Since Scripture is perspicuous, false doctrine can be rejected and sound doctrine can be instructed in (Ti 1:9). God’s word is understandable. It is expected to be trusted in, defended, proclaimed, and nourishing to those to read it in faith.
As we saw in the article on Scripture’s clarity in the Old Testament, explicit and implicit references to the clarity of Scripture abound in number. This article will focus on Scripture’s clarity in the New Testament.
The clarity of Scripture is affirmed by the hundreds of references and allusions to the Old Testament found in the New Testament. Jesus believed “Moses and all the Prophets” (Lk 24:27) could be understood and he sought to explain and interpret in those writings “the things concerning himself.” By rightly searching the Scriptures, Jesus trusted readers would see that they bear witness about him (Jn 5:39–40). The decisive element of Christ’s argumentation recorded in the Gospels was an appeal to the Old Testament. Such an appeal was not empty because Christ knew the Old Testament to be understandable. He “builds upon the acknowledged meaning of the texts he cites.” His teaching at the synagogue on the Sabbath day (Lk 4:16–21; cf. Is 61), his sermon on the mount (Mt 5:2–7:27; “you have heard it said…but I say to you”), and his explanation of the new covenant at the Passover meal (Lk 22:7–37) showcases Christ’s expectation of familiarity with those Scriptures. Replete throughout his ministry and the Gospels overall is the refrain, “it is written” (Mt 2:5 4:4, 7, 10; 21:13; 26:31; Mk 1:2; Lk 2:23; 24:46; Jn 6:45; 8:17; 12:14). Jesus believed Scripture could be understood and that any misunderstanding on the part of the listener was not due to Scripture’s obscurity, but on some spiritual defect in the person or group. Grudem asserts, “Whether he [Jesus] is speaking to scholars or untrained common people, his responses always assume that the blame for misunderstanding any teaching of Scripture is not to be placed on the Scriptures themselves, but on those who misunderstand what is written.”
Common to Jesus’s interaction with the religious leaders was his rebuke, “Have you not read?” (Mt 12:3, 5; 19:4; 22:31; Mk 12:10, 26). The effect of Jesus’ question is grounded in the understandability of the Old Testament. Even in passages thought of as more difficult to interpret, like Matthew 24:15 (cf. Mk 13:14; Lk 21:20), the insertion “let the reader understand,” informs us that the biblical author wants the reader to understand. Due to the particular clearness of salvific content in the Bible, it is always expected in the Bible that upon hearing the gospel, people can respond in faith (Acts 2:37).