Interpret our Master’s patient restraint for what it is: salvation. Our good brother Paul, who was given much wisdom in these matters, refers to this in all his letters, and has written you essentially the same thing. Some things Paul writes are difficult to understand. Irresponsible people who don’t know what they are talking about twist them every which way. They do it to the rest of the Scriptures, too, destroying themselves as they do it. (THE MESSAGE)
There are many parts of the Bible I just don’t understand. The more I read the more puzzles emerge. Some bits make no sense. Some seem so contrary to what I and others believe to be the character of a gracious and loving God.
So what do we do? Dismissing it all because of some hard bits means we get rid of “the good bits” as well. Trying to reconcile everything by twisting the meanings will mean distorting the message and imposing our own will on it.
The one thing we must not do is to focus on the hard bits in such a way as to take our minds off the supreme truth: God loves us and Jesus proves it. We can get bogged down in the puzzles so as to lose sight of the clearer, bigger picture. And focussing on those difficult texts might mean we end up twisting the entire message of the Bible.
If we are careless enough, we can prove just about anything from the Bible. We can have parents stone to death rebellious children; anyone who sins cast into outer darkness; women never opening their mouths in church; followers of Jesus hating their parents.
As our text today reminds us, there are challenging parts of the Bible which we may never fully understand. But as one person put it, it is not the bits of the Bible I don’t understand that challenge me: it is the bits I do understand.