The authors of Scripture, Divine and human, had something to say, something to communicate, and something they wanted us to know, to understand, and to do. What was it? Can we discover the significance of the text of Scripture in a culture as far removed from the biblical culture as ours is? If the answer to that question is yes, then it only stands to reason that we ask how we can know what the authors’ of Scripture wished to accomplish by penning the sacred Writings. After all, if it is true that Scripture is revelation, then it is necessarily true that something or someone very specific was the subject of that revelation. The thing revealed does not depend on the object to which it is revealed for meaning. What is being unveiled has self-contained meaning to the one doing the unveiling. Contrary to popular notions about meaning, it is not merely individual, dependent on the experience of the one to whom it belongs. Meaning is not neutral any more than observed facts. Meaning is simply one’s interpretation of the encounter. This does not mean (pun absolutely intended) that there is no such thing as one right meaning and many wrong meanings. Of course, I use the word meaning in the sense of one’s personal understanding. What does the text, a text, actually mean? Is there real meaning in the biblical text? Kevin Vanhoozer thinks there is and I agree. Vanhoozer says, “So it is with the interpreter: he or she must be assured that literary knowledge and understanding are possible, but not led to think that reaching understanding is easy.” Sometimes the text is very difficult to understand. But this is not the same is impossible. And it is not justification for defaulting to skepticism.
By its nature as revelation it is necessary that Scripture come from without. Otherwise, internal, radical change is impossible. If meaning is experiential and subjective, the only change that takes place is change that has its source within. This kind of change is not true change because, it has its source within and as such is part of the very object that is supposed to change. Domestic change is mechanical. Behavioral change that is limited to behavior is not true change. Godly change begins by changing the nature, not merely the behavior. Change that is limited to behavior always fails to meet the standard of motive. Unbelievers never change behavior for the right reason, out of a love for God. They are completely unable to change their behavior for the right reason. Their nature must be changed! They must be born again. Enter the Scripture! God changes the human heart through the preaching of the gospel. But this is only the beginning. Progressive sanctification is the process by which the life of the individual is transformed by the renewing of the mind as it absorbs and appropriates the Scripture. A deficient hermeneutic impedes this outcome by obfuscating the understanding of the only message capable of true transformation.