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Category Archives: 17 Mistakes People Make When Approaching The Bible

Mistake 17: Forgetting that Later Revelation Supersedes Previous Revelation


BIG BOOK OF BIBLE DIFFICULTIES The One Year Bible Reading Plan for 2013 can be found here

Here is the last Mistake that people make when approaching the Bible before the reading begins tomorrow!!!

Mistake 17: Forgetting that Later Revelation Supersedes Previous Revelation. Sometimes critics of Scripture forget the principle of progressive revelation. God does not reveal everything at once, nor does He always lay down the same conditions for every period of time. Therefore, some of His later revelation will supersede His former statements. Bible critics sometimes confuse a change of revelation with a mistake. The mistake, however, is that of the critic. For example, the fact that a parent allows a very small child to eat with his fingers, only to tell them later to use a spoon, is not a contradiction. Nor is the parent contradicting himself to insist later that the child should use a fork, not a spoon, to eat his vegetables. This is progressive revelation, with each command suited to fit the particular circumstance in which a person is found.

There was a time when God tested the human race by forbidding them to eat of a specific tree in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:16-17). This command is no longer in effect, but the later revelation does not contradict this former revelation. Also, there was a period (under the Mosaic law) when God commanded that animals be sacrificed for people’s sin. However, since Christ offered the perfect sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:11-14), this OT command is no longer in effect. Here again, there is no contradiction between the latter and the former commands. Likewise, when God created the human race, He commanded that they eat only fruit and vegetables (Genesis 1:29). But later, when conditions changed after the flood, God commanded that they also can eat meat (Genesis 9:3). This change from herbivorous to omnivorous status is progressive revelation, but it is not a contradiction. In fact, all these subsequent revelations were simply different commands for different people at different times in God’s overall plan of redemption.

Of course, God cannot change commands that have to do with His unchangeable nature (cf. Malachi 3:6; Hebebrews 6:18). For example, since God is love (1 John 4:16), He cannot command that we hate Him. Nor can He command what is logically impossible, for example, to both offer and not offer a sacrifice for sin at the same time and in the same sense. But these moral and logical limits notwithstanding, God can and has given noncontradictory, progressive revelation which, if taken out of its proper context and juxtaposed with each other, can be made to look contradictory. This, however, is just as much a mistake as to assume the parent is contradicting herself when she allows a child to stay up later at night as he gets older.

After forty years of continual and careful study of the Bible, one can only conclude that those who think they have discovered a mistake in the Bible do not know too much about the Bible-they know too little about it! This does not mean, of course, that we understand all the difficulties in the Scriptures. But it does lead us to believe that Mark Twain was correct when he concluded that it was not the part of the Bible he did not understand that bothered him the most, but the parts he did understand!

Thomas Howe;Norman Geisler. The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation (Kindle Locations 283-301). Kindle Edition.

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Mistake 16: Confusing General Statements with Universal Ones


BIG BOOK OF BIBLE DIFFICULTIES The One Year Bible Reading Plan for 2013 can be found here

Mistake 16: Confusing General Statements with Universal Ones. Critics often jump to the conclusion that unqualified statements admit of no exceptions. They seize upon verses that offer general truths and then point with glee to obvious exceptions. In so doing, they forget that such statements are only intended to be generalizations. The Book of Proverbs is a good example of such an issue. Proverbial savings by their very nature over only general guidance, not universal assurance. They are rules for life, but rules that admit of exceptions. Proverbs 16:7 is a case in point. It affirms that “when a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” This obviously was not intended to be a universal truth. Paul was pleasing to the Lord and his enemies stoned him (Acts 14:19). Jesus was pleasing the Lord, and His enemies crucified Him! Nonetheless, it is a general truth that one who acts in a way pleasing to God can minimize his enemies’ antagonism.

Another example of a general truth is Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” However, other Scripture passages and experience show that this is not always true. Indeed, some godly persons in the Bible (including Job, Eli, and David) had some very wayward children. This proverb does not contradict experience because it is a general principle that applies in a general way, but allows for individual exceptions. Proverbs are not designed to be absolute guarantees. Rather, they express truths that provide helpful advice and guidance by which an individual should conduct his or her daily life.

It is simply a mistake to assume that proverbial wisdom is always universally true. Proverbs are wisdom (general guides), not law (universally binding imperatives). When the Bible declares “You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:45), then there are no exceptions. Holiness, goodness, love, truth, and justice are rooted in the very nature of an unchanging God and therefore admit of no exceptions. But wisdom takes God’s universal truths and applies them to specific and changing circumstances which, by their very nature as changing, will not always yield the same results. Nonetheless, they are still helpful guides for life, even though they may admit of an occasional exception.

Thomas Howe;Norman Geisler. The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation (Kindle Locations 270-283). Kindle Edition.

Note:  One of the ways that I am applying Proverbs 22:6 is by having a family theme every year to focus on areas that fit our life stage or areas that we need to work on as a family.  I take the theme and hang it on the wall in the kitchen for us to see everyday.  Last night after dinner we went over the theme for 2013 “Read The Directions” and read through the 3 points on why we need to read God’s directions for life.  Afterwards, I handed out the One Year Bible reading plans. Please download the plan for 2013, grab your family, friends, coworkers, or small group and join us!  The plan can be found here.

Here is a photo of our family theme:

Lackey Family Theme 2013

 

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Mistake 15: Forgetting that Only the Original Text, Not Every Copy of Scripture, Is without Error


BIG BOOK OF BIBLE DIFFICULTIES The One Year Bible Reading Plan for 2013 can be found here

Mistake 15: Forgetting that Only the Original Text, Not Every Copy of Scripture, Is without Error. When critics do come upon a genuine mistake in a manuscript copy, they make another fatal error -they assume it was in the original inspired text of Scripture. They forget that God only uttered the original text of Scripture, not the copies. Therefore, only the original text is without error. Inspiration does not guarantee that every copy of the original is without error. Therefore, we are to expect that minor errors are to be found in manuscript copies. But, again, as St. Augustine wisely noted, when we run into a so-called “error” in the Bible, we must assume one of two things-either the manuscript was not copied correctly, or we have not understood it rightly. What we may not assume is that God made an error in inspiring the original text.

While present copies of Scripture are very good, they are not without error. For example, 2 Kings 8:26 gives the age of king Ahaziah as twenty-two, whereas 2 Chronicles 22:2 says forty-two. The later number cannot be correct, or he would have been older than his father. This is obviously a copyist error, but it does not alter the inerrancy of the original.

Several things should be observed about these copyist errors. First of all, they are errors in the copies, not the originals. No one has ever found an original manuscript with an error in it. Second, they are minor errors (often in names or numbers) which do not affect any doctrine of the Christian faith. Third, these copyist errors are relatively few in number, as will he illustrated throughout the rest of this book. Fourth, usually by the context, or by another Scripture, we know which one is in error. For example, Ahaziah (above) must have been twenty-two, not forty-two, since he could not he older than his father. Finally, even though there is a copyist error, the entire message can still come through. In such a case, the validity of the message is not changed. For example, if you received a letter like this, would you understand the whole message? And would you collect your money?

“#OU HAVE WON THE FIVE MILLION DOLLAR READER’S DIGEST SWEEPSTAKES.”

Even though there is a mistake in the first word, the entire message comes through-you are five million dollars richer! And if you received another letter the next day that read like this, you would be even more sure:

“Y#U HAVE WON THE FIVE MILLION DOLLAR READER’S DIGEST SWEEPSTAKES.” 

Actually the more mistakes of this kind there are (each in a different place), the more sure you are of the original message. This is why scribal mistakes in the biblical manuscripts do not affect the basic message of the Bible. So, for all practical purposes, the Bible in our hand, imperfect though the manuscripts arc, conveys the complete truth of the original Word of God.

Thomas Howe;Norman Geisler. The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation (Kindle Locations 254-270). Kindle Edition. [Emphasis Mine]

Notes:

Here is an example in visual form of the point that Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe are making:

Screen Shot 2012-12-29 at 9.20.58 AM

Here is the interesting part, take the information above and add to it the fact that we have more manuscript copies of the New Testament than any other book from the ancient world!  This is incredible, especially when you consider that Diocletian issued a decree in 303 AD to destroy every copy of the Bible. He later deemed t an impossible task, and here are the numbers in a chart. Notice why the task was impossible; look what we still have:

Screen Shot 2012-12-29 at 9.16.32 AM

Friends, we are still finding manuscripts of not only the New Testament but the Old Testament.  Here are some numbers from the famous Dead Sea Scrolls find:

Dead Sea Scrolls:

–       1/3 of all scrolls are copies of the Bible

–       Every Old Testament Book was found except Esther

–       All of them over 1,000 years older than Masoretic text

The Masoretic text refers to the oldest known copy of the Old Testament that most of our English Bible translations were based on until this find.  What is amazing is the fact that the little errors in a letter or number mentioned above is exactly what they found when there were some errors. For instance, the scroll of Isaiah found dates to around 100BC and the Masoretic text of Isaiah dated to 900AD.  Errors? 7 of the sort above that changes nothing in prophecy and doctrine!!!!  This is especially incredible given the fact that secular critics once assumed (before the finding) that there must have been TWO Isaiah writers.  Why this assumption? Because the prophecies in Isaiah were too accurate so they must have been written after the events.  Why do they assume that? Easy, because they assume that MIRACLES are impossible.  Ooops, sorry critics but when God exists miracles are a guarantee!

When you pick up your Bible to read this year, be amazed at the miracle of God’s preserving power to get these words into your hands and commit to never take His Word for granted again.

Until He Returns,

Peter P. Lackey, Jr.

 

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Mistake 14: Neglecting to Note that the Bible Uses Different Literary Devices


BIG BOOK OF BIBLE DIFFICULTIES The One Year Bible Reading Plan for 2013 can be found here

Mistake 14: Neglecting to Note that the Bible Uses Different Literary Devices. An inspired book need not be composed in one, and only one, literary style. Human beings wrote every book in the Bible, and human language is not limited to one mode of expression. So, there is no reason to suppose that only one style or literary genre was used in a divinely inspired Book. The Bible reveals a number of literary devices. Several whole books are written in poetic style (e.g., Job, Psalms, Proverbs).

The synoptic Gospels are filled with parables. In Galatians 4, Paul utilizes an allegory. The New Testament abounds with metaphors (e.g., 2 Corinthians 3:2-3; James 3:6) and similes (cf. Matthew 20: 1; James 1:6); hyperboles may also be found (e.g., Colossians 1:23; John 21:25; 2 Corinthians 3:2), and possibly even poetic figures (Job 41:1). Jesus employed satire (Matthew 19:24 with 23:24) and figures of speech are common throughout the Bible.

It is not a mistake for a biblical writer to use a figure of speech, but it is a mistake for a reader to take a figure of speech literally. Obviously when the Bible speaks of the believer resting under the shadow of God’s “wings” (Psalm 36:7), it does not mean that God is a feathered bird. Likewise, when the Bible says God “awakes” (Psalm 44:23), as though He were sleeping, it is a figure of speech indicating God’s inactivity before He is aroused to judgment by man’s sin. We must he careful in our reading of figures of speech in Scripture.

Thomas Howe;Norman Geisler. The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation (Kindle Locations 245-254). Kindle Edition. [Emphasis mine]

 

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Mistake 13: Assuming that Round Numbers Are False


BIG BOOK OF BIBLE DIFFICULTIES The One Year Bible Reading Plan for 2013 can be found here

Mistake 13: Assuming that Round Numbers Are False. Another mistake sometimes made by Bible critics is claiming that round numbers are false. This is not so. Round numbers are just that–round numbers. Like most ordinary speech, the Bible uses round numbers (1 Chronicles. 19:18; 21:5). For example, it refers to the diameter as being about one third of the circumference of something. It may be imprecise from the standpoint of a contemporary technological society to speak of 3.14159265 … as the number three, but it is not incorrect for an ancient, non-technological people. Three and fourteen hundredths can be rounded off to three. That is sufficient for a “Sea of cast metal” (2 Chronicles. 4:2) in an ancient Hebrew temple, even though it would not suffice for a computer in a modern rocket. But one should not expect scientific precision in a prescientific age. In fact, it would be as anachronistic as wearing a wrist watch in a Shakespearian play.

Thomas Howe;Norman Geisler. The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation (Kindle Locations 240-245). Kindle Edition.

 

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Mistake 12: Forgetting that the Bible Uses Non-technical, Everyday Language


BIG BOOK OF BIBLE DIFFICULTIES The One Year Bible Reading Plan for 2013 can be found here

Mistake 12: Forgetting that the Bible Uses Non-technical, Everyday Language. To be true, something does not have to use scholarly, technical, or so-called “scientific” language. The Bible is written for the common person of every generation, and it therefore uses common, everyday language. The use of observational, nonscientific language is not unscientific, it is merely prescientific. The Scriptures were written in ancient times by ancient standards, and it would be anachronistic to superimpose modern scientific standards upon them. However, it is no more unscientific to speak of the sun “standing still” (Joshua 10:12) than to refer to the sun “rising” (Joshua 1:16). Contemporary meteorologists still speak daily of the time of “sunrise” and “sunset.”

Thomas Howe;Norman Geisler. The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation (Kindle Locations 236-240). Kindle Edition.

Note:  The Bible is a Holy Spirit inspired book for all people, in all places, and for all time. It is a record of God’s activity in History and narrow’s its focus to everything relevant to people including observations from the vantage point of people. It truly is an amazing library of 66 books written on 3 continents, over a 1500 year span, and includes a diversity of literature. Amazing to have God inspired, historical books, poetry, wisdom literature, songs and prophecy. So keep in mind what kind of inspired book you are reading as we go throughout 2013.

 

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Mistake 11: Presuming that the Bible Approves of All it Records


BIG BOOK OF BIBLE DIFFICULTIES The One Year Bible Reading Plan for 2013 can be found here

Mistake 11: Presuming that the Bible Approves of All it Records. It is a mistake to assume that everything contained in the Bible is commended by the Bible. The whole Bible is true (John 17:17), but it records some lies, for example, Satan’s (Gen. 3:4; cf. John 8:44) and Rahab’s (Josh. 2:4). Inspiration encompasses the Bible fully and completely in the sense that it records accurately and truthfully even the lies and errors of sinful beings.

The truth of Scripture is found in what the Bible reveals, not in everything it records. Unless this distinction is held, it may be incorrectly concluded that the Bible teaches immorality because it narrates David’s sin (2 Samuel 11:4), that it promotes polygamy because it records Solomon’s (I Kings 11:3), or that it affirms atheism because it quotes the fool as saying “there is no God” (Psalm 14:1).

Thomas Howe;Norman Geisler. The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation (Kindle Locations 231-236). Kindle Edition.

Note:  As a matter of fact I would argue that the fact that the Bible records mistakes and sins of some of its heros is an evidence of God’s inspiration.  Most works from antiquity dealing with Kings and heros only record great victories and exaggerate the role of the king or hero. On the other hand, the Bible records great defeats, moral defects, and horrible sins of its main figures to demonstrate God’s ability to “work all things together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purposes” (Romans 8:28 ). So take heart, God is in ultimate control and even our failures and shortcomings can be used in spite of us.

 

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