adults. The primary communication tool that I use to explain salvation is the Scripture. Scriptures on salvation are gloriously clear. It is because of the clarity of Scripture that God has brought billions to faith in himself.

Second, Scripture is the primary communication mechanism from God to people for their conversion. I just finished a fascinating audiobook, Defying Jihad, by Esther Ahmad. Esther grew up a devout Muslim and was on the path toward becoming a suicide bomber. But a dream where she saw Jesus disturbed her devotion to Islam. Providentially, God placed a man in her life who was a Christian. Esther’s conversion to Christ was initiated by a dream, helped along by a couple of Christians, but her conversion only occurred as began reading the Bible. God brought salvation to Esther from the Bible. Esther’s only prior biblical understanding came through the false perspectives of Islam. She did not have a church, a teacher, or Bible study helps. She had the Bible. And God made it clear enough for her to reject Islam and follow Jesus.

In subsequent weeks we will discuss topics like the authority of Scripture and the need for clear and beneficial interpretive strategies regarding Scripture. But one does not have to be a Bible scholar or a trained academic to understand what the Bible has to say about salvation.

God put that information on the bottom shelf for all of us to grasp. God cares about his creatures enough that when he wrote his book to us, men and women, boys and girls, of all ages, geographical and cultural differences, anywhere and anytime, could understand the message of salvation from the pages of Scripture.

As an aside, our prayer partners at Wilkesboro Baptist Church this week are Wycliffe Bible Translators, Adam and Ruth Huntley and family. The reason we care about and prioritize the translation of the Bible in the languages of the peoples of he world is because the Bible is clear, especially about salvation and eternal life. Would you take a moment and pray for Adam and Ruth and other Wycliffe translators?

Photo by Randy ORourke on Unsplash

My current sermon series has been “Patterns of Prayer.” During this Covid-19 crisis, racial tensions, political turmoil, and uncertain lives, I felt it necessary to focus my study on the subject of prayer. Prayer is something that everyone knows about, but most of us would admit that we could do better. For me, this series has been tremendously beneficial. God has taught me more about himself in this series than maybe any other that I’ve preached.

So why write an article about it? This post is aimed to encourage you to pray. Specifically, intercede for someone else.

Here are some reasons you should make time to today to pray:

  1. God invites you to pray. In Luke 11:9, Jesus teaches us to ask, seek, and knock. He wants us to bring our burdens before him.
  2. You need prayer more than you think. Prayer is our avenue of talking with God. Too often we ignore God because of all the other things we have going on. Make time to talk with God today.
  3. Someone else needs you to pray for them. Interceding for another person is a privilege. God partners with our prayers to meet the needs (physical, spiritual, emotional) of those around us.

When you pray today, pray specifically and pray scripturally. For example, pray for your friend by name. Pray for their healing, their need to be met, their soul to be saved, etc. But pray in a specific way that will allow you to know if God answers the prayer. While prayers like “bless my friend” or “be with the missionaries” are well meant, they are not specific enough for us to know they have been answered. Specific prayers allow us to experience the answers.

Also pray scripturally. If you are praying for someone to come to know Christ, pray that God would open their eyes to see his glory (2 Corinthians 4:4) or that God would convict their heart of sin (John 16:8-11). If you are praying that a friend would experience peace, pray that your friend would be thankful and experience the peace of God that passes understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). If you are praying for a child or grandchild to know God’s will, pray Psalm 23 over their decisions and opportunities. Praying scripturally helps us align our prayers with God’s will.

Praying specifically and scripturally allows us to experience God’s answers to prayer. Here are a few of the specific ways God answered my prayers recently.

  • Our family prayed for God’s protection while we traveled. Answer: A vehicle in front of us experienced a blowout and a tractor trailer nearly rear-ended us. We experienced God’s answer for protection.
  • A family friend had brain surgery, and we prayed for her peace and that the surgery would go as planned. Answer: She was released from the hospital earlier than expected and experienced God’s peace during and after the surgery.
  • A church member was admitted to the hospital with stroke-like symptoms. We prayed that the medical team would have wisdom in his care, and that his health would improve. Answer: His issue was not a stroke, but something more manageable. He is now home.
  • A lady who is connected to our church has been struggling with sensing God in her life. For nearly a year, we’ve prayed that God would save her and make himself real to her. Answer: This past week, she put her faith in Christ alone for salvation.

God doesn’t always answer every prayer request as quickly or in the way that I might ask. But he does answer. I would encourage you to develop a prayer journal where you track how God works in your prayer life. Reflect often on his answered prayers. Remember, you can bring anything before God in prayer, but he loves it when you intercede for someone else.

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