Your word is a lamp
for my feet and a light
for my path.
Psalms 119:105


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BIBLE/SCRIPTURES

Are there not a number of contradictions in the Bible? And if the Bible is not in harmony with itself; how can we say that it is inspired? (Pater.)

<ANSWER>--There are seemingly many contradictory statements contained in the Bible, and these are due to several causes. One of which are the errors of translation from the original languages in which the Scriptures were written, into the various modern tongues. It is claimed that the Authorized and Douay Versions of the Bible are amenable to twenty thousand amendments! The Revised Versions, both English and American have corrected many of these errors but not all. No one would claim that the translators were inspired. Another fruitful cause for seeming contradictions is, that many Scriptures texts have been taken from their proper connections by Bible expositors and interpreted to mean just opposite to what they do signify. In this way the Bible can be made to support any theory. For instance: in one place it says Judas "went out and hanged himself," and then in another place "go thou and do likewise!" To those who "rightly divide the word of truth" (`2 Tim. 2:15`) there is not a single contradiction in all the sacred writings.

How shall we harmonize the apparently contradictory expressions found in the following Scriptural quotations--"Thus have ye made the commandments of God of none effect through your TRADITIONS"? (`Mat. 15;6`; `Mark 7:13`.) "And profited in the Jew's religion above many my equals in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the TRADITIONS of my fathers"? (`Gal. 1:14.`) "There fore, brethren, stand fast and hold the TRADITIONS which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle" (`2 Thess. 2:15`)?

<ANSWER>--The Savior's words addressed to the Scribes and Pharisees, the religious leaders of His day, have reference to the theories and opinions that had been formed and handed down from the past that were not based upon the inspired testimony of the Prophets and the faithful servants of the Lord. Many of these teachings were in direct opposition to the instructions contained in the Holy Scriptures, and because they were being set forth by those who had been appointed to teach the people the true understanding of the message of the Lord, they were received as being true. In this way the commandment of the Lord had been made void. The Apostle's words had reference to the teachings of the Scriptures and also to his own instructions, which he had presented to those that he was addressing. In other words, there are true traditions and false traditions. All of those which are in harmony with the teachings of the Divine Word are true, and all those which are not in harmony are false and not to be accepted. We cannot be particular in our efforts to get the truth.

Is it possible for Christians to handle deadly serpents and to drink poisons without suffering injury in any form as stated in `Mark 16:18`? (R.F.D.)

<ANSWER>--Since God invites man to reason on His Word (`Isa. 1:18`), we must know that His Word is reasonable. The quotation in the question is unreasonable. But is it a part of God's Word? We answer, No. St. `Mark`'s Gospel originally ended with verse nine, chapter sixteen; the additional verses (10-20 inclusive), which includes the above quotation, are not found in the old manuscripts of the Bible. All scholars are agreed that the addition was made about six hundred years after St. Mark's Gospel was written, and hence the quoted words are no part of the Gospel, and we know them to be untrue. To sanction them, now that we know about them, would be to join with those who wrote them in adding to the Word of God (`Rev. 22:18,19`). Human experience shows that not even the best of Christians can, with impunity, "Take up serpents and drink deadly poison."

Why did God give us a Bible so difficult to understand? Why wasn't the Bible written in such a way that it could be as easily understood as the daily paper? (Scribe.)

<ANSWER>--The Bible is generally conceded to be one of the most difficult books in all the earth to understand. The brightest minds of the world for centuries have differed as to its teachings. Whole libraries of books have been written by authors whose views have conflicted woefully with one another. The entire Christian world today is divided up into more than six hundred factions whose ideas as to the teachings of the Bible are at variance with each other. Yes; the Bible is hard to understand, and few there are who do understand it. It is plainly evident that its Great Author did not wish it to be understood by all, and the Bible itself testifies in harmony with this thought. The disciples came to the Master on one occasion and asked Him, practically the same question that we are now considering. They said "Why speakest thou unto them (the people) in parables (dark sayings?)" In other words: Why Lord, do you not teach the people in clear, plain, and simple language, so that all can understand? "He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you (my followers) to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given." (`Mat. 13:10,11`). The "mysteries of the Kingdom," the Divine plan of the Ages revealed in the Scriptures, the knowledge of which, is only for those who come into harmony with the Divine will of the Almighty God, the Sovereign Lord of all creation. The Bible is a sealed book to all others, no matter how intellectual they may be. See `1 Cor. 2:7-14`.

Why is the Bible so hard to understand? Why cannot EVERY ONE capable of reading the printed page comprehend God's Word?

<ANSWER>--The Bible was not written for the unbelieving, nor was it written in such a manner that the world could understand its teachings. In order to understand the Bible we must come into the attitude of pupils of Christ and must be taught of him. The Bible is like a telescope; it is not sufficient that you see the outside of it, its pedestal and joints. It is not even sufficient that we even look through the telescope. Many have looked down a telescope merely along its shining barrel without seeing out at the other end at all. Even when we look through the telescope properly and out at the other end, still we must have it properly adjusted so that we may obtain the best results and discern objects accurately. So it is with the Bible; as we draw nigh to God, he draws nigh to us; and thus we are enabled to appreciate more and more the deep things of his Word. But only the saintly Bible student is able to understand and appreciate the "breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ" (`Eph. 3:18`) which passeth knowledge, but which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures. St. Paul gives us the key to the proper understanding, saying, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." But God hath revealed them unto us (the Church, the consecrated) by his spirit. (`1 Cor. 2:14,10`.) Even the deep things of God are made known by our acquiring more of the spirit of God, the spirit of Truth, the spirit of the Word.

Why is there so much confusion existing in the world today as to the true teachings of the Scriptures?

<ANSWER>--The study of the Scriptures, as with all other lines of investigation, must be conducted systematically, else confusion results. The Apostle Paul counsels us along this line saying, "Study to show thyself approved unto God (not unto men), rightly dividing the word of truth." Many have erred in failing to follow this rule. For instance, in reading `Rev. 19:20`, some have insisted that the lake of fire and literal brimstone is a real lake filled with brimstone and fire. A mere novice should recognize the passage as highly figurative, especially in view of the fact that it states that a beast and a false prophet are to be cast into it. No thoughtful person would conclude that a real beast and false prophet are meant. Many Bible students have entirely overlooked the importance of "rightly dividing the Word." The Apostle shows that the Divine arrangement, as thus far revealed, is divided into three great dispensations or ages, referred to in our Bibles as "Worlds" (See `2 Peter 3`). The major portion of the prophecies relate to the world or age to come, and when we strive to make them fit present evil conditions, confusion results. To illustrate: If we apply the prophecy of `Isa. 35:8-10`, to the past or present, it is meaningless, whereas it is in exact harmony with the glorious reign of the Messiah, which we all know to be future. As corroborative of this manner of dividing the Word, we see that our Lord (`Matt.7:13,14`) speaks of the present evil world as "a broad way leading to destruction" and the way to life through Christ as "a strait and narrow way," while in his great prophecy in `Matt. 25:31-46`, He confirms the prophetic statement of Isaiah.

Please explain `2 Pet. 3:16`, "As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction."

<ANSWER>--From the reading of this chapter, it is evident that "these things," referred to by the Apostle, are the things relating to the three worlds and the three heavens of which he was writing. In `2 Cor. 12:1-4`, the Apostle Paul relates how that special visions and revelations had been given him by the Lord, and among these was a view of the "third heaven," and of "paradise." This was a glimpse of "the new heavens and the new earth" mentioned in the `13th verse of this chapter`. St. Paul was not permitted to give the details of what had been revealed to him, nevertheless, these revelations influenced all of his writings and caused him to give such expressions as were hard to be understood, but which, in the light of subsequent events, are now being clearly revealed to the sincere and earnest student of the Scriptures. It is now seen that the "unlearned and unstable" have wrested many of the Apostle's statements from their true connection and significance, Scriptures that apply to "the new heavens and the new earth" have been variously warped and twisted from their true application and forcibly assigned to "the heavens that are now" and "this present evil world." As an illustration of this: the Apostle explains that "God has appointed a day (a thousand-year day--`2 Pet. 3:8`) in the which He will judge the world in righteousness" (`Acts 17:31`), yet many have misapplied this statement and have declared that the world is on trial (being judged) at present.

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