Oh Yeah? Well What About THIS?
Vol: 132 Issue: 25 Tuesday, September 25, 2012
The other day, somebody sent me a list of Bible ‘difficulties’ packaged together with the usual sneering challenge and daring me to confront their evidence that the Bible is filled with contradictions. It isn’t unusual — I get challenges like this all the time, and you probably do, too.
One thing most of the challenges have in common is that most of the so-called “contradictions” are only contradictions to unbelievers.
To an unbeliever, it is an obvious contradiction demanding an explanation whereas to a believer, the contradiction does not exist. God is one God, (Deuteronomy 6:4) in Three Persons, (1 John 5:7) and the other “gods” mentioned are probably fallen angels or simply imaginary.
Even the reason why an unbeliever finds a glaring contradiction where no actual contradiction exists is explained by Scripture.
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthiahs 1:18)
“But ye have an unction (anointing) from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” (1 John 2:20)
“And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” (1 John 2:28)
My correspondent feigned offense at the claim that all men are sinners, claiming that the Bible says that Job was not a sinner (Job 1:1) that Noah and his family were not sinners (Genesis 7:1) and that John the Baptist’s parents, Zacharaias and Elizabeth were sinless.
This is another example of contradiction that only exists in the absence of the Holy Spirit’s “unction” or anointing. Of course all men have a sin debt, including those who walk righteous before the Lord. There is a difference between righteousness and perfect righteousness, something every believer knows in his own spirit.
Does God tempt people? Genesis 22:1 says that He does:
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.”
But James 1:13 says that God never, ever tempts anyone.
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:”
The solution here is ridiculously simple. First, James links temptation with evil. Secondarily the word translated into English as ‘tempted’ is nacha, which means, “to test” and was translated as “tempt” in 1611. Putting Abraham through a test is not the same thing as tempting Abraham to do evil.
“The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.” (Matthew 13:32)
“AHA! The mustard seed ISN’T the smallest seed and it DOESN’T grow to be the largest among herbivorous plants. If Jesus was God, then He should have known that.”
There are a number of different kinds of mustard trees indigenous to Israel, and the mustard seed was the smallest seed known and used by the people to whom He was offering the illustration.
Jesus would have known that it wasn’t the largest of all herbivorous plants by simple observation, even if He wasn’t God. But the mustard plant dominated the typical herb garden, so the illustration was easily understood by the hearers.
Jesus also used the mustard seed as an illustration of how faith as small as a mustard seed could accomplish great things. One has to stretch pretty far to conclude Jesus was making a statement of science instead of using it to illustrate a point.
There were a lot more so-called “contradictions” but my correspondent’s real objection was to God Himself. If God loves all people, then how does one explain a loving God inflicting such suffering on the children He claims to love so much?
My correspondent has made it clear that he doesn’t believe that God exists, and so his question isn’t so much an attempt to understand as it is intended to cause me to question my own faith.
The unbeliever instinctively knows that there is a God, despite his best efforts to convince himself otherwise.
“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” (Romans 1:20)
I’ve heard it described as a “God-shaped hole in the soul” that nothing else quite fills except God. He wants to be comfortable in his unbelief and if he can’t, then he’ll seek comfort in trying to shatter yours.
On the other hand, if God DOES exist, what is the answer? The Bible is filled with examples of the just suffering while the unjust seemingly get all the breaks.
“Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.” (Psalms 73:17)
The fact is, that we are made in God’s image. The unbeliever wants to recast Him in ours — which is where the problem lies. God created us in His image because we are eternal, even as He is eternal.
We were created for eternal life — or for eternal death; but in any case, the key word here is ‘eternal’.
The answer to the question is that God is God, whether one believes in Him or not. For example, someone may not believe that I exist, but that doesn’t mean I don’t.
Or they may conclude, from my writing, that I think a certain way, even when I don’t. Their belief or unbelief has no bearing on what I think or how I express myself. I am who I am, no matter what people think I am.
And God is Who He is.
God is our Judge, we are not His.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
The Lord doesn’t work in ‘mysterious’ ways; He works according to His will. He has a purpose for everything that He does. Whether we understand that purpose is irrelevant — it is enough to know that HE does.
“So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My Mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
To the unbeliever, this life is all there is — so when God takes it, it seems exceedingly cruel. But this is no more ‘all there is’ than the blackness of the womb is to the unborn child. The blackness of the womb is simply all it knows until it is born.
Oftentimes, a similar question pops up to the effect that ‘a loving God would never condemn people to hell’.
God sent His own Son to die on the Cross for our sins so that we wouldn’t end up in hell. If we choose to reject Him, it isn’t God that is making that choice. It is the individual that chooses — it is God that made the choice possible.
Death isn’t the end, it is the beginning. It is either the beginning of something unspeakably wonderful, or it is the beginning of an eternal horror beyond our ability to contemplate, but it is, nonetheless, the beginning of eternity for each of us.
God put each of us here for two reasons. The first is so that we can choose to one day enjoy fellowship with Him in eternity. The second is to spread the Good News to the lost in the time we have remaining.
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)