Can anyone deny that there are passages in the Bible that are very hard to understand and sometimes hard to accept? The question is of course, rhetorical. Certainly no one could make such a claim. Those who would deny that there are difficult scriptures either do not spend much time in the Word or they are simply dishonest. I am not sure which of the two is worse.
From simple questions about where Cainâ€™s wife came from, to more complex issues such as the apparent misquote in Matthew 27:9-10; there are literally scores of passages where there seems to be confusion. In some instances it is seems almost impossible to reconcile what is being said with other portions of scripture.
In ministry, it would be relatively easy to avoid the difficulties and not bring attention to them at all. Who would know? And if the Bible was just a book written by men, Biblicists such as me might be inclined to do just that. But the Bible is not just a book. It is the transmitted thoughts and will of Almighty God. It is the Word (and words) of God. It is the final and only authority on truth and fact.
Many have attacked it. Many have tried to prove it false, and in so doing, have been converted by its awesome power and authority. Men will claim that it is full of contradictions, but are not able to point out a single example to support their argument.
Knowing there are those who would jump at the chance to find problems in scripture should not make believers apprehensive or shy in declaring it the plenary word of the Living God. Nor should we refrain from using those portions we feel might pose difficulties to explain. Too often Bible teachers will avoid passages in their sermons and lessons because they imagine there is conflict in what the scripture says.
Difficulty in understanding a passage does not discredit what is being said. Rather it reflects on the knowledge level of the one who sees it as difficult. The fact that we cannot immediately understand or explain the difficulty away does not mean it cannot be solved with proper research and prayer. Sometimes that research takes a long time, but this is the case with almost anything that one wants to learn. I may not understand what the mechanic is telling me about needed vehicle repairs, but I could learn mechanics myself and gain that understanding if I was willing to make the effort.
In my formative years as a Christian, I came across many difficult or hard to understand passages in my studies. Indeed, some of what I read seemed illogical, perhaps even impossible and they tested my faith. Yet I trusted the authority of scripture and accepted it as truth. Years later, with a more sound knowledge of scripture, those same passages posed absolutely no difficulty to me whatsoever. With experience and broader familiarity with scripture, the once difficult passages became very easy to understand.
The Apostle Paul spoke of the â€œmilkâ€ and â€œmeatâ€ of the word. Christians must start out with the milk or easier-to-digest things of God before they are ready to consume the meatier things. It is the superficial or inexperienced reader who adds calamity to a difficult verse. They read something they do not understand and panic. Too often young Christians get bogged down trying to understand something that they simply are not capable of grasping at their present knowledge level. Sometimes spiritual anxiety over such small issues completely consumes them and they run around like Chicken Little declaring that their faith is falling.