As our love relationship with the Lord grows throughout life, the Spirit of God is faithful to show things we have said or believed about Him that are just a “little off”. By allowing these to remain we build a belief system which can cause us to completely miss beautiful truths or misrepresent God and His Word. We can also get so stubborn in believing what we “think” is truth that we refuse to receive fresh revelation in order to correct, expand, or reveal deeper truths. Oftentimes this leads us to believing there are apparent contradictions in the Word of God. In reality there is no such thing as God contradicting Himself. When Scriptural truths appear to conflict or press against our mindsets we should surely take the time to investigate, waiting on the Lord in order to resolve any perceived inconsistencies. Oftentimes we ignore truths in order to maintain our skewed belief system because we do not want to take time or make the effort to search for answers in the Word of God or seek Godly counsel when contradictory matters arise. Or perhaps we shrink God’s Word to cute little clichés, which are merely expressions that have lost their original effectiveness or power because of overuse, in order to maintain our belief systems.
But God’s Word cannot be contained in clichés for there is much power packed into every word God has spoken through the ages. When we minimize God’s Word to cute little sayings we minimize God in our lives. Thus, it is a dangerous thing to turn His Word into clichés yet we do it all the time and hang them on our refrigerators and/or wear them on t-shirts. These phrases we coin about God are generally just a “little off” yet we not only accept them as equal to Scripture itself but then we get confused when truth from the Word of God refutes their relevancy. This then leads us into believing there are contradictions about God, even though we are merely lacking knowledge of God and His message when we entertain this idea.
We must purpose to confront what appear to be contradictions in the Word rather than accepting and allowing them to form a skewed opinion of God. We do this by listening and learning from our pastors, teachers, and prophets who have been appointed to study and share with the Body of Christ. They have been called to dig deeply into the meaning of God’s Word, to hear prophetically, and to share this revelation with the Church. We also do it by being part of the body of Christ, being followers and disciples of Jesus, and saturating and soaking ourselves in His Word and presence.
Using the same language God uses will eradicate any perception we have of seeming inconsistencies in His Word because we can capture His depth of meaning. With God it is not simply a matter of semantics but it is about truth. We become entrenched with the mysteries of God when we speak His language by delving into the multi-layered meanings associated with the words He uses. If we do not understand the meanings and intents of words coming from the mouth of God we are left with a distorted view of Him and His desires for us.
Ultimately, there is only one way to truly understand God’s Word – be in relationship with Him. We have to admit we only understand and accept what people say to the extent we know them, their credentials, or choose to receive their words. In fact, if we like, love, or respect a person we generally make every effort to accept what they say to us even if we do not like it. In contrast, if we do not like, love, or respect someone it is unlikely we will receive anything they have to share with us and in fact will simply tune them out. The level of relationship determines our reception of revelation! The more we know God, the more we will not settle for the notion of contradictions or clichés and the more we will receive revelation from Him, His Word, and from those He has appointed to equip us. The bottom line is if we are in loving relationship with God, His leaders, and His Church, we will desire to understand truth, and any seeming contradictions in the Word of God suddenly become crystal clear. Instead we often just accept that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. (Isaiah 55:8) Though this is true, it becomes somewhat of a cop-out when we use it as an excuse for not knowing His thoughts and ways. God does not say we cannot know His ways or thoughts, only that they are different than ours. Just because we do not instantly “get it” does not mean it was not meant to be “got”.
In order to “get it” , in order to go deeper with God and love His Word, we often need further revelation into the context and meanings of words in the original languages. This frustrates some Christians because they feel the translations should perfectly impart the original meaning God intended. But anyone attempting to learn another language knows we lose some of the unique nuances associated with words or expressions through translation because it is difficult to interpret and maintain correct context, tense, cultural variance, and the like. Other countries, cultures, and languages have their own style, slang, and nuances in communication. For example if an English speaking person is determined to learn Spanish they could spend years learning all the different connotations, nuances, and expressions found in countries where Spanish is the first language and still fall short. However, if that same person were to completely immerse oneself in a Spanish speaking culture they would eventually possess all the “hidden” meanings and unique perspectives of people in that country, thus they would use and understand words appropriately.
The reality is that words and expressions have peculiar meanings in different settings or even time periods. For example if we were to say “She is hot!” in English “hot” could mean temperature, appearance, spicy, or emotional. If someone was attempting to teach a non-English speaking person what we meant by “She is hot!” they would need to know what context the speaker was saying this. Let us suppose the speaker meant she was “extremely good looking” and the translator interpreted it by using the word “attractive”. Obviously, this is a correct translation, however, it does not have the “emotion” or “feeling” intended with the word “hot”. And let’s face it! If I were to say “She is hot!” in this context to an elderly person they would likely be confused because the word has taken on a new definition over the past decade.
This happens with the Word of God. Every translation comes out of the original but over the centuries men have attempted to extract as accurately as possible the original meaning of words making it “readable”. When Hebrew and Greek words are translated to English we get the translators best effort but occasionally it is difficult to gain the true flavor for what God is communicating to us. We often cannot find “literal” or “exact” English words to define Hebrew or Greek even though the words used are still accurate. The Amplified Bible is a good example of an attempt to bring the original languages together in the English translation for the average reader and capture a full, more picturesque view of Scripture. It is a great study tool but if you have ever read it out loud, you have discovered how “unreadable” it is if you read all the words in parentheses. Knowing all of this, we can leave the frustration that comes with not getting the complete meaning of words in every translation of the English Bible and instead glean understanding from those whom God has appointed to teach and bring revelation from the Word of God, from other study tools, and from Holy Spirit Himself.
Why is all this important? Because it is time the Body of Christ desires more of God and becomes passionate about defending our faith based on the truth of God’s Word not on our perception of truth. God’s Word is amazing and there are no contradictions even though in coming blogs I will deal with some of the perceived contradictions that typically are left “untouched” by Christians. Most often we simply pawn them off as God’s ways therefore thinking we are not meant to understand them. If we want to authentically impact our world, we must get serious about “knowing” God and defending His Word in order to witness to the un-churched people in this world. We must truly believe what we “think” we believe and have the ability to defend those beliefs, using the Word of God as a sword! If we continue to simply fall back on the idea that if we do not understand something in the Word of God it is probably not meant to be understood we will not be credible witnesses for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I pray the truth about God found in His Word would permeate our entire beings and we would be passionate about upholding His Word in every facet of living. I pray when we sense a contradiction in the Word we will pursue wisdom and understanding and see that contradiction disappear rather than settling for not knowing. And I pray we will proclaim His Word in fullness everywhere we go in lieu of reducing it to catchy clichés.
Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to Me and I will answer you and I will show you great and mighty (unsearchable) things which you do not know.”