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Author: Nathanael Mayhew

How to Respond to Contradictions in the Bible

How to Respond to Contradictions in the Bible

Question: Doesn’t the Bible contradict itself in certain areas? For example, the Bible has examples of both monogamous and polygamous relationships. Which is it? What about passages which say that women shouldn’t be pastors or leaders in the church, and other sections where women serve in leadership roles. They can’t both be true.
Answer: In order to answer such concerns, we must first understand the difference between statements which are prescriptive and those which are descriptive. A statement which is prescriptive gives a directive or rule, while a descriptive statement simply relates that which was done by someone. This is helpful because the Bible describes many things which are not prescriptive. The Bible describes the sins and failures of mankind in many different ways. For example, the Bible describes Noah’s drunkenness, Abraham’s lies, Judah’s adultery, Moses’s pride, David’s murder, Gehazi’s covetousness, Peter’s attempted murder, and much, much more. All of these (sinful) examples are from people we would call “Christians”!
Do such sinful actions negate what God clearly commands (or forbids) in other places in His Word? The answer is no!
We are not to use the examples of men or women in the Bible as a prescriptive regulation from God for our lives or our society – especially when that example is in direct conflict with a clear prescriptive warning from God in His Word.
The Bible nowhere prescribes or even condones the behaviors mentioned above. A person’s actions (what the Bible describes) does not equal a prescription from God to act in that way. So when we find passages or examples in the Bible of things that seem contradictory, we should ask this question: “Is this section prescriptive (Is God commanding) or is it descriptive (Is God describing)?” Asking and answering that question will help us resolve almost every supposed contradiction people may bring up.

Is God commanding or is God describing?

  • Polagamy

Abraham’s marriage to both Sarah and Hagar is descriptive and does not remove the clear teaching of Scripture that marriage is to be between one man and one woman for life.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24
“Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” – Ephesians 5:33
“Appoint elders in every city as I commanded you — if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.” – Titus 1:5-6

(Note: There are only a few examples of polygamous relationships in the Bible, although they are very prominent ones. Abraham, Jacob, David and Solomon are the most familiar and in each case the plurality of wives caused major problems in the home.)

  • The Role of Women in the Church

The descriptive events of Miriam prophesying or Deborah judging do not nullify the prescriptive statements of God to Moses and Paul regarding the role of men and women in the church.

“They shall be joined with you and attend to the needs of the tabernacle of meeting, for all the work of the tabernacle; but an outsider shall not come near you.” – Numbers 18:4
“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church. Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant. Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order.” – 1 Corinthians 14:33-40
“In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” – 1 Timothy 2:9-14

The difference between descriptive and prescriptive is vital in properly understanding and applying God’s Word in our lives.
All too often many people (even Christians) are willing to throw out the prescriptive sections of the Bible in favor of the descriptive sections. Why? Sometimes it is simply a failure to understand what the Bible really teaches. In other cases people do so to make God and His Word bow to their own feelings or to the whims of our secular culture.
When we try to make God’s Word fit our lives, we end up losing the message God offers in His Word: We are sinners in need of the Savior He sent.

CPR: The Family Altar

CPR: The Family Altar

Pastor Nathan Pfeiffer joins Nathanael Mayhew this week to discuss the importance of the “Family Altar.” “Family altar” is a phrase that is used to desribe the work of Christian instruction and worship in the home, not just in church. We will discuss the Biblical foundation for the family altar, which reveals that God has entrusted with parents the vital role of educating their children in Christian truths. These passages point out that this instruction is to permeate the life of the Christian family: when we are on the road, at home, in our discussions, when we wake up and when we go to sleep at night. It begin with parents making this an important part of their own lives, so that they can then impart it in their children’s lives. In addition to the the Biblical study, we will also offer a number of devotional resources for you at the family altar. If you would like a full list of these resources, message us or email us at We pray that this study will assist you in the work of establishing or maintaining a family altar!

Bible Study – 1 Corinthians

Bible Study – 1 Corinthians

Pastor Tom Naumann joins Nathanael Mayhew on Burden and Blessing to discuss Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. They dig into the background behind the letter, including what the city of Corinth was like and how the Christian congregation there started. This background is especially helpful in understanding some of the issues that Paul deals with in this letter. The city was a huge melting pot of different kinds of people who were both idolatrous and worldly. Matters of doctrine and instruction which Paul addresses in this letter include: unity in the church, sexual immorality, Christian marriage, and worship. In addition Paul gives valuable admonition and instruction on the Lord’s Supper, spiritual gifts and the truth of the resurrection. We invite you to join us to learn more about this important and very applicable letter of Paul.

How to Respond to the Resurrection

How to Respond to the Resurrection

Question: The whole Christian faith rests on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead which is celebrated every year on Easter. Still, many people reject the resurrection of Jesus as myth or fantasy. How would you respond?
Answer: Our post-modern world is not the first to reject the idea of the resurrection. The Book of Acts records how the men of Athens were willing to listen to Paul until he proclaimed the resurrection (Acts 17:32).
There are several important evidences for the truth of the resurrection of Jesus, as well as the resurrection of all people.

  • First, the resurrection of Jesus is not a lie fabricated by followers of Jesus. It was clearly foretold in the Old Testament. Job confesses the truth of the resurrection, writing:

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:25-27).

“I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction!” (Hosea 13:14).

“I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. 10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. 11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:8-11).

  • Second, Jesus foretold His own resurrection from the dead repeatedly during His ministry, and with increasing regularity in the final weeks before His death

“Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again'” (Luke 18:31-33).

“So the Jews answered and said to Him, ‘What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ Then the Jews said, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said” (John 2:18-22).

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).

“Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant” (Mark 9:9-10).

  • Third is the empty tomb. The Gospels all clearly describe the empty tomb. If the resurrection of Jesus was a hoax or a lie made up by His disciples, it could have been quickly squelched by the Jewish or Roman leaders by digging up the body of Jesus and presenting it to the world. Christianity would never have amounted to anything if the resurrection had been fabricated.

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed” (John 20:1-8 – see also Matthew 28; Mark 16 and Luke 24).

  • Fourth is the testimony of the followers of Jesus. The Bible tells us that Jesus appeared to His followers (more than 500 of them) repeatedly in the days following His resurrection from the dead. Many of these followers were put to death because of their adherence to this truth. Why would anyone give their life for something they knew was a lie?

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).

  • One final point. It may be helpful to realize that the resurrection of Jesus is not the only one mentioned in the Bible. There are resurrection accounts recorded in the Old Testament (2 Kings 4:18-37; 13:20-21); in the ministry of Jesus (Luke 7:11-16; Mark 5:35-42; and John 11); and in the ministry of the apostles (Acts 9:37-42; 20:9-12).

The resurrection is clearly taught in both the Old and the New Testaments, and God has given us plenty of evidence to see that it is true. What hope and comfort is ours in the resurrection of Jesus who died for our sins and was raised for our justification!

Review – "Patterns of Evidence: Exodus" Movie

Review – "Patterns of Evidence: Exodus" Movie

Pastors Nathanael Mayhew and Neal Radichel give a summary and review of the documentary “Patterns of Evidence: Exodus” in our podcast today. This video is available for purchase or on Netflix and covers the investigation of a man into the history of the Children of Israel in Egypt and their Exodus to the Land of Canaan. They will discuss some of the important archeological discoveries that verify the historical accuracy of the Biblical account of the Israelites in Egypt and their conquest of Canaan. They will also look into some of the reasons why this information is not better known today. In addition, this is not the typical documentery. Filled with pictures, animation and computer aided reinactments, along with interviews with real people this is sure to keep you interested. If you are interested in the history of the Old Testament and how archeology verifies the Bible, you won’t want to miss this documentary.

How to Respond to the existence of God

How to Respond to the existence of God

Question: How can you be sure that God even exists if He can’t be seen?
Answer: This is a valid question, but there is a problem with it. The question assumes that God doesn’t exist because He can’t be seen. In reality, there are many things that we know exist, even if we can’t see them.
The Bible never sets out to prove the existence of God. It doesn’t have to. The existence of God is evident in the world around us. In fact, God’s existence is so evident that the Bible states: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” (Psalm 14:1).
You might say, “Hold on there! What evidence are you talking about?”

Well, look at the world around you. Consider at the intricacy of the human body. Gaze upon the amazing beauty of the trees and flowers. Ponder the vastness of space in the galaxies beyond. Every automobile, tractor, chair, house, toy, and phone has a maker. You have probably never seen the people who designed and built your car, but no sensible person would say that those people don’t exist, just because they haven’t seen them. The car you drive shows evidence of design and of being built by someone. You can even tell certain things about a designer/creator from their work.
Every creation has a CREATOR. The Bible says: “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4). God is unseen, but His fingerprints can be found all around us in His creation.
While the creation reveals the fingerprints of God, it does not clearly show WHO God is. Our knowledge of God from creation is very limited because we don’t see Him directly, we only see evidence of His existence. But the God of creation wants us to know Him personally and so He has also revealed Himself to us in His Word. In the pages of the Bible God paints a detailed picture of Himself in the person and atoning work of Jesus Christ.
The Bible tells us that in Jesus Christ we see God.

  • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-4,14). [The Word is Jesus. Compare John 1:15 with Matthew 3:11.]
  • “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
  • “For in Him [Christ Jesus – see v.6] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).

Jesus was unlike any other human being. He was perfect. Jesus shows God’s love for sinners by taking our place under the Law of God and dying the death that we deserve because of our sin.
How can we know that God exists?

  1. Creation reveals that there is a God who is powerful and wise.
  2. Our conscience tells us that we have disobeyed God’s laws and that we will be punished.
  3. The Bible shows us that God has sent sinners a Savior in Jesus Christ.

It is obvious that God exists. Thanks be to God for his mercy and love in creation, but more importantly in Jesus!

Review: To Live is Christ and Beside Quiet Waters

Review: To Live is Christ and Beside Quiet Waters

This week, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew offers a review of two devotion books which you may want to consider as we prepare to enter a new year. Both come with high recommendations for family or individual devotions. The first is “To Live is Christ” by Bo Giertz. This is published by Concordia Publishing House. Bishop Giertz was a pastor in the Lutheran Church is Sweeden in the 20th century and brings a very down to earth but eye opening style to the devotions and prayers included in this book. His devotion book follows the church year not the calendar year, so save this one for next year! The second is “Beside Quiet Waters” by Richard Lauersdorf, and is published by Northwestern Publishing House. This devotion book follows the calendar year and has a brief Bible passage, followed by a devotion and finally a short prayer. Pastor Lauersdorf usally begins with an illustration which develops the main point of the Bible passage and applies it to our daily lives. Very well written and insightful as well. Both devotion books would be an excellent choice for you or those on your Christmas lists, and either can be purchased through the CLC bookhouse. May the LORD bless your study and hearing of His Word!

Word of the Week: Nativity

Word of the Week: Nativity

Pastor Sam Rodebaugh takes us into the Christmas word “Nativity” and explains some details and misconceptions of the birth of our Savior. In spite of the pictures that we see or the songs that are sung about the first Christmas, many of those images are not factual. What do you think of when you hear the word nativity? What images do you associate with it? The nativity or birth of Jesus is all about the birth of a Savior for all people. We celebrate the truth proclaimed by the Old Testament prophets which describe how the King of Creation was born in very humble circumstances, and He willingly did this out of His great love for you!

How to Respond to the “real” Jesus

How to Respond to the “real” Jesus

Question: Who was the real Jesus? Couldn’t he have just been a prophet, and not the Son of God?
Answer: This is a very important question, and one that deserves to be discussed. First of all, it is important to understand at the very beginning that we can be confident there was a real Jesus who grew up in the city of Nazareth. In addition to the historical records of the New Testament which tell about Jesus, there are other ancient historians like Josephus, Tacitus and Eusebius who also refer to Jesus as a real person. These secular historical records verify what the New Testament tells us about Jesus: that He was a Jewish leader who gathered a large following, was considered by many to be the Christ, was crucified, and was said to rise from the dead.
Based on actual historical records, both secular and sacred, we can be confident that this Jesus was a real person. But who was this Jesus, really? Was he a prophet? Was he a Jewish rabbi and religious leader? Or was he more than that? If we take an honest look at the evidence, it is clear that Jesus is more than just a man, that He was Son of God.
First, many people proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ, and the Son of God. His followers made this claim.
When asked who Jesus was, Peter replied: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15-17).
Other followers made the same confession, and in many cases even allowed themselves to be put to death rather than retract their confession about Jesus.

  • Consider the confession of Philip concerning Jesus: “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41).
  • Or that of Thomas: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
  • The Ethiopian confessed: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37).
  • Referring to Jesus Paul declared: “God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).
  • And John proclaims: “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” (1 John 4:15).
  • But there were also others who made the same confession, who were not followers of Jesus. The soldiers who crucified Jesus came to the same conclusion, proclaiming: “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39).

Secondly, Jesus Himself stated clearly that He was more than just a man.

  • On trial before the Jewish leaders, Jesus was asked: “Are You then the Son of God?” His response? “You rightly say that I am” (Luke 22:70).
  • When Jesus was on the cross, people accused Him of claiming to be the Son of God: “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” (Matthew 27:43).
  • It was because of who Jesus claimed to be that the Jews wanted to kill him (see Luke 4:16-30; John 8).

Third, Jesus fulfills hundreds of Old Testament prophecies which speak of the coming Messiah. These prophecies which were written hundreds and even thousands of years before Jesus was born foretell specific details about the life and work which only Jesus would fulfill. They describe:

  • Where He would be born: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting” (Micah 5:2).
  • How He would suffer and die: “they pierce my hands and feet” (Psalm 22:16 – see the whole Psalm); “He was numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12 – see the entire chapter).
  • That He would rise again: “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10 – see also Job 19:25).

These prophecies include specific details that could not have been known hundreds of years earlier when they were written.
All of this points to the truth that Jesus was more than just a man. It shows that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God!
So what does that mean for us? If Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ who He claimed to be, if He died for us as He said He did, and rose again as the Scriptures foretold, then He is also the one and ONLY Savior from sin and death for sinners.
And that deserves your thoughtful attention.

How to Respond to the (Im)morality of God

How to Respond to the (Im)morality of God

Question: Why does is seem like the God of the Old Testament is much more harsh than the God of the New Testament? (For example: The flood wipes out all people but one family; God kills all the first born in Egypt; The Israelites are told to kill entire populations in Canaan; and the death penalty is demanded for several offenses in the Levitical Law.)

Many people have espoused views similar to those described above. The following quote is from Richard Dawkins in his book The God Delusion (p.31). He says that the God of the Old Testament is “arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it, a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Answer: God is not more harsh in the Old Testament than in the New Testament. God is just, and must judge those who sin against Him. In every example mentioned above, God is judging the sin of human beings. Paul says: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). God is just as serious about sin in the New Testament as He is in the Old Testament.
Compare the following from the Old and New Testaments:
Old Testament

Ezekiel 18:20 – “The soul who sins shall die.”
Isaiah 3:11 – “Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, For the reward of his hands shall be given him.”
Psalm 37:20 – “But the wicked shall perish; And the enemies of the LORD, Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish. Into smoke they shall vanish away.”

New Testament

Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death.”
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Yet there is one thing in particular that can help us to understand why the Old Testament records God’s involvement in the particular physical judgment of certain groups of people throughout that period of history.
Keep in mind that the Old Testament covers a much longer period of history than the New Testament. (Over 4,000 years compared to less than 100 years!) From the very beginning of the Old Testament, following the fall into sin, God had promised to send the world a Savior from sin and God’s just judgment against sin. While God repeatedly demonstrates patience toward sinners throughout the Old Testament, God was also acting in history to preserve a remnant of His faithful people in the Old Testament, from which the promised Savior would eventually be born. Throughout the Old Testament God gives us a “behind the scenes” view of His actions in history. Here God describes His work through the lives of people and nations, to judge sin and to preserve a particular people through which He would fulfill His promise of redemption, for the benefit of all people. This difference in time and perspective is the reason why God “seems” to be more harsh in the pages of the Old Testament.
Examples of God’s judgment in the Old Testament

  • The flood wipes out all people but one family – Genesis 6:5
  • Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah – Genesis 18:20
  • God kills all first born in Egypt – Exodus 1:8-22
  • The death penalty for several offenses in the Levitical Law – Leviticus 20:2,9,10-16,27; Deuteronomy 13:10-11
  • Israelites kill entire populations in Canaan – Deuteronomy 7:1-5; 20:16-18; Joshua; Judges; (Compare Genesis 15:16; Leviticus 18:2-30)

God is just as unhappy with sin today as he was in the days of Noah (the flood), Lot (destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah) and Moses (destruction of nations), and sin still brings God’s just judgment. (Compare the death of Herod in Acts 12:23: “Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.”) We are all under the death penalty because of our disobedience to God’s laws. At the same time, God is also merciful and has provided a means of salvation for all people in the person of Jesus Christ. Both the Old and the New Testaments are clear about this as well.
Old Testament

Isaiah 52:10 – Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

New Testament 

1 John 4:9 – “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”

The God of the Old and New Testaments are one and the same. While the LORD is just and demands that our sin receive its just punishment, He is also merciful, and desires the salvation of every sinner. This He has accomplished by His grace in the person and work of Jesus, and His gift of salvation and eternal life becomes ours through faith in Him. Yes, God hates sin, but He loves the sinner, and He has demonstrated that in Jesus.