31. Biblical Difficulties.

There is a certain class of persons who endeavour to satisfy themselves and others as well that they are to be excused from believing the scripture because it contains so many things they do not understand, as well as a great many things that appear contrary one to another. They assume very lofty airs of superior wisdom, and affect to regard the Bible as a book which can be of no importance to them, for the very simple reason that it is beyond their comprehension. They lay it down as an axiom that they are to believe only just what they understand. It has been very neatly and properly retorted that the creed of this particular class of individuals must necessarily be very brief.

The fact is there are very few things even in the natural realm that any of us understand, using the word "understand" in its fullest sense. And when we come to God's revelation we ought to be perfectly sure that it contains very many matters far above our ken. The very presence of such "deep things" proves that its origin is not human but divine.

Seeing that the Bible has divine authority, as being the word and words of God, what does it demand from us? Faith, unconditionally. God speaks, and we are bound to listen with reverence. What He tells me, I must accept because He says so. It is no question of waiting until I understand before believing. On the contrary, faith is the very means whereby we do understand. "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear" (Heb. 11:3).

The act of creation is of all things a question of faith. To speak of understanding the world or anything in it could be brought into being is absurd. It is just what the most eminent men of science fail in understanding, as in fact they allow. But to the believer it is perfectly simple, because he accepts it as the result of God's omnipotent word and will. "He spake and it was done."

In like manner the man of faith accepts all the marvellous events narrated in the scriptures. They are presented in the way of divine testimony, and however they may appear to be beyond all human power to execute they are nevertheless to be believed because there is always the power of God which can never be circumscribed and which therefore fully accounts for every one. That water should issue from the rock in the wilderness when smitten by Moses' rod is altogether beyond human imitation. Apart from the exercise of the power of Jehovah such a thing was impossible. But receive the fact on this ground, and see what an illustration you have of God's particular regard for the pressing needs of His people, and the effectual way in which He can provide for them.

Obviously, however, it would be useless to ask a dozen questions as to how the miracle was performed and to refuse to believe until your curiosity was satisfied. Because, apart from the circumstances of the phenomenon which are recorded, it is impossible to answer any questions of detail. Faith then, and faith alone applies in this instance as the secret of obtaining the needed instruction from the incident.

But perhaps you are one of those persons who have no difficulty about the miracles. You believe them in spite of the difficulties; yet when it is a question of spiritual truth about yourself, as one of God's children, you attempt to dispose of it by putting it on one side as too difficult for you. You want faith, my friend. Believe God's word about it first, and you will then at any rate be in a more likely frame of mind to learn a little more of what God has revealed in connection with that subject.

You must not suppose that I wish to discourage you in the desire for information, or in the practice of making enquiries for that purpose. On the contrary, an awakened interest in the scriptures displays itself in asking questions. If the question springs from a simple and honest desire to know God's will as revealed, it will result in blessing. But if the question originates from a wish to find objections to the truth it can certainly be of no profit to the soul.

We have many an example in the Gospels of the patience and readiness of the Lord in answering the queries of His disciples and others when they came to Him. For instance, after the Lord had spoken certain similitudes of the kingdom of the heavens to the multitude, His disciples came to Him in the house, and said, "Declare to us the parables." And we read, "When they were alone He expounded all things to His disciples" (Mark 4:34).

The Lord however did not gratify mere idle curiosity. One said to Him, actuated by a desire simply to know something that no one else knew, "Lord, are there few that be saved?" The answer would be of no moral or practical value to anyone; and so the Lord ignored the question but pressed earnest endeavour to enter at the strait gate (Luke13:23).

On another occasion, the chief priests and elders came to the Lord as He was teaching, and asked Him, "By what authority doest Thou these things? and who gave Thee this authority?" But the Lord knew the workings of their hearts. They were desirous of finding some plausible excuse for their unbelief. By a question of His own He made manifest their incapacity, and then absolutely refused to give them any answer (Matt. 21:23-27).

I think perhaps that even from these one or two instances a little light may be seen as to the difference between proper and improper questions.