MANY, especially those who are young in the
Christian life, are at times troubled with the suggestions of skepticism.
There are in the Bible many things which they cannot explain, or even
understand, and Satan employs these to shake their faith in the
Scriptures as a revelation from God. They ask, "How shall I know the
right way? If the Bible is indeed the word of God, how can I be freed
from these doubts and perplexities?"
God never asks us to believe, without giving sufficient evidence upon
which to base our faith. His existence, His character, the truthfulness
of His word, are all established by testimony that appeals to our reason;
and this testimony is abundant. Yet God has never removed the possibility
of doubt. Our faith must rest upon evidence, not demonstration. Those who
wish to doubt will have opportunity; while those who really desire to
know the truth will find plenty of evidence on which to rest their faith.
It is impossible for finite minds fully to comprehend the character or
the works of the Infinite One. To the keenest intellect, the most highly
educated mind, that holy Being must ever remain clothed in mystery.
"Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty
unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than
hell; what canst thou know?" Job 11:7, 8.
The apostle Paul exclaims, "O the depth of the riches both of the
wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His
ways past finding out!" Romans 11:33. But though "clouds and darkness are
round about Him," "righteousness and judgment are the foundation of His
throne." Psalm 97:2, R.V. We can so far comprehend His dealings with us,
and the motives by which He is actuated, that we may discern boundless
love and mercy united to infinite power. We can understand as much of His
purposes as it is for our good to know; and beyond this we must still
trust the hand that is omnipotent, the heart that is full of love.
The word of God, like the character of its divine Author, presents
mysteries that can never be fully comprehended by finite beings. The
entrance of sin into the world, the incarnation of Christ, regeneration,
the resurrection, and many other subjects presented in the Bible, are
mysteries too deep for the human mind to explain, or even fully to
comprehend. But we have no reason to doubt God's word because we cannot
understand the mysteries of His providence. In the natural world we are
constantly surrounded with mysteries that we cannot fathom. The very
humblest forms of life present a problem that the wisest of philosophers
is powerless to explain. Everywhere are wonders beyond our ken. Should we
then be surprised to find that in the spiritual world also there are
mysteries that we cannot fathom? The difficulty lies solely in the
weakness and narrowness of the human mind. God has given us in the
Scriptures sufficient evidence of their divine character, and we are not
to doubt His word because we cannot understand all the mysteries of His
The apostle Peter says that there are in Scripture "things hard to be
understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest ... unto
their own destruction." 2 Peter 3:16. The difficulties of Scripture have
been urged by skeptics as an argument against the Bible; but so far from
this, they constitute a strong evidence of its divine inspiration. If it
contained no account of God but that which we could easily comprehend; if
His greatness and majesty could be grasped by finite minds, then the
Bible would not bear the unmistakable credentials of divine authority.
The very grandeur and mystery of the themes presented should inspire
faith in it as the word of God.
The Bible unfolds truth with a simplicity and a perfect adaptation to
the needs and longings of the human heart, that has astonished and
charmed the most highly cultivated minds, while it enables the humblest
and uncultured to discern the way of salvation. And yet these simply
stated truths lay hold upon subjects so elevated, so far-reaching, so
infinitely beyond the power of human comprehension, that we can accept
them only because God has declared them. Thus the plan of redemption is
laid open to us, so that every soul may see the steps he is to take in
repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, in order to
be saved in God's appointed way; yet beneath these truths, so easily
understood, lie mysteries that are the hiding of His glory--mysteries
that overpower the mind in its research, yet inspire the sincere seeker
for truth with reverence and faith. The more he searches the Bible, the
deeper is his conviction that it is the word of the living God, and human
reason bows before the majesty of divine revelation.
To acknowledge that we cannot fully comprehend the great truths of the
Bible is only to admit that the finite mind is inadequate to grasp the
infinite; that man, with his limited, human knowledge, cannot understand
the purposes of Omniscience.
Because they cannot fathom all its mysteries, the skeptic and the
infidel reject God's word; and not all who profess to believe the Bible
are free from danger on this point. The apostle says, "Take heed,
brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in
departing from the living God." Hebrews 3:12. It is right to study
closely the teachings of the Bible and to search into "the deep things of
God" so far as they are revealed in Scripture. 1 Corinthians 2:10. While
"the secret things belong unto the Lord our God," "those things which are
revealed belong unto us." Deuteronomy 29:29. But it is Satan's work to
pervert the investigative powers of the mind. A certain pride is mingled
with the consideration of Bible truth, so that men feel impatient and
defeated if they cannot explain every portion of Scripture to their
satisfaction. It is too humiliating to them to acknowledge that they do
not understand the inspired words. They are unwilling to wait patiently
until God shall see fit to reveal the truth to them. They feel that their
unaided human wisdom is sufficient to enable them to comprehend the
Scripture, and failing to do this, they virtually deny its authority. It
is true that many theories and doctrines popularly supposed to be derived
from the Bible have no foundation in its teaching, and indeed are
contrary to the whole tenor of inspiration. These things have been a
cause of doubt and perplexity to many minds. They are not, however,
chargeable to God's word, but to man's perversion of it.
If it were possible for created beings to attain to a full
understanding of God and His works, then, having reached this point,
there would be for them no further discovery of truth, no growth in
knowledge, no further development of mind or heart. God would no longer
be supreme; and man, having reached the limit of knowledge and
attainment, would cease to advance. Let us thank God that it is not so.
God is infinite; in Him are "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
Colossians 2:3. And to all eternity men may be ever searching, ever
learning, and yet never exhaust the treasures of His wisdom, His
goodness, and His power.
God intends that even in this life the truths of His word shall be
ever unfolding to His people. There is only one way in which this
knowledge can be obtained. We can attain to an understanding of God's
word only through the illumination of that Spirit by which the word was
given. "The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God;" "for
the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."
1 Corinthians 2:11, 10. And the Saviour's promise to His followers was,
"When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.
... For He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you."
John 16:13, 14.
God desires man to exercise his reasoning powers; and the study of the
Bible will strengthen and elevate the mind as no other study can. Yet we
are to beware of deifying reason, which is subject to the weakness and
infirmity of humanity. If we would not have the Scriptures clouded to our
understanding, so that the plainest truths shall not be comprehended, we
must have the simplicity and faith of a little child, ready to learn, and
beseeching the aid of the Holy Spirit. A sense of the power and wisdom of
God, and of our inability to comprehend His greatness, should inspire us
with humility, and we should open His word, as we would enter His
presence, with holy awe. When we come to the Bible, reason must
acknowledge an authority superior to itself, and heart and intellect must
bow to the great I AM.
There are many things apparently difficult or obscure, which God will
make plain and simple to those who thus seek an understanding of them.
But without the guidance of the Holy Spirit we shall be continually
liable to wrest the Scriptures or to misinterpret them. There is much
reading of the Bible that is without profit and in many cases a positive
injury. When the word of God is opened without reverence and without
prayer; when the thoughts and affections are not fixed upon God, or in
harmony with His will, the mind is clouded with doubts; and in the very
study of the Bible, skepticism strengthens. The enemy takes control of
the thoughts, and he suggests interpretations that are not correct.
Whenever men are not in word and deed seeking to be in harmony with God,
then, however learned they may be, they are liable to err in their
understanding of Scripture, and it is not safe to trust to their
explanations. Those who look to the Scriptures to find discrepancies,
have not spiritual insight. With distorted vision they will see many
causes for doubt and unbelief in things that are really plain and
Disguise it as they may, the real cause of doubt and skepticism, in
most cases, is the love of sin. The teachings and restrictions of God's
word are not welcome to the proud, sin-loving heart, and those who are
unwilling to obey its requirements are ready to doubt its authority. In
order to arrive at truth, we must have a sincere desire to know the truth
and a willingness of heart to obey it. And all who come in this spirit to
the study of the Bible will find abundant evidence that it is God's word,
and they may gain an understanding of its truths that will make them wise
Christ has said, "If any man willeth to do His will, he shall know of
the teaching." John 7:17, R.V. Instead of questioning and caviling
concerning that which you do not understand, give heed to the light that
already shines upon you, and you will receive greater light. By the grace
of Christ, perform every duty that has been made plain to your
understanding, and you will be enabled to understand and perform those of
which you are now in doubt.
There is an evidence that is open to all,--the most highly educated,
and the most illiterate,--the evidence of experience. God invites us to
prove for ourselves the reality of His word, the truth of His promises.
He bids us "taste and see that the Lord is good." Psalm 34:8. Instead of
depending upon the word of another, we are to taste for ourselves. He
declares, "Ask, and ye shall receive." John 16:24. His promises will be
fulfilled. They have never failed; they never can fail. And as we draw
near to Jesus, and rejoice in the fullness of His love, our doubt and
darkness will disappear in the light of His presence.
The apostle Paul says that God "hath delivered us from the power of
darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son."
Colossians 1:13. And everyone who has passed from death unto life is able
to "set to his seal that God is true." John 3:33. He can testify, "I
needed help, and I found it in Jesus. Every want was supplied, the hunger
of my soul was satisfied; and now the Bible is to me the revelation of
Jesus Christ. Do you ask why I believe in Jesus? Because He is to me a
divine Saviour. Why do I believe the Bible? Because I have found it to be
the voice of God to my soul." We may have the witness in ourselves that
the Bible is true, that Christ is the Son of God. We know that we are not
following cunningly devised fables.
Peter exhorts his brethren to "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 3:18. When the people of God
are growing in grace, they will be constantly obtaining a clearer
understanding of His word. They will discern new light and beauty in its
sacred truths. This has been true in the history of the church in all
ages, and thus it will continue to the end. "The path of the righteous is
as the light of dawn, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
Proverbs 4:18, R.V., margin.
By faith we may look to the hereafter and grasp the pledge of God for
a growth of intellect, the human faculties uniting with the divine, and
every power of the soul being brought into direct contact with the Source
of light. We may rejoice that all which has perplexed us in the
providences of God will then be made plain, things hard to be understood
will then find an explanation; and where our finite minds discovered only
confusion and broken purposes, we shall see the most perfect and
beautiful harmony. "Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to
face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." 1 Corinthians 13:12.
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