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October 6, 2020 7:00 pm
Dr. Kerry McGonigal of the BJU Bible faculty continues a doctrinal series entitled “God’s Word in Our Hands” and the scripture is 2 Peter 3:15-17.
Welcome to The Daily Platform sponsored by Bob Jones University today Dr. Carrie McGonigal of the BJ you Bible faculty continues our doctrinal series entitled God's word in our hands are. I can see you all this morning I've been asked to talk about the perspicuity of Scripture in our series on God's word in her hands and I know after hearing that is one of appeal to you to control your level of excitement. What is what is perspicuity anyways. I didn't know any better, I might guess that it had something to do with acute perspiration in a like that feeling. You guys have when you think about asking out that girl in his break into a cold sweat like that feeling here that you get when you're asked to preach a 25 minute message.
A grand slam homerun message on perspicuity to group college students who are sermon connoisseurs in the middle of the semester and in the middle of the week.
Cold sweat. Some guy facing this chapel like Cusco and pots in the emperors, the Emperor's new groove when another floating down the river. Tied to that branch and Pontius says oh, Cusco says don't tell me more about the rated unit winning over huge waterfall you sharp rocks at the bottom, most likely bringing on bring it on. Okay, maybe not. According to Webster's dictionary persecutes perspicuity means the quality of being perspicuity's that you love dictionaries there there so helpful. So what does perspicuity us mean speaking, this means playing to the understanding, especially because of clarity and precision of presentation. So we talk about the perspicuity of Scripture we are talking about Scriptures clarity and I think we need to start with this question. Who cares, right.
Why should you care about this topic will. Here's why. Because of the Bible isn't clear in its teachings and if were not clear about what the Bible teaches, then we may be in really, really big trouble. For example, most of us in this building are building our eternal destiny is on the fact of what the Bible teaches regarding salvation. We believe that a person is justified by grace alone through faith in Christ alone.
But the question is just how clear is the biblical teaching regarding the way of salvation.
What if were not understanding it correctly. I mean if were honest, I think you have to admit that there are some hard things in the Bible. There are some difficult things understand effect. Peter acknowledges this. Look at the way Peter talks about the apostle Paul in second Peter chapter 3 verses 15 through 17. He says count the patience of our Lord and salvation just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you, according to the wisdom given him as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. I says there are some things in Paul's letters that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and the unstable twist to their own destruction as they do the other Scriptures you, therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand.
Take care that you were not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.
I listen if Peter one of the big three among the apostles Peter the one to whom the keys of the kingdom were given. If Peter is willing to admit that there are parts of Scripture that are hard to understand then where does that leave the rest of us.
Average folks hard to understand.
Doesn't sound like clarity to me. Is it possible for you and for me to understand what is hard to understand and look at the end of verse 16. I mean, there are massive ramifications their eternal implications to this misunderstanding.
Peter says those who are ignorant and unstable twist. What Paul has written to their own destruction and he warns his readers against being carried away with the error of lawless people and losing their own stability. So looking at a passage like this, I may not come away with much confidence that clarity and certainty are even possible. I mean if you ever thought why are there so many denominations. Why are there so many different Christian groups with different Christian beliefs.
Why are there so many subgroups. Why are there so many calls and even if you take a single local church among the believers in that church. There are differences of opinions and sometimes those differences are so strong that it creates divisions within an assembly is clarity a reality and is clarity a possibility the answers yes it is. It's both a reality and thankfully it is a possibility that's in part because clarity is a two-way street. Now remember the definition that I gave you from Webster's dictionary about perspicuity's plane to the understanding, especially because of clarity and precision of presentation.
So the definition speaks of of clarity of understanding on this hand from the receivers standpoint and clarity of presentation on this hand. The sender's standpoint and because of the speakers clarity because the authors clarity. There is a greater chance of clarity on the part of the receiver so you know communication is a tricky business, and there's the scone plaques interplay between the sender and the receiver. Not everything a sender sends is clearly understood by the receiver and part of that may be due in part to a lack of clarity on the part of the speaker, the sender, the author, but even if a sender demonstrates a high degree of clarity and communication.
If you examine his speech. In light of all the principles of communication, and in their of the highest value.
Not every receiver is going understand with the same degree of clarity so whose fault is it if you're in a class right now and you don't understand what your teachers talking while some might say if the students aren't learning the teachers aren't teaching others might argue that if students aren't learning, the students aren't learning, and there are number barriers that we have to overcome is a lot of interference that we have to overcome. For there to be clarity in this communication process. Sometimes there's a physical barrier.
Maybe you've heard of the older couple that was sitting on the front porch and they were in the rocking chairs and husband start to feel romantic cool as the sun set for them and so he turns to his elderly wife and says Mabel I'm proud of you. The response so he increase the volume of Mabel. I'm proud of you. Still nothing.
So this time he leaned forward and said with all he could muster, Mabel.
I'm proud of you Mabel turns one tire you to sometimes there's a physical barrier to communication that that didn't go too well that it sometimes there's a language barrier may be seen this scene, the Berlitz commercial for improving your English language skills, and so begins with this seasoned veteran German Coast Guard officer who showing this young Coast Guard recruit around the. The area with some of the radar and some of the other monitoring equipment and after the experienced officer leaves the young recruit. Here's his first distress call coming over the radio in English, Mayday, Mayday you here were sinking were sinking Mayday can you hear us hello, says the German recruits in his thick German accent. This is the German Coast Guard again. You hear the distress call were sinking were sinking so the young recruit leans forward closer to his microphone and he says, but are you thinking about. Sometimes there's there's a contextual there's a contextual barrier is not a physical problem and is not another language barrier per se, but it's you don't understand the context of something like the time when I was pursuing my daughter's lost money. Actually, it had escaped from her backyard and so I was hunting this thing down around our neighborhood. Something I was hunting this money around our neighborhood and trying to capture it and every time I get close, the money would run away and so here I am going into my neighbors backyard crouched perched ready to jump on this money. Sometimes, I did jump I missed Bonnie would take off.
But one point I'm standing on the back porch of this lady's house like this because the bunny got into her garden and all of a sudden it hit me that if she happens to look out her sliding glass door and sees this, I me be misunderstood to Bob Jones profession professor caught on surveillance camera prowling around Simpsonville neighborhood. Sometimes there's a there's there's subtlety to language and so sometimes conveying a message clearly is lost because of the subtlety of human language. There was one chapel that I began this way. It's quite a blustery day out there makes me think of who course in my mind. I had just made a subtle literary allusion to the works of AA milk and Winnie the Pooh, but those who missed my allusion heard something altogether different and it wasn't until afterwards. I found out your people were buckled over laughing in the other guys in the sound booth were hooting and hollering and I had no clue that I had just miscommunicated to the masses and you know sometimes there's there's a gender barrier. I'm sure you haven't had this experience of feeling like you're talking over each other. He has no clue who what I'm trying to say and he's trying to figure you out your trying to figure her out towards the this is just a sampling of the kinds of things that can go wrong in the communication process and it makes clarity and presentation and clarity in understanding a really a minor miracle when it takes place so the Bible is different though right. I me God is the sender. In the case of the Bible and you would assume that he doesn't have any problem communicating clearly.
If that's the case, then the problem is not on his and the problem is on our end but thankfully it's not a problem that cannot be overcome. Clarity is possible with reference to the Bible. Not only is the Bible itself clear in its communication, but it's possible for us as readers to be clear about its message and about its meaning. You and I can come to understand the Bible with a high degree of certainty. But for that to happen. There's something that we have to do.
And there's something that we have to pray for or asked for were not can experience clarity apart from hard work and intense prayer. So here's how I like to put it today. Clarity is both a task and a gift. It can be yours when it comes to the Bible through careful interpretation and spiritual illumination. Clarity is reality. Clarity is a possibility you can enjoy clarity and understanding God's word but it's gonna take careful interpretation and spiritual illumination so the time that we have left today I'd like to explore number one. The task, the need for careful interpretation and then the gift the need for spiritual illumination. So let's start here with the need for careful interpretation would you look at acts chapter 8 in your Bibles.
Acts chapter 8. Here we see an account of Philip he's on his way from Jerusalem to Gaza and encounters this unit of great authority he serves under the queen of Ethiopia and he seated in his carriage. He's reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.
So here's a man who doesn't seem to be lacking in mental capacity, mental capability, and yet he doesn't understand a portion of the Bible that is reading so Philip runs over any here's this man reading and he asks him. In verse 30.
Do you understand what you're reading and notice what the eunuch says in response. How can I understand unless someone guides or instructs me so the managers built to come up in the carriage and sit with him and they look at the passage that he's reading, and then the eunuch asked Philip a question was the prophet talking about himself or someone else.
You see he doesn't understand it's not clear to him. The passage itself is clear, but not to his understanding, so he needs Philip to explain the Bible to him.
So Philip verse 35 begins with this portion in Isaiah and he preaches Jesus to him notes. Philip gives us the eunuch what he needs for clarity. The unit needed a fuller sense of the context he needed understand how scripture points us to Jesus Christ.
So Philip preaches Christ and now with this Christological context. In view the unit gets it, it's crystal clear to him now to the point probably where he can't believe he couldn't see it before now. It's so clear. So it's like someone coming to James chapter 2 verse 24 which says cc then how that by works.
A man is justified and not by faith only by works. A man is justified and not by faith only now that's one of those verses that if there's not clarity. There could be devastation spiritual. In other words, if you have a broader sense of the context of James and if you don't understand the relationship between James and Paul, you don't understand the context of the New Testament you may struggle to make sense out of that verse and without clarity. The reader could twist what James is saying to his or her own destruction. So yes, Scripture is clear in its teaching, but that doesn't mean that every reader will understand its teachings clearly and correctly there is the need for interpretation, which often involves human explanation on the part of pastors and teachers and other believers. So why is there, the need for careful interpretation because when it comes to the Bible you got these hurdles that you have to leap over in like a spent a lot of time here, but there are a number of hurdles that we have to jump over to enjoy clarity number one. The nature of Scripture itself never to the character of us as interpreters as readers says here's and then thirdly, the process of interpretation something about these hurdles. The clarity with reference to the Scripture itself. You got the author hurdles.
Get the language from the cultural hurled historical Hurley get the content. All of these things you we go back to the Bible were going back thousands of years to different history different culture different times, different language and Cross over all of these things. The good Paul Ginter Peter says again here in second Peter 315 to 17. It's the ignorance and the unstable who twist the Scripture to their own destruction. In some cases it's not the nature of Scripture.
But it's the nature of the character of the person coming to Scripture. There's something wrong with us. It's like were trying to leap over these hurdles with a torn ACL click several years back I start having hearing problems not be a social setting and I couldn't hear what people were saying was all muffled, secular doctor and I find out there's a tumor growing in my head and that tumor was right above my ear canal and it was growing and it was closing off that channel.
I couldn't hear because there was this physical debilitation when we come to Scripture, we gotta recognize that there are certain spiritual debilitation's certain spiritual deficiencies that make it difficult to understand what God says and then we got this hurdle the process of understanding what the word says requires diligent labor requires hard work, Paul tells Timothy second Timothy 215. To be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. Be diligent, be a worker in the text so that you can accurately divide the text so clarity is both a task and a gift. It can be yours. Through careful interpretation and spiritual illumination. Let's take up that second idea of the need for spiritual illumination when things really cool about the software program that I use Lagos Bible software is that some of the books and the commentaries that I use have this ask the author feature so I can be looking at a commentary Romans by Douglass Moo and it and I got this little option over here to ask the author question when reading the Bible does it ever occur to you. Ask the author does it ever occur to us how deeply we need God himself to open up her eyes to understand what the Scriptures does this passage in Matthew chapter 16 Jesus is talking to Peter and Jesus says to him whom say ye that I am and Simon Peter answered and said thou are the Christ, the son of the living God right answer. Jesus said to him, blessed art thou, Simon bar Jonah for flesh and blood hath not revealed this to the but my father which is in heaven. You came to the right theological conclusion, but it was a gift from God himself. This text in Matthew 16 along with others makes it clear that God is over this whole process is sovereign over this process of revelation and illumination. Here's what my teachers, Dr. Lynn Tolbert wrote about this God himself holds the gift of comprehending even what he plainly reveals God holds the gift of understanding, even for that which he plainly clearly reveals he is free to hide from us for his own reasons.
Even the most obvious of biblical truths without his illumination. We are prone to error to insensitivity to dullness. We need consciously to seek his help, never to become confident in our own ability to discern and decipher eternal spiritual God-given truth. How often did you and I pray before we read Scripture and prayed during our reading of Scripture and pray after we read Scripture that God the Holy Spirit. The author of this word would open up her eyes to behold wondrous things out of his this is absolutely critical. We can't just depend upon our skill as interpreters. The fact that we've grown up in Christian homes and have a Bible college education. All of this has to be conditioned under the authority of the spirit of God to give us insight and illumination into the Scriptures. What Paul says in Ephesians 1 areas portraying the magnificence of our calling and he says wherefore I also after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and love in all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ may give unto you. It's a gift, the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know the words. If you can understand his calling that I been talking about. We gotta stop we had a pray. We are to pray for illumination. We do pray that God would open up her eyes to understand this is the same thing in chapter 3 verses 14 through 18. For this cause I bow my knees and the father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named that he would grant you to gift to be strengthened with his might, by Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able notice this too comprehends may be able to comprehend among all the saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height. We need Jesus to open our eyes and we need him to help us see him and understand him and grasp the greatness of his love for us, so clarity is both a task and a gift.
It can be yours.
Through careful interpretation and spiritual illumination really depict these against one another.
Holy Spirit normally characteristically uses human means to accomplish his purposes. We need God the Holy Spirit to open her eyes and that typically comes when we give ourselves as diligent workers to the text. When we examine the Bible in light of its context. When we apply the principles of interpretation and hermeneutics to passages of Scripture God the Holy Spirit gives us understanding so is this dependent reading of the text. Clarity is both a task and a gift. It can be yours.
Through careful interpretation and spiritual illumination.
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