Earlier I posted some quotes on the clarity of Scripture. Here is Kevin DeYoung’s helpful analysis of Westminster Confession of Faith 1.7, which says,
“All things in scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear to all; yet those things which are necessary to be know, 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 unto sufficient understanding of them.”
Here are Pastor DeYoung’s comments:
-Some portions of Scripture are clearer than others. Not every passage has a simple or obvious meaning.
-The main things we need to know, believe, and do can be clearly seen in the Bible.
-Though the most essential doctrines are not equally clear in every passage, they are all made clear somewhere in Scripture.
-That which is necessary for our salvation can be understood even by the uneducated, provided they make use of the ordinary means of study and learning.
-The most important points in the Scriptures may be not be understood perfectly, but they can be understood sufficiently.
I wanted to make a couple of comments on this. First, the “ordinary means” mentioned in the Confession is not primarily about personal reading and Bible study. The Westminster Larger Catechism says:
Q154: What are the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation?
A154: The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to his church the benefits of his mediation, are all his ordinances; especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for their salvation. (emphasis mine)
So the ordinary means points primarily to worship and preaching, though it would surely include private study.
Second, I found DeYoung’s last point the most helpful. There is no doctrine in Scripture which we could ever know everything about. God is too deep for us to ever reach the bottom. But that does not mean we cannot know a doctrine well enough to understand it and use it correctly in the Christian life. Jesus is our Savior. This truth is so deep that a 1,000 years of study could never exhaust it. Yet even a child can understand it sufficiently enough to be saved by Him.