The Clarity of the Bible or The Perspicuity of Scripture
When Protestants say we embrace the clarity of the Bible, we are stating that in general, when accurately translated, the written Word of God as contained in the 66 books of the Bible has basic, surface-level meaning that is not hidden from—and can be understood by—the average reader or hearer.
We do not mean that every single verse in the Bible is easy to understand, but that the Bible is very clear when it comes to its central message. Anyone who can read or listen to the Bible in an understandable language can understand the gospel and the Bible’s main points.
Any follower of Jesus may read or hear an accurate reading or translation of the Bible and understand the basic message given in that Word, whichever book of the Bible that may be. Jesus Himself rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for their failure to grasp and understand the clear teaching of Scripture about Himself and the New Covenant. Now that we have the New Testament which contains the clear testimony of the apostles who heard Jesus explain the Old Testament, we’re able to understand the whole Bible’s God-given message in its essentials.
While a good grasp of the historical and cultural context assists the reader in gaining a fuller understanding of some portions of Scripture that are not immediately clear, often, the necessary historical and cultural background is already available to the careful reader in the biblical text itself.
Similarly, the core doctrines of Scripture are plainly laid out in the Bible, and the New Testament is the key to understanding the Old Testament. Many failures to understand the plain teachings of Scripture arise from a failure to see the Bible as one story with many chapters, that every part of the Bible fits together and reinforces every other part.
The role of pastor-teachers and overseer-elders is to live out the teachings of the Bible and to give themselves to instructing God’s people and explaining and applying the Word. By doing this, they equip God’s people to live lives that are pleasing to Him in every way. Perhaps the most important way for pastors to do this is to help God’s people grow in their ability to read and understand the overall message of the Bible—how to read, understand, and apply it accurately.