Confident Faith: Contradictions in the Bible? (Part 1)

Confident Faith: Contradictions in the Bible? (Part 1)

We began a look at the claim that there are contradictions in the Bible in our Sunday School series Confident Faith.

First, we looked at 2 Peter 3:15-18 and how the Scriptures can be difficult at times, but they are still knowable. Just because a certain passage is hard for us doesn’t mean that there’s a contradiction or a problem with the Bible.

Then, using an example from J. Warner Wallace’s excellent book Cold-Case Christianity, we looked at how differences between passages doesn’t mean there are contradictions.

Audio and notes are available here. In the next class, we’ll look at specific examples of apparent contradictions and how to resolve them faithfully.

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Hope for the Helpless Bible Reader

In reading through Psalm 119, it struck me how many of the verses of this song are cries of helplessness and longing, not the triumphant shouts of arrival. For example, from the very beginning, the Psalmist admits,

If only my ways were committed to keeping Your statutes! (119:5)

Then again,

Open my eyes so that I may contemplate wonderful things from Your instruction (119:18).

Particularly in the He section (verses 33-40), there are repeated pleas for help:

Help me understand Your instruction,
and I will obey it
and follow it with all my heart.
Help me stay on the path of Your commands,
for I take pleasure in it.
Turn my heart to Your decrees
and not to material gain.
Turn my eyes
from looking at what is worthless;
give me life in Your ways (119:34-37, emphasis added).

In so many words, the Psalmist says, “I don’t automatically get everything when I read the Bible; God, help me!” Here’s a guy who wrote 176 alphabetized verses about the Bible, and that guy admits that Bible study is hard. He admits to being helpless, distracted, dense, sinful, greedy, and just feeling dead at times. Three thousand years later, things aren’t that much different.

And yet, this utter helplessness does not lead to despair. Astoundingly, it leads to hope! Even though the Psalmist knows how much of a knuckleheaded sinner he can be (and we know the same of ourselves), there is still hope for joyful time in God’s word because God loves to help us.

Here, enshrined within the Inspired Text itself, is an admission that loving God’s word doesn’t come naturally. In fact, it can only come supernaturally–which is why we pray for it!

Current Bible Reading Plan

At the turn of the year, Ligonier Ministries posted a helpful list of Bible reading plans. One of those plans is a through-the-New Testament plan called the 5x5x5 plan.

The plan calls for a chapter a day, five days a week. The two off-days are for reflection and/or catch-up. It’s not quite as daunting as a through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan (although those are doable as well).

I modified the plan to include reading through the Psalms and Proverbs. Reading two Psalms a day (and breaking up Psalm 119 into four days) will take you through all 150 Psalms four times in a year. Proverbs has 31 chapters, which works out to a chapter a day most months.

The goal of repeating the Psalms and Proverbs so many times was to become acquainted with and steeped in these books. Since Proverbs calls us to pursue wisdom fervently, then the prolonged stay there can’t help but be beneficial. And since the Psalms are the inspired songs of God’s people, walking back and forth through them will hopefully cause them to seep into the way I think and pray and sing and speak and write.

Here is a PDF of the reading plan. You can print it out double-sided, fold it in half like a book, and it will line up properly. I hope it’s helpful.