Perspicuity: plain to the understanding especially because of clarity and precision of presentation. (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perspicuity)
For more than thirty years I worked at a law firm with many of the most brilliant legal minds in the world. My positions throughout much of my time with the firm was in the field of Information Technology. I was a techy and a techy manager and most times I had a very limited understanding of what the lawyers were talking about when they were speaking in legal-eze. To be honest, I expect there were times when my techno-babble was not too clear either. To use an old adage, legal language was often “…all Greek to me”. No matter how hard I could ever try to understand complex legal language, the reality is that I was not trained in a manner that would equip me to understand.
So what about the Bible? Do you have to be a trained seminarian or have your doctorate in order to be able to understand Scripture? Praise the Lord the answer to that question is a resounding NO!
One of the doctrines relating to the Bible, and related to the doctrines of sufficiency, inerrancy, and inspiration of Scripture, is the doctrine of perspicuity, also known as the doctrine of clarity. There are numerous verses in scripture that promise us that Scripture, as it relates to the things relating to salvation, can be understood. No special training is required.
Psalm 119:130 says “The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.” This passage is stating that God’s word is understandable. The difference in the completeness of understanding however, comes with the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 2:14 Paul wrote of this Holy Spirit enabled discernment in this way: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
While we are assured in Scripture that we can understand all that is needed, through the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit, why do we stop there? Why do we hesitate to learn things like “doctrines”, or to dig into things like apologetics or systematic theology? Is it perhaps because we feel that they are beyond our understanding? Is it because it might take some work on our part?
Let me challenge us with this passage from Paul’s letter to Timothy. In his letter Paul was writing to Timothy exhorting him to teach and preach the people well. In 2 Timothy 2:16 Paul writes “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Now, I expect that you might look at that and say that Paul was writing to a Timothy…a pastor and he is expected to know the Word of God and all that doctrine stuff!
OK…but I would then point you to 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which says “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” All Scripture is given by “inspiration of God“, again, there is that working of the Holy Spirit, and it is “profitable for doctrine“. In other words, we are expected to learn these things. There is no gray area in this language. There is nothing here that says it is reserved for the highly educated or advanced theologians. With the Holy Spirit giving us understanding we are to dig into the Word with the goal of being “thoroughly equipped“.
How about we start today to learn something new from Scripture. Something deeper than a post-it note passage that we share on social media. How about we learn something new today that will cause us to grow deeper in our knowledge and to work towards being thoroughly equipped to do the incredible work that He has called us to!
Just think…you may have just started by learning the doctrine of perspicuity!
Blessings in Christ