Scripture’s Clarity

The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.
~ 2 Samuel 23:2

O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the LORD straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?
~ Micah 2:7

But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise. Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire. Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst.
~ 2 Timothy 3:10, Proverbs 6:23, Proverbs 15:31, Deuteronomy 4:36, Nehemiah 9:20

My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word.
~ Psalm 119:81

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Ephesians 1:13

Perspicuity of Scripture, by Thomas Boston. This is an excerpt from his work, “The Divine Authority of the Scriptures”.

Doctrine: “The Scriptures are the rule to direct how we may glorify and enjoy God.” Here I shall only give the properties of this rule.

It is a perspicuous69 or clear rule. For though all things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all, yet those things that are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded70 and opened in some place of Scripture or other that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due sense of the ordinary means,71 may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.

(1) With respect to all things necessary to salvation, whether for faith or practice, it cannot be denied that there are portions of the Scripture very obscure, which possibly are not rightly interpreted even to this day; but in such things as are necessary to salvation, they are clear. And in this respect, it hath been said that the Scriptures are a depth wherein a lamb may wade and an elephant may swim.

(2) Though some things, the faith of which is necessary to salvation, be high and incomprehensible mysteries, such as the doctrine of the Trinity, of the incarnation of the Son of God, etc., yet the way of propounding them is clear.

(3) It may be that what is truly necessary unto salvation may be very obscurely laid down in some place of Scripture; yet in some other place, we shall find the same thing clearly propounded,

(4) So that not only the learned, but even the unlearned, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them—which you must carefully remember is meant here of believing persons. (They) have the inward illumination of the Spirit, removing their own natural darkness. For if ye understood it of unbelievers, it contradicts what we have laid down above, relating to the necessity of spiritual illumination. And so the sense is that not only may the learned Christian, but even the unlearned, attain to a sufficient understanding of the Word,

(5) Providing they make use of the ordinary means appointed of God for the understanding of them: reading attentively and devoutly, with prayer and meditation on them, etc.

This perspicuity of the Scriptures I shall prove by the following arguments.

(1) The Scripture plainly teaches its own perspicuity and clearness in this sense. It is called a lamp and a light (Psa 119:105). The very entrance of it (it is said) gives light and understanding to the simple (119:130; see Pro 6:23). (In 2 Peter 1:19,) the apostle calls the Holy Scriptures a light, and particularly the word of prophecy, or the prophetic word, which of all the rest seems most dark; yet this he calls a light and a shining light, shining in a dark place, shewing thereby, that where it comes and shines, though the place be of itself dark, yet it dispels the darkness.

(2) Such is the way God hath delivered His Word that its commands are not remote from the understanding. The meanest72 believer hath no reason to complain of the difficulty of it in the things necessary to salvation. “For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it” (Deu 30:11-14).

(3) If all things necessary to salvation be understood by all sincere Christians, and this by the Spirit dwelling in every believer, then the Scriptures are clear in all things necessary to salvation to the meanest believer. But the former is true: “He that is spiritual judgeth all things” (1Co 2:15). “Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things…The anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but…the same anointing teacheth you of all things” (1Jo 2:20, 27). Consider to whom John is there speaking—not only to learned men and great divines, but to all believers, even to little children—to all that have the Spirit, which is common to all: “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom 8:9).

(4) The things that are necessary to salvation are hid only to unbelievers, “in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.” As for others, God Himself hath taught them (2Co 4:4, 6).

(5) God hath promised to write His Law in His people’s hearts and that He Himself will teach them to know Him (Jer 31:33-34). Therefore, the Scripture must needs be perspicuous and clear in things necessary to salvation: for that which is written in our hearts cannot be but clear unto us; and that which God Himself teacheth us cannot be obscure, for who teacheth like God?

(6) If the Scriptures be not clear in themselves to all believers, but that all its perspicuity depends on the interpretation of the church, then our faith is to be ultimately resolved into the testimony of man. But that cannot be, for human testimony is not infallible and authentic, and therefore cannot (establish) divine faith and an infallible persuasion. The reason of the consequence is clear. Hearers are obliged if they will not pin their faith on men’s sleeves, to compare the interpretations given by men with the Scriptures themselves (Act 17:11), which is utterly impractical unless the Scriptures be clear in themselves in such things as are necessary to salvation.

(7) The perspicuity of the Scripture appears, if ye consider their author—God Himself, the Father of lights—and the end for which He gave the Scriptures unto the Church, (namely,) that they might be a rule of faith and life…It is a perfect rule. There is nothing necessary to be believed or done but what is to be found there. It is a perfect rule for us to walk by in the way to heaven and glory. What can be more desired than that, in the text, it is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”? “The law of the LORD is perfect” (Psa 19:7). The Scriptures were written that men might have life (Joh 20:31) and comfort and hope in all conditions (Rom 15:4).
Oh, therefore, before all and above all, search the Scripture, study the Scripture, dwell on the Scripture, delight in the Scripture, treasure up the Scripture; no wisdom (compares) to Scripture wisdom, no knowledge to Scripture knowledge, no experience to Scripture experience, no comforts to Scripture comforts, no delights to Scripture delights, no convictions to Scripture convictions, nor no conversion to Scripture conversion.
—Thomas Brooks.


69 perspicuous – clearly expressed and easily understood; perspicuity then is the quality of being clear and understandable.

70 propounded – put forward for consideration.

71 due sense…means – appropriate perception by prayerfully reading or attentively hearing the Word of God.

72 meanest – lowest; most common.