1689 - Chapter 1 (Part Three)
*To view the first chapter uninterrupted, see the site included below this article
All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them.
There's an overwhelming amount of scripture that is hard to understand at face value. Much of it requires meditation, prayer, cross referencing, and serious study. I believe, however, that this is all part of God's plan. The Word of God says, "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!" (Romans 11:33) If humanity carried on for another five thousand years, mankind will still not have exhausted the depths of scripture. Men devote their entire lives to studying and preaching the Word, only to die on their deathbed professing they are but a child in the knowledge of God.
Nonetheless, we have good news. In God's infinite wisdom he has put together a book that is not only enigmatic but crystal clear insofar as knowledge of salvation goes. The gospel can be presented in less than fifteen seconds by a ten year old, but can also be presented in a 20 volume series by a studied theologian. Rest assured, ye who are weary and intimidated to read a 66 chapter book, God is smarter than you. In His wisdom he made a way for everyone to comprehend his plan of redemption.
"The unfolding of your words gives life; it imparts understanding to the simple." -Psalm 119:130
The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic; so as in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal to them. But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have a right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded in the fear of God to read, and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship Him in an acceptable manner, and through patience and comfort of the Scriptures may have hope.
The original language of the Old Testament writings is Hebrew. Due to Hellenization, Greek was the most common language in the world during the writing of the New Testament, thus the New Testament's original language is in Greek. God's intention was that the whole world, not just in the early church, but throughout future church history, would be able to read the Holy Word. Thus in His providence, men throughout the ages have come forward and translated the Bible into the native language of people groups all over the world. We now have the luxury and privilege of reading the very words of God for ourselves. God wants this for His people that we may have hope through His promises revealed in the Word.
"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life." -1 John 5:13
The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which are not many, but one), it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly.
Plain and simple, when we come across a portion of scripture that is hard to understand, we seek other parts of scripture that are more clear to help us wrap our brains around what is being conveyed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking guidance from other christians, books, commentaries, etc. The problem is letting those books be your guide for interpreting. If you use a statement from a book to interpret scripture, and that statement does not align with scriptural truth, you will interpret scripture wrongly. Refusal to interpret scripture based on scripture may be the number one starter of doctrinally unsound denominations.
The supreme judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Scripture delivered by the Spirit, into which Scripture so delivered, our faith is finally resolved.
Any biblical claim whatsoever must be examined in light of scripture. If someone makes a claim about God, or does something because they felt like God led them to, these must be examined by the scriptures. There have been people who cheated on their spouse because "God told me to." Instead of the world looking at scripture and saying, "there's no way God could have told this man that!", they instead mock Christianity as a religion of quacks. Actually, today, if more people would publicly announce that God told them to cheat on their spouse or maybe, I don't know..... something like kill your baby in the womb... we would have people coming to Christ in troves.
I would take these statement a step further and say that all things must be examined in light of the endless wisdom of scripture. Every business decision you make, every trip you take, every meal you plan, all determined in light of the knowledge bestowed on us by scripture. The scriptures speak to Christ and Christ is lord over all. Christ isn't just Lord over the church and Godly evangelical activities and thoughts. He is Lord over every ounce of matter in the physical and spiritual universe. Jesus is Lord.
Thanks for reading!