Samuel Clemens (alias Mark Twain) once said, “It ain’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me. It is the parts that I do understand.”
A “part of the Bible” that I used to consider most disturbing was when Jesus was explaining to his disciples the parable of the sower: “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that ‘Seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them.’” Mark 4:11-12, in which Jesus was quoting Isaiah 6:9-10. For the longest time it bothered me that God would intentionally use parables rather than plain language to explain a truth, “lest they should turn and their sins be forgiven them.” In contrast, He clearly explained each parable to His disciples, whenever they asked Him to. It finally occurred to me that the key was that they asked Him – they really wanted to know what each parable meant, because they believed in Him and trusted that He would tell them the truth. See also Matthew 13:13-14 and Jeremiah 5:21 (this people has a defiant and rebellious heart.)
God always reveals the truth behind a mystery to people who really want to know the truth
It’s not that God has not provided enough information to humanity about Himself. God is in the sign-making business. Signs of Him are all around us. He constantly posts signs that reveal His presence, His moral law, His love and His manual on how human beings can live blessed and purposeful lives. But, as Jesus told His disciples, “… these signs will follow those who believe, in My name …” demons will be cast out, hands will be laid on the sick and they’ll recover, and much miraculous / supernatural activity will be in evidence. See Mark 16:14-18.
Belief is paramount to participating in the blessings of God’s Kingdom. The ability to understand spiritual truth, God’s mysteries from the beginning of time and into the future, is confined to believers. Believers? In what? Belief in the gospel, the good news of Christ’s salvation message!
From the very beginning God provided enough information, and revealed enough about Himself, for a person to seek and find and understand, if they have a real desire for truth. On the other hand, God has also left many areas hidden – so the one who chooses to not believe His written Word can likewise rationalize their non-belief.
C.S. Lewis, the once skeptic and agnostic turned Christian apologist understood this as well as any human being possibly can. He explained it this way. The belief in a supernatural reality [e.g.: Biblical truth] can neither be proved nor disproved by experience. One’s preconceptions of not believing in such prevent him from apprehending the evidence even if it’s available; so another’s preconceptions of believing lead him to imagine the evidence, even when it’s not there. [C. S. Lewis, “God in the Dock”, copyright @ 1970, by the Trustees of C. S. Lewis]
For example, Christians contend that there are compelling evidences proving the truth of the Bible, such as: God’s character, the Bible’s claims of divine authorship, the internal unity of the Bible, fulfilled prophecy, scientific accuracy, archaeological finds and the Bible’s life-changing power. Some of these evidences and proofs are better than others. For example, in earlier blogs I’ve discussed prophetic and archaeological findings which provide independent historic evidence confirming many of the Bible’s claims. And here are a few more archaeological findings discussed in a recent “Answers in Genesis” article. See the following site for a summary and some pictures of the five evidences provided: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v6/n2/archaeological-finds.
- The Tel Dan Stele (900–850 BC) – A stele is an upright stone that is inscribed and used as a monument of an important event or achievement. Rulers and peoples from Egypt, Israel, and across Mesopotamia used these steles to commemorate great victories and accomplishments. This particular stele is extraordinary because the expression, “House of David” is carved on its stone face. This affirms that the United Monarchy under King David existed in history and contradicts the long-held opinions of skeptics who denied that David ever existed.
- The Meesha Stele (846 BC) – Popularly known as the Moabite Stone, it records the revolt of Meesha, King of Moab, against Israel. This incredible stele mentions Omri, King of Israel, and David of the United Monarchy. It even refers to Yahweh, the unique name of the God of Israel! Together with the testimony from the Tel Dan Stele, we have a powerful external witness that the Bible records the true history of the kings of Israel and their interactions with foreign kings.
- The Nabonidus Cylinder (550 BC) – King Nabonidus of Babylonia left a magnificent cuneiform cylinder (wedge-shaped letters inscribed on a clay cylinder) mentioning his elder son, Belshazzar by name. Critics of the Bible had claimed for many years that the account in the book of Daniel was wrong. They said Belshazzar was never a king in Babylon and that Nabonidus was not his father. The discovery of this cylinder clearly showed that these scholars were dead wrong. Indeed, we can now understand the meaning of Daniel 5:16 more precisely where it says, “Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” This text now makes perfect sense because Nabonidus was in a co-regency with his son Belshazzar, who was the crown prince of Babylon. So that would make Daniel the “third ruler in the kingdom.”
- Caiaphas Ossuary – An ossuary was a box constructed to hold the bones of the dead after decomposition. In 1990 a startling discovery was made that shook biblical scholars and archaeologists alike. In the Peace Forest section of Jerusalem was discovered a burial cave containing twelve ossuaries, one of them being none other than that of Caiaphas, the high priest who presided at the trial of Jesus. This amazing discovery provides us with a powerful historical connection to the events described in the Gospels.
- Pilate Dedication Stone – In June 1961 an inscription on a limestone block, found at a Roman amphitheater in Caesarea Maritima, rocked the scholarly world. The block, which was once used as a dedication stone of a nearby temple and now reused for seating at the local amphitheater, had an extraordinary inscription. It read: “Tiberieum, (Pon)tius Pilatus, (Praef)ectus Iuda(eae).” Those scholars who questioned Pilate’s existence (and the gospel accounts generally) were silenced with this amazing discovery.
Regardless of these wonderful archaeological findings, atheists and agnostics nearly always create some rationale to dispel each piece of evidence and/or argument. Very few indeed even allow themselves a serious look at any evidence that would contradict their position. Fortunately, those few who do usually end up “back-sliding,” i.e.: becoming believers themselves.
I plead with you – don’t be blind. Ignorance is not bliss – it’s dangerous. Be open to consider ALL the evidence – not just what fits your personal agenda. “Seek and you will find! Knock and it will be opened to you! Ask and you will receive!”