Theology: The Clarity of Scripture



Can the Bible be understood and applied by all believers, or only those with specialized training?

Do you need a Masters of Theology to really understand the Bible, or can any believer read it and understand it? The doctrine of the clarity of scripture will help us answer that question.

The clarity of scripture can be defined as follows:

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. (Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine)

Psalm 119:130 says, ?The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.? These are sweet words. The words of scripture give us light, and they impart understanding even to the simple (someone lacking wisdom). They are clear and show us how to live rightly in the world.

It’s important to realize, however, that understanding God’s word is more of a spiritual ability than an intellectual ability. In 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul says:

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.

In other words, only those who are born again by the Holy Spirit are able to truly understand and apply the Word of God. Those who aren’t willing to believe or obey they teachings of scripture cannot rightly understand it. The Holy Spirit must help us understand the Word of God.

Does the clarity of scripture mean that all believers will agree on the meaning of all the scriptures? No. There were many times that, due to unbelief or hardness of heart, Jesus’ own disciples misunderstood the teaching of scripture. Until we get to heaven and are freed from sin, there will always be some measure of disagreement over the scriptures. However, we can know that the problem always lies with us, and not scripture.

This doctrine should encourage us. God wants us to know Him and follow Him and has given us words that can be understood. When you sit down to read your Bible, you can know that God wants you to understand it and benefit from it. This truth should cause us to love, treasure, and study God’s word.

Adapted from Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith by Wayne Grudem and Jeff Purswell

+photo by annia316


  • Ron reffett says:

    Great post today, I'm so thankful that God opens our eyes to see and treasure His word, It's amazing to me that the Lord would reveal anything to us at all, but He has spoken His very word to us..what a great thing that is!
    Ron Reffett

  • Paul C says:

    What is fascinating is that in the absence of prophets (after Malachi, around 400BC) religion was not extinguished in Israel. In fact, doctors of the law swarmed Jerusalem. It abounded though the voice of God speaking in a tangible way had long ceased.

    In the time of our Lord, the gospel of John records, "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John." Uncouth, no doctorate, dressed in stinking camel's hair and eating bugs. But he was God's man. The Lord by-passed the religious wise and educated.

    The Lord Himself selects a ragtag group for His inner circle. No formal schooling, they were regarded as "unlearned and ignorant men".

    Paul writes in I Cor 1:
    "Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him."

    I'm not pleading for ignorance at all, but today, everyone has a Dr. before their name or a ThD, or some other credentials. What does this really mean? Has the person been called by God?

    The only man with a doctorate I see in Bible is the apostle Paul. As I recall, when he accepted the Lord he took the degree off his wall and flushed all his "credentials" down the toilet (Philippians 3).

  • Steven says:

    We also ought to give thanks for faithful theologians who can bring to life seemingly dead texts for our edification. My OT lecturer has been taking us through Leviticus these past few weeks (his area of expertise, which is understandable considering he also got a PhD in Vet Science :P) and I've been realising how both foreign the text feels and how often I unhelpfully bring my 21st Century mind to the text…

  • JackW says:

    Not to mention that Paul was with a doctor called Luke … which is where I thought you were going. Funny the way the mind works. Great comment Paul.

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