Good day to all of you. This is my first post.
I have been a Christian for 29 years. I've read the Bible twice to three times a year for the entire duration of my faith, and in doing so, reading the Bible has started to cause me to question my own faith. I've largely avoided questioning specific scripture as I've felt that doing so is to question Jesus. As someone that has has attended church services in one form or another multiple times a week for nearly three decades, countless Bible studies, etc, some things are really beginning to eat at me and I'm having a severely troubling time in reconciling some things that I've noticed over the last few years. I was hoping that maybe some of you might be able to help reconcile some of these issues. This is the first time I've spoken of it to anyone.
I came upon this forum while trying to make sense of the chronology of the creation through the fall of Lucifer. Through a Google search, I found a thread which basically turned into an argument and was unable to land on a definitive answer. This also creates some questions I won't get too deep into.
Over the years as I've stated, I've read the Bible many times cover to cover. I've also taken part in countless Bible studies, followed along with scripture reading in church, used scripture in my own life to get through hard times. I've found that in church or in Bible studies, most scripture is ignored. A lot is left out. In church, my pastors have never spoken of particular passages, skimmed over a great many things, and always explain things in terms other than what the Bible has stated. One of the problems that has come up in my Bible reading is that I missed things here and there. It's difficult to pay attention to all of the little details when reading something so full. I thought that I'd really come to understand everything about it.
About five or six years ago, I noticed a few things in my reading that started to bother me. As I mentioned, my pastors used their own way of explaining everything they preach about in the Bible. In almost rehearsed fashion from almost every sermon I have ever attented, a scripture or two are read aloud followed by a statement akin to the following: "So, what __________ was saying here is that...." with an explanation of what the Pastor believes the person in the Bible was writing. During my reading I noticed a scripture that stuck out to me and really made me think about how the majority of church leaders establish certain meaning to scripture.
2 Peter 1:20
"Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation of things."
If you must, read the entire chapter for context, but I assure you, I'm not taking this out of context in the slightest. When I read this scripture a few years ago, I immediately thought back to the multitude of times I'd heard, "Well, this is what the verse really means" in reference to various sermons. Verse 21 of 2 Peter 1 goes on to say "For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." I don't need to say, "In other words, what the scripture is saying is...." The scripture is straight forward, non-cryptic. It states that the Word of God, the scripture itself, is directly from God. It isn't an interpretation. Which leads me to ask the following:
Why have we been interpreting scripture for so long when the Bible clearly states that the Word is God's? If God wanted the scripture interpreted, this scripture would not exist. Perhaps the scripture would have read, "Find your own meaning in the Word of God." But it does not.
I began reading the Bible more closeley than ever after I noticed this.
A few months later, I had finished reading through the rest of the Bible from that point and started back over again. In reading Exodus, I found something else that was a bit troubling. Something I hadn't taken a great deal of consideration in prior to reading 2 Peter chapter 1.
In Exodus chapter 12, specifically verse 12, God talks about killing the firstborn of Egypt. However, He also says this: "...I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord." This is something I'd read many times, and I figured it simply meant false idols. But, in reading multiple translations, I can't find any that show a reference to false idols. This is a direct statement from God that He will judge other gods. I've read explanations about this, but they don't line up with historical context about what Egyptians worshiped. Therefore, it leads me to have serious questions about why this verse exists as it does in the Bible.
In early 2010, I ran into another scripture that set me in motion to question things heavily.
I found it in Matthew, chapter 24. I felt at the time maybe I'd taken it out of context, so I read the chapter time and again. In this chapter, Jesus' disciples come to him and ask him to describe the end times. Jesus goes into some detail about them in the context of their lifetime.
"33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that itis near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened."
I emphasized "this generation" because it is important to remember that he was speaking to his disciples. Not to anyone else. When I read it, I had a small panic attack. I prayed over this for a long time. I looked through the rest of the Gospel to see if anything else had been mentioned on the matter in hopes I'd misread something. I checked the original Greek against current translations and found that it is accurate. Jesus said "this generation" and those are the words that were meant to be used.
Then I found other scriptures that say vitually the same thing.
“And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.”
“Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”
“When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”
Understand that I'm keeping 2 Peter 1 in mind while reading. According to the Word, God has spoken as He wants us to hear, not as we WANT to hear.
I have since purchased a new Bible. The four others I'd been using over the years were filled with highlights and notes for inspiration and thought. The Bible I have now is full of highlights and notes full of unanswered questions. One of those was one I mentioned earlier in reference to the chronology of Lucifer, which I've found no reference to in the Old Testament. What I found was an attachment to the term "morning star" which was a verse about the rulers of Babylon, and not Lucifer. Lucifer wasn't in the Garden of Eden. The scripture specifically states that the creature that tempted Eve was a serpent. Had this been otherwise, then the name "Lucifer" would have been specifically mentioned. I also found some other troubling words in the Old Testament about the prophecy of the Messiah. What I found was that Jesus did not match what the Old Testament said about the Messiah.
My pastors have always told us that Jesus' coming was a fulfilment of prophecy, but I noticed that they never quote scripture to back this up. I looked up a lot of information regarding this and asked why Jews don't believe in Jesus.
I was taught to believe in Jesus from early childhood. Since I can remember, I've always been a believer. I've never known any different. It's becoming increasingly difficult for me to answer these questions amongst an onslaught of questions I've been asked from people as I go door to door in my neighborhood witnessing to people. I can't even answer these questions anymore. In fact, it wasn't until just the past few years that I've noticed that people actually ask these kinds of questions. Usually, they were vague, and most of my answers could be given with a few verses. Two weeks ago, I rang a man's doorbell to invite him to my church. He told me that if I can explain why Gensis chapters 1 and 2 contradict each other that he'd come to my church. I didn't have an answer as I've never noticed anything strange about it before. He then said, and I'm paraphrasing as I can't remember the exact words, "If you don't fully understand your own beliefs, then why are you trying to get others to believe in the same garbage?" He then asked me to leave and he closed the door.
That really struck me.
I don't fully understand. After roughly 24 years, I thought I had a firm grasp on the Bible and my faith. Here I am nearing thirty years of service to God and I now feel like I'm back to square one, barely able to tie my own spiritual shoes to put things into perspecive. I've prayed for hours. Weeks. Months. Years. All for understanding, and I've had no response. I haven't asked any questoins in church, or any of my friends. We've had a couple of people ask questions in previous years and they were quietly asked to leave the church. In retrospect, I find it more unsettling now that I didn't see any problem with that in the past. Their questions should have been answered instead of being pushed away.
Unless my questions are answered, I don't know just how much more my faith can be tested before I just give up.