Understanding Difficult Verses
Have you ever read a Bible verse and became worried about what it says? I know I have. Early on in my Christian life I began reading the Bible day and night. I started with the Gospels. Just a day or two into my reading I read Matthew 10:32-33. After reading this verse I became concerned about my eternal destiny and it troubled me. What is this verse saying? After attending church, I knew that I had heard more than a few Bible teachers tell me that once I trusted in Jesus, my eternity was securely resting in Him. However, this verse seems to tell me that my eternity may not be so secure in Jesus. The verse said: “32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” I began to wonder, “have I ever denied Jesus”? If so, does this mean God will reject me? Am I even reading this passage right? It was not too much later that I encountered a person who told me that this verse means I could lose out on an eternity with God. I was confused… Do I place my faith in Jesus and he takes care of my eternity or do I have to keep worrying about denying Him and therefore cause myself to be denied from entering heaven? For what seemed like weeks I continued to grow concerned over my understanding of this verse. I attempted to comfort my concern by reading other passages that suggested my destiny was secure in Jesus alone. Soon, I began to think that the Bible was contradicting itself.
If I am being totally honest Matthew 10:32-33 isn’t the only passage that has troubled me. In fact, there have been a few passages that I have had to stop and consider over the years.
Finally after a little fear, time, questioning, study, and talking with other Christians, what I learned was that God’s Word is accurate. The Bible does not contradict itself, and my understanding of the Bible at first glance can sometimes be an inaccurate understanding. This leads me toward further encouraging myself to study the depth of God’s Word and to challenge myself to read God’s word with a desire to question and learn. I also do not want to attempt to study the Bible alone. God didn’t write His Word for me to study alone. That is how you come up with crazy beliefs. God created a community, His people, to help each other understand His word. Every Jesus follower needs a place to be able to ask others about Bible verses. Every believer should also be so involved with reading God’s Word that they find themselves asking others about verses. In fact, if you aren’t asking questions about the Bible, the truth is you probably aren’t reading the Bible. Even Peter said Paul’s was sometimes difficult to understand.
If you ever have trouble reading God’s Word, here are 4 helpful tips toward a better understanding.
- Before reading a book of the Bible, take a few minutes to answer the question why a particular writer wrote the specific book you are reading. Every writer wrote a book in the Bible for a reason, understanding that reason and reminding yourself about that purpose helps you understand the book. In order to do this you can buy a commentary, a bible, or go to www.blueletterbible.com for all sorts of free resources.
- When you come to a challenging passage, always ask yourself what happened in the six verses before this verse and after this verse. The Context is a tremendous tool to understanding.
- Consider using a commentary on specific verses. I use a few different commentaries. Perhaps one of the most popular commentaries today are found in Study Bibles.
- Ask people you trust. It is scary to see the type of people claiming to know what the bible is talking about. They seem to know just enough to be dangerous. Get with a group and discuss the passages. Not only will you learn but you will also be challenging them on verses they may not have considered.
Just in case I have left you wondering what Matthew 10:32-33 is all about let me answer that question:
The book of Matthew is written to the Jews. The Jews rejected Jesus. Many of them rejected Him because of peer pressure. Have you ever been in a place where you thought about giving your life to Jesus, but on the other hand you considered what that choice would mean in relationship to friends and family? Well, the people listening to Jesus in Matthew 10:32 were wondering that exact question. For the sake of clarity Jesus remarked what was at stake for them if they rejected Him. Some may have wondered “If I reject Jesus now, will I have an opportunity in this life or the next to accept Him?” Jesus encourages them in Matthew 10 not to reject Him because of the peer pressure of others. The decision to choose Jesus is too important. Jesus therefore reminded them that if they want to accept him and experience eternity with them they can and if they want to reject Him now due to peer pressure they are also rejecting eternity with Him. Therefore Jesus is saying I know you are weighing the cost of choosing me but let me encourage you to just trust me above all else. Therefore Jesus says when it comes to accepting me “if you deny me before others, I will deny you before the Father”. This isn’t a passage about losing your salvation. It is a passage encouraging you to find your salvation in Jesus.
Just like the Jews were hearing Christ’s call, so the question maybe asked have you trusted in Christ regardless of the peer pressure from others?
The challenge to you is to read God’s Word and ask questions, especially in regards to difficult passages of scripture. This is a great way to learn about your Creator.