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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Answering Bible Difficulties

Don Stewart :: Why Should the Subject of Bible Difficulties Be Discussed?

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Question 10

Why Should the Subject of Bible Difficulties Be Discussed?

That there are difficulties in the Bible is a fact. How then, should the reader, in general, deal with the subject of Bible difficulties? What should we do when confronted with a difficult verse or passage?

There are a number of observations we can make.

Believers Are Not Afraid of Discovering the Truth

First, we should not be afraid to discuss so-called contradictory passages. There is nothing gained in overlooking the difficulties that are in Scripture. We should not have the attitude to just take everything by “blind faith.” Scripture encourages us to respond to questions. Paul wrote the following to the church at Colossae:

Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:5-6 NRSV)

Jesus said that the truth would set people free. John wrote:

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32 NRSV)

Paul encouraged the king to “check out the facts” when it came to the story of Jesus Christ. He said the following:

For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. (Acts 26:26 ESV)

Truth is not something that the believer in Jesus Christ fears. To the contrary, the believer welcomes the truth.

We Do Not Know Everything

In addition, we should not be afraid to ask tough questions about the Christian faith. Seemingly, the older we get, the more difficult it is for us to admit we do not know certain things—it is tough to have to ask questions. Some wrongly assume that asking questions shows signs of weakness. However, it is a mark of maturity to admit there are still many things in this world that we do not know. Because we do not presently have an answer, does not mean that we never will get the answer. If we do not continue to ask, we will not continue to learn.

It Is Not Lack of Faith to Ask Questions

For believers, we are not offending God by asking legitimate questions about the Christian faith. Asking questions is not the same as unbelief. Asking honest questions will get us honest answers. Discussing the questions with others is also a good idea. The Bible says:

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17 ESV)

The New Revised Standard Version says:

Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the wits of another. (Proverbs 27:17 NRSV)

The New Living Translation translates the verse as follows:

As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend. (Proverbs 27:17 NLT)

The idea is that honest questions should be faced, and that others can help with the answers.

All of Us Need to Think

Unfortunately, some people do not like to think. It is more comfortable for them to merely hold on to preconceived notions and prejudices. When we come across difficult passages in Scripture, or sayings that we cannot quite understand, it is easier to fall back on what we have always believed rather than re-evaluate what the text might be saying. This, however, is not the way we can grow in our Christian experience. We need to be able to assess what we believe in light of all the facts. If new information comes to us which causes us to change something we have previously believed, then we must be intellectually honest enough to admit we have been wrong in the past.

We Should Be Unlike the Cults Who Blindly Obey Their Leaders

Furthermore, we do not want to be like cultic groups that do not tolerate questions from their people. Honest answers from cult leaders would cause the leaders to lose control. Christians should not blindly follow what some leader says—no matter who it is. Faith will only increase when our questions are answered. Blindly obeying favorite Bible teachers is not a scriptural attitude.

Some Observations on Bible Difficulties

  1. There are a number of important observations that need to be made about the Bible difficulties that are in Scripture.
  2. We Are Not Alone in Our Particular Question

    Chances are the questions that we have are not unique to us. Others have had the same problem as they have read Scripture and thought about the truth of the Christian faith. It is highly doubtful that someone will come up with a new question about Christianity, or the Bible, that no one else has thought of in the history of the church.

  3. The Difficulties Have Been Answered Time and Again

    The crucial questions regarding what God has done in history, as well as attempting to understand difficult biblical passages, are not unique to our generation. They have been answered time and time again. Each question we have about the Bible has been asked and answered hundreds, if not thousands of times, since the time of Christ. The key is to discover where these answers can be found.

  4. We Should Accept the Answer and Then Go On

    Once we receive an answer to our question, then we should go on. It is wrong to keep asking a question once the answer has been given. It is also wrong to doubt the Bible when there are a number of possible answers to a particular question, yet we are not certain which the right answer is.

    An example of this would be the problem of the two accounts of the genealogy of Jesus found in Matthew and Luke. There are, at least, four different ways of reconciling the two genealogies, yet we are not absolutely certain which the correct resolution is. This does not mean they are in error—it means we are not certain which of the possible answers is correct.

  5. Difficulties Are Used as an Excuse for Not Believing

    Sometimes people use the difficulties in Scripture as an excuse for not believing in Jesus. Often we find people not willing to look beyond the surface meaning of what Jesus said. They believe this will remove them of any responsibility. Consequently, they use Bible difficulties as an excuse for not believing in Jesus. They are blind to the evidence because they are willingly blind. Ultimately, they do not want to find a way to reconcile difficulties in Scripture.

    Since they do not want to know the truth, any explanation that attempts to clear up a difficulty will fall upon deaf ears. However, this does not remove the responsibility from them as they would like to believe that it does. Scripture teaches that God will ultimately hold all of us responsible on how we deal with the evidence that He has presented to us.

    The fact of difficulties in Scripture can sometimes remove those who are not genuinely interested in the truth of God’s Word. God is on record as saying that He will condemn those who reject His clearly revealed Word. Paul wrote:

    But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who push the truth away from themselves. For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God. (Romans 1:18-20 NLT)

    Unbelievers, though not interested in the truth of God, have no real excuse. Their ignorance is not excusable.

Conclusion: Difficulties Should Not Keep Us from Believing the Message of Scripture

The fact that there are difficulties in the Bible should not keep anyone from believing the clear message of Scripture. We should not blame our refusal to accept God’s message of Scripture because of a few difficulties found in the text.

If we remain ignorant of the things of God, it is only because we have self-imposed this darkness upon ourselves. The answers are there, but we must spend the time to find them. This can only come about from a serious study of the Word of God.

This is what is needed when difficult passages of Scripture come our way. When we patiently and intently examine problem passages in Scripture, the result pays big dividends. Serious students of God’s Word want to understand what the Bible is saying.

Summary - Question 10
Why Should the Subject of Bible Difficulties Be Discussed?

The subject of Bible difficulties should definitely be a topic of discussion. The biblical attitude toward difficult questions is to face them head-on. They should not be ignored or glossed over. It is not lack of faith to bring up the difficult areas in Scripture or to try to find an answer.

Once an answer to a particular difficulty is found, then we should move on. When these difficulties are cleared up after serious study, the reader is greatly benefited by the exercise.

What Is the Difference Between a Difficulty and a Contradiction? ← Prior Section
What Are the Various Ways in Which Believers Approach Difficulties in Scripture? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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