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Why Can Scripture Be Understood? #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
June 20, 2022 8:00 am

Why Can Scripture Be Understood? #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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June 20, 2022 8:00 am

Today Pastor Don Green continues teaching God's People God's Word- he'll begin a new series called -Effective Bible Study.- This time, a look at the inherent clarity of scripture and how every believer can open God's word with the expectation of having their life changed because of that clarity.--thetruthpulpit.comClick the icon below to listen.

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How can you know, as a Christian, that you have the capacity to understand the Bible? How can you know that the Bible was intended to be understood?

That's what we want to look at. Welcome to The Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hi, I'm Bill Wright, and today as Don continues teaching God's people God's Word, he'll begin a new series called Effective Bible Study. This time a look at the inherent clarity of Scripture and how every believer can open God's Word with the expectation of having their life changed because of that clarity. And Don, so many people see the Bible as being somehow shrouded in mystery, but you counter that it's not difficult at all to understand.

Why is that? Well, Bill, the basic teaching of Scripture is indeed clear and lucid. Now, admittedly, there are parts of Scripture that are difficult to understand. It's not all equally accessible to the born-again believer.

Think about it this way. God commands us to teach his Word to our children. That assumes that even a young person can grasp something of the meaning of the Word of God. It's not a book that is reserved for priests or scholars.

It's a book for common folks like you and me. It's going to be an encouraging series, and I encourage you to stay with us today on The Truth Pulpit. Thanks, Don. And friend, if you're ready, let's get started. Here's our teacher with part one of a message called Why Can Scripture Be Understood? Well, we're here to begin a study that we titled Understanding Scripture, Using God's Gifts to Understand God's Word. And the book of Acts describes an evangelistic encounter that Philip had with an Ethiopian eunuch who was reading the book of Isaiah.

And their brief dialogue gives us a framework to think about and to condition our minds for what we want to study here. Philip asked this eunuch, who was a court official for the Ethiopian queen, he was a high-ranking man, and he walked up to him and he said, Do you understand what you are reading? And you know what the eunuch replied. His words expressed a sense of hunger.

Well, how could I unless someone guides me? And so Philip realized that not everybody who opens a scroll, opens a book of the Bible, will necessarily understand it. And the Ethiopian eunuch acknowledged a sense of need, that I need some help here. Help me out to understand what this says that I am reading. And the Scripture goes on and says that that's exactly what Philip did.

And the Ethiopian eunuch came to Christ and was soon thereafter baptized. Well, that conversation frames what we want to consider. I want to kind of dispel any kind of sense that you may have that the Bible is too difficult of a book to understand.

That it's too old and there's conflicting opinions and how am I going to know what it really means. After we're done, we're going to see that that's not true. That that's utterly false. And in fact that that objection is sometimes offered by people simply as an excuse not to study Scripture at all. I don't believe that to be true of any of you, but our opponents, those who reject Christianity, would mock the Bible or make it something that is so far removed from everyday life that it cannot possibly be understood.

And therefore, why even give the effort to try to do so? Well, we reject all of that. What we believe and what we're going to see very plainly from Scripture is that God has given us a book that can be understood. Not only can it be understood, the whole reason that God gave it was so that it would be understood. What does it say about the love of God and his purposes for redeeming men and women like you and me if we say that he gave us a book that was incomprehensible, that only scholars and experts could understand? That would be a severe blow against the love of God. It would be to accuse him of catering to an elite and leaving the rest of us out of the blessing.

Well, listen, beloved, we've been around and we've been together long enough that you know that's not true. You know that God is a God of grace and mercy. And as we saw when we were studying the crucifixion, that God gives this book not to those who are proud and boastful, but he gives it to the humble. He gives it to common people to understand. The New Testament was written in what's called the Koine Greek.

Koine being the Greek word for common. It was written in the language of the common man on the street of the first century. And all of these things pointing us into the direction, here's the thing, of an expectation that we can come to the Bible and be able to understand its basic teachings. We make certain presuppositions. We make certain assumptions in what we do here at Truth Community Church that you may not even think about. But the very fact that a pastor stands up and opens a Bible and teaches it to people, whoever comes in through the door, is based on the assumption that the Bible can be understood and that the people that are in the audience can understand it when it's explained. The principle of the ability to understand the Scripture and that Scripture can be understood is central. It is the fundamental premise of everything we do at Truth Community Church.

Because to understand Scripture is to understand the mind of God. To understand the mind of the One who existed before time began, there was never a time where He did not exist. The One who, by His power, spoke the worlds and the universe into existence. The One who conceived of a plan of salvation and included you in it. The One who has the power to work all things together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

The One who causes all things to work according to the counsel of His will. That great God is the One who gave us the Bible, and what He has given us is a book that we can understand. What a privilege! What an opportunity! What a blessing for God to give us a book that reveals His mind in language that we can understand.

It's incredible. And yet, apart from Scripture, think about where we would be without Scripture, we would be doomed. We would be so lost in darkness, so doomed for eternal destruction. And yet, if we understand Scripture, we know the way of eternal life, and we know, and we can know, whether we belong to Christ or not. You can know these things. God intends for you to know. 1 John 5, 13 says, these things I've written to you so that you may know that you have eternal life. Well, the whole premise of everything is that you can understand. The fundamental presupposition is that God has communicated with us in writing in a way that can be understood. Now, that kind of sets the framework for this question, kind of looking at it from the opposite perspective, I guess. How can you understand Scripture if you're not a scholar or a pastor or at least a person with a lot of time on your hands?

I think about that a lot. I know that most of you work busy schedules, and you don't have a lot of free time for a lot of extra reading. I understand that, and I've designed the things that we have to say here with those things in mind. And what we want to do here, there's two things.

We want to be really practical on the back end and give you some really basic things that you can do and resources that you can take advantage of and kind of launch into it. If you're someone who doesn't make a pattern of reading Scripture regularly, we're going to be able to change that. But we really need to lay a biblical basis so that you can understand that to understand Scripture is not only possible, it is the expectation for believers. It is the promise of God to you as a Christian, that you can understand His Word. Well, I want you to see why that is the case. What we're laying here lays forth the entire possibility, helps us know why it is that Scripture can be understood. And we need to start at that point.

And let me just say this. Our goal here is not to fire you up with a bunch of rah-rah stuff, only so you can fizzle out in a week or two and we forget that we ever had this conversation, that we ever discussed these things. I guess I've just been around long enough where the rah-rah stuff and setting impossible goals for people to meet just because we're revved up around a topic, that's not even appealing to me. What I want to do here is to give you something that can last you a lifetime, that the principles that we're going to look at here lay a foundation that you can use for the rest of your life and that you can come back to again and again and have them fuel your desire and fuel your motivation that to seek God in this book is a worthwhile endeavor. And not only is it worthwhile, it is something that He will bless and answer and respond to as you do. And for you young men that are in the audience, boy, what an opportunity for you to be on the front end of life and to contemplate giving your life over to the Word of God and to just devote yourself to serving God's people by serving this Word.

Wouldn't that be a great way to spend your life? Well, what we have ahead are four very different studies. That's all by way of introduction. What I want to do is put some pieces in place, very distinct, different pieces in place so that the whole picture comes together in your mind. And so these messages are going to be stand-alone and distinct, but they're very much related to each other. Why can Scripture be understood?

That's the title of message. We're going to answer four questions, and the question that we want to answer is, why can Scripture be understood? Stated differently, how can you know, as a Christian, that you have the capacity to understand the Bible? Better stated, how can you know that the Bible was intended to be understood?

That's what we want to look at. And what we're going to see, the answer to that question, why can Scripture be understood? It's simple.

It is a simple, fundamental answer. Why can Scripture be understood? Scripture can be understood because God has given us a clear book in the Bible. He intends for it to be understood. It's not that every sinful rebel who has no desire for God in his heart can open up the Bible and understand it.

That's not the case. What kind of person is it that this book is opened up to? And also, to give you some interpretive principles to help you understand the Bible for yourself. That'll be our third message. And then our last session. Our last session will give you practical tools to establish you for a lifetime of understanding God's Word.

So that's the layout. How can we know? Why can the Bible be understood? What person or who can understand the Bible? How shall we interpret the Bible? And then the final question that we'll answer is how can we begin to understand God's Word?

Where do we go from here in other words? The Bible can be understood. God's Word can be known because God designed it that way. Now, let me give you a technical term, one of my favorite words in all of theology. One of the basic truths about the Bible is what is sometimes called by theologians, it's perspicuity. Perspicuity. Isn't that a lovely word to say?

It just kind of, it's like it keeps on going and then there's that smooth sound at the end. Cuity. Perspicuity. What that means is that the Bible is clear. Perspicuity is another word for the clarity of Scripture. The clarity of Scripture is what we're talking about here tonight. Why can the Bible be understood?

It's because of its clarity. And what this means is, what the doctrine of perspicuity teaches is this. The Bible's main teachings are sufficiently clear to be understood without special expertise or church-sanctioned interpretations. We absolutely reject the mindset of the Catholic Church that interpretation is reserved to a college of bishops and whatever they decide in their cloistered bathrobes as they wear them out. We reject that. We mock that. We say that that's not true.

Because that mindset takes the Bible and closes it from people like you and me and puts it on a shelf where it's no longer accessible to us. We reject that. We would spill our blood over that principle that the Scripture is clear and can be understood by regular common people without any special expertise.

Absolutely. Why do we say that? Well, the Bible claims that clarity for itself. Look at Psalm 19, verse 7.

Psalm 19, verse 7. We're looking at the perspicuity of Scripture, the clarity of Scripture. Its main teachings are sufficiently clear so that they can be understood without special expertise. People just like you and me can understand the Bible if we belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. And why do we believe that? Because the Bible claims that for itself. Look at Psalm 19, verse 7, where it says, The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. Isn't that like the greatest verse that anyone could ever know? You know, say you're just a common laborer or you're a housewife with barely a high school education.

And there's nothing wrong with that. I'm just trying to pick something that's very common for those with no expertise, no training, no special education whatsoever. And to realize that the most precious thing in the universe is within your grasp. How gracious of God to give a book like that. He says, David says, as he writes Psalm 19, The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. Who is the simple man that he alludes to? The simple man, someone prone to making mistakes. Someone that is perhaps easily deceived. Someone who can be led away by himself because he's just a sheep. And what does scripture say? It says even a man like that, even a woman like that, in the simplest way and easily confused.

Maybe that's a better way to say it. Even someone that is otherwise easily confused can come to the scriptures and the Bible will make them wise, will give them insight, will give them understanding. You know why? Someone like that can read and gain wisdom. You know why that's possible?

It can't be because of human ability. Because the presupposition of that verse is we're talking about someone who is simple and easily deceived. No, it's about something that is intrinsic. In the very character of scripture itself, it is clear and it has the power and the capacity to change that person from someone simple into someone with a mature understanding of spiritual truth. Praise God!

Hallelujah! For a book like that. And so, beloved, the Bible is not surrounded in an impenetrable fog. And you need special fog lights to try to get a little bit of clarity and vision going forward.

It's not like that. A humble Christian can read the Bible, understand its primary teachings, and grow spiritually. Every one of you in here that belong to Christ, this is for you. Whether you're a new Christian, a young, chronologically young Christian, whether you've got a great mind, or you're a fairly simple kind of person, scripture comes and meets you there and promises you that it will develop you spiritually if you just open it up and pay attention to what it says.

Awesome, tremendous gift from God. And what we're going to do is we're going to prove this through four lines of scriptural testimony. There are certain things that are embedded in scripture about the Bible that are absolutely premised on this principle of its clarity. And I just want to walk you through four simple lines of testimony to help you see this because it's just utterly undeniable. First of all, I want to take you to the Old Testament and see the testimony of the Old Testament. The testimony of the Old Testament, that's our first point. God told the people of Israel to teach His Word to their families.

Look at Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 6. God told the people of Israel, these words which I am commanding you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up.

In the common, ordinary activity of daily life, God says, talk about My Word. Talk about it with your sons. Talk about it with your children. Families with children at their knees, dads with their arms around their little girl have in the Bible a book that they can talk about. The whole point of this is, is that even those children can understand what's being said. The New Testament confirms that, that families with children at their knees can impart Scripture to them during daily life. Children without a high school education. Children without a college degree.

Children who don't know Greek and Hebrew and all kinds of theology. If a mom and dad can go to tender young minds like that and discuss Scripture in a way that the children benefit from it, understand it, and appropriate it. Well, how can that be?

I'll tell you how it can be. It's because Scripture is that clear. Scripture is that precious. Scripture is that available. And the New Testament confirms it. Look at 2 Timothy 3.

I know I'm going to the New Testament to prove an Old Testament point, but that's okay. 2 Timothy 3, verse 14. Paul writing to Timothy, his protege, the next in line to continue on the ministry, not as an apostle, but as him who would continue in the spirit of the apostle Paul. Paul writes to him. These are some of Paul's closing final words that we have. Paul would die soon after finishing this letter to Timothy.

And it's just so precious. He says, You, however, speaking to Timothy, you continue in the things that you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Timothy, as a child, would have had the Old Testament in front of him.

That's the point. And his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois sat him down, and as they were going about daily life, they obviously talked with Timothy about the Scriptures to such an extent that Paul says, Timothy, from childhood, you have known the Scriptures that lead to saving faith in Jesus Christ. That as a young child it was plain to you, Timothy. You've been convinced of these things all of your life.

Don't abandon them now because things have gotten difficult. The simple point for our purposes here is that Scripture again and again says children can understand this word. It's humbling to the boastful man of the world to think that the most important thing in the universe can be understood by a child, but it's also that which holds out promise to us. It holds out promise to us that this book can be understood. If a child can understand it, then certainly you as a believer with an adult mind can understand it as well.

Right? The Bible is not a gnostic book of secret knowledge that's hidden behind the back that only a few secret people get initiated into. All of those secret societies, we reject that because Christ came to manifest Himself to the world. God gave a book that was open not to the noble but to the common man.

And so we love Him for that. What else could we see from the Old Testament that would reinforce this idea of the perspicuity of Scripture, the clarity of Scripture? Well, look at the very first Psalm, Psalm 1, this great Psalm which introduces the whole rest of the entire Psalter, the hymnbook of the nation of Israel, precious to Christians today.

How does it open? It opens with this pronouncement of blessing. Verse 1, How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law he meditates day and night.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit and its season, and its leaf does not wither, and in whatever he does, he prospers. That's Don Green, boldly declaring the simplicity of God's Holy Word here on The Truth Pulpit. Our teacher will continue in our series called Effective Bible Study next time, and we hope you can join us then. Meanwhile, if you'd like to find out more about Don and this ministry, we invite you to head over to thetruthpulpit.com. There you'll find today's lesson, along with all of Don's teachings, as well as multiple study resources. That's all at thetruthpulpit.com. Well, friend, we're out of time for today. I'm Bill Wright, inviting you back next time as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's Word here on The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-31 00:12:38 / 2023-03-31 00:22:02 / 9

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