A week ago I posted the first of five blogs on the subject of sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”). This doctrine is one of the major tenets of the Protestant Reformation, and central to the evangelical faith. This is the second of five blogs that will cover this theme.
I’m writing five different blogs, because I think the doctrine of sola Scriptura can be summed up easily in five parts, all inter-related and dependent upon one another. As the Reformers sounded the trumpet for sola Scriptura, they did so because they believed the Bible alone was (and would always remain) authoritative. The authority of the Scriptures comes from the fact that they are inspired by God, can be clearly understood, are sufficient for salvation, and remain inerrant and infallible.
I’m going to handle these five parts in this order:
1) The authority of the Bible (last week’s post)
2) The clarity of the Bible
3) The inspiration of the Bible
4) The sufficiency of the Bible
5) The inerrancy/infallibility of the Bible
The Bible is clear.
Theologians often refer to the “perspicuity of Scripture,” meaning the “clarity” or “understandability” of Scripture.
What is the meant by the doctrine of the clarity of Scripture is that the Bible is able to be understood clearly, as the Holy Spirit works through it to reveal the truth about God. It is accessible, not simply to the academic or theologian, but to every person who takes the time to look into it.
This isn’t to say that Scripture is easy to understand in every circumstance. Even Peter in 2 Peter 3:15-16 refers to certain aspects of Paul’s letters as “hard to understand.” However, on the whole, the Bible can be clearly understood.
In discussing this, Wayne Grudem says:
“It would be a mistake to think that most of Scripture or Scripture in general is difficult to understand. In fact, the Old Testament and New Testament frequently affirm that Scripture is written in such a way that its teachings are able to be understood by ordinary believers…Peter does not say that there are things impossible to understand, but only difficult to understand.”
Here is some evidence from the text concerning the clarity of Scripture:
1 Corinthians 2:12
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.
It is by the Holy Spirit that we understand God’s word. God gives us his Spirit to clarify and illuminate his word.
“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.
The text is not only clear, but also accessible. It is not far off, but near us.
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
Something that was only clear or accessible to those with great wisdom couldn’t “make simple the wise.” No matter what level of intellect you feel you have, the Bible is clear and accessible, if you look into it. I find this to be a wonderful and encouraging aspect of the doctrine of sola Scriptura.
 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 105.