Why We Believe the Bible - Lesson 1

Why We are Concerned With the Bible

In this lesson, you will gain an understanding of why we believe in the authority and reliability of the Bible. The course explores the historical accuracy, internal consistency, fulfilled prophecies, and archaeological support for the Bible. You will also examine the transformative power of the Bible and its impact on society, as well as learn how to respond to criticisms and questions about alleged contradictions, supposed errors, and extra-biblical sources.

John Piper
Why We Believe the Bible
Lesson 1
Watching Now
Why We are Concerned With the Bible

I. Introduction to the Bible's Authority

A. Importance of the Bible

B. Challenges to the Bible's Authority

II. Evidences for the Bible's Authority

A. Historical Accuracy

B. Internal Consistency

C. Fulfilled Prophecies

D. Archaeological Support

III. Impact of the Bible on Society

A. Transformative Power

B. Moral and Ethical Teachings

IV. Responding to Criticisms and Questions

A. Alleged Contradictions

B. Supposed Errors

C. Extra-Biblical Sources

  • This lesson provides insights on the Bible's authority, offering evidence for its reliability and exploring its impact on society, while addressing common criticisms and questions.
  • This lesson provides an in-depth analysis of the Bible's content and structure, exploring the different categories of books and highlighting the unity and diversity of its message within the historical and cultural context.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into the Bible's self-claims, its unity and consistency, and its transformative impact on individuals and societies, reinforcing your understanding of its authority and importance.
  • In this lesson, you explore the Bible's unified message, structure, and themes, deepening your understanding of its role in believers' lives and its impact on society.
  • Through this lesson, you grasp the gospel's transformative power on individuals and society, while also learning to defend it against skepticism and critiques.

The Bible is the infallible word of God, the supreme rule for faith and practice. The sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament came from the very mouth of God and are without error in the originals. Scripture is therefore the unique and supreme guide for all it affirms, including both belief and behavior.

The Bible claims that it's God's Word, it makes sense, and the Holy Spirit provides inner confirmation to us. Canonicity depended on authorship, content and tone consistent with other canonical writings, and consistent usage in worship and practice.

For notes and outlines that accompany these lectures, please go to desiringgod.org by clicking here.

We are thankful for John Piper's willingness to share these lectures with us. Copyright 2014 by Desiring God Ministries. Used with Permission. For more information, please visit www.DesiringGod.org.

Dr. John Piper 
Why We Trust the Bible 
Why We are Concerned with the Bible 
Lesson Transcript



I love to talk about the Scriptures, especially love to talk about what they mean, and when I must, I love to talk about why we believe they are true. I would rather talk about what they mean, which is what I do week after week. But from time to time, it’s really important, I think, to step back and, for the Christian to ask himself the question, “Ok, I’m staking my eternity on this.  Why?” So that’s what we’re doing here, and it’s really, really significant to ask that question.

The Law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the percepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules (or ordinances) of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings from the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward."
Psalms 19:7-11

"How blessed is the man
who walks not in the council of the ungodly
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffer;
but his delight is in the Law of the Lord,
and on his Law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In everything he does, he prospers.
It is not so with wicked,
they are like chaff that gets blown away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish."
Psalm 1:1-6

So Father, I pray that this precious Word that gives life, that gives joy, that gives illumination, that lasts forever, that is more valuable than all gold combined, that is sweeter than honey and all sweets; that makes us when we root ourselves in it, like trees that can’t get blown over in the winds of adversity. I pray that your Word would vindicate itself to draw near and help me. I’m just a sinful man; what can I do to add anything by way of authority or truth or power to the living and abiding Word of God. All I can do is try to point to what is there faithfully, so help me I pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

The outline of the course has seven steps to it. I hope we get through all of them. I have never succeeded, but I am going to really try hard because this is being filmed, and I want it to work for you and for everybody. 

Step 1: Why are we concerned about it? What does it matter whether the Bible is true? Step 2: Which books make up the Bible? Why are these 66 books the ones and not, say, the apocrypha that are in the Catholic Bible? Step 3: Do we have the very words of Scripture that the apostles and the prophets wrote, or is Bart Ehrman right in his book, Misquoting Jesus? Step 4: What does the Bible claim for itself?  We’re only going to focus on Jesus here; we could talk about huge amounts of other self-claims from the prophets and apostles, but we’ll focus on Jesus because he sweeps the whole Bible in his comments. And then the most important step, probably, is number 5: How can we justify the claim that the Bible makes for itself? And then 6:  What’s the nature of the inerrancy or the authority or the inspiration or the infallibility that we claim? What do we mean by that? And then finally, if there’s time, how then shall we handle the Bible?  That’s where we’re going.

I. The Intentions of God

So step 1:  Why are we concerned about this?  So that’s what I have here. Step 1 is that we as a church, Bethlehem, and probably the churches you come from, have affirmations of faith that claim things like this: We believe that the Bible, consisting of the 66 books of the Old and New Testament, is the infallible Word of God, verbally inspired by God and without error in the original manuscripts. That’s from the Elder Affirmation of Faith at Bethlehem.  It goes on like this: We believe that God’s intentions revealed in the Bible are the supreme and final authority in testing all claims about what is true and what is right.  In matters not addressed by the Bible, what is true and right is assessed by criteria consistent with the teachings of Scripture. That’s really important.  

It goes on like this: We believe God’s intentions are revealed through the intentions of inspired human authors; even when the author’s intention was to express divine meaning of which they were not fully aware, as for example, in case of some Old Testament prophecies. Thus, the meaning of Biblical text is a fixed historical reality rooted in the historical unchangeable intentions of its divine and human authors. However, while the meaning does not change, the application of that meaning does change. The application of that meaning may change in various situations.  Nevertheless, it is not legitimate to infer a meaning from a Biblical text that is not demonstratively carried by the words which God inspired. If you come to me and tell me that you know the meaning of a text because God told you this morning in your devotions, I will pay no attention to you, unless that leads you to see something in the Bible that I can also see, and then I’ll listen. But if you pull rank on me and do an end run around the words and the meanings of the words to say, “I’ve got a message about this text,” I won’t buy it; that’s what’s implied in that. I think we honor the Holy Spirit and his inspiring work when we treat the Bible that way.

It goes on like this:  Therefore, the process of discovering the intention of God in the Bible, which is its fullest meaning, is a humble and careful effort to find in the language of Scripture what the human authors intended to communicate; limited abilities, traditional biases, personal sin, cultural assumptions often obscure Biblical texts. Therefore, the work of the Holy Spirit is essential for right understanding of the Bible, and prayer for his assistance belongs to a proper effort to understand and apply God’s Word.

II. Ten Reasons as to Why We are Concerned About This?

A. Reasons One

So the first reason for why we take this topic up is because I am serving a church whose elders ascribe, by signing it, those affirmations, and we should know why we believe it. Do we just make it up?  So for my own conscience’s sake, I need to give an account for why that is something I ascribe to.

B. Reason Two

A second reason – and I won’t go into these; I’ll just point to them, will read them – the evangelical tradition that goes back: Westminster Confession, Keach’s Catechism, the Evangelical Theological Society has a statement about inerrancy, the Lausanne Covenant – I’m excited about the Lausanne Covenant, even though it’s 34 years old. My dad went to the 1974 Lausanne Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, the first major Lausanne Missions Conference at which epic-making things happened, and the next one is in 2010, and I’m going there; in fact, I’ve been asked to speak at it, which is an incredible privilege to me. I kind of vibrate with the excitement that I can be a part of the 100th anniversary of the Edinburgh Missions Conference, which will be celebrated in South Africa, and this conference, I just said to Doug Birdsall, the head of that conference, on the phone yesterday, I said, “You know, in my judgment, the greatest thing that came out of Lausanne ’74, was its affirmation of faith, and we agreed, along with a couple of other things, it has a strong statement on the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, for which I’m deeply thankful.  

And then there’s the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy from 1978. There was this big hoopla when I was in school to the effect that the Bible wasn’t inerrant, and there was a great deal of writing about it, and the Chicago Conference on Inerrancy came together and produced a very good statement.  You can get that online; just type in “Chicago statement on Biblical inerrancy.”  It’s a full and helpful word. So that’s number two.  Number one, we have a church affirmation that affirms it.  Number two, the wider evangelical historical movement has affirmed the inerrancy of the Bible – so does the Roman Catholic Church – In fact, the church has affirmed this for almost 2000 years. As long as the Bible has existed, this has been the understanding of what it is.

C. Reason Three

Here’s reason three for tackling this issue.  Many in our day deny the existence of just truth -- not just the Bible -- truth. This is a quote from Michael Novak which I found provocative when I read it 13 years ago, still true today: "'There is no such thing as truth,' they teach even the little ones. 'Truth is bondage. Believe what seems right to you. There are as many truths as there are individuals. Follow your feelings. Do as you please. Get in touch with yourself. Do what feels comfortable.' Those who speak this way prepare the jails of the twenty-first century. They do the work of tyrants.'" Now I wonder if you understand why he said that, if you feel the immediacy of the rightness of that conclusion about truth deniers. They prepare the jails of the 21st century. They do the work of tyrants. Why? Here’s why:  If there is no absolute truth functioning as the arbiter that two people in an argument with each other can appeal to, there is only one appeal left:  Power. Therefore, might will make right, and that’s the definition of a tyrant. There is no alternative. You better hope that all those loosy-goosy, mushy Christians that talk in vague, hazy terms about propositions being old fashioned enlightenment ways of doing truth better not carry the day. They prepare the jails that tyrants will put you in when you claim that it is wrong to put me there for just believing what I believe. And they will say who are you to say what is right and wrong? What’s right to me is right to me, and I’ve got the sword. You don’t want to go there.  

Students in the university, don’t play games with epistemology. Huge things are at stake in how you view whether there is such a thing as truth or not. We’re not playing games.  This pays a price; if you have to know two centuries of history; know the first and know the twentieth. Know Christ and know the gulag, know Hitler, know Mussolini, know Stalin; don’t be ignorant of what price has been paid for those who think they can call the shots without submitting to any absolute truths. Know at least two centuries, because the twentieth was the worst and the first introduced the best.  

So, the third reason we’re taking this up is because underneath it is an assumption, namely, there is such a thing as truth, and the Bible contains it. But you need to know that there are many people, many hundreds of thousands of people in our day, who scoff at the notion that there is such a thing as truth.

D. Reason Four

The fourth reason why this is important:  One trait of secularism is the criticism of the Bible as a mixture of truth and error. Here is one of the most radical statements I have ever read in the Minneapolis Star Tribune -- and they are pretty common – “One of the few worthwhile statements in the Bible is you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free. Knowledge of the Bible is hindered by the informal censorship imposed by religious leaders who would rather their followers didn’t know what’s in it. The innumerable contradictions, historical errors, plagiarism, absurdities, meaningless prophecies, myths represented as historical fact, countless instants of divinely ordered or approved atrocities. It is true that the Bible has some worthwhile material, including entertaining stories, inspirational sentiments, and astute observations about human behavior. However, those worthwhile parts could probably be contained in a pamphlet.” I didn’t like that when I read it, and I wrote to them. My letters to the Tribune don’t get anywhere.

E. Reason five

Five:  Competing holy books of other religions are increasingly close. If I had been giving this seminar 25 years ago, I probably wouldn’t have included this reason. We all knew the Quran existed and Hindu scriptures existed, but way far away. Not anymore. Kenneth Cragg, Contemporary Trends in Islam “Islam is essentially fundamentalist in a way that the Biblical Christian faith could never properly be, for the Quran is understood as the ipsissima verba – that’s the Latin phrase for ‘the very words’ -- of God himself given in tanzil, the ‘sending down,’ to Mohamed in Arabic. So God spoke Arabic to Mohamed, and he wrote them down as transcribing of the divine book in heaven.” Now, what makes that so interesting – I’ll read this – this is a comment from Andrew Walls, Christianity in the Non-Western World -- Andrew Walls is one of the most perceptive missiological spokesperson in our day. He is a retired professor from the University of Edinburgh. “Christian faith must go on being translated, must continuously enter into the vernacular culture and interact with it.” Pause.  He is contrasting the Christian Scriptures with the Quran, because the Quran may not be translated with any authority; if it goes out of Arabic, it is not authoritative anymore because you can’t really understand it unless you read the Arabic, because God spoke the Arabic, and it dropped into history straight out of heaven with God’s own language. “However, the Bible is very different,” he is arguing, “Islamic absolutes are fixed in a particular language and in the condition of a particular period of human history. The divine word is the Quran, fixed in heaven forever in Arabic, the language of original revelation.” (Nobody claims that God speaks Hebrew or Greek or English or French or German; he speaks every language, but that’s not the way you think about the Bible.) “For Christians, however, the divine word is translatable, infinitely translatable. The very words of Christ himself were transmitted in translated form in the earliest documents that we have…” (Christ probably spoke in Aramaic, not Greek, and the first gospels are in Greek, not Aramaic, so the very beginning of the inspired Scripture was a translation.)  “…a fact surely inseparable from the conviction that in Christ, God’s own self was translated into human form.”  

“Much misunderstanding between Christians and Muslims has arisen from the assumption that the Quran is for Muslims and that the Bible is for Christians.”  (This is profound; listen to this) “It would be truer to say that the Quran is for Muslims what Christ is for Christians.” That is very provocative. The Quran dropped out of heaven and became a human book, and Christ dropped out of heaven and became a human being. The Bible is the inspired record of that and is infinitely translatable. The point in that is simply that in our day, the Bible is certainly going to be challenged as not being the only holy book one should pay attention to. Hence the need for a seminar like this and a reflection of this kind.

F. Reason Six

Sixth reason:  One trait of liberal Christianity is the rejection of the infallibility of the Bible and call for us to find a canon within a canon. In other words, this is the Protestant canon, the 66 books, closed – you don’t add anything to it -- and liberalism says you can’t believe all of this, there is some of this that is simply unbelievable, mythological, and what you find is within the canon, a canon, and different liberals have different canons within a canon to judge what you can and can’t accept, like love or brotherhood of man, fatherhood of God, things like that.  

I went to a seminar with Ernst Kasemann.  He was one of the big German scholars in the ‘50s and ‘60s and 70s, lived to be a very old man. He wrote this, which is typical of radical, liberal New Testament scholarship:  “The Scripture which one gives over to itself and to which one gives himself up uncritically without the principle key leads not only to a multiplicity of confessions, but also to the inability to distinguish between faith and superstition, the Father of Jesus Christ and the idol.” In other words, if you give yourself wholly to the Bible as a whole, without making distinctions in it, you will wind up in a situation where you can’t distinguish faith from superstition. “Does the New Testament canon establish the unity of the church? No, it establishes also a variety of Christologies which are in part incompatible. The canon as such also legitimates more or less all sects and false doctrines.” What he is saying, very simply, is this book, this New Testament, if you take it as it is, without making distinctions of what you can accept and what you can’t, what you have is a book that gives warrant to all sects, all heresies, all Christologies, because they are all here, and they contradict each other. So, this is not the ground of the unity of the church; it is the ground of the disunity of the church as we find it, and the only way to handle a book that grounds disunity is to accept some parts of it and not other parts. That’s Ernst Kasemann; that’s liberalism right across the board.

I had lunch with a pastor in the city here – there are lots of them, but I was especially bent out of shape by one because of a sermon of his on the web. I called him up, and I asked him if we could do lunch. This guy is the most liberal pastor, probably, in the state of Minnesota, at least that is what he would claim. And so we went to Bakers Square over by the university.  I wanted to meet a real live radical liberal who calls himself a Christian and didn’t believe anything I believed. There he was sitting across the table, and I began to ask him questions, heaven, hell, the deity of Christ, the inspiration of the Bible.  “…No…no…no…” and I gave him a text in particular from Acts 13:48, “…as many as were ordained to eternal life believed,” and said, “It seems to me that some Jews believed and some Jews didn’t, and the implication is some were lost and some were saved.” He really got upset because he was arguing that everybody was saved who goes the Jewish way, goes the Muslim way, goes the Christian way. We are a Christian way; we should stay to it and be faithful to it, but others are okay. And I finally just threw up my hands and said, “I just don’t see how you can call yourself a Christian.”  You don’t say that to one of the most prominent pastors in the Twin Cities, big church downtown; you don’t have to guess which one it is.  He’s still here. And he got very upset with me and said, “Well, I’m very offended by that.” I said, “Well, I would have assumed you are.  I just can’t believe it.”  So there was my experience, and that was that.  So I’m not just quoting Kasemann from far away Germany 30 years ago, but this is Mr. Blank – I forget when that meal was, two or three years ago that we did that -- and he is still there. Our city has dozens of pastors who would just as soon take their text on a Sunday morning from an American poet as from the Scriptures. In fact, he told me over that meal, “My people are on my case to take more Sunday morning texts from Emily Dickerson, but I usually take my text from the Bible. (Well that’s good; I’m glad you do that.)  It’s very sad and very real.

Here we are -- I wrote this today; it’s not old -- because stuff is happening all the time.  In every generation (we’re still on number six), there are new creative attacks on the trustworthiness of the Bible. In our day, Bart Ehrman leads the pack in trying to discredit the reliability of the Biblical text. His claim is that the New Testament has been corrupted by copyists so badly, it can’t be recovered. His newest book here, 2007, Misquoting Jesus, the Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, a couple of his other books are here. Ethman and others, as you know, with the gospels that are popping out here and there, have also argued that there are other gospels beside our own that show alternative Christianityies that are as valid as the traditional one, The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot and Elaine Pagels’ Beyond Belief, the Secret Gospel of Thomas, and I would just point you right here, this is a brand new response by Darrell Bock, Dethroning Jesus: Exposing Popular Culture’s Quest to Unseat the Biblical Christ. So, if you want a right-off-the-front-burner, careful, scholarly, yet readable response to the Bart Ehrman type attacks, then go to Darrell Bock, Dethroning Jesus. So very relevant, very up-to-date. (If you want to look at these at any time, I’ve got a list of books on the reliability of the New Testament of a more contemporary kind and responses to Erhman here.  I won’t go into those; but I will set them aside here.)  

In fact, let me take this point to just draw your attention to a certain kind of book.  You may not know that such books exist.  If you regularly get questions from people, family members, or work associates poking at a problem in the Bible that they’ve spotted or somebody mentioned on the radio, these kinds of books can be helpful; they’re not the kind of book you just sit down and read through. This one’s called When Critics Ask:  A Popular Handbook of Bible Difficulties, by Geisler and Howe in ‘92, so over a lifetime of trying to wrestle through difficulties in the Bible, he’s put answers in here.  And here’s an older one from ’82 – there may be something more contemporary than these that I’ve missed – Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, by Gleason Archer. So those kinds of books are out there for your help.

By the way, another methodological comment here, just to help you survive. I am keenly aware that after five hours of talking, you will remember almost nothing of what I say, and that’s the case with almost all elaborate argumentation for a true point, which means, the bottom line, that your deep confidence in the Word of God cannot rest on your memory of historical argumentation because your memory won’t work like that. And in the moment of trial, either somebody attacking you or cancer being announced by the doctor, that memory will not work. You can’t reconstruct five hours of elaborate argumentation for your confidence in the Bible; it won’t work, the mind won’t do it, so where do you rest? I’m aware of that, so by the time we’re done, Lord willing, tomorrow, I will have honored that reality in the way I answer the question of your confidence. I just want you to know ahead of time I’m not expecting you, as I’ve laid these one after another… You say, “I can’t remember that, I can’t even understand that,” and you’re losing your balance.  You say, “My faith is going to be as fragile as all this information I can’t remember” -- I hope not …so hold on and stay with me, and I will try to show you how I live in the real world as a believer in the Bible, when in fact, I can’t even remember my own best arguments.  That’s true. I’m 62, I’ve worked on this a long time, and I’ve forgotten most of what I’ve studied. I have to refresh every time I teach this course. Well, that’s just life; we’ve got to figure that out because that’s where almost every human being is, and most of the people in the world who are being preached to right now don’t even have a grade school education. And we expect them to die for Jesus, confident that the Bible is true. We’d better have another way for them to have warranted faith than to be able to reproduce all this stuff.  I’m aware of that and just want you to know I’m where you are.

G. Reason Seven

Number seven as to why we are doing this:  If it is true, if the book is true at this point, the message of the Bible is the only message of eternal life, because it says it is. If it is not true, it may not be. But if it is true, then it is.  For example, in Psalm 96:5, “For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.” All of them are idols.  That’s a sweeping statement. John 14:6, “…I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 6:67-68, “Jesus said, therefore, to the twelve, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’” Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” John 8:42, “Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God...’” If you don’t love me, you don’t know God, and you don’t love God. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father.  Whoever confesses the Son, has the Father also.  1 John 5:12, “He who has the Son, has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”  

This is a sweeping rejection of all other religions. This is an intolerable thing to say in public in Minneapolis. They have really ugly names for people who believe this. Luke 10:16, “The one who hears you hears me; the one who rejects you [This is Jesus talking] rejects me, and the one who rejects me [Jesus says] rejects him who sent me.” If you reject Jesus for who he is – you can’t create him in your own image and say, “Oh, I believe in Jesus as a teacher” – that’s not what he means, like, “Accept me on your terms.”  No; “Accept me for who I am, then you accept the Father. Reject me for who I am, you reject the Father.” 

Jesus Christ is the litmus paper that you put in the chemical of every religion; if when you put Jesus Christ in the chemical of that religion, they say, “I don’t believe,” they don’t know God. That’s big; that’s really big. So we need to know; am I going to stake my reputation on this and be called an absolutely foul-mouthed fundamentalist, obscurantist, intolerant, obscene pastor? (Those are all words that have been used of me in the newspaper or in personal letters from those pastors in the city.) Well, you decide.

H. Reason Eight

Here’s number eight for why we are taking this up:  Building our lives of sacrificial service on a mistake would be pitiable. If we have hope in Christ in this life only; in other words, if the resurrection is a myth and a sham, we are of all men most to be pitted; what fools we are! What absolute fools we are to embrace this, build our lives on it, make sacrifices for it, structure our whole existence around it.  What a foolish thing, unless it’s true.

I. Reason Nine

Number nine, the Bible makes claims to inspiration and authority and inerrancy. We have to come to terms with those. For example, 2 Timothy 3:15-16:  “…from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” So there is the claim:  All Scripture – we’ll talk about what is contained there -- is inspired by God and, therefore, it is profitable.

J. Reason Ten

One last reason for why we’re doing this.  Yet the most devout believers meet Scriptures that do not seem coherent with other parts or with our experience. Here are just a few: The problem of justification by faith in James and Paul. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone, James 2:24. Romans 3:28: “…we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” You can imagine coming to the Bible and just being presented with those two statements and saying, “This Bible is not coherent.” You have to reckon with that, and there are numerous things like that in the Bible. And the question is whether those words are used the same by James and the same by Paul in such a way that they are constructing two different views of reality or not. It is possible to say very different things and not have a meaning behind them that is contradictory.  

Or 1 Samuel 15:11, “The word of the Lord came to Samuel, ‘I repent that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me.’” In 1 Samuel 15:28 and 29, we have God repenting, “I repent,” and here, 17 verses later, ”The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours who is better than you, and also, the glory of Israel will not lie nor repent, for he is not a man that he should repent.” Now, that’s a little more comforting because the verses are only 17 verses apart, which means you have the same author saying in one verse God repented that he made Saul king, and 17 verses later saying that God never repents. So either he is really, really quickly confused or he has meanings in mind here that are not contradictory, and you have to understand what’s going on.  

So that’s a tenth reason why we need to be confident in the word because you’re going to bump into these kinds of things in your daily devotions pretty regularly. The longer you live and walk with the Lord, I believe the more confident you become and the more solutions you can find, and sometimes you need to suspend judgment and say, “I don’t have time to work on this, Lord, but I’d like to have an answer for what this means and how it fits with that over there,” and then you put it on a shelf or keep a list, and as God gives you occasion, you work. My guess is we will go to our grave with some of those on the list unresolved. Do you love anybody that you can’t understand?  Like Noel Piper – baffles me over and over again.  What makes you tick, Noel?  I can’t figure you out, but my, I love you!  I’m going nowhere but with you, perplexing as you are as a human being.  If you can do it with your wife, you can do it with the Bible.  The Bible’s got more going for it than Noel does.  She wouldn’t be offended by that statement.  That’s why I like her.  

So that’s step one on why we are doing this.