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What Do You Do With Difficult Passages?
Some parts of the Bible I find difficult. On the one hand, the Bible is so accessible even a child could read part of it and understand. On the other hand, some passages do not give up easily their treasure until we wrestle and struggle with them.
Here are two basic steps I take, when I come across a difficult passage in the Bible.
First, I must confess, at first glance I often do not fully understand. I need to take time to find out what the passage truly means. This step is about good Bible study: looking at context, sentence structure, grammar, defining terms according to how they are used in context; letting clearer parts of the Bible help me interpret more difficult parts of the Bible. Many difficult passages can be cleared up simply by asking, “What does this passage really mean? and using some rudimentary Bible reading skills and resources to answer that question.
Other passages are difficult not because I do not understand the passage, but because I do not like what they say.
This is not an issue of meaning but of receiving. It’s an issue of the heart. I need to let God impose his will on me through his Word rather than trying to impose my will on God. Whereas the first step has to do with careful Bible study, this step often has more to do with prayer. I need to ask the Holy Spirit of God to apply His Word to my heart. This step is often the beginning of much spiritual growth.
You ought not be discouraged when you come across something difficult in the Bible. Even the Apostle Peter, in 2 Peter 3:16, says about the Apostle Paul’s letters, “There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do other Scriptures.” Peter’s answer was not to ignore such passages, but to lean into them, to hear them for what they say and not what we might want them to say, in order that we might grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I hope you find these two basic steps helpful and encourage you today to open up your Bible and start digging deep for the wonderful treasures God has placed for us in his Word.
Lord, your Word is a lamp to our path, and boy do we need light. Shine the light of your Holy Word on us that we might see you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly in our lives. In Christ’s name. Amen.
Videography: Andrew Moore
Video Editing: Andrew Moore
Writing: Pastor Mike Birbeck
Produced by Vogt Media
Home Page Sponsors: First Presbyterian Church Wellsboro