This past summer I encountered something I had seen many times before. That is, that the Scriptures themselves are complicated and not truly enough for a decisive answer. But, this time it was in greater depth.
The thought line is as follows: anyone can interpret the Scriptures in any way they want. Therefore, to make a conclusive statement one must have overwhelming support of commentators, pastors, historians, and theologians. It is not enough to take a simple statement from the Scriptures.
The thought continues. People (philosophers and scholars) have devoted their lives to the study of these things, and our minor discussions, sunday school lessons, and sermons do not bring us to the level that these “experts” have attained to. Further, these men often run counter to orthodox Christianity. Therefore it is the duty of some Christians to keep up with them. (The “some” is given as a qualification knowing that God does not require everyone to get a ThM/PhD, or some great scholarly act.) These scholars are seen as “100 steps ahead of any of us.” “They will take any commentator, theologian, scholar, or verse that we use and use them all against us” and run circles around us. Therefore, we need to be prepared.
This thought eats at me. I have no problem with scholars, historians, or theologians. I think they have their place and have been heard to defend them on plenty of occasions. God gave pastors and teachers to the church for a reason. This thinking that they are 100 steps ahead of us however, ignores two very plain facts.
1. The Scriptures are meant to be understood. The Bible is God’s revelation to us, and He meant for us to understand what He is communicating to us. Sure, there are passages that prove to be difficult. But among many of those, you will not find consensus among the scholars.
2. The Holy Spirit indwells us. It is the Holy Spirit that opens our eyes to understand. We have received “the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” 1 Cor. 2
The Scriptures are clear on so much. Salvation. The Gospel. Who Christ is. Simple statements all throughout Scripture. These can easily be convoluted and complicated. The problem comes when the Bible is clear on an issue and someone has a different opinion. Perhaps, in philosophy there is a different definition. Perhaps a religious system uses the term differently. Things must always come back to the Scriptures, for they are the revelation of God to us.
Let us view an example in more detail. Pilate, a lost degenerate, asked the question of Jesus, “What is truth?” Pilate, confronted with the Son of God standing before Him, asked this question. This is a question asked of philosophy, and religion the world over. Are we left to wonder? Must we consult philosophers, commentators, theologians, and scholars?
No! Prior to Pilate asking, Christ answered the question. It does not take me knowing what the church fathers, reformers, etc. said. I don’t need to know Greek frontwards and back. I need to know the words of the incarnate Son of God that He spoke concerning the topic at hand.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Christ is the truth. Again, “Sanctify them through thy truth. Thy word is truth.” The Word of God is truth, AND it is the truth by which the Father will perform the sanctification of the saints. Lastly, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” If we continue in the Word of Truth, and then we are Christ’s disciples.
It is simple enough that if we are to know the word in order to continue in it, and if Christ says we will know the truth, then we must know it. That is the fact of Scripture. Truth is not something to be debated amongst the scholars. Christ is truth. The word of God is truth. Live it. Conform to the image of Christ as seen in His Word. This, just one example of something made overly complicated.
Why do we complicate things? God gave them to us for our understanding. He gave us the Holy Spirit to open our eyes. We are to know these things, not wonder at them. We are to believe and have a grasp on them, not tell ourselves and others that “there is hardly any statement I could make dogmatically.”
Isn’t that the devil’s ploy? Did God really say thou shalt surely die? Make us question truth plainly before us. Good Christians are doing it. They who have stood and fought for the truth, now wonder if they can even define it. They hear a verse, and respond that one verse is not enough. They hear some more and want 100 sources and quotes, because surely ignorant laymen cannot answer the question by opening their Bibles to a verse.
YES!! We can! That is all we can do! Beseech God for him to open our eyes. We do not get understanding from those scholars, etc. We receive our wisdom from above, the eyes of our understanding being opened by the Holy Ghost, and we perceive by the grace of God.
Do not over-complicate the Scriptures. As believers, we possess the Holy Spirit and the revelation of God to us, with the promise that we have all we need for life and godliness.