Of the Holy Scripture – Westminster 1:7

The seventh entry in the Westminster Confession of Faith series.

From the Confession

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all (Part 1): 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 the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them (Part 2).

Scriptural references

From the New American Standard Bible.

Part 1

As also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 2 Peter 3:16

Part 2

  • Thy word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path. … The unfolding of Thy words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:105,130
  • The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. Deuteronomy 29:28
  • If you obey the Lord your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?” But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it. Deuteronomy 30:10-14
  • Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so. Acts 17:11

Commentary

As Christians, we do not shy away from admitting that the Scriptures can be difficult to understand. The Scriptures themselves testify that there is both “milk” and “meat” present in its words. As the Confession states, the milk is able to be understood but anyone — learned or unlearned — for the milk is that which is foundational, upon which everything else stands.

Believe on Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. That’s milk.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. That’s milk.

It doesn’t take long, however, while reading through the Scriptures to discover that there are some things that even though we know what all the words mean, it is quite a bit more difficult to explain what the passage itself means.

Love not the world, neither the things that are of the world. That’s meat. What is meant by “the world”? Who defines “things of the world”? Are movie theaters included? Entertaining music? Sneakers?

Or what about Romans 9? That’s certainly meat, and not only is it meat, but it’s raw meat, still mooing even. Few people even seem willing to get into that passage, fewer still understand it. I’m just recently coming to a better understanding of it. But it tastes so good.

I have often heard it questioned, Why didn’t God make the Bible easy enough for everyone to understand? If He is omnipotent, it should have been easy for Him to do, right?

To that I can only say that He inspired the Bible exactly as it should be. He made it so that as Christians grow, so too does their understanding of the Scriptures — indeed, both spiritual growth and growth in understanding seem to be intertwined.

Or perhaps God recognizes the reward which comes from working toward something.

Regardless, it is not for us to question His purposes. However, I can understand skeptic’s misunderstandings concerning the Scriptures. They are simply unable to grasp the Scriptures. They are willingly blind to them, imagining inconsistencies and errors to justify their unbelief. I have witnessed this personally just about whenever I talk Scriptures with an unbeliever. It really is sorrowful, but unless God grants them a new heart, their understanding will always be darkened. I press on regardless in my talks with them, in hopes that strongholds of excuses will be toppled more and more until faith cannot help but spring forth.

To those who are Christians, though, who often give up in their reading of the Scriptures because they cannot understand it, I encourage you strongly to continue in the Word. You may not understand all of the connections mentioned in Hebrews or all of the imagery in Daniel, Ezekiel, or Revelation, but the more you are familiar with those passages, the more likely understanding will come. Persevere at it, and the labor will be rewarding. Remember, His Word is a lamp unto your feet, a light unto your path. Commit yourself to the Word, and it will guide you. Separating yourself from it significantly dims the light available to you. And I think this world is far too dark as it is without adding further to it.

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