Thursday, July 6, 2017

Contradictions? -- part 2

The Word for today:
Acts 17:1-15
Yesterday, we thought we spotted a contradiction when Paul had Timothy circumcised. Had Paul resorted to a salvation by "works" ?
NO WAY! We found out that Timothy could take it or leave it. If circumcision made it easier to work with the Jews, then he could "take it"--and so he did. But it had no bearing on Timothy's salvation.
Today we spotted another apparent discrepancy. Paul and Silas are in prison, praying and singing hymns to God around midnight, when a dramatic scene ensued:
Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, "Don't harm yourself! We are all here!"
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household."  (Acts 16:26-31)
Wait a minute! Does this teach that if Dad (or Mom) is saved, then the rest of the family is saved too?
The sense of the passage is: 'You will be saved and if your household believes, they will be saved.'  So teach your children that each individual is responsible for his own decision. The need for each person to have an individual relationship with Jesus is confirmed in the verse immediately following:
Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God--he and his whole family.  (Acts 16:32-34)
The precept to remember is this:
When a "stray" verse seems to contradict the weight of biblical teaching, it doesn't!
As a beginning Bible student, I thought I'd found contradictions left and right. But over the years, I found out that almost every "contradiction" represented a limitation on my part. It was often my limited understanding of the context.
Or it was my half-formed understanding of some biblical concept. Later, when my understanding of that concept became fully-formed, the Bible stopped making mistakes!
Funny how that works.

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