Difficult Questions

By Jack Glover

When the Queen of Sheba wanted to prove the wisdom of Solomon, she asked him “hard questions (I Kings 10:1). One of the earliest events in Jesus’ life also involves questions. “Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers” (Luke 2:46-47). And Paul declared himself happy to answer before Agrippa the charges against him “because you are an expert in all customs and questions among the Jews” (Acts 26:3).

Questions are a part of Bible study, but we must learn to follow some guidelines. Paul, for instance, warned Timothy not to “pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith” (I Tim. 1:4). Timothy lived when great emphasis was placed on historical tales and family lineage, some of which was tradition. Although such information had a place in the Jewish religion, that is not to be so with Christians. The church must emphasize edification, not things that cause divisive questions.

We learn the Bible by asking questions. But we only learn if we ask reasonable, logical questions, the answers to which are revealed in the scriptures. We are warned to avoid “foolish and ignorant speculations” that cause strife (II Tim. 2:23) because there is nothing to gain from asking philosophical questions that have no revealed answers. Many people today want to make Bible study difficult by asking questions that men can answer only with their wisdom, and we have been warned of that danger (I Cor. 1:19-21).

What is it about man that causes him to make the simple difficult? Paul answered that question when he told Timothy that such men are “conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain” (I Tim. 6:4-5). Pride makes men want to emphasize their supposedly great knowledge. Like the Athenians, they are only interested in “telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21). That attitude often causes men to wrest the scriptures like those condemned by Peter (II Pet. 3:15-16).

We all have questions, and that is good. But let us be satisfied with what the scriptures reveal on any subject, and if nothing is revealed, let us be satisfied with that, too. We should be careful to heed the warnings against foolish and unlearned questions. If we confine our time to what we can easily know, without speculation, our study will be more beneficial.

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