Section 2: The Bible
Week 1: The Bible Is Authoritative
Day 2: God Always Tells the Truth
Titus 1:2, Heb. 6:13-19
We can all have trouble believing the Bible at times. Can a person really be swallowed by a big fish? Do miracles still happen today? We have trouble believing those sorts of things because they run counter to the everyday assumptions we make about the way the world works. That’s where we need to be careful, though. Our assumptions aren’t always right.
The Problem with Assumptions
In 1949, a special group of firefighters called smokejumpers flew in to fight a forest fire in Montana. The smokejumpers were led by a guy named Wag Dodge. When the team parachuted in, the fire had stopped at the edge of a river. That was a good thing because it kept the fire from spreading to the prairie on the other side. But the fire eventually reached the top of the trees and a strong wind caused the fire to leap across the river, setting the prairie grass ablaze. The fire swept toward the smokejumpers at an alarming rate. So they started running for a nearby ridge thinking, if they could get to the top of it, they’d be safe.[i]
“Dodge and his crew had a two-hundred-yard head start. After a few minutes of running, Dodge could feel the fierce heat on his back. He glanced over his shoulder and saw that the fire was now fewer than fifty yards away and gaining…That’s when Dodge realized the blaze couldn’t be outrun…He stood perfectly still as the fire accelerated toward him. Then he started yelling at his men to do the same…But nobody stopped. Perhaps the men couldn’t hear Dodge over the deafening roar of the flames. Or perhaps they couldn’t bear the idea of stopping. When confronted with a menacing fire the most basic instinct is to run away.” [ii]
Of course you keep running. It’s a fire! You’d be crazy to stop. But Dodge wasn’t crazy. He knew they couldn’t outrun the fire. If they kept running, the fire was certainly going to overtake them before they got to the top of the ridge. So Dodge stopped and lit a match. Then he set the ground in front of him on fire and lay down in the ashes. Sounds crazy, but it turns out that little bit of burned up ground provided him with just enough of a buffer to save his life. Because the ground around him didn’t have any fuel to feed the fire, the forest fire rushed around him, not through him.
If I been there that day and heard Dodge yelling at me to stop, I would have taken one look at the wall of fire racing toward me, and my brain would have said, “NO FREAKIN’ WAY!” I would have assumed stopping amounted to suicide and kept running no matter what. But that would have been the wrong decision.
We Don’t Know As Much As We Think We Do
That’s a powerful reminder that our assumptions aren’t always right. We form our assumptions about the way the world works based on what we see and experience. We tend to think we’ve seen and experienced almost everything, but we’ve actually seen and experienced only a small fraction of what’s out there in the universe. When you add the fact that an omnipotent God can do anything, then all of a sudden it becomes clear we don’t have any idea of what’s really possible and what isn’t.
We need to keep that in mind if we’re tempted to dismiss something the Bible says simply because it doesn’t square with what we think we know. We need to remember we know a heck of a lot less than we think we do.
Because God is perfectly good, we know he cannot lie (Num. 23:19). And because he is omniscient, we know he cannot be mistaken. That means if he says something is true, then it certainly is—even when it runs afoul of our notions of what is possible and what isn’t.
List one or two biblical accounts or teachings you have trouble believing.
Why do you find them hard to believe? Does thinking about God’s power and omniscience change what you think is possible or impossible?
[i] John Lehrer, How We Decide (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), 93-98.
[ii] Ibid., 95-96.