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Perspicuity Of Scripture: Bright Focus On The Truth

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Perspicuity Of Scripture: Bright Focus On The Truth
“Perspicuity” means “clarity.” Everyone can understand God: The entrance of Thy words gives light; it gives understanding unto the simple.

Perspicuity Of Scripture: Bright Focus on The Truth

The Truth of scripture was clear to me before I knew what “perspicuity” meant. (It means “clarity.”)

Perspicuity in the Old Testament

Take the first verse of the Bible:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1

Compare this with the clarity of this description from Wikipedia:

The age of Earth is estimated to be 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years (4.54 × 109 years ± 1%). This age may represent the age of Earth’s accretion, or core formation, or of the material from which Earth formed. This dating is based on evidence from radiometric age-dating of meteorite material and is consistent with the radiometric ages of the oldest-known terrestrial and lunar samples.

I understood Genesis 1:1 when I was two years old, but I do not think I will ever understand the “radiometric age-dating” estimate. The perspicuity issue may be a big part of why there are more Christians than believers in radiometric dating!

The Perspicuity of God’s Truth is evident in His every Word.

The commands He gave from Mt. Sinai in 1500 BC are captured in the Bible and are easy to read, (the NIV is written at 3rd grade level).

God wants us to know them and Him! Moses* wrote 1500 years ago:

(* means this person is in my book SPIRITUAL LIVES.)

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. – Deuteronomy 6:6-7

A guiding principle is expressed in Psalm 119:130:

The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

Perspicuity in the New Testament

The Gospel of Luke shows us Jesus at 12 years old confounding the doctors in the temple with questions about “My Father’s business,” and during His ministry, He urged:

Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. – Luke 18:16-17

The perspicuity of Jesus’ teaching drew the common people to Him. They understood what the scripture meant when it said:,

‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’

But the scribes and Pharisees did not:

But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’

So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. – Matthew 15:4-6

So warped was the religious leaders’ understanding of the scriptures that they accused Jesus of breaking the Law by healing the sick on the Sabbath!

We see this over and again throughout history, religious leaders missing, distorting, and denying the perspicuity of the scriptures.

But godly parents followed Moses’ instructions and taught God’s Word to their children. Later in the New Testament, St. Paul* says of Timothy:

But continue in the things that you have learned and have been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from a babe you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. – 2 Timothy 14-15

And so it turned out.

Perspicuity of the Gospel to 350 AD

Paul and Timothy preached, taught, and lived the Gospel so that the Truth of God spread and converted the world from paganism to Christianity. As the Truth of God spoke clearly to their hearts, and the Holy Spirit moved them to repentance, people came to the Lord.

Most of these were women and slaves with little or no education.

Yet the perspicuity of the Word of God helped them see the truth and changed their hearts.

Its impact was tremendous, and the Church grew from 1,000 in 40 AD to six million in 300 and 33 million in 350. This was a supernatural response to the perspicuity of the Gospel in scripture and especially in the transformed lives of Believers.

Perspicuity of scripture is inherent in the Word of God, but we must act on it and believe to inherit eternal life.

Perspicuity is obscured

After Constantine made Christianity the state religion of Rome, control, and organization among Believers moved from bottom-up to top-down. While the perspicuity of scripture is “God-breathed” and enduring, it is hampered when religious leaders are not born again.

As the church hierarchy grew and became more secular and filled with professional clergy, the Gospel itself was obscured.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Church took its place in administering society’s institutions and led the work of converting the “barbarians” of Europe.

Although godly missionaries like St. Patrick*, Columba*, and Amandus* won pagans to Christ by teaching the Gospel, most people simply joined the Church because their king had converted.

Monasteries were established to educate the illiterate pagan people. The Church exercised authority over the teaching of the scriptures and their interpretation.

But the scriptures were in Latin and not a part of people’s lives.

The monks were good at copying the text and producing beautiful, illuminated manuscripts, but the perspicuity of scripture was buried under layers of ecclesiastical control.

For hundreds of years, the Church taught the Bible through art, architecture, drama and pastoral care to an illiterate population. As people became more literate, entirely through the work of the Church, they wanted to read the scriptures for themselves.

Early reformers Peter Waldo*, John Huss*, and William Tyndale championed the Gospel in the vernacular of their people.

The Protestant Reformation made the perspicuity of scripture a foundational doctrine.

Martin Luther* set an example by translating the Bible into German, and Tyndale in England followed his lead.

Thomas Cranmer* counted on the perspicuity of scripture to build the Church of England.

The Westminster Confession of Faith explains what Protestants believe about the perspicuity of Scripture:

“All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all.

Yet, those things that are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or another, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them” (1.7).

The statement above was written by educated university people who knew what perspicuity was and cared deeply about it. But most people were unschooled, and few could read.

When the Wesley* brothers and George Whitefield began evangelizing among the common people, perspicuity of the Gospel was essential.

And it worked! Millions were born again responding powerfully and emotionally to the life-changing words of the scriptures.

On this doctrine of perspicuity missionaries built their case for translating the Bible into foreign languages. The conversion of millions in Africa and Asia attest to its marvelous working.

The same can be said regarding the work of evangelists like Charles Finney* and Billy Sunday* and hymnist Fanny Crosby*.

Perspicuity in the 20th Century

The Pentecostal revival sprang out of the perspicacious message of Hebrews, Jesus Christ, the same, yesterday, today, forever. The Holy Ghost drove this tremendous renewal movement using lay preachers and evangelists drawn from the common people who connected immediately with the perspicuity of this scripture:

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. – Acts 2:4

A dramatic demonstration of this can be seen in the life and ministry of Sister Aimee MacPherson,* who started out simply driving through America in a “Gospel car” that said, “Jesus is Coming Soon – Get Ready!”

What a clear presentation of James_5:8:

Establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Perspicuity has also sparked the charismatic renewal and the phenomenal growth of Christianity worldwide. John Wimber read Jesus’ command to go into all the world and preach the Gospel and was puzzled by these verses:

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. Mark 16:17-18

Wimber referred to this as “Doin the stuff,” and taught that we should expect these signs among Christians. The perspicuity of the scriptures is reflected in these signs, and hundreds of millions have been born again because of this. Praise God!

Perspicuity in the 21st Century

At no time in history has the truth of the Bible been communicated so widely and in so many creative and powerful ways. I think of the worship songs of Chris Tomlin*, and the eye-black John 3:16 of Tim Tebow*. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.

And much work needs to be done. Perspicuity is making God’s truth clear, but the devil is working hard to make people ignore it:

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

But God has raised up a new generation of Spirit-filled pastors who are seeing God’s truth as a call to His people to give our lives completely to Him, share the Gospel, and build His kingdom.

The title of David Platt’*s 2010 book, Radical: Taking your life back from the American Dream takes the perspicuity of scripture as a call to making Jesus #1 in our lives.

Francis Chan’s Crazy Love emphasizes the centrality of the Gospel and demands seeking first, the kingdom of God. He shows us perspicuity in action in his response to Jesus’ challenging calls:

If any man come to Me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26-27

From this Chan asks this question: “Has your relationship with God changed the way you live your life?”

Change me today, Lord Jesus!



Leaving all to follow Jesus,

Turning from the world away,

Stepping out upon His promise,

All I have is His today.

Naught reserving, on the altar

All I lay, and wait the hour

When the fire from Heaven descending

Shall attest His glorious pow’r.


Taking up the cross of Jesus,

Glad for Him to suffer shame,

All my gain I count but losses

For the glory of His Name.


Praise His precious Name forever

That His blood hath made me free!

Now my soul shall joy to tell it,

Thro’ the long eternity.


Words: Ida M. Budd, 1898.

If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor. John 12:26

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