Simplified from the Works of James Arminius, Vol.2, Disputation 8: On the Perspicuity of Scriptures
- The Bible has the quality of letting its thought be clearly understood through its words to all who are ministered to according to the good providence of God. This quality of the Bible is called the perspicuity of Scriptures.
- The Bible has this quality because God, the source of Scriptures is both wise and good and has not failed to clearly and perfectly communicate His thoughts. Also, the ones for whom the Scriptures are given cannot be saved without the knowledge of what God has revealed in the Bible.
- Of course, this doesn’t mean that everything in the Bible is equally clear to all persons alike; but, there are a few things, as for example in the epistles of Paul, that “are hard to be understood” and “the gospel is hid, or concealed, to them who are lost, in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of those who do not believe.”
- But those senses or meanings, the knowledge and belief of which are simply necessary to salvation, are revealed in the Bible with such simplicity that they can be understood even by the most simple of mankind, provided they are able duly to use their reason (mind).
- But they are clear (perspicuous) to only those who, being illuminated by the light of the Holy Spirit, have eyes to see, and a mind to understand and discern. For even if there is sufficient light, the eye cannot see any color unless it has the ability to see.
- But even in those things that are important to be known and believed in order to be saved, the law must be distinguished from the gospel, especially in that part which relates to the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus. For even the gentiles, who do not know Christ, have the “work of the law written in their hearts,” though this cannot save them, except by the internal illumination and inspiration of God; but, “the doctrine of the cross, which is foolishness and a stumbling block to the natural man,” cannot be understood without the revelation of the Spirit.
- There may be few things in the Bible that are so difficult to be understood that a life time of labor by geniuses cannot fathom them. However, God has so finely composed the Scripture that nobody can read it without profit, nor, after having studied it innumerable times, can one get bored of it. The Bible freshly speaks every time you read it.