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  • Tabernacle Baptist Church

Roots of the Faith: The Clarity of Scripture - 11/30/22


  • Can we understand the Bible?

  • What does it take for me to learn the meaning of the Bible?

  • Why do so many people disagree over biblical matters of life?

Scripture is written in such a way that it can be understood by God’s people. (Gregg Allison, pg. 39)

The clarity of Scripture means that the Bible is written in such a way that it is able to be understood, but right understanding requires time, effort, the use of ordinary means, a willingness to obey, and the help of the Holy Spirit; and our understanding will remain imperfect in this lifetime (Wayne Grudem, pg. 109)

The Bible affirms its own clarity.

We should not expect EVERYONE to grasp the truths of Scripture.

  • Can an unconverted person understand?

  • It is the spirit that teaches, guides, and illuminates.

Why do Christians misunderstand Scripture?

  • We are all sinful and fall short of God’s standard.

    • We need better hermeneutics (methods of interpretation).

      • The method of our study. The process we utilize

    • We need better exegesis (process of interpreting a text).

      • The work of the study. What does the text mean?

The role of teachers/scholars/theologians

  • They fulfill the office of teacher – 1 Cor 12:28.

    • They utilize their giftedness to build up the body. A tool to help us understand more clearly.

Practical Considerations

  • There will be differences over minor doctrine, so there is liberty

  • See THEOLOGICAL TRIAGE on under topical studies

    • Major verse minor

  • Liberal Churches do not take the Bible as inerrant and infallible

    • All of Scripture is not true

    • Part truth, but not all

  • The lost world will never grasp the Bible as God’s Word

    • To them there is no absolute truth

Requirements for understanding scripture rightly 1. Time 2. Effort 3. The Use of Ordinary Means
Using a translation of the Bible in one’s own language
Listening to teachers of the Word, for God has given the gift of teaching to the church (1 Cor. 12:28).
Reading of commentaries where available, for these are merely the written form of what is taught by teachers in the church.
Being aware of the wisdom contained in the history of interpretation of the church (even if this only comes not firsthand but through reading commentaries that reflect some knowledge of that tradition).
Seeking understanding in fellowship with others, as in small group Bible studies (or at academic conferences).
Using modern tools such as concordances, Hebrew and Greek lexicons, grammars, and sources of historical background information, which help modern readers understand more precisely the sense of the original language and the historical context in which a passage was written.
4. A Willingness to Obey 5. The Help of the Holy Spirit 6. A Humble Recognition That Our Understanding Is Imperfect 7. The Reasons for These Requirements We might ask why God did not give us something simpler, something where our understanding would be instantaneous and automatic? Perhaps for several reasons:
The Complexity of the Subject Matter. God communicated to human beings in Scripture with the purpose of guiding the entire belief system and the lifelong conduct of billions of different people in hundreds of cultures throughout centuries of history. Communication sufficient for this task must necessarily be quite extensive and intricate. An infinite God is telling us about himself and his purposes in all creation! The subject matter is vast.
The Value of Relationship. God delights to teach us in relationship with himself. The prayers for understanding that are found in Scripture (see section B.5 above) indicate an awareness that Scripture is rightly understood only in personal relationship with God, only in a context of prayer for his presence and his help in right understanding.
The Value of a Lifelong Process. God causes us to delight in the process of growing in likeness to him. Growth in understanding Scripture is merely part of the larger process of growth in sanctification, and God in his wisdom has ordained that sanctification is a process, a lifelong journey.
God seems to delight in process, for he delights in gradually disclosing his glory over time. He took delight in creating the world not in one day but in six. He took delight in promising that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent and then in preparing the way for thousands of years so that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law” (Gal. 4:4). He has taken delight in building and purifying his church for the past two thousand years. And he takes delight when we continually increase in the knowledge of himself and his ways through his Word: And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Col. 1:9–10) The process of understanding more of Scripture and more of God is one that will never end in this life. I expect that it will never end even in the age to come. We are finite and we can rejoice in the unending and delightful process of learning more about our infinite Creator[1]

[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Second Edition. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2020), 113–122.

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