The Bible, the Word of God, is not like an exclusive club for scholars and experts. God's Word is the most precious thing in the universe. Scripture is telling us that it's available to you and me. Welcome back to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hello again, I'm Bill Wright. Today Don continues teaching God's people God's Word by wrapping up his look at the clarity of Scripture and how the simple act of opening God's Word with hopeful expectation can help us as believers to grow in faith.
Let's get started. Here is Don with the second half of a message called Why Can Scripture Be Understood? This introductory Psalm, Psalm 1, sitting at the head of one of the greatest books in the Bible, if you can compare them that way, it starts with this premise. It starts with this assurance that the one who simply meditates in God's Word will see profitable blessing coming to his life as a result, simply because he reads it, he thinks on it, he applies it to his life, he separates himself from the wicked way of sinners and says, my mind will be given over to this Word, my life will be given over to following it in what it says.
And Scripture says, blessing upon that man, and does so in a way that is unrestricted, it's open and available to all. Do you realize that God, that most of you have on your lap a book that will make you wise, a book that is making you wise, a gift from God that is within your capacity to understand. Scripture tells us something else in the Old Testament, and I love these verses that we're about to look at, because it makes it so plain, so evident that the Bible, the Word of God, is not like an exclusive club for scholars and experts. Look at Psalm 119, Psalm 119 in verses 99 and 100. Young people, look at these verses and take them to heart.
Realize the vast, enormous potential that is laid out before you in God's Word. The writer of this Psalm could say in verse 98, your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for they're ever mine. I have more insight than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged, because I have observed your precepts. It almost sounds boastful, but that's not the Spirit. He's not exalting himself here, he's exalting the magnitude and the power of the Word of God to make wise and to give understanding to the one who simply gives his mind over to it. So much so that his teachers had nothing on him by way of insight. That those who were chronologically advanced were not superior in their understanding because they had not given themselves to God's Word like the writer of this Psalm had. More insight than all my teachers, understanding more than the aged.
Why? Because your testimonies are my meditation, because I've observed your precepts. Look, God's Word is the most precious thing in the universe, and Scripture is telling us that it's available to you and me. In the words of the hymn, let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also. If I can have God's Word and I can understand it and I can, then the most precious thing is within my grasp.
The teaching of the Word of God is clear, it can be understood, that is the testimony of the Old Testament. No, secondly, and by the way, we're just laying this out, let me just re-emphasize, this isn't for me as the pastor, this isn't just for Dan and Dane as the elders, this is for you! This is for you, the new Christian, the busy mom, the busy man in the workplace. There is room for this for you.
This belongs to you as well. It's the teaching of the Old Testament. Secondly, I want you to see the testimony of Jesus.
The testimony of Jesus. You know, the manner of Jesus' interaction with his opponents presupposes the clarity of Scripture. As you read through the Gospels you see that he gave them no excuse for their ignorance. Look at Matthew 12, there are a lot of passages we could look at on this, I'm just going to touch on a couple of brief ones.
Matthew chapter 12, beginning in verse 1. Matthew 12 verse 1 says, At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath, and his disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, Look, your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath. But he said to them, Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions? How he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those with him, but for the priests alone? Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent? Twice he says, Haven't you read the Scripture? He's not making an esoteric argument to respond to their complaints. He says, You would not have this difficulty if you simply read the Bible, because the Bible is clear on these points which you are objecting on. Haven't you read it? If you would read it, you would see it, because it's clear.
Your ignorance is therefore culpable. They had no excuse for their ignorance, because the Bible could have been read and could have been understood. Look at one more, Matthew 22. Matthew 22, and in verse 23, On that day some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus and questioned him. They were smart alecks.
They wanted to set him up with a hypothetical to make the Bible look ridiculous, and therefore to make Christ look ridiculous in support of their false doctrine denying the resurrection. So in verse 24, they said, Teacher, Moses said, If a man dies having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife and raise up children for his brother. Now, huh, there were seven brothers with us. The first one married and died having no children, left his wife to his brother, so also the second and the third down to the seventh.
Lord, you can see where we're going with this one, can't you? Last of all, the woman died in the resurrection, therefore. Whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her. The word married being supplied there. They all had married her. And so what's going to happen if there's a resurrection and there's one woman and seven men that she's been married to?
What are you going to do with that? What did Jesus do? Jesus answered, verse 29, Jesus answered and said to them, You're mistaken, not understanding the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they're like angels in heaven. But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God? I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. He is not the God of the dead but of the living. He says your false understanding is so easily refuted by the clarity of Scripture. You say there is no resurrection? All you have to do is to read about what God said to Moses. He used the present tense when he said, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. He said that to Moses after these men had been dead for several hundred years. Jesus said if you just paid attention to the fact that the present tense is used there, you would understand that they are alive and in the presence of God.
It's clear. Sadducees, verse 33, when the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching. Jesus said the teachings right there, all you have to do is read it.
Thirdly, I want to take you to the testimony of the apostles. The epistles, Romans through Jude, were written to congregations or individuals. And when they were written to congregations, they were written to a mixed audience. There were men and women in the audience. There were Jews and Gentiles with completely different backgrounds.
And you know what? When they wrote to these mixed audiences, the apostles wrote a single letter. They wrote one letter that was applicable to the entire church. This is simple but profound. The same letter was given to all.
One opening of one letter will be our example. Look at 1 Corinthians, chapter 1. 1 Corinthians, chapter 1. Writing to the church at Corinth, which was a very messed up church.
1 Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 1. Called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sothonese our brother. So he identified himself in the letter writing custom of the day. They started by saying who they were as they wrote. I'm Paul, writing as an apostle as one sent by the Lord Jesus Christ.
And who is he writing to? Verse 2. To the church of God, which is at Corinth. To those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus. Saints by calling with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. He writes a letter that's for everyone in the church. Everyone who believes was the target of this letter.
One letter, clear, authoritative, decisive for everyone that was in that audience. You know what? This may make you laugh when you consider what the publishing world has wreaked on Christianity in the past 50 years.
You know what? The church of Corinth, they did not need a special youth epistle. They did not need a special letter with women's study notes that were specifically designed for them in their womanness. They didn't need to corner off the youth and say here's a dumbed down version of 1 Corinthians. The whole letter was for the whole body intended to be read with everyone gathered together.
Paul wrote to all the saints in every place. Here's the point, beloved. A cross-section of humanity receives God's Word profitably when they receive it with believing hearts. You know why we're eager to have children in our services? It's because the Bible is clear and they can understand it. They can pay attention and we believe that in the preaching of the Word of God the Spirit helps even the youngest and perhaps even especially the weakest ones to give them something profitable from the teaching of God's Word. That's why we do that. In part it's because we honor the clarity and the perspicuity of God's Word as we do it. It's clear enough even for children.
And of course it would be. When Jesus was here on the earth what did he say to the children? Don't hinder them from coming to me. He rebuked his disciples and said let them come to me. I can't tell you how many times I've had little kids come up to me and comment on something that I said in the sermon which told me they were getting it.
It's really cool to see. They can grasp alongside their parents the hearing of the Word of God. Why would we separate them out and deny that blessing to them?
Why would we do that? That makes no sense at all. Why not say you know what we want to cultivate Timothy's here who they they hear it from childhood so that 20 years from now someone can say to them you've known this from childhood you've heard this from the very beginning. Children can understand. Children know what God's Word is saying.
Why? Because it's clear. And not just because it's clear because the Holy Spirit is at work when God's Word is preached and is opening up minds for understanding. And he's strong enough and powerful enough that he can do that without regard to age.
He's not limited to so that until they get to high school or junior high it's useless to have them in the service. That's just not true because God's Word is clear. Look at one more testimony from the apostles in a completely different manner. 2 Peter chapter 1. 2 Peter chapter 1 verse 19. You see beloved we're on ground here. This is ground that we have to defend. This is ground that the church of Jesus Christ must protect the clarity of Scripture.
Everything else flows from that. And Peter said in chapter 1 verse 19 of his second epistle he said we have the prophetic word made more sure to which you do well to pay attention. Why would you pay attention? Because you can understand it. Pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your heart.
Pay attention to the word. It's like a lamp shining in a dark place. It brings light. It brings clarity. It brings understanding.
That's what the Word does because it is intrinsically clear. Those who know Christ by faith they get understanding from God's Word. That's the testimony of the Old Testament. It's the testimony of Jesus. It's the testimony of the apostles. Scripture is united in its testimony across all manner of genres of literature. Testifying, affirming to its clarity.
Now fourthly, this is the last thing for this evening. Why do we know that Scripture is clear? Number four, it's by the command for discernment. The command for discernment.
The New Testament calls common Christians to discernment so that they will not be misled. Look at Matthew chapter 7. Matthew chapter 7 where Jesus said toward the end of his Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 7 verses 15 and 16. Jesus speaking to a crowd with a cross section again of humanity in front of him as he taught this Sermon on the Mount in a single time in a single place.
Not patched together later by a subsequent editor. This is what Jesus said in one place. And what did he say to that crowd that was gathered at his feet? He told them, told them all, beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles are they? So every good tree bears good fruit but the bad tree bears bad fruit.
And so on. He says in verse 20 you will know them by their fruits. How could he say that to a crowd of young and old men and women with all manner of different levels of intelligence? How could he tell them all without discriminating, without discrimination or distinction, say all of you without distinction you be on guard against wolves in sheep's clothing.
You be on guard against false teachers. How could he do that without giving them something that was impossible to do unless it was actually possible based on his teaching to be able to make the distinction. Unless the content of what he was saying was available and clear for even the simple to understand.
The epistles repeat commands like this. The apostle John in 1 John chapter 4, you don't need to turn there, said test the spirits to see whether they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world. You know, beloved, the fact that there are competing opinions about what scripture means on some of its teachings. The fact that men try to confuse it does not diminish the reality of what we are saying here. It testifies to the fact that there is a spiritual battle. That Satan has his minions trying to create smoke and confusion. That there are prophet mongering mongrels who want to contradict God's words so that they can get money from you. But that doesn't mean anything about the clarity of scripture. That doesn't mean that you should close your bible and walk away and say who can understand these things.
No, not at all. God's word invites you. The Lord Jesus Christ commands you. Come to my word, read it, understand it and you will be able to distinguish the true from the false. The power that is embedded in this word to impart understanding to our minds so that we can know what is true. Why is discernment attainable? Because scripture is clear and intelligible. Because it can be understood. God did not hide his lamp under a table. He expressed it clearly so that we can know him and know what he requires.
Just to make sure we don't overstate things here. Some scripture is difficult. Even the apostle Peter said that Paul's letters have some things that are hard to understand. That's one of the great verses that demolished the Catholic papacy. Peter was supposedly their first pope and he looks at Paul's letters and says some of this is really kind of tough for me. So not all parts are equally accessible.
There are some things that are difficult. Scripture itself acknowledges that. Not all things are equally clear. But the point of the doctrine of perspicuity is this. The overall content, the main thrust of scripture is clear.
Particularly the revelation that tells us what salvation is and what the conditions of salvation are. They are clear. They are obvious. They are evident. You can know them as a child.
R.C. Sproul says, and I quote, the Bible is basically clear and lucid. Laymen unskilled in the ancient languages and the fine points of exegesis may have difficulty with parts of scripture but the essential content is clear enough to be understood easily. William Tyndale translated the scriptures because he wanted plow boys to read and understand it. He knew. He believed in the perspicuity of scripture. He said if they just have it in their own language, boys behind a plow in a field can understand it. He gave his neck for that belief, didn't he?
William Tyndale was convinced of the Bible's clarity for common people. So am I. So is this church. That's why we do what we do. Beloved, you should be so encouraged, so motivated to want to know God's Word because God has revealed Himself in the scriptures in a clear way that you can understand. You can grasp it. Why can scripture be understood? Because it's clear. And as a child of God, that should motivate you to read it, to hunger after it with, watch this, hunger after it with, are you watching?
Motivated because of, are you ready? Motivated with a confident expectation that it will help you grow in your salvation. It's not a closed book locked with a key to you as a Christian. You can open it and say, ah, this is clear.
I get it. And my life is changing as I understand and appropriate this Word for myself. God's Word is clear.
That's why we teach it. That's why you should read it. That's Don Green, encouraging us to dive deeply into God's Holy Word here on The Truth Pulpit.
More from this series next time, and we hope to see you then. If you'd like to find out more about Don and this ministry, we invite you to click on thetruthpulpit.com. There you'll find much more about this program and Truth Community Church.
That's all at thetruthpulpit.com. Now before we go, here's Don with a closing word. Well, friend, I just have a little question for you as we close today's broadcast. Is your Bible well used or is it covered with dust? Someone once said that a Bible that's falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn't. And so my friend, if you've neglected God's Word recently, go to Christ, repent of your indifference to Scripture, and then open its pages for a fresh supply of grace. Thanks, Don. And friend, that's it for today. I'm Bill Wright, inviting you to join us next time as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's Word here on The Truth Pulpit.
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