“Apparent contradiction” It sounds wishy washy at best. It raises doubts at its worst. But, when it is used in conjunction with God’s Word, my focus immediately latches onto the “apparent” part of the accusation.
Such was the case just the other day. I was confronted with a situation, which I believe was meant for entrapment due to my belief that God’s Word is inerrant. I believe that it was also meant to cast doubts into my own mind, if an answer could not be found. I most firmly believe that the real perpetrator was not the person asking, but the one who had planted doubt in his mind – God’s enemy.
The “apparent contradiction” was between two verses. The first is found in Mark 4:11, 12. Quoting Isaiah 6:9, 10 Jesus said; “The secret of the Kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parable so that, “they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven”.
Now that verse alone can raise some real questions, requiring prayer for discernment. But, combining it with the second portion of the challenge, was 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”.
Looking at the last portion of each of these, I could see the quandary. Unlike the “knowledgeable person” some believe me to be, I couldn’t see an answer! So, I did the best thing I could think of – I silently sent up my favorite prayer; “Help!”. The immediate answer was to say; “Let me check this out and give you a proper answer. I’d rather sound slow and stupid, than fast and foolish.
So, I began the process… The LORD is unwilling that any should perish, but everyone come to repentance. No problem there. The LORD created us and in His love for us, demonstrated that He is unwilling that any of us should spend Eternity without Him. That demonstration was through Jesus, as He came, lived, died and rose again. These are the four fundamentals of Christianity. He came in virgin birth to show His Divine Nature, lived a sinless life to show us how we were meant to live under God’s perfect will, He died as the Perfect sacrifice for a debt of sin we could not pay and He rose as proof that death need not be the end. Hmm… like I said; no problem there.
So, why would Jesus want to reveal Himself only to those who already believed – if only to some extent? Sounds like preaching to the choir!
After a considerable amount of prayer, heart searching and head scratching, I believe God opened my mind to the Answer. His will is that we turn from sin and be saved. Our will is often contrary to that of God’s. If we look at the numbers of those who followed Jesus, we begin to get a true picture of the difference between a true follower and a “companion of convenience”. Following the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus went across Galilee. The crowd followed Him. Why? They wanted another free meal – not salvation! When Jesus offered them the spiritual food of his body, they wanted no part of Him. A meal is convenience. Belief takes some effort.
God doesn’t want insincere repentance. He doesn’t want us to say; “I believe!” for the sake of what we can get out of it. He wants us to turn to Him in recognition of the love which He offers us. Jesus knew the insincerity of the hearts of those from whom He hid the Truth. Had they been willing to open their hearts and minds to Him, I’m sure His True Nature would have been quite apparent. God revealed Himself to Pharaoh, through miracles and Words proclaimed by Moses. Pharaoh went so far as to acknowledge God’s power. Yet, pride and a self righteous attitude kept Pharaoh from believing. So, God stopped revealing Himself allowed Pharaoh’s heart to be “hardened”. This is the same attitude which Jesus encountered with all but a handful of faithful followers. To them He spoke openly. Through them He would make Himself known to generations. Knowing Who God is, isn’t the same as having a personal relationship with Him. Satan knows Who God is. But, he turned aside from giving God glory, for the sake of his own selfish pride. Don’t make the same mistake!
Having prayed through this, the contradiction has become not only apparent, but transparent. God is willing – man not necessarily so. To see and not perceive is not really looking. To hear and not understand is not really listening. To turn out of selfish motives is not really deserving. Not that any of us are deserving of God’s grace. But, to require forgiveness for the same sinful infraction over and over, makes even us weak minded humans question the sincerity of the repentance. God doesn’t wan t apart of us. He isn’t a god of half measures. He loves us fully. He deserves and desires our full allegiance to Him. But we need to be willing. I heard a pastor put it this way; “If you don’t want God’s Authority over your life here, He won’t force it upon you throughout Eternity”.
So, when it comes to contradictions, I think they point to us. God is infallible. He is consistent. He is sincere. He is willing that we turn from sin to Him. The question is; are we?