“The Father’s Clear Testimony” (John 5:37-47): Christ’s Teaching Of The Conditional Perspicuity Of Scripture -- By: Brian H. Wagner

Journal: Journal of Dispensational Theology
Volume: JODT 15:45 (Aug 2011)
Article: “The Father’s Clear Testimony” (John 5:37-47): Christ’s Teaching Of The Conditional Perspicuity Of Scripture
Author: Brian H. Wagner


“The Father’s Clear Testimony” (John 5:37-47): Christ’s Teaching Of The Conditional Perspicuity Of Scripture

Brian H. Wagner

Brian H. Wagner, M.Div., Th.M., instructor of church history and theology, Virginia Baptist College, Fredericksburg, Virginia; and, Ph.D. student, Piedmont Baptist Graduate School, Winston Salem, North Carolina

Every follower of Jesus Christ reads the Lord’s words and endeavors to understand and obey them. However, each believer must humbly and honestly admit that his/her understanding too often remains incomplete and his/her obedience becomes sometimes a misapplication of what has been read.1 Even the disciples who saw and audibly heard Christ had difficulty. They should have been able to receive a fuller understanding of His meaning from sharing a common language with Him, hearing the inflections of His voice, and seeing the display of His countenance as He spoke. However even they once said in frustration: “This is a hard saying, who can understand it” (John 6:60)?2 Was the problem with Christ’s choice of words or with the hearer’s (and now the reader’s) ability? Are Christ’s words clear enough to produce the level of understanding and the desired response that He wishes for all those who may seek to know and obey those words?

Jesus dealt with this issue of the perspicuity of the Scriptures after a confrontation He had resulting from His healing of the impotent man by the Pool of Bethsaida on the Sabbath. The circumstance is found recorded in the fifth chapter of John’s Gospel. The Apostle’s preservation of Jesus’ concluding words in a dialog of self-defense after this altercation (i.e. John 5:37-47) constitute a very important passage3 in support of the doctrine of Scriptures’ conditional clarity. Christ teaches in this narrative, that Scriptures, as originally given, are clear enough for even the unbeliever who will seek to know them, but they will remain unclear to those who do

not seek the glory of God or do not trust any other Scriptures that they already understand.

John 5:37-47 is exegeted in the subsequent passage. The Johannine passage concludes the third discourse by the Lord and followed the performance of His third sign, which was one of the signs4 that John choose for his gospel with the purpose of leading his readers...

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