C. The Bible is Clear (pt. 4)
If God were to meet our need by giving us an authoritative message, surely, God would make it clear, right? Yes, exactly! He has not given us a message that it too obscure to understand. When you open the pages of Scripture and read it, its message is clear.
For example, the Bible clearly teaches that we are all sinners – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). It is clear that God is Triune – make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:29, cf. 2 Cor. 13:14; Rev. 1:4-5). It is clear that Jesus was both true God (Jn. 1:1-3) and true Man (Heb. 2:14-18). It is abundantly clear that, by trusting in Jesus, we are forgiven and heirs to eternal life (Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 1:9), which is apart from our own works (Rom. 4:1-8), making us simultaneously justified and sinful (Rom. 3:25-26; 4:5). And many other such things are clearly taught in Scripture.
Don’t misunderstand me, though. When we speak of the Bible’s “clarity,” we are referring to its central message, its main ideas. There are still mysteries in the Bible, and there are plenty of difficult texts and confusing topics to wrestle with. Nor are we claiming that the aforementioned doctrines are quickly discovered; understanding these doctrines may require diligent study. God has appointed ministers to preach and teach the fullness of His word, but we may also confidently say that we can also discover the basic message of the Bible for ourselves by simply reading the text, just like the Jews in the synagogue of Berea, who inspected the Scriptures to confirm that Paul’s message was, in fact, God’s message (Acts 17:11).
Again, the claim that the Bible is clear gets to the heart of the Reformation split between Protestants and Roman Catholics. The latter claims that the Bible is inherently and pervasively unclear, so we need the teaching of the Pope to understand even the basics. In other words, the hierarchy believes that God’s word in the Bible is unclear but that God speaks clearly through the Pope. Practically-speaking, this is why Roman Catholicism has little time for Bible study and biblical preaching. Why devote yourselves to an “unclear” word when you can talk about (supposedly clear) church tradition and papal decrees?
But if the Bible were unclear, why did Jesus rebuke the Jewish crowds for failing to keep God’s word, and why was He constantly upset with the Disciples for being so slow to understand, when they lacked formal training in the Scriptures? And how could the Psalmist of Psalm 119:105 exclaim, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path? A well-lit lamp provides clarity to one’s journey. This is Scripture, shining forth the Law and the Gospel to illumine our path of Christian pilgrimage.