I have a good friend who is determined to read through the entire bible, from Genesis to Revelation. She is currently plowing through the first book but has been troubled with nagging questions in just about every chapter. Like any studious reader, she has jotted down questions that need answering. She contacted me for help and I proposed to use my blog as a forum for discussing the issues she comes across in her readings.
I wanted to publicize our correspondence because I imagine the questions she’s wrestling with are likely to be shared by many others who try to seriously tackle the Bible for the first time. It can be a peculiar tome to those who may not have been raised on a steady diet of bible stories and memory verses in Sunday school as a child. I didn’t read the bible until I was 23. It took awhile for the whole work to make cohesive sense. Frankly, to this day I’m still connecting theological dots between biblical concepts. Mastering Scripture is a lifetime pursuit. It is akin to comprehending the mind of God. Since His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways higher than our ways (Isa 55:9) Scripture can be perplexing and confounding to finite minds.
We must also recognize two important truths about the Bible. First, Scripture is God’s revelation of Himself to mankind. He unveils His character and nature, His plan for mankind and His great love through the redemption procured by Jesus Christ. The most educated scholar down to the most unlearned rube can grasp these concepts by the illumination of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is above no one’s comprehension level.
Second, the bible doesn’t tell us all there is to know about God and His designs. Theologians like to talk about the incomprehensibility of God. This simply means that God cannot be fully understood. He has revealed many things to us about Himself, but if we’re honest we still can’t wrap our minds around an infinite, trinitarian, all-knowing, ever present deity. Quite frankly, it’s beyond us. I imagine it will take an eternity to explore the depths of His being, to experience the magnitude of His holy character. Maybe that answers, in part, what His saints will be doing in the age to come. Again, we don’t know and can’t know until that time comes. Why? Deuteronomy 29:29 states:
The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
The revelation of Scripture is for everyone who will take to heart its contents as the true self testimony of God. It doesn’t tell us all we need to know about Him but it tells us all we need to know for godliness and contentment.
I write all this to simply get the point across that some questions may not have answers, at least not ones that we can proclaim with utmost confidence. I will endeavor in this new series to go as far as Scripture informs us and proceed no further. I will attempt to avoid roaming into the realm of speculation. This is a lesson I’ve gleaned from reading the works of Calvin over the years. I’ll intersperse these Q&A posts every week among my Blogging The Institutes posts. I have a feeling it’ll be awhile before I can work through all my friends questions. She’s very inquisitive! I hope to be able to write concisely and lucidly that not just my friend will be informed and edified but all my readers as well.
I’ll take on my friend’s first set of questions starting next week.
This is a very good idea! This is how I founded the Bible study I led when I was in Weatherford. I wanted people to bring their questions, and then the whole group would study the Bible to assist the one with the question in finding an answer. As you mentioned, not all questions will have answers. There are mysteries that will remain so. I recall a quote from Calvin in his Sermons on Job. He said that the mysteries of God should be accepted as that (I’m paraphrasing, of course). We don’t need to be distracted with conjecture on things that God has not revealed to us. We just need to focus on the truths He has given us plainly.