Many questions are asked concerning Biblical matters and quite often these questions are asked with a qualifying statement such as: "This is probably a foolish question, but..."
There are two types of foolish Biblical questions:
- Questions never asked, therefore they go unanswered (very foolish)
- Questions asked in order to challenge, dispute, cause confusion or present a different point of view, instead of seeking information to enable a proper conclusion, or expand learning (very very foolish)
One illustration of the last type of foolish questions is found in the Old Testament story of the queen of Sheba and Solomon.
1 Kings 10:1 Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions.
- hard questions = (Hebrew)
- a puzzle; a dark saying; a riddle; an enigmatic sentence or thought
Many questions concerning Biblical matters are hard questions. Hard in the sense they are difficult to explain in human terms. The hard questions referred to in 1 Kings 10:1 were not hard because the answers were detailed and complicated. Instead, they were hard to answer because even the right answer might be the wrong answer. These hard questions were more like riddles, or contrived sayings designed to trick or confuse the one answering. These questions were given with the intent and hope that the one answering would look foolish because of their answer. We have many illustrations of this type of question in the New Testament, also. The lawyers used this type of question in an effort to trip-up Christ.
Matthew 22:35-36 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"
Paul, in his instructions to a couple of young up-and-coming preachers stated:
1 Timothy 1:4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.
1 Timothy 6:3-5 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.
Titus 3:8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works.
We can be good at affirming constantly those things we believe. However, there seems to be a weakness when it comes to translating those things we believe into a constant stream of good works.
Titus 3:8b-11 These things are good and profitable to men. 9 But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. 10 Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.
- disputes or questions [1 Timothy 1:4, 6:4; Titus 3:9] = (Greek)
- to search in an improper manner, i.e. a disputing; to ask in order to plot against; to bring doubt concerning the fact
It's amazing how many people, even Believers, search the Word of God and often search diligently, but in an improper manner or for the wrong reasons. They want Biblical documentation for their wrong concepts, and/or actions. They do not search so they can know know God, know God's Truth, and through that Truth maintain good works. Instead, they often want conformation in order to continue their bad works. Satan has long used this type of questioning to bring disruption to the plan of God, and to plot against God in the hope of furthering his own schemes. The first recorded use of this type of question by Satan is found in Genesis 3. It was so successful that Satan has not changed his plan of attack, and he influences many Christians to follow the same pattern.
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?"
We are to avoid this type of questioning, and not become involved in its snare. This type of question does not promote Biblical knowledge, spiritual growth, or edification. Instead, these questions can only bring "envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain" 1 Timothy 6:4-5
Foolish questions produce the opposite of God's purpose for Biblical truth, and should be avoided, along with the one asking such questions. Questions that inquire after and into the truth, so a proper and accurate conclusion can be drawn are vital and helpful, so that Biblical actions may result.
I can give basically two responses in dealing with Biblical (not foolish) questions:
- State the answer to the question
- Explain the answer and the process by which the answer was derived
In the first response, the answer is given, and it may or may not be Biblically correct. This response is simple, direct and quick. This response says, "Believe this answer because I gave it." The questioner may have an answer. However, that answer may not give any real understanding, and may never speak to the heart of the question. When a person asks a Biblical question, the doubt in their mind that spawned such a question may have little to do with the stated question. Often a person does not know how to put their doubts into words, or they may not want to state those doubts openly.
Therefore, only answering the stated question may not give understanding to the real doubt. This procedure, of only answering surface questions, often leads to the so called pat church answers that are correct in content, but give little help in living a holy life in an unholy world.
In the second response, an answer is also given. In addition to the answer, the questioner is shown the process of finding the answer. Now the questioner has both the answer and the assurance of the Biblical correctness of that answer. Through that process, they have also been taught how to resolve other Biblical questions, without having the Answer Man at their side.
The preferred and normal procedure to Biblical questions is the second response. The desire is not simply to give an answer, but to show how to arrive at the answer. In that manner, the questioner has the answer, and has the conviction that the answer is Biblical, not just someone's opinion. This process also gives tools to enable the questioner to find the answers to the questions that couldn't be or weren't expressed.
Through this process, spiritual strength and growth are gained. This process allows the questioner to be in partnership with the Holy Spirit as He teaches the "deep things of God" by comparing spiritual with spiritual. Once a person has been through this process of seeking and learning the Biblical answers to Biblical questions, they can teach others to do likewise, 2 Timothy 2:2. This prevents the satanic and self-centered declarations of:
This is what I think it says. or In my opinion, the answer is...
When it comes to Biblical truths and the actions based on those truths, it is important that we are personally persuaded and convinced that those things are true and from God. After all, your eternal destiny and rewards are dependent on those truths, and your actions should be in accord with them.
Romans 14:5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
When using this process to find the answer to a Biblical question, quite often the answer to the question becomes far less important than the other truths learned while searching out the answer. More often than not, the sweet fellowship you will have with the Holy Spirit through this process will mean far more than the answer when it is found.
This may be obvious, but finding and understanding Biblical answers is not as simple as a tap of the search box. The understanding of Biblical questions and answers may take a lifetime as you compare all scripture with all other scriptures several times over.
Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
If the answer is simply stated or you read the answer in a book, you may be impressed with the knowledge of the one answering or the knowledge of the author (on the other hand you might not). However, your impression of some person's knowledge or lack thereof will not bring spiritual growth or fellowship with Christ to you personally and this is of utmost importance.
Neither will that Biblical truth be a personal conviction in your life. If you are to meet and defeat the pressures of the world, the flesh and the Devil, you will need a firm conviction of the truths of God. Knowing that pastor so-and-so believes and teaches those truths, will not give you the strength and courage to stand against all physical odds, and the fiery darts of Satan.
After the death of Abraham, he went to a place called Paradise. While there, Abraham told the rich man, who was in Torments, something that teaches us a great spiritual lesson on this subject. The rich man had asked that someone from the dead go back and convince his brothers of spiritual matters, so they would not end up in the same place he was.
Luke 16:31 But he [Abraham] said to him [the rich man], "If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead."
The persuasion needed to stand against evil and live in holiness will not come through what some person might say or think, even if that person comes back from the dead! The personal persuasion needed to live for Christ and resist Satan will only come from the study and belief of "Moses and the prophets". The phrase "Moses and the prophets" refers to the entire Word of God. There is only one source that has the power to persuade you to live above the natural and dwell in the spiritual realm. That source is the living Word of God administered by the Holy Spirit. Look briefly at what the Scriptures say about our need for conviction or persuasion concerning the Word of God. Abraham had the persuasion needed to live the life of faith when all natural elements were contrary to such living.
Romans 4:20-21 He [Abraham] did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He [God] had promised He [God] was also able to perform.
This persuasion or conviction did not come because someone else had tested the truth of God's Word and found it sure and firm. This persuasion did not come because his nephew Lot, or his bond servant had researched the truths of the Word of God and confirmed them as accurate. No, Abraham, personally, tested God's promises. Therefore, he did not waver, but was strengthened in faith, giving God the glory and he was fully convinced that God was true to His Word and able to carry out what He promised.
Just because a teacher believes or your parents and your friends believe God's truths, that will not make those Biblical truths a reality in your life. You must personally taste and see that the promises of God are true and everlasting. Paul found God and His Word sufficient to empower him to live above the world, adversity and persecution. Listen to what Paul said on the subject:
Romans 8:33-39 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The key to this passage is found in the first part of v.38 where Paul states that He, personally, is persuaded. Therefore, he could confidently say, "Who can bring a charge against, condemn or separate us from all that God is and has promised?" The answer to that question is no one! However, even though that is the answer, and the correct answer, it was not sufficient for Paul. Paul had personally tested God's truth in many practical everyday situations, and names some in this passage. Paul had been in tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, he had been without proper clothing, etc. In all of those situations Christ was sufficient and through Christ, Paul didn't just endure those things. While experiencing this list of things, he became more than a conqueror through Christ!
I don't know what you were asked to endure this past year. Nor do I know what you will be asked to endure during the coming year. Did you have tribulation or distress last year? If so, did it defeat you, or were you more than a conqueror? If those things defeated you, it was because you were not personally persuaded of the quality of God's truth, or His ability to keep His Word. You may possess the academics of God's truth, or you may have heard those truths from someone else. However, it will take far more than your personal ability and fine personality to make you more than a conqueror while in the midst these things. Most people can be side-lined conquerors, in the same manner as some Monday morning quarterbacks, as long as they are not in the battle. However, put them in the line of fire and they are quickly defeated.
Yes, it will take more than an eloquent, well educated teacher telling you that these things are true. You will have to let go of your greatness, and the ability of others. You will have to quit trying to be that self-made person, who can handle all things. Instead you will need to simply cling to the promises of the Word of God that you have personally tested. Anything less, and you will continue to live a defeated, frustrated life.
If you have not found the truths of the Word of God sufficient to make you more than a conqueror through Christ in: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, lack of clothing, peril, sword, etc., then you will never become a conqueror when the really big things hit, like: "death, life, angels, principalities, powers, things present, things to come, heights or depths, etc."
2 Timothy 1:12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.
In this life we will suffer. Not all of life is made up of suffering, however, the more we desire to live for Christ the more we will suffer.
2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
We will suffer. What we do with that suffering, how we respond to that suffering, and to whom we commit that suffering will make all the difference in the world in our joy, contentment and fulfillment. When we suffer, we will commit our suffering to something or someone. We might commit our suffering to anger; self-pity; bitterness; working harder and smarter; friendship; alcohol; drugs; pleasure; and the list could go on and on.
Far too seldom do we commit our suffering to Christ. One reason we don't is that we must gain confidence in God and His Word a little at a time. We must learn to commit the little everyday things to God, before we will have the confidence to commit the big things to God. If we do not commit those things to God, we will try to handle them through our own strength, and that means sure failure.
2 Timothy 1:7-12 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.
2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,
Everything the Believer needs to live the spiritual life, and have a godly conduct is found in the precious promises given by God. In these precious promises, or the Word of God, we find the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Through these promises and that knowledge, the Believer is able to partake of God's divine nature, and literally absorb the power of that divine nature into daily living. That is why it is so important that we know the facts of the Word of God, and know how to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us the deep things of God. In this way, the life that the Believer lives in the flesh will not be lived by human power with its failings, weaknesses, hang-ups, obsessions and lusts.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
When the truth of Galatians 2:20 is the norm of our living, then all that Christ is, will be available to us to meet and deal with all the needs of living.
I don't know how life treated you this past year, but knowing that you are human and that you are living in a sin cursed world, I know you have faced problems, tests, disappointments, joys, excitements, etc. If you have been participating in any or all of these only through your own know-how, ingenuity and ability, you have failed in the spiritual life, even if your physical life seems successful. Spiritual failure or success cannot be defined by how you feel about your living, but by what God has said about that type of living. If you have been trying to manipulate the details of life by your own ability, you have been failing spiritually. You may have been able to put on a good front, so that very few knew of these spiritual failures. You may even look back on the year or years and think, "I've done quite well for myself!" Having spiritual failure is like sowing seeds. At first, after the seeds are sown (or failings spiritually) there doesn't seem to be any change. However, given time, those seeds will grow. Given enough time, they will multiply. Likewise with spiritual failure.
Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
If you have been sowing to the flesh, there will be a harvest and you will reap of the flesh. The sad or glorious fact of sowing and reaping (depending on what your are sowing) is that you reap more than you sow. If your life has been lived in and for the flesh (it matters not how well it has been covered by the soil of this life), that harvest of the flesh will come crashing down on you as sure as God is God.
Now is the time to put away the sham and facade of self-righteousness which you have been presenting to others and possibly to yourself. The very fact of living a life of hypocrisy, by trying to impress others with your spiritual qualities while all the time living by the energy of flesh, is of itself sowing to the flesh, and it is adding to your harvest which will come.
2 Corinthians 9:6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
This passage is in the context of giving, but the principle of sowing and reaping is the same, whether it is giving, or sowing to the flesh.
In this past year, which did you sow the most, to the flesh or to the Spirit? Did you spend your time and energy sowing to the flesh? Then now is the time to bring your spiritual accounts up to date. If this has been a year of sowing to the flesh, now is the time to have your spiritual accounts cleansed and cleared of that debt. If you have been living a life of hypocrisy, now is the time to stop, come clean with God and cut your losses.
If you have been living by the flesh and in hypocrisy, you need to come to God in honest confession, receive His forgiveness, allow Him to cleanse your life and eradicate the harvest of the flesh that is sure to come. You can never reclaim the lost time spent this year in the things of the flesh and hypocrisy. Those things of the flesh cannot be turned into spiritual gains. But listen my Christian friend! It would be far better to have God's forgiveness and have your spiritual accounts cleared of all debt, than to continue on as you are, and receive the full harvest of what you have sown. It would be far better to end this year with your spiritual ledger wiped clean without any spiritual profit, than to end the year in spiritual bankruptcy, and receive the full and awful harvest from those things you have already sown.
If you have spent this year living by and in the things of the flesh, and presenting to others a life of hypocrisy, those things are sin! It matters not how good those things might have been. God is the only specialist in the field of sin eradication from the life of a Believer.
Isaiah 1:18 "Come now, and let us reason together," says the Lord, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; 20 but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword"; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
That same message given by God to Israel through Isaiah is just as true today as it was when first given. This is the message of God since the Garden of Eden, and will be so until the new heaven and earth.
That message is:
- God can and will take care of the sin problem, if you will allow Him to do so
- You must be willing and obedient, then God will do the rest
- If you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by your own making
My friend your pride and the opinion of others is not worth the harvest that comes from such sowing.
God's desire for each Christian is that we know joy so great that it is impossible to express it. However, we often equate spiritual joy with physical happiness that comes through fleshly things. We can have real joy in any circumstance, but we must get it God's way.