Lately, it seems like Christianity and all its trappings is often unwelcome in open society… except at Christmas time, where most everybody wants to participate, even if they don’t really believe in the reason for the celebration, Jesus Christ.  But that makes it a perfect time to talk about Him, as you’re standing in that long line to check out at the store, as you’re huddled under a blanket waiting for the Christmas parade to pass by, as you’re sitting in the auditorium waiting for that Christmas (Holiday) concert to start, or even as you gather with friends and family.  

So why don’t we?

Sure, they may be complete strangers, but I’ve had some great conversations with people stuck waiting around me in these situations—most recently at the DMV while renewing my license. What else can pass the time more than conversation? And it’s a responsibility we’re given if you are truly a born-again Christian—sharing the gospel with others, not to mention the Proverbs admonition for parents to “train a child up in the way he should go”.  

I have a sneaking suspicion we don’t do it because we feel afraid, insecure in our knowledge of the Bible or God’s nature and character, and fearful of getting one of those questions, you know, one we aren’t sure of the answer, or worse, one that seems to point out contradictions in the Bible, opening up us and our beliefs to ridicule. You should know there really isn’t any contradiction in the Bible, just maybe things we don’t fully understand.

But guess what: If we could know and understand everything there is about God, He wouldn’t be God. Let’s see if we can clear up some of these seeming contradictions that can trip us up.

 

Table Talk Notes

Hebrews 5:11-14 | About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

 

Difference between a conflict and a contradiction

Conflict: a mental struggle over a belief perhaps because insufficient information exists.

Contradiction:  A statement or belief that asserts or implies both the truth and falseness of something.

 

Example #1: The Gospel of John records that Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding feast in Cana.  The other three gospels did not record the event.

Skeptics claim this is a contradiction, when in fact it is a conflict (we do not know why the other gospel writers excluded the event—perhaps they were not there to witness the event).

A contradiction (something presented as both true and false) would be if one of the other gospels stated “Jesus did not turn water into wine at Cana”.  Then one of the two gospel writers would be lying.

 

Example #2: Penalty for Adultery

Skeptics claim the Bible is contradictory because under Old Testament Law adulterers should be stoned, but Jesus discouraged people from stoning the adulteress in John 8:7. Three important facts show this is not a contradiction:

 

First, all adulterers were not stoned in the OT, but some were (King David and Bathsheba)

Second, Jesus did not say they could not stone the adulterer; but he asked them to question their own lives, sins and motives before doing so.

Third, Jesus fulfilled The Law with grace, giving sinners time to repent of their sins before He once again returns in judgment.  He did not nullify The Law and it will be used to judge unrepentant sinners when He returns—he told the woman “Go, and sin no more”.  

 

Example #3: Does Jesus judge us or not?

People who claim, often citing Matt 7:1, “Jesus didn’t judged others and told us not to either,” are living in contradiction because they are “cherry picking” certain verses from the Bible.  For example, in John 12:47 Jesus says: “If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”

 

But look at this verse in correct biblical context!

John 12:47-48 | If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.

 

Jesus came the first time to offer forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God, not to condemn sinners.  But He clearly states He will judge unrepentant sinners when He returns.

 

John 5:21-24 | For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

John 9:39 | Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

Rev 20:11-15 | Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

 

Other examples

Jesus never said homosexuality was wrong.

Greek word for homosexual: arsenokoitēs  ar-sen-ok-oy’-tace:  a sodomite: – abuser of (that defile) self with mankind. (1 Cor 6:9, 1 Tim 1:10)  It’s true, Jesus never used this word.  But this is the word he DID use…

Greek word for sexual immorality:  porneia  por-ni’-ah: From G4203; harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively idolatry: – fornication. In the HELPS Word-studies: promiscuity of any (every) type. (also 1Cor 6:9, 1 Tim 1:10, spoken by Jesus in Matt 15:19, Mark 7:21)

 

Mark 7:20-21 | And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.

 

Where God says homosexuality is wrong…

Lev 18:22-30 | You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion. “Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you (for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean), lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people. So keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs that were practiced before you, and never to make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.”

 

And if you think, “well that’s the Old Testament God, not Jesus”…

John 10:30 | “I and the Father are one.”

 

David prayed for God to destroy his enemies but Jesus said to love your enemies

Psalm 18:37-42 | I pursued my enemies and overtook them, and did not turn back till they were consumed. I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise; they fell under my feet. For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me. You made my enemies turn their backs to me, and those who hated me I destroyed. They cried for help, but there was none to save; they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them. I beat them fine as dust before the wind;I cast them out like the mire of the streets.

Matt 5:39-46 | But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

 

Old Testament God of judgment & wrath vs New Testament God of Love (Jesus)

Psalm 25:6 | Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.

Psalm 36:5-9 | Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.

Isaiah 54:10 | For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

John 2:13-17 | The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Rev 6:12-17 | When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

 

Lying is OK???

One of the Ten Commandments, yet Rahab is blessed for her lies in the book of Joshua, as is Abraham for lying about Sarah (“She’s my sister”) to both Pharaoh and Abimelech.

 

Exodus 20:16 | You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

 

Joshua 2:3-14 | Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.”

But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.”

But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out. Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.”

And the men said to her, “Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the Lord gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.”

 

Matt 1:2-6 | Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah…

 

Divorce is OK???

Abhorrent to God, yet in Ezra the remnant was commanded to send away not only their foreign wives, but also their children with them.

Matt 19:3-9 | And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 

He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?”

He said to them,  “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

 

Ezra 10:1-5 | While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly.

And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, addressed Ezra: “We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. Therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord[a] and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be done according to the Law. Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it.”

Then Ezra arose and made the leading priests and Levites and all Israel take an oath that they would do as had been said. So they took the oath.

 

Deuteronomy 23:  Those excluded from the Assembly from forbidden unions in Lev 18—like all the descendants of Judah and Tamar (with daughter-in-law, Lev 18:15), or those in the lineage of Moabite Ruth, including David and Jesus

Deuteronomy 23:2-6 | “No one born of a forbidden union may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord. “No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the Lord forever, because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way, when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. But the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam; instead the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loved you. You shall not seek their peace or their prosperity all your days forever.

 

Genesis 38:6-19, 24-26 | And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death. Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.”

But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother’s wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother. And what he did was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also. 

Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in your father’s house, till Shelah my son grows up”—for he feared that he would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went and remained in her father’s house. In the course of time the wife of Judah, Shua’s daughter, died. When Judah was comforted, he went up to Timnah to his sheepshearers, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. And when Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep,” she took off her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, wrapping herself up, and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she had not been given to him in marriage. When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. He turned to her at the roadside and said, “Come, let me come in to you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?” 

He answered, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” And she said, “If you give me a pledge, until you send it— 

He said, “What pledge shall I give you?”

She replied, “Your signet and your cord and your staff that is in your hand.”

So he gave them to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him. Then she arose and went away, and taking off her veil she put on the garments of her widowhood… 

About three months later Judah was told, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has been immoral. Moreover, she is pregnant by immorality.”

And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.” 

As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant.”

And she said, “Please identify whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.” 

Then Judah identified them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.”

And he did not know her again.

 

Matt 1:2-6 | Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah…

 

  • Unclean foods/dietary laws vs. Jesus saying nothing is unclean
  • Peter’s vision in Acts 10, and Paul in Romans 14
  • Faith alone vs. James’ “Faith without works is dead.”

 

Trying to reach everyone with the gospel vs. “throwing pearls before swine.”

Matt 13:24-30 | He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

1 Corinthians 9:22-23 | “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”

Matt 7:6 | “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”

 

The Calvinism vs. Arminianism argument: He irresistibly pre-selects us, or we have free will to choose Him?

Ultimately, it is our view that both systems fail in that they attempt to explain the unexplainable. Human beings are incapable of fully grasping a concept such as this. Yes, God is absolutely sovereign and knows all. Yes, human beings are called to make a genuine decision to place faith in Christ unto salvation. These two facts seem contradictory to us, but in the mind of God they make perfect sense.