There are some things in the Bible that can be tricky to grasp. But that doesn’t mean that they’re impossible to grasp. And the perspicuity of Scripture assures us that even when they are hard to grasp, the Author intends His words ultimately to be understandable by anyone.
I just came back from a trip to China, and it’s fair to say there was a bit of a language problem. I’ll spare you the details, but the first day I was there, my credit card was swallowed by an ATM, so I spent a good few hours sitting in a bank in Shanghai and trying to work out the Mandarin for “My credit card has been swallowed by an ATM.” I think the Mandarin for “ATM” is “ATM,” but that’s about as far as I got.
It’s fair to say that Mandarin is not, for me, “perspicuous.”
Ironically enough—given that it’s not very clear—perspicuity is a word that means “clarity” or “clearness” or “understandability.” So when we talk about the “perspicuity” of Scripture, we’re talking about the idea that God’s Word is clear about things that are necessary to be understood and obeyed in order for a person to be saved. The Bible’s teaching on salvation can be understood by anyone and everyone.
Psalm 119 puts it like this: “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” Even though, at times, the Bible requires us to patiently and humbly wrestle with it, we can indeed come to know what it means regarding salvation and the basic principles for pleasing God, even if we don’t have a college degree or subscribe to an enjoyable podcast that explains big theological words in a simple way.
In fact, God’s Word is simple enough that it can be taught to children, as it says in Deuteronomy chapter 6: “These words that I command you today shall be on your heart….”