God welcomes sincere questions.
God welcomes honest and sincere questions from His children. The Bible gives examples of believers who asked God questions because they ultimately wanted to honor and please Him, but they were puzzled over how their circumstances could work out.
Gideon asked an angel, “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” And when God commissioned him to save Israel out of Midian’s hand, Gideon asked, “But how can I save Israel?” (Judges 6:12-18). He struggled with his weakness and position in Israel, and wondered how God could use him. Also, Mary, the mother of Jesus, asked an angel how it could be possible she would give birth to the “holy one” since she was a virgin (Luke 1:34-38)—a logical question.
These believers needed a word from the Lord about their circumstances, and God answered. To Gideon, the angel of the Lord promised God’s presence; and to Mary, the angel explained how the Holy Spirit would overshadow her, and added, “No word from God will ever fail.”
We can trust God’s word and still ask questions about it.
As Christians read the Bible, something in scripture may seem confusing, unlikely, or even contradictory. The healthy approach to questioning the Bible in these cases is to first remember God’s Word is infallible (2 Peter 1:21). All that it says regarding matters of faith and Christian practice is true, faithful, and useful. God reveals Himself to us in the Bible, but we may not be able to completely comprehend all He is or all He does. His thoughts and ways are far beyond us (Isaiah 55:8-9).
When believers wrestle with questions, God may show the answer in His Word as it is studied in context. There is nothing wrong with pursuing and persevering in a search for answers though deeper Bible study. But sometimes Christians need to be willing to say, “I still don’t understand, Lord; but you are God and I am not. I am going to trust you to do right.” By faith, we can say, “Every word of God proves true” (Proverbs 30:5).
The tone of questioning makes a difference. Sincere and honest questioning comes from a heart that seeks God and wants to know Him and His will. Sometimes God does not answer our “why” questions, but He instead offers a “Who” response. He offers more of Himself to meet our needs. Healthy questioning of God’s Word ultimately leads to more love for God, greater biblical knowledge, and deeper spiritual maturity.
The Holy Spirit can help us understand Scripture.
The Apostle Paul often answered questions during his missionary journeys. For example, when he entered the Jewish synagogue at Thessalonica, he “reasoned” with the people from the scriptures (Acts 17:2). Reasoning includes dialoguing with people who ask questions and giving them answers. The Christians in Berea were praised because they eagerly and diligently searched and examined the scriptures to see if Paul’s words were indeed the truth (Acts 17:11).
Jesus welcomed His disciples’ questions. In one case, when they struggled to understand the Parable of the Sower, Jesus explained what He meant (Luke 8:9-15).
It is clear God approves of our reasoning concerning the Bible, and He encourages diligence in learning how to correctly handle the scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15). The questioning and examining process is part of this accurate handling.
When we respectfully reason about scripture, we have access to God’s wisdom that will help us interpret it—but we must ask for that wisdom (James 1:5), and the Holy Spirit also comes alongside to teach, guide and help us walk in the truth (John 16:13-15). Jesus said when we “abide” in the Word, we will know the truth (John 8:31-32).
It’s possible to question the Bible in an unhealthy way.
While the tone of healthy questioning comes from a heart that loves God and His Word, unhealthy questioning springs from a heart that refuses to respect the Bible. The heart attitude might be proud, rebellious, or even defiant.
Questioning the Bible in an unhealthy way can easily happen in these core areas:
1. People may question the Bible’s authorship, but the Bible claims to be the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16).
2. People may question the Bible’s accuracy or reliability.
3. People may question the Bible’s relevance, asserting that the scriptures’ moral standards are no longer timely in a changing culture. While it is true that some scriptures were for the Jews in a specific time, the Lord’s character and moral law has not changed (Malachi 3:6a; Hebrews 13:8; Ecclesiastes 3:14; Isaiah 46:9-11).
4. Ultimately, people question the Bible’s authority. Satan urged Eve to question God’s authority in Genesis 3:1—“Did God really say…?” Today, that questioning extends to the written Word.
God can handle your questions about any of these areas. He said in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” If you have sincere questions about the Bible’s authorship, accuracy, relevance, and authority, seek God with your whole heart in prayer. Ask him your questions humbly, not with a proud or rebellious heart.
But the Bible is very clear that those who die with “unbelieving” defiance toward God and his salvation offered through Jesus Christ will perish (John 3:16) and suffer eternal consequences (Revelation 21:8).
A Warning about Obsession with Disputes:
Paul does not forbid believers to ask questions, but he does warn Timothy to watch out for those who advocate a different doctrine, or who proudly pursue controversial questions and quarrels (1 Timothy 6:3-4). This unhealthy preoccupation with disputes can lead to envy, strife, abusive language, and evil suspicions.
Rather, believers are to pursue those things that lead to peace and the edification of other Christians (Romans 14:19; Ephesians 4:3).
Dawn Wilson and her husband Bob live in Southern California. They have two married sons and three granddaughters. Dawn assists author and radio host Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth with research and works with various departments at Revive Our Hearts. She is the founder and director of Heart Choices Today, publishes Upgrade with Dawn, and writes for Crosswalk.com and Christianity.com. Dawn also travels with her husband in ministry with Pacesetter Global Outreach.
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