Posts Tagged ‘Perspicuity’

To a very large extent, and far more so than any uninspired book, the Bible is a self-explaining volume

Arthur PinkTo a very large extent, and far more so than any uninspired book, the Bible is a self-explaining volume: not only because it records the performance of its promises and the fulfillment of its prophecies, not only because its types and antitypes mutually unfold each other, but because all its fundamental truths may be discovered by means of its own contents, without reference to anything ab extra or outside itself. When difficulty be experienced in one passage it may be resolved by a comparison and examination of other passages, where the same or similar words occur, or where the same or similar subjects are dealt with at greater length or explained more clearly. For example, that vitally important expression “the righteousness of God” in Romans 1:17—every other place where it occurs in Paul’s epistles must be carefully weighed before we can be sure of its exact meaning, and having done so there is no need to consult heathen authors. Not only is this to be done with each word of note, but its parts and derivatives, adjuncts and cognates, are to be searched out in every instance, for often light will thereby be cast upon the same. That God intended us to study His Word thus is evident from the absence of any system of classification or arrangement of information being supplied us on any subject.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

No doctrine is to be founded on a single passage

Arthur PinkNo verse is to be explained in a manner which conflicts with what is taught, plainly and uniformly, in the Scriptures as a whole, and which whole is set before us as the alone rule of our faith and obedience. This requires from the expositor not only a knowledge of the general sense of the Bible, but also that he takes the trouble to collect and compare all the passages which treat of or have a definite bearing upon the immediate point before him, so that he may obtain the full mind of the Spirit thereon. Having done that, any passage which is still obscure or doubtful to him must be interpreted by those which are clear. No doctrine is to be founded on a single passage, like the Mormons base on 1 Corinthians 15:29, their error of members of that cult being baptized for their ancestors; or as the papists appeal to James 5:14, 15, for their dogma of “extreme unction.” It is only in the mouths of two or three witnesses that any truth is established, as our Lord insisted in His ministry: John 5:31-39; 8:16-18. Care is to be taken that no important teaching is based alone on any type, figurative expression, or even parable; instead, they are to be used only in illustrating plain and literal passages.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Constant care must be taken to conform all our interpretations to the Analogy of Faith

Arthur PinkConstant care must be diligently taken strictly to conform all our interpretations to the Analogy of Faith, or, as Romans 12:6, expresses it, “let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith.” Charles Hodge, who, for doctrinal soundness, spiritual scholarship, and critical acumen, is unsurpassed, states that the original and proper meaning of the word “prophet” is interpreter—one who declares the will of God, who explains His mind to others. He also says that the word rendered “proportion” may mean either proportion, or measure, rule, standard. Since “faith” in this verse must be taken objectively (for there were “prophets” like Balaam and Caiphas, who were devoid of any inward or saving faith), then this important expression signifies that the interpreter of God’s mind must be most particular and scrupulous in seeing to it that he ever does so in accordance with the revealed standard He has given us. Thus “faith” here is used in the same sense as in such passages as “the faith” in Galatians 1:23; 1 Timothy 4:1, etc.; namely the “one faith” of Ephesians 4:5, “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3) — the written Word of God.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The Spirit does not reveal anything contrary to what has been written

March 12, 2014 1 comment

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015Refutation continued.

3. The impositions of Satan cannot be detected without the aid of the written Word. First Objection. The Answer to it.

2. Hence it is easy to understand that we must give diligent heed both to the reading and hearing of Scripture, if we would obtain any benefit from the Spirit of God, (just as Peter praises those who attentively study the doctrine of the prophets, (2 Peter 1:19,) though it might have been thought to be superseded after the gospel light arose,) and, on the contrary, that any spirit which passes by the wisdom of God’s Word, and suggests any other doctrine, is deservedly suspected of vanity and falsehood. Since Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, what authority can the Spirit have with us if he be not ascertained by an infallible mark? And assuredly he is pointed out to us by the Lord with sufficient clearness; but these miserable men err as if bent on their own destruction, while they seek the Spirit from themselves rather than from Him. But they say that it is insulting to subject the Spirit, to whom all things are to be subject, to the Scripture: as if it were disgraceful to the Holy Spirit to maintain a perfect resemblance throughout, and be in all respects without variation consistent with himself. True, if he were subjected to a human, an angelical, or to any foreign standard, it might be thought that he was rendered subordinate, or, if you will, brought into bondage, but so long as he is compared with himself, and considered in himself, how can it be said that he is thereby injured? I admit that he is brought to a test, but the very test by which it has pleased him that his majesty should be confirmed. It ought to be enough for us when once we hear his voice; but lest Satan should insinuate himself under his name, he wishes us to recognize him by the image which he has stamped on the Scriptures. The author of the Scriptures cannot vary, and change his likeness. Such as he there appeared at first, such he will perpetually remain. There is nothing contumelious to him in this, unless we are to think it would be honorable for him to degenerate, and revolt against himself.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 9-Henry Beveridge Translation

The Spirit of Christ seals the doctrine of the written Word on the minds of the godly

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015The temper and error of the Libertines, who take to themselves the name of spiritual, briefly described. Their refutation.

1. The Apostles and all true Christians have embraced the written Word.

This confirmed by a passage in Isaiah; also by the example and words of Paul.

2. The Spirit of Christ seals the doctrine of the written Word on the minds of the godly.

1. Those who, rejecting Scripture, imagine that they have some peculiar way of penetrating to God, are to be deemed not so much under the influence of error as madness. For certain giddy me have lately appeared, who, while they make a great display of the superiority of the Spirit, reject all reading of the Scriptures themselves, and deride the simplicity of those who only delight in what they call the dead and deadly letter. But I wish they would tell me what spirit it is whose inspiration raises them to such a sublime height that they dare despise the doctrine of Scripture as mean and childish. If they answer that it is the Spirit of Christ, their confidence is exceedingly ridiculous; since they will, I presume, admit that the apostles and other believers in the primitive Church were not illuminated by any other Spirit. None of these thereby learned to despise the word of God, but every one was imbued with greater reverence for it, as their writings most clearly testify. And, indeed, it had been so foretold by the mouth of Isaiah. For when he says, “My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever,” he does not tie down the ancient Church to external doctrine, as he were a mere teacher of elements; he rather shows that, under the reign of Christ, the true and full felicity of the new Church will consist in their being ruled not less by the Word than by the Spirit of God. Hence we infer that these miscreants are guilty of fearful sacrilege in tearing asunder what the prophet joins in indissoluble union. Add to this, that Paul, though carried up even to the third heaven, ceased not to profit by the doctrine of the law and the prophets, while, in like manner, he exhorts Timothy, a teacher of singular excellence, to give attention to reading, (1 Timothy 4:13.) And the eulogium which he pronounces on Scripture well deserves to be remembered, viz., that “it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect,” (2 Timothy 3:16.) What an infatuation of the devil, therefore, to fancy that Scripture, which conducts the sons of God to the final goal, is of transient and temporary use? Again, I should like those people to tell me whether they have imbibed any other Spirit than that which Christ promised to his disciples. Though their madness is extreme, it will scarcely carry them the length of making this their boast. But what kind of Spirit did our Savior promise to send? One who should not speak of himself, (John 16:13,) but suggest and instill the truths which he himself had delivered through the word. Hence the office of the Spirit promised to us, is not to form new and unheard-of revelations, or to coin a new form of doctrine, by which we may be led away from the received doctrine of the gospel, but to seal on our minds the very doctrine which the gospel recommends.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 9-Henry Beveridge Translation

The Church’s preservation of the truth and the gospels power to spread during adversity, confirms that scripture is divine revelation

February 19, 2014 3 comments

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015Proofs from Church history.

I. Perpetual consent of the Church in receiving and preserving the truth.

II. The invincible power of the truth itself.

III. Agreement among the godly, not withstanding of their many differences in other respects.

12. Add, moreover, that, for the best of reasons, the consent of the Church is not without its weight. For it is not to be accounted of no consequence, that, from the first publication of Scripture, so many ages have uniformly concurred in yielding obedience to it, and that, notwithstanding of the many extraordinary attempts which Satan and the whole world have made to oppress and overthrow it, or completely efface it from the memory of men, it has flourished like the palm tree and continued invincible. Though in old times there was scarcely a sophist or orator of any note who did not exert his powers against it, their efforts proved unavailing. The powers of the earth armed themselves for its destruction, but all their attempts vanished into smoke. When thus powerfully assailed on every side, how could it have resisted if it had trusted only to human aid? Nay, its divine origin is more completely established by the fact, that when all human wishes were against it, it advanced by its own energy. Add that it was not a single city or a single nation that concurred in receiving and embracing it. Its authority was recognized as far and as wide as the world extends — various nations who had nothing else in common entering for this purpose into a holy league. Moreover, while we ought to attach the greatest weight to the agreement of minds so diversified, and in all other things so much at variance with each other — an agreement which a Divine Providence alone could have produced — it adds no small weight to the whole when we attend to the piety of those who thus agree; not of all of them indeed, but of those in whom as lights God was pleased that his Church should shine.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 8-Henry Beveridge Translation

The harmony of the Gospels and the calling of Paul confirm that scripture is divine revelation

February 12, 2014 5 comments

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015Special proofs from the New Testament.

I. The harmony of the Evangelists, and the sublime simplicity of their writings.

II. The majesty of John, Paul, and Peter.

III. The calling of the Apostles.

IV. The conversion of Paul.

11. When we proceed to the New Testament, how solid are the pillars by which its truth is supported! Three evangelists give a narrative in a mean and humble style. The proud often eye this simplicity with disdain, because they attend not to the principal heads of doctrine; for from these they might easily infer that these evangelists treat of heavenly mysteries beyond the capacity of man. Those who have the least particle of candor must be ashamed of their fastidiousness when they read the first chapter of Luke. Even our Savior’s discourses, of which a summary is given by these three evangelists, ought to prevent every one from treating their writings with contempt. John, again, fulminating in majesty, strikes down more powerfully than any thunderbolt the petulance of those who refuse to submit to the obedience of faith. Let all those acute censors, whose highest pleasure it is to banish a reverential regard of Scripture from their own and other men’s hearts, come forward; let them read the Gospel of John, and, willing or unwilling, they will find a thousand sentences which will at least arouse them from their sloth; nay, which will burn into their consciences as with a hot iron, and check their derision. The same thing may be said of Peter and Paul, whose writings, though the greater part read them blindfold, exhibit a heavenly majesty, which in a manner binds and rivets every reader. But one circumstance, sufficient of itself to exalt their doctrine above the world, is, that Matthew, who was formerly fixed down to his money-table, Peter and John, who were employed with their little boats, being all rude and illiterate, had never learned in any human school that which they delivered to others. Paul, moreover, who had not only been an avowed but a cruel and bloody foe, being changed into a new man, shows, by the sudden and unhoped-for change, that a heavenly power had compelled him to preach the doctrine which once he destroyed. Let those dogs deny that the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles, or, if not, let them refuse credit to the history, still the very circumstances proclaim that the Holy Spirit must have been the teacher of those who, formerly contemptible among the people, all of a sudden began to discourse so magnificently of heavenly mysteries.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 8-Henry Beveridge Translation