Scripture we believe is perspicuous, that is, clear in its meaning. The Reformed view is that when something is not clear it must be interpreted by what is clear elsewhere in Holy Writ. For example in John 3:16 the word “world” which has many meanings has to be studied to show that it does not mean every person head for head who has ever lived but the world of the elect, Jew and Gentile from every background. A couple of verses that stymied me are Hebrews 10:29, “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” alongside II Peter 2:1, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” In both these cases it APPEARS that those described are true believers because sanctified and redeemed but in fact they prove to be otherwise. A key example that clears this up for me is Simon Magus (the sorcerer) in Acts 8. Verse 13 states, “Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.” Hear what John Gill says about this, ” Then Simon himself believed also,…. With an historical and temporary faith, as that Jesus was the Messiah, &c. or at least he pretended, to believe this, and professed that he did believe, what others did, and Philip preached: and when he was baptized; upon profession of his faith, which he so artfully made, that Philip could not discover his hypocrisy: but taking him to be a sincere believer, admitted him to baptism: after which, he continued with Philip; kept close to him, and got into a familiar acquaintance with him; and constantly attended on his ministry, as if he had been a sincere disciple and follower of Christ:”
Yet he was not a true believer! Gill goes on, “he offered them money; to purchase such a power of conferring the like gifts, on whomsoever he should lay his hands: hence buying and selling spiritual things, or what relate thereunto, are commonly called “simony”: a vice which has greatly prevailed in the church of Rome, and among its popes; and who therefore may be more properly called the successors of Simon Magus, than of Simon Peter. Furthermore to quote Gill again, “for thy heart is not right in the sight of God; he had not a clean heart, nor a right spirit created in him; he had not true principles of grace wrought in him; his heart was full of covetousness, ambition, and hypocrisy; he had no good designs, ends, and aims, in what he said and did; in his profession of faith, in his baptism, and in his request for the above power, of conferring the Holy Ghost: his view was not the spread and confirmation of the Gospel, or the enlargement of the kingdom and interest of Christ, and the glory of God, but his own applause and worldly interest..” Peter adjured him to pray and seek true repentance and salvation. So sometimes Scripture cannot just be taken at face value!