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The Clarity of Scripture

This series offers an overview of the chief teachings of the Christian church.

We were returning home and the road ahead included mountain passes that were wet and slushy. As daylight gave way to night, I began having more and more difficulty seeing the road in front of me. There was no rain or blowing snow, and yet I couldn’t see well enough to travel at the speed limit. Perplexed, I accepted the fact that this was going to be a long drive home.

A little while later, when I stopped to get fuel, I noticed something. I cleaned the car’s headlights and when we resumed our travels we were homeward bound with excellent visibility.

During the miles of struggle, the lights had been shining brightly, but so much road spray and slush had landed on the headlights that their light was no longer clear, and the illumination was compromised.

God calls His Word a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). God’s Word is the illumination for our walk heavenward, but unlike my headlights in Northwest mountain passes, God’s Word is always completely clear, shining, and illuminating.

God desires all people to be saved. (1 Timothy 2:4) He Himself has given us the specific words He wants us to have in Scripture. (2 Timothy 3:16, Lutheran Spokesman December 2021) He has given us His Word so that we believe that Jesus is the Christ and have life in His name. (John 20:31) It would be completely counter-productive if His Word were anything but crystal clear.

God’s Word is the clear light that breaks the darkness of sin, creates faith, and guides us. This is because the Word reveals Jesus, the Light of the World (John 8:12). Peter wrote, “We have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place.” (2 Peter 1:19)

It is important not to confuse clarity with understanding. If you place a logarithmic equation before a kindergartner, the child won’t know what to do with it. The equation is very clear, but the young student is not yet equipped to understand it. The beauty of God’s Word is that it is clear and understandable so that even the youngest of children can learn who Jesus and what He has done.

Scripture is clear and simple enough for a young child to understand and embrace. Yet there are passages that are difficult to understand, as even the apostle Peter admits, “As also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written you . . . speaking in them [his epistles] of these things, in which are some things hard to understand.” (2 Peter 3:15-16)

We may study a passage of Scripture our entire lives and never fully grasp all of the truth that the Holy Spirit has tucked into those words. This fact does not expose a lack of clarity on Scripture’s part. Rather, it speaks to a limited understanding and knowledge on our part.

The clarity of God’s Word is such that we are able to use the simpler passages to shine light upon the more difficult passages. In this way we grow in understanding.

There are arguments against the clarity of Scripture which open the door to multiple interpretations and Bible “study” that consists only of individuals’ own ideas and feelings concerning the text. Many believe that only parts of the Bible are God’s Word. If that were the case, Scripture would be a murky mix of truth and falsehood without any clarity. The fact stands—God’s Word is inspired and clear, and is the objective truth by which all else is measured.

Whenever we are “in the dark,” the solution is to shine the clear bright light of God’s Word upon the situation and into our hearts. This may require that we first wipe off the road spray of our human reason and the slushy residue of our sin-tainted thoughts and selfish goals. The light of God’s Word is always shining clear and bright—remove the mud of self and let the Word shine!

Wayne Eichstadt is pastor of Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Spokane Valley, Washington.