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Although there are difficult Bible verses, the way of Salvation is presented clearly in the Bible. We have to work on understanding the challenging verses and concepts. These can be confusing, and fools love to pull them out of context, put their own meaning on them, and then use them to mock Christianity.
Do not answer a fool according to his foolishness,
Or you will also be like him.
Answer a fool as his foolishness deserves,
So that he will not be wise in his own eyes.
Pr. 26:4-5, NASB
Fools and mockers do not deserve a lot of time. They are not likely to be convinced of their errors by facts and debate. However, sometimes their words keep others from coming to Jesus or even motivate Christians to abandon their faith. In these cases, the Truth must be known to encourage people and strengthen their faith.
In this stream, we are going to examine difficult Bible verses. As we do, we need to keep the following principles in mind.
1. Scripture will never contradict itself. If we encounter an alleged contradiction, it is because we are misunderstanding or misapplying something.
2. Context is always vital. The Bible is 66 books - a mini-library. We not only need to understand the surrounding context but also the entire book, its purpose, who wrote it and why, who it was written to and why, how it fits with the overall theme of Scripture, the social and historical context [i.e. how the people who first read it would have understood it], and more. We must be careful not to use Western viewpoints to understand a Book written from an Eastern point of view. Any fool can pick a verse out of context, put their interpretation on it, and mock it. Diligent students study and search for what is actually being said.
3. Jesus is the perfect Image of God. When we see Jesus, we see what God is really like. This has led some to adopt the heretical idea that there are two Gods: One judgmental One in the Old Testament and one loving One in the New Testament. There is only one God. We may not understand why God did or said some things in the Old Testament, but we approach them with the knowledge that this is the same loving and compassionate God Who mourned over the destruction of Jerusalem and gave His life to redeem us.
4. Remember that the Bible was not originally written in English. Sometimes, we miss or misunderstand verses because of how they were translated. Also, especially if you use an older version like the KJV, remember that words change meaning over time. There are about 300 words that don’t mean the same thing now as they did in 1611 when the KJV was published.
5. The autographs [original manuscripts] were without error, but the writers used many different writing techniques, including allegory, sarcasm, and hyperbole. You don’t expect the same style in a poem or play as you do in a historical narrative. Usually, it is relatively easy to spot the different styles, but not always. [In case you are wondering, I believe Genesis 1-9 are historical narratives, and I think it does a disservice to Scripture to try to explain them away as many Christians attempt to do. If this is a problem for you, I suggest you research sites like Creation Ministries International [see below], which examines Biblical and scientific evidence for a literal reading of Genesis.]
6. God is righteous and holy. He sets the standards… He is the standard. By definition, He can do nothing wrong or sinful. Therefore, if we think a verse shows God doing or commanding something wrong [being a moral monster], we either misunderstand the verse or misunderstand righteousness.
7. Just because something is mentioned in the Bible does not mean that God approved of it. The Bible is an honest Book. It tells what happened. It shows the good people do but refuses to cover up the bad. Judas committed suicide. That does not mean God approves of suicide. Lot’s daughters tricked him into committing incest. That does not mean God approved of their actions.
Some Christian writers have committed serious errors in trying to explain these verses. I do not doubt the sincerity of their intentions. They want to make the Scriptures acceptable to modern people to lead them to the Saviour. However, we cannot compromise the Truth of the Gospel to do so. There are things we may never be able to understand or explain, and that’s okay. We are to trust our loving, heavenly Father as we work on our relationship with Him.
In explaining difficult Scriptures, do not do the following things.
1. Do not assume that the people were inferior or unintelligent. They lived in a different society and were not as technologically advanced as we are. God used examples that were culturally relevant to the people to whom it was first given, but the principles are eternal and declare the righteousness of God for all time. [See our Master Life course.]
3. Do not make excuses for God. God made us witnesses, not lawyers. Our prime responsibility is to share the love of Christ and the Truth of what He has done for us and humanity, not to defend God. God is capable of defending Himself.
4. If you don’t know the answer, be honest. No one knows everything. If the person sincerely asks the questions, try to find the answer, but don’t fake or bluff it.
I have divided this stream into two sections. The first section is articles related to understanding some basic principles. We hit the rapids in the second and look at specific difficult Bible verses. This is often controversial, and you may disagree with me. That’s okay; at least you were willing to look at it. You can always add your comments at the bottom of any page.
Some people are surprised and staggered because there are difficulties in the Bible. I would be more surprised and more staggered if there were not.
Take this Free email course on how to study the Bible for yourself.
Take this free course to understand how the Law of God works today.
Now its time to hit the white water rapids. Hang on tight to the cords of Love and Truth! Read the ones that interest you in any order.
And more to come...
Biblical and scientific look at Creation - www.creation.com
Documentaries and information on archeological evidence - Patterns Of Evidence
Investigative Reporter Lee Strobel investigates the reliability of the Bible - Lee Strobel
How Not To Read The Bible - Dan Kimball
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