Let’s say you’re trying to compile a program – “Christian Living v1.0”, using the programming language “God’s Word”. You consult many manuals, but you just can’t seem to get it. Every compilation you attempt results in a crash. Every attempt you make at solving it just gets you into bigger and bigger messes.
Well, back to the drawing board, and back to those manuals! The more you read in these manuals, the more you realize that your system just doesn’t meet the requirements for compiling the program! It doesn’t have the right hardware, the right software. Something wrong here, something’s wrong there… and you decide that you just have to buckle down and upgrade your system, before this program will compile.
That analogy breaks down at some point – the user is separate from the software and hardware, after all. Further, we don’t upgrade ourselves. We have to be brought to the manufacturer for this to be accomplished. I think it’s a good illustration of why we can’t expect perfect understanding of Scripture, however. The problem does not lie in the author of Scripture. It does not lie in Scripture itself. The problem lies in us. First, it lies in our nature. We do not think or act correctly about anything. We are sinful, fallen creatures who cannot properly operate in terms of perfection. Second, we cannot, due to that nature, properly understand that which we are required to understand. Third, we cannot act in accordance with it.
In a conversation earlier today, the objection was made that God’s Word lacked sufficient clarity, since men were always arguing over what it meant. Second, the objection was made that if Scripture was sufficiently clear, we would not need teachers in order to properly understand it. My first response was to ask “By what standard do you think it lacks sufficient clarity?” and my second was to ask “By what standard *should* it have sufficient clarity?” He didn’t “get” the attempted push to reveal the worldview presuppositions, so I hit on a mention of “programming languages” that was made. “If, like you say, there are hardware and software constraints for the compilation of programs, why would you think there is any difference when someone is trying to run, or to compile, say, a life requiring hardware/software they do not have?” I then went into Romans 12, and it’s admonition that we must be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Also, I referenced that humans, in their fallen state, do not have the capability of recognizing the precepts of Scripture apart from the demands of their own nature. For this to be accomplished correctly, there needs to be a change in them.
The objection was then raised that he was talking about Christians. Very well. Even in Christians – are we to be understood as saying that the renewal of sanctification is immediate and total? I cannot think that Scripture would back this up. Our sanctification is progressive. We do not instantly grasp all things, nor should we be expected to. Further, I mentioned, the Spirit, the author of Scripture, indwells believers. The Spirit uses means to accomplish His end of our sanctification. That same Spirit is who apportions the gifts to believers – including that of pastor, and teacher. These gifted men use the entirety of Scripture and bring it to bear on any given passage – teaching us to conform ourselves to it – through his gift of the Spirit, and through the work of the Spirit in us, which confirms the truth of their teaching and renews us accordingly.
We aren’t instantly and completely changed into perfect expositors and exegetes. We are brought along by the Spirit, and the means of grace which He has provided – for, as Scripture says:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. ~ 2 Tim 3:16-17
So, in closing – remember. Scripture isn’t unclear. Men “see through a glass darkly”.