What Is Clear Biblical Teaching? Part 1

by John C. Whitcomb, Th.D.

Every true Christian should be dedicated to the discovery of “clear biblical teaching” on every important subject not only to follow that teaching but also to share it with others as God provides opportunity.
724407_bible.jpgBut how can we ever discover “clear biblical teaching” on topics as the creation of the world, God’s plan of salvation, church government and ordinances, and how the world will end? To be sure, some teachers deny that the Bible provides “clear” answers to any of these and other questions pertaining to us and to our world. But the Bible constantly warns us against such teachers.

The apostle Paul, for example, warned the church leaders from Ephesus, “After my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you … speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30 KJV). And to his faithful disciple, Timothy, he wrote, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

Obviously, the huge question is, how do we determine what is clear biblical teaching? In the first place, we must honestly recognize that for some people nothing in the Bible ever becomes “clear.” Throughout church history, many who have claimed to be “biblical Christians” have drastically distorted or openly denied such basic doctrines as the triunity of God, the inerrancy of the biblical autographs, the literal creation week, the absolute deity of Christ, His virgin birth, miraculous works, the bodily resurrection, a literal second coming, the millennial kingdom, and an eternal hell. Are such denials really excusable? May such persons blame God for being obscure in His written revelation?

The apostle Peter referred to the deadly danger “unlearned and unstable” people face when they “wrest” things the apostle Paul taught in his letters, even though they contain some things hard to understand (2 Pet. 3:16). Our Lord denounced some of His own disciples as “fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken” (Luke 24:25).

Such biblical warnings can be greatly multiplied. Heretical and even unregenerate persons may hide under the challenge: “I don’t see that in the Bible!” But where do we draw the line on this delicate but infinitely important question of the clarity of Scripture?

Actually, there is no such thing as an absolute “line” of theological discernment finite minds can draw. Instead, there is a continuum God Himself provides: the closer we walk with our Lord, the clearer will be our understanding of His will (John 7:17: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God”).

The Berean Christians, for example, “were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, [to see] whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).

whitcomb3.jpgDr. John C. Whitcomb has been a professor of Old Testament and theology for more than 50 years and is widely recognized as a leading biblical scholar. He taught at Grace Theological Seminary (Winona Lake, IN) from 1951-1990 and gained much recognition for his work on The Genesis Flood (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company), which he co-authored with Dr. Henry Morris in 1961. That book has been credited as one of the major catalysts for the modern Biblical creationism movement. His ministry homepage is Whitcomb Ministries, and his sermons are available at SermonAudio.com.
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