After looking at these supposed contradictions, I have come to the following conclusion: people will believe what they want to believe. God presents us with a choice to believe in whatever we want to, and reveals His Truth to us through others. He gives us all the opportunity to seek out and believe His purpose. If we reject that, then we are simply fighting God for control; but just because we reject God’s sovereignty, it doesn’t mean it does not exist.
By breaking down these 10 “contradictions,” we can see that logically, they are not true. I chose to stop after the first 10 (of about 140 or so) because not 1 of them had any credence that I could find. I intend to keep the list and may revisit new ones occasionally but seriously, who would continue after a 0:10 success rate? However, some people are and will continue to be convinced that they are true, that the bible cannot be trusted, and that God does not exist (or is a lesser being than He really is). These are the lies that the enemy has led us to believe. The enemy is known as the great deceiver, a liar, a swindler, etc. We all believe at least some of these lies (believers and nonbelievers alike). What can we do about that? Nothing and everything.
His Word, not mine
I learned a very important lesson when I first “finished” this study. I initially put together this “final thoughts” section with much haste and put it out there with just an hour or two of thought. I didn’t pray about it, I didn’t go back over it, I literally just “threw up” random thoughts on paper and put it out there without much discernment or consideration. This taught me that regardless of how close my relationship is with God, I still cannot do it without Him. I did not consult His guidance and fell flat on my face as a result of it. The previous “edition” of this last post not only does not represent God and His truths that He has revealed to me, but they were even counter to what my beliefs are! It goes to show how easy it is to contradict ourselves and our beliefs when we do it without God in mind. He does not contradict Himself but we constantly contradict ourselves, leading to half-truths, misguided wisdom, and unintentional hurts.
Knowledge vs. Faith
To the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is thegift of God.” This is why we cannot save people: only God can save people. Look at the example of the Apostle Paul’s life. He was more educated than any other religious personality in the post-resurrection era. All of his knowledge, experience, and credentials did not lead to his faith in Christ. In fact, they were counter to what Christ taught and the message that God delivered to the world through Him. Strength in a religion (a man made institution to define faith) does not always reflect a level of faith. Faith is not about seeing; it is about believing what you cannot see. Paul had to live this out after his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus by being blinded by God. When God convicts our heart about His Truth, we have the option of believing it or creating excuses why we should not believe it (consciously or otherwise). The minute God gives you the opportunity to follow Him, while He may put the conviction in your heart, He will not fight for your choice; He already did that on the cross. What good is love if it is not freely given? Frankly, I wouldn’t want someone to love me if I had to coax them into doing it.
Knowledge does not necessarily always create faith. While it may lead to an understanding of religious doctrines, it doesn’t always convince someone to believe. I know a pastor that after going through seminary and even preaching the gospel to a congregation for years, does not believe that Christ is his Savior. I have always wondered: how can that be? He’s gone through the doctrines, theology, and even studied the original languages in which the scriptures were written, yet he does not believe. I have also known others who have done the very same thing and believe in Christ as their Savior. Some believe in Christ without knowing much about the scriptures, while others, believing in Christ, know the scriptures more than anyone I’ve ever known. I’ve contemplated this phenomenon a lot and honestly had trouble understanding this. What I have come to understand is that faith has nothing to do with us.
Another example would be the son of the leader of Hamas. Growing up forced to follow Islam, he grew tired of not having a choice to believe what he wanted. In the article I read, he said he wasn’t allowed to explore other religions. Eventually he was able to research other religions secretly through the internet and eventually migrated to America and became a follower of Christ. He was living in exile from his family in Los Angeles as of that article. What validity does a belief system have if it restricts you from researching others? I would think that if any “religion” is solid, those that believe in it would not have a problem with followers looking into other religions. Having faith in what you believe and the strength of its truth would make an excellent case for learning about other religions, because if it really is The Truth, it would hold up against the others, would it not? If you truly believe in something, then you won’t be swayed from it, will you? In my limited experience, most religions don’t like its followers to ask questions. In following Christ, we are encouraged to ask questions in search of the Truth of God’s Glory. It is how we increase our faith.
God gives us His faith in Him in a way that is meaningful to us. Interestingly enough, by reading the Word we can increase our faith. Note the difference. Knowledge cannot create faith, but it can increase it. The difference being that you actually believe what you are reading. It is almost impossible to not have a bias about something we read. If our bias is that what we are reading is not true, then how are we to believe it in the first place?
Paul’s experience shows why we should continue to search for God. Until he was confronted by Christ, he believed what he was fulfilling God’s purpose for him. The interesting point is that even though God knew Paul was not necessarily following God’s Will (rather the man-made doctrine he studied all his life), it wasn’t until Paul was a full fledged persecutor that Christ decided to “wake him up” and change his heart to understand God’s truth: creating a perfect example of grace, purpose, and repentance.
The search for God’s Truth
The more people search for God’s purpose in their life, the closer they will come to realizing it. The day we stop searching is the day we give up and choose to reject God, considering ourselves a god instead. A friend of mine once told me that the more he searches for God in his life, the more he sees God in his life. As we seek God out and call out His name, He will draw us closer to Him. In Mathew chapter 7 Christ tells us, “7Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you.8For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened.”
Unfortunately, we tend to seek God in man’s knowledge. Even in reading the scriptures we discredit God’s power by using the excuse that “the bible was written by man”. In believing the lie that it isn’t the inspired Word of God, we reject God’s omnipotence. Granted, it makes sense that we search for God’s Truth, questioning the validity of His Word against the word of man, however if we don’t want to truly believe, we won’t. Likewise, if we just want something to believe in, we will believe anything.
If you seek God or want to know what His purpose is for your life: ASK HIM! Don’t read books about God, rather talk to Him and read HIS book. Cry out for His answer, He will give it to you if you believe He will; if you ask someone a question without expecting an answer, does the answer really matter? Even as believers, we must ask God in expectation of an answer. Otherwise, what’s the point? Some of us ask a question not expecting the answer or even worse: not wanting an answer. This would prove the point that God doesn’t exist or God doesn’t care: a self fulfilling prophecy.
Now, I’m not saying that other people who talk about God, or teach about His Truth are always wrong, rather that we must filter it through the bible. The bible, being God’s Word (if we believe it), is the filter through which we are to discern what His Truth is and what is not. I suppose the problem here is that we first need to believe that the bible really is God’s Word, which begins in believing in God’s ultimate power and asking Him to give you the faith that He wants you to have. If we don’t want it, we won’t get it. In other words, we have to believe that God is God and nothing less.
It is funny and sad at the same time how quick we are to listen to a man’s (or woman’s) perspective of things and not only agree with it but believe it wholeheartedly. My clearest example of this was a conversation I had with a Catholic High student last year. We had a conversation about the validity of the bible (notice a pattern?) and his justification was that it was “written by man”. In the next breath, he defended his belief that “there are sins of different degrees and we are punished to the degree of the sin we commit.” Honestly, I have never heard or read this, so I asked him out of curiosity, “Where does it say that?” His response, “I don’t know, it’s what we’ve been taught.”
I am discovering more and more that because of our inherent nature to fear change, our ignorance tends to be stronger than reason because it is comfortable; it is what we know. This is why politics and religion are avoided in friendly circles, because when it comes to the human psyche, we always feel we are right. If we felt we were wrong, we would change our ideals to what we felt was right, wouldn’t we? We NEED to feel we are right, for it validates (we think) our very existence.
Planting the Seed
It is not our duty as believers to make people believe. It is simply our duty as Christians to “plant the seed” and trust that God will make it grow. I struggle with this constantly. Not because I want to be right (admittedly that IS my sinful motivation sometimes), but because life with Christ is so free! I constantly ask, “Why wouldn’t someone want to live in this freedom?” We talk about freedom all the time in this country but don’t quite understand its implication. We have become slaves to the ideals of freedom without actually living it out. We make ourselves slaves to religion without understanding who God really is.
I understand how this might seem counter to what I said before about knowledge vs. faith. Keep in mind that just by telling someone the Truth, we don’t necessarily convince them to believe. Rather, we expose them to God’s love. Then, it is God Himself that changes one’s heart to believe what they have heard or seen. It can be the beginning of someone’s journey that God has laid out for them or it could be a part of the journey that helps them redirect away from this world and towards God.
Sometimes planting the seed means exposing someone to the Word that never really was exposed to it before. Think back to the son of Hamas’ leader I mentioned earlier. Other times it means clarifying some lies that the great deceiver has convinced them are true. Think of someone who has “left the church” and is afraid to come back for feelings of guilt, shame, fear, anger, or hurtfulness. These are the stumbling blocks we can remove by studying the Truth in His love letter to us: the bible. This was my purpose in exploring these contradictions. I feel that argument over faith is fruitless and actually counterintuitive to what God calls us to do. Arguments and conflict are not of love and God calls us to love unconditionally. Arguments create a “you are wrong and I am right” mentality whereas we need to grasp a “we are wrong and God is right” mentality. By design, however, we cannot do that without His love in our lives: evidenced in the acceptance of Christ’s blood washing away the dirt of our lives we call sin. Contrary to what some may think, my purpose in my study of the bible is not to argue religion, but rather to seek out God’s Truth in my life directly from Him. If we want to know what is going on, the best way is to go directly to the source. If you want to know about God, ask HIM. He will lead you to His truth in a way that you can understand and believe Him in your own way. After all, we are all unique by His design, are we not? This is why everyone’s story of their path to faith is different. However, we must be willing to accept His Truth once He shows us. Are you willing?
The world today looks at Christians as if we are a bunch of hypocrite elitists. Is that how we are acting? “Outsiders” look at following Christ as being subjected to a bunch of rules but it is quite the opposite. If we actually pay attention to the lessons of Christ, we learn that religion is a man made concept of God and to actually be OF God breaks us free from the constraints of man-made ideals. If we are following religion instead of God, we need to re-examine what God (not man) says about how we should treat the world, believers and unbelievers alike. Christ didn’t teach about religion, he taught against religion! So then why do we use His very words and create a religion out of it? It’s because we want to be in control of God and expect Him to fall into place wherever we put Him in our lives. We want to put God in our own little box and make Him work for us. We want the definition of God to be what satisfies our desires, instead of realizing what God has created us to be and the purpose He created us individually to fulfill.
It’s not our job to judge, rather to love. When Christ returns, He will be the judge. He will be the One who at the end of time, will decide between right and wrong. Certainly, the world looks at us (Christians) as if we think we are perfect. Christians, we are NOT perfect. We are perfect in God’s eyes in regards to being able to have a relationship with Him, but we are still sinners: forgiven, yet still sinners. Until we are freed from this world we are bound to its rules, its temptations, its downfalls, and the original sin into which we are born. Thanks to Christ’s atonement for our iniquities, we are set free from its bondage and are called to live our life of freedom through Him. As we learn to live with Christ in us, God molds us to live according to His will. Notice: I did not say we are forced to live by a set of rules. Rather, we get to live in His freedom both in this life and the next. Following Christ is a life of transformation we get to enjoy and celebrate, not to mourn and hate.
If you do believe, I urge you to grasp God’s forgiveness in its fullness and live out the purpose God has called you to. If you do not believe, I pray that God’s grace is revealed to you and that by accepting it, you claim the freedom He has offered us all. Regardless of what we decide, He loves you unconditionally and with His guidance and strength, I will too.