Clarity of Scriptures

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 24, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

There tends to be an impression that there are… *changes to deep voice* “HIDDEN MEANINGS” in Scripture. Are there things God has hidden from us? Or are the Scriptures clear that anyone could read them and get the same basic understanding? What about those scholars that indicate there are “deeper meanings”? What about these other books and different models and interpretations? How do we address all these?

Allow me to say this: There are certainly deeper meanings to Scripture. The Bible is the only book you can read over and over and over and over again and still get new stuff out of it. Men have dedicated their lives to studying this book. If you took every person who has ever lived or ever will live and give them absolutely nothing to do but to study the Bible, all that knowledge combined will still not even come close to exhausting the contents of this book. Here is my answer to this question.

There are deeper meanings, however a deeper meaning must not and cannot contradict a lower level meaning. For example, we can calculate the area of a triangle to be 28 square feet with the basic formula A = ½bh. But we can also calculate the area of a triangle by calculating the area under a curve with calculus and integration. Calculus does not contradict our basic area formulas, but they rather enhance them. I have heard some suggest that Young Earth Creation is a basic level understanding of Genesis and Old Earth Creation is a deeper understanding; the problem is that the two contradict each other. Last year I did a study (starting here) on the arguments of Matthew Vines in addressing homosexuality. The conclusions he arrives at are claimed to be a “deeper understanding,” yet it completely goes against the plain language. If what you believe contradicts what is plainly written, it is not a deeper meaning.

There are many who believe that God did not reveal everything in the Bible and has waited until more recent days to give a “new revelation,” and this “new revelation” is above and higher than what the Bible says. The Book of Mormon is one such example. Yet often these “new revelations” conflict with the Bible and fail each of the tests used to validate canonicity. 2 Peter 1:20-21 is clear that no prophecy or Scripture is of private interpretation, but written with the author’s personality and through divine inspiration. It was publicly known at the time of the writing to be God-inspired.

But where did this idea that the Bible has hidden meanings come from? Where did the idea that we need to depend upon expert scholars to find out what the Bible says? I am not knocking Biblical scholarship by any means here. It is noted most in the bulk of Roman Catholic Church history, but it is also prevalent in Protestant churches and it was often seen in Bible times, so no one gets a pass in this regard. Some would either prevent the Scriptures from being accessed by the public, or personal study of Scripture would not be encouraged, or they would teach the people that only the priests could read and understand Scripture. The “advantage” to any church with this mentality is that it makes the people dependent not upon God but upon the person/group/church to hear from God. This is an easy environment for cults to fester, especially when the people are being taught to not question the leadership. It is an idea to prevent the leadership from being challenged in their position.

That is on the leadership side, but the laymen have a problem in this regard too because many are simply too lazy to go look up the Scriptures themselves. They would rather hear from someone else, or read a book (even good ones) but never spend time in the Bible or with God. Now, there is nothing wrong with listening to pastors, reading good books, and studying the giants that have gone before us; however none of them can or ever will replace your own private time studying the Bible yourself and praying. See my post on “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” for more on this particular topic. Many don’t realize this but the Bible actually tells us to check it out and to validate what it says. The Bible NEVER even hints that we are to take it by blind faith. Luke praised the Bereans for not taking Paul and Silas at their word but going back to Scripture to validate them.

Not everything in the Bible is crystal clear where we can be spoon fed the truth. There are things God puts in the Bible to make us wrestle with it. That is part of why Jesus spoke in parables, so we would not just hear but that we would meditate and think and process the truths being said. But the truth was all there in plain sight. One of Jesus’ most popular phrases was, “He who has ears, let him hear.” We do see things through a glass darkly. We do not have the full picture, but anyone who seeks the truth and will not rest until they find it, will find it. And very often, when we get it, we will see that it was so plain and obvious from the get go.

With this being said, the spiritual things of God are spiritually discerned. They will not make sense to those who only think in the ways of this world. Now does that contradict what I have been saying about the plain meaning of Scripture? Actually no. Mark Twain is attributed to saying, “Most people are disturbed by the parts of the Bible they don’t understand. I am most disturbed by the parts I do understand.” Most of Scripture is simple and straightforward. The “difficult” parts are usually the parts that have to do with Christian living, which will not make sense until you are born again. The reason why many say the Bible is so difficult to understand is not because it is difficult to understand, but because it is difficult to believe and obey. So to cover their unbelief, people will say that Scripture is difficult to understand, so they can excuse themselves from following through with what it says. God’s commands are not complicated; they do not require scholarship to grasp. We love to make things complicated. The Gospel is so simple a child can understand it. Do not let your brain get in the way of truth and the Savior.

I’ll wrap this up with one last comment. If you really want to understand Scripture, the key is to study and learn about Jesus. Every word of Scripture points to him. The Bible is the Word of God in text. Jesus is the Word of God in flesh. Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 made absolutely no sense to the Jews. What was said was clear and plain, but what it meant and what it pointed to was lost. Once you know about Jesus it all makes perfect sense. Study the Scripture, but study with Jesus as your central focus. EVERY passage has some road, some connection to Christ. In every passage you study, search for that road. You can find one without doing violence to the intended passage. The Bible was written to be read by his people, understood by his people, and lived out by his people. What he said to Israel then is the same message says to us and it is the same message to the jungle warriors of the Amazon. That message is Jesus. The whole Bible from Genesis through Revelation reveals him. Study the Bible, but don’t miss Jesus.

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